It’s Not Easy

“Harry,” Niall tries desperately, rushing to his fallen friend’s side and kneeling down beside him. “Harry,” he says more firmly, gently placing a spandex covered arm behind him to lift him a little.

“Come on, Harry,” he says, using his free hand to slap his friend across the face. It makes more of a thump than a slapping sound, given that Niall’s hand is gloved with the thick material of his outfit.

Nothing.

“Harry,” Niall’s starting to get desperate now, the tears are welling up in his eyes and the lump of sadness is starting to rise in his throat. “Harry, no, come on, mate…”

Dust and dirt surround the two of them. There’s hard winds and clapping thunder. The countryside is completely dead save for the five of them, and Niall hasn’t a clue where Louis, Zayn and Liam are at the moment. The only thing he’d cared about was seeing Harry forced off his feet, thrown into the air in and tossed yards away.

He’d zipped off in that direction, not paying attention to the mission they had at hand or anything else. He can’t be botherd. He’s all but forgotten about it, really. The only thing he’s able to focus on is Harry’s gaunt lifeless face.

There’s no familiar dimples. No bright, loving smile lighting up his eyes.

Nothing.

The only thing that’s the same is the familiar scar that runs across his right cheek. And indeed, it’s the symbol of everything that’s different.

~~~

Niall is jostled awake by a rumbling underneath the tour bus. It’s normal, it’s routine – sleep never comes easy in a tiny bunk on a bulky bus. Especially when he drew the short straw and got stuck in the shit bunk near the back.

“Fuck,” Niall says, rubbing his eyes and rolling over to face the wall. He curls up into a ball and just as his eyelids begin to droop again the bus rumbles.

“Fucking American roads,” Niall mumbles to himself, expecting the rumble to stop.

It doesn’t.

In fact, it gets harder and rockier. Perhaps he makes the wrong decision as he sits up in his bunk because the bus goes over a rock or something and he bumps his head rather hard on the ceiling.

“Ow!” he exclaims, overly annoyed with the situation now. The bus is moving quickly and in his groggy state he doesn’t quite understand what’s going on. He hops down from his bunk, but that too proves to be a mistake because he can’t find his footing.

“Fuck off,” he grunts to no one but himself, clinging to the walls and walking towards the section the other lads are sleeping in. Maybe they know what’s going on – or maybe this is somehow one of Louis’ stupid pranks.

There’s a hard bump that lands Niall flat on his arse which assures him that there’s no way this could be one of Louis’ pranks. Even he couldn’t pull off something of this magnitude.

Which means that something is very, very wrong.

Niall pulls himself back up as the bus continues to sway. He’s beginning to feel almost seasick, which he’s sure is a mixture of the movements and the uncertainty.

“Lads!” he shouts, his voice shaking. Just has he gets up he’s knocked over again.

This time it’s worse. The light that had been hanging above his head goes out and he’s knocked over, only to be squished against the wall opposite his bunk.

He raises his arm to protect his head. His eyes are squinted, but he watches with fear as the bus jostles underneath him. His laptop, blanket and stupid stuffed bear that his mum gave him fall out of his bunk and toward him.

“Ah,” he tries to shout, but instead it just comes out as a whimper among the clanging and crashing of things getting tossed about.

His heart beats heavily in his chest and he’s frozen in place. There’s the sound of clanging metal and more jostling.

