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Old 04-02-2011, 02:08 PM   #1
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Out Of Control 31

This was hard to write...I keep getting ideas but they're difficult to type down. Maybe I'm just exhausted from school or something...

Next chapter will be lighter, really. Somewhat at least; Ali's coming down to Santa Barbara Oh no!

Really, does no-one remember who Seamus is?

***

(1986)
Before the note is placed

“Where are you going?” Ciarán asked Marcus, huddled against the wall. Probably a mistake to ask; Ciarán instantly froze when Marcus looked at him with the warning heaviness of his movements in his pale eyes.

“Why the hell would I tell you, kid?” Marcus was huddled over a scrap of paper, a pencil clutched in his still fist. Next to the paper it looked like there was a map. He was making no headway with whatever he was doing. Finding somewhere father from the authorities? Ciarán wondered. He remembered Seamus bringing it up…Ciarán shivered. Seamus had left a couple hours ago, and the thin tense insulation of his protection was gone. Nothing between himself and Marcus’ fists.

There came a snort from Marcus’ son—“you treated me like this too”—his father turned around sharply, then looked back at Ciarán.

Marcus’ expression grew to one of consideration a second later, expressions changing sharply as if they’d been chipped onto his face.

“D’you think he would be able to go? If someone kept watch on him?

“I could duct-tape his mouth, maybe,” Marcus added, a smile playing at the corner of his mouth. He tossed the pencil from one large hand to another, considering.

His son shook his head, then squinted up. “She’d call the cops, or get him to run.” He laughed and muttered softly, “she would probably be good at that.”

Ciarán had no idea what they were talking about. He did grasp one thing: the ‘she’ they were talking about was probably Ruth. Was the ‘he’ him?

“Ruth?” Ciarán asked in confirmation, very aware of the hard wall behind him and the greater possibility that the two men would hurt him in some way if he spoke very much more.

“You may be wrong,” Marcus commented to his son with narrowed eyes, and nodded brusquely at Ciarán. “Yeah, Ruth.”

“I’m not wrong.” The other man glared, then looked fuzzily over at Ciarán. “I don’t know what he would look like. But he does seem familiar. I can’t be wrong ‘bout it.”

Marcus shook his head, and thudded over to Ciarán. “Only one way to tell.”

He picked Ciarán up roughly, not as bad as the night of the fire, but enough that Ciarán winced.

“Who are your parents, kid?”

Ciarán swallowed, heart pounding. He couldn’t tell the truth…for some reason, whatever they thought meant they weren’t killing him right now.

“We already know,” Marcus’ son commented in exasperation.

Marcus stared at Ciarán, who was still in his iron grip. Ciarán clamped his teeth together and refused to speak. That was his defense. If he said nothing, he would be fine. Or at least, alive.

“He’s not talking,” Marcus said with gritted teeth. “Alright then.” He snorted suddenly. “Then again, you may be right. He’s certainly a stubborn one.”

The other man had taken the pencil and paper, and narrowing his eyes in focus, scrawled letters in large, slightly shaking print across it, a thoughtful look on his face. Marcus came and peered over his shoulder, throwing Ciarán back against the wall.

“And where’s the bloody money in all that crap? You just ask her to walk on over to where the fire is? Do you want the police to come?” Marcus yelled.

“I don’t want money,” his son said calmly.

“And you,” Marcus grinned in satisfaction, “can’t go. You’d give too much away. So we’re back at square one. Who’s going?”

“Seamus can go. If he fecks up—”—calmly as before, the line of his finger across his throat.

Ciarán felt a sharp ache at the back of his ribs, seeing this. He felt terrible. He didn’t know what to do to change Seamus’ fate, help him be rid of these evil men too, but he knew he must have done something wrong, if he had accidentally condemned Seamus.

The thoughts weighed heavily on him. While Marcus and his son spoke in tense whispers over the map, Ciarán turned away and made himself small to be unnoticed, looking futilely for cracks in the wall, and then just looking until the wall blurred to a grayish dimness.

Seamus returned, with a dark expression when he was told what he would be doing. He looked to Ciarán, to Marcus, and back and forth again.

Ciarán looked at him nervously, willing him don’t say no…

“No.”

Marcus smiled. “Are y’really sayin’ that, Seamus?” he said in a dangerously calm voice. “I jes’ want to know if you’re sure.”

Seamus just glared.

“You’re going to have to give a reason why not,” Marcus added. “Otherwise no complainin’.”

