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Old 12-02-2011, 11:01 AM   #1
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No Love Lost, Chapter 16

Things to notice: parallel situations, eyes, names.

This was one of the most difficult chapters to write. And I think I've got one or two left. Remember how there was supposed to be someone else Ciarán was heading towards?

Oh yeah and ALI. And that ending there.

***

Chapter Sixteen. Lights In The Distance.

"And your heart beats so slow
Through the rain and fallen snow
Across the fields of mourning
Light's in the distance

Oh don't sorrow, no don't weep
For tonight, at last
I am coming home
I am coming home
"

“Poison,” he managed to say. Then his heartbeat slipped, and stretched.

There was a long time.

There was a long time with the shallowest of a breath, and the sliver of a heartbeat. Barely registered. The monitor didn’t know what to display. Ciarán felt the world around him become hazy inky damp, then static back, then fade out, then back…the air around him was colossal. Oceanic. He felt hands pick him up (gloved hands, doctor hands) and he was being moved and still the continuous flatline beep.

It was around then that Bono was finally able to escape, to find him at the hospital. Ciarán could feel him in the watery periphery. Alongside the weight and sudden shock of the defibrillator. And then sinking again. His eyelids closing and dragging him somewhere he didn’t want to go. It was water, as always. A river, as he lost her.

Another jolt, and then a heartbeat started up again. Distorted, arrhythmic. A drumbeat that shouldn’t work but did. A very familiar heartbeat sounded like this. His eyes dragged shut nonetheless. Shallow. This changing heart was making breathing shallow. Shallow water. He had no choice but to be submerged in semi-consciousness.

**

Bono rushed there as soon as he could. The stagelights had burned a fierce worry into him. He’d fought the words and the music and the audience, the stadium charged with the energy of his fear, and he’d fought traffic to get here. Fuck traffic. He was running through the hospital trying to find what room it was. Finally, finally, he found out which new (critical) patient, twenty years old, was his son and recognized him instantly. Clung to his hand like a lifeline. He was burning up. The nurses witnessed Bono lose his grip like he hadn’t before. There was something about fevers now he didn’t like. Through his son’s hand he gripped, the blood (way too warm) was his and hers, his and hers, and something was wrong, and through Bono could feel a jump, a leap, a staccato stutter of rhythm that jumped and jolted again before all of the sudden hiccupping. He was knocked away by someone stronger than him with medical equipment. Couldn’t register “clear!” “More charge!” For a minute there was a flatline.

Edge nearby held him away in a white-knuckled grip, and just as fast let him go. “Shit,” Edge whispered.

After a minute the flatline stopped and Ciarán’s mouth opened to let in a breath. The hairs rose on Bono’s arms. He’d had history fuck with him before like this and thank god this time it wasn’t death.


A doctor grabbed he and Edge and led them outside the room before Bono could take in two years of difference in his son’s face.


“Edge, why did you…” Bono began, but was cut off by the doctor’s interruption.

“It’s not a guarantee the patient will live through the night. Or the next fifteen minutes.”

“What?” Bono forgot about Edge and started back to the room.

“To be honest,” the doctor confessed, looking unsure, “he should be dead already, with half a minute without heart activity.”

“Well,” Bono said forcefully, “then you should let me back in to see him.” He started to push his way again but the doctor stopped him.

“One of the paramedics heard him say something about poison.”

“I’m his father,” Bono cried in exasperation, then understood. “Oh.”

“It’s unlikely either of you poisoned him—“

“You don’t say.”

“—but we need to know what’s affecting his bloodstream.”

“I don’t know who the bugger poisoned my son…though if I find them…”

“Well, yes, it would be ideal to know what he was poisoned with. But that’s not the major issue here. Obviously something’s happened with his blood, that his body’s responding like this.”

Despite the gravity of the situation, Bono looked to Edge and raised his eyebrows. Oooobviously. Edge wouldn’t look him in the eye. Bono narrowed his eyes in thought, but was snapped out of it fast.

“Any history of heart disease?”

“Not on my side. Other than that I don’t know.”

“Blood disorders?”

“No…”

“Major illness?”

“No. Look, this isn’t going anywhere. Can’t you just go back in there, do your doctor thing, run some tests and find the antidote? You said he doesn’t have much time left.”

“One of the nurses already did.”

“So…?” Bono asked uncomprehendingly. “Why didn’t…”

“If we administer the antidote without any knowledge of whatever blood problem is causing this, it’s almost certain he’ll die instantaneously.”

