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Old 04-16-2011, 06:58 PM   #1
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Out Of Control 35

Not as much happened as I thought...it's an effing long chapter again, though, sorry...

Phoenix will get less confusing, I swear. Also, I'm getting the anecdotal writing out of my system...it's gone now, I hope...now we know more about her though!

And now I feel all warm and fuzzy inside

***
Are you lost or incomplete?
Do you feel like a puzzle, you can't find your missing piece?
Tell me how do you feel?
Well I feel like they're talking in a language I don't speak
And they're talking it to me


—Coldplay, “Talk”

1986

Phoenix awoke from a shift in the light, or the sound of footsteps. She had been staring at the same point in the indented, scratched wall until it blurred before her: a little bright spot where the sun shone through. Not big enough to be widened, she knew, but maybe she could see out and find where she was…she hadn’t seen where exactly. But Ciarán’s head was pillowed against her and she didn’t want to disturb him. She felt a powerful wave of sadness clench her body when she looked at him, studying his face. Not thinking of how the little indent in his chin mirrored Bono’s, or of the exhaustion worn into his face, but all those years. This wasn’t like her. This was strange. If she felt like normal, Phoenix would be looking for a way of escape…

But she’d fallen asleep, aimlessly humming an old Beatles song, something about the sun. Into a dreamless sleep, which for some reason she found relieving. She startled awake with the footsteps, knocking her head back onto the wall when she forgot where she was. She winced, vision fuzzy before her—careful with your eyes, Phoenix, you just got vision back after the concussion—

She stared for an instant at the dark-haired man blocking the light in front of her, seeing that face like a mirror print in her mind and instantly glaring. She didn’t trust him an inch, though he was crouching and plainly unthreatening, just as wary as she was. He studied her with his dark eyes. She crossed her arms, still glaring, accidentally nudging Ciarán, who shifted, making a small noise, still asleep.

Seamus tilted his head, noticing something or other. He and Phoenix noticed each other almost as if two predators trying to understand the other. Except she didn’t feel strong, with that escape urge dormant in her. He thought he might have seen her before. She knew she’d seen him before. Knew with that strange bone-humming lightness that had almost led her here. That phantom-limb sense. But she didn’t recognize any of this, or the little acknowledgement in that part of herself that thought, Seamus. Seamus Fairleigh. I hate him. I hate you, Seamus. Why…the great outpouring why questioning so many of his actions.

The glare slipped from her face; too much was going on in her head. She shut off her mind and listened to what he said.

“Don’t tell them anything,” he told her. Not anything she’d have expected him to say. He was clearly confused by her hostile reaction. After all, he’d had nothing to do with her capture.

“I wasn’t planning to,” Phoenix said coolly.

He nodded intently. “Good,” he acknowledged. “They can’t hurt you that way.”

He caught her expression though she gritted her teeth against asking anything else. Still crouched before her tensely, holding himself clearly away. He shook his head, eyes snapping affrontedly.

“I don’t know who you think I am,” he began vehemently, “but they’re not getting away with anything else.” He snorted in disbelief, holding his face in a weary hand for a moment, those world-reflecting eyes focused on something other than her.

She tilted her head, mirroring him moments before. There was something about him she understood but couldn’t name. That same part she denied just as vehemently. The glare came back to her face.

“Get away from me,” Phoenix glared, heart pounding, fists balled. He did.

Phoenix’s actions mirrored Isaac’s hours before now; she held her aching head in tense hands.

What the fuck is wrong with my brain? I’ve only seen this guy once. She hadn’t liked the look of him, and the way he’d yelled at his daughter as Phoenix and her cousins helped Cath out the window…way long ago. But she hadn’t thought it too important, because her father had been the same. Deep down when he hadn’t been telling her to follow the rules.

Phoenix had grown up very sheltered, when she was little. In a family generations removed from their roots in Ireland; they hadn’t really been O’Connors even before Phoenix’s dad married her mom and erased all of that into the very American Carter. She hadn’t known she had relatives at all, and definitely not in another country.

For a while she’d thought she’d been stupid when she was younger. To feel so protected as an only child. To take her parents’ word as law. She’d only sensed something was wrong when she tested herself against them, bent the rules. Left home for a day without warning. Began creating a different self that had nothing to do with her parents’ world. Everything had shivered dangerously into cold hard reality. She’d seen her parents arguing, about her. That did nothing. She didn’t remember what she’d done, just the world shifting suddenly when out of nowhere, her father slapped her. That did it. That she couldn’t run from him or fight back like she did with the boys in her neighborhood. Something about the coldness in his eyes.