But the thing that’s the clearest in all of this mess is the light. The bright light that Niall swears flashes for twenty or thirty seconds. It’s brighter than anything he’s seen and bears no comparison to the stage lights that are constantly in his face. Closing his eyes doesn’t help – the white sheet bleeds through his eyelids changing the blackness to a fiery bright orange.

Until it’s all black again.

The clashing and rumbling stops.

Hands shaking, Niall places them onto the wall and tries to force himself up. He can’t – the bus is obviously laying on its side.

“Lads…” he chokes out, crawling along the wall, trying to get to the main area of the bus where the others are, or at least were. If Louis isn’t already dead, Niall is going to kill him for making him sleep segregated from everyone else

“It’ll be fine,” Niall remembers Louis assuring him.

Not bloody likely.

Niall pushes himself along, reaching upwards to force open the door.

Yes, the bus is most certainly completely on its side. The door to get out is clear above him. He looks upwards and all he can see is the stars and blackness. He glances around – the others are nowhere to be –

“Niall!” Harry’s head comes into view. “You alright, mate?”

Niall looks up at him with shock and relief. He nods – for all intents and purposes he’s okay. Just a little shaken is all.

“Here,” Harry says, reaching his arm in through the doorway. “Climb up,I’ll help you out.”

Niall surveys the area. The bus is fairly narrow – standing up makes it easy for him to grab Harry’s hand. He pushes himself up and in no time at all Harry’s pulling him out.

“There we go, Nialler,” Harry grins as he pulls him out. He dangles his legs over the side of the bus as the other three scramble to help them down.

Niall looks at Harry gratefully and that’s when he notices.

“Harry,” Niall says, his breath hitching in his throat.

“What?” he questions, jumping down and landing in the dusty wasteland.

“Your face…”

Harry’s face is bright as ever, his eyes are alive and his helpful nature is strong as ever. The only thing that’s changed is that during the rustling of the bus, his face somehow got cut open – there’s a gash on his cheek with blood pouring out of it, staining his skin.

“Yes, yes,” Louis says with much exasperation in his voice as he looks up at Niall. “Harry’s perfect popstar face is damaged and it’s a tragedy. Come down, will you?”

Niall nods as he glances down. The underside of the bus is exposed – it’s a bit higher off the ground than he prefers to jump, but he’s always pegged himself as adventurous. Besides, after living through whatever mess has just happened, a little jump is the least of his worries.

He jumps down, bending his knees as he lands. A small dust cloud forms around his feet, and he quickly wipes his legs and arms down.

“What happened?” he asks, walking alongside the bus.

“We crashed,” Louis says with a shrug.

“Right,” Niall said, ignoring his sass as he always did. He surveys the area, and it’s hard for him to believe what he’s seeing.

The bus is completely on its side – laying there perfectly still. The most shocking thing that Niall has yet to notice until that moment is that it’s nearly wrapped around an electrical post – a post that’s sitting at a terribly incorrect angle over the bus.

“That must have been what the light was,” Niall mutters to himself.

Liam comes up behind him and nods. “We slid down that hillside,” he says, pointing upwards.

Niall follows Liam’s gesture and his eyes widen. The cars that he can see driving alongside the hill look like ants. “We fell all that way? What happened, where’s Jeffrey?”

Liam’s eyes fall to the ground. He needn’t say anything more – it isn’t hard to figure out.

“Zayn’s calling for help,” Liam says, putting his arm around Niall’s shoulders. “It’ll be alright, mate.”

“Yeah,” Niall says softly, even though he isn’t quite sure he believes that.

