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Old 12-30-2011, 10:53 PM   #1
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Seconds - Chapter 4

Title: Seconds
Authors: GraceRyan & wo_speaking
Rating: PG13 (there is a wee slur in this chapter - apologies but unfortunately it would have been thrown around at the time)
Disclaimer: This didn't actually happen. U2 was not born until the 1960s.


-----------------------

David leaned in to Lyneth and took a deep breath, the soft floral notes of her perfume tickling his nose.

“Where in Wales are ya from then?“ he mumbled drunkenly into her ear, hoping she could hear him over the din of the pub. He could feel himself starting to topple over a bit and had to brace his arm on the table to keep himself from falling into her.

Not that he would mind, but she most certainly would.

"Swansea," she answered, tilting her head to whisper back. "And you?"

He smiled up at her crookedly, before noticing his arm was touching hers. He nearly lost his balance trying to move it away, but decided to leave it there instead.

"Llanelli. Sort of. Me mam and da are anyway, but Barking is where I'm from. But then I lived in Ireland. So I'm Welsh but from Malahide but also Barking and... oh, never mind. But I am Welsh too... so... Cymru Am Byth and all that..."

"Oh, a man of the world, David," she gave a soft laugh. "How did you end up back here then, did you get called up?"

"Aye, I was going to be a doctor and I was finally set for Trinity College last autumn but I... I should have went when I could have but I waited. And I'd still be in Dublin studying if I'd only just went after Mount Temple. But now I'm here and I... I don't want to be an army medic and it's all my fault..."

Lyneth regarded him gently. His eyes looked empty as he rambled on.

David grew quiet and looked down at his glass. It was empty, but it didn't stop him from trying to swig the last few drops left in the bottom of it. He tipped his head so far back that he nearly toppled over in his chair.

"Easy there, Dave," Larry eyed him carefully.

"I need another drink..."

Lyneth wanted to suggest that maybe that should be his last one, but he was away from the table before she could open her mouth to stop him.

It was so hot in the pub, David wondered how anyone else could stand it. He loosened his tie, dying to shed his jumper and wishing he could leave the barracks just once wearing civilian clothes. His army-issued shoes always needed to be shined, trousers pressed in a perfect crease and necktie tied in a pristine Windsor knot.

He tried to banish the thought by smiling inwardly as he recalled the smell of Lyneth's perfume. That beautiful scent took his mind away from worrying about how to apply tourniquets or the proper dose of Sulfanilamide to treat open wounds. He managed to make his way to the bar, his ears ringing with the sound of soldiers shouting and singing along with Ava - various accents and dialects confusing his thoughts in his intoxicated state.

"Another..." David demanded, sliding a sixpence across the wooden bar.

"Are ya sure ya need one there, laddo?" the barkeep laughed, watching as David swayed to and fro. "Doesn't look to me like he can hold his drink, does it lads?" he motioned to the two Brits who had been holding up the bar since Ava took the stage.

"Oh, come on there, Tommy, look at the kid - he looks like he could use another, don't you figure?"

David looked at the British officer, who jeered at him as he persuaded the barkeep to pour him another round.

"All right laddo, but don't you be gettin' up to any punchups tonight..." he warned as he uncorked the bottle of Tullamore Dew that David had nearly finished on his own.

"Thatta boy - I've never seen a mick that can't hold his drink..." the Englishman said, pushing on David's shoulder with his pint glass.

"I'm not a mick - but there's nothin' wrong with bein' a... nah, forget it," David mumbled, snatching his glass from the bar and stealing away.

He wasn't interested in sparring with them. Granted they'd like him a bit more if they knew he wasn't Irish, but if they found out he was of Welsh descent - they'd surely give him a tough time. Adam was an exception to the rule, but most of the Brits who they met in the pubs looked at an Irishman, Welshman or Scotsman as a second class citizen - even in a time of war when they should be fighting for the same thing.

David snatched his drink from the bar and walked over to the window of the pub. He leaned up against it, his cheek against the cool of the glass as he watched other couples pair off and disappear into the night.

