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Old 06-27-2006, 04:22 PM   #1
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Sunshine and Shadow

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Whether I like it or not, I don’t know them.
Summary: Mr. Mullen helps a woman learn to trust people, and life, in a way she hasn’t really done it before.

U2 is in town, apparently due to play at the Rosemont in a couple days, and quite a few of the Drake Hotel’s staff are excitedly chattering about how they are going to stalk the Hyatt Regency to get autographs from the boys. I merely shrug and roll my eyes every time I am asked if I would – though, indeed, a fan, I also don’t want to be in that mad crush of people for an autograph I may or may not be able to get. I am dour; I am pessimistic. It just doesn’t appeal to me. Besides, there is no reason I couldn’t find another way to get an autograph; I often moonlight at the Hyatt and at Rosemont as an extra grip, when needed. And boy is it needed tonight, with all that razzmatazz U2 was insisting on! Techies like me are in high demand.
I grin cockily to myself and spin my tray up over my shoulder as I slid noiselessly among the tables, deftly avoiding fellow co-workers on my way to the kitchen with my dirty dishes. At least I don’t have to wash dishes or laundry tonight, so I leave early to head over to the Hyatt.
Depositing everything at the proper station, I remove my apron and gaudy red jacket, courtesy of the Drake; I turn and reach for my jacket and bag, and go to punch out.
“Hey, Lee, you leaving us for the dark side?” Andre jokes, pushing a cart of condiments towards the kitchen. “Peace,” I retort, flipping him a peace sign as I put on my headphones and begin singing ‘The Fly’: ‘Check, I gotta go – I’m running’ out of change! There’re a lot of things, if I could, I’d rearrange, YEAH!”
There are some startled looks from customers, some chuckles from staff. I am known for my rather odd tendency to sing lyrics at random moments.
And then, the dreaded sound: “Hey, Lee, wait! I really need an extra for tonight!”
“Jordan – I am already booked. Gotta go.”
“But – “
Should I start running like Bono did on the Elevation tour?
“Gotta go!” Oh, boy, I’d gotten his tone down right: nasal and deep.
“Li!”
“Gotta go!” And I book it, Bono-Barfly style. Man’s pretty fast; so am I. I’m out the door, and down Oak Street long before he even gets to the door.

I keep running, more for the exhilaration of it than because I needed to. I’d discovered running after a bad scare with my weight had nearly cost me a few broken bones. Understand, now, that I have arthromyalgia, leaning towards fibromyalgia. Painful, painful. But I can run for a very long time without hurting. In fact, it relieves the pain, to some degree, sometimes. Therefore, I do it every chance I get. And tonight, I weave through the crowd like a slender bit of wind, brushing past suited upper class yuppies who stare down their noses at a dreadloc’d, petite African woman whose muscle in no way denies her femininity.

It was good to be 35; very good indeed.

All the chaos of my youth was behind me; all the peace of age before me.

Needless to say, I couldn’t wait.




Having reached the relative safety (have you ever tried to get to work while being accosted by various security personnel anxious after the safety of their charges? I don’t recommend it. In fact, I strongly discourage it) of the Hyatt, I head for the freight elevator and the Dungeon of Doom known as the basement. Kitchens; my life is full of kitchens, I swear it. It’s a damned conspiracy; back to taunt me from my childhood spent being tortured for the sake of straight hair.

The door opens, and the last thing on Earth I had expected to see greets me: Larry Mullen and his girlfriend/wife wrapped in a very tight embrace, his long fingers in her blond hair, her arms around his waist.

Apparently, it’s been a very long tour for them both; they hadn’t noticed the elevator’s stopped until the bell rang, and I’d already stepped on.

Good thing I’m used to random sightings of couples sneaking away for a little alone time.

I manage to muffle my giggles as Larry lets Anne go, and she smoothes her hair. She’s really very beautiful, in an elegant, elfish kind of way, with remarkably blue eyes and gentle mouth.

