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Old 07-11-2011, 07:27 PM   #1
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Out Of Control—Epilogue

That's all, folks.

The other chapter felt like an ending, but we needed a live performance. This feels very full-circle to me.

***


EPILOGUE

December 19, 1987



“Alright, ‘Sheen, you’re sure you’ll be fine with both of them at once?” Ruth looked over at him doubtfully. Oisín looked tired, his face worn, his eyes almost slits about to close. A dazed, happy sort of exhaustion, but exhaustion nonetheless.

Ali looked doubtful too. She’d only dealt with Ciarán before, and not until he was four. She felt a warm sharp fondness, remembering when Ciarán had been a baby. So much smaller, with so much less hair, and he’d been quiet too, mostly, looking up at her and Paul and Edge with grasping lips and great blue eyes. She missed that. Those whole four years none of them had known him.

Oisín had taken care of him, all on his own. Of course he’d be—

“I’ll be fine,” Oisín answered Ruth, echoing Ali’s thought. He leaned in to kiss her on the cheek, then sat down on the hotel couch, yawning. 10-month-old Aidan frowned at Ruth, a very stubborn Cath-like frown. Just like the one Ciarán had at the moment. The nine year old took the idea of staying behind from the concert as some form of punishment. Outwardly, at least. Inwardly, he was glad to be spending more time with Oisín, who he missed, though he wouldn’t admit it. And he was scared the baby might spit up on him or something.

“Thank you so much for this,” Ali told Oisín. “He’s got way too much energy to be kept backstage.” And it’s not the same as spending time with Bono, but I can see him from the audience, this way, she thought wistfully. She hadn’t been in the audience for a while. This would be a surprise at least, because the band had no idea that Ali, and Ruth and Oisín, had flown over to Arizona to see them tonight.

Ruth gave Ali a look. They both knew Ciarán had been acting up at school, getting into fights, and it probably would not be an easy time Oisín would be having tonight, looking after him.

Ruth looked at Aidan for a moment, torn, then gave a sideways sort of smile, almost wishing she wasn’t leaving for just a few hours. There was an ache, an almost physical sensation of something being torn away, sensitive flesh just below the heart, at the idea of being gone. She looked up, at Oisín, and he echoed a small smile back.

“’Sheen, if she starts fussing, play her some music. It seems to help. And don’t fall asleep.”

“I’m not!” he said, widening his eyes. She shook her head, grinning, and let Ali propel her out the door, down the stairs and out the hotel. “We need to get going! What if we’re late and have to stand outside…”

“Nah, we won’t be,” Ruth answered. “We’ve got seats, remember?”

Ali snickered as she opened the car door. “I’m going to enjoy this. I wonder how long it will take them to find out?”

“When the music stops, we’ll know,” Ruth said. “Have to make sure Bon doesn’t drag you backstage."

"Ha! No need for that. I am married to him, you know."

Ruth snickered back. “I’m glad ‘Sheen isn’t in a band.”

“But you were, weren’t you?” Ali asked, looking over at Ruth briefly instead of at the traffic lights, which switched to green.

“Eyes on the road, you!” Ruth said, eyes wide. “Yeah, I was,” she answered after a moment. “Phoenix’s band.”

“Do you think you might go back?”

What?” Ruth looked at her like she was crazy. Perhaps Ali couldn’t see the similar exhaustion that had settled into Ruth’s bones, or the way her focus seemed to be always centered homewards. The past year or so had made her a different being. It felt like she had donned a series of second skins. Marriage, giving birth, real life. Her mind added the bright nameless counterparts: the sense that she and Oisín had grown into something neither one nor the other person; the sort of calm little Aidan’s existence had given her in between the chaos; the amazing impossibility that Aidan did exist…

There was the lingering twinge of memory, though. The Ruth underneath the new Ruth. The memory was elusive, only staying for a short while, something faint on the wind. Making her happy that she didn’t wake up to see Isaac’s face. Giving her a faint yearning for things that were gone.

“Ali, I can’t just go back to my old band with a 1-year-old in tow…it would be impossible. Anyhow, Phoenix is dead. There’s no-one who can sing.”

“You could sing,” Ali pointed out. “And I didn’t mean now. I meant…sometime.”