* * * * *

Ava watched Paul leaning into Lyneth in an attempt to engage her in conversation. She seemed happy enough to talk to David - the not so quiet one as it turned out. Larry didn't pay any mind to the table as his eyes remained fixed on the stage. Ava flicked her gaze from one brother to the other. They couldn't look more different if they were strangers. Larry had an angelic quality about him with his stone face and porcelain skin. High cheek bones led to large silvery eyes. Even his build was more compact just like his demeanor - in control and still. Meanwhile, Paul was a mess of man. While Larry was pretty, Paul was handsome. He had a wicked smile that illuminated his entire face. Behind his sky blue eyes - nothing but mischief. Larry was contained and Paul was exploding with life. His eyes darted around the room as if worried they'd miss something. Yet when they finally settled on Ava, they stared intently. He rubbed his strong chin absentmindedly as if plotting in his head. Yes, Paul was leaving quite the impression.

After Ava's second set, she did her duty and made a quick round to the tables.

"Is yer friend going to join us again?" Paul interrupted.

He really couldn't make up his mind could he? Lyneth thought.

"Yes. She always thanks the soldiers for coming and for their service in the war," she turned away again.

Larry nodded. "That's very sound."

Finally, Ava made her way back to the table with a full glass of scotch in her hand. This time, Larry was the first to offer a chair.

“Thank you, Larry....or is it Lawrence?” she asked.

His cheeks warmed. “Larry is just fine.”

Out of the corner of her eye she saw Paul fidgeting - ready to break out of his skin. He glanced from Lyneth back to Ava.

“So, Paul,” she turned towards him. “What is it you do for us?”

He slid his chair closer to her while Lyneth sighed in relief. The transfer of interest was complete. She winked at Ava knowing the sacrifice she was making. Paul was a handful, but Ava always had an easier time dealing with his kind.

“I’m a gunner on a plane, you know, the one that was hit today,” his body leaned forward.

“You poor thing. You see to be okay though. Thankfully you came away unscathed,” she smiled sweetly.

“Aye, it is good, or I would have never met you. Now that would be tragic,” he said.

“Indeed that would be,” she took one of his hands between her tiny hands. “So, this is the hand of a gunner. So rough and strong.”

For the first time since Paul uttered his very first word some 23 years ago, his mouth hung open and nothing came out.

Larry was duly impressed. “Ava, I think you can do magic. You made Paul’s voice disappear.”

Paul cleared his throat. “All the better to protect you, my dear.”

Ava lowered her eyes to gaze into his. “Then I’ll sleep well tonight knowing you’re out there watching over me.”

His voice dropped. “I’m happy to serve you Ava.”

With a wicked smile, she cocked an eyebrow. “I’m sure you are.” With a final caress, she let go of his hand.

Suddenly, the pub was stuffy as Paul loosened his tie and rolled up his shirtsleeves. The back of his neck was damp as he rubbed it - he’d never had a woman talk to him like that. Maybe he’d never talked with a woman before - just girls who tittered at his advances. Not Ava, she gave as good as she got. He’d never felt so hungry to kiss a girl before. Jaysus, those lips, he thought.

“Larry, what do you do?” Ava’s gaze switched to him.

“I fix the planes and cars and such,” Larry knew it wasn’t as glamorous as being a pilot or gunner. “I was a mechanic back home.”

“Dublin, right?” she asked. “I’d love to see Ireland.”

“I’d love to show you my home,” Paul breathed in her ear.

“Oh I knew you’d offer your services,” she cooed. “I’d like to see Larry’s Dublin too. I have a feeling it’d be different.”

Paul rested his arm behind Ava. “True, but I bet mine would be more exciting.”

Lyneth watched Ava with amazement. In the last few months, she watched and learned from Ava. Not only was she a great singer, she was an even better flirt. Larry and Paul jockeyed for her attention; and Ava managed to make them feel equally special. Yet, there was something a bit more between her and Paul. There was a spark in her eyes when she looked at the dark haired mop top with an equally killer grin. This one could be trouble.

