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Old 05-08-2011, 09:59 PM   #1
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Out Of Control 38

Oh suspense!

I decided to split this into two chapters because it was getting longer than I expected. The second isn't done yet, only in my mind.

***


"Catch the wind, see us spin, sail away, leave today, way up high in the sky.
But the wind won't blow, you really shouldn't go, it only goes to show
That you will be mine, by takin' our time.

And if you say to me tomorrow, oh what fun it all would be.
Then what's to stop us, pretty baby. But What Is And What Should Never Be.
"

—Led Zeppelin, "What Is And What Should Never Be"
(1986)

Ruth tried the first thing she could think of.

“What happened to you, Isaac?” she asked with wide eyes, her heart hammering, not all of her surprise fake. Her arms were pinned behind her tightly in his grip. She was pinned like an insect to the wall by his stare.

She looked at him with disbelief. Moments before her ear had been pressed to the door outside as she tried to figure out the sounds inside, and then the full bluish light of day had become the malevolently changed sparks in his eyes. She’d never seen Isaac this forceful. Only imagined. When she’d hidden in the bathtub from gunshots and heard his raised voice outside. That shadowy imagining of him had been far greater and more terrible than the man she’d known.

Not so now. The faint light inside ran unforgiving over his face, the hair that had grown strange and feathery over his head after injury, and too pale, the harsh scars that seemed almost under the surface of his skin, the calculating bemusement in his unblinking heavy eyes. If she tried to move, wiggle to the side or duck under him, she couldn’t at all. His grip was strong.

So it wasn’t all surprise. Her heart beat fit to burst. She could not recognize the man she loved, who might have loved her once.

He gazed at her a moment, his face strangely calmer than his rigid arms holding her in place. Ruth had a thought she’d alighted on moments before: was he secretly affected by her? More importantly, could she use that against him to escape?

“I died,” Isaac said, his voice roughened. She looked at him askance, her heart twisting.

“Nearly,” he continued, looking at her with the strange scrutiny still.

“I can’t see you, Ruth…” That must be why he was so close. “Is it? Is it you?”

For some reason that gave her an almost revulsion, though something sharp within her had begun against her will. She felt sorry for him. As if it was that leftover instinct she might have had. He seemed more a child than a man.

She’d forgotten she was pinned against the wall. At the moment it wasn’t important.

Isaac reached forward and tentatively ran thick fingers over the side of her face. She tried to decipher the intent in his eyes.

Two things happened. The pressure left her face. And she noticed that all the while, instead of completely unfocused, his gaze was sharply in tune with her face. The arms like two pillars trapping her. She felt a thrill of warning within her, and thought again, Distract him.

It was partly now, though, that pity.

Don’t you dare let him get to you…

But that look on his face…there was a dichotomy of him. For a moment, he wasn’t Isaac. In his unsurety, he was Aodan. Who he had been when she knew him. Before she’d left him.

“No,” Ruth stalled, “I mean, how could you? How could you change into someone I barely know? I don’t know you, Aodan.” She said it deliberately; those before-unblinking eyes blinked sharply.

“You know me,” Isaac said, his gaze hardening. “You know who I am.”

Left behind, that boy asking her, Ruth, d’you think…do we become like our parents? Do we repeat their mistakes? And the accidental flinch when the bomb went off. The guilt. Guilt.

Another warning. The guilt wasn’t there in his eyes.

Distract him. She tried desperately.

“No, I don’t,” she said sharply, glaring at him. Her accent crept back into her voice. “Who the feck do you think you are, Isaac? Not anyone I ever knew. Or loved. You kept me away from home. You set a fire. You raped my best friend. You kidnapped—“

She was about to continue but for the shift in his eyes, and broke off, tilting her head. Hypersensitive of the decreasing pressure on her arms. Isaac found the knot of her fisted hands and turned her around. The force in his grip a warning.

She caught the impression of white walls, a tall ceiling, long benches pushed up at the far end of the churchbuilding. Then looked down and tried not to react to the shape against the wall. A little huddled mass, then not a mass but a person. Though she’d known the boy only minutes, she knew by sudden instinct it was him.

