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Old 10-13-2011, 02:32 AM   #1
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No Love Lost, Chapter 7

This chapter's all about attachment. Oh, and some awkwardness.

Damn you, writing, I sacrificed sleep for you...

***

Chapter Seven. The City’s Made Of Light…

I walked through the city limits,
Someone talked me in to do it,
Attracted by some force within it,
Had to close my eyes to get close to it,
Around a corner where a prophet lay,
Saw the place where she'd a room to stay,
A wire fence where the children played.
Saw the bed where the body lay,
And I was looking for a friend of mine.
And I had no time to waste.
Yeah, looking for some friends of mine.

Four, twelve windows, ten in a row,
Behind a wall, well I looked down low,
The lights shined like a neon show,
Inserted deep felt a warmer glow,
No place to stop, no place to go,
No time to lose, had to keep on going,
I guessed they died some time ago.
I guessed they died some time ago.
And I was looking for a friend of mine.
And I had no time to waste
.”

—Joy Division, “Interzone”

Helena’s eyes looked forward arrow-straight. She wasn’t sure what else she could do. She saw, in the arrow-gaze’s path, Ace look forward equally straight.

“He was just a kid. He was being a kid. A stupid kid.” His eyes blue-grey sad, he bit his lip. A little twinge of feeling came to her: she felt it coming train-fast. Sadness deepening like a coastal shelf. She swallowed and then cold sank back into her as she looked away. But he was still on the periphery, perched almost forgotten in her view amidst blurs of fallen leaves, speaking to the policeman while sitting on the steps; she doubted he could stand.

He lied. Probably. Because she could remember, enough that she was avoiding London. Had almost slipped away, before she saw Ace speaking.

“He was doing this thing he did a couple days ago. Pushing his hands against the window and saying it wouldn’t break if he did, and…”

She watched him look perfectly straight into the policeman’s eyes, and then looking a little past, seeing her. She waited until the policeman was gone then sat beside him on the steps. Two figures in the autumn air biting their faces. She didn’t look at him but she could feel his eyes. Right now, he wanted to feel, and she didn’t.

“London?” she asked.

“Upstairs.”

They both saw an upstairs room in their mind’s eye: tell him not to wander around like that, Ace—why?—because it’s dangerous—the fuck would I care? Ace lied to London—oh, you know very well, pinning his arms to the wall—Ace couldn’t tell if Tommy ran, and ran the wrong way, and ran and fell into nothing, but Helena saw what really happened—and she saw him on the ground, looking up at her, crying, then bleeding out and…gone.

“Good. He won’t see me leave.”

“You know you won’t make it for very long.”

“Neither would you,” she replied back very quietly.

She felt briefly; he bit his lip again and wrapped arms around her, his chin fitting just above her head. She closed her eyes.

“Where will you go?”

“Somewhere. I won’t be there long,” she said in a monotone.
He caught chapped lips against hers, but it did not breathe life back into her body. It lit a fire and a pain and she pushed him away, scratched at him, then held him close. She wanted to go back and push the man staring down out the window herself. Watch him twisted and broken on the concrete, next to the small bleak chalk outline on the rain-wet ground. Instead she took Ace’s hand and ran. They both ran like they could run faster than death.

He had her back. Helena. He had her back, but it wasn’t enough, with their son dead. It was just enough, though. They both knew, he knew, he’d only have her long enough to hold her before her body paralyzed, her blood caught up to her. Or she him. Somehow they always thought they’d die together.

***

Ciarán found himself alone on the rooftop. He watched leaves drift in a grey wet world below punctuated by bricks and silence. Remembering Tommy was dead. He thought back in a red blink to when he’d been that age and only the unexpected solid interception of another body separated him and death. He saw the red inside the chalk marks and thought of sticky red above him, heartbeats fading, holding himself so tightly he stayed put together.

If he’d gone in the second room instead of following Spider, he could have hurled himself like that to the ground and stopped Tommy from falling. But history didn’t repeat itself like that. He’d seen Helena and Ace leaving and all of the sudden felt afraid, with who he was left with. He’d heard what the policeman had been told, and believed it mostly.

Property of Stairway No. 2, ran through his mind. Ace’s hands. Property of who, exactly? He would never find out. He’d seen Ace vanish out of his life.

Curiosity breathed and bubbled and longed, but Ciarán snapped back to himself in a jarring minute. He knew with ferocious certainty that no matter what needed to be found out, he needed to leave. He needed to leave, more than he needed to know.

Thoughts gave him pause.

What the fuck, London?

He fell. Maybe he fell.

Wrong angle for him to have fallen.

Ace? what the fuck, London?

Ace and Helena are gone.

Property of Stairway No. 2.

I need to leave. NOW.