Their children must be sickeningly gorgeous.

Seriously, it’s unfair to have two parents who look like they belong to the Grecian Pantheon of Gods, or, considering they’re Celtic, the Sidhe is the appropriate equivalent, I believe.


I digress; I begin to sound like the Edge on one of his technical bents.

You get the point. It’s altogether too annoying for words. And, in that ironic sort of paradox we sardonic, dour sorts learn to detest early in life, it’s all really very sweet.

I grin at her, mischievously.

Caught, she turns her face into his chest, and begins to laugh.

He looks down at her, kisses the crown of her head, stifling a shy chuckle.

“This was your idea, don’t hide now.” His soft Irish brogue is somewhat breathless, and thick with desire.

She merely giggles all the harder, unable to control her mirth.

He turns to look at me, and I can’t stifle my teasing retort on her behalf, “You didn’t seem to need much convincing, now did you?”

His features are delicately masculine in the way of a Celtic god. He looks at me with eyes turned to quicksilver by the moonlight, by drinking, by being utterly limp with relaxation. For once, he doesn’t have to duck for cover, and he knows it.

He smiles at me, that slight, sensual curving of full, coral-red lips, that softening of the masculine hardness of features, the crinkling that just barely decorates the outer corners of his eyes.

His cyan, silk polo shirt is open beneath the nylon shelled, gray-fleece windbreaker he hasn’t bothered to close at all. His thick blond hair is completely loose, not a hint of gel to turn it greasy and mouse-dark. Leaning against the elevator wall, he looks at me and tries to pretend he doesn’t feel the least bit shy about being caught in the elevator making out with his girlfriend.

Of course, he fails so miserably it’s a wonder he doesn’t slide right under the Oriental carpet.

I grin, and look away. Whistling, I press for my floor. The doors close. They shift, uncomfortable and giddy as teenagers, fidgeting furtively with each other.

Cute: they’re trying to tickle each other without being seen!

Is there anyone out there, because it’s getting harder and harder not to burst out laughing at how cute they are.

May I at forty four have a love like they seem to have with each other.

The elevator stops at the basement.

Now, I’m not generally the romantic sort, lest you get the wrong idea about me; I hate kissy couples. But, in this instance, I have sympathy for the poor devils. They probably see each other once or twice a year while he’s touring. And they probably haven’t been left alone long enough to get in any personal face time alone.

I had help, in my own obscure, sardonic fashion.

“I haven’t seen anything.” I can’t resist taunting in an Al Pachino lilt (a la that damned penguin in that animated movie whose name I never remember) as I step off the elevator. “By the way, if you hit emergency stop, it doesn’t go off. The alarm is quite broken.”

He flushes, I laugh all the harder, and wriggle my fingers at them both. “Good night, children. Please don’t break anything useful to your career, Mr. Mullen.”

Anne giggles at the look on his face as I toss him a wink over my shoulders.

The doors close.

Did I mention it’s great to be thirty five?

Whistling, I stroll down the hallway to the employee lockers, and change into my uniform, and head back upstairs to begin the work of pretending to be friendly to people I’d rather see the back of.

Ah, well, if I get too annoyed, I will have to remember the Larry incident.

First time I ever saw that man looking quite that happy.

Perhaps they ought to consider having Larry’s love around more often – it seems to relax him, quite a bit.

Who knew he was that darned cute in person? He tried so hard to look tough.

I won’t tell on him.
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Old 06-28-2006, 12:46 PM   #2
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This is good. Do some more...
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Old 06-28-2006, 03:29 PM   #3
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Chapter 2: Zoo Station

Working on it now..And because I hate having to make multiple threads for the same story..(continuity being a favorite thing of mine!)here's chapter 2, from Larry's angle.

I hung out as inconspicuously as I could manage the next morning, looking for her. That cheeky, impudent girl who hadn’t seemed the least bit intimidated by me or my celebrity status. I’d been nervous all day, what with the hotel staff acting like I was royalty, asking for autographs and pictures and hugs. I think I spent most of the day hiding in my room while the guys roamed the city.