“I did ask myself the same question,” Ruth said, the traffic lights blurring and swirling before and behind the car as she remembered. “A little before Aidan was born, you know, when everyone was still picking up the pieces of what had happened. Practicality won out. Couldn’t fit behind the drumkit at that point.” She gave a short sad laugh. “I haven’t seen Mark for a year. Phoenix’s boyfriend. I think maybe we’re just all letting go.”

Life had turned on. It seemed in a way like it had forgotten them. “I think I am too. I’ve been trying to forget.”

Ali raised her eyebrows, not looking away from the road this time. They had reached the stadium and navigating was rather tricky. “That doesn’t work, you know,” she said. “Take a look at Bon. He’s alright, he seems fine. If asked, he’ll say he is. Anything bad that happened is some dream that never occurred. But if you look at him while he’s making the music, it’s a different story. Sometimes he seems like a different person, when he sings. I wonder if he’s the one who stayed with me, or if he’s living some other life that never happened.”

Ruth frowned, concerned, looking over at her. “Is something going on with you and him?”

“No, it’s just how he is.” Ali sighed, then pressed her lips together as she swerved to avoid another car trying to get the same parking spot. “He knows, though. I accept it.” She sighed again. “I’m just glad it’s all over. No-one dying anymore, or at least, no-one close. No trips to South America. No bullets over our heads. No more lying awake thinking of all those children, who we can’t do anything about. I think he’s getting to be himself again. A restless self but himself. He seems a lot more centered than he did nine years ago, or even last year.

There we go,” Ali exclaimed, stopping the car. “Parking spot, check. Ruth, ready to see the biggest band in the world?” She laughed slightly.

Ruth nodded, though, seriously. “It’s about time.”

It was dark in the stadium. Dark, huge, and crowded. She had a tight grip on Ali’s elbow, and in response to the quizzical glance, said she did not want to get lost. Once they reached their seats, Ruth looked back and saw them, a sea of faces stretching onwards n the shadows, all looking up at the stage in anticipation. It wasn’t the people she saw, though, that she noticed. She already had a strange feeling, that she had become elastic. She was stretching like a soap bubble, expanding into something very non-Ruth, not sure what that something was. Ali laughed, looking up at the stage and tipping her cowboy hat over her eyes.

“There’s Larry,” she said to Ruth, pointing out a shadowy figure behind the drumkit. Ruth felt grounded again suddenly. The itch to feel the drumsticks in her fingers, the remembered sound as her heart beat fast and she looked up at his face, hardly concentrating on what her hands were doing; they were flying, they weren’t hers, and he was smiling, back nine years ago in her cramped bathroom…She shook her head. That was the past. This Ruth was different, the difference pulling through her and grabbing her just behind her navel, centering her.

“They’ll probably recognize you from that hat alone,” Ruth said to Ali, arching an eyebrow and biting her lip to keep from laughing. She hadn’t realized before, but Ali with that hat and those leather pants looked like a strange combination of Bono and Edge. Ruth blinked and then bit her lip again, her face growing red with the effort seriously not to laugh.

“What?”

She shook her head. “You look like you raided the lead singer’s wardrobe,” Ruth replied when she could keep her face straight.

“He looks like he raided mine,” Ali said wryly. “This hat’s definitely Edge’s, though. Bono snatched it from him while he was sleeping.”

“That’s terrible!” Ruth giggled.

“Yeah, well, Edge had a getback plan. He waited until Bon crashed in the studio cause he was too tired to walk the mile or so back to the house, then got some warm water and—“

Ali stopped talking, and turned Ruth around so she looked up to the stage, not the audience. A red glow lit the stage from the screen behind. The crowd had hushed, and the effect seemed to put an increase in volume on the internal Ruth: her heart raced, drumlike, and her feet were glued to the floor. A beautiful sound washed the stadium and held them all in thrall. Something beginning, coming closer, like a sunrise with the sun a screen bathing them all in warm light. She fell totally still, could almost anticipate when Larry hit the drums. Slowly, the beat just beginning, but then like a great hand something tugged at Ruth again and falling out of the sky, no, from Edge’s guitar as more shadowy forms appeared onstage, came a liquid string of notes increasing, increasing, increasing to the sound of her heartbeat and then racing beyond.