He pushed himself up and stood. Shit, he was barefoot, and Lou still had his jacket. He’d go downstairs and get his shoes. Fast. Fuck his jacket; he didn’t know where Lou was…

Ciarán turned around, making for the stairwell. The shadows shifted. He stiffened, then saw it was only the lieutenant, who took in the frozen wide eyes and the hurry and blocked the way.

“Move,” Ciarán hissed. “Please,” he added lower.

Lou nodded, placing a hand on his shoulder before Ciarán could leave. It wasn’t like Ace or London had been when blocking him, slightly threatening. Ciarán was confused, didn’t have the time to process the look in the other man’s eyes.

“You shouldn’t,” he was told. “Please don’t.”

“London,” Ciarán said shortly by way of explanation, still tense with fear. “He's dangerous. I’m leaving.”

Lou nodded, sighed and looked away. His hand dropped and he crossed his arms.

“Make sure Spider’s alright.”

Lou laughed with an edge of bitterness. “She will be.”

Then the way was clear and Ciarán ran down, and Lou looked from the same spot as he had down to the street below, holding his head in his hands and cursing.

Baltimore seemed very welcoming when you were on the run from a killer, a maybe-killer, or maybe just confusion. The damp red brick sprawled on either side of the road, the cars made a hairswidth pause just short of running Ciarán over. He lost track of the endlessly long streets as his jeans got soaked in leftover rainwater. His feet burned with no socks between them and his shoes. He had his jacket back, and the memory of he-didn’t-even-know-what had been in Lou’s eyes, and the way Spider was just an afterthought. Lou’s heartbeat very fast for the brief second Ciarán had come into contact with him. He actually stopped walking, with a protesting clink of bottles, as he figured it out. That form of avoidance was slightly familiar. Ciarán made a face. “No. No. That just wouldn’t have worked out.”

By chance, the street he saw to the left was one he’d been down a week ago, leading Ace back home. Retracing steps, merging paths, Ciarán began to have the strangest sense he knew what he was doing. It raised the hairs on his arms. The water in the road reflected like the moon had in the windows of two rooms as outside, on that day he’d arrived, Corinne had avoided him in just that way.

He waited, where the walls twisted with spraypaint. Traffic rumbled through his bones and he waited. He let his weariness finally catch up from where it had chased at his heels. He wasn’t acting like a kid, running away, he was handling it…as best he could. Kid or adult or whatever he was, he was sick and tired of the world being shit.

Should he return home? His absence might have run its course. Maybe things would be different. Maybe it wouldn’t matter he was gone, and things would be the same. He saw flashes of monotony before him if he took that path, and saw too much remembering.

He could go to Santa Barbara. Oisín and Ruth would understand. Oisín would call his parents first thing though. Because Ciarán didn’t fully understand how losing someone once could make you paranoid of losing someone else, and Oisín, and Bono Vox, and Ruth all knew. But Ruth. Ruth had too much remembering.

There was a moment in all that musing where dawn broke and he knew all he really wanted was to be back, somewhere, and throw himself in someone’s arms. He missed everyone. His da could take all that had happened happily away to be forgotten. He missed Ali suddenly. He missed Ruth and Oisín. He missed Aidan, and Jordan and little Eve. He leaned his head back against the wall, overwhelmed. Traffic filtered in from far above the subway tunnel. In slow steady percussion it whooshed in the air around him. In. Out. In. Out.

It was that that changed his mind. Sudden flexing of the fingers, memory of drums, and then eyes closed, memory of that heartbeat that wouldn’t go away. Not his da’s, not Ali’s, not Phoenix’s as she died, not Lou’s, god no, not his own. It was so long ago. He remembered sound, in fragments and impressions, back that far.

…don’t speak of this,” he found himself whispering, then his eyelids shot open. He calmed by a handspan, weirded out by how as if by plan this day progressed. Leaning against the wall on the other side of the old subway rails, pale, dark-haired, tired, too thin, was Corinne. He’d come here and she actually was here. How could it be that easy?

The sound of rubber hitting metal: Corinne saw someone’s foot and then a leg and then two legs and then someone, leaping across the rails one section at a time. Red hair, tired, impressions of freckles. Her eyes recognized, though, his hands. They looked worried.

She looked up, clenching her teeth so as not to cough. “It’s you,” she blurted in surprise.

He looked at her strangely. Then she noticed him. No socks. Shellshock. She rubbed her knuckles in her eyes in stress and sighed. Some loss must have occurred. She’d heard impressions of it but didn’t know if it was real.

“Drummer. You left.”

He nodded with painful eyes and began to open his mouth.

“Don’t tell me. I know what it means when someone leaves.”

She didn’t want to know who it had been. But she took a guess. “Helena?”

He shook his head. “Tommy.”

She closed her eyes hard. For some strange reason she could see it. There were so many possibilities of who had done it, but she was smart. She’d seen that look in London’s eyes before, that look that he didn’t give a shit about what he was doing. That you were property.

“London?”

“I think so.”

