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Stars & Stripes

You should have told her sooner.

Harry couldn’t drive fast enough to the hospital.

Olivia sat curled up in the passenger seat, not uttering a word since Liam had told her the news. Her eyes burned with anxious and terrified tears.

But she wouldn’t let them fall. Olivia was being childish. Her father was fine. He could have just broken his arm or something simple like that. There was no reason to jump to conclusions when Liam didn’t have any other information to give her but the fact that her dad was in the hospital.

The drive was well over an hour and they almost left the car in ambulance dock. Harry hopped out, wanting to accompany Olivia. When she turned around to make sure he was following her, Louis came to the rescue and swapped with Harry, parking the car elsewhere.

Olivia, Harry, and the rest entered the hospital’s automatic doors swiftly. Olivia barged up to the front desk.

“Charles Mann.” She demanded, “Where is he?”

The dark-skinned nurse peered up at her through lazy spectacles. “And who might you be?”

“I’m his daughter. Please,” She begged, looking her straight face. “Where is he?”

The woman pursed her lips sympathetically as she typed into her keyboard. “Room 138. Oncology ward.”

Olivia nearly fainted. She couldn’t even send her a weak ‘thanks’ before shoving off to the elevator. Zayn pressed the correct button and the steel doors closed around them, suffocating Olivia. Her involuntary shaking didn’t go unnoticed by her companions. Harry slid his hand into hers, squeezing it. The touch only slightly eased her anxiety. At least Olivia knew she wasn’t alone with whatever was waiting for her in room 138.

Niall thought about cracking a joke to ease the atmosphere but the terrified look on Olivia’s face told him to keep it to himself. Now was not the time.

The elevator parted and Olivia led the pack down the hall. It smelt strongly of bleach up there. All Olivia could imagine as they walked by a few empty rooms was that someone had probably just died and they had recently clean up the remains.

Olivia stopped. She slipped out of Harry’s warm fingers, and leaned her head against the white, pasty wall and tried to fight back the bile that was rising rapidly.

“Go on.” Harry ordered the others as Olivia tried to pace her breathing.

“Olive,” He touched the nape of her back gently, “Love, look at me.”

Olivia slowly peered over at him, tears streaming down her face, “I can’t lose him, too.” She whispered.

Harry wrapped his arms tightly around her, “You’re not going to lose him, Olive. He’s going to be fine. Let’s just go talk to him and figure this out, yeah?” He said into the top of her head. He felt her nod and he pulled back enough to kiss her softly on the forehead. Harry’s hand found hers again and he brought her to the room. Laughter was flowing through and Olivia hoped that it wouldn’t be as bad as she assumed if laughter was able to come out of the situation.

She stutter stepped into the room but Harry tightened his grip. The laughter ceased and all eyes were on them. Charles tired eyes found his daughter’s grief-stricken face and then they traveled down her arm until he found their interconnected hands and he smiled.

“Hey, Olive.” He said softly. His voice was gruff. His hair was shaved off. He looked sallow and ill and Olivia wondered how she could have missed how much weight he had lost recently. “I missed you.”

Olivia broke apart from Harry and padded over to the clean hospital bed. Fresh tears sprung as she clung to his hand lying supine on the bed. She hid her face in his blanket-clad stomach and cried.

“Let’s go check up on Lou.” Harry cleared his throat, wanting to give the two some time to talk. The other lads silently agreed and within moments, they were gone.

Charles patted his daughters hair lightly, “Shh, Olive. It’s okay.”

“You’re sitting in the oncology ward, dad.” Sudden anger flashed through her, “It’s most certainly not okay!”

A soft knock on the door resounded and both watched Julia come in with a solemn expression on her face.

“Olive,” Julie greeted quietly. Olivia clenched her jaw. She knew this whole time that something was wrong with her father. Julia knew and never told her.

“How could you?” Olivia demanded tearfully. “How could you just talk to me business-as-usual and know that he had cancer?”

“It wasn’t my place, Olive.” Julia made to embrace the daughter-figure but Olivia recoiled as if her touch would burn her.

Don’t you dare.” Olivia dropped her father’s hand and stepped away, betrayal clad on her tear-stained face. She sniffed, wiping away snot. “How bad is it? How long?”

