The Howling Wind - Chapter 18 (31/3/09) - U2 Feedback

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Old 03-31-2009, 08:29 AM   #1
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The Howling Wind - Chapter 18 (31/3/09)

Wow, how did it get to be nearly April already?!

Well, this must be some kind of record, two different werewolf fics happening at the same time... *L* This one has not much longer to go, however. Two more chapters after this. Or is it one, and an epilogue... I can't remember.

Usual disclaimer: Um, it's not true. Nothing could be less true. Okay, I suppose it could be, if they were all aliens or pink canaries or something, but this is still pretty frickin' untrue.


-------

20 June, 1990 – Dublin, Ireland

"We can't all go!"

"Why not?"

"We'd have to hire a bus at the airport..."

"So we'll hire a bus. His kids have to go, which means Aislinn has to go, and she wants Michael with her. And you'll have a job talking anyone else here into NOT going." Adam was staring Larry down. "And before you think of it, you don't have a choice. We all need to be there."

"You think I don't wanna see him as much as you do? He was my friend, too. But I just think this all sounds fishy." The drummer was wearing his habitual scowl.

"It was him, Larry. If it had been a hoax, they wouldn't have known about... the wolf thing." Bono's lounge room was crammed with Edge's family and friends, who didn't all know about the exact circumstances surrounding his disappearance. Or who didn't all believe it.

"Do you think..." Aislinn spoke up hesitantly, still full of mixed feelings. "With so many people, do you think it might be a bit overwhelming for him? I don't want to... scare him off, or something."

Bono was shaking his head. "From what Adam said, I think he needs to be reminded of us all. Of his humanity, of a reason to come back."

"Look, if it'll help, I don't suppose I really need to be there," Paul McGuinness said.

"Are you sure, Paul?"

"Yes, yes. If he doesn't remember the band with you three there, I'm not going to be any help."

"I don't see the point of all this discussion," Gwenda Evans said shortly. "We'll get on a plane tomorrow and the rest of you can catch up when you've discussed everything to death." She hadn't had much sleep since Adam had called her, two days earlier. Her daughter, Gill, was nodding.

"No, I think we should all go together..."

"Okay, fine, we're hiring a bus. Does anyone here know how to drive a bus?"

There was a moment of silence, and then Richard Evans put his hand up. "I do."

Larry was ready with another annoying piece of logic. "And do we have this Mrs Wilson's address? Or will the whole busload of Irish people just roll into town and ask around for her?"

"I can look her up in the Canadian phone book or something. Maybe she'll think of that and call back, I don't know. But we can find her," Adam said.

Larry rolled his eyes and subsided.

"We should take a guitar with us," Bono said suddenly. "Adam, did you call Dallas?"

"Oh, damn it. I knew I'd forget someone..."


--------

23 June, 1990 – Bloedel, BC, Canada

For the first two days, Elaine felt as though she had a child in her house again. Taking Adam at his word, she had chattered fairly constantly at The Edge, trying to encourage him to speak more, not always certain that he understood everything she was saying. His first hot meal seemed to do a lot to bring him back, and once she'd very carefully shaved him, he looked a lot more like his old self. He'd even asked her for a hat, but the best she could do was a simple patterned scarf, which he seemed happy enough with, having tied it around his head.

Despite her curiosity, Elaine had resisted the urge to pepper him with questions about where he'd been and why he'd disappeared. She figured he would tell her if he wanted her to know. He didn't volunteer any information; in fact, he tended not to speak at all unless she asked a direct question. When she did, he was childlike in his unthinking bluntness and honesty, his answers always short and to the point. 'I don't like the shoes.' 'The food is too hot.' 'My wife left me.' 'A wolf gave me that scar.'

Elaine suspected that, given this sort of unguardedness, he probably would have answered any question she asked him. She didn't feel it was fair to take advantage of his addled wits to satisfy her curiosity, so she kept her chatter to trivial things, as tiring as it was to verbalise almost every thought that went through her head.

