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Old 03-20-2007, 05:07 PM   #1
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Stateless Chapter Ten (Final)

Here's the final part of Stateless with epilogue afterwards. Thanks everyone for all your feedback, it's meant so much, *steps off Award acceptance speech platform* lol.

Chapter Ten

Note: Like the first chapter, this is once again Bono and Grace’s perspectives, Bono italicised, Grace’s are normal.

11.00 pm


After various bouts of unconsciousness, I am now fully awake. O Connell has told me that I’m going to be exchanged for my ransom. We’ve stopped somewhere and my ankle bonds have been undone on the condition that I don’t try and escape or attack them. I’m to weak to do that anyway and have been since they got me, whenever that was. Fear and confusion envelopes me but I can just about hold Grace in my mind thanks to being allowed to watch the daily appeals on TV. I am so desperate to hold her, to stroke her growing belly. I am still blindfolded but my sense of smell is as good as ever and the stench of petrol is overpowering. I’ve forgotten what fresh air is.

I sit in the car between Edge and a bodyguard. I hold Edge’s hand for reassurance, his long guitarist’s fingers wrapped around mine. Benton is in the passenger seat with another policeman as we drive to the docks. Edge holds the contract in a rainproof folder as the gales have picked up and the rain is hammering down. The journey seems to take forever, my heart is beating like I’ve never heard it.

I strain my ears to hear what the men are saying, talking in hushed voices.

‘Yes park here, in the shadows. Then we reverse and you Shane throw…’

I miss the last bit and curse into my gag.


We arrive at where we’re meant to at 11.45. I shakily get out of the car with Edge, Tom the bodyguard follows us. Benton directs us from the car window to where we are meant to wait. Edge leads me into a dark alleyway. We push up our backs up against the warehouse wall and wait. A voice speaks in the darkness.

‘Hey is that The Edge and Grace McIntyre? If yer get me, Bono dies.’

This is unbearable, I know the van door’s a crack open because I can feel the draft. I find it after stumbling around floor and press my ear against it.

I grab Edge’s hand which is sweaty with nerves.

‘It is the Edge,’ he says, takes my hand and we walk out of the alleyway ‘and Grace.’

‘Follow me into the light,’ says the disembodied voice.

A dirty looking transit van is in the middle of the vast yard and the bright headlights make me blink. Huge warehouses surround us and my grip on Edge’s hand tightens as we step into the light. A tall man with the ugliest face I’ve ever seen steps into the light. Hollow face with a snake like mouth and bloodshot eyes full of mania. Two heavy looking men lean against the van door with heavy duty looking guns.

‘So you’re Helena’s replacement?’ he says stepping close to me, foul breath on my face.

I don’t respond forcing myself not to panic though I feel I’m going to get hysterical at any moment. Edge hands him the contract.

‘All in there O Connell,’ he says tightly ‘now keep your end of the deal.’

We’ve stopped for what feels like ages now, I’m so tense that I feel I’m on the verge of exploding. I can hear low voices outside, O Connell’s and a familiar male voice. Could it be The Edge? Hope rises and I push my full weight against the van door but it refuses to budge. So close to getting out and yet so far.

‘Well yes, I suppose we could,’ he says climbing back into the van with the two men ‘or we could just rid the world of a pesky troublemaker as well as have the money.’

I scream but they are driving off at top speed. Edge grabs me before I throw myself at the vehicle.

‘No Grace you mustn’t!’


‘NOW STUART!’

What are they doing? I am thrown around by the motion of the van as it starts going forward really fast. What the fuck’s happening, I scream petrified in my gag. The men are shouting, confusion. Shane’s in the back with me.


The van’s hurtling down and out of the yard, taking Bono with them. I see policemen come out of where they’re hiding, they’re shooting the wheels. I scream hysterically in Edge’s arms.

Oh God the noise. Gunshots, van skidding and sliding. Suddenly a huge bang and the doors blow open. Shane is shouting at me

‘I’m a catholic, I can’t kill yer. I’ll go to hell.’

And then he shoves me out of the door after untying my wrists. I lie on my back, the pain of hitting the tarmac preventing me from moving. I hear the most awful screams. A woman’s screams mingled with the screeching of the sirens. I try to move but I can’t.


As the van leaves the storage area, I sob against Edge.

Gun shots.

Doors fly open

Eyes deceive me perhaps…

The shadow of a figure being hurled from the van.

‘Grace, Grace,’ he shouts above the noise ‘look.’

