KNOCKOUT - A Harry Styles FanFiction

This is the sequel to Dark by H28 from onedirectionfanfictions.com

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4. Chapter 4

Despite lack of better judgement, I’m back again. Having upheld commitments on Friday and Saturday with James and Tiff, I’d bargained Sunday to return home. Tiff had whinged saying my mum was going to get sick of me. But it’s not really my mum that I’ve come to see.

My knee can’t seem to stop hopping, bouncing in excitement and apprehension. It’s an odd combination to feel, the butterflies in my stomach just as confused as me. Their wings beat against my insides as the back door opens and Harry strides out. He’s on a mission, unperturbed by the distasteful taunts shouted from liquor swilled mouths.

“Freak!”

He’s different tonight, more alert, more aware of his surroundings. I sit back down, watching him through the fleeting gaps between people ahead of me. There’s no show of entering the ring and the announcer flusters through the introduction Harry didn’t give him any time to deliver. The black hood is taken down and Harry’s interest in the crowd is abnormally high. He never usually sees beyond his opponent, but tonight he’s not even given a passing glance. There’s a hot clench in my stomach, similar to the feeling of the moments before you’re found when playing hide and seek.

Harry does another skim of faces as the announcer removes himself from the ringed fight. He stops occasionally, scrutinising people, pressing himself to the ropes in order to extend his range and confirm identity. He’s searching for someone.

Regretfully I can’t clearly see his face; if I could, I would hope that it would give me an indication as to who captures his thoughts. I sit shrouded in my own as the fight begins, cheers interspersed with ugly words of torment. He shouldn’t have to listen to that. The situation is like that of a quarantined animal, people poking and shouting with cruel intent in attempt to get a rise, hear the animal roar. Harry’s not going to bite this time.

The ink covering his left arm is smudged and stretched as he uses it to block attacks and counter them with his own. Not only does he have to defend against fists, elbows and ramming shoulders, Harry’s also acutely aware of jabs from knees. He ducks out of a right hook, challenging the aggression with a sharp kick to the man’s thigh.

I’m still astounded by the combination of hits, the abandonment of any rules, no guidelines. All that remains is the objective to take your opponent down, in any way possible apparently. Harry can hold his own, skilled in this new form of fighting that involves almost no protective gear despite the unequivocal need for it. Each hit stokes the audience, thirsty to see if the champion can provide them with another spectacular knockout.

Harry knocks the brawl to the floor after sweeping his right leg ‘round and catching the other fighter in the back of his knees. He collapses forward, slamming his chin into the solid ring floor before squirming to turn on his back. I feel for him, his body language reflecting his understanding of the position. Forearms shoot up to protect his face as Harry repeatedly swings at him. His hair is taken back with a bandana, less of a distraction when it’s up off his face. But it doesn’t seem to help with other interferences. Both Harry and I, along with others, are drawn to the ruckus over by the bar. There’s already volunteers to bring order to a scuffle the involved should be ashamed of. Delusions of grandeur are displayed as one man takes it upon himself to claim pathetic victory over the drunk he’s shoved to the floor. I shake my head with disapproval as he makes a sceptical of himself.

Back in the ring, Harry’s been shoved aside with the challenger already taking the power position up on his feet. Harry’s on his knees and I can’t quite come to terms with just how fast the tables can turn. No mercy is given and I visibly recoil as the fighter prepares to boot Harry in the shoulder he’s already cradling in pain. The assault is interrupted at the last possible moment by Harry’s right arm. I slip from my seat with my heart pounding in my ears and frantically claw through the people in front. Four seconds, five? I’m not sure, but it is just a few mere seconds. Harry’s the only one standing.

Nasty words are thrown at him yet again, people disappointed with the outcome of the match and the loss of bets. He seems to take no notice, stooping through the ropes and jumping down. The baffled announcer is left in the ring with a bloody fighter and without a winner’s arm to raise in victory. My eyes trail after Harry as he clutches his shoulder and creates a forced path to the back door.

***

He’s hunched over himself at the bar. There’s a radius clear around him of sober people, the drunks don’t seem to care. Harry’s been thrown off his usual routine of, fight, win, leave. He’d escaped a monstrous beating in the ring tonight and when he exited through the back door to the staff corridor that should have been the last I’d seen of him. It was a little perplexing to see him skulk back into the bar and secure a place amongst the swaying groups. It was mostly shock that had me promptly park my behind to the chair again, that and the unquenchable want to indulge in any time I could have in his presence.