The silence continued. Ciarán, noticing this, grinned: Seamus rebelled much the same way he did. Marcus left in disgust, with his son and the map. In his relief, Ciarán could breathe properly again at that point, with Marcus absent. Seamus looked over at the kid, who still looked like he was trying to shrink into nothing, a helpless sort of anger in his eyes, and felt a sharp pain.

“Y’don’t have to stay in here while they’re gone, you know,” Seamus said, torn with a strange sort of guilt. He had just seen himself in Ciarán’s situation, and had ruminated outside in the darkness, flashes of his life coming up and reminding him like faces glimpsed as subways thundered past in the underground. Seamus had been a little like Marcus, once, and Marcus had once been good while Seamus was a heavy drinker. He actually couldn’t remember so much of his life that far back, only brief accusing memories when he’d been sucked back into wakefulness. He could change things. He was changing things. But he couldn’t go back and fix what had happened. A small part of him wanted desperately, soullessly, to kill Marcus and Marcus’ boy, to right some of those wrongs. That chance had passed.

Ciarán looked up, a little hope flashing across his eyes, and unbent himself from his sitting position, walking like a ghost over the door, feeling much more alive seeing the bright-burning sky. He wondered, though, what Seamus was thinking.

“C’mon,” Seamus said, clambering up the outside of the building from one of the windows high up. “We can see if they’re heading back, from up here.”

Ciarán giggled, feeling devious, and scrabbled up to the dilapidated red-tiled roof. The tiles were warm beneath his hands, the birds high far above scraping the sky. It smelled not like dirt and decay, like it did below, but clean, like sun. He had a sudden longing for the desert. If he could finally leave, if he made it, he’d be the best he could, he’d say he was sorry to Ali for being so difficult, he’d stop bothering Larry and Edge and Adam so much…he caught his breath, seeing the bad and the better parts of Santa Barbara sprawling underneath the wide flat roof of the old building. People looked very small from here. He’d felt that way a lot recently…

“This used to be an old church,” Seamus commented, pointing down at the building. It didn’t look much like one, wide and flat and crumbling. “Doesn’t feel like it.” He smiled a sideways bitter smile. “Marcus unintentionally chose somewhere ironic to do his dirty deeds.

“I think God might forgive him. But not his son,” he said, eyes caught somewhere far.

Ciarán furrowed his brow. “Does he have a name?”

“Not that I can tell you. He’s changed them over the years.” Seamus had that air of reluctance about him again, falling in shadows from his eyes as he crouched on the roof and peered off into the street below without really looking at it. “Shorter names, longer names, nicknames. He had a lot. It was confusing. He was Danny boy when he didn’t give me cause to hate him.”

“What happened to him?”

“You mean, what messed him up? He used to be a lot brighter…well, a little. Mostly the pain from his head clouds his thinking. I’ve saved him twice from death, and keep regretting it. The second time is what bollixed his eyes. If he’s near death’s door a third time, I’m not stopping it.”

“What did he and Marcus do?”

Seamus shook his head enigmatically. “Something that involved me whether I wanted it to or not. I’ve kept near them so maybe I could put an end to their ways, or turn them in. I don’t care anymore what it’ll do to me. It’s just hard to remember what’s right anymore.”

Ciarán thought, but all he could think of was the map and the paper and the instructions to Seamus. “What was it they decided to make you do today?”

“I’m to go and find someone they’re looking for. I assumed you were just an excuse for that. I’m beginning to suspect the boy is trying to connect the dots.”

“Huh?”

“About who your parents are. He’s wrong, by the way.” Seamus smiled that bitter sideways smile again. “I would know. And he can’t even see you straight. He just hopes.

“There’s a chance I might not be coming back, after tonight.” Seamus swallowed, fear plain in his eyes. He was old, older than Ciarán’s da, at least twice his age, but still he could be afraid…of what? Death? No…that wasn’t it, was it… “There’s a also a chance, if all of us are caught, I might be the one who dies. That Marcus has a way of convincing people, fire or words. He usually has the way of them in the end.

“I was just going to say, if I do make it, I’ll try to figure out some way for you to escape in about two days time. I can distract them, if need be.” He frowned, peering closely into the distance.

“If I don’t return, I want you to make a run for it as soon as you can. Find your da as soon as you can after that and explain everything about the fire. He should know why it happened, if he can put two and two together.”

He unfolded his legs and began to climb down from the roof, Ciarán following; there were two figures in the distance returning. Seamus frowned, turning to look at Ciarán just before they went inside.

“He’s an idiot,” Seamus muttered, not talking about Ciarán’s father. “You look so much like her.”

“Ruth?” Ciarán asked.

