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Old 05-17-2011, 09:10 PM   #1
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Out Of Control 40

I'm exhausted too...

Below, some trippiness, some thoughtfulness, some exhaustion, some shock.

***


(1986)

Oh, great Ocean
oh, great sea
run to the ocean
run to the sea

When he could sleep again, when his every waking image wasn’t punctured with the streetlight-intensity of shattering impacts, Oisín dreamed of the ocean. It was a great grey Ocean, bone-numbingly cold until it couldn’t be felt. He couldn’t see it very well, could only feel a warmth around him with the numbing gone, and the waves clawing at his legs, trying to push him under. Then he was pulled up to the shore by two skinny freckled hands. In the long hazy beach light he saw Ciarán’s face before him first, flickering away until there was nothing and as he coughed and sputtered he saw a different face he knew much better.

Dream-Oisín wrapped arms around his shivering body and looked over in the iridescent dream light at his sister who had pulled him from the waves. In sleep, this was not strange. She hadn’t aged past nineteen here, though she would be twenty-six. There was the little catch and tell of the sadness in her eyes that wouldn’t have been there had no time passed. He saw her noticing his confusion.

I’m sorry, ‘Sheen, she told him. He blinked; they weren’t old, they weren’t their own ages anymore. The beach turned around an invisible axis, the water slid forward in quiescent curls, and he was fourteen, much younger than when he’d left. She remembered him best like this. The older Oisín was painful too look at; he looked happy but also…searching. Too torn by the years.

“For what?” He coughed seawater thinly out of his mouth. This was a hell of a realistic dream. Of all things to seem real, almost drowning? Oisín pushed back his ragged punky bangs from his forehead. Yeah, that was why he wasn’t fourteen anymore. His hair had been a pain in the ass. When he finally got used to his fourteen-year-old body again, he noticed the raging sea had calmed and there was a quiet sheen over the reflections in the water and the cloudlessness of the sky. He felt like he’d fallen into a mirror, but for the gritty sand between his toes. It smelled like memory.

For not saying goodbye earlier, she continued. She wasn’t doing any of those usual Cath-things, not looking away from him or wearing her sideways smile or creating elaborate desperate plans for the future. She looked at him directly instead, her eyes muted with the haze on the water, her hands rubbing over now-scarless arms to ward off the chill. The straight answer shocked him and dream or not, he narrowed his eyes. This corresponded a little too well with reality.

But she didn’t seem quite real. She was so calm, for one. He’d never known his sister that calm except for when she’d been in the hospital, accepting she was going to die. And the scars were gone from her arms, even the small faint ones Seamus had cut on her face.

Seamus died, he wanted to tell her. But why would he tell that to a dream? Except…

Oisín felt suddenly like the world had knocked off its ordered axis, with her reply. And the implications that this, now, was goodbye.

If she wasn’t real, and if the dream wasn’t, only the quiet ocean witnessed the brief pathos on his face. The uncertainty. The quiet why did you have to leave he’d wondered about his mother, and then her. Oisín’s emotions manifesting themselves into himself of the past.

If she was, she felt real. Uncaring about the sand covering his wet clothes, he took a little step forward and half-expecting for her to vanish like air, hugged her hard. He could feel her grinning.

Go back to Ruth, Cath said, her voice vibrating lightly through him. It’s good you two found each other, ‘Sheen. I’m glad I got to see it.

“Cath,” Oisín said before he stepped back into the numbing waves, “there’s something I wanted to tell you. Seamus—“

I know he died. It’s alright. The air lightened with her words. He’s better now. I think…I think I forgive him. We'll see. For now, he's trying to find his way...There was indeed, at the far end of the beach, a tiny figure of a man in the distance, stumbling around lost.

“And—“ Oisín tried to say, trying to keep his head above the water.

I know. She smiled. I’m glad I saw him too. She meant Ciarán, he thought, and looked briefly lost. Tell Paul…no…he’ll know. And Ciarán will be fine.

