Uncharted Territory

"it isn't always about going back, Harry. Sometimes, it's all about moving foward." | As an indefinite hiatus temporarily disbands the ever popular boyband One Direction, Harry Styles finds himself in a melancholic limbo. While going solo was always a part of the plan, the trouble came in filling the newly wiped slate. As a part of his necessary soul searching and a crucial part of his creative process, Harry ultimately finds himself locked away in a private studio in Port Antonio, Jamaica where pizza boy and unofficial guitar god Mitch Rowland somehow ends up as well after Harry's lead guitarist suddenly dropped out. Despite the fact that both Harry and Mitch are completely clueless about where they're going, and yearn for a place they no longer belong, they find their strength in knowing that they're moving forward together.


(Artwork by dunkirks.tumblr.com)

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2. prologue

prologue

I don't think you ever actively start the day thinking "I'm going to change my entire life today." You know, like you wake up, go to the loo, brush your teeth, and while looking in the mirror decide "Today is a good day to throw it all away and start anew. Let's do it." I didn't decide it like that, I don't think anyone does. Yet when I walked into the studio that morning, I had inevitably set everything in motion with five words. 

"We should take a break." 

No one took notice at first, my three mates still hard at work with wrapping up our album. So I coughed, then coughed a little louder, and repeat it once more, "We should take a break."

Niall looks up at me in confusion from his guitar, "What's that Haz? It's only been an hour since we started."

"That's not what I meant."

Niall's face freezes as he turns to look at Liam. Liam simply shakes his head and brushes it off, he knows where this conversation is headed and in their own secret language, he just told Niall to stay out of it. 

I turned to look at Louis, who had long ago avoided looking at me head on. That though is a story for another time, perhaps. 

"What did you mean then?" Louis asks, his voice tinged a frigidness that he had long ago reserved solely for me.

"I think that..." I start slowly, trying not to falter "We should take a short hiatus."

Louis' eyes narrow, and without him actually having to look at me I could actually feel his cold, blue eyes piercing my soul, "You too?"

"What?" I ask innocently as I take a step toward him. He stops me with a single show of his palm as he spun around in his chair to look at me, really look at me for the first time in ages. 

"You want to leave too, mate?" He asks, his voice wavering a bit, almost as if pleading with me. 

I shake my head, "It's not that."

"Then what is it?"

Rewind about two years. Our lives were pretty much planned out to a tee. As one-fifth of the biggest boy band in the world, it was easy to forget that we had lives before we were One Direction. It had taken over everything. We wake up in another country, work out with a trainer, eat pre-cooked meals, lounge around until show time, perform for two hours, then get back on the preferred mode of transportation to do it all over again. Repeat 328 times a year for five fucking years. 

It was simple, really, no thought put into "What should I wear, what should I eat, who should I visit today?", none at all.

But then, all of a sudden we were free. We were allowed one week to ourselves, one unscheduled, unplanned, and unconsidered week, and that was enough to put it all in question. 

"Harold? Earth to Harold?" Louis says angrily. 

"Oh, sorry, mate."

Louis scoffs, "How long?"

"What?"

"How bloody long!?"

"I-I I don't know."

"Didn't think that far, did you?" Louis said as he shakes his head, "Just thought you'd come in here, blurt out what you're thinking, and hope that we come up with the rest?" His tone was slowly rising, pretty soon he'd be shouting. 

Liam and Niall look at us without saying a word. They had already known this was coming, I had told them everything that was on my mind a few weeks ago. We had all sat down while Louis was off doing god knows what and weighed the pros and the cons, and managed to just lay it all out one last time before having to bring Louis into the conversation. We knew that once we did, that this was somehow official.

Somehow they understood the chaos that was occurring within me. Well, to be fair, they always did. They weren't a bad lot, not at all. We've been through it all together. But Louis, Louis is just a different story altogether.

For a while, we had something, something that I can't manage to explain. Our friendship was something founded in the midst of a whirlwind, and through it all, it had managed to grow into something I had thought was for life. I was clearly wrong. Some friendships can't weather every storm.

"Well?" Louis asks impatiently.

"Well?" I mimic unintentionally. 

"What do you want me to say, Harry? That it's all well and good. That you're doing all of us a favor by saying the thing we've all wanted but were too scared to utter?"

"N-no I just-"

He sighs loudly, "I don't care."

"What?"

"I don't care. I don't care anymore. If it's a break you want and the lads agree then-" He takes a breath and runs his hands through his clearly unwashed hair, "Let's do it."

