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Old 02-12-2011, 07:44 PM   #1
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Another Time, Another Place - Chapter 11

I'd like to state for the record that Alison wrote the best chapter ending in the history of fanfic.

This, of course, is all made up. None of it is true. It's all poppy-cock. (I love that word.)

Here's the last bit from the last chapter:

Bono finally found his tongue, although it was dry with thirst. "Where are you taking me?" he asked. He wished his voice hadn't sounded so high.

Lord Paul turned and speared him with his icy blue stare, and looked ready to enjoy Bono's reaction. "I am taking you to the chamber of truth," he smirked. "The place where lies and weakness are stripped away. I'm sure Lord David won't mind if I borrow it - we'll be done before he's ready to show it to your friend." The final word was pronounced with an ocean of contempt.

Bono paled, his tongue suddenly even drier.


Chapter 11 -

Edge had been stripped, not too roughly, down to his undergarments, before being marched up to Lord David's bedchamber. His guard stood over him, silent and impassive, while Edge tried not to tremble too obviously. Even if he hadn't been apprehensive about what might be about to happen, he was weak with hunger, thirst and fatigue. Edge's one attempt at conversation had been answered only with a stinging blow to his face with a gloved hand. The glove was covered in studs, of course, and Edge was sure the skin had been broken. But that was the least of his concerns.

After about ten minutes, Lord David entered the room, and dismissed the guard. But before the guard left the room, the lord noticed the mark on Edge's face, and stopped him.

"What did I tell you, Francis?" he said quietly, and the guard paled. Lord David took the glove from the guard's hand, put it onto his own, flexed his fingers, and eyed the guard's face as if calculating the precise force he would need. Then, as the guard stood unflinching, Lord David drew his arm back and delivered a backhanded blow to the guard's face that forced him to stagger. Blood oozed from several small cuts. Lord David calmly removed the glove, handing it back, and Francis took it and put it back on his own hand.

"Thank you, my lord," he said in a shaking voice. What chilled Edge was the sincerity in it.

"Begone," Lord David said, and the guard left with no further ado.

Edge tensed on his chair, watching Lord David watching him. The lord strolled closer, circling around, examining Edge from all angles. Edge felt like a specimen in a museum, and realised that that was how Lord David saw him. Well, two could play at that game. Edge examined his captor as closely as he himself was being examined.

Close to, the small differences between them became more obvious, if less comforting. There was a set to Lord David's eyes that spoke of cruelty as well as intelligence and curiosity. Could a callous disregard for human life really leave a stamp on someone's face?

Edge met Lord David's eyes for a long moment, and had the uncomfortable sensation that their thoughts in that moment were nearly identical. What is he thinking? What does he see when he looks at me? How can we be so similar yet so different?

Edge looked away, reminding himself that Lord David didn't really know anything at all about him, or his fellow adventurers through time and dimensional barriers. He knew more about Lord David now; he had an advantage... except for the part about being a prisoner and mostly naked in a room containing the products of a nightmare.

The other visible difference Edge noticed was in the way Lord David walked and moved. It wasn't just the cold calculation of the blow he had dealt the guard, or the way he'd kicked the other guard who'd dropped Edge's arm in the courtyard. His doppelganger moved with all the confidence and assurance of a powerful lord; the consciousness of the fear he inspired translated into his bearing, along with a sinewy sort of grace that put Edge in mind of a dancer.

An image popped into Edge's head, of this cruel-eyed, sadistic and beardless version of himself prancing up and down a polished floor, wearing a tuxedo and whirling a gaudily-dressed partner in an exaggerated ballroom foxtrot. A snort of nervous laughter escaped, and his eyes darted automatically towards his captor.

Lord David's eyebrows rose questioningly. "Something amuses you?"

Edge was used to seeing himself on screen, or hearing himself on tape, but watching almost-his-own face doing and saying things he never had was a new and unnerving experience.

"A stray thought, nothing more." Edge affected nonchalance, trying to match the unconcerned calm of his double.

One side of Lord David's mouth quirked up into a familiar half-smile. "Strange that I should not share it, given our outward similarities. Or perhaps I did, but merely found it less amusing?"