“You should check to see whether there was already poison in his bloodstream,” Edge upspoke. Bono stared at him.

“Of course there would—“ the doctor replied, but Edge interrupted him again.

“That the new stuff is reacting to.”

A moment of hard thinking. “Oh.” The doctor hurried off.

As soon as he was gone, Bono grabbed Edge hard by the shoulder. “What the fuck, Edge?”

Edge was staring off into space.

“The fuck was that, Edge?” Bono repeated, shaking him by the shoulder. For a second his heart seemed just as out of control as Ciarán’s. Edge wouldn’t look him in the eye. It brought back the faintest shadows of memories. Only impressions of Edge’s eyes avoiding him before. And damp green, and rain.

Bono stayed with what he concretely knew at the time—Edge was acting weird.

“How come you know so much about this, Edge?” Paul asked in a low voice, still gripping him hard.

“Because something like this has happened before,” Edge replied quietly.

“What, to you?”

“No.”

Bono just looked at him, thinking. There had been a time when Edge had been his best friend. Dave Evans, the quiet kid who knew everything. Yet even that kid had looked straight at him. He could tell, in the vulnerability of Edge’s cautious expression that whatever it was, was serious and Edge was scared to tell him. Really scared. And that meant Edge would say nothing. Stubborn bugger.

“It’s ok,” Bono sighed. “I’m scared too.”

Edge looked at him then with the saddest expression and nodded.

They went back in.

It was a long night. Ciarán might have been improving slowly, might have not. The doctors were still testing to see what he’d been poisoned with. He lay on his side, eyes squeezed shut, breathing shallow. His arms were wrapped tightly around his stomach. His forehead burned, Bono found out quickly. It scared the living shit out of him to see his kid like this. Pale enough that freckles stood out like drops of blood. Eyes moving fast beneath his eyelids. Breathing through his mouth until someone hooked him up to oxygen. Twenty years unraveled; he was reduced to infantile dependence. If he’d had more breath he would have cried out against it.

Around midnight, Ciarán went into a semi-comatose state, which the doctor said was practically merciful because it seemed he was in a lot of pain. Bono looked at the man sharply until he hooked up stronger painkillers.

He next remembered everything still, awash with the green-blue of the monitors beeping quietly, too loud in the silence but steady at least. The light touched upon Edge’s abandoned cup of coffee; Edge was out in the waiting room trying to get some rest, as there wasn’t enough room here. Bono remembered the night outside being still and quiet, and very dark. No stars. He’d gone for fresh air but soon traded it for the view from Ciarán’s window. Trapped behind glass but with scalding, still-breathing proof his son was still there. He looked around at the dark, blue-tinged room and the green shadows cast by the monitors onto Ciarán’s face and upper body, fever-bared. Disturbingly, there was a scar on his lower ribs that hadn’t been there before he left, the doctors weren’t sure what from. Some blunt trauma.

The time read harshly, 2 am. Bono sighed. There was an intensity to the stillness. Practically alone in the dark. He felt strange about it, but blinking away exhaustion, sat on the floor next to the hospital bed, and wrapped a hand around his son’s tightly, despite the stinging heat. It was like being blindfolded, or reaching out to an uncertain god, but he felt the need to say something. Leaning his head against the bedframe and staring at the blinking lights.

“I’m sorry,” he said very quietly. The steady beep beep beep was the only response, but that was something at least. And he did feel terrible. It was obvious that Ciarán had run away in some shape or form. His shoes were all worn down, his clothes in a terrible state, and he’d been stabbed or something, for heaven’s sake. And there had been no attempt to contact either Bono or Ali.

“I know you must have left for a reason. I wasn’t around much. I spent so long focusing on the rest of the world I almost forgot about everyone else. You know, it’s easy to forget you have a family, when your world is constantly just the rest of the band way too close and then the audience…so many of them, too much to count…very far away, very distant. Maybe I distanced myself. It’s hard to come back home after that. I tried. It wasn’t enough.

“I missed you. We missed you. You were gone for two years. Two years. Ali freaked out, to her credit. She thought something had happened to you. You know, some psycho trying to get to me by finding my son…it happened before. I spent a lot of time convincing her you were just figuring things out on your own. Living your life away from all of that. Going out into the world and doing something. I wondered what that something was but there was no way of finding you. And all of the sudden that made me realize. I didn’t even know what you liked to do. Isn’t that terrible? All that time at home, trying to be with you and Ali and the girls, and I hadn’t even figured you out. Twenty years. That’s bad of me. I’m sorry. I was kind of shite."

