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of men and angels

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***

 

“New York. The city of a million stories. Half of them are true, the other half just haven't happened yet. Statues, the man said. Living statues that moved in the dark.”

 

***

It all started when Liam said he wanted to see the sights. And that was perfectly fine by Harry. Apparently it wasn’t exciting enough by Louis’ standards, who stole Niall, jumped in a car and drove away in search of ‘an adventure’, or so he put it because with Louis everything is somewhat of an adventure. And Zayn was never one for unscheduled public outings, what with all the cameras and people -- as he would put it -- intruding into his life.

“Just you and me then,” Liam had said then and Harry smiled and nodded because Liam’s not half bad company.

Two feet out the front door of the hotel and it’s chaos already, fans and middle aged men pointing cameras every which way. Harry doesn’t mind; he never minds, because if he ever let himself mind for even a second he doesn’t think he’d ever find his way back to any level of normalcy and it’s terrifying.

There’s a cab already waiting and the two boys climb in. When the driver asks Harry realizes he doesn’t even know where they’re meant to be going but apparently Liam’s decided already because he asks ever so politely to be taken to Central Park. Harry doesn’t protest, because in all honesty a stroll through the park sounds rather quite nice.

When they arrive Liam’s paid the fare and jumped out almost before Harry can blink and he laughs because Liam’s always far too excited for his own good. He thanks the driver and follows Liam out and down a path and this way and that because left to his own devices he’d probably just stand around and feel lost anyhow.

It’s a nice day out really, even with the cold, and there are loads of people around. All minding their own business for the time being, which is nice, but Harry always wonders how many of them actually recognise him and decide to be polite and stay away as opposed to how many genuinely don’t even know who he is. His self esteem tends to tell him that none of them know him but a small voice goes off in his head each time to remind him of the reality of his life and that there are probably hundreds that know his name.

“Look at that statue,” Liam says from beside him, shattering his train of thought and Harry looks to the direction that Liam’s pointing frantically in.

He spots it easily enough. It appears to be some sort of figure, standing about ten metres away on the side of the footpath with its face in its hands.

“It’s an angel, I think.” Liam says. “It’s pretty.”

Harry spots the folded wings sprouting from the back of the figure and nods. “It’s okay, I guess.”

“Just okay?” Liam plays offended and Harry laughs.

“Fine, it’s pretty.”

Liam smiles. “Better. Come on, I want a photo with it.”

Harry rolls his eyes but doesn’t object because Liam always wants photos with the most mundane of objects and over the years they’ve learned to indulge him in his bizarre requests.

Liam flags down a passerby and ropes them into taking a photo of the two of them with the statue. Some smiles, clicks, and a few silly poses later Liam decides that’s enough, thanks the volunteer and points Harry off down another of the hundreds of paths twisting throughout the park.

“Liam?” Harry questions as they leave the angel. “Why do you always take photos with things that don’t matter?”

Liam groans. “You’ll only laugh if I say.”

“Only if it’s funny,” Harry says and Liam nods.

“Well, it’s just because, like...” Liam sighs, running a hand over his head. “It’s like, there are so many great things out there, like the Empire State Building and Times Square and all that, and they matter, and people take pictures with them every day. And sometimes I feel like Times Square you know, because people are always lining up to take pictures of me. And people like the things we see and do and touch, because we matter. But I remember how it feels to not matter and not have your picture taken and I guess one day I just decided that I was going to be there. For all the things that don’t matter.”

Harry finds himself smiling at Liam’s words. “Liam, that’s--”

“Stupid?” Liam asks.

“I was going to say profound.”

“Oh... thanks.” Liam smiles back and Harry glances backwards at the angel statue that Liam Payne made matter and wonders how many thousand fans will be paying a visit to get the same sort of photos as they did once the shots from the paps he knows were lurking surface on the internet. How many fans will love the statue that would have otherwise gone unnoticed?

Only it’s not there, or it’s moved. Or maybe he’s just not looking in the right place. For a moment Harry wonders if it was one of those people dressed as a statue but he’s pretty sure it was proper stone and all that. Wasn’t breathing or anything.

Before he can ponder it further Liam’s prattling on about that video they were supposed to film some stuff for in the park and that they should most definitely get a move on because Louis and Niall want to pick them up in an hour to do the videos in the car and the angel becomes irrelevant as Harry takes a moment to appreciate exactly how relieved he is that he’s never the one that has to make the plans.

Liam’s better at it anyway.

 

***

 

The rest of the day’s just filming and Tomlinson Adventures and by the time the four of them arrive back at the hotel they’re all exhausted but Louis says he’s satisfied with his efforts despite being pulled over by the police and Niall cackles every time they mention it.