Seamus shook his head. “Of course not. That’s why.”

***

Ruth shivered, behind one of the burned-down walls at the periphery of the once-was Blue Café. For some reason, it was a lot colder since the fire, clouds obscuring the sky towards night like the faint dusting of ash over leaves, sidewalks, windowsills near the site of fire. It created a muted sunset just now as the earth cooled towards nighttime.

Bono’s frantic confusion hadn’t helped Ruth settle her mind about this at all…she and Oisín had decided he would probably just be a hindrance if the singer came along. Firstly, because he wasn’t asked for, and secondly, because all he could go on about when he heard about the note was Ciarán and what the feck was going to happen to him oh god. They wouldn’t be able to get him to shut up.

Oisín turned to her and rubbed warmth into her body through her coat. She sighed, and began to ask why they had come so early, but he held a finger over his lips.

Night fell very slowly. Midnight would probably come even slower. Ruth watched the sun set from Oisín’s face, a small smile on hers. He didn’t seem worried, but that was just the way he was. It was relaxing to see.

Some of his calm pushed into her; she could sense, vaguely, his thoughts. I was right. It didn’t bother her like it had when she discovered she could sometimes feel what Eve felt, and Eve the same. Eve sometimes felt like betrayal.

Midnight finally came. Ruth was half asleep, leaning against Oisín’s shoulder, her cheek pressed against his coat that was beginning to feel slightly scratchy. The other side of her face felt frozen; she could barely feel her ears or the tip of her nose. Santa Barbara used to be warm, Ruth thought unhappily.

It was probably about one AM when Ruth thought she was dreaming, seeing a faint illumination from the corner of her eye. She was startled by Oisín’s sharp intake of breath, and glared at him when that jolted her head off his shoulder, but she stopped, seeing his expression.

“What the feck’s he doing here?” Oisín asked in outraged disbelief. “He couldn’t have been the one who—”

Ruth furiously tried to calm him down, and clamped a hand over his mouth, eyes huge. She looked back, but whoever it was was so far away they were only a solitary figure cast into existence by the small light that just then flickered out.

They remained like that for a while, too frozen to move. Ruth’s eyelids were growing heavy; another hour or so had passed. The cold dark air felt wonderful now, actually, swirling around her like the promise of sleep. Her hand had dropped from Oisín’s mouth a long while ago. He looked troubled now, she could see through her half-open eyes.

She was hardly awake enough to notice when he carried her back home, though she awoke again to crawl from the bed to the living room, where Oisín sat, that same look still on his face. He looked startled still, too. He turned his head when she came in the room, looking at her wildly, then sighing and rubbing his eyes.

“I must have imagined it. This makes no sense.”

“Who was it, ‘Sheen?”

“My dad.” He made another sound of disbelief, then yawned and stumbled to switch the light off, letting her drag him into the other room to sleep. He was very still beside her, and muttered sleepily, “Why’d he have to come here. He’s messed enough up already.” She began to reply to the rhetorical question, but saw he’d already fallen deep asleep. He clutched at her, in sleep, like he was a child, and by morning, the worry still hadn’t left his face.

Ruth, however, couldn’t sleep. She just thought of the implications of what they had just done, ignoring what Oisín had seen. They hadn’t done what had been demanded. Shit. Anything could go wrong, now. She tried to reassure herself of the solid permanence of the house, of Oisín, and of Ciarán somewhere hidden, hoping the kid was resilient enough he could get through all of this. She had nightmares, though, that she couldn’t remember, and when waking from her eventual half-sleep saw Oisín and was desperately grateful they were both still alive.
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Old 04-02-2011, 02:25 PM   #2
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So, it looks like he is holding his own grandson hostage? How many brothers did Cath have?
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Old 04-02-2011, 03:02 PM   #3
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Just the one, Oisín. And it wasn't Seamus' idea...he's pretty pissed at Marcus for it.
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Old 04-12-2011, 05:36 PM   #4
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Wait, was this posted before 32 or was it a mislabeling... oh, duh, this was meant to be read before 32, right? I feel very stupid now. This makes everything so much less confusing! I was beginning to suspect Seamus's identity anyway...
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Old 04-13-2011, 08:52 PM   #5
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Before 32, Blue. Arrrgh

now you know, though! One less person to have to explain
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Old 04-13-2011, 08:55 PM   #6
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I still can't believe I missed seeing this.
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Old 04-13-2011, 08:58 PM   #7
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Too busy laughing. Sorry Blue. I haven't accidentally skipped chapters in a while



I was worried I'd posted the order wrong, though! D:
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