"Unlikely," Edge managed. He forced the image down and tried to concentrate. Lord David didn't seem ready to torture him just yet, and he should take the opportunity to learn everything he could.

"Would you care for some wine? It is excellent, French. Quite a heady bouquet, I think you'll agree." The lord offered Edge a golden cup brimming with crimson wine, but despite his desperate need to quench his thirst, the guitarist hesitated.

Lord David's eyebrows rose again. "Do you worry that our taste in wine will be dissimilar? It is possible, of course. Perhaps in your home, you have wine even finer than this. Or perhaps you fear treachery?" He raised the cup to his own lips and took a mouthful, taking a long moment to taste it before swallowing. He offered the cup to Edge again, smiling.

Edge had no option but to accept, and cautiously sample the wine himself. It was very good, he had to concede. Probably not poisoned, and beautifully wet. He knew wine was not what his body needed, and he should drink it slowly, but he couldn't help taking longer swallow. He held the cup in two shaking hands.

The lord's smile widened, and he poured a cup for himself before sitting down opposite Edge. "I knew you would enjoy it," he said. "I suspect I could guess many things about you... but not all. You must have many questions as well... shall we have a friendly conversation?"

It all sounded very civilised and safe, but Edge's eyes could feel the magnetic pull of all the objects and horrors on the benches and the walls behind him. It was all he could do to keep his eyes on Lord David. On the surface, he couldn't think of any really good reasons to withhold many of the answers the lord would doubtless want - after all, nothing he said here would affect his own timeline, and what good would it do these lords to know that there were infinite versions of reality, forever out of reach? The only thing that they must not learn about was the whereabouts and operation of the DUMASS...

Edge realised that the remote control to open the lemon had been in a pocket in the doublet that had been stripped off him shortly before. Without it, they couldn't get into the lemon. More to the point, with it, anyone else could. He fought to keep the panic off his face, but failed. Sweat popped out on his pale forehead.

The lord, no less observant than Edge, noticed at once. "Why does the thought of a harmless conversation inspire such anxiety?" he asked, apparently puzzled. His eyes flicked towards his inventions, and he drew a conclusion. He gave a soft chuckle. "No, no, you misunderstand me. I see no need to employ my little toys at this stage, certainly not. I admit, I am fascinated," he continued, leaning forward, eyes intent. "I simply want to understand how you and your version of Paul are possible. I am most curious to know where you came from, how you grew up, how you came here. How no one knew of your existence before." He leaned back again. "I know you are a reasonable man - I am, too. Where is the harm in a free exchange of ideas?"

Edge had got his breathing under control again by now, and inclined his head. "There is no harm in that, of course," he said. "May I ask some questions, too?"

"I said an exchange, and I meant it," Lord David replied, smiling benignly. "What would you ask?"

He would have to be careful, Edge knew. Every question he asked would reveal more about his ignorance, the sorts of things he didn't know. Even that would give Lord David more information.

"How old are you?" he asked after a short pause.

A raised eyebrow, and an appraising smile. "I recently celebrated my forty-second birthday," came the answer.

Close enough to the same age, Edge thought. He, subjectively, was a few months older, but time travel tended to complicate things like how old you were, he realised.

"Where were you born?" Lord David asked.

"London," Edge replied after another pause. If London didn't exist, then it could be a faraway city in a foreign country.

"Amazing; I was born there too. My parents were Gwenda and Garvin, refugees from the famine in Wales." Lord David looked the question at Edge, who nodded. Famine? 'Were'?

"The same... my parents have the same names, and they're from Wales."

"And they named you...?"

Edge was fleetingly grateful that the question hadn't been phrased as 'what is your name?'. "David Evans," he answered, watching his counterpart.

The lord raised an eyebrow, prompting. Edge made a tiny grimace. "David Howell Evans," he amended.

Lord David laughed, understanding in his eyes. "I shouldn't be surprised," he said. "Perhaps relieved that there is one person on this island who shares that name."

"It's not such a bad name," Edge said, suddenly defensive. Lord David laughed again.

"Surely not. But it will get confusing, we two having the same name. What shall we do?"