He took a deep breath. The beeping was slowing down. He reached across Ciarán for the pager to call in a doctor.

“I can’t do this,” Bono said suddenly to the near-quiet. “I can’t have this happen again…this is too much like your…” He squeezed his eyes shut, then looked back in the half-dark.

“She said she wouldn’t let go…” It was very quiet, as Bono remembered. Too quiet. The beeping had almost stopped. Panicked, he pressed the button. Ciarán shifted a little, perhaps with the force of a heartbeat. He shifted again and made a low sound.

The door opened, lights flooded on, the doctor rushed in with something in his hand, wide-eyed. “Tests came back,” he said cursorily and jabbed a needle into Ciarán quickly.

But he was still. Totally still. Bono refused to move. He held onto him tightly. For a second, stillness, and he thought his son had left. He couldn’t look at the doctor. And where was Edge? Where…

Then there was a great shudder, and Ciarán groaned, scrabbling for some handhold and crushing Bono’s hands. Instead of stillness, shaking, gasping life.

The doctor pried Bono away and checked the stats, Ciarán’s temperature, and the rest. “He’s still coming out of it. It’ll be a little while till he’s totally conscious and the fever’s down enough for him to recognize you. But he should be fine. I’ll be nearby just in case.”

Bono nodded, and breathed out. “Shit,” Bono spoke in scared relief. He felt shaky. He stood up and let go of the doorframe, turning around to go find Edge. But right as he exited the room, he bumped into something hard. He almost fell down. Hands helped him up. And in his upwards trajectory, he stopped still, staring into eyes before he even knew who they belonged to.

Dark eyes freckles concern sadness empathy longing…little lines just starting from the corners of her eyes.

“Who are you,” he asked with very little resistance. Spoke, rather. “Because I know you’re not who I think,” he added. His insides squeezed painfully.

“I’m sorry, Paul,” she said, perhaps because he looked so afraid, and hurt. He had every right to be, she knew.

Paul, she’d called him. Only his dad called him Paul. And his brother. And someone who’d been dead a long time.

Then she winced, and rubbed at her arm, at the bandage there.

“He’s going to be fine,” she said in explanation. “They didn’t know the antidote but…” …wince… “I still had it in me…shit, I need to sit down.” She hurried back in and sat against the wall. “Gave a lot of blood,” she said between breaths.

He’d followed, all the while noticing. How she had only one earring, the twin of the little wire cross that stung around his neck. A glimpse of a hairline scar on her arm. The immutable accent. Carefully he sat beside her.

“Why are you staring like that…”

“You’re dead.”

“You’re in denial.”

“Yeah. I am. It’s just…it’s you.”

“It is,” she said, trying not to laugh. “You always did state the obvious.”

Despite that he’d almost knocked her over and he knew she was quite real, he reached out a hand. She was warm.

“Here,” she said, grabbing his hand. “I’ve got a pulse, even. Stop being so ridiculous.”

He could feel a throbbing irregular beat.

“What happened?”

“Isaac.”

He frowned. “What? Thought he was dead.”

“Thank fucking god he is. Yes. But no, I meant way back. Before I met you.”

“You never did say very much about him…”

“I said enough,” she replied stonily. “I was pretty fucked up by him. I never told you, because it would be one big mess, and I had no idea there’d be one big mess whatever happened, but he tried to kill me. So I wouldn’t tell the garda about…what he did.”

“But you’re…”

“Alive, yeah. This was before I met you, remember. He tried to poison me and for some reason it didn’t work. Or at least I thought so at the time.” An ironic laugh. “It nearly did, later. He tried a second time, when I came across him all of the sudden in the Black Cat. I still don’t know what he used, but it messed my heart up.”

He still hadn’t let go of her irregular-heartbeat hand. Perhaps because she still seemed so unlikely.

“When the effects started getting really bad, you were in jail. And then in school. And just…out. And away. I told Edge, because he was there, and I was scared. It was actually him who figured out something about the poison. It gets canceled out by alcohol, or something like that. That’s what he guessed, at least. Because that second time, I was pregnant with Ciarán and couldn’t drink. And I got a lot worse. Whereas I drank a hell of a lot to try and forget what had happened, the first time.”

“But how does Ciarán have to do with this?” Bono asked sleepily, leaning his head against the wall. He hadn’t slept at all last night. She really might have been a figment of his imagination for all he knew.

