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The Truth is Hard to Find, When it's Playing Tricks with Your Mind

Chapter Text

“Sorry mate, I’m afraid you’re gonna be staying with Nige for this one,” Howard said while looking at him with an expression that oozed sympathy, but also relief at the fact that it wasn’t him.

Gary groaned, staying in a hotel room with Nigel just took all the fun out of everything. He was always so strict, and to be honest Gary was getting sick of hearing Nigel bitch about a different band member every night when they hadn’t even done anything wrong. While the rest of the boys were celebrating having not pulled the short straw, Gary sighed. He was not looking forward to these next few nights.

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It was about 1am when Gary had just tucked in to bed for the night. He was laying on his side, just starting to drift into sleep when he heard Nigel get up from his bed. Gary thought nothing of it, just assumed he must be going to the bathroom.

Suddenly he felt a weight settle on the bed behind him. He startled and turned around, “Nige, what are y-“ he began to say, but was cut off by a pair of lips on his. Gary quickly tried to shoved Nigel away, but Nigel was a big bloke. Taller than Gary, and certainly heavier. Plus, Gary hadn’t been working out all that much lately, which became all too apparent in this very moment. Nigel barely wasted any effort as he climbed on top of Gary and started to kiss him again. ‘Christ,’ Gary’s sleep addled mind thought, ‘what is happening right now!?’ Nigel making a move on him came as quite a shock to Gary. Sure, they’d always been decently close, certainly he was closer to Nigel than the rest of the boys were, but this? Never in a million years would he have thought that Nigel had a thing for him, let alone do something like this.

As Gary continued to struggle, he felt Nigel grind into him. At the feeling of Nigel’s hard member against his groin, Gary fought harder, but it seemed to be no use.

“Nigel, please stop,” Gary pleaded.

“Come on Gary, we both know you want this,” Nigel whispered in his ear. He continued to pin Gary to the bed with one hand, and through the dim light in the room Gary could see him use the other to start undoing his pants. Gary’s eyes widened in shock.

“No no no Nige please, please don’t do this. Just stop now and I’ll pretend like none of this ever happened, we can...” and suddenly his mouth was occupied with something else. Nigel was fucking his mouth and he felt like he couldn’t breathe. Looking up at Nigel with tear stained eyes, he quickly looked away as he began to urge.

“Had to do something to shut you up,” Nigel smirked. Soon enough Nigel began to moan with pleasure, “who knew that this mouth was good for something other than singing?”

With that Gary began to cry in earnest, how could this be happening to him? Why did he have to get the short straw and share the room with Nigel? No, Gary quickly put that thought away as it occurred to him that then it may have been one of the other lads in this position. Nigel pulled out of his mouth, but quickly replaced his member with a sock to gag Gary so he couldn’t yell.

“Better stop before I go too far, I have bigger plans for us,” Nigel growled in a sinister tone as he roughly flipped Gary over onto his stomach. Before Gary could register what was happening, Nigel pushed into him in one solitary thrust. Gary cried out into the pillow, he felt like he was being split in two. Nigel hadn’t used any lube or prepped him in any way, and the pain was almost unbearable. Gary had never felt anything like it. Nigel moaned as he pulled out and slammed back in again.

“Oh fuck, you’re so tight baby.” He continued to thrust until Gary’s mind became hazy with the pain. He lost track of time, feeling like this was going on for an eternity. His mind vaguely registered that at some point Nigel was slipping in and out more easily, likely due to being slicked with blood. Nigel’s moans continued to get louder and louder, and his thrusts more erratic until eventually he came, buried deep inside of Gary. Gary nearly threw up at the warm feeling that pooled in his insides, feeling disgusted. Nigel quickly pulled out and flipped him over again, Gary not even resisting at this point because he didn’t have the energy.

“Don’t even think about telling anyone about this,” Nigel threatened, “not unless you want to end your career.” He laughed, “and besides, no one would believe you anyway.” And with that, he redid his pants and sauntered out the door—going where, Gary had no idea—leaving Gary to sob himself to sleep.

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Gary awoke the next morning to the sound of his alarm clock. He scrabbled to turn it off, but quickly halted his movements when he almost blacked out with pain. That’s when the events of the previous night all came rushing back to him. ‘Did I just have a really horrible dream?’ Gary thought, but was made to accept reality when he glimpsed at the sheets and saw that there was blood, as well as another sticky substance, all over them.   

“Fuck,” Gary swore, and he glanced over to Nigel’s bed, but it was still empty. Gary sighed in relief, he doesn’t know how he would have reacted had Nigel been in the room with him right now. He was truly beginning to digest what had happened to him, “Nige...Nigel r-raped me...” he whispered to himself. Just saying it out loud made it all the more real, and Gary was finding it hard to breathe as one tear after another made its way down his face.

Looking at the clock again and seeing that he had wasted 15 minutes, he realized that he only had another 15 to get ready and meet the boys for breakfast downstairs. But as Gary sat up and went to get off the bed, a sharp pain ran through him that made him cry out. As he sat there breathing through the pain, he contemplated telling the lads he was too sick to rehearse today. ‘No, they’ll know something’s up. I was perfectly fine last night, and besides, I never skip rehearsals anyway unless I’m close to dying,’ he thought sarcastically. ‘Of course, the way I feel right now, I’m close to it.’ But Gary pushed these thoughts from his mind as he slowly got off the bed and made his way to the bathroom. He had never looked forward to a hot shower so much in his life.

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Once Gary was finally dressed and ready to go, he looked at the clock.