Until Anne managed to show up in my hotel room.

And that girl managed to get us stuck on the elevator for a blissful hour and a half; I really wanted to thank her for that. It was the best thing anyone’s done for me in a long time. She seemed to know I wanted to be alone with Anne. That kind of observation deserved more than working here probably paid her.

She was a sneaky little thing; I had no doubt of that. And she was probably very young, too. She’d been tiny, with graceful muscles and long dark braids (or were they dreadlocks? I hadn’t exactly been in any condition to really notice) and reddish brown skin that glowed.

I wish I knew her name. That might help.

Anne looked up at me, sensing my restlessness. She put a hand on my knee. “You’re not going to find her by glowering at everything that moves, darling.” Her tone was cajoling and soft, her hand (lovely, magical hands) gentle where it rested on my kneecap. I reached out, picked it up, and kissed her palm in acquiescence, managing not to scowl as another employee just ‘happened’ to see me and came over. I sighed and closed my eyes.

No more autographs, please, in the name of the Father.


I opened my eyes and looked up into a pair of dark brown eyes that laughed at me even as they had laughed at me last night.

Damn her, she probably read my mind.

“Now that is definitely the Darth Vader Glare. A close cousin of the Mullen Death Glare, and the Stone-Faced Killer Glare, all patented by the US Patent Office.” Her tone is pert and warm, and her wink at Anne impudent. Anne laughed. “No fair teasing him! He hates being asked for autographs.”

“Accosted is more like it.” She snorted. “Well, Mullen, you’ll have to live with it. That, or have someone break up your pretty face.”

I stared at her, and then grumbled, “Are you always this chipper?”
I hated early mornings, I really did. I was starting to regret sitting out here, too. Too many people were starting to notice me.

She looked at me contemplatively for a long moment, and then turned her head to watch the passers-by from the semi-secluded corner I’d picked out to watch for her. “Methinks you should get scarce now, Mister Mullen.”

I liked the way she said Mister Mullen. Not Larry. She didn’t assume she had the right to call me so intimate a thing as my first name, though she obviously knew it.

Though, on the other hand, it made me feel old. “Aw, call me Larry. Please. I’m not old enough to be called mister, yet.”

“Sure, okay. But I think you should make good your escape now.” Her tone took on a quiet urgency that alarmed me. “Why?” I asked.
“Hordes of giggling females have zeroed in on you, and if I know you, you’d rather not deal with it.” She looked at me again, and that impudent smile was back: she was worse than Bono, that way. Anne stood, and tugged my hand. “Come on. She’s right. If I have to deal with one more drooling fan shoving me aside, I may go mad. I don’t know how Ali deals with it.”

“She gets to throw plates at Bono’s head.” The girl quipped amusedly. “You got to admit, it’s fun to think about.” She protested when I glared at her. “Don’t give my girlfriend any ideas. She might.” I growl, mock-stern. She pretends to ward off my glare, and then points us to the convenient side door, and freedom.

It was only after we got in the waiting sedan that I realized I’d forgotten to thank her for her help.

And I still didn’t know her name!

Anne chuckled. “Why don't you call McGuinness tonight, Larry? He’ll take care of it, honey.”

I nodded agreement, resting my cheek on her shoulder, wondering how old she was.

I still kind of wanted to get to know her better; it wasn’t often that I warmed up to people that fast, but something about her reminded me of Mary. Warm and caring, and tough as nails, she brooked no nonsense, that girl. I looked at her, and knew I could trust her with things I couldn’t even tell Bono, who was closer to me than my own heart.

She was going to be on my mind for awhile, that little girl.