Phoenix tried to pass it off, when she was older and the world didn’t seem so huge, as a normal story of teenage rebellion. She’d left home too young, desperate to glimpse a world that cared about other people. She’d realized her family cared none at all. She went to school across country briefly, watching the leaves turn around her like she’d died and they ran frozen in her veins. But she felt everything too sharply. She knew what other people felt sometimes before they did, and tried to tell herself that was normal.

She crossed the entire continent instead and arrived, around seventeen by then, in California. She was loud and intense as she had been as a child. She shouted to cover up anything that had ever been wrong. She sang and learned to play guitar with a fury. She’d only felt less alone when she met Mark, but she had been a sorry mess for so long she wondered what he’d seen in her.

She didn’t remember what her name had been. A lot had slipped from her memory. On purpose. It lay behind there somewhere. She was just glad it was gone. Some of it came out when she attacked the guitar, playing too fast for the songs, in the moments before her heartbeats settled and she remembered she was somewhere else. She should probably be thankful she’d always been optimistic, or she would have died to the world long ago.

But she’d only seen Seamus once. She felt like the scared teenager she had been, the feeling so unfamiliar—scared that there’d been something wrong with her, that little basic spark that fears death whispering, I can feel what they feel there must be something that I’ve got that might make them want to hurt me. She hadn’t told her cousin Ruth that things like this had happened before the dreams. That when she’d fought the neighborhood kids there’d always been some moment when she wiped the blood away or looked up at their faces that she could feel the jagged emotions tumbled in with the relative innocence. And faltered before she picked herself up and matched them.

She could see, in her mind, not her father but Seamus hitting her. His face younger and in her face as he yelled something, the flash of a knife nearby. Who…

She shook her head, digging her fists against her temples. The blood beat and resounded oceanic. Her head cleared after a tight moment and she calmed.

It must have some purpose. It had always had a purpose. Defense, preparation, warning. When she was twelve she’d felt her mother’s panic at the marriage falling apart and hadn’t known enough to take that feeling as a warning.

At least the fact she was pent up in this…what was this building exactly? It was dim and oddly shaped. There were long benches crowded against a far wall, and a blocked door with a hairline crack showing the piercing light of day…the fact that she had the opportunity to just sit here or whatever for hours, maybe days, until someone found them all gave her time to figure this out. Phoenix snorted. There was the optimism again…She sighed and settled her chin on top of Ciarán’s head, feeling this time…nothing. No attachment except that he was a fellow prisoner. The change was relieving if unsettling.

Phoenix took advantage of her clear head to size up the other men, calculating in her mind. The older one couldn’t be get past easily. She felt the old familiar unsettling feeling that she was up against something she couldn’t win. He was probably twice her size overall.

She’d heard Seamus tell Ciarán something about escape. Some of those survival warnings remained and told her not to trust Seamus, even if he meant well.

She thought it out as calmly as she could, letting any trepidation fuel the energy she would need later. Maybe days later. She couldn’t do her usual approach. She couldn’t be straightforward. She was at a disadvantage physically, up against the two of them…she glanced over at Seamus, amending that it might be the three of them if her suspicions were correct.

Her eyes settled on the blue-eyed one. A surge of intense hatred flared in her. Her palms began to sweat. She didn’t know if that was because she was slipping back into whatever her mind was doing to help her, or if she just sensed something about him.

Inwardly, she cursed at herself for choosing this stupid, stupid path. Idiotic. She’d fail and it would all come to nothing. The big guy would see straight through her.

But…she looked back, saw the vulnerable position the younger man was in. Remembered he’d been in pain, that there was something wrong with his head. And tried to pinpoint the reason for the hatred she’d felt for him when she saw him. It wasn’t internal.

Do it differently this time. Whoever it was, whatever it was guiding her. She “remembered” something about being passive, afraid.

That was before, the silent urging came. Do it differently.

She could find some way to manipulate him. With that decisive thought, whatever it was seemed relieved, the confusion ceased and the hatred dimmed a little—that would make it easier to do what she had to do. Phoenix sent a tentative confused inward thanks.