“Shit, it’s already 8:20!?” He had spent longer than was strictly necessary scrubbing at his skin, trying to get the previous night off of him, but now it had cost him because he was 20 minutes late. He hastily left his hotel room, walking gingerly to the elevator. He got to the ground floor and as he walked through the lobby he saw the lads sitting at a table, nearly done eating breakfast. When they turned and saw him he could see that they were all irritated that he was late, especially Jason. Gary was very conscious of his gait, they were all staring at him and he felt like he had a slight limp. Luckily, it seemed that no one else had noticed.

“Hey lads,” he said as he sat down, holding back a wince.

“You do realize we were supposed to meet at 8, don’t you Gaz?” Jason asked and Gary could hear the anger in his voice. “Our rehearsal is starting in less than 10 minutes and you just decided to show up now.”

“I’m sorry lads, I overslept,” Gary replied meekly, lying through his teeth. He can’t handle his best mates being pissed at him today, not on top of everything else.

Mark spared him a sympathetic glance, “It’s alright Gary, it’s not like you do this all the time, yeah?” He said with a small smile. “Right, Jason?” He went on in a scolding tone.

Jason sighed, “Yeah, sorry mate, it’s just the stress of the upcoming tour, I want the routines to be perfect.”

“No worries,” Gary replied, “we all do, I get it.”

“All right then, well I guess we’d better get going,” Jason said as he stood up. It didn't escape Gary that he wasn't going to get a chance to eat, but for the first time in his life he didn't think he could stomach anything anyway.

The rest of the lads started to get up, and as Robbie stood he groaned and stretched his back, “Aw fuck, I barely got any sleep,” he said and yawned mid sentence, “did anyone else hear the couple shagging late last night?”

Gary froze, and just like that he was transported from the lobby to his hotel room. He could see Nigel’s face above him and feel phantom hands on his thighs. He distantly heard someone say, “Gaz?” And he was soon snapped out of his trance by a hand on his shoulder. He flinched, coming face to face with a worried looking Howard. In fact, all the boys had stopped and were looking at him with varying degrees of worry and confusion painted on their faces.

“Hm?” Gary replied.

“Alright mate?” Mark asked.

“Yeah, let’s just get going,” and with that Gary set off, not wanting to wait around and risk more questioning from the lads.

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To say that rehearsal wasn’t going well would be an understatement. While Gary had never been particularly skilled at dancing, today was just a disaster. Every move seemed to pull at his muscles in the wrong way, and though he tried to push through it, even he could tell that he was more stiff than usual. The tension in the air was nearly palpable at this point, as the rest of the lads were getting frustrated that this seemed to be going nowhere. With his mind preoccupied and distracted with the events of last night, Gary was even struggling to remember the dance sequences.

“No Gary, you have to stick your right leg out at that point!” Jason shouted over the music of Pray.

“Right, sorry,” Gary muttered while trying to correct his mistake and keep up. Just when he thought the situation couldn’t get any worse, Nigel came strutting into the room.

Everyone immediately straightened up until Nigel said, “Don’t mind me lads, keep going.”

And so they did. Only Gary was nearly paralyzed with fear. It took all the strength he had to try and carry on, still producing a train wreck on his part. Once the song came to an end, Nigel slowly started to clap.

“Good job to you four,” he said while pointing to Robbie, Mark, Howard and Jason. Then he smirked, “Gary you could definitely use some more work, you can’t expect to just get by with that singing mouth of yours.” At Gary’s audible intake of breath the other boys looked at him with furrowed brows. Sure, Gary always wanted to do his best and have Nigel’s approval, but he didn’t usually take Nigel’s criticisms to heart like he seemed to be doing right now.

“Well Gary?” Nigel pressed.

Gary went to respond but found that the words just wouldn’t come out. He cleared his throat, “Y-yeah, I’ll work har-harder on it.”

“Good.” And with that Nigel left the room almost as quickly as he came. Gary was desperately trying to get his heart rate to slow down, it felt like it was about to beat out of his chest.

“Did you guys have a fight or something?” Mark asked gently. All Gary could do was shake his head no.

“I’m just gonna run to the loo,” he gave as his only explanation before he bolted from the room.

The lads all looked around at each other. “Something's not right with him,” Howard was the first to speak up.

Jason shrugged, “Maybe the stress is getting to him too.” Howard and Robbie looked dubious at first, but after a short moment accepted what Jason had said and continued on with rehearsing. However, one member was not so easily convinced. While the other lads were distracted, Mark snuck out of the room, on a quest to find Gary.

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Mark entered the 6th floor bathroom, hoping that he would find Gary in here. He had checked all the other floors already, and if Gary wasn’t here then he truly didn’t know where to look. At first glance Mark thought there was no one in the stalls, however he could faintly hear laboured breathing.

“...Gary?” He chanced as he walked further into the bathroom and saw that one stall was closed. He knocked on the door, and heard Gary mumbling under his breath. Was he saying 'stop'?

“No no no, please,” Gary whispered, and Mark was definitely worried now.

“Gary, please let me in, it’s me, Mark.” At that Gary let out a choked sob. Mark was getting desperate to reach Gary, and it didn’t seem like he was in any state to open the door any time soon, so Mark crawled under the stall door and was met with a sight that made his heart drop to his stomach.

Gary was huddled in the small space between the toilet and the wall, with his arms wrapped around his legs and his head resting on them. His hair was mussed up as if he had been pulling on it, and when he glanced up at him Mark could see the wet tracks of tears down his cheeks. Mark couldn’t help but think that he had never seen Gary look so small and helpless before, and he instinctively went to touch Gary’s arm. This move was aborted, however, when Gary violently flinched away from his hand.