I look to where he points, the van has turned the corner out of sight with the police on its tail. A figure lies there struggling to move. Tom calls Edge to him about something. Edge pushes me forward. I walk and then break into a run, slowly at first and then faster and faster along the wet stony ground.

Footsteps, someone running towards me. The sirens are getting louder, more gunshots are going off but its further away. I can’t untie my blindfold so work on gag. That’s impossible too, my fingers are cut and bruised, they don’t want to work. I turn to where I think I can hear the footsteps are coming from. Turn onto my front. Begin to crawl, hands becoming less numb as they feel the harsh tarmac below them.

I can’t contain the tears as I watch him crawling slowly towards me. Shuffling so slowly like an old man. Can it be him? After all these months. I drop to my knees too and crawl towards him. He looks around like a blind animal, he’d obviously been listening for my footfalls.

The footsteps stop. I’m bewildered and I moan against my gag.

‘Bono,’ I say softly ‘keep coming.’

Oh God Grace, is that you. I think and crawl onwards with new eagerness.

He’s so close now, I arrive just in front of him. I untie his gag first.

‘Bah, yer could be just Shane playing his nasty jokes. Promise me freedom whereas you’re just gonna take me again, torture me,’ I say suddenly wary as soon as I feel the gag is off ‘though Shane yer’ve developed a very ladylike touch.’

His voice has a harder edge to it than I recognise, shot through with raw pain. A sob catches in his throat and he kneels now, I kneel. His hands are on his knees. I reach out and caress them, needing to really feel if it is him. His poor callused hands, cuts and bruises decorate the pale skin. I stroke them tenderly.

‘It is you,’ I say shakily overcome with emotion ‘no one’s touched me like that in this nightmare so far.’

‘Or kissed you like this? I presume,’ I say my voice trembling and I take his hands and press each one to my lips.

I’m edging closer to her, trusting more that this isn’t just some wild hallucination.

‘Please, please untie my blindfold,’ I beg ‘I need to see yer.’


I bite my lip and reply cautiously.

‘I’ve changed a great deal since you last saw me Bono. You see I’m…’

‘Pregnant, yes, yes! I know,’ I exclaim impatiently ‘Our baby, oh love. Besides, I’ve changed too. A few more scars. Less good lookin yer know.’

‘Were you ever in the first place you old git?’ I chuckle, so happy to be able to tease him. His lips are forming into a smile, I untie the blindfold and there are his shining blue eyes blinking from the light. It is certainly a more scarred and lined visage than before but his beauty is still all there. He has a new vulnerability and more haunted expression but it’s still him.

I laugh, and what a release it is. I haven’t smiled or laughed properly for weeks and weeks. I can still see and I look at her silhouetted by the distant lights of the warehouse. I drop my gaze to her rounded belly full of pride.

‘Oh my darlin,’ he says and pulls me too him, arms around me.

‘Bono!’ I sob and kiss his forehead which has a slight gash, move down to each of his eyes, then the tip of his nose. Our lips meet, uncertainly we graze off each other but come together again and we fall into each other, deeper and deeper.

His ripped shirt is coming off his shoulders. Deep cuts are in the pale skin between his neck and shoulders. I kiss each one. He leans back onto the ground moaning softly and I cover him with the protection of my body. No one, no one will take him from me again.

Oh thank you God for bringing me back to her. I make ready to kiss her again and that’s when I hear Edge’s shout.

‘MOVE OUT THE WAY! NOW. BONO AND GRACE, MOVE!’


Edge’s shout and the sound of a fast moving van wakes me up. Bono has me firmly in his arms. I look to the gates of the yard and the transit van is hurtling back in.

Oh great I can’t stand. And for once in this whole episode, I think quickly. We roll into the shadows of the warehouse as the van hurtles by.

‘Oh my GOD!’ I cry into Bono’s chest as he rolls us away from going under the wheels of the transit.

Police cars are chasing the van and the van has nowhere to go as its tyres have been shot through.

Wailing sirens.

Screeching brakes.

Desperate cries from the terrified men inside the van.

O Connell’s men are trying to get out but O Connell is driving the vehicle too fast.

Fuck. O Connell’s killing him and the brothers. He must know it’s all over for them. I try and protect Grace from seeing but we can’t tear our eyes away. Then there is the most piercing explosion like a bomb’s gone off. The van’s exploded with three men in it. For a moment, I feel like I’m in it, like I’m dying too. I clutch hold of Grace with new fervour who has gone beyond tears and just looks petrified.

I can’t take in what’s happened. There’s just a terrible smell of petrol and burning rubber. Bono was in that van, he was in it. No but now he’s here with me, isn’t he. I can feel him hold me, but maybe it’s just Adam… so confused.

