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Old 07-23-2017, 09:57 AM   #1
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Innocent Experience - Chapter 6

NOTE: This story isn't real. I only own the original characters, clearly Bono belongs to the missus. I'm thinking of posting the story here again...for mature scenes, go to my Ao3 profile. Thanks for reading. Enjoy!

P.S.
Comments and feedback are always appreciated!

Chapter 6: "Tomorrow's On Its Way"


“There’s always new songs to sing.”

“…Let me just get this right,” Bono said addressing to Apple’s CEO Tim Cook. Some of the people present in Apple’s headquarters for the launch of the iPhone 6 roared with laughter. Wearing coal colored sunglasses, Bono stepped back and broke eye contact with Cook. Looking at the floor, he went on with his statement. “U2’s album Songs of Innocence is going out for free to a half a billion people in the next five seconds. Five…”

Cook joined him for the countdown.

“Four. Three. Two. One…” Joining their fingers in the air, they both smiled, so did Edge, Adam and Larry. The crowd cheered and applauded and their pictures were taken.

“Wow!” Bono said, still smiling. “That’s instant gratification. Thank you to everyone at the Apple team. This is a very, very big deal for us. It’s kind of our core, our DNA… the clue is in the name. We really do. We put everything we have into this, and it’s our most personal record so… thank you. Thank you, thank you so much.”

Finally, the agreement had been sealed and Songs of Innocence was out for everyone to listen. What would be people’s reaction?


***
“I have to go. I’m late for the special U2 cover shoot.” Brian grabbed his bag. “It’s been almost two weeks since they gave that album for free and everyone has lost their minds. Kind of trending topic now.”

Florence shrugged. “What’s the big deal?” She took a bite from an apple as she leaned against the kitchen counter. She hadn’t heard from Bono since their business lunch. The band must have decided to go with their original photographer. She knew it was likely to happen. Bono was a famous rock star; he could have whatever artist he wanted to work for him. Why would he choose her?

Brian halted before reaching the front door. “The big deal? Florence, honey…” Frowning, he turned and approached his fiancée. “They’re the biggest band in the world.”

“No, they’re not,” she said casually. She kissed Brian, who stared into space, trying to understand her mind.

“Honestly… have you been living under a rock?” He shook his head. “No wonder you haven’t been able to draw anything worthy in the last three months. Stop listening to that creepy music of yours, Florence, otherwise you’ll always be the tutor who sketches suicidal teenagers.”

And that was probably the reason why Bono hadn’t called her. Florence was taken aback by the comment, and even though she tried to hide her embarrassment, Brian noticed it. It was then when her phone chimed— a text message. Brian took a peek at it.

We need to talk.

“Jo’s dad?” he read aloud. “Why is your friend’s father texting you?”

“Uhm, I’m sure it’s Jordan. Her phone’s battery’s always dead.”

“Hmm, ‘kay. See you tonight, then. Have fun with your…” He gave a quick look at her drawing board. “London bare street?”

She wrinkled her nose and forced a smile. “Yeah…”

“Oh, almost forgot… I’ll probably get a word on the job offer today. Cross your fingers… it could be something big.”

“Good luck, baby.”

Blowing her a kiss, he shut the door.


***

The door to the studio was closed. Brian heard laughter coming from the other side, and he instantly recognized Heather’s voice, she wasn’t alone. Brian knocked and waited for someone to answer. And knocked again. Heather’s assistant opened the door with a smile on her face, but he barely noticed it. His eyes were fixed on the four men who were sitting back on a couch, apparently having a nice conversation with his boss and the interviewer while the make-up artist did his job.

“Hello, Brian,” the tall young woman said. His attention was brought to her, and he returned the greeting.

“Hi, Lena.”

Although he had always been aware of her endless flirting, he’d never considered going beyond a wink. Lena was on her way out. With a smile, she walked off towards the elevator.

Brian closed the door behind him. It was a small room with a leather couch and two matching armchairs. Probably half a hundred photographs of different celebrities hung in the walls, and a flat screen TV set showed a muted news channel. Most part of the gear was set up. Brian had left the studio around two in the morning the previous night. Feeling that he needed to be in control, he’d taken care of every single detail.

“I’m sorry I’m late,” Brian said. Adam and Edge were in deep conversation with the interviewer, but they took a moment to return the greeting. Heather chatted with Bono as one of the make-up artist slightly powdered his face. The cheerful young man could barely manage to take his eyes off Larry, who stood up to shake Brian’s hand as he approached them.