As they push their way through the girls at the front door Harry spots a familiar stone outline just inside the lobby and as they get closer he recognises the angel statue from the park once more.

“Liam, look,” he says as he tugs on Liam’s shirt.

“What?”

“It’s the statue from the park.”

Harry watches as Liam turns towards the statue. It’s still covering its face, almost as if it were crying and Liam laughs a little.

“Well it’s not the same one obviously; it’d take a mammoth effort to get it from the park to here.” he says.

“But why would the hotel want an angel statue?” Harry asks.

“Maybe they thought it mattered, too. I do have good taste you know.” Liam says.

Harry nods, grin spreading over his face. “I suppose you’re right.”

 

***

 

Liam was right. Of course he was.

But Harry can’t help but wonder how many people in New York could possibly fancy an old crying angel so much because the next morning it’s standing a few blocks down the road, and that evening it’s in the corner of the restaurant they decide to eat in for dinner and three days later he’s still seeing it everywhere and it doesn’t make sense.

It’s making him paranoid because, as Zayn would say, what if it’s all a plot to murder him or summat because if you’re going to get to One Direction you’ve got to get creative and Harry thinks this might just be the most creative and practically impossible method yet, because there can’t be too many people willing to lug a stone statue around New York just to frighten him.

By Friday morning he’s seen it a total of eleven times; always the same, always an angel and always crying, and he’s certain that he’s the only one paranoid enough to keep count.

Louis has convinced Harry and Liam to join him for brunch at some cafe that someone recommended to him that’s apparently a few blocks away. Harry hadn’t thought it had sounded very adventurous at all until Louis revealed that he intended on walking there. Right out past the girls in the lobby and down the street until they arrived.

But Louis is one of the few people in Harry’s life that he could never ever say no to even if he wanted to and before he knows it he’s being dragged into the elevator and out into the open.

Louis and Liam chatter about the shows and how great everything’s been and the jingle ball and their security a little ways behind the three talk amongst themselves but Harry doesn’t really hear it because the majority of his senses are on high alert, constantly scanning the streets for the damn statue. It’s no easy task either, considering decorative sculptures and figurative statues aren’t all that uncommon in such a large city.

To Harry’s relief they finally arrive and basically it’s just really great to be inside because outside just feels so exposed and if someone was going to kill him they’d be sure to do it where people could see. He lets out a long sigh as Louis arranges a table.

Only to sharply inhale it all again as they’re pointed in the direction of their seats and there, in the corner of the cafe by the window is the angel.

“Alright mate?” Louis asks and Harry nods even though he doesn’t think he is.

As they take their seats Harry makes sure to sit where the angel will be in his line of sight. Liam and Louis sit opposite, and they’re mostly alone in the place aside from a middle aged man at a nearby table that appears to be too engrossed in his newspaper to be bothered by a few world famous band members. Or a statue.

Harry bites his lip, trying to decide whether or not to speak up. Louis will most likely laugh it off for paranoia but Liam might be at least a little surprised, considering it would be the third time he’s seen it. Though somehow it doesn’t feel like it’s meant for either of them, because no one’s been seeing it besides Harry and it’s been showing up even when he’s been completely alone.

But this makes twelve times. Twelve in only a few days and it’s getting harder and harder to believe the coincidence.

Harry sucks in a breath as he turns to face his friends. “Liam, it’s here.”

“What?” Liam raises a confused eyebrow at Harry. “What’s here?”

“The park statue. The angel, the crying one. Look.” Harry says, turning his head away from Liam and towards the statue.

Only it isn’t the same. The stone hands are lowered about halfway down the angels’ body, for the first time revealing its face. A chill speeds down Harry’s spine as he sees it smiling and he can’t think of any reason why it should be considering it was weeping only a minute ago. Or, for that matter, why it should be doing anything at all because it’s made of stone and this is not a sci-fi film.

Liam’s chuckle shocks Harry back into conscious thought.

“It’s not even the same one, Harry, it’s not got its hands over its face, see?”

“What’s this?” Louis asks.

“Harry’s paranoid that he’s being followed by a statue because he saw the same one twice.” Liam says, still laughing.

It’s now Louis’ turn to raise an eyebrow. “Oh, Harold, young Harold--"

“I’ve seen it twelve times.” Harry says quietly, cutting Louis’ patronizing ‘You’re Paranoid’ speech before it can even get under way.

A sort of shocked expression spreads across Liam’s face. “Twelve? Harry, are you sure?”

Harry nods in response and Liam keeps looking from him to Louis to the angel and back again, trying to come up with some sort of sensible, logical explanation for it all.

“No, but Harry, are youreally sure?” Louis asks and Harry almost feels like a child again getting in trouble off his mum for lying.