She looked around the pub; the crowd was starting to thin a little. Where was David? she wondered. At least twenty minutes had passed since he left the table. She knew she should have tried harder to stop him from getting another drink, but who was she to meddle? She couldn’t imagine what it was like to know the horrors of this war first hand - she’d let David have his fun tonight as some of these boys just never knew how long they had left.

* * * * *

“So many stars....”

David braced himself against the wall of the pub, his ears ringing and his palms flat against the brick. He’d taken off that damn jumper and left his coat somewhere but it was no matter - his belly was still warm enough with alcohol to keep him comfortable.

“David... David........”

He heard a woman’s voice in his ear. He was just having a bit of fun...a bit of fun... That’s all...don’t make me go... just a bit of fun...and a bit of a drink... Please don’t make me go back...

“David, look at me - you need to get yourself home...”

“But I.. No. No I don’t...”

Lyneth tilted his chin up gently to make him look at her.

“David, you’ve had too much to drink, dear. I want you to be all right tomorrow. Where’s your jumper and your coat gone?”

“I dunno... It’s too hot in there. But I want to hear the singer. I want to hear her because I like singing. I like music... Don’t make me go - I don’t want to goooo....”

“She’s finished for the night - the pub will be shut soon. We need to get you back to the base, your friends will be here soon to take you.”

“But I want to hear her sing again. She's verry good and I know music because I play piano, okay maybe notsomuch right now, but I used to play a lot. Me mam taught me to play, she's better than me, but I'm pretty good...”

Lyneth couldn’t help but smile at him. He was a sweet drunk, but the kind that someone would take advantage of if he was left alone too long. She wanted to make sure he got home safely, the poor lad.

She reached forward and brushed his bangs from his golden-green eyes, looking into them for the first time. Two Lyneths stood before him, studying him carefully. He looked back at them, bleary-eyed, a silly grin across his lips.

“Do you think you can stand up on your own?”

“Sure...sure I can,” he said defiantly, letting out a hiccup.

She held her arms cautiously on either side of him as he pushed himself off the wall toward her, stumbling forward a step.

“Be careful, I don’t want you to fall and...”

“I’m good I’m good...”

“David, you don’t know what you’re saying. You don’t even know where you are...”

“...but I’m not...I’m okay, I’m okay though... I’m okay nurse...”

There were three Lyneths now. Which one should I kiss? he wondered. The one on the right had such soft lips... The one in the middle was prettier but the one on the left...

God, he wanted to kiss them all...

He reached out toward her and promptly lost his balance, his head knocking against the wall as he slid down it, giggling as he went.

“Oh dear,” Lyneth sighed, kneeling next to him and reaching out to brush his hair away from his forehead, inspecting where he’d hit his head. He had a bit of a scrape but it wasn’t bleeding, thank goodness. She loosened his tie and wrapped her shawl around his shoulders.

“Lyneth?” he whispered, looking up at her with a lopsided grin.

“Yes, David?”

“You are so pretty...”

“Oh, stop,” she laughed softly. “You must have really given yourself a good knock.”

He touched his forehead. "Ow."

"I’m going to go get your friends and find your coat and jumper," Lyneth promised him. She was gone before he could protest.

He leaned back against the wall, smiling to himself. He knew he should have kissed the one on the right. Perhaps tomorrow...

* * * * *

“There it is,” Lyneth said, spying David’s coat and jumper on the barstool nearest the door, retrieving it and pushing her way through the sea of men at the bar. Ava was done for the night and there was a mad rush to get that last drink.She found them still at the table, Paul's arm draped on the back of Ava's chair as she held court. Larry also leaned in close to hear her; this was a typical Friday night for Ava. Lyneth reached the table but only Ava acknowledged her.

"Where were you?" Ava asked.

"I went to find David. You should really come check on him," Lyneth said. "He's in fairly rough shape."