“Please, stop,” he sobbed, which broke Mark’s heart. What had happened to their leader? Their confident Gary Barlow, front man of Take That? At the moment it appeared that Gary was having a panic attack or flashback of some sort, so Mark quickly began to talk to him the way he did with Robbie when he started to panic.

Mark crouched down to Gary’s level, “Gary, you’re safe. You’re with me, Mark, and we’re in a bathroom on the 6th floor of the Sheraton hotel in Manchester. Its only you and me here, you’re safe...please come back to me...”

Recognition slowly made its way into Gary’s eyes, and Mark said a silent prayer that Gary had come out of it.

“...Mark?” Gary implored, roughly wiping his face trying to erase the tears. He couldn’t even remember hearing Mark enter the bathroom and now he was embarrassed.

Gary’s face turned a deep scarlet as he slowly stood up, “Shouldn’t you be in rehearsal Markie?” At this moment his brain thought the best course of action would be to ignore what had just happened entirely. Mark disagreed.

“I could say the same to you,” he replied. “Listen Gary...something’s up with you today,” and at the panicked look on Gary’s face he quickly added, “I’m not gonna force you to tell me what’s wrong, but I do want you to know that you can talk to me any time about anything, okay?” This seemed to relieve Gary a bit, and he hesitatingly nodded.

Mark smiled, “Alrighty then, let’s get back to the lads, but first, give us a hug,” and he pulled Gary into his arms. The initial burst of panic that Gary felt at the contact quickly dissipated as he relaxed into the hug. It was only his Markie, nothing to be afraid of here.

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The rest of the day passed quickly after that. Sooner than Gary would have liked it was time for all the lads to retire to their rooms for a good nights rest so they could spend the day rehearsing again tomorrow.

“‘Night lads!” Howard yelled to the boys as he and Jason went to their room, Mark and Robbie following their lead and heading to their room as well.

“Yeah, ‘night,” Gary muttered as he slowly trudged to his and Nigel’s room. Upon opening the door he peeked his head in, relief washing over him once he saw that Nigel wasn’t there yet. He was so exhausted that he barely made it to his bed before collapsing onto it. Gary took notice of the clean sheets, wondering what the maid would have thought as she changed them.

Even though Gary was so tired that he felt as if he could sleep for years, he was so on edge in this room that he couldn’t rest. Just the thought of falling asleep and letting his guard down nearly made him sick, he wouldn’t let Nigel have that opportunity again. Gary laid restless in bed for hours, until finally he gave up on sleep around 2am. He couldn’t physically take being in this room anymore, waiting for Nigel to get back from his nightly escapades and possibly try something again.

So with that, Gary got off the bed and walked out of the room. He made it as far as the lobby when he saw Nigel saunter through the front door. Gary jumped behind the sofa, thankfully there was no one else around so he went unnoticed. He saw Nigel go to the elevator, press the button and then casually look around. Sweat was forming on Gary’s brow as he desperately tried to stay hidden. Turns out luck was on his side tonight, because as Nigel got in the elevator and the doors closed, he didn’t see Gary. Gary let out a shaky breath as he collapsed onto the sofa. He didn’t know how much longer he could do this, it’s only been a day and already he felt like his body had been through years of stress. It was with these distressing thoughts that Gary finally fell into a deep sleep, exhausted from the last 24 hours.

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Little did Gary know that at 3am a certain Mr. Robbie Williams creeped in through the front door of the hotel, slightly buzzed, but sober enough to be puzzled when he saw a sleeping Gary on the sofa in the lobby.

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“Pssst, Mark!” Robbie whispered as he lightly shook Mark’s sleeping form.

“Shhh Robbie, just go to sleep,” Mark groaned while waving Robbie off of him, but Robbie wasn’t having any of it.

“No, wake up ya knob, this is important.” Always the ever-caring friend, this captured Mark’s attention and he sat up.

“What is it?” He asked, rubbing his bleary eyes.

“Well I was out at the pub earlier as you know, but I didn’t drink much, honest, so believe me when I tell you that I just saw Gary asleep on the sofa in the hotel lobby!” Robbie exclaimed.

Mark’s eyes widened, then he sighed and glanced down, muttering expletives under his breath.

Robbie couldn’t agree more, “I know! Weird right?”

“More than you know...” Mark mumbled. Then he jumped up, grabbed Robbie’s hand and dragged him along, “Come on, we’re going to Howard and Jason’s room.” After traveling next door and pounding on the door, they were let into the room by an irritated looking Jason.

“What is it Mark? I’d just managed to get to sleep, mate.”

“Sorry Jason, Howard, but this is important.” The rest of the lads just looked at Mark expectantly, urging him to carry on. “Well, you guys know how Gary was a bit off today at rehearsals?”

Jason scoffed, “Yeah, a bit.”

“Well,” Mark continued, giving Jason a glare, “When he went off to the loo after Nigel popped in, I followed him because I was worried, something just wasn’t right with him.”

“Yeah,” Howard cut in, “He was acting extra weird around Nige, and he said they didn’t even have a fight.”

Mark nodded, “Exactly. So I checked every bathroom until finally I went to the one on the 6th floor. I found him in there huddled in the corner of a stall on the floor, and he was...his mind wasn’t there. I heard his quick breathing and he was muttering things under his breath like, I don’t know, asking someone to ‘stop’ and repeating ‘no no no’ over and over. I instinctively reached out to touch him but he flinched away and started sobbing. He was crying hard guys!” Mark took a pause in the middle of his rant to look around the room at the lads, they all looked quite worried and shocked, as this certainly wasn’t in character for Gary.

