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Old 03-13-2011, 03:28 PM   #1
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Out Of Control 24

Took a couple days again. But it's hella long, so I had to stop it before it got much longer. Besides...there's only so much hospital scene I can take in one sitting...

There are a lot of different layers to the actions/emotions in this chapter, I warn—just because someone says one thing does not mean they mean it, or they don't feel the other way.

Example: Phoenix and Mark, Bono and Phoenix, Bono's thoughts towards himself. It's all a big mess.

***
(1986)


The doctors wouldn’t let him see Phoenix, which he was scared about. He remembered vaguely being in the ambulance, which rattled around like a tin can, and trying to look over past the paramedics to see what was going on with her. One of them had had to practically hold him down so he wouldn’t be part of what was going on.

“You’re in shock,” he’d been told in the ambulance. “We’ll do our best for her. Now, do you have any pain breathing, or in your ribs?” He shook his head and then the paramedic seemed like he could care less. For the moment, it was the worst problems first.


Bono sat up on the hospital bed, glaring, then wiped the glare from his face when the beginnings of a hangover needled through his head. Ouch. Well, he deserved that.

The nurse didn’t care less either who he was (like it mattered; he just wanted to figure out what was going on), answering in a clipped ‘no’ when he asked whether Phoenix was all right. He sighed. He’d also gotten no information about Ciarán, and hoped that meant his son was all right because he didn’t have to go to the hospital.

The nurse came back. She placed a hand on his back and told him to breathe in, and then out, perfunctorily setting the cold stethoscope against his chest and listening intently. He focused on his breathing, noticing how strange it was to do so, and sat still as he could. When she put the stethoscope away, he asked, “Can I move around?”

She looked at him a little suspiciously, and then the suspicion melted away. She’d heard him asking desperately after his child and her heart had softened somewhat.

“You still have a slight accumulation of something in your lungs, probably just affected from the smoke, but…” She sighed. “Take it easy. Don’t run or jump around or anything.” For all she knew, he’d act like normal despite the minor burns, which would be bad if he overexerted herself.

He gave her a look like “who, me?” though inside he still burned with terrible anxious worry. It was bad as if someone had lit a car on fire in Belfast and the rest of his family might be there—it didn’t matter who might be dying, it was all terrible.

“I know what you do for a living, mister. It’ll have to wait a few days.”

“I’m only going to be walking around,” he assured her. “Believe me, stage acts are the last thing on my mind.” He swallowed. I have a kid I have no idea where the bloody feck he is…and Phoenix might not even be alive…he was not up to joking strength. All the seriousness had settled terribly within him and wiped it out.

She must have seen his sincerity, and nodded. “All right.” He stood up again carefully, stretched, and as he walked innocently down the hall, heard her say “good luck.”

*

“Have you called the children’s hospital?” he asked the woman at the front desk, who, mercifully, seemed a little more cooperative than the nurse. He’d asked someone else at the front desk before about Ciarán and they had nothing definitive.

“I’m sorry, who—“ she began, then looked up. “Oh.” She set down the phone. “I called about fifteen minutes ago. They had no-one admitted recently.”

“Did you make sure?” he asked desperately. “They might have heard you wrong. Ciarán’s a weird name to pronounce, and he doesn’t have my last name; his is Fairleigh.” Long story, he thought in response to her confused look. He admitted, his heart sinking, “if something went wrong he might not be able to talk, and they would have no way of knowing his name.”

She looked doubtful. “Okay, I’ll call one more time, but I highly doubt their information was incorrect. They said they had no new patients since a week ago.”

“Is there any other children’s hospital in the area? Could they have just rushed him here? Maybe he wasn’t even in the area,” he said hopefully. “He could have gotten lost.”

“Listen,” she said, in the middle of the phonecall, slamming her receiver down. “It’s my job to figure these things out for the first few times. If the hospital says he’s not there, he’s not there. You are a parent; you should have kept him closer. God knows he would have at least been identified.”

Implying the other possibility: he could be dead.

Bono slumped and bit down on the air in his windpipe, not wanting to comment back. After a long minute, he just said, quietly, “Please.”

“I’m sorry.”

The lights blurred on the tiled floor. He went back to the hospital bed, saw it was occupied, and stood where he was for a moment, feeling drained.

“Mr. B—Mr. Hews—Bono?” he heard, and would have rolled his eyes if he were feeling any better. He turned. Bitchy Nurse was standing behind him. At the moment, he was rather relieved to see her, bitchiness and bad red perm aside.

“What?”

“After a little asking around, I found the woman you’ve been asking after. It was a little difficult without a last name,” she added, and gave him a disapproving look. He flushed a little. She probably assumed…well…all the wrong things. And wasn’t entirely wrong.

“And?”

She grabbed his arm briefly and began to walk in direction he hadn’t gone. “Come this way.”



A more secluded area of the hospital—less open—was where she led him. He looked past a few other burn victims before the open area became rooms, and felt an ache that there was no-one looking for them as of yet, that they would wake up confused as he had been.