She’d do something he wouldn’t expect. The positions had switched this time. He was, in a way, helpless. If only for instants when the pain crippled him. Or as he tried to figure out what she knew that warned her about him.

Her heart thudded, the fear at the prospect icy. That was just her own body telling her what a shit plan this was. She looked down at Ciarán again, wondering what the hell she had gotten herself into. She hummed again as she looked back at the man, eyes narrowed, trying to think of how he could use himself against him. The music calmed her down, though her fingers itched to meet her guitar strings again.

Here comes the sun, and I say, it’s all right…it’s all right…

Her heart’s pounding receded. She avoided his gaze when he and his dad returned and began arguing with each other loudly. She did catch their names, though. Marcus, the older one. Isaac was the younger. Isaac…Phoenix let out a mental string of horrified profanity. Just what was she getting herself into?

“Alright,” Marcus said, slamming his feet down in front of Seamus. “You fecked up, Fairleigh. What was it, exactly?” the big man asked in an almost singsong voice that was still, since he was leaning into Seamus’ space threateningly, no nonsense.

Seamus outright glared at him, but his glare slipped. His expression became open for a moment, wistful. He’d seen Oisín…but he couldn’t—would NOT—tell Marcus that. Maybe when he left, he could find…no. That was impossible.

“Tell me why there was no one there when you went to the right place,” Marcus spat, counting on his fingers—Phoenix fought off the inappropriate urge to laugh—“the right time, the right—everything. Except you.”

A smile played on Seamus’ face. “I killed her,” he said straight facedly. Marcus looked at him in disgust.

“Don’t lie to me. You wouldn’t have the guts to kill anyone,” Marcus said with a smile. Seamus’ blood froze as he caught Marcus’ meaning; the man flicked his head over to Isaac’s direction.

He saw more than he let on. Fuck.

“She wasn’t there,” Seamus said, turning away and affecting an uncaring posture, leaning against the wall, looking up to the broken spot in the ceiling where the light from the sky shot through. Too high, another place impossible for escape…he was getting ideas, though.

“Hmm,” Marcus said. Seamus let out his breath when the man walked away.

“We sh’change this situation a’round,” came a difficult to distinguish voice Seamus knew and hated.

Phoenix’s heart pounded, hearing Isaac’s words echo her plan. Still pretending to be unconscious…or confused…or something, she took advantage of the time to try and think of when they were not in this tiny little room. There were a couple hours during the day when Marcus and Isaac left. Never with Seamus, though—maybe they didn’t trust them. That was heartening, Phoenix thought sarcastically.

There was just enough space on the floor that she could…hmm. She planned unknowing that Seamus was thinking something along the same lines.

“Good idea, son,” Marcus said, rolling his eyes, clapping a hand on Isaac’s shoulders. “You forget, you can’t go anywhere and not be noticed. Eejit.”

“So,” Isaac said. “We go nowhere. For now, that is. We can reach her in other ways.” Phoenix looked around, irritated by his assumption of that, and indignant—Ruth lived at her place! Just how would they find her house and what the fuck did they think they were going to do there? But she saw an odd expression on Isaac’s face just then.

Interesting. So that was his other vulnerability. This might make things harder.

It doesn’t matter what happens to me, Phoenix thought with that odd sense again like she had a phantom limb…but not a phantom limb, a phantom…sense? Thought?

She looked over at Ciarán and sighed.

He’ll get out of here. Even if I don’t.

*

Ruth was jolted out of sleep, heart pounding before the fears getting form receded when she realized it was just the phone ringing that woke her. She practically ran out of bed, however, Oisín still asleep with his face pressed into the space where she’d been, his freckly back barely visible. She blinked as she leaned against the wall, muzzily picking up the phone; she could feel Oisín sensing she wasn’t there.

“Ruth?” the voice on the phone asked. There was some commotion going on in the background that didn’t sound good. A voice yelling that quickly stopped.

“Mmhmm. Who is it?” she yawned. From the other end there was a surprised laugh that jolted her into complete wakefulness as the line turned static. She put down the phone carefully, glancing back at ‘Sheen, relieved he was still asleep.

Then it hit her. Why had the caller asked for her? If someone had been calling Oisín’s number they would be calling him, wouldn’t they? Probably only Phoenix knew she was here, because she hadn’t come back after the night of the fire. And Phoenix was in the hospital.