“And what happened then?” Howard inquired, desperate to figure out what was wrong with one of his closest friends so he could help.

Mark sighed and continued, “Well, he was clearly having a panic attack or flashback or something, I just tried my best to talk him through it and eventually he came to. He basically tried to act like nothing happened and I didn’t want to force it out of him so I let it go. Maybe it was just a one off incident. But then Robbie comes back to our room tonight and...”

Robbie picked up where Mark left off, “And I saw Gary sleeping on the sofa in the lobby!”

“What?” Jason asked with a shocked look on his face. “But he went to his room the same time as us, didn’t he? Why wouldn’t he stay there to sleep...”

“I don’t know,” Robbie replied, “I thought it was strange and that’s why I woke Marko up when I got back. Then he dragged me in here and...yeah...”

Howard piped up, “Well I don’t know about you lads, but I’m going to go and see if he’ll talk to us. Plus, I’m not gonna let one of me best mates sleep in the lobby all night.” And with that he got up and started for the door. Mark, Jason and Robbie all looked at each other in silent agreement, the three of them standing up and following Howard.

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As the lads walked into the lobby, their eyes were immediately drawn to Gary on the sofa, in the middle of a fitful sleep. As they got closer they could hear him muttering under his breath, although it remained incomprehensible. He was tossing and turning, as much as one could on a small sofa. The lads had frozen, merely watching their band mate and brother for a moment, unsure as to what to do. Eventually Howard was the first to break as he remembered what he came here for. He reached out a hand and grabbed Gary’s arm, gently trying to shake him awake. The boys all jumped back in shock when, right away, Gary shot up wide awake, gasping and frantically looking around.

When he caught a glimpse of Mark, Robbie, Howard and Jason looking at him with concern, he worked to slow down his breathing, “'Ey up lads, what’s going on?” He offered what he hoped was a reassuring smile. Unfortunately this didn’t satisfy the lads at all because of what they had just seen. Howard seemed to have lost all his nerve, frightened by the state his friend was in, so Mark decided to slowly step forward.

“Gary, we’re all worried about you mate. I’m sorry but I...I told the lads about what happened today, in the loo...” He briefly paused at the betrayed look in Gary’s eyes, “I had to, I’m so sorry, but first that happened, and now we find you sleeping on the sofa in the lobby, and I just couldn’t keep that to myself, the worry was eating away at me.”

Surprisingly Jason came forward next, laying a hand on Gary’s trembling shoulder, “Look, Gary, I’m sorry for being so harsh on you this morning mate, but if something happened you know you can trust us, yeah?”

What happened next was so out of character for Gary that it just confirmed to the boys that something had happened to him. He was always the most stoic member of the band, but as he looked up at Jason his deep blue eyes filled to the brim with tears.

“Please don’t make me tell you,” Gary started to sob as he placed his head in his hands, “Please, you’ll hate me, please,” he pleaded as he continued to cry in earnest.

Mark sat down on the sofa next to him and wrapped an arm around Gary, “Mate, you know we could never hate you, no matter what you tell us,” at this he glanced up at the lads for reassurance and they nodded for him to continue. “I promise you’ll feel better once you get it out, you don’t have to hide this anymore, we’ll all help you get through this, whatever it is.”

Gary sniffled and looked up at them all through wet lashes, “...A-Alright, just...can we go somewhere more private?”

It was nearing 4am at this point, and members of the staff were beginning to titter around, getting prepared for the early morning risers.

Robbie spoke up at this, “Of course, yeah, let’s go back to mine and Mark’s.”

As the boys all made the journey up to the hotel room, Gary grasped on to Mark’s hand tight, desperately needing the support. Mark felt Gary grab his hand, letting a small, sad smile take over his face.  As they were about to enter the hotel room, they saw Nigel step out of his and Gary’s room.

“Ah Gary, I was wondering where you were. Lads, you should all be in bed right now, come along Gary,” he said as he motioned Gary to come with him and into their room.

Mark felt Gary clench his hand tightly, and all the boys turned to glance at him when they heard a minuscule frightened squeak escape him. Howard, ever the protective friend and largest band mate, immediately stepped forward when he saw the fear on his mates face.

“Actually Nige, we were having a band sleepover in Mark and Robbie’s room tonight, if that’s okay,” Howard said in a sickly sweet tone, knowing full well that Nigel couldn’t give a reason as to why they weren’t allowed.

Nigel glanced over all their faces suspiciously, finally locking eyes with Gary and saying in an icy tone, “Fine, but don’t expect to sleep in tomorrow. If yous all aren’t out of that room by 8 then you’d better be prepared for a rude awakening from me.” And with that he turned on his heel, entered his room and slammed the door.

The boys all quickly entered their room, where Gary barely made it through the door before breaking down. He slammed his back against the wall and slid down it, weeping with his head in his hands. He was shaken up, obviously Nigel had been waiting for him, and who knows what would have happened had he been in that hotel room again tonight.

“Oh God, o-oh God,” the lads could hear him whimpering. They all looked around at each other worryingly, simply wanting to help their mate.

“Gary...” Mark said lowly as he stroked his hand through Gary’s short, dirty blonde hair.

Gary abruptly looked up, exhausted from holding this secret in, it was slowly clawing it’s way out of him and he felt as if he was going to burst. He just had to get this over with.