His dress sense hasn’t changed much, although he’s definitely acquired a tendency to favour anything black, washed out and ripped. There’s hardly any colour to his wardrobe and I can’t help but feel disheartened for some reason. Customary skinny jeans are worn; black to match the top under the checked shirt. I can tell his shoulder is still causing him a bit of trouble, choosing to rest his forearm in his lap.

Mack’s late, I haven’t seen him all evening so I’d grabbed a table and a drink to sit on my own. Many people had left after the last fight of the evening, the temperament of the bar cooling until it was unrecognisable as a battling arena. It wasn’t long before I was approached to share the table. I don’t mind the company, it’s nice to hear snippets of chat and tipsy laughing.

“Do you like him?”

I turn to the girl sat beside me. Her eyeliner is purposefully smudged and there’s a small silver hoop piercing her lip. She suits the scruffy bob her hair has been cut into.

“Who?” I ask, even though it’s pretty clear who she’s referring to.

Apparently I’ve been less than discrete in my admiring. I hadn’t intended it to be more than a few greedy glances and I hadn’t imagined anyone would be taking notice of me.

“Harry.”

I shake my head in embarrassment of being caught. It’s odd to hear his first name, most seem to refer to him by last, as if ‘Harry’ is too personal.

“Do you dye your hair?”

It’s a sharp turn in the conversation that I hadn’t expected we would take. Her index rubs thoughtfully over her mouth as she busies herself with ponderings over my nature colour.

“Yeah.”

“Shame,” her fingers flick the ends tucked behind my ear. “I heard he likes little brunettes,” she teases with a smile. Although I presume her intentions to be friendly, I’m still burdened with slightly sinister objectives. “You should go and talk to him.”

“It’s better to be left.”

I don’t think it would be the wisest of things to do, especially as he’s just barked at one man for trying to spark up conversation. He’s not into small talk, even if it is between him and one of his “fans”.

“I’ll come with you.”

My hand is taken, and she drags me from my seat and along behind her to the bar. I’ve barely managed to sling my bag over my shoulder and there’s no time to grab my coat. It’s left with the group whose faces I certainly won’t recognise individually under Hollister style lighting. I feel like a child throwing a tantrum, objecting any further would have me digging my heels into the floor and screeching. I can see where she’s leading us, a free space to Harry’s right. It’s big enough as to not cause too much disruption to our pushing in and she makes the executive decision on which side I’m placed. Her body is a barrier between Harry and I. She tips her head at me, a little nod and I have no idea what she wants me to do. There’s no time to ask because she’s already pivoted away, still clutching my hand. My body feels boneless. 

 “Do you want a drink, handsome?” she asks, voice dripping in sultry allure.

It’s quite possibly the worst opening line I’ve ever heard; so awful I momentarily lapse in what’s playing out before me and I’m forced to quell the eye-roll. Instead, a stab of fury pierces through whatever apprehension I feel bumbling around in my stomach. My mind is full on sprinting to keep up until the nameless girl cocks her hip and I realise it’s not rage, it’s jealously. I don’t want her coming on to him and in some juvenile part of my brain I’ve labelled Harry as mine. Just for me. Keep your hands off him.

 “I’ve got one,” he gruffly replies.

From my obstructed view I see him gesture to the tumbler of amber liquid pressing to his temple. The thawing ice tinkers against the glass and I’m sordidly pleased with his shrugging off.

“I can get you another.”

I hear the glass meet the bar top none too gently. It’s painfully clear he wants to be left alone but she’s going to hound him, goad him with unwanted offers. Let’s see you roar.

“No,” he retorts bluntly.

I pull on the hold she has, but the bony little fingers have more strength than I’m willing to admit. Yank anymore and we’ll both end up on the floor and I’m not really enthused by the idea of being jeered at by drunks.

“Well, maybe you could buy me one.”

Bitch.

Harry’s head sharply turns and my body reflexively jolts the other way. I pray that he doesn’t cotton on to the pounding reverberating in my chest. It’s the music, it’s the music, I repeat in mantra. The girl’s hand has constricted like a python, suddenly very aware of any mistake made, or perhaps it’s because his attention is now fully on her. They don’t speak while I play at waiting on service, casually scanning the bar and pretending the fingers wrapping around mine aren’t painfully tight. But the façade falls through as I catch her movement in my peripheral. Her hand gently cups Harry’s face and I’m stunned.  I expect him to shout or push her away, but he doesn’t. I wish he would.