She also wouldn’t have hung up so suddenly.

Ruth frowned, slipping back into bed. Oisín was all warm skin and quiet breathing beside her. She envied him that calm; she hadn’t been able to sleep for the last few days. He’d tried to make her feel better about it, sitting with her and talking instead of sleeping.

She pressed her face against his back and sighed, the corner of her mouth turning up despite herself when he stirred sleepily and turned around, unconsciously pressing his body against hers, his arms finding their way around her. Her eyelids felt heavy, her eyes sore and dry. She really hadn’t slept properly for days. She closed her eyes tightly and let the sound of him breathing pull her out.

Who would have called her…maybe Larry was being silly. No…likely not. It didn’t sound like him. And she’d been trying her best to avoid him anyway. The voice was almost unfamiliar, though something about it had made her pause.

Aside from the restlessness stirring within her at the thought, she calmed down. She could feel Oisín’s arms around her, pulling her from the treacherous dreams in which she was running, running from something. Staring past the shores of America to somewhere different, trying to understand what it was she left behind that was so important. She couldn’t remember everything she needed to.

Ruth shifted in her sleep, feeling troubled.

“What’s your name?” she remembered hearing, seeing the guilt in the eyes of the man who’d ran with her from the bomb...

She stared at him, still too shocked to speak. She could feel the odd sensation of some of the skin of her back curling away, without pain. Someone at the hospital had given her painkillers straight away upon seeing her charred clothing and assuming what lay beneath. She was trying to pull herself out of the thud of the air just before, the little impatient shiver foretelling the explosion. It was hard to hear, still, too.

She could feel he was gripping her hands, or her shoulders. Without pain. That look in his eyes, though, cut across her. Her thoughts dropped like a stone as she stared in his eyes, trying to understand what the guilt was there for and failing.

“Ruth,” she answered haltingly…she couldn’t bring herself to close her eyes…

"I'm..." For a moment she thought he was going to say "sorry," but he ended, "Isaac."

That look in his eyes. Free of all the pain but the guilt. So difficult to understand.


Oisín woke with Ruth in his arms asleep, an unfamiliar situation for the past few days. He tilted his head, looking at her sleeping face and wondering if whatever she was worried about she’d stopped thinking of, if that was why. Her brows were drawn tightly together, however, and she kept shifting around restlessly. He sighed.

He honestly wasn’t worried about the meeting going amiss the other night, when they spied on whoever wanted to see Ruth and saw no-one, although he’d thought he’d seen Seamus Fairleigh. His da. He was a hopeful person, and didn’t think anything would happen to Ciarán, or to either of them. If whoever it was had wanted to talk to Ruth, and hadn’t been able to, they would have to keep Ciarán alive…wouldn’t they?

If anything did go wrong, he’d prepare himself to meet it face on. The truth weighed heavily—he had killed a man before. In a strange sort of justice, for what Isaac had done to his sister. It was something he’d rather not remember, but it had changed him. He hated it.

Oisín, the heavy thoughts still pushing through his mind, tried to stop thinking. He watched the sun coming in from the window and wondered what Ruth was thinking about, in sleep.

Sleep that didn't last long. The second time the telephone woke Ruth, she really did practically jump out of bed, eyes wide. Oisín rubbed his arm where she’d accidentally hit, wincing. “Good morning to you too,” he said reproachfully, frowning at her expression.

“What is it, Ruth?” he asked softly. Damn, she thought with a pang of guilt. He didn’t seem to have gotten much sleep either. She turned so she leaned against him; he ran his fingers through her hair, suddenly missing when everything was alright. When the only reason they couldn’t sleep was each other. He smiled, looking intently at her and—was interrupted.

The telephone shrilled joltingly. Oisín heard an indignant meow at the noise and chuckled; Buttons must be awake too. Ruth looked up at Oisín with desperate eyes. “Don’t answer the phone,” she pleaded. He looked at her in question. She shook her head, eyes huge. “Please don’t, ‘Sheen,” she whispered, burying her face against his chest.

He was silent, thinking something was seriously bothering Ruth. The last time he’d heard that note in her voice had been over the phone when she asked him…to make sure no-one was looking for her back in Ireland…huh.

It rang a third time and her shoulders tensed. Oisín extricated her from him so she faced him, sitting up, and could see he wasn’t moving.

