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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12. Chapter twelve.

There turned out to be several things that Harry had overlooked with his plan: one of them was that the force field had needed to be extremely large to accommodate six lanky teenage boys, and the alleyway that Felix surreptitiously materialized them in was one of the tiniest, most confined backstreets that he could have found. When they reappeared in the alleyway, hundreds of miles away from the expanse of Scottish land that had been stretching gloriously around them mere seconds ago, the first thing that the bubble did was to flex inwards to compensate for the walls that towered around them. It wasn’t strong enough to push the walls out of place, so instead the force field caved inwards at certain points, knocking them all into each other as the walls of it slammed into their backs. For a few minutes, there was chaos as they all fell over each other, around each other, on top of each other and underneath each other – only Felix avoided the madness; every time someone went to fall on him, they ended up going straight through him. It was a disconcerting sensation, like being plunged in warm water; Felix felt colder when he phased, whereas when he stepped through them, everyone else got warmer. Everyone struggled and kicked and protested for a while, until Louis suddenly had the sense to release the bubble, and all six of them dropped clumsily to the floor with yells of complaint.

Felix neatly picked himself up, dusted down the knees of his jeans, then threw a cursory glance around the alleyway to make sure that nobody had seen them. When he was satisfied, he reached down and hauled Liam to his feet, but left the rest of them to get themselves up, which Louis thought was pretty rude, actually, although he never spoke up. They all watched as Felix walked in a quick circle, tapping the walls, and although from his focused expression he appeared to be doing something important, both Harry and Louis were secretly fairly certain that really he was just stalling for time.

For a while, they allowed him to trail his fingers along the brickwork, examine the bins gathered in the corner, and check the windows of the building, and nobody made a sound as he scrupulously checked and double checked every square millimetre of wall as if it was the most important thing he’d ever done. A frown creased his forehead as though he didn’t like what he saw, and every once in a while he would try to pull open the door or one of the windows, which looked like the slightest touch would send them crumbling to dust, but in reality were far stronger than anyone had given them credit for. When he attempted to yank the door open, he ended up hurting his hand on the sharp iron door handle, and danced around swearing for a while, waving his hand in the air while profanities poured from his open mouth. Niall, who was renowned for swearing himself, was secretly impressed by the extent of the younger boy’s vocabulary. He was pretty sure that Felix could teach him a couple of new expletives, something that none of the other boys would be at all impressed by. In their opinions, Niall swore too much already.

Zayn lost his patience first. He was cold, his clothes were covered in bits of grass and muck, and although it wasn’t raining any more, the weather left a lot to be desired; the sky was a lovely shade of grey and looked like it might collapse in on them at any second. Stuffing his hands into his pockets, he stomped over to Felix and stood behind him, glaring at the back of his head.

“If you don’t mind me asking, what are you doing?”

“Actually, maybe I do mind,” Felix said sharply, but he relented after a few seconds. “I’m working out how we get in. I was hoping I wouldn’t have to phase through this, because I’m pretty sure there’s a bunch of mould growing inside this wall and it feels completely gross walking through that, but I can’t see how else we can get in.”

Apart from stupid and implausible suggestions that instantly sprung to mind, which involved either Louis hurling force field after force field at the unfortunately solid door, or Niall attempting to melt it, nobody else could see how else they could get in, either.

“Fine,” sighed Felix, “I’ll go and let you all in. Then at least we’ll have somewhere a bit warmer to hide out while we work out what we’re doing next.” Before anyone could argue, he pressed the flat of his hand against the wall, then closed his eyes and, with a disgusted expression, started sliding through the brickwork.

It was disconcerting watching his hand vanish through the first unevenly placed stone, although all five of them smirked at the little squeal he made when his fingers encountered something slimy inside the bricks. But with his eyes squeezed shut, his entire hand became submerged up to the wrist, and then he kept going, inching further and further forwards until his whole forearm was sticking into the wall, up to the elbow. Felix didn’t stop there; before long even his shoulder was poking through the wall, and all of a sudden he seemed to tire of taking it slowly, and stepped quickly forwards. His whole body disappeared through the building, and Harry, Liam, Louis, Zayn and Niall stared after him in horror.

“That,” Liam said, shaking his head, “is just creepy.”