The best things always come in small packages.
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Old 06-28-2006, 09:17 PM   #4
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Wow - I REALLY love this! You're a fantastic writer! Looking forward to more. I like the two different perspectives that you've told the story from so far.
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Old 06-29-2006, 04:53 AM   #5
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This is really good... I'm also looking forward to reading more


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Old 06-29-2006, 11:33 AM   #6
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i really like this

keep writing
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Old 06-29-2006, 12:09 PM   #7
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Thousand Mile Wish

And, because I'm bored, chapter 4.

Minor editor's notes: That venue is the United Center. The Rosemont's floorplan will not work for U2. Heh. Don't tell anybody I should have known that, having lived in Chicago 30 years. And, after much editing and Edgey nitpicking at semantics, we begin.

Forgive me if now I wear the face of worry.
This time alone could never cause any doubt
But I’ve been cold too long
Such a strange time to find myself coming down as the rain
With all the holes my love,
To fill up from the middle
This storm could stay all night

So can you stay until we close our eyes;
Until your dreams hold mine;
Just stay until we know we tried one more time...

Cause laughing lovers can overcome their closest demons
And they’ll go on and they won’t let go
They saw something that they know
Has never come so close
Can it stay here for us, for now?

Can it stay until we know ourselves?
I’m torn as I tell
You’re the story that I know and fell from
I’m so far into your story I don’t know why
We think we’re in control
When we lie between the lines

We’ll find a line to follow
It’s got to show real soon
Or we’ll never each this high

We climb a little further
Cause there’s nothing we can’t get around together
Further gets colder until nothing was all that I saw around

So we stay until the ground
That we can’t come down from splits us away
Maybe stars know why we fall
I just wish they were thinking out loud
Oh, I could wish all night



By the time I get to The United Center, I am exhausted and vaguely achy. My sinuses are swollen and congested; the weather has begun to settle on me like a sodden blanket of worry and anxiety. Here it is, high summer and I feel like it's the middle of winter. Have I mentioned the fact that I really, really hate Chicago?

No? Well, I assure, I can't stand it.

I slip into Gate C, the designated tech gate, and trudge wearily through the security checkpoints. I am getting pretty tired of those damned security guards, already, though they’re pretty friendly as it goes. Most rockers’ security made you want to aim rocket launchers at their most valuable possessions.

And I don’t mean the rockers themselves, either.

I get the odd look or two from various staff members, and I snarl. Of course, it’s probably unusual to see a Black girl wandering around in gothic clothing, but it’s what I wear when not in stoopid uniforms.

Well, that and my clothes bag is bigger than I am.

“Hey – that’s Larry’s favorite expression, too.” A cheerful Irish brogue called out, and I look up at James - what is it, Sheehan? What the hell is his last name, anyway? I should know this as he smiled at me. He reminds me of Santa Claus, right down to the wild white hair and red nose. He’s rather cute, as far as old men go. I manage a slight grin for his trouble, and he chuckles. “He’s got a twin.” He beckons to me, and finds me a locker to stash my stuff in. “Say, can you fix drums? We - meaning Larry - had a little accident with the kicker drum, see..”


I stared at the drum as though I’d never seen one before. “What’d the hell he do, throw it?” It was hopelessly smashed, really. Nothing short of major shop repair would get that thing working. “I suggest you find his extra, man.”

James rubs his head nervously. “I'm afraid that is his extra one, actually. The number one isn’t here yet. It’s not likely to get here before show time – ”
“- which is why he threw the extra.” I grin, amused despite myself. “Someone ought to throw him. That was stupid.”

“Hey, give him a break, lass, we’ve been having Murphy’s Law all day. That, and he’s looking for some girl he wanted to talk to, and is getting nastier by the second because he’s also hungry, and –”

“The caterer forgot he’s vegetarian.”

“You got it, sister."

My. That certainly sounded like a sore-pawed bear.

I turn, and look up at Larry, who glares at me, arms crossed, looking like Darth Vader’s younger sibling. I swear there was lightning being thrown from his eyes.