“If you don’t want me to, whoever’s calling will probably leave a message. It doesn’t really matter, Ruth,” he said in bewilderment. She didn’t answer, just gave a smile of thanks, leaned forward and kissed him. He groaned softly, feeling a heat rush from his arms down towards his legs. It had been a while…the fourth ring went unnoticed by both of them and drowned out in Buttons’ irritated noise when they inadvertently knocked her off the end of the bed. He pulled away, wondering what that ringing in his ears was and breathing hard. When their heartbeats settled, he asked, “Now, why was it you didn’t want me to answer the phone?”

He had an inadvertent smile beginning from the corner of his mouth. Ruth’s face heated for an instant; something about it reminded her of Larry. Shit, not again. Larry in her mind, that distraction helped her explain what had happened before Oisín woke up.

He raised his eyebrows when she was done and abruptly stood up. “We should ask who called,” he said, ever the voice of reason.

“Please don’t,” Ruth called, stumbling after him as he walked over to the telephone and laid his hand on it lightly, saying, “We should know who it was.” They had a staredown for about a minute, Oisín wondering what the hell was making Ruth so freaked out, before both jumped; the phone rang again. Whoever it was had called back.

Oisín shot her a curious look that asked if she wanted him to pick up. She sighed in defeat, and he took that as a yes.

“Okay, who the fuck are you and why did you call before?”

Ali’s bewildered voice answered in puzzlement, “We didn’t call before.” Bono, a little in the background, said, “We were going to talk to you and Ruth. Preferably both of you.”

Oisín looked at Ruth and mouthed, “Bono. Ali. Not who it was before.” She looked relieved.

“Did you find Ciarán?” Oisín asked hopefully.

“No,” Bono said painfully. “But there was something Ali found she thought Ruth might know a little bit more about.”

“Wait a second,” Oisín said, shifting the phone to his other ear and covering the mouthpiece, explaining to Ruth what they’d said. She motioned to him to continue the conversation; she’d ask later. Sharing a phone was a little difficult. Not to mention their faces would be in close proximity, making talking or thinking a little difficult.

“I’ll ask,” he said, talking to them again. “What was it?”

Ali explained, and Oisín stilled. Ruth could see his jaw clench. She wondered what on earth he had just heard.

“That can’t be possible,” he said raggedly into the phone. “Fires happen all the time. I made sure he…” he trailed off, continuing in disbelief, “he can’t be alive.”

He answered after another pause, “No, I didn’t see…” Oisín broke off again, staring before him with wild tormented eyes. Then he seemed to grasp some sort of understanding. “The newspapers could have been wrong, couldn’t they. I just don’t see how they could have missed it.”

Bono’s voice rang with sympathy even in the tinny, compacted phone-sound. “They might not have missed anything. You might not have done anything. It’s bloody impossible to tell what happened if you left when you did.” Ali asked for him to ask Ruth if any of this seemed familiar. He nodded, then spoke a word of assent, remembering he was speaking on the phone, and hung up, his hand dropping from the phone shakily. He held his head heavily in his hands. Somewhere inside of him was a sharp fear stripping away those eight years and what felt like more.

He hadn’t let himself think of Isaac’s death since then. He’d made himself forget, denying it as best he could and telling himself he wasn’t the man who in that instant had killed another man.

“Oh god,” Oisín said almost reflectively. He ducked his head back out of his arms, settling his chin on top of his tense hands and staring out with a calm bordering on absolution. His eyes were bright, red-rimmed.

“What did they say?” Ruth asked finally, sitting beside him. He turned that shocked expression on her, his stomach twisting.

“Ruth,” Oisín began, his voice cautious. “Can you promise something? Can you trust me even if I’m not the way you think I am?”

“’Sheen, what—“ He put a finger against her lips, his face serious. Wordlessly she nodded, and grabbed his hand.

“They think Isaac started the fire. That he and you were the constants.”

“He’s in America?” Ruth asked, frozen. She nearly dropped his hand.

Coming here had been trying to prevent that, Ruth thought. She might have convinced herself going to America had been for other reasons, but ultimately she had been running from Isaac—and it didn’t matter anymore.

Oisín nodded. “If that’s even possible.” He laughed harshly, falling silent when he saw her half-consciously touch the scar on her back, musing aloud, “I always thought…” She shook her head, biting back the bitter words. That guilt in Isaac’s eyes always when he looked at her. It made sense.

