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Old 11-22-2011, 05:16 PM   #1
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No Love Lost, Chapter 15

Man, this story's gonna be short!

There are a bunch of parallels between different characters/situations in this chapter...

***


Chapter Fifteen. What I Could See.

"Please keep your distance
The trail leads to here
There's blood on your fingers
Brought on by the fear...

I tried to get to you
I tried to get to you
"

—Joy Division, "Candidate"

In between the red brick buildings, a kid somewhere after boy and closer to man stands in a jacket slightly too large, looking a ways away with the city reflecting in his eyes. He’s cold through the jacket. He looks to just where the street vanishes into a hazy traffic distance but sees only afterimages of Ciarán’s confused farewell.

Back in Baltimore, Lieutenant stands where Ciarán left him. Alone. Cold slides along his hands and needles at his scalp. Still cold here.

He doesn’t understand it himself, really. Not the cold, not the everyday bustle of the city—that isn't it. He doesn't understand how he can still be standing here an hour later. If he closes his eyes he understands.

Stop thinking about it, he thinks to himself. Stop standing here like an idiot. He’s gone. Go back. There’s nothing keeping you here.

No explanation presents itself to him as he walks the city blocks. His heart’s doing something weird, but he writes it off as some form of angst. Still—doing this weird sliding thing. Pauses and then slow sliding starts. He doesn’t notice.

The sad thing is, he used to be in love with Spider (even though he told her it would never work out, because he didn’t love her in that way). So he does know one place he can go now. His feet stumble over lurid wet yellow leaves, then he picks himself up again. Stutter pause slip start, his heart’s back on its feet too. All the while he’s thinking how stupid it was of him to just stand there. He wouldn’t stand there and wait for anyone. Not for Spider, not anyone. Yet he’s going back, because she’s the only one he can go back to. So long as she doesn’t jump on him or anything.

He shivers, then laughs as he almost slides on some leaves in front of the door. Then pauses: there it is again. A big liquid pause.

His hands sting with warmth as he climbs the stairs. First stairwell; the second is marked with caution tape. He doesn’t see a body. London must have left, or died. He doesn’t care. He comes to the rooftop instead. Sun through the rain sets the roof tiles afire. She’s sitting there and she turns around, hearing his footsteps. How guilty Spider looks. He knows she would have found her own way to hurt London if the unexpected hadn’t already happened. So he forgives her enough. She opens her arms to the bareheaded Lou, who buries his head against her shoulder. He can’t help it.

“I’m sorry,” he says, the words barely intelligible through fabric. “I really did love you once.”

“You…” she begins hopefully, the light catching her eyes, then she notices that he’s barely moving.

He came here because of the slipping feeling. The heart stuttering. He’d thought this might happen; London had poisoned them, after all. What Lou said just a moment ago to Spider, she begins to realize, was as close as he’d come to admitting she was the one he’d come running to, despite everything, despite having for some reason he’d tried to squelch as much as he could loved someone else…

He looks up at her, clutching his chest. He grasps at her shoulder and her brow furrows in confusion until she sees he’s trying to whisper in her ear.

“I would have loved you again, Elizabeth. I’m sorry w…”

The rest doesn’t come, because that one heartbeat keeping him going stretches into nothing. His stubbled head slumps down. She rubs her fists across her eyes and swallows.

“I know, Avery.”

No-one’s called her Elizabeth for a long time. And after a minute she laughs, remembering how pissed off he got when she called him his real name. Because it was so personal. And he had loved her once. Just not enough.

***

The sun was rising over the clouds through the tiny airplane window. Perfect whiteness. It just about hurt to look at. Ciarán had a headache. His hands fisted in his hair in frustration as he tried to make sense of everything spinning through his head.

“Go find her,” Lou had said in parting to Ciarán.

Find who? Ciarán had only said there was somewhere he needed to go. The only meaning he could decipher from the other boy was a guess. The plane was racing calmly over to the west coast. Ciarán had seen the poster. His da was in America. Would be, in fact, somewhere Ciarán had least expected he would be.

But he wouldn’t be heading in quite the direction of stadiums. The only her Ciarán could think of at the moment needed to know. His mam needed to know where Bono was. Maybe he could shove them both together, he childishly thought, into the same place and everything would make sense. Some mad chemistry probably wasn’t going to happen. It was worth a try, though.

He’d realized at some point over the past day or so that he needed them both. Not just one. He must have unconsciously had some idea of that when he’d set out and deliberately gotten himself lost on the east coast of a separate country from where his da was.

Bono had made everything alright when Ciarán had been kidnapped as a much younger kid. Cath had been there…less…but she’d taken care of him until he was three, she’d told him. He’d been through things where one or the other had been a solution of some sort. But this time.

“Don’t tell anyone. Neither of us should…” And Lou had nodded in response; this was beyond the scale either of them had experienced. Ciarán had almost definitely perhaps killed someone. In self-defense, but this…was serious.