I kiss her everywhere, trying to wake that warm, alive Grace who seemed so awake a minute ago. I’m terrified that the trauma’s going to send her into premature labour. I’m thinking so clearly, that’s weird in itself.

Oh fuck, she’s out cold. I shout for all that I’m worth but everyone’s too wrapt up in what’s going on plus only cracked groans escape my parched mouth. I force myself to stand up though it’s agony. I stagger with her in my arms, some higher force helping me with her weight. I can hardly believe it when I see a man coming towards us in a beanie hat. Edge oh my good god, Edge.

‘Holy fuck! It is you man!’ he says tears running down his face and hugging me tightly ‘oh dear God! What’s wrong with Grace?’

I shake my head.

‘I don’t know what to do Edge,’ I say sliding to my knees with her limp body in my arms and lift my hands to my head in despair ‘I don’t know what to do.’









Epilogue
One year later


It’s a whole year ago today since that fateful evening down at the Dublin Docks. For the first time, Bono and I have returned home to Ireland with our son Raphael who was born in the summer. I dump my case in the hall and go into the front room, straight to the big windows and look out at the sea roaring and churning in the winter sunshine. Its tempestuousness the opposite from the Mediterranean where we’d spent the last twelve months.

I can’t believe I’m back in Ireland, back home at last. Grace and I decided after our hospital stays to go and convalesce physically and emotionally in the south of France. We married in July, one month after Raphael’s birth. It was such an escape being there in the warm sunshine. Pushing back those memories of dark days spent in the cell or with O Connell. The band all came and stayed with their families for the summer and we’ve even started playing about in the studio again. I kiss my baby thanking God again for bringing me home to him and my little woman.

We’re writing a book about what those dark months were like from our individual perspectives. It’s been very healing for both of us to discuss and share our memories with each other, there have been many tears but laughs too. It’s helped with Bono’s nightmares and panic attacks, they’ve lessened since talking about it in such depth. There are still nights where he is inconsolable but Raphael’s presence helps calm him and bring him gently back to earth.

We leave the house for a while and walk down to the bay together. Grace’s hand is firmly in my own and Raphael bounces on my hip. We go and sit by the surf as it rolls and churns, cold winter breeze blowing away all the dark, disturbing memories. Bliss washes over me at being back home with the ones I love and I pull Grace nearer, so I can feel her and our baby’s heartbeat.

Bono pulls me against him as the water laps against the shore. I breathe in deeply and lean my head against his shoulder, my arm around his neck. Baby Raphael grabs my nose and gurgles happily.

‘Off yer mother, yer little rascal!’ Bono cries, releases my nose.

I rub it ruefully, kiss Raphael’s pink cheek and stroke his hair from his face. He sits between his da’s knees, podgy fists sifting the sand and he chuckles merrily. Bono looks down at me, eyes the colour of the sea. He bends his face down to mine and kisses me full on the lips as Raphael hums in his arms.

I kiss her and can’t let her go. The sound of the waves in the distance, the seagulls shrieking and our baby gurgling, all one. Joy that much more exquisite because we once thought we’d lost it and would never feel it again. Love that much more ecstatic because there was a time when we didn’t think we’d ever be able to express it to one another again.

‘I love you Grace.’


‘I love you Bono.’

And your heart beats so slow
Through the rain and fallen snow
Across the fields of mourning
To a light that’s in the distance

Oh, don't sorrow,
No don't weep for tonight, at last
I am coming home
I am coming home



The End
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Old 03-21-2007, 06:01 AM   #2
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wow.... just... wow....


'scuse me while I figure out something constructive and coherent to say...


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Originally Posted by GraceRyan View Post
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 03-21-2007, 11:08 AM   #3
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GG

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Old 03-21-2007, 11:34 AM   #4
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No seriously, it's written really really well
I loved the tension int he beginning, are they gonna release him or not? is he gonna stay alive? is grace ok? and so on....

you ARE gonna write more stories for us rigth?
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Originally Posted by GraceRyan View Post
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 03-21-2007, 03:52 PM   #5
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Great story,I enjoyed it.I'm glad everything turned out fine at the end.
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Old 03-31-2007, 06:14 PM   #6
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Old 04-03-2007, 09:59 AM   #7
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Well done, spannzina~~
Workin on more, are ya?
Trust all is well~~
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Old 09-01-2007, 04:56 AM   #8
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Great writing, Spanna!! Loved the idea of of using Grace the song, as her name.
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