“Is he?” Isaac asked, his breath heavy against the back of her neck. His grip hard but looser in question. She couldn’t see his calculating eyes.

“Is he yours, Ruth?”

She spun around. “What? Ciarán?!”

“You left eight years ago. He’s the right age.” Isaac’s eyes hardened again at her look of surprise and he yelled, “Don’t act so shocked. I knew. I thought you were sleeping around but the fact was that wasn’t what you were hiding from me.” The hardness slipped, and he seemed genuinely curious.

“Isaac. I would have killed myself instead of having your child.” Slow eyes blinked again.

“Feck,” Isaac said softly.

“Yeah, you made a mistake. Now let me get the fuck out and let the boy go. Come on!”

The right side of his face twisted up in a smile. It hit her then. The hardness of his arms, in his eyes. The lightning speed with which they tracked her. The wall behind her.

“This will make it easier, then,” Isaac said, one arm slamming down and holding her still against the wall.

“What—“ Her voice dried up. She heard a familiar click and guessed what his unseen hand was doing.

“You didn’t really think I tried to get you to come here to get your son? I wondered. I thought he might not be.”

The click sliding to an ominous close. His fingers tightening around something. Fingernails clumsily scraping against metal in the dead silence.

“We have unfinished business, Ruth.” The right hand came from his side in a flash. She’d been wrong. There was nothing of Aodan in those eyes as he slowly tapped the flesh of her stomach through her shirt once, twice, three times with the barrel of the pistol in his hand.

*

“Lar,” Eve breathed in relief, when he finally approached. She recognized that cocky smile from the moment he stepped into the hotel lobby. She ran into his arms, the emptiness of his absence punched into nonexistence. He was there, real, solid, comforting, his warm hands rubbing up and down her back. She practically squeezed the breath out of him.

Time could be halted for a few moments. She pulled away from him enough to look up at his face, asked, “Why did you leave, Lar?” Bono and Ali were standing a little ways away.

It was there, slow apology in his eyes. Burning there fiercely. It had been hard for him to leave, to make it look like he didn’t want to return.

“I knew you were wrong about Oisín,” he began, the corner of his mouth turning up infectiously when she sighed in defeat. Oisín was practically right next to them, grinning at Larry’s statement. “And I had some idea of who it would have been if it wasn’t Oisín. I wasn’t sure, though. I went to talk to Oisín, who had similar suspicions, and…ehm…tried to avert Ruth from going after Isaac too fast.”

Eve looked at him a little sharply, wondering what exactly he meant.

“She’s a determined one,” Eve said.

“It didn’t amount to anything. Distraction. She went anyways. She’s probably found him. She has a way of losing and finding, if she’s anything like you.” He finally caught the look on her face, and in front of everyone, pressed his face closer to hers, the smile dampened to a more serious expression. They looked into each other’s eyes. Perhaps it was the door that had opened with being able to sense Ruth’s feelings again, but Eve could see straight through the clear depths and at the bottom was absolute truth and an anxious sort of longing. Both confirmed when he said, “Eve, don’t think that. We didn’t do anything. I just tried to stop her. The entire time I was gone, I had you in my mind. Ruth…” he shook his head… “Ruth’s different.”

“Good,” Oisín upspoke with a glare that soon turned to a grin. “I wasn’t quite sure what to take from what you two were doing. We’re engaged, you know, Ruth and me.”

Eve looked away from Larry’s dizzying eyes, a cool trail of blue like a sunspot trailing over everything else she saw for a second. Slipping her arms away from Lar’s, her hand falling to his, she stepped over to Oisín. Thought many things at once.

One, the little gulf of difference between her and Ruth. Oisín was Ruth’s best friend’s brother. Eve had known neither of the two but through Ruth felt an odd sort of familiarity with ‘Sheen, Ruth’s name for him in her thoughts. At the same time, the difference was a sharp twinge at the pit of her stomach.

Two, neither looked with any accusation at the other, despite what had occurred. Oisín instead looked almost happy to meet her, a smile beneath the surface of his expression.

Three, his hair was falling into his face as it had been when she’d met him once way back in Dublin. Ruth fought off the urge to giggle.

