KNOCKOUT - A Harry Styles FanFiction

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

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6. Chapter 6 part 1

My stomach clenches, that horrible feeling of frightful shock you can’t seem to quell. He’s looking to me for some sort of reaction and all I can convince him of is a rabbit caught in headlights. Of all the silly things to think, I’m wondering if it’s impolite to stare. He must be used to it, it’s not an imperfection or embarrassing tattoo you can hide under clothes or a pass off with a jovial anecdote. It’s one of the most valuable senses, helps ground you in the situation and environment around you. I can’t imagine how lost he’s become.

“Do you – “ I quietly begin before re-evaluating. “Do you have anything for me to mop up the water?”

My hands become partially shielded behind my back because I can’t keep them from quivering. I’m unsure if he’s disappointed with my initiate reaction, but his brow grows heavy before mumbling about something in the kitchen. I take off after him, carefully watching his movements to try and determine how extensive the disability is. The short walk is a poor indicator because this is his home, he’s mentally mapped out the interior and could probably navigate it with his eyes closed anyway.

It’s completely normal as he riffles through nearly empty cupboards, apart from the obvious fact that he’s blind. Fuck. I clear my throat of nerves and Harry twists his head as if I was calling for his attention. Maybe it’s like looking through frosted glass, or perhaps his left eye is shrouded with dark silhouettes. If he closes his right, what will he see? I don’t get to enquire because he’s returned to his search of kitchen roll. Any other time I would have moaned at him for the dirty mugs left scattered by the sink. It’s a little chaotic shrine of used cereal bowls, food encrusted saucepans and a horde of utensils.

 “How?”

Armed with a roll of kitchen towels, Harry looks like a child being asked about the mantelpiece ornament that’s been bluetacked back together. It’s probably not the best approach, but there’s no point in beating around the bush. He has to have known I’d ask.

“What?” He replies.

There’s a skittish nature to the way he holds himself, almost as if he’s unaccustomed to someone being so direct. Or maybe it’s because I don’t waver in maintaining eye contact. It’s still him, despite how cold and shut down he’s become.

“How did it happen?”

With a face void of emotion he replies, “with a knife.”

The revelation causes a small choked off laugh on my part. It’s humourless, like I can’t begin to get my head around how lacking he is in conversational interest. He used to make me smile.

“I could have guessed that.” The thought of a blade slicing his face pulls at the tension in my voice. “Why then? What happened, Harry?”

He grabs a plastic bag before moving back to the bedroom. The water has run rivers out from the initial point of impact, making the clean up on the wooden floor more wide spread. It’s as Harry crouches to assess the damage that he speaks again.

“I said things I probably shouldn’t have.”

I’m careful not to put a foot wrong whilst walking around to sit on the side of his unmade bed. As he soaks up the water I’m deciding if I want to know details, or if it’s best to not delve too deep into something I shouldn’t become invested in.

“To who?” I stress.

“They give you –“ Harry pauses, looking warily to me before continuing to pick up shards of glass. “It was new,” he says quietly. “You get the first couple of pills free to latch you onto it, make sure you come back for more.”

My hands tighten in the bed sheets as I listen.

“Drugs?”

I shift uncomfortably on the bed, trying to suppress thoughts of, “my Harry wouldn’t be so foolish, that’s not who he is”. But of course he’s not my Harry, not anymore; and now the boy knelt on the floor at my feet is even more of a stranger to me.

“He said it was legal, not sure how well tested it was though. But it took everything out of here,” he taps in forehead. “Gets rid of it for a while. It made me feel happy again.”

I want to cry, scream at him but I don’t because the idea of Harry being so utterly lost that he could only find happiness from something dangerous, temporary and artificial leaves me feeling broken. I want to bundle him up in my arms and shout at him all at the same time.

“I couldn’t afford it and I didn’t find out until later that the distributor I used manages one of my main competitors. I was a dual income loss so it was bit of a bonus for him I guess,” he gestures half-heartedly at his face.

The damaged left eye glints, following the path of the right but not really seeing. My lips purse, eyes water and the lump in my throat threatens to choke me.

 “And he left you?”

“They. It was two of them,” Harry corrects me calmly.

“You were on your own?” I ask with a tremble.