She caught on to what Oisín had said before that, though. “What does this have to do with you, ‘Sheen?” she asked carefully.

He looked at her for a long moment, until she thought she’d seen eternity pass in his eyes. The laughing, silly, steadfast boy Oisín and the man he’d become orbiting each other and colliding. She’d always wondered what had made him so much more serious, in eight years, and then assumed it had been Cath’s death, when he told her about that.

No, it wasn’t all that, was it…

There was still so much of him in him, though. Something about the way he held his body in relation to hers, the way his eyes always asked before he did anything. The sudden surprised elation when he saw her. It was so hard to pin down to any one thing but his nature—that he was a good man, deep in the substance of his being. It wasn’t the light suddenly throwing fires into his eyes, or the way his mouth curved sideways, or the angle of his wrist when he held on to her to keep from falling over laughing. It was the way he was, that he was implying he might not actually be after all.

She waited before he spoke, her heart aching. He took both hands in his and looked at her intently as he explained, almost flinching away, knowing she’d turn from him, be afraid of him, something. Or worse, she would understand and he’d have to live with himself wondering why…

“It should be impossible for Isaac to be alive to set off a second fire. Well, the first was a bomb, but…you know.”

“Why?” she asked even more quietly.

He sighed, still looking hurt already. But this was a past hurt, easier for her to see. Still painful. “To understand that, you should know what he did to Cath.” He could feel her hands tense; she could guess a little.

“Did he…hurt her? Why?”

“He did. It was more than that, though.” He closed his eyes; she was glad, not knowing if she wanted to see the depths of the remembered pain within. “I wasn’t there when it happened. I was there when Seamus let him stay in our house. Isaac had been shot.” Oisín laughed. “I didn’t trust him straight off. It’s part of why I left. I think I might have known he was going to do something bad…”

“Shot?” Ruth asked, groaning. “He lived through that?”

“Hmm?”

“That was me. He wanted…” she shook her head. “Never mind what he wanted. I was beginning to catch on to him being involved with something criminal. Go on, ‘Sheen,” she said, voice hardly above a whisper.

“Isaac raped Cath.” He tried to keep as much emotion away as he could. He needed to be able to explain…everything. “He beat her up pretty badly." He made a harsh noise, adding "They didn't even know the extent of it until she was in the hospital for totally different reasons. I didn’t know anything about it until Bono told me, and he’d told me because apparently Isaac had threatened her a while later. He was angry at Bon, or at Cath, or something. If I hadn’t left…” He shook his head. “Doesn’t matter. It might have happened anyway.”

“And you…what did you…” Ruth’s head was spinning. Isaac hadn’t done anything near so bad to her. Aside from forcing her to stay with him. And the bomb…the fire…

“I found him before he could fuck anything else up. I hadn’t been able to stop him before. I killed Isaac. Or at least, I thought I did.”

She stared at him disbelievingly. Oisín looked back at her, wishing desperately that he could know what she was thinking. She was too silent.

She closed her eyes, reconciling the two halves of those two men in her lives. The one who thought he loved her and…the one she thought she knew…loved…no. She loved Oisín. There was a little part of her crumbling away, however. The one that believed in his goodness. She tried to hold onto it, opening her eyes again, and took a deep breath, forcing herself to look at him.

“I wish he’d died,” she admitted. Everything coalesced in her eyes, the fire, the image of Isaac’s broken body, and Oisín before any of that had happened. God, she was so stupid to believe anyone…He watched the struggle on her face. It felt worse than he had expected. She felt his hands shaking her out of her thoughts. Gently. Tentatively he let them linger on her shoulders before they fell away.

“He’s not dead, though, Ruth. Not if this happened. That means I fecked up somehow…” A sudden relief overtook his face, as if he hadn’t been able to believe, before, that he was beyond that sort of thing…

“…and someone’s going to have to find him. Police maybe, if they can. He might die, as if none of this had ever happened.”

She forced herself to look at him, again, as he said, almost pleading, still so softly she barely heard, “But we need to know what you remember about him, Ruth. You’re the only one who knew anything about the sort of thing he did.” He swallowed. “The only one living.”