~~~

“Niall!” Louis shouts, rushing over to his friend’s side. “What’re you doing? Did you not see that fucking cloud forming, we’ve got to –” he stops abruptly as he looks down.

“He’s dead,” Niall says softly, still cradling Harry’s lifeless body in his arms.

Louis lets out a slow breath and kneels down beside Niall. He places a hand on Niall’s shoulder, but it’s hardly comforting. Niall can barely feel him through the tight spandex of his suit and the thick material of Louis’ gloves, anyway.

“We’ve got to get moving,” Louis says seriously, giving Niall a look.

Niall can’t stop staring at Harry’s face. He’s almost trying to will it back to life – even though he knows there’s no way he can do that. It’s just there – his eyes closed and his curls messy around his forehead. If Niall didn’t know better, if the distinct rise and fall of Harry’s chest wasn’t missing, he’d say his friend was just asleep.

Just a little bit of rest before the biggest moment of his life, that’s all.

Niall swallows, forcing down the lump in his throat that’s been threatening to come up. He turns to look at Louis.

The determination in his friend’s face is there, but he also doesn’t miss the way his lips are ever so slightly turned down.

He’s hurting too – he just knows he can’t allow himself the pleasure of mourning right now.

Niall nods once and looks back down at Harry. “I’ve got to go now,” he says, leaning down and kissing Harry’s scarred cheek. “But I’ll be back.”

~~~

Two days later and the lads are back on the road. The rescue effort hadn’t taken long, of course. Being trapped in the wilderness and having to play survivor just wasn’t an option for One Direction – the biggest boyband in the world. There were shows to play and despite the accident, they had to go on.

It’s during that show where the lads learn that something’s not right.

The lights go down and the video plays. The lights come up and Up All Night’s first notes begin to ring throughout the arena.

Standard.

They appear on the stage singing and laughing and performing all their routine antics.

Things have never been better, in fact.

Zayn sings about the table breaking and Niall does one of his signature jumps.

The crowd screams in awe as he goes about ten feet higher than he normally does.

They boys continue to sing as Niall comes down, sticking the landing easily and looking over at Harry with utter shock on his face. He joins in on the chorus with a pleased grin on his face. He’s never, ever been able to do something like that before. And not that he’s ever been winded after a jump – but he feels perfectly alright. He can jump all evening if he wants!

The show goes on much more energetically after that. The lads give it their all and wouldn’t you know it – none of them are winded. The crowd is certainly energetic as ever – and by the time the lights are back on in the arena the boys are back on their new bus, gathered in the common area.

“What was that?” Liam asks, looking around at all of them.

They’re standing in a circle, looking at each other quizzically.

“I’ve never been able to jump like that,” Niall says with glee. “I must have gone up fifteen feet! Maybe twenty.”

They all look at him. Even Louis, who would typically have some sort of sarcastic comment about how Niall was once again exaggerating with excitement has nothing.

They all know it’s true.

“I’ve never been able to sing like that,” Harry says slowly, looking at the others. “I didn’t even feel out of breath at the end of What Makes You Beautiful.”

The four of them nod, they’re full of energy as ever.

“Do you…” Zayn says softly, looking around at them. “Do you think it had something to do with the crash?”

Niall hadn’t even made that connection until Zayn said it – now it all makes sense. In fact – they were all pretty banged up after the crash. Not seriously injured, but banged and bruised nonetheless. Even Harry, whose face had a pretty serious cut on it was healing up faster than the doctors expected.

“The light!” Niall exclaims as the fleeting thought makes its way to his mouth. “Right before we stopped moving there was this light, it went on and on, never seen anything so bright in my life…”

To his shock, none of the other lads tell him he’s crazy. Instead they all nod along with understanding.

“This is going to sound absolutely mad,” Louis says, looking at all of them. “But do you think it’s possible that the crash gave us some kind of superpowers?”

 

~~~

“Where’s Harry?” Liam asks as Louis and Niall rush back over to where he and Zayn are standing, warding off the cloud that’s looming above them.

Niall gulps. He can’t bring himself to say it again. Once was enough – instead he shakes with fear and longing. He looks over at Louis, who’s always been able to keep a level head in the most dire of situations.

“Nevermind where Harry is,” Louis snaps, making Niall breathe a sigh of relief. “How’s that going?” he asks, pointing up at the ominous cloud looming above them.

“How’s it going?” Liam asks, snapping his head to look at Louis. “How do you think it’s going, mate? The sky is nearly black and that cloud isn’t getting any smaller. It’s been the two of us trying to ward it off but it’s getting worse and we don’t have a lot of time! You know it has to be the five of us – it has to be now, or that’s it! The end, mate. That’s how it’s going!” Liam shouted, glaring at Louis.

“Right,” Louis says, completely nonchalant. “Well, you saw Harry get knocked onto his arse over there.”

Liam doesn’t say another word.

“We have to find another way,” Louis says with a simple shrug of his shoulders.

~~~

It’s all fun and games – the lads are able to mess about without worry of hurting themselves too badly. They’re able to give their performance even more energy every night, causing all media outlets to take notice.

It’s Liam who notices he can control the air.

He’s simply blowing onto his tea one morning when he notices can see the air in front of him – it’s not cold outside at all, being the middle of summer in the United States. But the air is clearly there. He blows harder, and nearly knocks the cup over.

Getting a little mischievous, he takes his hand and waves it in front of him.

The swirls of steam atop his drink float away.

“Lads!” he shouts. “Lads!!”

Niall and Harry join him in the kitchen of the bus – rubbing their eyes from having been woken up so abruptly.

“I can move the air,” Liam says plainly. “Look.”

He does it again – waving his hand a little harder. Wisps of air move, and the mug of tea in front of him shakes in its place before steadying itself.

“Whoa,” Harry says, just as Niall sits down across from Liam and tries the same thing.

He’s successful, perhaps a little too much as the mug lands clear in Liam’s lap.

“Right,” Liam says with annoyance. “Thanks for that, at least I’d cooled it off first.”

 