Still quite worked up he started to ramble his way through his story, “Last night, I was in bed just drifting off to sleep when I heard N-Nige get up from his bed. I didn’t know lads!” He desperately cried, needing them to know that he hadn’t known what was about to happen. “I di-didn’t know what he was gonna do, I just thought he was going to the bathroom...bu-but then I felt him sit on the bed, and...” Gary was finding it extremely difficult to continue, he felt a lump in his throat from trying to hold back his tears, and he looked to Mark for support. He gave Gary an encouraging nod, and Gary went on, “and then he...he raped m-me.”

A sob broke free from Gary’s throat, and he buried his head in Mark’s shoulder. Sadly, this meant that he didn’t see the truly emotional responses of his band mates, no, his brothers. He didn’t see the shock written all over Robbie’s face. He didn’t see the anguish that covered Jason’s features. He didn’t see the pure rage that Howard was portraying, trying to steady his shaking fists. He didn’t see the tears that Mark was silently crying on his behalf, saddened by what was taken from him last night.

Gary assumed that they were all disgusted with him as he continued to bawl into Mark’s shirt, “I’m sorry lads, I-I tried to stop him but I couldn’t, he just had me pinned and...” he was wracked with sobs, “it hurt so much, oh God, it still hurts so much.” The sound that escaped Howard’s mouth at that moment wasn’t human.

He growled, “That bastard! I’m gonna kill him,” as he started for the door. The rest of the lads looked happy to let him do it, but Gary quickly jumped up and grabbed his arm.

He was trembling as he pleaded, “No, Howard please, you can’t, Ni-Nigel said I couldn’t tell anyone, it would ruin our careers! And besides, no one would believe me anyway...” Upon hearing Gary beg him not to go, Howard's face crumpled, thinking of how he must have begged Nigel to stop too, but he was ignored. Howard wasn’t about to do that to him.

He grabbed Gary and wrapped him up in his arms, tears starting to leak down his cheeks, “Sorry Gaz, I won’t do anything you don’t want me to, I promise.”

Jason stepped forward then, of course he had been thinking about how Gary thought no one would believe him ever since he mentioned it moments ago.

“Gaz, of course we believe you, 100%. That’s one thing you don’t have to worry about, mate.”

Gary stepped out of Howard’s arms, rubbing his reddened eyes, “Y-you do?”

Robbie was the next to offer his reassurances, “Mate, we all know how much of a twat Nigel is. And though this is something none of us could have ever saw coming...you’re our brother, and we’ll always support you.”

“Thanks lads,” Gary replied meekly. He had managed to calm down a bit, and now he was just absolutely knackered. Gary yawned, and suddenly Mark started to guide him towards the bed.

“Come on Gaz, let’s get you to bed, you can sleep here tonight.” Gary was too exhausted to protest, so he simply let himself be led to the bed. He flopped down onto it and Mark pulled the blankets up over him. Within seconds he was fast asleep.

Chapter Text

Gary began to snore lightly and Mark smiled at him fondly. He continued to stare at Gary’s sleeping form, taking notice of how young and peaceful he looked, before sighing and turning around to face the lads. They all looked around at each other, still in a state of utter disbelief. It was a few minutes before anyone said anything, Gary’s light snores the only sound filling the room. They were slowly coming to terms with what had happened.

It was Howard who finally broke the silence, “What the fuck are we gonna do?” He sounded dejected, and with a quick glance up at his face Mark could see that all the anger had been drained out of him, leaving behind only a deep sadness. Mark was thinking much the same thing—exactly how the hell were they going to deal with this? They couldn’t very well sack Nigel, could they? But having to face him everyday would surely kill Gary...

“Well, we’re going to get rid of Nigel, obviously,” Robbie said very matter-of-fact.

“I don’t know if it’s quite as easy as that, Robbie...” Jason said barely above a whisper. When Robbie looked affronted and opened his mouth to speak again, Jason jumped in, “Yes, ideally we’d get rid of Nigel immediately and never have to see him again, but unfortunately we might not be able to get out of our contract.” His heavy words hung in the air uncomfortably as the other three fully absorbed what was being said.

“So, you mean, we might be stuck with...Nigel,” Howard spit the name out, “until the end of the tour?”

Here, Jason simply nodded.

“Shit,” said Mark.

“I’ll contact our lawyer tomorrow and just inquire about if there are any ways to leave our contract,” Jason added. “I’ll do it casually, to avoid suspicion. The last thing we want is for her to contact Nigel.”

“Well, until then there’s no way that I’m letting Nigel anywhere near Gary, certainly not while he’s alone.” Mark said, coming up with a contingency plan. “And I suggest the rest of us avoid being alone with him as well. I mean, we don’t know if this is just a thing he has for Gary...and just because he hasn’t done anything before doesn’t mean he won’t now. So, we have to be careful lads.”

Howard, Jason and Robbie all solemnly nodded.

Mark continued, “Anyways I...I guess that’s the most we can do for right now,” he glanced at Gary, “We should all try and get a few more hours of sleep before rehearsal.”

At this it was clear that Howard and Jason were hesitant to leave Robbie and Mark’s room.

“C’mon lads, stay here for tonight, it’s alright.” Robbie said as he crawled onto his bed. “Markie can sleep in his bed with Gary, yous can sleep with me. Don’t be shy, c’mon.” He urged them on.

Howard and Jason snuggled up into the bed on either side of Robbie. The bed wasn’t small by any means, but with three grown lads in it, it was a bit of a tight squeeze. Although none of them were objecting to the comfort it offered tonight.