If she closed her eyes, she was back in the desert, looking at the sunset as they all walked to the studio. Drumming fast to this song just being born. But it was complete now, it had transformed into its own being. She felt a warmth behind her eyes and opened them again, but she’d ceased to be Ruth. The light flashed white exultantly, showing the four individuals to the world. She caught sight of Ali, who looked up at her husband entranced, face shining. But Ruth was expanding. Something about the guitar, so elated, made her awash in the sea of other people, not ending where they began, but beginning…

Bono’s eyes shone back as the music flooded and pulsed through the stadium like a heartbeat, like the ocean. Ruth felt something indescribable. Not from looking at any of them, though she looked at Larry, at his brief grin before he grimaced with the effort of the strength with which he hit the drums. And at Edge, whose eyes closed briefly before he looked astonished at the crowd, excited. And Adam, who looked first in their direction somehow, something longing in his expression as he looked next to her.

The music was a place…

The man at the front of the stage, the lights hitting him brilliantly, his face reflecting awe, sang.

I want to run,
I want to hide,
I want to tear down the walls
that hold me inside.
I want to reach out
and touch the flame,
where the streets have no name…

oh…


The music was a place where she resided briefly. It had gripped her wholeheartedly and accepted her oddnesses and thrown her back to the year before. It was its own landscape…

I want to feel
sunlight on my face
I see the dust cloud disappear
without a trace
I want to take shelter
from the poison rain, yeah
where the streets have no name

o-oh…

Where the streets have no name,
where the streets have no name…
they’re still building then burning down love
Burning down love
And when I go there…


Edge’s voice rose above his, and Bono’s eyes turned poignant, wistful, though Ruth did not see; her eyes were closed again. She remembered drumming to this song…she felt as if she were now, even though she wasn’t…

I go there with you…
It’s all I can do


For the next verse, she was lost. She didn’t hear the words, but she did come back to herself, and looked at Ali, who was now standing bolt upright from her seat, hat pushed back, her eyes locked with Bono’s. He did see her, and he gave a wink before finishing,

Oh, my darling
I want to go there with you
.”

“So much for not being seen,” Ruth said to Ali, coming back down to earth, head still reeling somewhat.

“Ah, I knew he would eventually,” Ali replied, amused. “It was only a matter of time. I swear, that man knows me so well it ruins my fun.” She made a face.

Ruth didn’t hear; she tilted her head, seeing Larry sitting at the drumkit, looking her way. He nodded and gave a small smile. Hmm. Well, what Oisín didn’t know wouldn’t kill him. She bit her lip.

She was not so lucky for that to be unnoticed. Ali raised her eyebrows, nudging Ruth in the side and giving a faint cough. “How long has that been going on?”

“What?” Ruth smiled. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Alright, well,” she sighed, “it’s a long story. And really nothing. Nine years ago I was with the worst man in the world, and Larry was the opposite. I couldn’t help it. He belongs with Eve, though.” She smiled again, looking to the right. She thought she’d seen…there. Eve waved.

Ali opened her mouth but Ruth shook her head; Edge had started another song. This one was familiar; she must have heard it before now…maybe Phoenix had had the record. Ali, beside her, felt keenly the effect the song had; it wasn’t hers, it wasn’t him now, it was Paul Hewson with his onstage self pulled like a mask over his eyes, singing powerfully, “I will follow,” feeling the echoes of another time.

Ruth didn’t remember the other songs so vividly afterwards. They swept in and out like suns, lingering briefly on her consciousness, sometimes digging deeply. She frowned, though, when she heard through the by-now-electric atmosphere the brooding chords of Adam’s bass guitar rippling through the air. She hadn’t heard the song before, but something about its darkness she knew instinctively. The stage was almost completely dark, only a light or two illuminating. Bono’s face reflected the lyrics: he looked in pain. Another song that spoke of the past, but this one was more recent.

Adam stood, looking out beyond them, his face clouded, the notes he played almost crying, sobbing softly, marching, thinking, echoing, echoing.

And yes, Ruth knew these words coming from a tortured face before them:

You know he got the cure
You know he went astray…


Her heart clenched like a fist. She’d known the man who went astray all to well. Bono had known him only in violence, now visited on his face as he continued,

He used to stay awake
To drive the dreams he had away


Ruth started. Those lyrics she had not written. Those were about himself. He looked at Ali as he sang them. Her eyes were painfully bright.