~~~

“There’s no other way,” Liam says, glaring at Louis.

Louis shrugs. He glances over at Zayn, who’s still pushing the air up towards the cloud in an effort to break it apart.

Liam shakes his head. He looks over at Niall who’s just standing there. His shoulders are hunched and he’s staring at the ground. He kicks up some dirt at his feet, dirtying his white boot even more so.

“We can’t just let it win,” Louis says, running his thickly gloved hand through his tousled dark hair. “Do you want Harry to have died in vain?”

“I don’t know what else to do!” Liam shouts unexpectedly.

Niall looks up from the ground. His blue eyes sting with tears and dirt. His lungs hurt – which terrifies him in itself because he hasn’t felt that sensation since… well, since before the accident.

“I do,” he says.

~~~

Not surprisingly, it’s Zayn’s idea.

He doesn’t consult the others, instead he just pulls a box out of his bunk one night after they’ve once again gathered on the bus after a show.

“What’re these?” Louis asks as Zayn tosses him a mess of material.

“Superhero outfits,” Zayn explains, as if it’s a completely normal thing that he’d be passing out brightly coloured spandex suits to his bandmates.

Louis just laughs and shakes his head. “Of course you bought us these.”

“I did,” Zayn says with a shrug. “Aren’t they cool?”

Niall thumbs the shiny material. Cool? Yeah, they’re definitely cool. Nothing about this isn’t cool so far, actually. Well, except for the part where Jeffrey died. But he would have died anyway, Niall reminds himself. It was a stroke that caused him to crash the bus in the first place.

It would have happened anyway – so this was just a silver lining.

A gold one even, Niall thinks as he he holds up the outfit in front of his face. It’s green with gold trim. He smiles as he looks at it and imagines himself flying around, controlling the air around him. For what purpose… he’s not really sure.

But it’s a cool fantasy. A cool fantasy that can be a reality if he wants.

“Yeah,” he says with a grin. “Really cool.”

 

~~~

Louis takes a step towards Niall because he has this look on his face like he’s about to attempt something crazy.

Niall furrows his eyebrows a bit as he looks at Louis. Even Zayn, who’s been forcing air towards the cloud with all his might during this stops. He lowers his arms and watches Niall.

Niall, who’s standing there with his thick white fists balled up at his sides. Niall, whose blonde hair is dirty and messed up more than Lou would ever allow. Niall, whose eyes are blue and bright and vivid and glance up at the sky.

It’s not just his eyes darting upwards – he jumps and at a rate that Louis, Liam or Zayn have never seen before, as he heads straight for the cloud.

“NIALL!” Louis shouts. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”

But Niall barely hears him as he keeps his head pointed firmly upwards.

Harry won’t die in vain, he promises himself.