“I promise. I’m sure of it!” Harry hisses. “The angels, they’re everywhere... orit’s everywhere. I don’t even know if it’s more than one. But it’s always angels and I think they might be following me.”

Out of the corner of his eye Harry sees the man at the table nearby lower his newspaper. He’s frowning at the boys but not in a way that suggests he would be irritated by their conversation, and in an odd sort of way his expression seems almost concerned.

“Excuse me,” he says, and Liam and Louis turn to face the man.

“I’m sorry sir, are we bothering you?” Liam asks, suddenly anxious that he might be causing another human being distress.

“No, no, not at all,” The man says quickly, shaking his head. “But I am so very sorry.”

“Sorry about what?” Louis asks.

The boys watch as the man suddenly stands, gathers his things, and turns to Harry. “I’m sorry son, but they’ve found you.”

“They’ve what?” Harry croaks out.

“The Angels, son, the Weeping Angels, they’ve found you. They’re here now. Do me a favour and see that one in the corner, don’t you stop looking at it, not for a second. Don’t even blink. One blink and it’ll have us all right here.”

A shiver runs down Harry’s spine as all three of them spin to lock eyes with the angel. It’s still smiling but the intensity of the situation makes it all the more terrifying and the tone of the man’s voice has put all of his senses are on high alert.

Out of the corner of his eye he can see the man bending over the table, scribbling something down on a napkin. Eventually he stands and makes his way to their table, sliding the napkin in front of Harry.

“What’s--” Louis tries to speak but the man cuts in.

“You all need to listen up. Especially you,” he turns to Harry. “You’re the one they’re following, right?

“I guess so,” Harry says, voice shaking ever so slightly.

“When I say run, you all get out of here as fast as you can. You two--” he says, pointing at Louis and Liam, who still haven’t taken an eye off the angel. “You two go to wherever’s home and stay there. Keep together and keep safe.”

The pair of them nod slowly although none of it makes much sense to any of them.

“As for you,” The man says, taking Harry by the arm and shoving the napkin into his hand. “They’re after you and there’s nothing you can do about it. There’s an address on the napkin. You’ll need to go straight there. If you can do that, it might just keep these two alive.”

“Alive?” Liam asks over his shoulder.

“Yes, alive. The city ain’t what it seems boys, and if you want to survive you better listen to me right now.”

A pit of dread begins to form in the depths of Harry’s stomach as he clenches his fist around the napkin because somewhere deep down he knew these angels popping up everywhere were bound to be catastrophic. Ever since it disappeared in the park and reappeared in the lobby he’d been terrified that Zayn’s nightmares about murder plots and crazed idiots trying to get to them might just be coming true and now there’s a stranger talking life and death right in front of him and the only thing keeping him sane enough to remain conscious is the fact that, according to the man, he has the potential power to keep Louis and Liam alive.

Harry thinks that he might be brave enough to die for his band mates. But he isn’t sure that they’d let him.

“Right, so, on my count, you two run along home, and you get yourself to that exact address as soon as you can. Ready?”

Louis takes his eyes off the angel and turns to face Harry. Harry can see the confusion in his eyes and hopes to god that Louis can’t see the terror in his own. As Louis turns, so does Liam, and suddenly the man lets out a cry and spins to face the angel.

It’s closer now, and it’s not smiling at all. Its arms are held over its head and its face is twisted in what one could only describe as a growl.

“I told you not to take your eyes off it!” the man hisses and Harry tries to force out an apology but the words just won’t come. Liam’s mouth is opening and closing like a fish and Harry can see the sheer panic forming over Louis’ confusion.

One.

Harry gives him a reassuring nod and Louis takes a deep breath in response.

Two.

“Guys, you know I love you, right?” Harry asks, softly.

“Right.” says Liam.

“Why?” asks Louis.

“Just in case.”

“In case what?”

In case I die, Harry thinks, but doesn't say.

Three.

As soon as the word leaves the man’s lips Harry’s up and running from the table, praying that the boys did the right thing and are running somewhere behind him. As he reaches the street he hails a cab and thanks his lucky stars that one was both empty and nearby. Before Liam and Louis can catch him he climbs in, slams the door, and hands the address to the driver.

Harry sinks into the seat and tries to relax but his muscles won’t stop tensing and he can hear his own heartbeat up in his ears spinning wildly out of control.

They’re after you, the man had said. But surely he didn’t mean the statues? Maybe he’d meant the people behind the statues, but he had said something about weeping angels. Whatever that was. Or they were. Or are.

After some time, the taxi stops and it takes Harry a minute to notice through his tidal wave of thoughts and theories. He pays his fare and steps out onto the sidewalk.

In front of him stands a rather large, rather old looking apartment block with its name flickering on and off in a rather disturbing manner at odd intervals in giant neon lettering upon the roof.

Winter Quay.