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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2. Chapter two.

As Louis had predicted, only a short time passed before Harry met one of their captors for the first time. They had both been slumped desolately against the wall, Harry with his eyes closed in defeat, Louis wallowing in his own boredom – when suddenly there was a load groan of rusty hinges, and a door Harry hadn’t been able to see opened, spilling pale, wan light into the room. Squinting at a vague, dark silhouette in the doorway, he glared at the stranger and wished their head would explode, unlikely as it was.

Without saying a word, the man walked over to Harry, a grey woollen hat pulled down to his eyebrows and clad head to foot in dark, murky colours, and appraised him for a few seconds. Then, he unfastened the ties from Harry’s arms and forced him to his feet. Twisting in panic, Harry tried to drag himself away, but he was being roughly held in a grip too tight for him to maneouvre.

“It’s okay!” Louis said quickly. “Harry, it’s okay! They’re just going to check you over –”

Before Louis could get any more words out, Harry was wrenched viciously towards the door, and he yelped as the man hauled him across the room without so much as a glance at his agonized expression. Unceremoniously bundled down a labyrinth of long corridors, Harry ended up being forced down onto a stool in a small, drab little grey room while the stranger uninterestedly took several medical readings, checking his blood pressure, heart-rate and temperature. Then, he started physically examining Harry’s body, lightly feeling his arms and legs with a disregard that was almost insulting, his expression apathetic as if he was performing some kind of monotonous chore. Long fingers insensitively probing his abdomen made Harry flinch in discomfort, and, outraged, he crossly swatted the insensitive hand away. Ignoring the protest, the man continued pressing on Harry’s stomach, until Harry furiously lashed out and kicked him on the shin, so hard that he hurt himself at the same time, and had to grit his teeth against the throbbing. His only gratification was a short hiss; after that one small lapse, the stranger slapped him harshly across the face, jerking his head to the side and leaving a ghostly white handprint on Harry’s cheek as the rest of his face flamed bright red with humiliation and anger. After that, he thought better of the idea, and merely expressed his disgust with a steady commentary of disgusting insults and foul words that taxed his imagination to the limit. If the stranger was impressed by Harry’s extensive vocabulary, he did not show it.

After the degrading prodding was over and done with, Harry found blood samples being taken, his blood pressure measured, and various other medical procedures. He was weighed, his height was recorded, and he was x-rayed for reasons that mystified him. Then, he was politely given a pencil and a neat little questionnaire to fill in that made enquiries about his age, background, medical history and a record of all past sexual activity. Harry flushed from his ears downwards, and snapped the pencil in half in a display of mindless defiance that was all he could think of to do under the circumstances, and he got an odd sense of satisfaction from it. Expressionless, the man patiently replaced the broken pencil, and Harry broke that one as well. They repeated the process several times, until, losing his temper, the aggressor viciously whacked Harry over the head with the flat of his hand so that his vision blurred and there was a fierce ringing in his ears. After that, Harry sulkily filled out the questionnaire in silence, scowling all the while. He briefly considered making it all up, but when it occurred to him that his very mild peanut allergy could possibly have an effect on the drugs they were giving him, he grumpily wrote the correct information in each box.

Once he’d completed the paper, he was given a bland, boring meal on a tray that had allocated each of the food groups into a neat square, and he was so hungry that he ate it all, forgetting to roll his eyes at the protein, fibre, carbohydrates and other recommended features of a balanced diet that he had been presented with. The chef obviously religiously followed the national nutritional guidelines. He was also presented with two large glasses of water, which he drank eagerly. After that, he was shoved into a toilet cubicle. Eventually, he came sullenly back out and complained that he had a headache, and for his trouble was given a plastic cup filled with pills, and he slammed them back like they were some kind of energy drink. He was led back to the darkened room by way of a corridor completely different from the first, and the change confused him; he’d been planning to memorize the route so he would know vaguely where he was going. Presumably the change was intentional, to prevent him from doing just that.