His ravenous appetite had once prompted her to ask him what he'd been eating, to which he had matter-of-factly replied, "Deer, mostly. Sometimes rabbit or beaver. Fish if we could catch them."

"What, no greens or fruit?"

"Sometimes berries," he'd said. It was no wonder he was so thin, and a considerable wonder that he seemed to be in good health despite that.

--

After two days, and with Elaine developing a raw throat and running out of things to say, he'd said, "You don't have to do that, you know."

"What?" she'd replied.

"All the talking. I understand you. I remember how to speak now. You can stop."

"Well, thank goodness for that," Elaine had said. She didn't think she'd talked so much in years. "That Adam, he said it would help you remember..."

"It did, thank you. I'm sorry if I don't say much."

"That's just fine, Dave." She hadn't been able to bring herself to call him The Edge.

--

A couple of days after that, Elaine hadn't been able to contain her curiosity about that 'we' any longer.

"You weren't alone, then?" she'd asked.

"No."

He'd 'woken up' by then, as she put it to herself. He no longer spoke so freely or unguardedly, when he did speak. Now he thought about everything first, choosing and weighing words, deciding what to say and what not to.

"So, who was 'we'?" She'd tried to sound offhand in her curiosity.

The Edge had thought for a moment longer, before saying simply, "Wolves."

"Wolves?"

A nod.

"Did they accept you?" She still wasn't sure she believed that. A human living with wolves?

"Not at first," he'd replied. "I was tolerated, barely. They got used to me. The challenges stopped after... after I killed a big... big wintersleeper." Dave had frowned then. "A bear, I mean. A she-bear tried to attack the den. She had just woken, and was very hungry."

"Wait a minute," Elaine had said, stunned. "You killed a bear? Did you have a gun?"

"No. And it wasn't just me... I thought I'd lost the beast, left it behind. But nothing makes a wolf more ferocious than something attacking the den and the cubs. I..." Dave had squeezed his eyes shut, shaking his head against the memory. "Once the rest of the pack saw that I was holding my own, they joined in, and we all made the kill. Then the others went to find her cub. When I changed back, I didn't want to kill it, but they didn't need my help for that. I didn't eat last, after that."

Elaine hadn't known what to say. 'Beast'? 'Changed back'? It hadn't made any sense at all, but she didn't press him. Perhaps he had been alone too long, and gone a bit soft in the head.


---


But today was the day when Dave's friends and family were supposed to be arriving. Mr Clayton had found her number and called back, since neither of them had thought to exchange details before, and told her when they would be there.

Every day since he'd first shown up, Dave had become less and less easy to read. It was as if he was learning again how to hide his feelings, putting back the mask that most adults had between their inner thoughts and the outside world. The mask they wanted people to see.

What baffled Elaine a little was the way his eyes had become more green and less yellow over that time. Perhaps her own eyes were playing tricks on her, but she was sure the yellow had been more noticeable the week before.

But regardless of what colour his eyes were, today, Elaine knew Dave was nervous. He glanced at the clock every five minutes, until she got him outside to help her with the back garden, and then he kept glancing at his bare wrist.

"Aren't you looking forward to seeing them again?" she asked.

"Of course I am," he said quickly, but that hunted look didn't leave his face.

"Don't fret. Everything will be just fine, you'll see."

He only grunted. They both knew she couldn't be sure of that, but only he knew why he was so jumpy.


The afternoon wore on, past the time Mr Clayton had thought they would arrive. Elaine started to think maybe she'd got the date wrong, and wondered if Dave had been chewing his fingernails all day for nothing.

The Irishman's head came up, suddenly alert. He dropped his trowel and stood, facing towards the house and the town's main street beyond. Elaine couldn't hear anything yet, but she'd learned to trust Dave's sensitive hearing by now.

"Is that them?"

Dave looked torn, half ready to bolt.

"I know you want to see them," Elaine said quietly. "Your daughters will be here. It's been a long time..."

He turned to look at her, or possibly through her. "They'll be so big now... will they even remember me?"