There was a loud miaow that certainly did not come from wherever he was. Oisín woke up in a start, surprised to see his room—and Santa Barbara, not Dublin; he was 28, not 14—instead of the soft greyness at the end of the dream. He blinked, still getting his bearings, and felt something nudge insistently up against his hand. Wearily Oisín rolled over and saw that Buttons was glaring at him, demanding food.

“It’s out on the counter,” Oisín groaned. “It’s just not open,” he remembered. “Damn.” He swung out of bed, still feeling he wasn’t alone, not remembering, and woke up finally when he touched the cold metal of the can opener. He’d been sunk into impressions of recent events…the silent rush of air just after he’d knocked open the door to the church, too late to stop Phoenix from being shot…the movement of Isaac’s eyes as his body fell…the sky reflecting from the orb of Seamus’ eye. Ciarán sobbing, from under Phoenix’s body, the only clue he was there.

Oisín winced, yawned, and gave Buttons food, stroking her head absently though she looked at him out of the corner of her eye in reproof: don’t pet me while I’m eating, boyo.

“Alright,” he said, and padded back to his bedroom, blinking again when he felt the solid existence of another body beside his.

It had been only a day that Ruth had disappeared. In denial, though, he’d grown achingly used to being alone. Now he turned over, looked in surprise at her breath rising and falling. Her back was turned. The emotional ache of her weeklong absence, wondering if she was alive or dead, expanded within him and gripped his body. He stared sadly.

Ruth made a sleepy sound, woken by his return. Her hand tapped absently against the covers, leftover adrenaline dissipating. She turned over, eyes half-open, her hair sliding down her back when she turned, strands turning fire-sharp against the beginnings of sunlight. She woke up fully and saw him, his painful expression revealing him. Briefly a little hollow existed between their bodies before Oisín, everything rushing back in sudden impacts, wrapped his arms around her shoulders so tightly he thought they both might break. They’d both held themselves apart from each other last night, too shaken. He remembered he’d carried her home, after they both gave accounts of what had happened to the police. The presence of each other had been enough. But now he felt again.

She remembered standing so deadly still against the wall that Isaac shouldn’t have been able to keep her from moving. The perfect line of light down the barrel of the gun. The too-loud crack of Isaac’s head hitting the floor when he was shot. She’d bit her lip so hard it bled, remembering she had shot Isaac and he would kill her and there was no escape…

Ruth’s eyes gripped him just as hard, with just as much desperation as in his own. She grabbed him by the ears and they kissed so hard the bones of their faces hurt. Her bottom lip stung, not with death, but life. Then she buried her head against him, her hands around his shoulders, moving there so they wouldn’t continue their restless drumming. There was only the reassuring darkness and the feeling of him. In that reassurance, she spoke: “I thought I was going to die, ‘Sheen.”

His arms tightened.

“I almost wanted him…not to die. Until he tried to shoot Ciarán. I realized he wasn’t anyone I knew. He wasn’t who I’d ever loved.”

I love you, Ruth,” Oisín said fiercely, not letting go of her until long after dawn broke. His lips shivered against the side of her cheek, the bottoms of her wrists, the bruise on her stomach from the gun. At some point when they had paused in each other’s arms, Ruth whispered, still able to think, “Maybe that’s why we can’t have children. Something bad would have happened…he would have…”

Oisín stilled her mouth and repeated, “That doesn’t matter. You’re fine. You lived, Ciarán lived…” His breath quickened and they stopped speaking. The only thing Ruth could think, drowsy again afterwards, tracing lazy circles on Oisín’s back with the arm that didn’t still clutch around him tightly, was that she was glad she was back. There was a warm glint on the bedside table; she caught sight of the engagement ring on the edge, and blinked.

“’S strange,” Oisín agreed to her unspoken thought. She blinked again, pulling apart from their bonewrenching embrace and looking at him.

“What is?”

“We’re getting married after all this…”

“Oisín,” Ruth mused, “was it by any chance coincidence you thought that exactly when I did?”