"My friends call me Dave," Edge forced himself to say. It was true, a couple of them did. And his band-mates, as of the previous day.

"As you wish," Lord David said easily. "Do you have another question for me, Dave?"

Edge opened his mouth, then closed it again, thinking furiously. Every question he wanted to ask would reveal that he was a stranger here, and he wasn't sure he wanted that. His eyes roved around the room, seeking inspiration and shying away from the work benches and tapestries. They fastened on the lute-like instruments.

"Do you enjoy music? My lord?" He added the title as a hasty afterthought, although he hadn't been chastised before now for not using it.

Lord David waved the title away. "Let us not be too formal - you might be a lord yourself," he said with a small smile. "To answer your question - yes, I enjoy music very much. Do you play?" He stood and brought two of the lutes over, handing one to Edge.

Edge turned the instrument over, hoping it was tuned more or less the same way as a lute he'd once tried out, back home. "A little," he hedged, and tried a D chord, or something close to it. It sounded about right. He tightened a string and tried again. "This is an A string, isn't it?"

"That's right." Lord David had sat down again, and checked the tuning on his own lute quickly. "Do you know this one?" He started strumming something that sounded like a traditional Irish tune.

It did sound familiar, although there were differences to the version that Edge knew. He picked up the melody and followed along as well as he could. He was getting the hang of the lute's tuning.

Lord David smiled, and shot Edge a challenging look. "Try this one, then..." He launched into a faster tune, a little more modern-sounding to Edge's ears, but still showing its Irish roots. He was concentrating on the fretboard, but glanced up to see how Edge was reacting.

Surprisingly, Edge did recognise it ... almost. It bore a distinct resemblance to something he'd been playing around with several years ago, but had shelved when ATYCLB went in a different direction. He frowned, trying to remember, before picking at the bass string, and then finding a little counter-melody.

"You composed this," Edge said to Lord David as they both played, and received a nod in reply. "I did too," he went on, "or something close to it, anyway."

The piece progressed further than Edge had pursued it, and he wasn't sure if Lord David was playing from memory or improvising. Edge kept up effortlessly, almost anticipating where his double was going to take the song next - it was like playing with his brother, but in this case the other mind was in even closer tune with his own. Then he decided to take the lead, just as Lord David changed to a darker, minor chord. The sounds clashed, and Edge let his had drop with a laugh. Lord David gave a chuckle and left the chord hanging, unfinished, in the air.

"I think you are the more accomplished of the two of us," Lord David smiled after the notes had faded.

Edge shrugged, and reached for his wine. "I've probably had more practice," he said. He put the lute down carefully on another chair beside his.

"That was most enjoyable, thank you," the lord said, raising his wine cup in recognition, and Edge returned the salute.

Lord David waited a few moments before asking his next question. "When did you arrive in Dublin?"

So, this was Dublin, Edge thought. He was also reminded that he was being questioned, however pleasant the musical interlude had been. "My parents moved to Dublin when I was very young," he said warily.

A patient smile. "I meant more recently. If you had been living here for the last forty years, I would have known."

Edge toyed with the idea of pretending that he'd been hiding from sight for all these years, but knew he'd never pull that story off.

"I have been living in Dublin for much of that time," he said, careful not to say 'here'. "However, I have also lived overseas, and I travel a lot."

Lord David was scrutinising him now, his eyebrows drawn together in thought. "I am puzzled," he said after a moment's silence. "I do not think you're lying, yet I had assumed that you were from a distant country. Your clothes, for example, do not resemble any I have seen locally." The lord stood again, this time retrieving Edge's original garments from his wardrobe.

Edge didn't know what to say.

His double summarised for him. "So... We were both born in the same place, at more or less the same time, to the same parents. We both arrived in Dublin at a young age, and we both, so you claim, have been living here ever since, on and off. How is it that we have never met? Even if we were twins, separated at birth or in early childhood, we cannot have remained ignorant of one another. You, at least, must have known of my existence." The lord's green eyes bored into Edge’s.

"I have told you the truth," Edge replied, wrenching his gaze away.