He looks up from the task in hand upon hearing my voice break. I don’t wish to become an ugly mess of disastrous tears but Harry recognises the signs and we both know I’m going to cry.

“Don’t get upset, Bo,” he almost sighs. “It’s already happened, can’t do much about it now.”

His reassurance is piss poor, like he can’t be bothered or more than likely he’s let go of any human response to comfort. Regardless of his lack of concern, I can’t seem to shake the image of him crumpled to the floor in some dirty alley. He’s alone, frightened and hurting.

 “Did you go to the police?”

More water is mopped up until the paper is soggy. It’s thrown into the plastic bag.

“No, they came to visit me in hospital. I didn’t allow them to pursue it though.”

My teeth grit in frustration and I stow the need to grab him by the shoulders and shake.

“Why not? You knew your attackers?” I ask in disbelief. “Those people left you permanently scarred. You’re blind, Harry.”

The fury in my words is returned with a fogged, steely stare. He stands and so do I. We’re matched in passionate words, but far from equal in height.

“Don’t you think I know that?” he bites back with venom.

“Then why didn’t you press charges?”

My body slumps with disappointment. It’s a hopelessness of nearing defeat. What’s the use in arguing with him? He seems to deflate, puffing out the aggravation that has his muscles tense.

“Because I know they thought I deserved it,” Harry admits softly, head bowed in shame. “The way they were looking at me made me feel worthless, like it was a waste of their time.”

“That’s their job, Harry. They’re supposed to help you.”

My reasoning is brushed aside.

“There wasn’t much point anyway. It would be like adding fuel to an inferno. I know who it was but you don’t play games with those sort of people, Bo.”

I look to his face, dark circles under his eyes, cheekbones more prominent and no hope of even a hint of a coveted smile. I miss him.

“I wish I was there.”

He folds his arms across his chest, defensive and less than pleased with my wish. I would never have let him get to that stage.

“No you don’t.”

“Are you still on it?”

“No, I got help.”

“Were you injured anywhere else?”

“No, just my eye.”

Our short quick fire round finishes with me sadly nodding before crouching to complete the unfinished clean up. Harry mirrors my position, assessing my stature for a moment whilst burdening himself with a frown that seems to be a permanent fixture on his face.

“Leave it, Bo,” he firmly speaks.

The kindness he once had in his voice has been cut away and replaced with foul bitterness. It’s a stale reminiscence of past memories and a short temper. Fuck him. I carry on with the delicate task of picking up the small slices of glass that he’s unintentionally missed. It’s not his fault.

“Bo,” Harry scolds once again.

My patience explodes.

“How could you be so fucking stupid?!” I shout.

The sudden volume alarms him, falling back on his haunches with startled eyes. He stutters a response before we’re both left in a forced silence. I wrestle with controlling my breathing, so worked up it’s difficult to multitask and get up from the floor.

“I have to go.”

I’m shaking my head and screwing my eyes closed to hold back the bombardment of emotions I can’t deal with. This isn’t fair. My desire to shed all thoughts and feelings gained this evening is denied as Harry trails after me into the living room.

“You don’t have to leave,” he desperately offers.

Harry’s eyes flicker around the room as if searching for something to prevent me from departing. It’s heart wrenching because it wasn’t long ago that all he’d have to do was flash a smile and I’d go sprinting back to him. But now he’s not enough for me to stay; and he knows that.

“Please,” he swallows hurriedly. “Just-Just stay for a bit longer.”

His hands are shaking, bottom lip bitten with the anxiousness of a child. If he were to hold a teddy bear, you would think he was a toddler on the verge of tears before bedtime.

“No.”

I turn away from him to the sofa, fighting the pillows for my jacket. It suddenly feels overwhelmingly stuffy in the pokey flat and I want to get out. I need to get away from him because he’s dragging me down to a place I’m desperately trying to claw out of.

“You’ve only just got here.”

He runs a sweaty hand through the hair taken back with the scarf. It had escaped my attention before, but now I can see Harry’s nails are bitten nearly down to the quick. He’s the embodiment of a nervous wreck and I’m an awful person for abandoning him.

“I don’t want to stay.”

The words burn my throat as I speak them.

“I can walk you down.”