He shook his head. “I think I’ve caught it. Your mindreading thing. But it won’t work on anyone else.”

Her mouth fell open, closed, a small smile beginning.

“I think I figured it out when we were both so freaked out last night…I’d seen a lot less than you did, Ruth, so it didn’t make sense that I’d be remembering what you remembered…and then there was that dream…” He sighed.

“What dream?”

An intense expression turned her way. Dawn over darkness, his eyes almost golden. “It was in the ocean…”

He explained, and finished, “You know, I was with Phoenix when Phoenix died…she was so different than when I’d seen her before. Familiar. I knew her, sort of.” His eyes widened then. “Oh god, if Bon had known…”

Laughter shook Ruth’s body suddenly. She had to hold onto Oisín to keep from falling off the bed, and when she could see straight and speak properly, told ‘Sheen “That explains…a lot.”

“What d’you mean? Was she being that weird when you knew her?”

Ruth rolled her eyes. “No. But there were some lyrics…” She shook her head. “That wasn’t it. Just…you know how Eve thought Bono was sleeping around with her?”

“He wasn’t, was he?” Oisín asked, slightly disturbed. That just…wasn’t right.

“No, but…” Her expression softened. “I should have known. It was so obvious.” The way Phoenix had insisted, as if with foresight, they play at the Blue Café that night when U2 arrived unexpectedly. The way every song they’d played was a warning, and still Phoenix hadn’t been able to keep away from him, longing not her own stopping her words. Keeping her from being able to tell him properly.

“Do we tell him?” Ruth asked a moment later, still thinking.

Oisín shook his head. “I think Ciarán was enough for him to handle. Speaking of which”—he swung his legs off the bed and stretched, searching around the floor for some clean clothes—“we should tell him.”

“Ciarán?” Ruth tilted her head. Oisín nodded, looking back at her with an inscrutable gaze. He’d seen what the boy was beginning to understand before the police arrived.

*

Angel
everything’s gonna be alright
angel
everything’s going to work out tonight
Love will make you blind, creep up from behind,
get you jumping out of your skin
Angel
oh, it’s sink or swim
Deep in the heart,
deep in the heart
of this place
Door is closed behind me now
Window is sealed to shut out the light
Green as the leaves and the cure of the nettle sting
You do your work, it will work out right

The scent of cedar,
I can still see her,
you can’t return to the place you’ve never left…

Angel
I want to be home tonight


In exhaustion, Bono sang under his breath until Ciarán fell asleep, on the drive back, the landscape passing in a blur of a gold-fire dream. Ali looked dead tired when they finally got back but happy to be in their house, not a hotel, with no-one missing or possibly dead. Ciarán muttered something sleepily but clung to Ali when she picked him up. A few more hours of exhaustion passed, Bono drifting between the two as if to make sure both were still alive. A few more hours passed.

Bono hadn’t been able to sleep all night. His eyelids were red and felt crackly from lack of sleep, but that didn’t matter. He kept feeling the weight of the pistol he’d wrenched aside from Isaac too late, as the man smirked, dying. As if Bono had been the one who shot Phoenix.

He’d had bullets shot over his and Ali’s head before. In El Salvador, Ciarán safely far behind. But that wasn’t the same. Phoenix’s death was strange. It left him empty-handed, dry-eyed, with a great wrenching pain at the center of his chest. Some of that was Ciarán being back and alright, finally.

It made little sense because he hadn’t known much about the woman, but his face had been slick with tears when he arrived too late. His first instinct had been to find Ciarán and get him away as quickly as possible, but the police had stopped him. So he had arrived after Oisín to see Phoenix’s head slumped lifelessly to the ground.

The odd expression in Oisín’s eyes…

And Bono should be relieved. That his son was safe. That most of who he knew and loved were safe. But he lay awake, staring up at the ceiling while the desert shivered outside. At last he went and found Edge, who was at the makeshift studio they’d all found and put together. The guitar whispered hauntingly and then screamed before Edge looked up.

“You can come in,” Edge said, “but don’t make too much noise, B.” He bent back down to scribble out some chord variances then saw his friend again clearly.