Nurse Not-So-Bitchy-Now stopped at a room at the end of the hall. “Try to be quiet,” she told him. “Not that it will matter much, but for now she’s asleep.”

With a feeling of warning he processed her last sentence, and looked in through the blinds open to the room. Phoenix’s back was turned, partially covered by a hospital blanket. Around her shoulder was a mass of gauze. Her body was curled like she had little strength to move.

For a moment, he was struck with déjà vu; he remembered finding out Cath was in the hospital, and not knowing what was going on. A powerful traitorous relief came to him, almost knocking his feet out from under him, that Ali hadn’t gone with him, and wasn’t in Phoenix’s place.

But she would have known where Ciarán was…

He opened the door and entered, pulling over the chair by the beeping machine to the bandage-less side of Phoenix so he could see her face.

Her eyes were closed, moving halfheartedly behind the lids, her face utterly pale and drained. He felt a wave of dizziness, looking at the bandage on her back: snaking beneath it, towards her collarbone, was a raw red burn that shone when her chest rose and fell in breath under the thin hospital gown. The blue streak in her hair was charred. Some of the ends were brittle and blackened now. He summoned the nerve to look at the burn more closely, and saw something light her hair fell past: he brushed it out of the way of the back of her head, and saw another bandage there.

The nurse had followed him into the room. “She has a concussion,” she stated to Bono in a calm voice. “And she’s in sedated sleep right now so she won’t wake up in pain from the burns.” She looked over at the monitor displaying Phoenix’s heartrate and other obscure medical things, and then back. “She’s falling into natural sleep now,” she said more softly. “I’ll get something for the pain.”

“Thanks,” he said pointedly. “Nurse…?”

“Penny,” she stated. Huh. Not the name he would have guessed for her.

She looked up at him, and then left the room. Bono sat down again, hard, and looked at Phoenix, how pale she had gotten, her hand hanging over the side of the bed loosely. He felt strongly averse to touching her for some reason; the guilt was overwhelming him.

Was she dreaming something like he had dreamt? he wondered. Something strange and true and complicated? He was caught briefly in the vivid memory of those odd dreams, when he heard a little sound. Phoenix twitched on the bed and shifted. Her brows drew together and her jaw clenched. She shifted and her hand pushed onto the mattress, and she blinked.

Her eyes were open for about a second before she groaned in pain. “Ssh,” Bono said, knowing she was probably disoriented. Despite himself he clutched onto her hand, to calm her down. It was very light. She blinked again, a terrible expression settling over her face, he assumed, from the pain.

“Wha—“ she said in a cracked voice, and moved her hand a little. Her eyes widened and went over to his direction, but more like a little over his shoulder. She winced and brought her other hand to the back of her head.

“You’re in the hospital. There was a fire, remember? and you tried to go in and save my mates, but you fell and hit your head.”

“What happened to me?” she groaned, trying to figure out why she hurt so much.

“You got a concussion,” he said.

“Ah, no, I don’t think that’s all,” she said, her eyes still wide. They seemed less green in the hospital light, sadly muted, or perhaps it was her expression drawing his attention to her pain. She reached her hand out of his and up his arm, and he chuckled for a moment, not understanding until her hand met his face.

He was silent as her fingers traced his features, slowly and gently, with a weary hesitance. A dark sadness came over him. Her fingers for a moment on his lips was nothing like a kiss, as he understood after a moment.

“I can’t see,” she said, a frantic note in her voice, and then she stated it again. “I can’t see, Bon.” Her eyes sought him again, and missed, again. Her expression withdrew as she thought about what this meant. There was a heaviness to her sad touch on the side of his face.

“I’m sorry,” he said, his throat tight. He had no idea what her life was like, how this might affect it. He was probably not the person she wanted around right now. All of this was so, so wrong. Things shouldn’t happen this way.

“Shit,” Phoenix said very quietly, staring up at the ceiling.

I won’t be able to see Ruth happy again…I won’t be able to read music…I won’t be able to organize a stupid album photo…I won’t be able to see the expressions on Mark’s face…her heart clenched. He was the last thing she wanted to think about…she did have the stray worried thought that he might be injured, or worse, in the fire and she had no idea because no-one in the hospital could figure anything out.

Or maybe he’s fine, and he sure as hell isn’t blind. He’ll be able to play the guitar, she thought with vehement frustration. He can just lead the band, whatever.

Her silent angst was interrupted. The nurse came in quietly, but Bono heard it, in their silence. She hooked some unpronounceable sort of pain medication into Phoenix’s IV.

“Nurse,” Bono said as she did so, “she has a lack of vision.” He couldn’t help the slightly accusatory tone; it just wasn’t damn fair that this happened to her.

“Hmm.” Nurse Penny stilled, her mouth thinning as she thought on what that might mean. Bright understanding came into her eyes a moment later.

“She probably hit the back of her head a little harder than we thought, causing greater swelling. That was probably the area that controls vision. We’ll get a scan of her brain later to see if there’s any unusual swelling. Most likely her vision will come back.”

“Hello,” Phoenix said irritably. “I’m here.”

“Ah, you’re awake,” the nurse said. “Sorry.”