She found if she looked at the sunlight hitting the window just to the right of his shoulder, it was the same as if she looked at his face. She looked back, though, told him to his eyes filled with so much unbearable. “’Sheen, I…I need to think.” He nodded. She looked away from him and stiffly went upstairs, removing her clothes from her silent body and stepping frozen into the shower, letting it block out the thoughts behind her closed eyes. She scrubbed furiously at his scent on her body, closing her eyes against the heat pricking behind them and spilling over. He respected her obvious request to be alone, not going up and finding her curled up beside the shower, dripping water onto the tiles, eyes still tightly closed. She picked herself up at last and dressed again, coming downstairs, a tentative Ruth shadow, arms crossed over her breasts as she shivered in the doorway.

If she’d been with Larry, this would have been so much simpler. But Larry wasn’t him.

He didn’t ask what she was thinking though it burned within him as the hours passed in silence. She accepted his presence as a slight comfort. Gradually her inward screaming questions—who was this man she knew, now?—turned into a thoughtful silence.

Oisín was despite everything an optimist. He’d hoped like hell Ruth would accept him, everything about him. Still, his relief showed that optimism must have faltered—relief when as they lay in bed she wrapped still-damp arms around him and told him tightly, “I don’t want to remember, ‘Sheen…I’ll try.” He nodded, swallowing. It felt so achingly good to have any contact with her again after the hours. She began to wonder what she had been thinking, when she’d thought hours before she saw the good Oisín passing away, as he told her now fervently, “I’m not that man. I’m not like that. I promise.”

Love had changed between them, subtly. They clung together to make this world make sense, because they themselves did not.

It wasn’t the way either of them would have thought of it, but as they held each other, melting into each others’ skin, Oisín asked Ruth, looking through the window and seeing stars, not shadows, “When this is over, Ruth…”

“Hmm?”

She could feel him smiling, his lips against the back of her neck. His eyelids were still tight, his face warm from the tension of before, when he’d been afraid she would hate him. Run from him. Smiling because she hadn’t, and she understood him better than he’d thought.

She had, after all, she thought, running her fingers through Oisín’s absently, too exhausted to know which were hers and which were his, only the tentative hopeful images surging strong through his mind, shot Isaac before Oisín even thought of hurting the man. Really, now, Ruth.

“Ruth O’Connor, I know I’m not perfect…” He slipped out of her arms and she could see he was kneeling on the floor, butt naked. What a sight. She grinned, knowing what he was asking. His eyes danced even in moonlight. “Will you marry me, Ruth?”

“’Sheen,” she giggled, “you’re going to freeze.” The air in the room was icy despite the heater…he needed to get his heater fixed…

He made a face then tilted his head. “Ruth?”

“Oh hell, ‘Sheen.” She yanked him off the floor and back up, his legs kicking as he laughed. She was serious as she looked down at his face, though. “Of course I will.”
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Old 04-17-2011, 07:17 PM   #2
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Wow, Phoenix is practically channeling Cath! I really really hope she and Ciaran escape SOON. It's getting a bit boring with them not being able to do anything about their whereabouts. Oh, and so funny that she's out of the loop! I guess because she did live in America...
(So she changed her name to Phoenix? That makes sense... like a phoenix rising from ashes, being reborn into something stronger. )
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Oisín was all warm skin and quiet breathing beside her
Mmmm. I want that...
He must be a little relieved that he didn't actually kill Isaac. then again... OH NO HE'S ALIVE!
Aw. That's funny, I never thought of Ruth or Oisin commiting to a relationship... somehow getting married ruins something in my mind, but it's wonderful that they are.
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Old 04-17-2011, 07:22 PM   #3
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Hmm, I know keep that thought.

Hehehe, that's what I was thinking. That it's getting boring that they can't do anything Not much to do when you're stuck in a little boarded up room...

Nice catching on about the name! I didn't really intend that meaning originally, but...it started to make a sort of sense. Yeah, she changed her name. She didn't want her parents to be able to find her, and she really didn't want to remember who she had been before...

Yeah, that's the main angst of this chapter. Oisín's got a lot to deal with.

I don't know, in my mind, if I kind of get into their heads, they sort of feel married already... Have you noticed they argue? A lot? Over stupid things...ah.
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Old 04-17-2011, 07:44 PM   #4
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Yes, I was going to point out once that they sound like a married couple. Love that.
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Old 04-17-2011, 07:45 PM   #5
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For some reason everyone else's argument are arguments. Theirs are just silly. I blame Oisín.
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