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Old 01-28-2011, 02:16 AM   #1
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An Cat Dubh 34

I'm sorry, getting all emotional at this late hour...

***

Bono woke up disoriented; the light wavered through his vision until his eyes opened fully. His head felt fuzzy. Where the hell was he—?

He sat up—oh, I’m on something squishy—a couch—

Edge’s house. He stared blearily around him, called around for Edge but his voice just echoed back at him. Bono made a mental apology, pulled off his shirt and washed his hair in the sink, the cold water shocking him awake and trickling down his neck in contrast to the warm air. He pulled the dripping water as best he could out of his hair and rubbed his hands through it vigorously in attempt to get it dry. Not working. Bono sighed, folded his shirt and gave up, stuffing it in his coat pocket and pulling the coat on over his bare skin. It was scratchy but warm. He called around for Edge again—nothing—and walked outside in search of his car, finding a note tucked under his windshield wiper:

Bon, I went to the hospital just in case. Tried looking for Oisín but couldn’t find him. Maybe you’ll have more luck? –Edge

Bono’s heart sped with relief; he thought he’d gotten a parking notice or something. He shook his head at Edge’s actions and opened the car door, then frowned and climbed out of the car, leaning against it and thinking. Bono shoved his hands in his pockets, feeling a little cold, and walked to Glasnevin and his house. It wasn’t far, and he had the strange feeling that he would probably miss something if he drove.

He walked all the way down the street past his house, and saw a figure there, half-thrown into shadow by a tall tree near the edge of the street. Bono stopped, tilted his head, and approached. From the shadow, he could make out someone tall standing straight in an old coat, a hat pulled over his hair. The man grinned lopsidedly when Paul approached.

He had fair hair beneath the hat, and a sort of exhausted, fervent look about his face. He looked very little like Cath but for the intensity about his eyes and the little freckles underneath the surface of his skin, and he moved a little in the same way. Paul had a general good feeling about him he could barely place.

“Have I seen you before?” the man asked, looking confused, his face bright against the cold, a little squint of confusion coming to him as he tried to remember. “Oh,” Oisín breathed. At the bar…that day had been dark and those moments fast, but Bono had caught a good glimpse of Oisín’s face, wondering what the man had on his mind to be wandering into this bar purposefully…

“Oisín?” he asked, though he already felt an odd sort of recognition heartbeat that stalled and then continued.

“God, I had no idea,” Paul said, feeling he had been a little lost; it was a strange bit of chance that the man who did what Paul had wanted to do happened to be Cath’s brother.

Oisín Fairleigh nodded, tilting his head a little and sort of staring in that deep way Cath did sometimes when she was wondering something.

“Listen—thanks for what you did,” Bono said awkwardly. “I couldn’t make myself—“ He broke off. The other man had looked down and swallowed, something coming across his face. It came to Paul that Oisín probably wasn’t much older than a teenager; did he even live near here—and that coat had seen a lot of use—

Oisín closed his eyes briefly.

“I didn’t really mean to kill him,” he confessed. “I suppose it was good he died, though. I couldn’t stop so much from happening, but…too late probably…it was so hard to control…”

Bono sort of frowned in thought, and put a hand on the kid’s shoulder, steering him out of the shadow.

“Cath’s in the hospital,” he told her brother.

Looking up confusedly, Oisín said, “What?”

“She just had a baby,” Paul smiled.

Oisín turned a strange color and stared ahead of him, looking like it was the end of the world. “Ah—oh, no…”

Realizing what Oisín probably thought, Paul blinked and groaned. “It’s not Isaac’s.”

“But who—?” Oisín looked up, understanding sweeping through his eyes. Yes, he really did look like Cath, in some way Bono couldn’t quite place. Cath when she was happy. Oisín was good, in his way, just as Cath had not been wayward and lost as she seemed. He saw the sun glint off the ring on Paul’s finger, and gave a sudden smile.

You,” Oisín said with a sort of happy shock. “God, I had thought…” He grinned and looked away, still smiling despite himself when he looked back. Then a sort of hard-luck weariness overtook his face; he grew a little more serious.

“She asked if you could come and see her,” Paul told him.

The wind blew sudden cold across, slow as glass. Oisín gave a sort of preoccupied frown that smiled around the edges and did that stare thing again. “I’ll come in a day or two,” he promised, looking torn. “Tell her I’ll be there. You see, right now I’m tracking down a friend who said he’d help me pay for a plane ticket. I’ll be leaving for America in a week.”

Bono laughed. “Well—good luck. I’ll tell her.” He walked down the road back the way he came, suddenly shivering, pulling his coat off and putting his shirt back on, his hair finally dry and sticking up all over the place. The wind had not let up; instead it slid fluidly around everything, blurring the contours of houses into a faint dreamscape and catching little twigs in glassy jaws. It pushed insistently at his back and he let his thoughts fall into the sky, letting the wind rush through him until he ran, untroubled.

A day passed; Paul got a call from Edge and assumed everything was more or less alright. He apologized to Cath, to Edge’s ears and through his mouth; Bono was staying home for a day and picking up the normal rhythm of life again. He felt like his life was on pause; the corners of the air dragged at him surprisedly—he was alone, in his house, walking barefoot on the floorboards and putting away armfuls of laundry—it felt like months or even years ago. Time had frozen but for the constant rushing whisper in his head: there’s another little piece of you gone, transformed; you’re not nineteen-year-old Paul Hewson anymore, you’re not Bono Vox in a band; you’re standing where you are and beginning again; you’re more and less.

It felt very odd to turn and realize he wasn’t alone, he was a man with a son, and his life had changed. He felt the same, but worn away on the edges to bare the frantic man inside who brimmed with something uncontainable. He busied himself about the house—neither he or Cath did much of that normally, and resultingly everything was a layer of lyrics and objects and memories until he attacked it with a wastebin or moved it—but really he had no idea in hell where Ciarán would sleep, how Cath would wake up in the middle of the night without waking him, how Paul would resume a normal life. It whispered in the back of his mind too.