“You certainly overslept,” Heather said playfully, but she shot him one of her famous –we’ll talk later– looks.

“Actually, you’re just in time,” Larry said. “We’re almost done with the interview. How’ve you been, mate?”

“Everything good. You?”

“Well you know the news… some people want our heads.”

“So, you two know each other?” Bono asked suspiciously. He looked askance at his two other friends. Heather didn’t look surprised.

“Oh, right… Bono this is Brian, the photographer I told you about.”

Edge and Adam held their breaths as Bono stood up. Owen, the makeup artist stepped aside.

“Nice to meet you, Bono.” Brian smiled stretching his hand. His reaction and body language struck Bono as sickening and suffocating, like that of a rattlesnake trying to wind round his neck. He didn’t want to be a killjoy, so he shook the young man’s hand; a sloppy hand that squeezed his longer than necessary.

“Likewise.” Bono answered releasing himself from Brian’s grip. Trying to avoid for the scene to turn more uncomfortable than it already was, Adam cleared his throat. He didn’t like noisy silences.

“Shall we continue?” He asked and turned to the interviewer who was sitting right next to Edge. “Sally here was asking us about the album.”

Hiding his disappointment from the cold welcome, Brian turned to Sally and smiled at her. “Hi, Sal.” The middle-aged woman returned the gesture.

“Hi. Actually, I— I’m almost done.” The blond woman

“Well, lady and gentlemen,” Heather said as she stood up. “I’m going now to leave you alone. It was really nice seeing you again, Bono. I talked to Ali on the phone a few weeks ago.”

“Hmm, and I was wondering why my ears were burning,” he said playfully.

“Nonsense, you spoiled rotten rock star. You know we love you.” Chuckling, she nudged him.

“Good to see you too, Heather.” Bono kissed her cheek. Finally, Heather left the room and Bono took a seat on the other side of Edge.

“Maybe Sally could finish the interview while I set up my gear,” Brian offered. “It won’t be—”

A phone chimed.

“It’s me. Sorry,” Bono said pulling his iPhone out. It was a text message. His eyes switched from the screen to Sally, almost pleading.

She couldn’t help but smile. “Go ahead, we’ve done this before. I’m sure they can handle this last question. You can catch up with it in a bit.”

You, Sally Stevens, deserve a monument.” As soon as he said the last word, his eyes locked on the screen. If she asked the question, he didn’t hear a thing. He blocked every external sound or vision as he read the message.

Okay, but no lox or Evian. This time I’ll choose the place, and it’s on me. Let me know when you’re free.

Edge didn’t mean to, but he had a quick look at his friend’s phone. Bono rubbed the knee of his own trousers with one hand while re-reading the message. His smile could have lit up Manhattan. Edge couldn’t believe he was the only one noticing that the mood-uplifting phone calls and messages were becoming a habit. This time, he got to read the name at the top of the screen. Who the hell was Florence? Edge averted his eyes before Bono caught him.

“Okay. What did I miss?” Bono asked putting the phone back to his pocket. “What was the question?”

“The album release, of course!” Sally chuckled. “The way I see it, it was kind of experimental, maybe I’m wrong. What led you to— uhm, to take that risk? It was a very bold move… teaming with Apple to make Songs of Innocence available for free to every iTunes user.”

“It’s all about megalomania,” Bono sniggered. “And a bit of an experiment, yes. Seriously… we poured our lives into those songs over the last few years, and we feared they might not be heard. We had to get a bit noisy ourselves to get through all the noise out there.”

“I really love the album,” Sally said. “I think those are very personal songs. Very powerful ones.”

“That was the big deal about this album. Those are the most personal songs we’ve ever written…” Edge’s eyes fixed on Sally as he settled down on the couch. “And uhm— you know, nowadays, it’s very difficult to make people notice music. Every year, you see all of these albums coming and going without being noticed. Okay, maybe we’re not as vulnerable as other artists, because ours is a big, loyal fan base. But we’re interested in finding new fans as well. And right now it’s very difficult to go beyond your fan base, ‘cause there are all these things in competition, like, you know… social networking, gaming…”

Bono grinned mischievously, and winked at Sally. “We couldn’t let kids leave college without knowing about U2.”

She couldn't do anything but chuckle. Bono was all charm.

“Are we ready?” Brian asked.

“Okay, we're done... one more question, though. Will we get more U2 soon? We’ve all heard about the follow-up album.” Sally smiled. “Bono?”

