They start as whispers and you think someone's forgot to turn the television off again, but when you realize they're inside your head, you drop the spoon in the bowl (I'll miss the meeting I can't find my glasses where did I leave them) and quickly excuse yourself to your room, avoiding the curious eyes boring holes in the back of your head as you clamber up the stairs.

::

You lock the door and jump on the bed and think of explanations (I'm stressed out need more sleep what is going on) but Mum knocks on the door and her voice wraps around your brain (you're going to be late I need to pick your sister up what's taking so long) and you say "okay" even though you're not sure how you feel and you watch yourself rehearse a smile in the mirror. Hearing voices in your head is not normal and you're scared you're going crazy.

::

Zayn's up to bat and you sit in the far side of the bleachers, your eyes watching every muscle move as he swings. You try to follow the ball but you hear them again (it's a homerun it won't pass the fence his foot's a little off don't you think) and you close your eyes and cover your ears and there's screaming everywhere. You miss Zayn's reaction but you can hear him through the noise loud and clear (I can't believe it did you see that oh man) and you open your eyes and there's Zayn being lifted by the team and he's grinning and waving. You hold up your hand and give a wave back but he doesn't see (he never sees me never looks my way doesn't even know I exist) and you grab your bag and sigh and make your way down the steps (excuse me watch where you're going are you blind).

::

You can't believe your luck when Zayn's walking beside you carrying your books (I need to pass need to stay in the team need your help Niall) and you push through the library doors with a stupid smile on your face and you feel like you're floating and you grip the strap of your bag until your knuckles turn white. You teach Zayn how cells work and you steal glances every now and then (oh I get it no wait how does that work again) and you spend an entire hour trying to push him out of your mind (I still don't get this I'll never pass I'm so stupid).

::

When Zayn passes his test, he treats you out to lunch and you feel like the happiest boy alive (was so nervous couldn't think straight couldn't have done it without you). He looks at you with those hazel eyes and you can't take another bite of your sandwich because your heart's beating too fast and your face is heating up and you try even harder to block him out (can't believe so much help eyes are really pretty) and you smile when you can't hear him anymore. His lips aren't moving and your head is clear and for the first time that day, you feel like your head belongs to you again.

::

The kiss comes too quickly and you'd have fallen backwards if Zayn hadn't been holding your waist, and your heart's racing violently because you've never done this before, don't want to mess it up, been waiting for this forever, want everything to be perfect. You lose control for a second and Zayn's voice is in your head again (lips are so soft so warm you're so beautiful) and you pull back and look into his eyes and he's confused. "You're so beautiful" you whisper and you stand on the tips of your toes, palms soft on his shoulders, and touch his lips with yours and it takes him a second to kiss back. Your heart skips a beat and he pulls you closer, holds you tighter and you still can't believe what's happening (I want time to stop want to stay like this forever please don't let me go).

::

You want to hold his hand walking down the halls but he keeps it at a distance, always missing by an inch no matter how hard you try (did I do something wrong please look at me let me touch your hand). You promised you won't read his mind anymore but the temptation's too strong (I can't just can't it's not fair). You stop trying and stick your hands in your pockets, heart dropping with every step, and Zayn looks at you and puts his hand on your shoulder. "What's wrong?" You shrug. "Nothing." He lingers for a moment, gives you a light squeeze and he's smiling and he wants you to smile back. Voices rush your head again and this time they're not his, running through your brain like sandpaper on an open wound (why are they walking together isn't he a bit too close why is he touching him like that) and you shake your head, try to build up the walls again. Zayn isn't smiling anymore and you grin back a little too late and when he drops his hand and starts walking, it kills you to realize that smiling doesn't fix everything.

::

Zayn's popular, captain of the baseball team, and you can't hold his hand in the hallway, can't kiss him because it's taboo and you'll both get hurt in the end and you swallow the lump in your throat with a nod and you try to accept it, try to make it work (I'm happy with him don't want it to change don't want it to stop).