"Yes, but not all of it. What of our respective parents - you speak of them in the present tense, yet I know mine have been dead for many years. We are neither of us stupid, Dave. Or should I be addressing you as Lord David as well? What position do you hold, what profession? You are clearly not a serf, or a farmer, or a labourer, or a soldier. A trader, perhaps? A travelling musician?"

"I’m not a lord," Edge said stiffly, "and my parents are alive and well. The latter is the most true, I am a musician. I make my living through music. I have travelled a lot because of that."

"Even more puzzling that we have not encountered one another before," Lord David said, sounding more frustrated than puzzled. "Tell me, exactly, how you arrived in Dublin, this time."

Edge took a substantial risk. "Through the gate," he said, straight-faced. "The guards were very good about letting us in."

An expression crossed the lord's face that Edge had never witnessed from outside his own face, but he recognised it nonetheless. Lord David was keeping a tight rein on his temper. But he smiled a small smile and said, "Very droll." He waited for Edge to elaborate, and Edge thought that he should give something away before he tempted fate too much.

"Very well," he said. "The truth is, that I'm not precisely sure how I came to be here. This is not the Dublin I know." That was the truth - even he had only a sketchy understanding of the deeper mysteries of the DUMASS's innards, and he really didn't know how Bono's pressing the Random button had landed them in a different dimension this time.

Lord David's eyes narrowed. "Is there another city called Dublin, overseas, and it's simply a coincidence that our names and parents' names are the same? To say nothing of our faces... no, that's not what you mean. What do you mean?"

"It's hard to explain," Edge found himself saying again. "I think there are different realities. This is your reality - this Ireland, this Dublin, this version of the world. This version of you, and everyone else, and all of history. I... I come from a different version of the world. It's just as real as this one, most of the same people and places are in it, but the history has been very different. Other things are different, too. My Dublin doesn't look like this at all... and it hasn't looked anything like this for hundreds of years."

Lord David was staring at him. Edge couldn’t tell if he believed him or not, and finished the wine in his cup just to avoid those eyes. His eyes, but not.

Several long minutes ticked by, and Lord David's eyes finally turned away to gaze out of the window, where the early evening light filled the landscape. Edge could almost hear his brain working.

Finally he spoke. "If you are not the lord of this other Dublin, who is? Do Paul, Laurence and Adam rule without you?"

Edge shook his head. "There are no lords of Dublin. Well, there's the Lord Mayor, but 's not like being a lord here. He or she is elected every few years by the council. And the government of all Ireland is elected as well, by the whole population. There are no serfs and lords, most people just try to earn a living, working in a job or running a business. And yes, it's still the case that most of the wealth ends up in the hands of the few, but at least the government can tax them."

Lord David put the matter of social structure behind him with a shake of his head. "How is this possible, these different realities? I can't even imagine it..."

"I'm not sure I understand it myself, and my world's technology is a lot more advanced than yours," Edge replied, then stopped himself.

"How so?"

Time to be careful again, Edge thought. "Well, things like travel and communication are a lot faster. We have machines that manufacture goods very quickly, things like that."

The lord's eyes had narrowed again in thought, but the question he asked next was not what Edge had expected.

"Why did you and your fellows attempt to impersonate us?"

Edge was relieved that he could answer this one honestly. "We didn't mean to, at first," he said. "We came into the city, and wondered why everyone was looking at us the way they were." They would have been stared at anywhere in their own time and universe, but the lords didn't need to know that. "Then when we got to this castle, suddenly the guards were jumping to attention and ushering us inside and making our rooms ready and calling us ‘my lord’. It seemed safer to play along than try to explain to everyone that we weren't who they thought we were. That we weren't you."

Lord David nodded slowly. "And where did you go when you left the castle yesterday?"

"We just wanted to explore the area," Edge said. "To see how similar it was to our Dublin."

"Where are your Adam and Laurence now?" Edge's double seemed less friendly by the moment, and Edge worried that his lie had been detected.

"I don't know. Do I get to ask a question now?"

Lord David forced a smile. "Of course."

"What happened to Aislinn?"

The lord's eyes went flat, but the small smile remained in place. "What a curious question. Do you mean the Aislinn in my world, or yours?"

"Yours." Edge knew he was being unwise, but he hadn't been able to help himself.