“Oh, he’s the least trustworthy person to ask.” Larry’s huge grin mesmerized Owen, the make-up artist.

Brian tried to gain his attention. “Owen... Owen.” He noticed the young man's glare on the drummer. Brian couldn't have someone that distracted. “Owen!”

Until he finally reacted. “Yes? Sorry...”

“I think we're good.”

“But... I thought—”

“I said we're good. I'll have someone else take care. You can go now.” He dismissed it with a hand gesture.

Owen stared at the floor as he walked to the door. Edge, Larry and Adam were a little confused. Why was Brian being such a dickhead with the poor lad? Bono had taken out his phone again, and now he was typing. Sally was heading out as well. She thought about how disturbing Brian's behavior had been, so she decided she should say something.

“Want some coffee, Owen?” Sally offered, seeing the look on his face. “It's on me.”

The young man appreciated the gesture with a tender smile, and nodded in response.

“See you, guys!” He said before leaving the room. “Nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you too, Owen.” Edge approached to shake his hand, as did Adam. When Larry got closer, Owen stepped back and looked at Brian.

“See you, Mr. Mullen,” he said, and shook his hand firmly. His eyes switched to Bono. “Goodbye, Mr. Hewson!”

“Uh...” He was still immersed in her phone. “Are you leaving? Why? We aren't done yet. I still find interesting that you're into The Pixies.” His tone was

“Maybe next, time... I've got some things to do now. Duty beckons.” He chuckled. “It was really fun talking to you.”

“Same here. See you next time, then.” Bono approached and shook his hand as he patted his back.

Owen and Sally made their way outside, and she noticed his abashed expression. He was gazing at the floor, like a slave who’s been deprived of his clothes and forced to be on display like an item on sale.

“Owen— Owen, look at me…”

“I’m sorry, Sally. I didn’t mean to—”

“Hey, you did nothing wrong. I was there the whole time and you did a great job. Don’t let Brian’s hostility towards people who are new around here affects you.”

“I didn’t mean to insult anyone. Now he will tell Heather I was being disrespectful. Oh, my God...I’m going to be kicked out!”

“Relax! No one is going kick you out, Owen. You weren’t being disrespectful. Now let’s go have a coffee, you certainly need one.” She smiled at him, as she punched in the lobby’s button. “And just ignore Brian. He’s got a thing for U2, everyone here knows that. And this is the first time he’s going to work with them, so… he’s feeling a bit edgy.”

The elevator’s door opened and they stepped inside.

“Want me to tell you something?” Sally showed a devilish grin.

The doors closed.

Hell, yeah.”


***
Adam leaned on a brown Ibanez bass guitar as Larry inspected the drum kit. Brian had decided to work with each one separately before making some group shoots. Bono and Edge stood behind the photographer as he instructed Adam to move three steps forward.

Bono, for once, looked up from his phone for a second and his happy expression turned to a confused one when he witnessed what Brian was doing. He frowned and blinked twice, before nudging his friend.

“Edge,” he muttered. “Do you remember that magazine issue from—?”

“Y—ep.”

“Isn’t this—?”

“Yeah.”

Edge’s unshakable expression worried Bono.

“Is it possible that—?”

“Yes.”

“Should we—”

“No.”

“Why? What’s wrong with you?”

“Nothing.” Edge poker-faced at the whole scene.

“Why don’t you let me—?”

“Because you, Bono, have just won this war.”

“Humph!” Unable to figure out what his friend was talking about, Bono cocked his head and shrugged.

“And stop fidgeting with that fucking phone!”

Bono opened his mouth to say something, but it was then when he heard Brian’s low-pitched voice call his name.

“Bono, you’re next!”

“Here we go,” he muttered under his breath, and switched his brain to stand-by mode. He feared it would be a long day.


***
The photoshoot didn’t last as long as they had expected. Everyone noticed Brian’s anxiety, but not everyone noticed his “tiny” slip. When it was over, Bono decided it was a good time for a pint of extra stout. The chose the last table, the one in a corner of the pub, where no one would bother them.

“It was NOT the same photoshoot!” Larry ranted.

Bono covered his own face with both hands. “Oh, for fuck’s sake. Give him another pint before I knock him out myself.”

“Larry, mate…” Adam feigned sorrow, but he couldn’t help but chuckling. “It was.”

“It…” Larry puffed. “Okay, maybe it resembled a bit.”

“A bit?!” The other three said in unison.