Understandably, Harry wasn’t best keen on the idea of being restrained again, so he fought violently as the chains were once again moved towards his wrists. He had the advantage of surprise, but not the experience, strength or momentum to make much of a difference; he raked desperately at the hands and face of the man who held him, kicked as hard as he could, and squirmed and wrestled all the while, yelling his head off in protest, but all he got was another stunning blow as a reward, and then the man calmly finished adjusting his chains but making them slightly tighter than before – a punishment for his rebellion. Within seconds, Harry’s arms were shrieking in protest at the slight extra stretch where his hands were fastened to the wall just half an inch higher; he had to stand up slightly so that he could reach, and that of course triggered a dull pain in his legs after a few moments of standing so awkwardly.

Next, the man reached for Louis, releasing him from his bonds, and Harry heard a sigh of relief as Louis lowered his arms and stretched several times, rejoicing in the freedom of movement. A pang of envy twisted Harry’s stomach as he watched. Concernedly casting a glance at the younger boy, Louis bit his lip anxiously as he meekly allowed himself to be guided from the room with a hand at his back to push him forwards. The door slammed closed, keys chinked in the lock, and then everything was still, and Harry was alone.

He missed the sound of breathing a few metres away, the life force that Louis excluded, the reassurance of a nearby face, another tormented human suffering by his side. Perhaps he was exaggerating, but he felt he had a right to be aggrieved. Already he was lonely, pining for this stranger he barely knew; his light in the darkness, almost. It was barely comprehensible to him how Louis could have survived on his own with nobody to speak to, and no sound other than ones that he himself was making. Harry thought that, in that position, he would have gone crazy. Already there was a twinge of unease flaring in his stomach, and if he had been able to reach his hands, he would have been biting his nails.

His face was burning on the left side from the aftermath of the slap, and although the pills were starting to kick in, his headache was still at the front of his mind, screaming for his attention despite how fiercely determined he was to ignore it. A question swam into his head, making him bite his lip in thought: why hadn’t Louis fought? Unless he was afraid to, in case he got a punch out of it – although he didn’t seem like the easily frightened type, and from his injured hand, he’d clearly struck a blow before. Had he thought better of it? Harry resolved to ask him once he came back.

Curiosity was an emotion Harry was very familiar with; he liked to understand things, and mysteries, no matter how inconsequential, irritated him like an unscratched itch until he had solved them. Trying to shift into a position that would be less uncomfortable for his aching arms, he thought very hard about the situation. Louis’ wrists were raw and shiny, chafed by the shackles that held him up, which would indicate that he had been trying to escape from them. Such a rebellion was not the mark of a coward. Yet Louis had thus far made no open attempt at mutiny; on the contrary, he had been complacent, obedient, and unhesitatingly done as was expected of him. That was an unexplained occurrence that he wanted to understand, and he wouldn’t rest until he had wrapped his head around it.

Next, he started considering how he might escape. If he and Louis were both freed simultaneously, they might have a chance to overpower their jailer – Louis was skinny and wiry, but he had an impressive pair of biceps on him, and Harry wasn’t exactly a lightweight; he was confident he could hold his own in a fight – but clearly that eventuality had been taken into consideration. If it were possible to find a weapon to fight with, then that would be another opportunity, but he hadn’t even been given proper cutlery to eat his nutritionally-approved meal with; he doubted that even a trained assassin could have done much damage with a plastic fork, and a trained assassin he was not. He might be able to take his opponent by surprise and tackle him, but in the unlikely event that he could knock a muscled, fifteen-stone man unconscious and restrain him, he doubted that the man was working alone. Harry didn’t fancy running into a bunch of angry guys who wanted to knock the living daylights out of him for attacking their friend, and it was inevitable that he would, if he tried to escape straight away. Truthfully, he hadn’t the faintest idea where he was going, and he doubted that Louis had a much better clue.