At the sight of his band mates cuddled in bed together, Mark’s face spread into a small smile as he switched off the light. He gingerly climbed into bed, hoping not to disturb Gary from his sleep. Unfortunately, this was not the case.

Gary began to stir and when Mark’s weight settled on the bed behind him he abruptly sat up with a gasp, eyes wide. He started to scramble away until he noticed that it was Mark on the bed with him. When he got his wits about him and looked around the room he could see that someone had turned the lamp on and all the lads were staring at him, unsure as to what course of action to take.

When his breathing slowed down Gary spoke up, “Sorry lads, it’s just a bit...” he swallowed, vaguely gesturing in Mark’s direction, “bit similar is all.” Immediately Mark wanted to slap himself. He had essentially just creeped up on Gary like Nigel had done only last night.

“Oh fuck, Gaz. I’m so sorry,” at this Mark started to get up, “I’ll just...” but Gary grabbed his arm.

“No, it’s alright mate. Just didn’t know it was you, is all,” he said with a sad smile.

Mark looked dubious, “Okay...if you’re sure.”

Gary gave a reassuring nod of his head, and Mark climbed into the bed once more. Howard reached over and turned off the lamp, and the room was shrouded with darkness once more. After a few moments of slightly awkward silence, Gary and Mark could hear the breathing of the lads in the other bed even out, clearly having fallen asleep quickly out of sheer exhaustion.

Gary turned his head towards Mark and whispered, “Markie?”

“Yeah?”

“Do you mind if we, um, cuddle a bit?” Gary asked shyly. “Just so, ya know, I’m sure it’s you and when I’m sleeping I won’t panic about being in a bed with another person and...” he rambled.

Mark interrupted him by shifting over and wrapping his arms around him, “Of course Gaz.” He began to slowly run his fingers through Gary’s hair, “Is this alright?”

“Mmm,” Gary hummed, his eyes drifting closed, already more calm than he had been all night. Mark smiled and let his eyes close, content with Gary here in his arms.

 

 

Jason was the first to rise a few hours later, having always been someone who naturally sleeps very little. A quick glance at the clock told him that he had 20 minutes before the alarm would go off. He got up from the bed and went to sit in the corner of the room for a quick meditation before the rest of the lads woke up. On his way there he caught sight of Mark and Gary wrapped up in each other on the bed and smiled to himself knowingly.

 

 

Gary groaned as he slowly blinked awake. As he registered arms wrapped around him he tensed, until he took in the persons small stature and felt their long, messy hair tickle his cheek. Gary let out a sigh filled with both relief and contentment, but he knew the alarm clock was about to go off any minute now, so he untangled himself from Mark’s limbs and sat up.

“Ohhh,” he breathed out as he sat on the edge of the bed, gripping the sheets. He was felt stiff and sore all over, especially in his arms and...down there. Gary stared intently at the floor as he spaced out, suddenly tasting an old sock in his mouth, and he was almost sure he could hear Nigel’s moans distantly in his ears...

“Gaz?” He heard as a hand landed on his shoulder. He blinked and came back to the present. He turned, it was Jason looking at him with concern.

“Are you alright?” Howard inquired further when Gary didn’t respond. All the lads were awake now, apparently the alarm clock had gone off and he hadn’t even noticed.

Gary cleared his throat, “Yeah, I’m good, me.” He went to stand and a grimace covered his features which didn’t go unnoticed by the observant Mark.

“What’s wrong?” He asked gently.

“Nowt, I’m, uh,” Gary avoided eye contact, feeling awkward and uncomfortable, “just a bit sore.”

“Jesus,” he faintly heard Howard mumble under his breath.

“Well I guess it’s true, what they say about it being worse on the second day...” Robbie chimed in, but trailed off by the glares sent his way by Howard, Mark and Jason.

Gary huffed a small, humourless laugh, “Guess so, lad.”

Robbie’s face reddened as he felt properly chastised.

There was a bit of an awkward silence before Gary blurted out, “Well, I guess I’m gonna have to go back to my room to get me clothes and stuff...”

“I’ll come with you,” Mark quickly piped up.

“No Markie, you can’t.”

“There’s no way in hell you’re going alone!” Howard yelled incredulously.

“Nigel can’t know that I told you lot! And having you come back to my room with me would just look suspicious, Mark.” The lads still didn’t look happy with that explanation, and when Howard went to open his mouth to object once more, Gary quickly added, “Besides, it’s only a quick trip in and out, Nigel probably won’t even be awake. And even if he is, I don’t think he’s stupid enough to try anything when he knows I have to meet you lot for breakfast in 20 minutes.”

“Yeah, I guess that’s true...” Howard conceded.

“Fine,” Mark said, “but I’ll be waiting right outside the door of your room, and if I think you’re taking too long in there then I’m knocking on the door and making up some excuse.”

Gary nodded and started towards the door. Mark followed him and sent a nervous look over his shoulder to the other lads.

 

 

Gary quietly crept into his room, praying that Nigel would either be asleep or not there at all. Unfortunately, it seems that his luck had run out, because as soon as Gary had grabbed his clothes and headed back towards the door, Nigel stepped out of the bathroom.

“Ah, Gary! How nice of you to drop by,” he said with a menacing smirk.

Gary stopped in his tracks, “Uh, y-yeah. Just had to grab some clothes before me and the lads go down to breakfast.” Nigel took a step forward, and Gary stumbled backwards, horrified to feel his back hit the wall. Nigel continued to advance on him, and he was frozen with fear.