His eyes are closed as I cautiously take a peek, face shadowed from inadequate lighting. There’s a pink crescent moon shape curving his left eye socket and I assume it’s a lingering consequence of dodging a full fist to the face. I’ve seen minor injuries like that before, nothing to worry about as it will be gone in a couple of days. What really nips at my interest is the more definite looking scar.

“It doesn’t bother me,” she faintly speaks, snapping me out of my almost daydream of a stare.

There are any number of things she could be referring to but the way in which he leans into her gentle affection has me utterly floored. I don’t understand. Her offerings were refused, Harry was perfectly clear on where he stood and now he’s almost defenceless against her advances.

Her hand falls from his face, drifting down his chest to rest alarming on his upper thigh. It’s uncomfortable to be here, to see her touch him so intimately. Harry doesn’t move, but I’m safe to freely observe because his consideration only goes as far as her. I don’t stray above his shoulders because I have no desire to see the small suggestive smile he used to give me. My lips pinch together in spite, and regardless of her successful catch, she still hangs onto me like her life depends on it. She’s almost in Harry’s lap and I feel like punching her in the gut and running.

What the hell is she playing at?

I watch with a distasteful scowl as she leans further into him, and he doesn’t refuse her. His eyes remain closed, enjoying her attention. The bar continues to provide a heady atmosphere, people now pressed too close for my liking.

“You can have both of us,” she murmurs sensually into his ear.

And I’m lost. A slow burn builds from my toes, incinerating anything in its path to create a hot mess of panicked butterflies in my stomach. It’s something I’ve never felt with James, and probably never will because he’s not Harry. James doesn’t excite me in the way I feel now, he won’t have me panting in mercy or begging for the simplest of touches. And I feel guilty for still stowing these emotions for a boy that I should have forgotten.

Please don’t. Not like this.

“You can fuck us both.”

I see her step back slightly with the aid of Harry’s arm but I don’t turn. His watchful eyes should be familiar as I blindly become aware of his assessment of me. He’s given a reluctant side profile, my face cloaked by a box bought, dark gold. The girl reaches her free hand to try and push the hair away from my face but I don’t let her. I can almost hear her snarl as I moodily recoil from her touch.

It’s as if my reaction sparks at Harry’s sudden turn. She’s shoved from her prided place wedged between his legs, releasing my hand in surprise. Her weak attempt to take his arm is stunted immediately.

“I’m not here for your sick entertainment,” Harry spits. The girl is so taken aback she bumps into me in her bid to escape. The depth of his voice dictates just how low his tolerance has become.

“No, no, I wasn’t…” she frantically defends in vain.

“I’m not gunna fuck you or your friend, so just do yourself a favour.”

Harry unwittingly knocks into the stool he once sat on, now up on his feet. He jostles into wide-eyed onlookers, his injured shoulder forgotten and replaced with vexation.

“Come on,” I say with quiet urgency, taking her wrist and towing her away.

I grab my coat on the way as we pass the table we once sat at and I don’t stop until we’ve exited out into the night.

“What the hell was that?” I demand, dropping her hand.

There’s people outside smoking and they’ve suddenly taken an interest in the two girls stood shouting. I make an effort to try and calm down.

“Well, he wasn’t going to take just me home was he?” she bitterly replies. “Needed a pretty little thing to sweeten the deal. Just his type.” She reaches again to flick my hair behind my ear and I force the hand back to her side. Her laugh is one of mocking irritation. “You ruined it.”

“I’m sure it’s not the end of the world.”

“Should’ve just sucked him off in the toilets, would have been less hassle.”

She barges into my shoulder upon her huffing departure and I can’t recall ever having a conversation like it. I don’t realise until she’s gone just how tightly I’ve screwed my fists.

***

I’ve had to walk around the back of the club. There’d been no parking spaces out the front when I’d arrived so the car is a little further than I’d like to journey, but I have no choice. Rubbish litters the pavement and one of the street lamps casts an eerie flickering light.

There’s three guys making a slightly tipsy performance of play fighting. I don’t count them as a danger as one of them has just fallen over his own feet. They’re laughing as I manoeuvre around them.

“Hey!” one of them calls.

I continue placing one foot in front of the other, slightly faster than I was before. My car is just across the road, if I sprint I can be inside with the doors locked in under ten seconds.