Edge came back from the hospital and practically refused to look Bono in the eye for a while, which he found odd. He broke down finally and spoke about anything but Cath; they walked out into the city and stared at the sinking sun, warding the nighttime away from sinking into the daylight, talking like unstrung lyrics about everything and nothing. Bono fell asleep again in his house, alone in the unendurable silence, and ended up waking in the early morning, his eyes closed, sitting up on the couch and letting songs drag their way out of him meditatively into the morning.

Two days. It had been two days, and very little word from Cath. Well, she was probably busy. He returned to the hospital to find that Oisín was waiting by Edge in the waiting room. Oisín nodded to him in greeting, and Bono sat next to Edge when Cath’s brother rose energetically to go see her.

“Wonder when I can have her back?” Paul asked, rolling his eyes. Edge just glanced at him.

Cath didn’t know what she had expected to see; her heart jumped a little when she didn’t recognize who walked through the door. He looked up and suddenly the years fell away and gripped her powerfully—

’Sheen clattered down the stairs as quietly as he could, the faint thud audible to Cath, who looked up in hopeless despair from where she was huddled near the foot of the stairs, trying not to be noticed. She stared wide-eyed at him to communicate something, but he slipped past; she flattened against the wall, not from him but everything on her mind; faint tremors shook her still, and she felt like she would run from anything that startled her.

She saw him shout at her father, and she peeked out from the shadows a moment, mouth open despite herself. Oisín gripped her father’s fist, stopping it, and said something back that was lost in her amazement. He slammed his way out of the house afterward, Cath not knowing he still stood on the other side, unable to return but wanting to explain, and to drag her out of this world into a better one—

The basic structure of his face was enough, though the face had changed. Cath had changed into her street clothes again in a sort of irrational hopefulness, and ran up and hugged him hard. Edge had Ciarán, and had solemnly told Cath he would say nothing.

“’Sheen,” Cath smiled happily, quietly, laughing before the laughter hurt and knifed at her sides. She felt like the room nearly spun and she would fall down, and quickly sat down at the edge of the hospital bed; that did not escape him. For a moment he was nineteen and she seventeen, and she could hide nothing from him; he stared at her like he had stared at her in passing when he left the house, like the darkness would swallow her whole and he would be left waiting for her to wash back with the tide. The look slipped; Oisín smiled and kissed her warmly on the cheek. They just sat in each others’ presence for a moment in silence, the years gluing their words together into a jumbled mess. Oisín’s hair was much shorter, no longer the vaguely punk mess it had been, his face more confident. He looked cold. And the conclusions he, in turn, drew from Cath’s appearance he kept silent.

“Y’ had a baby,” Oisín noted in that very accented way he slipped into when he was around her.

“I did,” she said fondly, feeling a little rift between the people they had been and the people they were.

He looked so lost…

“What else is it, then?”

“What?” she asked, her stomach dropping.

He just looked at her. “Cath. You wouldn’t have asked me to come if there wasn’t something happening.”

“’Sheen…” She buried her head against his shoulder hard, heat filling her eyes and pressing through her eyelids. The unstoppable rose through her and washed through that tentative future.

“Are you marrying the man, then?” her brother asked her tear-shaking body, hoping, though he knew he was wrong.

She shook her head and tried to speak but couldn’t.

“Cath,” Oisín said, worried, and gripped her shoulders, staring at her tearstricken face. His hands slipped to support the sides of her head so she wouldn’t turn or collapse into tears again, and he stared, his heart sinking. The skin of her forehead burned.

She shook her head, and that said enough. He let her not speak for a long while; the silence was her friend, for the moment, and let her grip onto everything.

“I’m going to America,” he told her. “The friend who helped me pay for it has to stay here to take care of his da. You can—”

She shook her head, and his heart sank again. He nodded, sighed, embraced her hard, memorizing the last he had of Cath; it would gradually slip away.

“You know I’ll not see you again,” he said seriously. She nodded and swallowed.

“Ciarán?” Oisín had asked Edge, sitting next to him and staring at the baby. Edge caught on quick, seeing some of that indescribable family resemblance, and laughed, though it was bitter. Oisín looked confused, not knowing the cause of that faint pain in Edge’s eyes.

He smiled faintly, telling Edge, “Our mother’s—“—his and Cath’s—“—called Ciara. She would probably like this little fellow.”

Edge caught himself wondering about Cath’s past again, and dragged himself forcibly out of the depth his thoughts had sunk to and into the world of the living; that information had come as a shock.

“You’re her brother?” Edge asked, curious. Oisín nodded, and laughed at Edge’s amazed expression as he realized,

“Her mother’s alive?”

“She is,” Oisín nodded, “and I was heading to find her.”


Oisín had a sudden lifting thought, and kept it in the forefront of his mind. His flight would be delayed, but this could change everything.

He remembered when Cath had stopped speaking to him, a year ago, when Isaac happened and Oisín left home. Cath had seemed then like she needed something, and even—even if he never did see her again, he would change the world around those parts of themselves that resurfaced, the ones that recognized each other from a year ago and remained frozen in place.

He left, knowing he would regret it forever, but that if he had stayed a moment longer, he wouldn’t have been able to leave.
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Old 01-28-2011, 03:36 PM   #2
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How thrilling is it that her mom's alive?!
Oisin is a nice guy. I was wondering where this was going...
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Old 01-28-2011, 05:38 PM   #3
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Pretty good that her mom's alive, though it's not going to do much.

This is going...to interesting places...Oisin was fun to write, but this entire chapter made me sad...
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