"Maybe not right away, if they were small when you left. But deep down they will."

Dave gave her a searching look, and by then Elaine could hear the bus, too. It crunched to a stop on the gravel outside her house, and the horn honked briefly.

"We should've cleaned up before they got here, eh?" Elaine said, shepherding her guest inside, brushing the dirt off them both, then leading him out the front door. "Nothing to do about it now..."


A mass of people was swarming off the bus and milling about, stretching their legs and wondering if they had the right place. There were a dozen there, from what Adam had said on the phone. Elaine had borrowed chairs from several neighbours.

"You must be the Evans clan," she said, stepping out into the sun to greet everyone. Dave was staring at them all, stunned. Blinking, he followed her automatically.

A grey-haired woman flew past the others with a sob, past Elaine, and collided with Dave. "David," she was saying, tears thickening a Welsh accent. "Oh my David, I prayed every day..." She seemed torn between looking into his face and clinging to him.

Dave was clinging back, just as hard. "I'm sorry, mum," he was saying, through tears of his own.

With a lump in her throat, Elaine took a step back and turned away.

--

Maybe the rest of us should have come later, Bono thought as he watched Edge reunite with his family. Mr Evans had moved to embrace both his youngest son and his wife, when Gwenda showed no signs of letting go. More hesitantly, the other Evanses had come close, Gill and Dik and Aislinn and the kids, until Gwenda waved them all in, and there was a mass huddle.

There can't have been a dry eye present, unless it belonged Aislinn's partner Michael, who was standing off to one side, looking decidedly uncomfortable. Aislinn emerged from the scrum first, leading two bewildered girls who were already tired from the flight and the bus trip.

It all broke up eventually, although Mrs Evans remained stuck to Edge like a limpet. Bono watched with an odd sort of hunger, before mentally kicking himself.
This is no time to get maudlin about your own mother, he told himself sternly, approaching his long-lost friend. Edge didn't seem much changed, although there was a touch more yellow to his eyes, and more than a touch of grey in his hair, where it emerged from under a scarf. They hesitated a moment, assessing each other. Edge almost looked nervous, even with his face still damp.

Finally Bono grinned. "Talk about a prodigal son!" he said, and they embraced. Bono was surprised at both how skinny Edge seemed to be, and the strength in his arms despite that.

"I'm sorry, Bono," Edge said thickly. He apologised to each of them in turn, Adam and Larry and Dallas, who was carrying a guitar case.

And in turn, they all forgave him. That generosity of spirit stunned him into speechlessness, especially as the grief about what he'd done was still so fresh to him. As a wolf he'd hardly felt it, not until the scent of humanity had brought it all to the front of his mind again, a scant week ago.

--

After the greetings had died away to an awkward silence, and before everyone tried to tell Edge everything that had been happing all at once, Elaine invited everyone inside. Soon there were fourteen people crammed into her lounge room, the whole space filled with chairs and coffee tables. She had been baking for the last two days, and she'd had to borrow teacups from the neighbours, too.

"These are magnificent, Mrs Wilson," Adam exclaimed, munching on a scone. "It was more than you had to do, looking after Edge for us, but you've truly gone above and beyond by putting up with the whole tribe invading your home, and then providing such delicious food." He raised his teacup in a toast. "To our gracious host."

"Our gracious host," everyone echoed, with a chorus of thanks. Mrs Wilson beamed, and said she could hardly have done any different.

"Best tea cake I've ever had," Bono added. "Just don't tell my wife!" he winked.

He'd charmed Mrs Wilson more or less instantly, as he tended to do.

Edge eyed the guitar case, sitting by Dallas's chair. "Were you following me around all this time with a guitar and a lead, then?" he joked. It got a louder laugh than it really deserved.

"I wish I had," Dallas said. "Bono was the one trying to follow you around with cake."

"Cake?"

All eyes turned to Bono, who shifted uncomfortably. "It seemed worth a try at the time," he muttered.

"He went back, looking for you," Adam explained to Edge, who looked ashamed again. "Your parents and I came too, a couple of times. He went back on your birthday and left a cake on that rock."