Bono did roll his eyes at this point. Phoenix was smiling, though, with the incredible relief that she could probably see again later. Most of the worry had rushed away from her, leaving in its place other worries. She turned her head back to Bono, unconsciously pressing her hand against his face again, softer than she had before.

“Did you find your kid?” she asked. He shook his head. “The children’s hospital doesn’t have him,” he said tightly. “I gave them a huge description and everything. Nothing. I’m so fecking scared…”

“Ssh,” she said back to him, and pushed the back of his head down to hers, kissing him lightly, an apology. It probably didn’t mean anything, but it did not help Bono that this might be complicating things…the powerful relief, however, that had switched from some of his intense worry, swept through him at about that moment and held him entirely still. He broke away from her reluctantly, seeing different depth in her green eyes.

“What about Eve?” she asked, gripping his arm suddenly. “And the rest of your band? And the rest of my band,” she added in an equally worried tone. She groaned, putting her hands over her eyes. “Mark…”

“Who?” he asked with a little alarm.

“The other guitarist,” she said, but the thin line of her mouth said that wasn’t what she meant.

Feeling him tense a little, she sighed in defeat. “We used to be in a relationship. Things aren’t going so well between us. I told him I never wanted to see him again, but that’s impossible when you’re in the same band, isn’t it?” she stated bitterly.

“I shouldn’t have kissed you,” Bono said very quietly. Her life was already complicated.

“You were drunk,” she sighed wistfully. He stared down at her.

“Sorry to interrupt,” the nurse said, “but you mentioned Mark before when you were asleep…I took the liberty of seeing if he was in the hospital.”

Phoenix’s mouth became tight again. “Is he?” she asked in a worried tone. She did care whether he was alive or not, more than she admitted.

The nurse nodded, then realized Phoenix couldn’t see that, and answered, “Yes. Do you want to see him later?”

“I don’t know,” Phoenix said, troubled. Bono dragged his eyes away from her face. “I’ll see what shape he’s in,” he said gently. She nodded and gave a slightly pained smile.

He followed Nurse Penny to another room not that far from this one, feeling strange when he opened the door; he didn’t know Mark at all.


He was a bearded man, about as drained as Pheonix had been, a large swath of bandages snaking across his side. Bono swallowed hard.

“Hello, Mark,” he said, feeling bad. The man blinked painfully and looked in his direction. “Were you in the other band?” he asked a little confusedly.

“Yeah, I’m the singer,” he confirmed.

“You had a guitar with you, like Phoenix.” Mark smiled tiredly.

“I wasn’t actually playing it, though,” Bono laughed. “I can’t play for shite.”

“You’re Irish, then?” Mark asked idly, picking up on the accent. “There were a couple other Irish guys in the bar…”

“Those would be my bandmates,” Bono said, amused.

Mark shook his head. For some reason Bono was powerfully relieved he had no head injuries; he wasn’t sure he could face something like that multiple times. “Different accents. One of them was alright.” Mark laughed quietly to himself. “He went after Ruth.”

Bono blinked, and stilled.

“Are you alright, man?”

“Ruth,” he managed to say. “That’s who I was forgetting.” He rubbed his fists over his eyes, groaning. Something about this seemed very familiar. He looked over at Mark again, and trying not to let too much slip into his voice, asked, “Did you catch the name of the fellow?” The warning thrill shot through him, making his heart pound. He couldn't help it, not after situations like this years ago.

Mark shook his head. “He wasn’t the bad sort, though.”

Sure he wasn’t…he seemed that way at first…

What are you doing thinking that way, Bon?
he asked himself, inwardly rolling his eyes.

Isaac is dead. Dead.

Well, so was Cath, and he’d dreamed Cath was alive…it had to mean something, even if not what it appeared. And it was only because of Cath that he was thinking about Isaac; Ruth had had nothing to do with him…

He walked down a rain-slicked, twisting road, brick walls on either side, something on a scrap of paper in the back of his mind. He heard someone shouting somewhere ahead, and the two began to connect briefly before he saw her…

What had he been doing when he had happened upon Cath that day? He didn’t remember…

His head hurt, and not just from the damned hangover. He was brought abruptly out of his thoughts by a muffled noise.

“Is it bad?” he asked Mark. Mark nodded, blinking. “Half my body.” Ouch. His eyes were closing; Nurse Penny had administered a sedative.

“If you see her, tell Phoenix…” Mark didn’t finish his sentence; he fell into a blissfully painfree sleep.

Bono wasn’t sure what he’d say. That conversation had felt oddly personal, and he wanted to keep the information about Ruth to himself for the moment while he tried to figure it out. He’d probably just let Phoenix draw her own conclusions.

He had a sudden staggering wave of missing Ali: everything made sense, with her around. The guilt nagged at him with every footstep as he walked away from Mark’s room.

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Old 03-13-2011, 04:39 PM   #2
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Well, that was painful.
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Old 03-13-2011, 04:55 PM   #3
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Yep Stays painful for a while after this too
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1986, ali, bono, joshua tree era, larry, out of control

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