He doubted either of his parents had done anything that bad. He would likely say nothing. But still, he needed both their presences. To make him feel sane, human, something.

He leaned his head forward onto his hands and sighed, then stiffened. His head was…really warm. That might explain the headache. And his stomach burned. Great.

Didn’t matter. He didn’t have the time to worry about himself at the moment. Soon as the plane landed, he had to move fast, or the opportunity would be nothing and he’d still be unbalanced. Pulled one way or the other. Lost.

***

It wasn’t a fever dream, he’d landed in hell. The bus that was supposed to take Ciarán to the middle of nowhere did exactly the opposite. He only realized and started feeling alarmed when the landscape didn’t change: it was still buildings everywhere. Ciarán had jumped up, ignored his pounding head, and asked where they were…and apparently the buses had rerouted since he had been there last.

“Besides,” the bus driver had said firmly, “there’s a concert today and there’s nobody wanting to go anywhere but in the city. So stop complaining.”

So Ciarán walked into the soundcheck, rubbing a hand against his forehead, freckles showing thinly on both surfaces of skin. It was strange coming back here, the place he never thought he’d be again. It was smaller than he remembered. Dark rows of seats ascending through the stadium glittered in the afternoon sun, hurting his eyes. All around him was the hollow echo of a soundcheck with few peoples’ voices to thread through it.

Maybe it was nervousness that was making his palms sweat and his head tighten. There was a gap of years between when he had last seen these four men. He’d kept his distance as best he could. They probably didn’t even know he was here. Last time, the drums had shimmered in a sharp sound that was everywhere and every kind of drumming it should or shouldn’t be, coming from across the ocean and thus the epitome of cool to Americans. 1991. He’d been a kid, biting his lip and glaring at his da up there on stage while the drumbeat started and glittered around the empty space, filling his skin with motion.

Now they sounded different, and because of that—just that—the gap was real. His mouth slanted slightly defiantly but deeper still, his heart pounded. Began to race. What was he doing here? They’d recognize him and ask questions and all he wanted for the moment was music, music and the comfort of memory. If he answered questions he’d probably land in jail. At least he was towards the back of the stadium. Ciarán closed his eyes in relief at that. It was a soundcheck, but he had his pass out from a while ago, he’d not be noticed.

He realized how bright the sun was. How different, again, the drums sounded. His heart ached and squeezed suddenly.

What have I done with myself? That I’m waiting in the back like this?

Well, he knew that quite well. He’d killed a man. Or at the very least, it had felt like that. Like a life ending.

He didn’t really want to face any of them right now. But he needed the music. Needed it. He was tired from traveling, and stuck here, but more than approval or understanding, it was music he had missed…The drumbeat itched in him again, wound into his heart and latched into his blood. There was a familiarity there, Ciarán heard with his eyes closed and less distractions, though he knew that loud exuberant set of footsteps far away onstage. He opened his eyes again. There was something between excitement and a wince of pain he felt crossing his face. He walked forward. And then the tightness in his chest became apparent. The ache he felt was all too corporeal and constricted across him. His eyes widened, his da turned to see what this stranger was doing coming towards the stage, security muttered among themselves that they thought they’d remembered who they’d given the pass to but it was ages ago, this one was old, who was he…he looked vaguely familiar…

The pain, Ciarán tried to shut out of his mind. He realized frighteningly fast that it wasn’t just the pain of being back here again and making himself announced. He had a sickening feeling he wouldn’t make it to the stage anyway. Like a dream, everything was spinning and he saw a few minutes ago, when someone had given him a drink and he’d downed it, hands sweaty…was it that? No…it probably…wasn’t…there had been that fever first…everything spun and then bit and the unfamiliar red-haired man security vaguely recognized had fallen down, his eyes wide, a pained expression on his face.

The singer onstage turned around a little too late, hearing a commotion. He felt a faint familiar tug of worry that made altogether no sense, as he saw the fallen man. Bono Vox climbed down from the stage, letting the microphone drop forgotten. Just as one of the guys in security began to speak, saying who it was, Bono felt a shock of recognition, then sadness, anger, confusion, worry. Someone called an ambulance, and he talked quietly with security, shaken.

“No-one told me he was here?”

Someone shook their head.

“He’s going to be fine, right?”

A nod, and then a reply that he had to be onstage in an hour. There was no time to worry. A small rift made itself known to Bono, however, and clutched just behind his ribs. He saw as he continued the soundcheck, when the ambulance was gone, the instant of knowing who he was seeing before him, and then a blur of differences, of years, and felt all those emotions come back just as fast. How the fuck was he supposed to go on with the show…he’d go through it if necessary, the rest of the band needed him to, but he was heading straight to the hospital afterwards. A glass shard of worry condensed where it had only gripped slowly before, made it hard to breathe. He closed his eyes, and then thought about how this was strangely familiar.

Not the person. Not the experience. Something, though, something, anything. Last time anything had gone this wrong it had something to do with the past. Was it like this again?