“He ripped it off…all the way! It was Anton’s photoshoot!” Bono finally exploded. “I can’t take this anymore.”

As he excused himself, he walked between the tables, looking for a private place to use his phone. He’d tried to reply to Florence’s text repeatedly, but he didn’t find any chance. Now with Adam and Edge trying to get Larry drunk, it was the perfect time. He reached the restroom, and when he was just about to start typing, his phone buzzed.

Apparently it was not the perfect time.

“Oi, Guy!”

Are you still in the magazine?”

“No, we left ages ago. It didn’t last long.”

So, how was it? Are you keeping the guy?”

“You’re kidding, right?”

Something happened and I have no idea. If you’d be so kind…”

“It was a disaster. He arrived late. Then he bullied Owen, the makeup guy. And to make matters worse, he ripped off an Anton photoshoot from the nineties. I’m be fed up to the back teeth with people like this.”

I’m sorry. I honestly didn’t know.”

“I’ll have a word with Heather, I know she recommended him. Do me a favor, please…”

Yes?”

“Are you busy later this afternoon?”

The usual.”

“Please, can you make an appointment with that guy as soon as possible?”

I’m free after five.”

“Perfect. Write him a check that covers his service today. Tell him we thought about it and decided to withdraw our offer. I trust you’ll know what to say.”

Okay. Are you sure?”

“Couldn’t be surer.”

Talk to you later, then.”

“Bye.”

He pocketed his phone and turned on the tap. Splashing some water on his face, he thought of Florence. He wanted to reply to that message, but now was certainly not the time. He would do it later that night.

The pub was even more crowded when he went outside. Bob Marley’s “I’m Hurting Inside” gave the place some atmosphere. Bono spotted his friends talking to each other. Suddenly, Adam said something that caused Edge and Larry’s laughter.

“What did I miss?” He said as he reached for his chair and sat.

“Good news!” Edge stifled another chuckle. “Larry here decided we shouldn’t go for Brian.”

“How come?” Bono said, playfully. He sipped at his drink.

“I’m sorry, Bono.” He looked at his friend very seriously. “I was a twit. I should have known better.”

Larry stopped, thinking Bono might just tell him not to worry. But instead he incited him to continue with a gesture.

“I apologize for insisting on keeping Brian. He was definitely not the best choice.” He paused again.

“Go on, go on. Don’t be shy, Mullen.” Bono kept a poker face when he spoke.

Edge and Adam tried hard, but they couldn’t keep a straight face as Larry’s turned a bright red color.

“And—”

“And?”

“And you were right. That girl’s not bad. We should call Oseary and ask him to arrange a meeting with Brian.”

“I know. I just did.” Bono grinned.

Edge and Adam looked at Bono; their looks not showing the slightest hint of surprise. There was a long lull and Larry stared at Bono. They all sat still, waiting for the first reaction.

“Fuck you!” Larry burst our laughing. His friends exchanged glances once again, this time their confusion showed on their slight smiles. “I’m glad you did, but I still don’t see clear the part about the girl. I mean, she’s good, but...is she the best we can get?”

“Larry,” Bono said, and the wrinkles on the corners of his eyes disappeared. “We’ve been together for almost forty years now. I know I have made innumerable mistakes, but you have to believe me this isn’t one of them. I believe in Florence. I really do.”

“Lars, at least give her the benefit of the doubt.” Edge was the next one to speak.

Larry looked at Adam, who nodded. “I think we should see what happens. I like what I’ve seen.”

Silence.

Even with the music playing , Bono swore he could hear his own heart beating at full speed. U2 had always worked everything out, even the toughest decisions had been made. This one shouldn’t be that tough.

“I put up with another disappointment,” Larry said finally. “Not again. This is not a joke.”

“I know it is not. It will be worth it…” He said. “I promise.”
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Old 07-23-2017, 05:46 PM   #2
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Really loving Florence and can't wait to see the next interaction between her and Bono. So not a Brian fan!
Great chapter!
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Old 07-26-2017, 08:34 AM   #3
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Thanks for reading Vertigo! Brian is a complicated bloke! He still has a couple of surprises!

P.S. Currently looking for a beta, my editor is no longer working with me on this so...I would really appreciate anyone who can help.
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Old 07-26-2017, 08:35 AM   #4
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by the way, the line is “I can't put up with another disappointment,” Larry said finally. “Not again. This is not a joke.”, Sorry. Thanks interference for not letting me edit after I log out
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