It felt wrong to not even make an attempt to get away, but what else could he do? He needed to have a better idea of the routine, the layout of the place, and the sort of people he was dealing with before he even considered it – and, of course, when he thought of something, he would have to fill Louis in. Leaving him behind wasn’t even an option.

Unless he was an informant, intent on discovering Harry’s take on the situation and reporting to his bosses right that second.

In the same moment as he came up with the thought, Harry dismissed it. It made no sense for Louis to be a spy; he had arrived first, for starters, and he doubted that any informant, no matter how devoted, would consent to dangling by the wrists from a stone wall for three days in order to get realistic-looking blisters before he attempted to squeeze information from a boy who knew nothing about what was going on.

Harry looked grimly at his fettered wrists, his mouth twisting in the shadow of a wry smile. There had been a time when his arms would have been intertwined with dozens of coloured threads, beads and various other forms of bracelet, but he was pretty certain that when he escaped – he refused to let himself think ‘if’ – he would never want anything around his wrist ever again. With a frown, he tugged experimentally on the restraints, testing them, and then started throwing all of his weight against them over and over again, relentlessly trying to free himself. It would make no difference; he couldn’t break through metal, but knowing that he was at least trying to do something made him feel a little better about the situation. He battered against the cold iron links for almost twenty minutes, until his wrists started to glow bright pink, and he thought of the painful blisters on Louis’ arms and quickly stopped; he didn’t want a similar injury.

That was when he spared a glance of hatred at the plastic tube taped to his arm. The thin magenta fluid seeping steadily into the back of his hand was a violent purple colour; it was as if someone had taken Barney the dinosaur, from that old kid’s TV show, liquidised him, and then poured him into a tube and injected him into Harry’s hand. Harry’s stomach twisted angrily at the sight. What right did anybody have to drip untested and possibly dangerous drugs into his body? He was determined to get rid of it, frightened of what it could be.

Turning his head awkwardly, Harry rested his chin on his shoulder and started reaching for the clear tube with his teeth. It took him several attempts, but eventually, on his sixth try, when his neck was aching and he had been about to give up, his teeth closed carefully around the plastic. He wanted to cheer in triumph, but he couldn’t risk letting it fall from his mouth, so he allowed himself nothing more than a low hiss through his teeth and a silent yell of exultation inside his head. Gently, so that the tube wouldn’t break and spray luminous purple mush into his mouth, he steadied the grip of his teeth on it and gave it a hesitant tug. Then a harder one. He moaned quietly in disgust at the feel of the needle sliding around in his hand, and prayed that it wouldn’t snap; he wanted to pull it out, not have half of it still poking into his skin where he couldn’t reach it. Losing his temper, Harry growled and viciously yanked at the tube, and then it flew out of his skin and he tossed it to the ground, where it fell to the dirty stonework in loose coils, like a sleeping boa constrictor, but ten times thinner.

His yelp in response was delayed; he didn’t feel the first ripple of pain until a few seconds after the needle had clattered to the floor, when a sharp twinge speared the back of his hand like he’d been stabbed with a thorn. A whining, pathetic noise fell from his open mouth and he gasped in shock, realizing that he’d made himself bleed as a splash of blood lazily started to trickle down his hand and drip lethargically down his fingers.

Clenching his fingers to make sure he hadn’t damaged anything, Harry allowed himself a grim smile. He’d defied his captors once again; even though they would soon connect the tubes and needles to him again, he’d slowed the process of whatever experiment they were doing, and that was cause enough for celebration. His fingers flexed as he enjoyed his moment of victory, and he wondered if he would have the opportunity to spit in his captor’s face as he was hooked back up to the equipment – and whether it would be worth the blow he would receive in return.

After only a few moments of thought, he decided that yes, it would.