"Just like that?"

He turns and gave me a smile, a sad one, but a smile nonetheless. Something he hadn't graced me with in a long while, "Just like that, mate. Just like that."

"So, we're taking a break?" Niall says, glancing at us nervously from across the room.

"Well, I'm sure you've all pow-wowed about this without me, per usual." Louis retorts as if he wasn't sore about the fact. 

"Yeah, well..." Niall tries.

"We just know how you get." Liam shrugs, looking pretty sorry about the whole thing. 

"It's fine, I know how it goes, truly." 

I look between the three of them, trying to read if it really was okay. The world hasn't erupted into flames, no one has collapsed or died, maybe an expected catastrophe was a bit too outlandish.

"So we're agreed?" Liam tries.

Louis nods, "If you're all for it, fuck mate, so am I. It's about time we flew the coop."

Niall gives a pathetic half smile, I knew he didn't agree with the decision, but for the sake of our happiness he would pretend he did, "Yeah, I'm kind of sick of the lot of you." He chuckles.

"Harry?" Liam asks, "You good?"

I nod and cross my arms, "All good."

"Alright, well, I think we just agreed to disband the group," Liam says, leaning back in his chair and putting down the pen he had been rolling in his palm. 

"Temporarily," Niall interjects.

"Why are we kidding ourselves," Louis says from his desk, making all three of us turn to look at him. 

"What?" I ask.

"You know what. This isn't temporary. We haven't been us for a very long time."

"Are you breaking up with us?" Niall asks. 

Louis smirks, the corners of his mouth turning up ever so slightly, "Niall, all I'm saying is that this isn't working for any of us. Why would we ever want to come back to something that made us feel so...so..."

"Entrapped," Liam says, pointedly avoiding our curious gazes. It was the first time he had ever admitted something like this. 

"Entrapped," Louis repeats, nodding slowly. He turns to face us and straightens up a bit, "Look, I just think if we do this that we need to do it our own way. We have to take the time to find ourselves again."

"I'm not lost," Niall says assuredly. 

Liam and I though, remain silent. 

I had never considered it in that way. Could I really be lost? Is this why I want out so bad? Has my life become something I don't recognize anymore because I don't know how to find who I used to be?

"I don't think all of us can say that, mate." Louis mumbles. 

"So what, we're just done?" Niall asks, his own voice rising a few octaves.

"For now. For now, I think I just have to flip the page on this chapter. Start a new one. One that I get to write, Niall. You have to get that." 

"I do. I get it. But, you know, Zayn said almost the same thing last year and-"

"And he left without saying anything, Niall. He didn't even fucking let us know that he was feeling that way! What are we doing right now? Aren't we having a fucking dialogue!? Isn't that what mates do when they're struggling!?"

Niall let it go, for now, didn't even respond to Louis. 

"Zayn aside." Liam says, "How will this ever fly with management?"

"They know."

"What?" We say in unison.

"I told them last week that we were considering it. You have your secrets, I have mine." He says pointedly. "We all know this wasn't going to continue. We can't do it anymore. Even if we wanted to keep lying to ourselves, I wasn't about to let that happen for another two years."

"What did they say?" I ask.

"They thought it would be a good time for us to begin pursuing our own interests."

"Of course." Liam sighs. 

"But they agreed?" I step closer to Louis and he doesn't distance himself from me. I can actually smell the cigarettes on his hoodie and the spearmint on his breath. It's been ages. 

"Yeah." He doesn't turn away, looks at me head on, "It's time to move on."

He didn't have to say anything else. I had said my five words that had set this whole thing into motion, and he had said the five that set me free. 

No more routine, no more being told what to do. No more Liam, Niall, or Louis. As much as we would promise to each other that we would call or text, as days would pass messages would cease. We'd congratulate each other on new singles or projects, but other than that, it would never be like before. Nothing would be. 

In just a few short months it would be just me, and as much as I had been yearning for the freedom, it came with a price. 

"So that's it, huh?" Niall asks

Louis nods, "Yeah, mate, it's that easy, I guess." He says it as if it were nothing, but he knows better. I know he does. It's everything. This is the end of everything as we know it. From here on out, everything is unknown, uncharted. 

From here on out, it isn't about finding our ways back to each other, but to ourselves. Before we could ever think about being One Direction again, we had to learn who each of us was once more. And I think that, without a doubt, is what may keep us from ever being what we had once been. 

 

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