Paul didn't take his eyes off Ava. "He just needs some air. He'll be fine. We'll collect him on our way out."

Lyneth opened her mouth to protest. Larry stood. "Rough shape, eh? I'll see what he's about." He shot a glare back at Paul. "Don't you worry yer little head, Paulie."

Ava scrambled to her feet to join Larry and Lyneth. "Bit too much to drink?"

"I thought I was keeping a better eye on him," Larry said.

Paul rolled his eyes and joined them. Thanks Dave, he grumbled inwardly.

"It's nice of you to help your friend." Ava looked up at Larry.

He blushed. Paul had stolen her attention for most of the night. He was used his brother easily making off with any pretty girl. Larry, despite his looks, never had much of a chance. For the most part, he didn't care. The girls here were nothing special. Ava had been the first to resonate with him, and Paul was getting nowhere fast. It was brilliant, for once. Over his shoulder he saw Paul's scowl and grinned to himself.

It was a sad sight indeed as he pushed outside. A ways from the door sat David on the ground with his head leaning against the building, a woman’s pink shawl around his shoulders. His mouth hung open and a loud snore escaped. A small group of men had encircled him with giggles and titters.

“Oi, clear out,” Larry growled as his chest puffed up. The men murmured as they dispersed. Poor David’s reputation had taken a turn for the worse.

"Oh dear," Paul said. The situation was graver than he thought.

Larry crouched closer. "Do you know how long he's been out?"

Lyneth shook her head, handing him David’s jumper. "He was awake, sort of, when I left."

Larry looked to Paul. "How are we gettin' home?"

Paul scratched his head. "Carrying?"

Larry hoisted David to lean him against the White Hart, his eyes opening slowly. Squinting, he looked for Lyneth but could barely see past Larry.

He gave Larry a goofy smile. "Hey Lar." The rest was incomprehensible.

Ava looked over toward the soldiers smoking in the patio outside. "Excuse me gentlemen, did any of you drive here tonight from Uxbridge?"

One stepped forward, "I did, Miss. Need a ride back?"

"I do, but not for me. Can you give my friends here a lift? This one is under the weather, and I would so appreciate it if you could," Ava batted her long lashes at the young officer.

"Certainly, ma'am," he blushed as he went to the other side to help Larry.

"You're good," Paul breathed in her ear.

"Damn straight. Let that be a lesson for you," she grinned over her shoulder.

Lyneth moved closer to David. "What's he saying?"

Larry laughed. "I think he's singing 'Whiskey in the Jar'."

Lyneth and Ava giggled.

David lifted his head and attempted to focus in front of him. "Where we goin' next?"

"Home to bed, Dave," Larry said firmly, helping him to the Jeep.

David let out a high pitched giggle. "Why Lar, yer not my type."

Ava kissed Larry’s cheek. "You're such a good friend. It was very nice meeting you, Larry."

"It w-w-was nice meeting you too," the air felt cooler on his hot cheeks. Hopefully Ava didn't see how deep his blush had become. He flashed a satisfied smile to Paul.

Ava peered at David. "It was very nice meeting you as well, Dave."

"Bye, bye, bye, bye," David sang off key while Lyneth helped him into his pea coat.

"What about me?" Paul asked as Ava passed by. "Do I get a kiss?"

She raised an eyebrow. "You haven't earned it yet, honey."

The soldiers let out a "oooh" in unison.

To Paul, that was a challenge. "It was an absolute joy meeting you, Ava," he bowed. "We'll be seeing you soon."

"I have a feeling I will," Ava slung her arm around Lyneth. Together they waved the lads farewell.

David burped. "Why is the ground moving?" he slurred. Where was Lyneth? He thought he heard her voice.

"I think Adam will be glad he's not in his own bed tonight," Larry said.

Paul nodded, his eyes watching the White Hart get smaller in the distance.

* * * * *

"Well, that was an interesting night," Lyneth propped her feet on the small table in front of Ava's couch.