He won’t let him.

~~~

Niall’s curled up in Harry’s bunk as the two of them scroll through random twitter comments. Niall lays his head atop Harry’s shoulder. He’s so close that one of Harry’s curls tickle his eyelid.

Niall doesn’t mind, though. In fact, he rather likes it.

He breathes in deeply, taking in the scent of Harry’s shampoo. He’s the only boy he knows who uses peaches and cream scented shampoo, and he absolutely loves it. It’s gotten to the point that whenever he smells anything that vaguely resembles peaches, he thinks of Harry.

And then his heart skips a beat.

“Look at this,” Harry laughs, clicking on a photo linked in a tweet. Niall giggles softly as he looks at the picture, keeping his head firmly placed on Harry’s shoulder.

Harry doesn’t make any moves to stop Niall, and sometimes Niall wonders if Harry likes this as much as he does.

Of course he’ll never ask – that thought is scarier than when he was pinned against the wall of the bus as it hurdled down the hillside weeks ago.

“Hmmm…” Harry says, clicking into a link tweeted at him by some fan. “Look at this.”

Niall reads the headline. He’s never been too interested in environmental issues, to be honest. Conspiracy theories just aren’t his thing.

“This storm is going to destroy the world…” Harry mumbles as he reads on. “I think… I think it’s challenging us.”

“What?” Niall asks, moving from his position as Harry sits up more.

“Yeah,” Harry says, glancing at Niall. Niall loses his mind for just a moment as he gets lost in Harry’s deep, thoughtful green eyes. “It says here that it’s going to encapsulate the world unless the power of five wind soldiers can stop it.”

Niall furrows his eyebrows and reads the article. As far as they’re aware, no one else really knows about their air moving abilities. Sure, their energy is undeniable. But they’ve done a good job at making a pact about the rest of it – the world doesn’t find out. And they certainly don’t refer to themselves as Wind Soldiers!

But it sure sounds like whoever wrote this knows – a giant storm cloud is coming, and unless the five soldiers come together to stop it, the world is doomed.

“It’s just someone baiting us, Haz,” Niall says with a yawn, moving to lean his head on Harry’s shoulder again “Wind soldiers,” he says with a slight laugh as he nuzzles into Harry’s neck.

But Harry just shakes his head. “Maybe, but somehow they know. They know about us, and they know about what happened. We have to do this. We have to at least try, because if we don’t and something happens, won’t we regret it? We have a real chance here to actually do something for the world.”

Niall studies Harry for a moment. His friend’s eyes are dark and serious – there’s no indication that he’s joking at all.

“Okay,” Niall says quickly, nodding his head. He’ll go along with whatever Harry wants, after all. Anything to make him happy, of course. It’s obviously important, so if he’s got to help Harry convince the others, he’ll do that too.

Besides, if they have these powers they might as well use them for something meaningful.

 

~~~

Niall doesn’t think, he just darts through the dark storm cloud as soon as he reaches it. It’s not hard for him to breathe, the only thing that worries him is the icy water droplets that cling to his suit.

“Fuck,” he mutters to himself as he realises he’s quite literally in over his head.

He hovers above the cloud and glances up. Everything’s so bright and so blue. He looks down – it’s just pitch black, and he’ll be damned if he lets that blackness overtake the entire world.

He shoots himself back down through the cloud and back up again. Through and through he darts through the cloud trying to break it up with his body.

It gets harder for him to move as more and more water clings to his suit and begins to freeze. Niall hovers in the middle of the cloud as he breathes hard and pushes his wet hair out of his face.

The cloud clinging around him moves a little bit, and that’s when he gets an idea.

He claps his hands together and pushes them outward. He takes in a deep breath and forces the air out of his lungs with all he has in him. He puts everything into the force of the air – the accident, the energy he harnesses on stage and his love for Harry.

His love that regrettably, Harry would now never know of.

Tears sting and freeze inside of Niall’s eyes but he doesn’t give up. Not now. Not when he’s so close and he can see the blue sky above begin to poke through the cloud back down to the world below.

“Harry,” he cries as he brings his hands back in towards his chest and pushes them out with a gust of wind that he’s never seen before in his life, much less created.

The cloud begins to break apart, light from above raining down to the ground.

Niall sighs, his heart heavy and his lungs burning. He closes his eyes for just a moment.

It proves to be a mistake, because he loses his balance in the air and begins to lazily fall towards the ground.

“NIALL!” Louis shouts as he sees Niall rapidly falling towards the ground.

He flies upwards, catching Niall and cradling him in his arms as he lowers him down safely.

Niall coughs and sputters as Louis holds onto him. After a moment of regaining his breath he opens his eyes to see the bright blue above him. The only clouds left in the sky are a couple of white ones.

“What happened?” he asks softly.

“You did it, mate,” Louis said with a genuine smile.

Niall continues to look up. Yes, he supposes he did. He tries as best he can to smile despite the broken feeling in his chest. The world appears to be safe from harm.

He’s just not sure it’s a world he wants to live in without Harry.

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