“Hey.”

My body falters in concealed alarm as the man rounds to my front and grins at me.

“What do you think? I could take him, right?”

His speech swims in a distinct slur, the pungent stench of liquor polluting the air between us. There’s an ominous stain dribbled down the front of his top, a hiccup accompanied by a cruise ship sway.

“Who?” I ask, fingers discovering the whereabouts of my keys.

He doesn’t notice.

“Styles.”

I could almost bark out a patronising laugh. Expectation in his glassy eyes command me to agree with him and it’s as he raises his brows that I’m overcome with recognition. The guy from the bar, the delusional one who’d proclaimed himself winner of some infantile playground fight whilst Harry was in the ring.

“You’d hardly be worth his time,” I honestly reply.

I hadn’t intended to be so blunt and by the flush of his cheeks and his friends’ laughter, he’s embarrassed that I was.

“It was a clean knockout,” he challenges.

The smart thing to do would be to agree and walk away, but apparently I’m unable to do that even in a situation like this.

“No,” I shake my head in fierce objection. “You just pushed over a drunk. You picked the easiest target in there, he wasn’t going to put up a fight and you know it.”

I want to sellotape my mouth shut before anything else spurts out that I’ve not had a chance to think about. His friends have come closer and I have to gulp down my fear as I fiddle in my bag, slotting a key between each finger on my right hand. The man’s unfocussed vision glides unnervingly up and down my figure. It’s time to leave.

“I wouldn’t say he was the easiest.”

The path to the car is blocked. I think about using the keys, slashing across his face and making a run for it.

“How about you? Am I worth your time?” he grits out.

“Please move,” I say, willing it to sound more authoritative than it probably does.

The metal is hot in my hand, take a step closer and I’ll use it.

“Oi!”

Four of us drag our eyes over to the fire escape at the back of the club. I’m no damsel and I’m not even sure if this new Harry is into playing the hero, but I don’t think his timing could have been more spot on. The air is filled with a fresh tension which hopefully puts me out of the firing line.

“Oh look, the man himself,” the guy snidely smiles at me. “We’ve got one of your groupies here, mate.”

I’m shoved a little in Harry’s direction. He’s close, boots crunching the lose sprinkles of tarmac. He steps around me, placing himself between me and the tormentors. I stop myself from bustling up beside him and stay partially sheltered behind him.

“Why don’t you and your mates just fuck off, yeah? She’s done nothing wrong.”

Harry’s still got his hands shoved in his jean pockets like this whole thing is a strain on his time. I imagine the short ends of the bandana tickle at his neck, although he shows no sign of discomfort from where I’m standing.

“She hurt my feelings,” the man fakes wounded.

I hear Harry snigger, casually wandering forward to address him personally.

“I find that hard to believe with a skull as thick as yours.”

It’s as if intimidation comes with just a simple glance. The men are backing off all too easily. They make a performance of leaving, kicking at the empty cans on the floor to have them rebound off the wall.

“Freak!”

The shouts echo down the road but Harry is oblivious to them. I peer at the floor as he shifts his weight and strolls back. The unsure hand glides inches above my shoulder before thinking better of it and letting it fall to his side once more.

 “Are you all right?” he asks.

“Fine,” I gulp. “Thanks.”

If he recognises me from the bar he doesn’t mention it, and I’m glad because my hands are already starting to sweat and I can practically hear the drumming in my chest. I hadn’t planned on a face-to-face encounter like this; well, it’s hardly much of an interaction as I haven’t given him the decency of looking up at his face. He probably thinks of me as rude and ungrateful.  

 “Do you need me to walk you anywhere?”

I softly smile, still evading full face visuals with my hair. It’s the first indication I’ve received of his past self still present in this different form. Not all of him has been lost.

“My car is just..” I trail off, gesturing towards the grey vehicle. “It’s ok, thank you,” and I leave him there.

The brief walk that I’d been prepared to sprint a short time before is strangely calm. That is until I momentarily peek over my shoulder and then immediately regret it. Harry’s still stood there. He’s overseen me walk away and cross the road. Why is he still stood there? It’s not a relaxed kind of lingering, it’s purposeful. He’s remained there for a reason.

I fuss with my keys, cursing myself as I ineptly drop them and then hastily scoop them up. My hands are shaking.

He’s going to let me get into my car. I’ll drive away and won’t even be tempted to look at him in my rear view. Please let me get into my car.

“Bo.”

 

 

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