“We’ve known for a few weeks, just before you left for the tour.” Julia answered.

“I know this isn’t easy for you, Olive.” Charles sighed knowingly. “But the doctors say there’s a good chance of my recovery. We caught it quickly enough.”

“What kind of cancer?” Olivia ignored their sympathies.

Charles sighed, “It’s called Schwannoma neurofibrosarcoma.”

“What—what does that mean?” Olivia asked shakily.

“It means I’ll be fine, sweetheart.” Charles said.

“Charlie,” Julia warned.

“You’re not fine if you’re here so why don’t you stop trying to protect me for once and tell me the truth!” Olivia spat.

The moment the words flew out of her mouth, Charles aged twenty years. “It means there’s a fifty-fifty chance.”

Olivia felt as though someone was stabbing her in the heart, repeatedly and endlessly. “You said you were going to be fine.” She whimpered, sliding into a chair that Liam had previously vacated. “You said there was a good chance.”

“Fifty percent is a good chance.” Charles said.

“No, it’s a shitty chance. It a foolish, hopeful chance doctors give when they know you’re going to die but don’t want you to have to know it.” Olivia cried in fierce grief. “You promised after mom—You promised—” She couldn’t get the words out with the sobs wracking her frame.

Julia wiped a stray tear and sent Charles a painful look. You should have told her sooner.

I know. His pained eyes said back.

The sound of Olivia falling apart on the uncomfortable hospital chair was all the filled the death-filled atmosphere.

+ + +

Harry hit the answering machine again and sighed heavily. He didn’t want to be here, he wanted to be back with Olivia, where ever she was in New York. He couldn’t get a hold of her to let her know he was here for her, to let him be there for her. But, Olivia wasn’t that kind of girl. She needed to do things on her own, no matter how painful or how much she suffered in doing so.

“Did she pick up?” Louis tried to ask conversationally. They had just finished up their set and were packing up to head back to the flat. Harry was stuck in Jersey while Olivia was alone in New York. He hated it.

Harry simply shook his curls and pocketed the phone.

“Sorry, mate.” Louis wetted his lips, “She’ll talk when she’s ready. Wren says we’ve got to head out.”

Wren was the new Olivia, just for the day (at least Harry hoped). Harry was going to be shipped back to London in a few days’ time and then Olivia would be gone for a little while. He wanted to spend as much time as possible with the American, and for the first time in a long time, it wasn’t about sex for Harry. It was about Olivia.

A knock sound and the Asian-esque Wren Phillips popped his head in. He couldn’t have been more than twenty-two. Julia told them he was the old intern before they gave him a steady job. They were in capable hands with the handsomely calm Wren. But, Wren wasn’t Olivia and Harry hated him for that.

“You almost ready?” Wren questioned. He tried to smile lightly, to ease their obvious pain, but Harry couldn’t be bothered.

“You heard from Julia?” Louis asked.

Wren nodded apologetically. “She’s staying the night there.”

“Thanks, mate.” Louis said, picking up Harry. “Let’s get out of here.”

+ + +

Usually in this stressful situation, Harry would have gone out and shagged until he passed out. But, tonight, he sat dutifully by his phone, waiting for Olivia to reach out.

Harry sat on his bed. His notebook and guitar were strewn away from him when he gave up trying to busy himself an hour ago. Since then, he had just sat in silence. His phone was propped on his window as he stared out at the night sky. Harry swore he saw a shooting star coming to take him to Olivia, but it was only an airplane, reminding him that he only had so many days in America, so many days left with the intoxicating Olivia.

He picked up his phone and typed in another useless message:

I’m sorry, Olive.

Harry pressed the send button hard, as if to give it more meaning. He sighed and fell backward on his pillow, letting the phone fall out of his grip.

A few moments later, his right leg vibrated. Harry scrambled for his phone and opened the one message from Olivia:

You don’t mean it. But, thanks for saying it.

But, for once in three years, Harry did mean it. And for once in three years, someone didn’t believe him.



I can't find it on mibba did you change the name?

Could you post it on here?
I apologize! I thought I had put up the first chapter! RuthlessAdandon is correct. It is up on my Mibba page.
oh ok thanks :)

It's on her Mibba page under the same username.