The other boys all made noises of agreement – other than Niall, who was pouting. He folded his arms across his chest and turned away from them, much to their bewilderment, and for a few moments everyone paused curiously to look at him. Louis was the first to realize what Niall’s problem was.

“Oh, for god’s sake, Niall!” he said in exasperation, “I hope you’re not going to start sulking about that flipping sheep!”

“He wasn’t just any old sheep,” Niall whined, “he liked me.”

“We couldn’t have brought him with us, Niall,” Liam reminded him; “he would just have been another mouth to feed. With grass. Which there doesn’t seem to be much of around here. Besides, no offence, but he was a bit of a fire hazard, and with you around, that has rather more significance, don’t you think? He was woolly, Niall. The slightest spark and he’d have been up in flames. Do you know what that means? If you’d gotten annoyed or upset when you were next to him, you could have burnt him alive. That would be cruel. Beyondcruel. You couldn’t do that, could you, Niall?”

Someone muttered something tasteless about roast lamb, and Liam attempted to quell them with a look, but having no idea which of the other boys had said it, he ended up fixing them all with a vicious glare to compensate for not knowing which of them had made the insensitive comment. Crestfallen, Niall looked down at his feet, acknowledging that Liam was right but disliking the truth of what he had said.

Before anyone else could say a word, the door burst open, nearly smacking Harry in the face. Instinctively, instead of flinging up a force field to protect the younger boy’s face, Louis did what he had been doing for twenty years before that, and reached out with his hands instead, seizing Harry’s arm and dragging him away, backwards from the door and out of range. A low breath slid through Harry’s teeth as a gasp, as he stumbled backwards and almost tripped into Louis’ arms. Catching him with a little difficulty, since Harry was taller than him and very long all over, Louis helped him to straighten and then tapped him comfortingly on the wrist.

“Watch yourself, Harry,” he murmured.

The only response was a sharp nod; Harry didn’t look round. He had his eyes on Felix, who was stood grinning in the doorway, looking altogether too pleased with himself and not in the least bit remorseful considering that he’d almost whacked someone in the face with a large door. Louis thought that it was a wise move; he still didn’t trust Felix. Perhaps he was imagining that the boy was slightly shifty, or that his eyes were a little too innocently wide, his smile too sweet and white. He might have been paranoid in thinking that Felix looked like he was enjoying the whole situation far too much, including almost knocking Harry over. But whether he was being too suspicious or not, there was something about the boy which made Louis uncomfortable, and he wasn’t planning on letting him wander too far astray. The thought that someone else was keeping an eye on him as well was reassuring.

“Well, it’s hardly five-star accommodation,” Felix told them cheerfully, “not even one star, by the look of it, but it’s dry. Not warm, but I’m sure you can fix that, right, sparks?” He grinned brightly at Niall.

All five of the other boys frowned in irritation at the nickname which none of them liked, especially not Niall. In the past he’d offered to let the other boys call him ‘Nialler’, and they did on occasion, but to have an annoying stranger adopt an equally annoying nickname and begin to use it to refer to their friend, especially when they had already expressed a dislike for it, was maddening – perhaps even more so by the almost taunting expression dancing in Felix’s grey eyes which suggested he knew exactly why he had set all of their teeth on edge.

“Depends,” Niall said shortly, “do you want to be set on fire?”

“Why would be set on fire?” Felix enquired artlessly.

“Because if it’s too dry, then everything could go up with me,” Niall snapped.

“How positive of you,” Felix answered, rolling his eyes. “I’m sure we can risk it – bearing in mind that I can teleport us all out again if things get a little…heated.” He seemed amused by his choice of words, but nobody else laughed or even smiled.

“Fine,” Zayn interrupted. “Let’s go in!” He stormed past Felix with a scowl, showing exactly what he thought of him…similar to what everyone else did: he didn’t like him at all.