He wanted to believe
In the hands of love…


Then the guitar sped up again, but this time with such a painful frantic feeling that Ruth’s fists balled and she breathed even faster. She could feel, everything, again like it happened and she was running…fast down the sidewalk but not fast enough…

His voice next, practically shouting, almost howling, brought her back. She wasn’t running; she stood here riveted. Watching his mouth sing her words.

His head it felt heavy
As he cut across the land
A dog started crying
Like a broken hearted man
At the howling wing
At the howling wind

He went deeper into black
Deeper into white
Could see the stars shining
Like nails in the night
He felt the healing
Healing, healing
Healing hands of love
Like the stars shiny shiny
From above

Hand in the pocket
Finger on the steel
The pistol weighed heavy
His heart he could feel
Was beating, beating
Beating, beating oh my love
Oh my love, oh my love
Oh my love

Oh my love—!


The drums crashed down, the guitar raced faster than she thought possible, Adam looked pained, the tension eased, caught in Bono’s face.

So the hands that build…” She remembered thinking, only a year before,
Can also pull down…
Even the hands of love…
Even the hands of love—!


The drums crashed again and the energy was slowly expelled and Bono looked relieved, though the tortured look hadn’t entirely left his face. Ruth unsqueezed her hands and found she was crying. When Ali looked over at her she shook her head in response.

It was too real…and…all the bad was…gone.

Gone, with the next song.

Ruth hadn’t really known up until then that it was possible to both live and die and be someone else and everyone and yourself, to know the words and to be taught the words, to feel and love and hate the song, to have the music be a language. She had performed music but she hadn’t felt it. She had distanced herself by not singing whatever the words she wrote were; she’d let Phoenix pass over and absorb the pain of them. But Bono had mirrored them. At the end of the 20-song set, Ruth was crying again, finally wiped the tears away, and then felt a total peace, seeing the band in front of her, knowing they were all so much happier, so much less troubled than they had been when she last saw them.

I will sing,” Bono sang, as Larry’s drums rang out, “sing a new song…

Her heart in her mouth, she felt the strange elusive energy of the night beginning to leave, to travel forwards and upwards, to the men standing there together and alone. She saw them one by one go backstage, and a glimpse of Eve finding Larry and pulling her into her arms. Ali had left her seat, and Ruth made to follow. The crowd were still standing shellshocked on their feet, very few sitting, so she could pass through without problem. She found Ali close to the exit, embracing a very sweaty, very exhausted-looking man. Both disappeared beneath the shadow of her hat a moment as he kissed her hard, then Ruth, about to object, saw it was Bono, his eyes shining.

Ruth sighed, feeling suddenly as exhausted as the singer looked. She had to get back home, make sure Ciarán didn’t wreck anything, probably carry Oisín into bed, and get some food into Aidan…She looked up, Bono smiled at her.

“Thanks for the song,” he said seriously.

“Thanks for singing it,” she replied, heat behind her eyes. She still felt a little shaky.

When they got back, Oisín was asleep on the couch, looking dead tired. Ruth looked around worried for Aidan, then saw Ciarán had her and was humming something old, it sounded like a Beatles song. He looked up when his mother and Ruth came in, handed Aidan to Ruth and looked at them both a moment, with a reflective little frown, then looked over at Ali and without explanation hugged her. Ruth was left alone, Aidan asleep herself, Oisín’s snoring echoing through the room, the lights outside the window winking and shifting into a benevolent sort of promise.

She remembered looking out another window, in another city, feeling like her life was just ending. How things had changed. Ruth shifted Aidan so that her head rested on her shoulder, leaving her arm free, and picked up the phone, dialing the number she knew well, though only Mark lived there now. Maybe in a couple of months, maybe in a year, she'd pick up from where things had left off. So many songs were still unsung. So many stories yet to tell.


***

Here's Exit:

And Where The Streets Have No Name (1 day later than this chapter, but the same place):
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Old 07-12-2011, 08:11 AM   #2
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Odd. It feels like your main characters have shifted from Bono to Ruth. Nice neat ending.