Maybe he was just hoping too much. Hoping it would all be alright.

Hoping his son would be alright.

It hurt, that moment where he hadn’t even known who it was. If he’d turned around a second earlier, maybe Ciarán wouldn’t be in an ambulance.

He tried his best to push those thoughts away for the moment. They ran through the back of his mind like the light running over the cord of the fallen microphone, the shadows running from the stage long and liquid out to the street, the pavement beneath the angry urgent rush of red cacophony that was the ambulance.

Ciarán, in pain, saw everything blurring a little into darkness. It was safe there, for the moment, so he could forget that unexpected halting, difference, then pain, in his body. It could be the drugs the blurred hazy people around him were trying to pump into his body. It could be the sudden shock and the jolt of the paddles.

“Clear!” someone yelled very far away.

That darkness beyond the noise was past. It was memory.

So long ago that to Ciarán, it was all hazy, as if he searched through smoke. He remembered a heartbeat a long time ago that was hard to place. Somehow, now, this seemed important, though the reasons why kept slipping past his mind. Now, in the present, his own heartbeat felt precarious.

Quicksilver darts of insight tried to worm their way in and take him somewhere else. But there he could only hear too, as if his vision were somehow compromised.

“Don’t speak of this,” he heard in a man’s voice, and had a vague impression of some other fear that wasn’t the recent anxiousness of seeing his father again. This was years-ago fear, so-long-ago fear.

“Don’t speak of this. Ever.” The voice in the past repeated. Through the haze he knew that in the ambulance and out and away from the memory, his heart was beating now, fast, out of control. Something about that voice. Something about that darkness. Ciarán was remembering the wrong memories. These weren’t his, they were just stories…things his mam had explained… He began to get distracted as he emerged back into light and sound and color.


“No!” he told the people in the ambulance as he blinked back into feeling and sight, still caught up in the haze of whatever he’d remembered. They all looked at him confusedly, some looking extremely worried, but he couldn’t remember now what the ‘no’ was about.

When the frantic questioning—“can you move your arms? Can you see this properly? How many fingers? Is there pain—there? What happened just before you fell?”—paused, it did all come back for a moment. The red-haired, exhausted man blinked dark eyes and answered in a desperate tone but strangely repetitive, as if he’d heard it all before, “He said…don’t speak of this. Ever.”

Something sparked. Ciarán remembered bottles, liquid, someone forcing it into him, hazy half-story half-memory of it happening to someone else…burning, fever, pain…

He remembered…“We can’t leave, London makes sure of it,” Ace had told him, wearily looking at a row of bottles.

Eyes open for a shocked instant, Ciarán reached towards a paramedic. “Poison,” he managed to say. Then his heartbeat slipped, and stretched.
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Old 11-23-2011, 01:33 PM   #2
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NOOOOOO. I would be extremely worried if it wasn't for you saying beforehand that Ciaran's not gonna die...

Also I'm pretty sad that this story is going to be short. There's got to be more to it...

Oh yay, ZooU2 has returned. Heh.

(and irrelevant, but... I keep imagining Ciaran with black hair, so it was weird to read here that it's red...)
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Old 11-23-2011, 01:57 PM   #3
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Stop being worried!

Nahh, we've gone around to the prologue again, which was about where my ending point was gonna be...about 2 more chapters after this probs.

Neither of his parents have black hair, you weirdo. Then again I thought Marieke was dirty blonde...

*redirects Blue to Chapter 11* He's gonna be fine!
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Old 11-23-2011, 02:02 PM   #4
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I knoooooow :P I said I "would be" worried if I didn't know everything was fine.

Wait. Is Cath brunette or a redhead? Jeez, I always imagined her as having black hair... Sorry.
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Old 11-23-2011, 02:05 PM   #5
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Good XD I think the next chapter will be funny. "Hey Edge, how come you know what's going on?" "Oh hey, random woman!"

Dude, she has brown hair. Have I not illustrated these people enough?

You're probably confused because she actually did have black hair in the beginning of ACD That was hair dye...Bono's such a copycat
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Old 11-23-2011, 02:21 PM   #6
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okay, okay, I get it now!

Since Ali has black hair, I always imagined that she and Bono looked very much alike during the Zoo TV era...

Maybe I thought Cath had black hair because she's "the black cat" :P
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Old 11-23-2011, 02:25 PM   #7
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They looked alike a lot of the time. Like in '80 or something like that. Wait a sec. Let me find that awkward picture...

LOOK. THEY'RE COLOR COORDINATED

welllll she does enjoy that color. But no. Briefly yes. But no.
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Old 11-23-2011, 08:54 PM   #8
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I ignore the FF section for one day, and you post a new chapter.

(it's really good)
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Old 11-23-2011, 09:08 PM   #9
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Heehee
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ciarán, lieutenant, like prologue but better, oh hai thar u2, oh shit, parallels, scary stuff

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