“I don’t need you –“

I was going to tell him that his offer was unnecessary but the sentence is left unfinished and hanging between us. If my heart wasn’t already shattered it would have fractured with the devastated look he gives me. The minuscule thread of a connection we share has been cut, with each of us left holding a tattered end. His eyes water with imminent release, chest beginning to heave.

“Please,” Harry wheezes.

I almost fall backwards into the corridor. The door slams shut and it’s finally just me. But the guilt and responsibility I felt whilst inside remain at the clutches of my throat. It clings to my skin like sweat on a sticky summer’s day. I’ve marched halfway down the corridor before reason has me screech to a halt.

“Shit.”

It would please me greatly to just walk away, escape from the nightmare this evening has become; but my own stupidity has had me leave my bag slung over his sofa. I would have left it there if the items inside weren’t vital for me to travel home. It’s pride and reluctance that have me feeling sour about walking the short distance and re-entering the flat. A gentle press is all that’s needed for me to gain entry.

“I left my – Harry?”

He’s on the floor, thirsty for air to fill his lungs and despite his long, sporadic inhales he doesn’t seem to be making any headway. I call his name again, but his posture still curves his spine. His fingers splay out on the carpet, chin almost touching his chest and I think he’s going to be sick.

My knees throb with a dull pain as they hit the floor. I take his face in both my hands so he knows he’s not alone. He uncurls slightly and I’m greeted with eyes blown wide. The shortness to his breath unnerves me.

“I – Bo, I can’t –“

Hold him. With panic tight in my gut I think to the people that know Harry best, when he was a little boy, when the threat of his father’s presence got too much. Hold him. 

The unique set of eyes lose focus as I slip into Harry’s peripheral,  and he feels lost to me when I position myself behind him. My hands soothe the unnatural arching of his back as I prepare to move him. Harry’s still crowded in of himself until I softly speak his name. He sits up slightly, head tilting back, body seeking another like a flower to the sun. I take the opportunity to wedge my forearms under his armpits. When his sister used to hold him, I imagine he was small, easy to cuddle and nothing like the man he is now. The weight of him is more than I can cope with, even with the urgency of the situation I can’t haul him back. I cry in frustration, heels anchoring into the floor and it’s seconds later that Harry exerts his already strained breathe to press back into me. With my heart jackrabbiting in between his shoulder blades, I lean against the sofa to support our forced embrace. He sits within the “v” of my outstretched legs. 

“It’s ok,” I speak in hurried reassurance. “You’re gunna be ok. Try and breathe with me.”

I purposefully exaggerate the movement of my chest so he can feel the motion beneath him. But he isn’t listening. His body shakes as I cross my arms around his front. Harry’s sobs are deprived of emotion because instinct has commandeered, hammering out any other thoughts other than those of human survival and the pursuit of oxygen.

“Shhh.”

Asthma attacks have a similar effect. I remember watching as my cousin fell to the floor with grass-stained knees and a wheezing chest. My aunt had shoved an inhaler in her mouth but I have no medicine for Harry. There’s no magic pill or puff of an inhaler that can take away the attack he’s experiencing.

Harry’s head rests back on my shoulder as I relieve his hair of constricting bandana. His chest fights against the firm press of my right arm whilst my left hand runs trails through his hair. He’d always found it of comfort before, a sure way of guaranteeing his relaxation to help him sleep. But it seems he’s far beyond that now. I jolt in surprise as an overly hot palm clutches at the material on my thigh, the other yanking at the neck of his top until I offer him my hand to hold. The bond we create lies over his chest in a tangle of haphazard limbs, sweaty palms and bruising impressions of fingertips.

I’ve got you, baby. 

The longest four minutes of my life span out and the astounding display of Harry’s chest and lungs gradually slows to someone partaking in a brisk walk. I feel like I’ve run a marathon with a pack of wolves on my tail in the blistering heat of summer. My exhaustion is evident so I have no idea what Harry is experiencing. I gently rock him as his pulse slows beneath my critical observation. He’s treated to kind whispered promises of his ensured safety and how I’ll hold him for as long as he needs me to.

I’m convinced I’ve ushered him to sleep until he murmurs my name.

“I’ll stay, just please don’t do that again.”

 

“I’ll try not to.”

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