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AnCatKatie 01-31-2011 03:20 PM

An Cat Dubh 38
After this, an epilogue, and the alternate one. They're both set in '83, possibly Red Rocks :)

How does Bono respond to grief? *ticks options off fingers* Sadness, obsession, change, and oh yeah, violence.


There was a funeral, and all through it, the thin high sound of Ciarán wailing. It was wrong. Bono couldn’t look at anyone, could barely move. He was rooted to the earth that whirled and turned and stilled sickeningly. All around him, the smell of wet grass sunk into his skin and reminded him of blood, and he could not see, or think.

He could feel.

It was a light day, not a dark one, and the clouds shadowed everything in thin strands racing above.

Bono put his hands over his ears, supporting his head, and knelt on the grass. He wasn’t sure if it was tears or rain beneath him. The world had suddenly ceased to amaze him: there could be great gashes in the sky of clouds and he would not be surprised if it was only a single raindrop, or the earth tilted on its axis and swung into strange infinity. The certainty of life had become cruel.

And the individual blades of grass before his eyes, caught in quicksilver liquid, the sound around him, vague waves of voices and that one voice that wouldn’t stop—brought him to that day:

He didn’t know how long he stared into nothing. Nothing had become something, something he could not reach. He was aware of Edge’s arms prying him away from Cath, and he uncurled himself from a shuddering mess to become a glaring, angry mess. He collapsed against Edge and said something incoherently.

“I know,” Edge tried to say.

“No, no you don’t.”

Through the hot haze of tears he could see Cath’s mother was holding Ciarán, and the baby had started crying, her attempts to stop him doing little. He felt like his head was being torn apart, like he wanted to rush out onto the streets and scream himself, or fall down into nothing. Nothing. He walked over and took his son from her, staring the baby in the eye, and clutched Ciarán to him, biting his lip. The tiny boy quieted somewhat.

It was today that he had not been able to rise, and he had tried to shove Edge out of the door to no avail: he was practically dragged to this. Today that the world seemed suddenly solid and nauseating. Cath’s mother had looked after Ciarán when Paul hadn’t been able to let him go, and he was left with…nothing, a great swallowing nothing he could not cross. There remained the ghost of the feeling of Cath’s fingers in his own, and that had lifted and dissipated finally. He straightened, in the grass, and stood, his hair unwashed, his eyes tight and hot, shivering without a coat, and walked over to what he could hear.

Ciara tried to say something to him. Inwardly, he shook his head: he could not—he could not let that part of himself out. If he did, if he showed everything, if he dissolved into that great emptiness that could only have been healed by the one person who was gone permanently—Cath was gone. Ciarán puckered his lips and smiled at Paul before screaming again halfheartedly.

He wanted to claw his ears out of his head. It was just—it was too close to the frequency of his own pain, rose and clutched around his heart with frantic worry. He could not think about his son while in pain over Cath.

And Edge began to speak. That did it.

He started to snap out of it with the rush of solid connection his fist made against Edge’s face. Edge staggered. Paul shivered and stepped back and began to walk away. He collapsed into his house at last, the empty silent static sound of that alone finally lulling him into broken sleep.

Edge snapped out of something too. A great sharp anger came over him right when Bono punched him and just as suddenly left. He didn’t follow the man, only stood where he was. Everyone else had left, but for Ciara, and baby Ciarán like an afterthought, even so loud.

“He didn’t take the kid with him,” Edge began, about to run after Bono, but then he stopped.

It would probably be a bad idea, considering the state Paul Hewson was in. He could either obsess over Cath and get nothing done, or obsess over Ciarán and get only the things done that had to do with the newborn, and in that case, the man had absolutely no bloody idea what to do. But that wasn’t even the more likely path: Bono was slipping away from everything, withdrawing into himself for a time, his body a hard shell that gave occasional glimpses into the unbearable pain within. It was necessary, Edge knew—but it would not be good for Ciarán.

He sighed. Cath’s mother looked at him. It came to Edge she had been through worse than this; there was turmoil beneath the unshakable calm, but she was a stubborn shadow in the wind, the mist of rain falling around. Ciarán clutched her finger in his fists though he looked at her a little crossly for taking him away from his father—and where was his mother, Ciarán probably also wondered.

“I have an idea,” Edge said, about as happy to state it as they all were to be there.

“Bono’s going to hate it, but there’s no other way…Oisín hasn’t left yet, has he?”

Edge had thought he had seen the man in the distance, in the funeral.

Ciara shook her head, and then made a little noise of understanding.

The rain around them seemed a little more hopeful, with the future’s horizon expanding. From the viewpoint of now, any major change seemed impossible. Just as well that Bono wouldn’t know…he would find a way to make things worse, if only to try and fix them for himself.

Edge did run and found Oisín a little ways away, and explained things to him. The man was very serious, though any sorrow he felt over Cath’s death was internalized like Ciara’s—Edge was slightly grateful he was in a state Edge could reason through.

Oisín nodded, and smiled softly though it still had a bit of heartbreak.

“I was going to leave tomorrow. I should be able to bring others with me.”

He put an arm around his mother, and kissed Ciarán on the forehead; the baby stared up cross-eyed at his uncle and waved his fists. That was the last Edge saw of them for a long while, though Cath’s mother whispered to him she’d tell him where to find them. He replied that Paul would not know, until much later, if necessary. They disappeared into the rain, headed perhaps for the airport, and with that, Edge, too, was alone.