She squeezed her eyes harder and rubbed her knuckles over them again. “Well, he would.”

“Wait, why would you k—“

“I don’t want to talk about it,” she told him. He opened his mouth. “I mean it,” she added. “No.”

He could tell, though, in the way she held herself. Something or other had happened in the past But there were two other things he couldn’t tell. One, her mouth shut for a reason (to hide something). Two, something she didn’t really understand.

“So why are you here?” she asked abruptly. More forceful than she would have liked.

“What?” he asked, a little taken aback.

“Has it occurred to you that maybe you should leave? Maybe we’re doing fine?”

“We?”

“Yeah, Mats is over somewhere up top, trying to find some girl he used to live with. Probably not succeeding. He’s gonna bum it out for longer most likely,” she sighed.

“I just—wanted to know you guys were alright.”

She narrowed her eyes and sighed, slumping against the wall. No more let’s pretend. “Never mind,” she winced.

“Something wrong?”

“No…nothing,” she said with closed eyes, then looked over at him a little more openly than she’d dared. “You’re here.” Sounded like relief. Too much like relief. Like he’d been relieved. Shit. She couldn’t do this to him.

“So what’s the plan?” she asked, stretching out on the ground. He sat. She could see freckled ankles. Had to stop from laughing.

The lights belowground dimmed, flickered, dulled, and then stopped completely. Darkness except for streaks of light from where the traffic could be seen. She could hear him lying down nearby. His fingers drummed a beat softly, unconsciously. She closed her eyes.

“Well, I realized I don’t have anywhere to go,” he said with a self-deprecating laugh. “I was thinking I’d go to the airport. But I have no money. None at all for a plane. So I’m stuck here.”

“That’s not such a bad thing. Plane to where?”

“Somewhere I don’t really want to be,” he said quietly. “I’m gone for a reason.”

“So am I.”

“Why did you leave?” she asked.

He spoke, with the walls around them flickering with aboveground light and soft darkness masking any secrets none needed to say, of his house and his da (nothing that revealed much, on his part), and then stopped, realizing he was saying an awful lot. But he felt so alone. Words filled up the half-light.

“Wait, what about you?” he asked.

“London,” she said simply. “It was time to leave.”

She talked about how the British man had been when she’d been all too young with nowhere to go. That possessiveness about him. How she thought she’d been in love. How he controlled people after a while, controlled them totally. There was a mark in her skin he’d made her make. It was hard to see but she always felt it.

“That’s what property meant,” she told him. “That tattoo Ace had, that was London’s doing.” She had something like it, too, though it meant nothing, because London had other methods.

She closed her eyes, feeling her sluggish blood.

And Ciarán, Ciarán spoke about her. She. In death no name. That girl from a while ago, the first and only one. That love he’d felt once. How she’d been there and then she was gone. How she’d avoided him and then he read in the obituaries and there in the worst of places he’d found her again. How he’d never really forgotten.

He stared into the darkness, thinking of gunshots and bombs and death and the coin flip choice of fate, two scared children many years apart in time face to face with death and being saved (falling over), death averted (rushing up with the ground), he given life to live (and Tommy dead).

He heard Corinne’s silence, saw in shadow how stiffly she looked up and away. “Do you want me to leave?” he asked, thinking he knew what was wrong (and he was wrong, it had nothing to do with the past, it was shit life threw at both of them that she knew about and he didn’t).

“No,” she answered. He offered her a shining gulp of the spirits stolen from the kitchen of the first room. It burned, it stung, it promised death, but it was exhilarating to run ahead of death just for now. He was oblivious.

“We’ll get you money for the airport if you stay. Mats…Mats could probably find you a job.” She smiled, envisioning a bright long future, knowing somehow that staying and doing all this was what the drummer wanted. “And then you can go your way. They probably miss you.”

“Who?”

“You know who.”

“What if I don’t want to?” he asked, turning over. By accident, their eyes met, startled into pause. Hers shone faintly with the dying light of cars, streetlights, the world fading outside. Something had changed between the time they’d met and now, he saw before she could throw walls up again. But she didn’t. And he didn’t get to find out what that look meant. Not tonight.
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Old 10-13-2011, 08:18 PM   #2
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*chills*

I guessed it wrong. I thought Tommy was Helena and London's and Ace was jealous... appears not to be so... it's still supposed to be confusing, right

Why must you be so good at writing...
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Old 10-13-2011, 08:27 PM   #3
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Whoa.
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Old 10-13-2011, 09:23 PM   #4
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Yeah, no, Tommy was from the veeeery brief relationship Ace and Helena had a while before. (a long while before) I don't think we're gonna see Ace or Helena again...

Ah, love quadrangles are so fun.

What's supposed to be confusing is what exactly is up with London (and why everyone did what they did) etc.

I'm really excited for the next chapter
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ace, choices, ciaran, ciarán, corinne, death, finding, helena, leaving, turning points

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