::

He kisses you behind the school when everyone's left and it's always when everyone's left because he loves playing baseball and he's really good and he doesn't want to get kicked off the team (can't let them find out I love the way you feel in my arms the way your skin feels against mine) and you forgive him with a smile (I love your voice I love your eyes I need your touch). "Come by the locker room after practice tomorrow." You nod and wrap your arms around his neck, give him one last kiss, and you're grinning the whole way home until your cheeks hurt and Mum's whistling to herself preparing dinner when you come in (why are you smiling did you make a new friend are you in love).

::

You've never been in the locker room and it smells of soap and sweat and you're sitting on the bench twiddling your thumbs because you don't smell like that (I'm a boy this is how I'm supposed to be maybe Zayn can teach me how to play baseball). Zayn comes out washed and ready, towel around his neck, beads of water on his forehead. You wipe them off with your sleeve and he's stooping low and you can feel his breath on your lips and you grip the bench tight when he leans in (your eyes are so blue can't stop looking what are they doing). You kiss back to push him out and it works and he's taking you by the hand to his car, fingers linked and hearts ablaze and it smells like pine needles inside and you like the feeling of the leather on the back of your neck and you strap yourself tight to make your heart stay in place.

::

You win the fight for the last slice of pizza and he wrestles you on the couch until you're on top of him and his head's buried in your shoulder and you run your fingers through his hair (so thick so soft you smell like flowers). You stop and pull back when he sucks on your neck and he's back in your head (can't wait anymore I need this now I want to be inside you) and you're gasping for air (what's happening I've never done this before you're moving too fast) and you're surprised when you push him off. You can't avoid the look in his eyes and he's louder than ever (what are you doing I'm already hard we can't stop now) and you shake your head, tell him "I'm sorry" and you don't like how soft your voice is and you grab your things without looking back. You're out the door and you cover your ears on the pavement because you can still hear him and you don't know if it's in your head or in your ears (I'm sorry stay with me tonight please come back).

::

You hug your pillow close and rub your neck and you don't know what to tell him tomorrow (I messed up I couldn't do it not just yet).

::

Their faces say it all when you walk down the hallway, don't even need to read their minds and you try to push them out but they come in too loud too strong and you stop for a moment with your hand on the wall while you try to sort them out (can't believe him what a pervert corrupting Zayn of all people). Your face is burning, heart racing and you feel your knees about to give out under you, and you take deep breaths because your head's about to split in half (what's he still doing here heard what happened in the locker room yesterday can't believe he harassed the captain of the baseball team). You're confused and scared and you continue down the hallway. You run into a group of Zayn's teammates and they look at you with disgust and they slug you on the shoulder and shove you to the side (what are you looking at get out of the way don't touch me faggot). You hitch up your bag and walk faster and you stop when you see iF A G/i splashed across your locker in angry red ink and your stomach drops, and you blink your tears away and turn the other direction (faggotfaggotfaggot).

::

You lock yourself in a stall and dial Zayn's number (pick up pick up please pick up), but the call doesn't go through and you tighten your shaking hand around your mobile, trying to stop the tears spilling from your eyes.

::

Nobody's home and you're glad they don't have to see you like this, and you take a drink of water and lock yourself in your room until you cry yourself to sleep.

::

Nothing's changed and you almost wish you had stayed home instead (my skin is hot don't feel well I think I need to rest this off) but you can't afford to miss another day because it's the review for the test and you don't want your grades to suffer. You hang your head low as you take a seat in the back and your notepad's empty by the end of the lesson because you spent the entire period trying to ignore everyone (heard Zayn almost got kicked off the team it's all his fault what is he still doing here).

::

The bell rings and you're the first one out of your seat. You bump into your classmates on the way to the door but you're way past apologizing at this point (hey watch it can't you see where you're going yeah you better walk away) and you head straight for your next class. To your surprise, you cross paths with Zayn, his hands deep in his pockets, face sullen, eyes red, and when he sees you, he stops and stares like he's never seen you before in his life. You open your mouth to say something but you stop and close it when he shakes his head (I'm sorry didn't mean for any of this to happen I hope you can forgive me) and walks past you to join his friends clustered around the room to his next class. They give him a punch on the shoulder and they laugh like everything's back to normal and you're standing in the middle of the hallway watching them disappear through the door. Zayn doesn't look back. You can feel your heart breaking and you feel your feet taking you back to the entrance of the school, and before you can wrap your head around what just happened, you're pushing through the door to your room and you gravitate towards the bed and you scream into the pillows until it hurts to breathe.