The smile grew a fraction wider, but the other pair of green eyes remained unamused. "Follow me," he said, standing, and walked across the room.

Edge stood too, and wobbled as the wine in his empty stomach went to his head. He followed the lord, trying to not see the work benches and objects. How could he have forgotten where he was?

The lord opened a door, led Edge through the bath room, and opened another door on the other side. Inside was the privy, the seat surrounding a stone chute that led god-knows-where. A vile smell wafted up it, and faint sounds. They sounded like voices.

"A lot of these chutes and conduits throughout the castle are interconnected," Lord David said conversationally. "An unexpected result of this are some interesting quirks of acoustics. For instance, in here, one can sometimes hear the goings-on in the very deepest of the dungeons."

"What's that got to do with Aislinn?" Edge said, angered by irrelevancies.

The lord smiled, and put a finger to his clean-shaven lips.

Edge listened.

"... one more time. Where are you from?" The voice drifted faintly into the tiny room, barely understandable. It sounded a lot like Bono's, but with that harsh overtone, Edge was sure it wasn’t.

"I already told you! Dublin! Ow! Ow, stop it, please..." THAT was Bono. A chill ran through Edge, and his hands started shaking. Blood drained from his face.

Lord David smiled.

"How did you get here?"

"Ow! In the lemon!"

"Enough of that shite! HOW DID YOU GET HERE?"

"I told you... in the lem- AAAGH!!"

Then there came a sound that Edge had never heard before, but he knew what it was. It was Bono, screaming. Screaming as he'd never screamed on stage, or in anger, or even when he stubbed his toe on a cold morning. This was a full-throated scream of pure agony, and it was coming from one of Edge’s closest friends. Edge couldn't move for a long moment; couldn't speak, could barely see.

Lord David was shaking his head, and sighed. "I'm afraid Paul has very little patience, and no finesse whatsoever."

"Stop. It." Edge was shaking uncontrollably. He was terribly conscious of his weakness, just when he wanted to be strong and violent.

His doppelganger towed him out of the privy, across the bath room, and back into his bedchamber, where he thrust him roughly at a chair. Edge's legs folded against his will. Lord David stood over him, and Edge was very aware that he had very little on. He felt vulnerable, exposed... but mostly still enraged and nauseated. He had played music with this monster! And worse, enjoyed it! How could he have forgotten who he was dealing with? Self-disgust mingled with the other emotions raging in his gut.

"There is one last question I think you can help me with," Lord David said softly from above him. "I have always been curious about how much pain I could withstand, before breaking." He looked at Edge appraisingly. "Now I will be able to find out."
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Old 02-13-2011, 07:37 PM   #2
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That's terrifying!
I hope someone rescues them...
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Old 02-14-2011, 03:32 PM   #3
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Oh dear.. how on earth are they going to get out of there?
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And if U2 EVER did Hawkmoon live....and the version from the Lovetown Tour, my uterus would leave my body and fling itself at Bono - for realz.
Don't worry baby, it's gonna be all right. Uncertainty can be a guiding light...
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Old 02-14-2011, 08:04 PM   #4
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Thanks for your comments!

Oh, they'll get rescued......eventually..
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Old 02-14-2011, 11:48 PM   #5
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You beat me to it, Diane...


Or we could just leave them languishing in a dungeon for 27 more chapters...

Naaah.
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Old 02-16-2011, 01:54 PM   #6
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Jeeez, this is so good! And terrifying

Wating for the next chapter(s)!
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Old 02-16-2011, 02:32 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alisaura View Post
Or we could just leave them languishing in a dungeon for 27 more chapters...

Naaah.
27 chapters.....don't scare me like that.

The next chapter may or may not be going up tonight..it depends on whether or not my computer likes me.
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Old 02-16-2011, 02:43 PM   #8
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I really hope your computer likes you. I love this story, the ending of this chapter was such a cliffhanger!
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Old 08-13-2011, 03:39 PM   #9
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I read the whole fic some months ago and I liked it.
Poor Boni He´s suffering
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Old 08-13-2011, 11:07 PM   #10
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I read the whole fic some months ago and I liked it.
Poor Boni He´s suffering
Yes, yes he is...
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