Ava rubbed her sore feet. "Certainly more entertaining than most. Did you want to crash here tonight? It’s late."

“If you wouldn’t mind. To be honest, this lumpy sofa is more comfortable than my bed at the dorm.”

“Have you considered looking into getting an apartment with some others? I’d let you move in here, but it’s so small,” Ava glanced around.

Lyneth nodded. “I think I may consider it after the new year. My roommate snores like an airplane engine. I can never tell if it’s an air raid or her.”

Ava seemed lost in thought with a small smile tugging at her lips.

“That was quite a show between you and Paul,” Lyneth said.

Ava looked up innocently. "What? I was trying to distract him."

"You did a good job," Lyneth laughed lightly. "Poor lad couldn't walk straight on his way out."

"Lyn! Stop," she slapped Lyneth's leg. "Well, he did leave you alone, right? I know you have eyes for the friend."

"Who? David?"

Ava cocked her head to the side. "No, the one that was injured. Isn't that the one you mentioned to me?"

Lyneth had almost forgotten about him. "Oh yeah....Adam." She smiled. "I hope I see him tomorrow."

"Did you ask one of this his friends if he was married?"

"Well…no…don't you think that would be too forward of me?” Lyneth questioned.

”Lyn, have you learned nothing about the espionage of the male mind?" Ava shook her head at the missed opportunity; Lyneth's new friends had distracted her. "There is always tomorrow. And I bet we see them again."

“Speaking of which, I wonder how David is going to do tomorrow, the poor thing...” Lyneth curled up in the corner of the sofa.

"He'll be hurting for sure. How many did he drink?" Ava asked, stripping off her stockings.

“I think he drank more than he’d ever had before. He was just throwing back those whiskeys... He’s rather slight - I think he didn’t even know where he was. When we were outside together he...” Lyneth yawned.

“He what, Lyn? Did something happen? Did he vomit? I hate it when they vomit. One guy ruined my favorite shoes," Ava clucked.

“Oh no - no nothing like that... He just...” Lyneth giggled, “he fell into the wall....”

"Oh dear. Is he okay?”

“I made sure he wasn’t too hurt. He probably won’t remember much I’m thinking...” Lyneth noted.

“He will be in rough shape tomorrow. I sure hope his friends take care for him," Ava sighed, stretching as she stood. "I should let you get some shut eye."

Lyneth stretched out her legs. “Thank you for letting me stay tonight - I couldn’t bear to walk home tonight.”

Ava placed a blanket on the coffee table for Lyneth. “Anytime, darlin’.”

Lyneth didn’t need it as Ava’s flat was always much warmer than her icebox of a room. She rolled over on her side, wrapping her arms around herself. One night, they would be a man’s arms holding her tight. For the first time in a long time, she felt hopeful that it would be soon.
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Old 12-30-2011, 11:39 PM   #2
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Drunk David.

Great chapter. Loved the interaction between Ava and Paul.
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Old 12-31-2011, 08:46 AM   #3
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Thank you. I think we are definitely proud of this chapter even if it took awhile to iron out the kinks.
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Old 01-01-2012, 09:52 AM   #4
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Drunk David is very cute. And I'm definitely enjoying the banter. It's always much more fun when the girl gives the guy a run for his money, and Paul's getting one heck of a deal there!
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And if U2 EVER did Hawkmoon live....and the version from the Lovetown Tour, my uterus would leave my body and fling itself at Bono - for realz.
Don't worry baby, it's gonna be all right. Uncertainty can be a guiding light...
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Old 01-01-2012, 04:48 PM   #5
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Oh, poor David... but that was pretty cute.

Ava is really cool. I'm also enjoying Paul more than I was.
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Old 01-05-2012, 08:46 PM   #6
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Can she just choose Paul *and* Larry?

I mean, really.
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Old 01-05-2012, 09:15 PM   #7
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Did they do that back in the 40's?
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Old 01-05-2012, 09:20 PM   #8
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Quote:
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Can she just choose Paul *and* Larry?

I mean, really.
FTW
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