Gripping Harry’s elbow, Louis lightly nudged him, then stepped forwards, hand outstretched just a few inches in front of them so that he was ready to protect them both with a force field if any danger appeared. Not that he was expecting any, but it was better to be safe than sorry, and he knew that although Harry made no verbal acknowledgment of the gesture, the muscles loosened slightly in his back, and he relaxed a little, so Louis knew that he was grateful for the thought. Together, they advanced after Zayn, following him into the darkened room. One-star was most definitely a generous rating; the room was not dirty, but cramped instead, filled with crates and boxes and general debris, like it had been some kind of store room that had been left messy. A wooden box was lying in the further corner, with bubble-wrap heaped on top of it, like a parody of a mattress and a duvet. Zayn had taken a seat on this, sat cross-legged on the bubble-wrap and casting unimpressed glances across the room. Louis loosened his grip on Harry’s elbow and looked around the room himself, just to check that there was no danger, and once he was confident that nothing was going to leap out at them, he released Harry all together, dropping his arm and giving him a reassuring pat on the back before he moved to explore the rest of the room. Not that there was much to explore.

Niall and Liam entered the room next, Niall uncertain, Liam focused, ready to attempt to act if the need arose, although frightened Niall would be more useful if they attacked. The first thing Niall noticed was a cardboard box labelled THIS WAY UP with a large red arrow (which showed how much notice had been taken of the warning, seeing as the arrow was not pointing upwards and the box had been tipped clumsily onto its side), and he poked it inquisitively, then started to open it. Nobody bothered to scold him; clearly whoever had left it there wasn’t coming back for it, as was indicated by the date stamped on the side of the box (dated back at least four years ago) and when Niall ripped the cardboard apart to discover food, his cry of exultation was short-lived, because the sandwiches were green and furry, the salad was limp and brown, where it had not disintegrated all together, and the tins were so rusted that they would have been impossible to open even if any of them had happened to have a tin opener.

“Nice place,” Louis commented.

“All right, so it’s hardly Buckingham Palace –”

“It’s a dump,” Harry said disgustedly.

“Well, if you have any better ideas, I’d like to hear them!” Felix hissed. “Oh, wait, actually, no I wouldn’t.”

“Stop arguing!” Niall begged.

They all turned to stare at him, anxious at the blatant pleading in his voice and his widened eyes. He was unhappy with conflict, and disliked seeing his friends fighting with their saviour, but none of them had predicted that he would beg when all they had been doing was snapping at each other. Still, nobody could be nasty enough to continue having a go at Felix when Niall had so expressively asked them not to, so Louis swallowed his resentment and distrust, and Harry fought to ignore his urge to stick up for Louis when he so clearly disliked Felix – and they both watched as Felix reluctantly backed down, knowing that there was no point in trying to fight with two people who no longer had any intention of arguing with him.

“It’s dry, it’s not cold, and there’s stuff to lie on,” Liam pointed out; “let’s face it; we could do worse. We’re free, remember? We can relax a little. This isn’t permanent; if we sleep on it, we can think about this and probably find somewhere way better tomorrow.”

Nodding, Zayn agreed “I second that.” He went to lie down, thought better of it, then took off his checked shirt to reveal the thin white cotton vest he was wearing underneath. Draping the shirt over the wooden crate he was sat on, he lay down on top of it, bunched up some bubble-wrap underneath his head as a pillow, then pulled a couple more sheets of the stuff over him as a makeshift blanket.

Felix was next to lie down, tucking his arms inside his hoodie and shrinking inside of it as if it were a sleeping bag, then lying down on a similar box. Liam rolled his eyes and shuffled into a corner, nestling himself among a couple of boxes and wrapping his arms around himself before closing his eyes in readiness for sleep. Coughing, Niall stood helplessly in the middle of the room for a while, shivering in the ragged remains of his clothes. Harry gave him a pitying glance, and within seconds he was stripping off, taking off his jumper and crossing the room to pull it over Niall’s bed. It was a little too big for him, but at least it would keep him warm.

“Go to sleep,” Harry said softly, “and don’t singe my jumper, okay, Horan? If you burn it, I’ll get Louis to throw force fields at you, and you know how fun that is.”

Niall shook his head fondly; when he had nightmares, he would often set himself on fire without meaning to, something that both he and the boys had quickly learnt after he’d discovered his power. “Is that your way of saying ‘sweet dreams’?”

Harry shrugged. “If you like. Night, Niall.”

“Night, Harry.”

As if they couldn’t bear to be left out, the rest of the boys – Felix excepted – began bouncing ‘goodnight’s across the room, some tired and mumbling, others wide awake, but all sincere, especially Liam’s.