Pleased by his ingenuity in disconnecting the drug needle, he stretched as far away from the wall as he could, tapping the spiralling lengths of tube on the ground before him with the toe of one dirty black converse sneaker. He managed to pin it to the floor and somehow drag it closer to him; when it was close enough, he stamped viciously on it for a few minutes, grinding it against the ground with a perverse satisfaction at the vandalism. Shards of plastic glistened on the floor, and he wondered if he perhaps should have saved the tubing, tried to conceal it – then perhaps he could have strangled the stranger with it. The idea was sickeningly pleasing; Harry was not a violent person, but he made exceptions for cold and merciless kidnappers.

Glancing around the room, he took in barren stone walls, dirty floors and copious amounts of cobwebs with his nose turned up in disdain. It was like a typical scene from a medieval dungeon in a period drama from TV – except it was real life, and not something staged. Unless…

Could Louis be wearing prosthetics?

He doubted that even Hollywood could have such an elaborately created set of plastic blisters, which oozed clear, sticky fluid onto the manacles and showed no sign of slipping from the skin like any silicone wound might have done. The fact that Harry had seen some of them scab over in the space of their few hours together spoke for itself: Louis wasn’t lying about his injuries, at least.

There was very little that Harry could prove him to be lying about. He was beginning to grudgingly accept Louis’ insane theory about drug testing, because everything made sense, and he was definitely being filled with some odd substance that he’d never encountered before. It was definitely real; the pain in Harry’s hand and the blood rapidly drying and cracking on his fingers could vouch for that. He winced as another stab of discomfort pulsed through his knuckles, and he kicked the wall in frustration, wishing he had something to bite so that he wouldn’t embarrass himself by groaning when Louis came back. Seeming weak was an indignity that he couldn’t bear – he was younger, but he was terrified of seeming pathetic in front of the seemingly unafraid Louis, whose blue eyes had remained fairly reasonable and calm in the face of everything, even discussing his own abduction and the likely event that they were slowly being poisoned with experimental drugs.

If Louis was indeed telling the truth – which, as far as Harry could tell, he was – then Harry had an asset far more valuable than the element of surprise, any amount of strength or any experience with fighting that he could have possessed: he had an ally.

Just then, the door flew open once more, and Louis was bundled back in by the man, who had an expression of strained endurance on his face. Louis’ smile was a little too wide, his eyes touched with a kind of manic desperation as he babbled madly at the nameless stranger, his tone so innocently irritating that Harry understood exactly why the guy looked close to ripping his own ears off.

“ – I mean, I really like your hat, you know? That’s what I’m saying. It’s a cool hat, you should really tell me where you got it. I mean, it’s stylish, but it’s got this kind of simplistic edge to it. I want a hat like that. Although I probably shouldn’t get one because if I had one of those hats, I’d end up with hat hair, and you won’t give me a hairbrush so that’d just be a mess. But you should tell me anyway, I have a friend who would totally suit that hat, so yeah, I really want to know where you got it.” The words were spilling from Louis’ lips so rapidly that Harry was surprised he didn’t stumble or falter; the stream of one-sided conversation rambled on without a pause.

The man made no verbal acknowledgment that he was irritated, but he slammed Louis’ back against the stone with perhaps more force than was strictly necessary, and as he started refastening the shackles, he viciously twisted Louis’ arms above his head into an uncomfortable position before he locked the chains back together. A tiny hitch in Louis’ breathing was the only indication that he had noticed; he continued talking cheerfully.

“Hey, Harry!” he said brightly, like he’d only just noticed that Harry was there. “This is Jeff. His name isn’t really Jeff, but I asked if I could call him Jeff and he didn’t say no, so I took that as a yes! Listen, Jeff, you don’t say much, do you? Are you shy? There’s no need to be; we’re all friends here. You tied us up, we got a sort-of-tour of your base…you can talk to us. Unless you’re mute. Are you mute? I can help with that; I know this speech therapist who specializes in exactly this kind of –”

Without saying a word, the man clamped a large hand over Louis’ mouth, and stared levelly at him. He said nothing, but his dull grey eyes conveyed a clear message: shut up.