And he seemed as good a man—boy, back then—as he’d been then. In his unguarded eyes. It was much like with Lar sometimes, except Larry kept silent better.

“I’m sorry, Oisín,” Eve said, realizing that moment of thought had been a little awkward, just silence to everyone else. He tilted his head, looking at her. She was surprised to almost hear, Strange, she looks nothing like Ruth. It’s in their expressions…and feel the faint edge of warm optimism that characterized the man. Strange indeed.

He nodded, not the usual closed sort of nod; there was just much under the surface on both sides. Oisín wondered why her presence, not her appearance, was so much like Ruth’s, not grasping yet that both had a certain talent for something he didn’t know of.

But there it was. That feeling gripping at the back of her ribs urgently, almost dragging her out the door. Eve stopped herself from talking to Oisín further and told Bono and Ali and Lar seriously, “We have to go. Now.” Her face white, her palms sweating like Ruth’s blocks away.

They didn’t question her judgment. Quickly as possible, they stepped into the iron-filing shadows of outside. Bono upspoke as they left the hotel that he would go wherever needed to call the police, if they found the right place. His face was deadly serious, his eyes dark sparks. Eve nodded, Larry’s hand tugging her towards their pace though she felt it drumming within her, tapping on her rib bones, the screaming urge to go faster.

“Can we run?” Eve asked, turning her head backwards, eyes wide, sweat beading the hollow between her collarbone.

“Go,” Larry said. “We’ll be right behind.” He leaned forward, catching her cool face, and kissed her with a blinding intensity for an instant before she ran at the pace of her speeding heart ahead.

*

Phoenix couldn’t believe it. She noticed the pistol, and then the red hair and the face clicked. With a different impact than when she’d first recognized it was Ruth, minutes ago, she thought the other woman’s name with a sort of horror. Saw flashing through her mind unwillingly little glimpses of burned skin. Ruth flinching when not-Phoenix tried to talk to her. Unable to hear for a short amount of time.

Everything collided to give Phoenix a stupid moment of inaction. ThebombinBelfastIsaacohshitGETHERAWAYFROMHIM—

She tore herself away from the little afterimages of the sadness when she met Ruth’s eyes. Ruth why can’t I help you, a much earlier voice than Phoenix’s thought.

“Ruth, what’s going on?” she asked at school.

Ruth’s face fell contradictorily though she answered “I’m in love,” like a question. Flinching when her backpack touched the skin of her back.


Unparalyzed herself from the shock that Isaac had hurt Ruth too.

“Now,” Phoenix said with her eyes to Seamus. Seamus drew his eyes away from Ruth and Isaac, for a moment so still Phoenix feared he would do nothing. Then she saw a spark in the dimness that made her heart leap: the point of his knife. Marcus heard the clicking noise of the knife opening and turned around, his head suddenly visible in a blink of white face and scar and light hair to Phoenix, who felt a shadow of that urge to retch. Something else gathered liquid at the bottoms of her bones. Some compulsion to do something. For the moment she was stuck to the wall, unable to move and draw attention to herself.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing, Seamus?” Marcus’ voice cut across the thick silence as he looked at the other man, the intensity of his persuasive stare enough that both forgot there were other people around them. Phoenix could see Seamus almost vibrating. With rage or fear, she did not know. She couldn’t see if his eyes were wide or narrowed. A little slipping, sinking, surprised sensation when she realized in that moment, she trusted him. Despite his brute strength. Despite everything.

“Put the knife down,” Marcus said slowly, compellingly.

Seamus rose a little on the balls of his feet, blocking Marcus’ face from view. No longer shaking. Voice calm as he replied, “I don’t take orders from you, you shit” and lunged over at Marcus. Phoenix caught a brief instant of Marcus’ face in surprise and then anger before both men hit the ground heavily, scrabbling for purchase, the knifepoint flashing bright and incoherent between them.

She still couldn’t move. Rooted to the old dusty church floor, fear constricting right around her heart and squeezing it stonily, making her limbs rigid.