The days passed much like one another, darkness, the rhythms of eating and sleeping and thought and trying not to think. The rain drummed insistently above Bono and he huddled inside and ignored it. A little spiraling ache came to him, one he barely understood, and he awoke one morning into consciousness and grabbed the telephone sharply, gasping back into life, the ache apparent.

“Edge,” he said roughly after the man answered, “where’s Ciarán?”

There came a long silence. “Gone.”

Another long silence. Paul stared before him, unable to grasp what Edge had just told him. “What? He was just—where is he?”

Edge was probably shaking his head, though Bono could not see. “Not anywhere you can go, Paul.”

He clicked the receiver down and fell back into unawareness. The rain drummed again overhead.

Later in the day, when Edge came over to his house—hoping Paul was still alive, reasonable, at least vaguely himself—he found the other man huddled on the floor next to the telephone, his arms around his knees.

He felt briefly terrible when he caught the look in Bono’s face—he grabbed Edge’s shoulders and asked him not to leave, everyone was gone—and realized what his friend must have assumed from that conversation. Edge sighed. There was also a faint flicker of difference in Paul Hewson’s eyes, as if he was surfacing from a long, terrible sleep: he had pulled away, finally, from the tightest parts of despair, though he was a long way from healed.

He had to leave, eventually, and Paul said quietly, “all right,” when Edge informed him.

There was no music. There was no light. There was a strange lightness of being, like the moon coming over the clouds—not the sun; the sun had not yet returned. Paul dragged the past days away from himself and shoved them aside.

He was more a semblance of a man when the band came and spoke to him; he could talk to them, and even laugh quietly, though it was painful and ripped his body apart.

After about two months, Ali came though his door. Paul turned, sensing something was different, and stiffened. Some hurt or betrayal flashed over his face, swallowed him briefly then left him like a little boy. But angry.

“Did Edge ask you to come?” he said flatly.


“Are you here to tell me to start singing again?”

“No, Paul.” He tightened again, closing his eyes painfully. No-one had called him Paul since Cath died; it was too painful, a knife across unhealed wounds.

She approached him hesitantly and must have seen his expression: she embraced him hard, and some of the life came back to him. The wrong sort—part of him didn’t want to live again—the part that had been awakened by the loss.

“How long has it been, Paul? I wasn’t there when it happened.” He shivered.

“Two months.” She thought that was an answer and nodded, before he continued, “Seven days. Two hours. Midnight.”

She just held him for a long time, saying nothing. He assumed nothing, until he frowned abstractly and said warningly, “Ali…”


“There is no way I am going to sleep with you.”

She nodded, looking at him sadly. “That’s not why I came.”

That conversation came back to him, a few months later when he sat picking up the pieces of himself and placing them back into their fragile compartments. The hurt inside of him had ebbed, though it still existed. That night, Ali looked at him, and she knew. In the morning, she awoke to him crying.

“She was the only one I ever…”

“I’m sorry, Paul.”

He shook his head. “It’s been so long…”

She helped him forget. It wasn’t easy. Gradually, he did forget, and he wondered occasionally why he was sad if he thought of the ocean, why whenever a young child walked by his heart stuttered and he looked them in the face, never finding exactly what he thought he might, or why that first record seemed so painful.

He forgot, a little, though it came back when he sang that one song, and Paul lost himself completely to the past, caught for moments of time slipping glassily backwards. The hairs rose on his arms, the lights changed, the stage shrunk, the people were different, younger, and a girl in the back, leaning against the wall, laughed, smiling with exhilaration into his eyes as he gave her his heart and never truly regained it.

GraceRyan 01-31-2011 03:42 PM

Wow. :ohmy:

AnCatKatie 01-31-2011 04:29 PM

What? ^^

GraceRyan 01-31-2011 04:50 PM

Very powerful ending to that chapter. Sometimes you read something that makes you think "Dear God, I write such crap . I should remove Word from my computer." Trust me, it's a compliment.
Now did you always know she would die?

AnCatKatie 01-31-2011 05:03 PM

Hehehe ^^ I do get that feeling, but usually it's from my dialogue; I have been a stranger to dialogue up until this story, for the most part.

Thanks :) I'm not feeling very sympathetic to Ali at this point in the story, ghh. I tried to veer away from too much of her in this chapter. And...interesting, I didn't realize I sort of ended at the beginning...

I didn't really. I knew she was going to get pregnant and that would mess things up. At that point conceptually, it was going to be a pretty short story and I was not very happy with Cath the character; she was, as the song implies, pretty evil; it was about chapter 3 when she developed into a person...and I knew since about chapter 6 (when she freaked out that Bono was over and Edge had to restart her heart and take her to the hospital) that she was dying. I only really figured out the cause recently, albeit with help. It makes sense...

BlueSilkenSky 01-31-2011 09:27 PM

What Grace said- wow. Still pretty sad :( . And I knew something was going to happen to her... I just thought it wouldn't be death. :(
Now there's no evidence Cath ever existed?? :| Wow.

AnCatKatie 01-31-2011 09:35 PM

Yeah :( I had a big angsty time considering the ending and feeling too guilty to write it, but I got myself back on track and made it happen...

Yep. Almost. Edge actually still has her earring ^^

BlueSilkenSky 02-01-2011 05:02 PM

Oh. Hm, that earring...

AnCatKatie 02-01-2011 05:09 PM

(Created at first entirely because of Larry Mullen Jr)

I forgot to mention it :doh: I can't go back on this forum and edit the chapter...ah well...

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