Louis fell silent.

Not-Jeff turned to Harry, and then his gaze travelled downwards and he spotted the tubing on the floor. Stepping forwards, he examined Harry’s hand, made a small noise of irritation, then knelt and picked up the battered tube. Cradling it in his arms like a baby, he headed for the door, and when it closed behind him, the room was thrown into darkness once again.

“Are you okay?” Louis asked quietly. “…Your hand is bleeding.”

“I’m fine. I ripped the needle out with my teeth, but it didn’t want to come out. I think it took half of my hand with it.”

Louis sucked in a breath sympathetically. “Ouch.”

“I’m fine,” Harry repeated, smiling painfully. He swallowed. “Enjoying yourself? You were doing an excellent job of winding him up.”

Louis sighed. “It was fun while it lasted.”

They said nothing for a moment or so.

“Did he make you fill out a questionnaire?”

“Yeah.”

“Did you lie?”

“No.”

“I did, at first, but he made me fill it out again, and in light of recent events, and our theory..well, I figured I’d best be truthful.”

The door opened, and Not-Jeff came strolling back in, a fresh tube, bag of purple fluid, and thicker needle in his hands. Roughly grabbing Harry, he jerked him forwards and jabbed the needle harshly into his still bleeding hand, making Harry hiss in pain, and then he fed the tubing down the back of Harry’s shirt, taping it to his back so that there was no way Harry could get to it. Then, he attached the fluid bag to the tube and shoved it into a little alcove underneath Harry’s chair. While these laborious tasks were carried out, Harry was by no means quiet: he subjected the stranger to as much vicious abuse as he was capable of, relentlessly pouring out insults punctuated with some of the filthiest words in the English language, and the odd rude phrase from various other languages that he had learnt over the years. Despite the loud outpouring of insults, the man ignored him and, as soon as he had finished making the amendments, he turned and started to walk away without so much as a scowl at the curly hair boy who was yelling at him.

Outraged at the lack of impact his insults were having, Harry lost his temper, and he ended up shouting at the man’s rapidly retreating back, “Go to hell, you sodding toe-sucker!”

Louis spluttered with laughter as the door closed, and, aggravated, Harry turned and scowled at him.

“Don’t laugh at me!”

“Sorry,” Louis said amusedly. “I just…” he choked. “It was just… ‘sodding toe-sucker’?”

Despite his annoyance, Harry smiled, and the noise he made was caught between a laugh and an embarrassed cough. “Well, it wasn’t one of my better insults.”

“Are you kidding? It was genius!” Louis contradicted with admiration, mentally filing it away under his list of insults to use later on. “I’ll have to quote you on that.”

Harry huffed and blew upwards, ruffling his curls away from his forehead. “I was just…irritated.”

“You’re funny when you’re annoyed. This may sound mad, but…” Louis stopped. “Never mind, forget it.”

“What?”

“Doesn’t matter.”

“Tell me. Please?”

Louis hesitated. “I know we don’t really know each other, but…already I feel like we’re great friends. Is that mad?”

“No, of course it isn’t.”

“You’re really brave, you know, standing up to him like that.”

“I’m not. I’m just giving him a piece of my mind. Besides, you’re winding him up as well.”

“Getting on his nerves is one thing; openly defying him in every way you can is another thing entirely. I don’t know if you’re fearless, or just an idiot – but I know I respect you for it.” Louis shook his head with a small smile. “You’re a good guy, Harry.”

Harry closed his eyes and sighed heavily, leaning against the wall – but as he tried to relax and hoped that sleep might give him a few hours’ escape, he played those words over and over in his mind, hoping that they would lull him to sleep somehow. Strangely, he found solitude in the kindness of them, and that peacefulness relaxed him like nothing else could have.

You’re a good guy, Harry.

You’re a good guy.

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