You and Blue make me feel like a slacker. I have been only able to write on the train. I need to organize my thoughts. I know I have the next chapter ready to go soon. It's just finding time to reread and make some adjustments.

So, what's next?
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Old 07-12-2011, 08:17 AM   #3
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Yeah, well, Edge had a getback plan. He waited until Bon crashed in the studio cause he was too tired to walk the mile or so back to the house, then got some warm water and—“
Hahaha... I also love the idea of Bono stealing Edge's hat.

The rest was... beautiful. That kind of packed a punch. I didn't know I was so emotionally invested in these characters until it ended... and now I can say you are really, really good at ending on the right note.

Wow... Exit... I love the Gloria snippet at the end. Works so well.
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Old 07-12-2011, 12:19 PM   #4
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Oops. I noticed my main character shifting it keeps happening! It went something like Bono, Larry, Eve, Ruth and Cath briefly, Isaac, Bono, Seamus, Ciarán, Ruth again...

Grace, I have no idea how I've found the time to write...I should be packing for college! I think I'm going to take a break from U2 fanfic for a while, as I have a post-apocalytic story I need to finish. Not as much fun, but I really need to get off the fanfiction track just for a little while...it's been, what, 2 years since I've written anything original :/

Plus, I have the evil terrible idea that I'd start to go into the 90s, and I am very unprepared for my 90s-writing. I know next to nothing about U2 in the 90s. And my plot would be...what? I don't know.

Blue, aww. Thanks XD I'm glad you thought the ending worked. I thought it was kind of an unnecessary addition :/ except for the fact that Exit needed to happen live!
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Old 07-12-2011, 12:29 PM   #5
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I liked the main character shifting. You covered everyone's POVs at least!
Heeeey, post-apocalyptic stories are cool... :P
Ooh. 90's. That'd be insane.
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Old 07-12-2011, 12:34 PM   #6
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I was so disillusioned with everyone after it though :/ None of them really needed an entire storyful of POV because I couldn't stand any of them that long.

Yeah...but hard to write! Especially since mine is so non-factual it's basically fantasy instead of scifi. And I can't get myself to make my chapters more than 3 pages long, fffff.

We'd all be having one big insane 90s writing party (except I wouldn't know what I was doing) I'd have to find a VHS player for my Achtung Baby and ZooTV VHS's...at the very least. I'd need to do a bunch of reading too, and it'd be really hard to try and get into Bono's head right around the 90s, because to me he seems more distant then. All those personas, all that shiny stuff onstage to attract attention away sort of...
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Old 07-12-2011, 12:44 PM   #7
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And probably read *da dun* U2 At The End of the World. I just read it, loved it. Oh, and get to know Zooropa well! But Pop... well, if someone can help me understand Pop that'd be great
You're right in thinking that Bono was more distant back then... he seems that way to me too, I think I understand JT Bono a lot better than Zoo Bono (ironic, isn't it?. I don't get Pop Bono at all. :P
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Old 07-12-2011, 12:54 PM   #8
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And probably read *da dun* U2 At The End of the World. I just read it, loved it. Oh, and get to know Zooropa well! But Pop... well, if someone can help me understand Pop that'd be great
You're right in thinking that Bono was more distant back then... he seems that way to me too, I think I understand JT Bono a lot better than Zoo Bono (ironic, isn't it?. I don't get Pop Bono at all. :P
You leave Pop Bono to me.
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Old 07-12-2011, 01:13 PM   #9
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You're right in thinking that Bono was more distant back then... he seems that way to me too, I think I understand JT Bono a lot better than Zoo Bono (ironic, isn't it?. I don't get Pop Bono at all. :P
It is SO. FRUSTRATING D: It means I can't just figure out what's going on in his head from music videos or watching performances on youtube or anything, plus the lyrics are a hell of a lot weirder in the 90s. That makes my life so much harder. I mean, there was very much the heart-on-the-sleeve approach going on with U2 in the 80s, much as Bono might've tried to deny it...so much emotion and song explanation it was almost overwhelming. I had to do barely any real research at all though I did anyway...

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You leave Pop Bono to me.
May have to :/ He is one confusing bugger.
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1987, adam, ali, arizona, bono, edge, ending, exit, joshua tree tour, larry, out of control, rattle & hum, streets, sun devil stadium

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