“Ya know, I really missed you last night, Gary,” Nigel was right in front of him now, and Gary could feel his hot breath hit the side of his face. Suddenly there was a hand palming his crotch, and before he could register what was happening Nigel’s hand had slipped inside his pajama bottoms and squeezed his cock roughly. Gary squeaked in surprise, and that’s when a loud pounding came on the door. Nigel cursed, immediately straightened up and removed his hand. When he opened the door it was Mark.

“Nige, is Gary here? We’re gonna leave for breakfast soon, hopefully get an early start on rehearsals,” Mark forced his face into a smile that he was sure looked almost as painful as it felt.

Nigel looked like he was conflicted on whether he was going to come up with some excuse as to why Gary needed to stay longer, or just take the easier option and let it slide for the time being. He went with the latter.

“Yeah, Gary, go on.” Gary took this as his cue and all but ran from the room. As soon as he was out into the hall Nigel slammed the door behind them. Gary didn’t wait for Mark, instead taking off for the room the rest of the lads were in. Mark ran after him and overtook him, quickly opening the door and Gary just speedily walked through the doorway and straight into the bathroom, locking it behind him, before Mark even had the chance to ask him what exactly had happened.

Howard, Robbie and Jason all looked at him questioningly, with Robbie mouthing, “What happened?” Mark just shrugged.

He lightly tapped on the bathroom door, “...Gaz?”

There was a moment of silence before a “Yeah?” could be heard through the door. His voice sounded thick, as if he were crying.

“Please tell us what happened,” Mark pleaded, starting to get emotional himself.

“Yeah, we’re here to help, mate,” Jason added.

Mark got hopeful when he could hear the sounds of Gary getting up and moving towards the door. He unlocked the door and opened it, standing still in the doorway. His eyes were red and his face was splotchy, yup, definitely crying.

“It’s nothing much, Nigel,” Gary’s voice broke, “he just, uh, he cornered me a-and grabbed me, ya know,” he said, gesturing to his crotch.

“Oh Gaz,” Mark said as a tear rolled down his cheek, “I shouldn’t have let you go!”

Gary raised a shaking hand to wipe the tear away, “Shhh, it’s alright mate, I’m the one who wanted to go, it’s not your fault. And besides, it’s not even that bad, all things considered. I’ve had worse. Just got me a bit worked up is all.”

Howard looked at him, incredulous. “Not that bad!? Gary...” Howard was speechless.

“Well obviously Nigel can’t be trusted to be alone with Gary at all,” Robbie said.

“No, he can’t,” Jason agreed, “While you lads were gone I called our lawyer. She said that the only way we could make the contract void is if Nigel had caused or threatened to cause any one of us serious harm. But even then we might have to go to court and fight it out...”

Robbie immediately perked up at this, “Oh, well that’s it then, right? I mean, he did cau-“

“I don’t have any proof,” Gary cut him off.

“What?” Robbie asked.

“I mean that there’s no...evidence. At this point it would just be my word against his.”

“Oh,” Robbie looked to the ground, disheartened, until he got an idea. “Unless...” he piped up, “we can come up with a plan to get him caught.”

 

 

The lads were talking over breakfast in hushed voices. Robbie pitched his idea for how to bring down Nigel once and for all.

“No! Absolutely not!” Mark yelled, and the lads all hurried to quiet him down. “Sorry,” Mark whispered, “but there’s no fucking way we’re letting Gary do this. It’s too dangerous, and besides, we don’t even know if it’ll work!”

“But Marko, it’s the only way,” Robbie responded.

Mark glimpsed at the other lads, seeing somber looks plastered on all their faces. “What, everyone else is gonna go along with this too?" He desperately looked around, hoping to find someone who agreed with him. "Howard?"

At this, Howard met Mark’s eye, “I mean, I don’t like it, but it does seem to be the only way we can catch Nigel and end our contract...But I think the final decision should be up to Gary.”

At the mention of his name, Gary released a shaky breath. Jason placed a hand on his shoulder and he flinched away from the touch.

“Gaz?” Jason prompted.

“Yeah...I-I really don’t want to put myself in that position again, but I want to end our contract with N-Nigel more badly than anything. I just don’t think I could take seeing him everyday. Plus, I think having to spend that much time with him would be more dangerous for us all in the long run. I guess I...I’ll have to do it.”

Mark tried to be the voice of reason once again, “No Gary, you really don’t have t-“

“Please, Markie. Me mind’s made up.”

“...alright,” Mark whispered, and then grew silent.

 

 

After another long day of rehearsals (in which Gary mostly observed as he wasn’t feeling very well), the lads set about putting their plan in motion. They were currently all situated in Robbie and Mark’s room.

“Alright Gaz,” Robbie said, “I’ve set up Mark’s video camera in your room, it’s hidden and already recording. Do you have the pager?”

“Yeah,” Gary replied.

“Okay, good. I’ve got the other one, so just remember to press it the second it gets too much, and we’ll all be there in an instant. Dougie’s got your extra room key,” this was followed by an affirmative nod from Howard, “so we’ll be able to get in right away, and Jay’s job is to phone the police as soon as you page. Is everyone clear on what’s happening? Any questions?”

Robbie looked around the room at his mates and saw that they were all wearing determined looks, apart from Mark, who was sat in the corner of the room furiously biting his nails and looking nervous. But with the silence that ensued after his question, Robbie added, “Okay, great...Well I guess that’s it then mate, whenever you’re ready.”

Gary gravely nodded and headed towards the door, but was stopped in his tracks when Mark ran up to him and wrapped him in a crushing hug. With his head buried in Gary’s neck, Mark whispered, “Good luck, Gaz.” He then gave him a kiss on the cheek, before pulling away and returning to his corner with a flushed face.