“He must have gotten some of it into his blood when I was carrying him. And the effects of alcohol would be different, or worse then. Apparently he collapsed just before he came back to see you. Might have taken a drink just then.

She sighed and rubbed her eyes. “I had no idea it would be him too. Do you know why I went through all that? Convincing everyone I’d died, lying to you, coming here with him to America. It was so he’d be safe from all of that. From Isaac. Oisín wasn’t sure Isaac was dead. And you, of course, finding out what Isaac had done, you would have gone and beat him as close to dead as you could…I was scared for you, and for Ciarán.

“But it was shite. It was so terrible. I hated myself, and couldn’t stand Oisín asking why I was doing this. I had Ciarán with me, at least. But I knew I could only hold onto him so long, and he’d want to be with his da.”

“I’d thought I’d seen you at Red Rocks,” Bono breathed. “How did you just let him go?”

“You. I listened to all those albums. The songs aren’t about you, but it doesn’t matter, I could see through the lyrics…you were sad. You needed him. But it hurt. I missed him so much.” She looked towards the hospital bed and sighed. “It felt like something I had to do. Like penance.”

“Well…thank you,” Bono said. “I hadn’t seen him after I left the hospital. They wouldn’t let me near him. Your mam had him at the funeral…wait.” He squinted at her.

“Yep.” Her mouth slanted sideways in amusement.

“And I looked right past you…”

“Yeah, you did,” she said quietly. “I hoped the plan would fail and you would notice. But you were focused inwards. I hurt you. Paul…sorry. I know it doesn’t change things, but I’m sorry things happened the way they did.”

“I was a shit dad,” he said bleakly. “Isaac and Marcus kidnapped him. Your da was involved, even. After that, I tried harder. I didn’t want another part of me gone. But I was still…totally shit.”

“Why do you think he came back, then?” she asked, and he had no answer. He just nodded, blinking hard.

She nodded to the monitor by Ciarán’s bed; the light beeped with a steady green glow, in regular intervals.

“He’ll be fine. I’ve been through this. I need to go get something to eat or I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get up again.” She stood up and made her way shakily for the door. He had it ingrained into him from twenty years ago; she was surprised to feel him supporting her.

“I can walk. I’ve just lost blood, is all,” she rolled her eyes, turning to look at him. His arm tensed.

“I hate you for leaving,” he said harshly, his eyes wet and angry. If she were anyone else he would have hit her. Instead, arms tight enough to bruise, Paul Hewson kissed her, hard. Instead of a man before a stage, offering his soul in masked words to the dizzying unknown with Fly eyes to hide his heart, there was just Paul, taking the darkness instead of giving it away. He knew that feeling, of having done things that when he faced the world, he’d never be forgiven for.

He still had her hand. She could feel the ring on his finger like an electric shock. She remembered twisting the wire with her fingers, the bright metal scraping her fingernails and chafing her skin as she bent it into a circle. She wondered who it meant and knew the real answer.

“Shit,” he said softly, breaking away and drying his eyes. His eyes fell from Cath's face to his hand.
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Old 12-02-2011, 04:54 PM   #2
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YES! Perfect.

(two YEARS? Jeez, who knew... this story just raced by)
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Old 12-02-2011, 05:14 PM   #3
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Yep. It was 1997 when he arrived in America (*cough*Baltimore*cough*) and 1999 now. Things that took up time: there was a lot back in Baltimore originally that I didn't go into because either a. it made me uncomfortable b. it was unnecessary detail, but there was a lot more time spent before random tree branch/river accident. After that happened, he was washed up quuuuite a few miles away. And traversed about 1/3 of the continent probably.

I already have a sense of what'll happen in the next chapter. It's not all happy. Hell no.
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Old 12-02-2011, 09:09 PM   #4
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Oh no

...and wow, it was hard to tell that so much time had passed! I didn't even know it was '97.
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Old 12-02-2011, 09:33 PM   #5
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(this is happiness at the new chapter being up)










(my reaction to everything that happened in this chapter)
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Old 12-02-2011, 09:40 PM   #6
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Blue—yeah. A lot of the ZooTV stuff was when Ciarán was still a little teenager. He was born in '79, so in, say, '93, he was 14. He ran off when he was 18, as opposed to being a good kid and just going to visit Ruth and Oisín then back.

Tara— Nice narration there
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Old 12-02-2011, 11:10 PM   #7
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I aim to please.

.....