"What rock?" Edge asked.

"The one where you left these," Bono said, standing up. He stepped over several legs and handed Edge a bundle of clean clothes. Edge took them, his face unreadable.

"Thank you," he said.

His watch was in there, still ticking, still on Vancouver time. And there was the chain, with his wedding band on it. Edge looked at that for a long moment, then at Aislinn. Their daughters were both asleep beside her in a large arm chair. They had a lot to talk about... later.

"I can't thank all of you enough, for coming out here," Edge continued. "And especially Mrs Wilson, for everything she's done. She brought me back, as much as seeing that truck did."

A glance at Mrs Wilson suggested that she was trying to work out why he'd left a pile of clothes on a rock before vanishing into the wilderness, and what a truck had to do with anything. Edge didn't want to talk about his absence any longer.
"Well, what have you all been up to, then?" he asked.

Predictably, everyone started talking at once; and just as predictably, Bono ended up doing most of the talking. By the time he'd told them all about some stage production of A Clockwork Orange that he and Brian Eno were writing some music for, the sun was lowering. Dik was keeping an eye on the time.

"We should probably head back before it gets dark," he said.

Edge saw Bono glance at Dallas and the guitar case, and just as if he hadn't been gone for the last two and a half years, he knew what Bono was thinking. Edge gave him a look that said Not now, and Bono seemed to understand.

"Will you be going back to the hotel with them?" Elaine asked him, as everyone was standing up and organising themselves.

Edge stopped, a stricken look on his face. He hadn't considered that at all. His mother and Bono were both watching him.

"I thought... I mean, if you don't mind... that is, I suppose I should..." he trailed off helplessly.

"I think we've overwhelmed him," Gwenda said, squeezing her son's hand. "Would you mind if he stayed on with you a few more days? We can pop by in smaller groups, it'll be easier on everyone that way."

"No, I don't mind at all. My garden's never looked better," Elaine smiled.

"Thank you so much. For everything. For finding my son." Gwenda gave Elaine a fierce hug, then had to wipe her eyes before hugging Edge again.

---

Elaine's house seemed silent and desolate after everyone had gone. Edge drifted through it like a restless ghost, visions of his past filling his mind. But it had been overwhelming, seeing everyone again, all together. And he had been forced to reassess his initial claim to Adam, that he couldn't go back to his old life. Adam had been right, his old life was gone, and his life as a human now wouldn't be the same. Edge had also forgotten, much to his shame, how much he loved everyone; his children especially, but everyone else too. He couldn't leave them again, either. Not like he had before, desperate as he had been, with no warning. There had to be some solution, the balance he still hadn't found.


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Old 03-31-2009, 08:40 AM   #2
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I like how they all forgave him.

When I'm more awake I'll do better comments..hehe.
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Old 03-31-2009, 10:03 AM   #3
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What?? Only two more chapters??






"Best tea cake I've ever had," Bono added. "Just don't tell my wife!" he winked.
That's so Bono.
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Old 03-31-2009, 10:27 AM   #4
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I should have commented earlier but just feeling a bit shy lately. I'm really enjoying it nonetheless! It's captivating! Really good
I like how you are writing about realistic, complicated emotions and that everything is not so easy for the characters.
Can't wait for the next chappy
Thanks for writing it
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Old 03-31-2009, 03:10 PM   #5
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nice. 2 chapters!
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Old 03-31-2009, 08:31 PM   #6
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Only two more chapters...

I'm going to be sorry when this ends. Like Laxmi said, your characters feel real. They aren't one-dimensional (yes, I spelled that wrong..that suprises you?), they express real emotions and you feel everything along with them.
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Old 04-02-2009, 06:51 AM   #7
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Thanks again, guys... I do appreciate it.

And no need to be shy, laxmi! We're all nuts friends here
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Old 04-03-2009, 09:40 PM   #8
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i like it .
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Old 04-05-2009, 01:05 PM   #9
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Thanks Alisaura
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