Bono looked like death itself warmed over. He hadn’t shaven in days, his clothes were a mess, and there was an odd stain on his shirt, that still smelled sharp and metallic. Worse were his pained, dazed eyes.

“Is Ciarán—“ Edge asked, his eyes direct and painfully sympathetic.

“No,” Bono said vehemently. “No, he’s alright,” he said more warmly, then blinked and looked around him, confused and weary. Edge recognized the pause in Bono’s eyes, the lapse before he noticed everything. Edge hadn’t experienced it himself, but—“You’re in shock,” he pointed out to the man.

Bono shook his head dazedly and sat on an unforgiving couch. The sky outside was blackish blue, the dawn still hidden.

Impact, his running footsteps, and Ciarán crying rushed through his thoughts, shuddered along his spine, not letting him forget.

And that strange ephemeral connection between him and Phoenix vanishing. Inexplicable. What the fuck was going on with his head…he shouldn’t be thinking of her at all. But her life had slipped right out of his hands, into some unreachable place.

“I think it’ll be a while before any of us are any semblance of ourselves again,” Bono said slowly to Edge. Edge nodded, and the two were silent for a while before the notes rippled out into the desert. Some clawing, some dark and unnamed, some strangely uplifting like the lightening sky. Bono pillowed his arms beneath his head and stared out into the great darkness. Ali found him there a few hours later, snoring softly, eyes closed tightly. She and Edge brought him back to the house, the man not once stirring from his deep sleep. Yawning, Edge looked at Ciarán briefly, feeling the faint guilt that he hadn’t been there to help Bon out grow a little tighter and then release itself. Ali wrapped her arms around the boy and settled back into sleep, and Edge left, returning to the studio.

There was some great energy stirring in the music coming to him. But it was unanchored, wildly emotional, spinning into no meaning, with no words. He needed Bono to come back from whatever was haunting him.

Or perhaps, Edge thought, pausing, that was the source of it. Perhaps it all needed to be set to music. Set loose and released. Music could heal better than time.

He yawned again, jaw popping, and settled onto the couch, thinking hazily before he fell into sleep that this album felt different. There was a whole fearsome world behind it, waiting to be born into existence, remembered, forgotten, seen in a new light.
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Old 05-18-2011, 11:16 AM   #2
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Oops. Got some timing wrong. Ruth was gone for a day or two only.
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Old 05-19-2011, 06:32 PM   #3
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That was achingly sad... but I liked it a lot. In a bittersweet way.
Quote:
Oh, great Ocean
oh, great sea
run to the ocean
run to the sea
The ocean always means the end. I just love those lines from OTH... so much, and I appreciated the input of them... I like your thought- of death/heaven being with a large gray ocean- the scene was very vivid.
Yep, Edge IS working on music.
Quote:
Music could heal better than time
I wouldn't know but that's undoubtedly true
Man, what a good album it ended up being! And yeah... everyone's really crazy now... the experience must have been just so alien.
(I misjudge time too, especially when I'm going on tour dates. I did kinda go "Uh..." when I read that part about Oisin missing Ruth, though... now I see!)
I think that's all I have to say...
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Old 05-19-2011, 07:32 PM   #4
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Thanks :/ I thought it was kind of a filler chapter, but I felt like explaining a little of what Oisín was going through and how everyone was reacting to so many deaths at once/Ciarán being back, since either you or Grace was wondering. The next chapter may or may not have actual stuff happening...there'll be more music making and more reactions...I have to recharge myself before writing, though. Been working on too many other stories.

As for ocean-heaven, it makes sense as a loose interpretation; 1. Cath might just really like the ocean and maybe she can shape the sort of 'landscape' she's in, so to speak, 2. It's kind of a happy-sad place. Ocean, that is. You can stay above or you can go under, it can sting or pound or make too much noise, or it can be peaceful...I liked making a sort of ambiguous place.
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1986, ali, bono, edge, joshua tree era, out of control

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