::

You convince your parents to move schools (why did something bad happen in school why didn't you tell us anything) and you lug your suitcases out of the car and into your grandmother's house five cities away.

::

You walk down the hall a sensitive bundle of nerves and you avoid eye contact with anyone, just keep your eyes straight ahead and try to keep your head as clear as you can (never seen him before is he new why does he look so sad).

::

You scribble down notes as neatly as you can and you ask questions and raise your hand to answer the professor to distract yourself from the thoughts pummeling your head (check out that new kid pretty smart isn't he wait how did he get the solution again).

::

You sit alone on a stone bench in the courtyard and slowly unwrap the sandwich your grandmother made you. You hear fleeting conversations burrowing in your head (I can do this I can do this I can do this) and you raise the wall one block at a time until everything's pushed out and you're left to enjoy your own thoughts again for the first time in a long time.

::

You're going through the equations you learned and the homework you have to do when you get home when a boy with thick, curly hair walks up to you with the widest smile and the greenest eyes in the world (come on Harry you can do this just keep smiling).

::

It's hard to keep Harry out of your head and you try twice as hard when he's around. His imagination runs too wildly for your mind to accommodate but you grin and try to keep up because his smile's infectious and you enjoy his company and the one thing you need now more than ever is a friend.

::

Harry walks you home and you talk about anything and everything and everything starts to feel normal, like you've been doing this for as long as you can remember and it doesn't feel awkward, doesn't feel weird because he puts you at ease with his jokes and his laugh, but you're scared when you start to think that maybe, maybe you're falling in love again.

::

It becomes a routine and it's getting easier not to read his mind. Sometimes you get slivers of thoughts floating around your head but when it comes to Harry, they're impossible to stitch together and you're afraid to pry deeper because you're not sure you want to know exactly what's going on in his brain. He looks at you and smiles and you lose focus, let more thoughts rush in, and you can feel his voice strong and clear (today's the day Harry don't mess this up just take a deep breath and go for it). Your heart starts racing and you don't know why, and it skips a beat when Harry softly grabs your hand. Your eyes search for his and he's looking ahead, and you can feel his heart beating through his skin and you smile because you don't need to read his mind to know what he's thinking. You twine your fingers together and you're grateful he's there to keep you from floating.

::

"I can read your mind." It comes as a messy heap of words and Harry looks at you with an eyebrow raised. You don't know where it came from or how it managed to come out your lips but you keep your eyes to him as grave as possible and his smile falters in a second, considering the possibility that you're telling the truth (it's not possible is this some kind of joke can you hear me Niall). You explain to him as best you can and his eyes cling to every word and you're not sure how he's going to take it (this doesn't have to change anything I never asked for this please don't leave me Harry) but you're surprised when he takes you in his arms and holds you tight, and you bury your face in his neck when you feel your eyes starting to sting (I don't care you don't have to hide from me I'll never let you go).

::

Step by step, Harry helps you learn how to rebuild your walls and he's patient, really patient, especially during the times where it seems like nothing's happening and he's just wasting his time and you're convinced that you'll never be able to control it (you're doing so well just keep at it I believe in you).

::

You get them down to whispers and you're relieved at how much better you feel, how much weight is lifted off your head, but you're glad Harry's thoughts still ring loud over the others.

::

The kiss comes out of nowhere, and you drop your books and everyone's whispering, filling your head to the brim and sending shivers down your spine, and you feel Harry's hand coming up to the back of your neck, pushing you closer, and you're not sure what to do. You can still hear them, feel them scrape your brain raw and you almost pull back and run away because you can't take it anymore, but when you hear Harry's voice cut through the chaos and clear them out from your head until they're echoes fading in the wind, you wrap your arms around his waist and kiss back (I don't know how it feels and I'm sure I never will but as long as I'm with you we can make it together).