“Night, Harry.”

“Night, Liam.”

“Night, Louis.”

“Night, Niall.”

“Night, Zayn.”

“Night, Liam.”

“Night, Harry.”

“Night, Louis.”

This continued for the next couple of minutes, to Felix’s frustration; he ended up groaning and covering his ears so that he wouldn’t have to listen to them, which, of course, made Louis amused so he only spoke louder. Louis was noisy anyway; when he actually intended to be loud, he was practically unbearable. In the end, it wasn’t just Felix who was sorely tempted to throw something at him.

“NIGHT, ZAYN!” Louis yelled.

“Shut up,” Zayn mumbled, rolling over and burying his face in his shirt.

Snorting with laughter, Louis turned around to face the one boy he hadn’t yet said goodnight to, and paused. Harry was shivering lightly after having given his jumper away, arms wrapped carefully around his torso, a light sprinkling of goosebumps raised on his arms. Avoiding Louis’ gaze, he let a tuft of curly hair fall across one eye and determinedly stared at the floor. There was only one crate left in the room; one appropriate place left to sleep, and it was no larger than any of the others. In order to share it, they would have to squeeze up very closely against each other. Harry was fighting a blush, although he was adamant that Louis wouldn’t see it. After all, he wasn’t entirely sure why he was blushing in the first place. Why were his cheeks hot? Why was his heart pumping? Why did his blood feel like it was racing unnaturally quickly through his veins at the thought of sharing a bed with his best friend? Why should he care? It was just sharing a bed, after all; in a completely platonic, non-sexual way. Who cared about that?

“You coming, curly?” Louis asked softly.

Harry swallowed. “Yeah.”

They advanced on the crate together, and Louis lay down first, flopping back on the grimy wood without a care in the world, not seeming to notice how filthy it was. With an easy grin, he first shoved back a strand of hair that had flopped into his eyes, then reached out and grabbed Harry’s hand, pulling him down beside him. Shocked at the nonchalance with which Louis yanked him into his bed, Harry made no attempt to struggle, and all of a sudden found himself lying very closely against Louis, their shoulders, hips and thighs touching. It was far less intimate than they had been on the field about an hour ago, but Harry couldn’t help but feel warm all over, his hair sticking to his damp forehead. Excitement had his palms sweating, something which he hated, because nobody ever wants to hold someone’s hand if that hand is horribly sweaty – he wiped his hands on his jeans, hoping that Louis wouldn’t notice.

“You’re freezing,” murmured Louis, and he reached out and put an arm around Harry, pulling him closer to his side with a little jerk.

Harry let out a little squeak of surprise, then quickly closed his mouth so that he couldn’t make a sound like that again. He trembled more than he had before, but no longer because he was cold. It was odd, because he’d never thought that he would feel like this around Louis; he’d always just been a friendly voice in the darkness. Harry had never expected that Louis would be gorgeous. It had never occurred to him that Louis might have a well-defined jawline, strong arms, humorous dark blue eyes, soft caramel-coloured hair (which admittedly needed washing, but it made Harry’s stomach hurt to think about how beautiful he would be after a bit of shampoo and soap had been into contact with him) and a smile that could take your breath away. Flustered, Harry closed his eyes quickly to distract himself from the thought, but with the heat pouring off Louis’ body in huge waves, he couldn’t really not think about the boy who so calmly had an arm around him. And it wasn’t helped by the fact that it really had been quite a while since Harry had been in a relationship, and he hadn’t had someone else’s very attractive body lying quite so closely to him for far too long. Perhaps it was understandable, bearing in mind his age and the almost inappropriately close proximity of their bodies – despite the innocent intentions Louis doubtlessly had and the fact that they were not in any sort of compromising position – that Harry would be thinking about sex. He was eighteen. He thought about sex a lot. It was kind of unavoidable.

Clearly oblivious to the agonizing sexual frustration that was running through the head of the boy beside him, Louis sighed contentedly, wriggled slightly and murmured sleepily, “Night, Harry.”

Taking a deep breath, Harry bravely forced all thoughts, sexual and platonic, out of his head, and made himself think about his exhaustion instead. He was tired – tiredness and physical action did not go well together.

“Night, Louis,” he said.

He closed his eyes.

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