Seamus’ lunge at Marcus was the second thing that changed everything. From Phoenix’ vantage point so many feet away, Isaac was a pale stick figure of a man. He looked up, his hand holding the gun slipped down, another point of brightness, and then looked around wildly, keeping Ruth where she was with one bright arm.

He saw his father fighting Marcus and his eyes widened; Phoenix somehow could see that sharply even so far away. And she could see the little shiver as he tried to move forward to stop Seamus, then as he locked himself back into place, looking back and remembering Ruth, with that calculating glance, she was sure.

Harmlessbidinghistime.

No longer waiting. He changed in an instant, his glance turning back. Alighting piercingly on Phoenix for a moment. She was breathing so hard she thought her ribs might crack. And then slowly, strategically, purposefully his gaze drifted over to see the little huddled mass in the corner. The skinny freckled arms, the skinny freckled legs. The head that lay on his arms limply. The body with no fight in it. The heart that beat, beat, beat in fierce resistance the rest of him rejected.

Isaac thought. The weight in his hand changed. He held Ruth around her waist so tight she couldn’t move if she tried, because of what he would do next. With the other arm, the gun slid back. He slid his fingers to grip it more firmly. The light screamed off the barrel of the pistol as he looked backwards and pointed.

Those eyes burned across Phoenix’s memory. She shivered, the shiver running through her until her feet unstuck. She felt a lightness where the urge binding her ribs had been. So light everything seemed unreal. Then reality hammered in. She looked at the pointed gun and Isaac’s burning eyes. The little shiver of hesitation in his arm for a moment, like fate. And thought to herself, “NOW.”
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Old 05-11-2011, 09:49 PM   #2
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WHATISWRONGWITHYOUENDINGTHECHAPTERLIKETHAT. GAAAAAAH.

Yes, I loved it.
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Old 05-11-2011, 10:00 PM   #3
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*snicker* I'm just made of evil.

Really, I have writer's block right now...for this story at least...gah. I meant to have the next chapter up already but my brain had other plans.
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Old 05-12-2011, 07:32 AM   #4
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For some reason I had it in my head that Isaac already shot Ruth. When you said that he tapped the pistol against her stomach. I had to read it over a few times and realized I took the context differently.

I didn't get to comment because I read it on the train on my phone - which seems to be where I do most of my fan-ficing lately.
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Old 05-12-2011, 07:33 AM   #5
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And you have to end the chapter that way! If it were a TV show, that's how it would end for next week.
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Old 05-12-2011, 09:07 AM   #6
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Rrr, wish I had a phone to read fanfic on ^^ that'll be waiting a couple months though...

And no, he hasn't shot Ruth...he's just being a creeper.

It's been increasingly screenplay-like in my head...which makes things difficult! It's hard to translate that back into writing...
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Old 05-12-2011, 09:13 AM   #7
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You see it as a movie? That's usually how mine work out in my head. Then I need to work imagery so that the reader can see what I see. But I've never been overly good at scene setting like getting into the details of how a room looks.
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Old 05-12-2011, 09:20 AM   #8
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Unfortunately yes...I get way too much imagery in my head too, which is why it seems bogged down with imagery sometimes. But this story has been like an action movie, of recent...I'm imagining there's a little cut between scenes for each different point of view or something, even

I actually know way too much what this room looks like, I just don't want to describe things for the entire chapter...it's basically how I used to write and I'm trying to avoid it as much as possible *sigh*
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Old 05-12-2011, 09:13 PM   #9
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Imagery is where I fail. I have vague ideas of what things or places look like- unless I'm making it up by myelf, but if it's a public area like a club or a stadium, they all look kind of the same to me. I can't describe things all that well anyway...
Was going to say that I really did love this chapter, a whole lot! It might be my favorite, which is bizarre (maybe I fell for the cliffhanger ending? IDK).
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Old 05-12-2011, 09:32 PM   #10
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Huh, maybe I should use more imagery just to make you feel bad It gets to be too much though. You're lucky you don't have to think about it much.

Hehehe, thanks. It's not weird...the sad or angsty chapters tend to be my favorites to write. I don't tend to do cliffhanger endings, so this was pretty unusual.
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1986, ali, bono, joshua tree era, larry, out of control

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