Wait, that sounds wrong.
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Old 12-02-2011, 11:15 PM   #8
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Old 12-06-2011, 06:52 PM   #9
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Just a quick question, guys—what do you think's going to happen?

 
I'm having difficulties writing the next chapter...
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Old 12-07-2011, 05:26 PM   #10
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I have no idea.
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Old 12-08-2011, 05:26 PM   #11
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Well, Ali could turn up at the hospital. So there Paul/Bono stands in the hallway with Cath on one side and Ali on the other. My guess is that ring is either the ring Cath gave him or his real wedding ring.....I bet Cath knows he's married Ali.

I guess anything could happen. I'm inclined to have him leave Ali. That poor girl has been through the ringer with Bono. Sorry Bono, she deserves better than you. Cath and Bono are both so fucked up that they deserve each other.
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Old 12-08-2011, 05:33 PM   #12
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She sure does know he's married Ali...it's only been, well, all over the news everywhere. Must have been really funny to hear about ZooTV and Pop from afar too...heh.



Now I've got two very different scenarios acting themselves out also—its been 20 years. 20 years. 20 yeeeeeeears. That's kind of a scary amount of time. *having difficulty with 40 year olds*
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Old 12-08-2011, 05:46 PM   #13
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Ha. Let me know if you need help with the ooooolllldddd 40 year olds.

Yeah, I forget that she might have actually watched MTV. DUH,

I've been writing so much AU U2 where they are NOT famous, I forget that they are.

True, it has been 20 years. But it's not like the Ali/Bono marriage has been ideal. It seems like his head has been wrapped up in Cath or the ghost of Cath for sometime. Yet, even if Cath and Paul reunited, that would not be all unicorn and rainbows. She faked her death and let Paul suffer. I see Ali tossing a punch. She was the one that had to mop him up after all that mess. But Ali knows she's been living in the woman's shadow for 20 years.
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Old 12-08-2011, 05:48 PM   #14
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I'm less thank half that age. Shush. The main thing is—they'd probably handle situations differently.

What's kind of funny is he's ridiculously attached to Ali at this point but seriously won't admit it. Last time we had Bono's point of view about her, it was JT era. I've been purposefully avoiding that. Yeah, there's conflict wherever I turn. Whereverrrrr. Not to mention Edge.

This story sounds really funny if I try to summarize it "so she died but she didn't actually die but Bono's fucked up and in the meanwhile Ciarán's going through just about every kind of crap everyone else has and then some" not to mention random accidents and weird stuff
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Old 12-08-2011, 05:55 PM   #15
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Well being 40, I can help with how someone 40 might react. Thus Ali punching Cath's lights out.

I didn't get that Bono was attached to Ali in the era. I know in OOC, he needed her in a sort of dependent fashion. Once again, it must be Bono's good looks, because I'd be kicking that mess of a man to the curb in a less pretty package. And there is your middle aged perspective.
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Old 12-08-2011, 05:56 PM   #16
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That's a good point. She might dump him.

...why did I have to make this story so difficult Next time, it's going to be something easy. And probably not fanfiction. I think I've exhausted fanfiction.
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Old 12-08-2011, 06:30 PM   #17
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Less characters help too. But you spanned 20 years. I know what that's like - except I didn't put a whole different sub-story in between Acrobat and MW. Writing 4 (thinking about 2 others - one fiction and not having anything to do with U2) has been busy enough.
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Old 12-08-2011, 06:37 PM   #18
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Have you been writing 4 at once? *blink* that sounds hellish...

Yeah...I kind of write way too much into one story at once/choose impossible plots. Yay.

I may even have the next chapter from Ali's perspective. It connects weirdly to something I read recently. And she needs to be present in some shape or form :/ I'm not going to end without her.
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Old 12-08-2011, 06:41 PM   #19
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Is this the last chapter?

Yes, I have two halves of one whole Acrobat and MW. The compilation with Without Speaking called Seconds. Luminous Times which is not on line. It may wind up on BDL. I might have told you about it....not sure.

There is another possible collaboration with WO_S called In God's Country. Then something tentatively called Friday Running Club.
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Old 12-08-2011, 06:59 PM   #20
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The next one? yeah, probs. It may even be an epilogue of sorts bc the perspective...might...be a little weird. And short.

I feel ridiculous for feeling guilty about plot. I mean, people have done worse. And people write fanfic all the time without feeling guilty...


Hoooooly. That's a lot.

Friday Running Club...
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