With a small smile on his face, Gary took one last look at his mates before heading out the door.

 

 

Gary was laying in bed, pretending to be asleep although he was wide awake. It was nearing 2am at this point and Nigel still hadn’t come back to the room. Just as Gary started to doubt that he was even going to come back at all, the front door opened. Gary’s heart started pounding, but he forced himself to stay in his sleeping position. Nigel didn’t bother with any pretenses tonight, as soon as he saw that Gary was in the room he immediately made his way over to the bed. Gary could hear his footsteps approaching and getting closer. Finally, Nigel’s weight settled on the bed. Gary shakily let out a breath, but didn’t turn around. Nigel gripped his shoulder and roughly turned Gary to face him.

“W-what?” Gary choked out.

Nigel didn’t respond, just gazed at him for a few moments before painfully crashing his lips onto Gary’s, their teeth clanging. Gary started to panic and tried to push Nigel away, but before he could do much harm, Nigel got the upper hand once again. Once Nigel had climbed on top of him, Gary thought it was over, this is it, he’s gonna do it again. Nigel stopped kissing him, but pinned Gary’s hands above his head and started to grind his hips into Gary’s.

A sob broke free from Gary’s throat, “No Nige, please don’t do this...not again,” he finished in a whisper.

However, his pleas didn’t mean anything to Nigel, who completely ignored them and kept on with his advances. He hauled down Gary’s pants and roughly squeezed his cock, before starting to move his hand up and down in a desperate attempt to get Gary hard. It worked.

Gary’s sobs began to take over his body. “No, no, no, stop Nige please! Stop...” In his panicked state Gary’s mind went to the pager that he was meant to press, which was underneath his pillow. He just had to get his hands free from Nigel’s grip...

“I can’t wait to fuck you again baby, feel how tight you are around my cock,” Nigel moaned.

While Gary was trying to pull his hands free, Nigel quickly flipped him over onto his stomach. In doing this, his grip loosened slightly, and Gary rushed to pull his hands free. He immediately grabbed the pager and pressed it, relief washing over his body. But he was still stuck under Nigel’s weight.

Gary could feel Nigel rubbing his cock over the crack of his arse, pre-cum moistening the area. His heart leapt as he realized how close Nigel was to fucking him. He prayed to God that the lads would get here in time, he genuinely didn’t think his body could take going through this a second time.

Gary yelped as he felt the tip of Nigel’s cock enter him, when suddenly the door burst open, and four bodies sped into the room. Nigel froze in shock, but Howard and Robbie made quick work of hauling him off of Gary and restraining him, then locking him in the bathroom.

Mark ran over to Gary who was quietly sobbing. He helped him pull up his pants and cover himself up, them began to stroke his hair.

“Shhhh, it’s alright, we’re here now, you’re safe,” Mark said, trying to comfort him.

“The police will be here any minute now Gaz...” Jason said quietly, hesitating next to the bed, unsure about what to do.

Howard and Robbie came back from the bathroom, and Robbie went to the camera to switch it off. They didn’t need any more of this on tape, and he was sure Gary wouldn’t want to be seen like this any more than was necessary.

The lads all stared at Gary with wet eyes, deeply saddened at seeing their brother in this distressed state. Gary couldn’t get himself to calm down, he couldn’t catch his breath and he was trembling, the thought of how close he had come to being raped again weighing heavy in his mind. Mark just continued to run his fingers through Gary’s hair and hold him, every now and then whispering soothing phrases, until eventually he had stopped crying and could breathe again.

But Gary was so stuck in his own head that he didn’t notice that the police came round and took the camera, as well as Nigel, away. He didn’t hear them tell the boys that he would need to come down to the station tomorrow to give his statement. He was in shock.

“Gazza, please come back to us, mate, please...” he distantly heard a voice croak out. He felt something wet hit his cheek, and when he looked up it was Mark, with tears leaking from his eyes.

“...Markie?” Gary whispered.

“Oh, thank God,” Mark muttered as he touched Gary’s face. Gary took this moment to look around at the rest of the lads, and when he saw the emotional responses portrayed on all their faces he immediately felt like he had let them down.

He started to sniffle, “I’m sorry lads, I-I tried to press the pager sooner bu-but I...my hands were pinned, and I couldn’t get it.” Gary began to cry again. Howard jumped up from where he was sitting and wiped his eyes.

“Gaz, you don’t have to apologize to us, mate. You did amazing and we’re all so proud of you,” he paused. “Nigel’s gonna go away for a long time, you don’t have to worry about that any more.”

Jason spoke up next, “He’s right, Gary. You were so brave to do what you just did, I’m not sure I would have had the courage to do that.”

Robbie nodded his head in agreement.

“See?” Mark said. “We all love you so much Gaz. We’re emotional because we hate seeing you like this, not because of any other reason that might be running around that head of yours.”

Gary looked up and locked his gaze with Mark’s blue-green eyes. At the look of pure love and adoration he saw there, he took comfort and was finally able to relax.

He sat up in the bed, “C’mon lads, let’s get out of this room.”

And he slowly made his made out of the room that’s connected with such horrible memories, and into Mark and Robbie’s room.

Once inside, all the lads piled into one bed, gangly limbs all tangled up in one another, Gary at the centre. Although Gary knew that he still had a long way to go to recover from this traumatic experience in his life, wrapped up here in the arms of best mates he felt that he could get through anything life threw his way.