Suddenly, the world went completely black, and I couldn’t breathe. The lights chased around Larry’s head, and his face disappeared.

The last thing I remember is his eyes, going from storm cloud gray to dilated and sky blue with shock.

His fingers slid up to cup my face, gently. “Baby, please -” His voice is rough, his brogue thick with desire.
What did he want from me? I was confused; I kept running my hands over my hair, as if I were trying to count each loc and not quite able to figure out what I was doing. I could see myself doing it, and somehow I couldn’t stop. I just couldn’t stop!

Oh, god, I can’t breathe!

“– what’s wrong? Just calm down and talk to me, little girl.”

He sounds rather unsettled – worried, actually. I suppress the hysterical laugh bubbling up in my throat. His slender body pressed against me, and I thought, wildly, that it was impossible for a delicate man to have such strength; the tensile body lined, hard, the long legs tangling with mine.

Wait, was Larry Mullen of U2 lying on me?

Now that, my dears, is just beyond the pale. And that's just entirely too random for me. Did I mention breathing was a problem? Yeah, see, that's what happens when you get top heavy drummers holding you down. They tend to have a muffling effect.
I wheeze slightly, against his shoulder.

He smells mighty nice.

I sneeze.

His gaze was intent, their color a muddled, stormy slate beneath fine-drawn gold lashes and fiercely knitted brows.

Does he wax them? Again, the hysterics bubble up, threatening. I swallow them back, gulping.

I felt the chill of vertigo, the eerie floating sensation of being distanced from myself.

I glance around, see that I’m no longer on stage, but in a dressing room. Larry’s, by the utter, absolute zen-like neatness of it, right down to the bonsai tree on his dressing table.

Larry likesbonsai trees? How random.

Adam is standing naked in the middle of the room, staring at me with concern in his eyes.

Bono is chafing my hand, shirtless and wild-haired.

Edge is stroking my forehead, the only one who’s fully dressed – sans beanie. His green eyes are dark.

Larry didn’t have any gel in his hair, and it made him look like an inflatable Barbie doll.

Did I mention Adam was stark naked in the middle of the dressing room?

Oh, for Christ’s sake, the boy was naked!

I couldn’t help it. It was just too much.

Unwarranted though it was, I begin to laugh and cry all at once. Larry scowls ferociously, leans closer, whispers something incomprehensible in my ear as Edge backs up a pace, glancing up in confusion at Adam.

And then he kissed me roughly, his full lips bruising mine.

For a long moment, I just lie there, not quite comprehending what he's trying to do.

And then, I figure it out.

What happens next will likely get me kicked out of Pleba for lackawits to enjoy it.

It is an event that never happens, after all.

I choke. Yes, my friends, I choke. Not quite the reaction a handsome man expects to have when he kisses a woman on the mouth. But it had the hitherto unexpected effect of snapping me back into myself, as he wraps an arm around my neck, the other around my ribcage.

His grip is very tight; pressed against the hard round of his chest (a mouthful of silk-covered manboob – now that’s a first!), I found I couldn’t breathe.

I can’t breathe. You’re smothering me.

I didn’t know I’d managed to voice that until his grip loosened. Concern washes his stormy gaze deeper into gray as he stares at me, trembling. “Talk to me.”

“It’s nothing.”

I wasn’t about to tell him I suffered from generalized anxiety disorder, and had been since my grandmother died. Added to the dysthymic depression, sometimes it was impossible to cope.

“This looks like an awful lot of nothing,” Larry growls belligerently, grabbing my hand in a crushing grip. “You’re pale. And you’re thinner than you should be.”

“Right – and you aren’t?” I managed that pithy remark around a tongue that felt like cotton swathed it.

His blue eyes widened a moment, and he looked as if he was about to return fire.

And then, mercifully, I blacked out again.
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Old 07-02-2006, 05:45 PM   #8
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And the new, short update..

Interlude

Beep.
Beep.
Beep.

I watch her breathing, slowly, methodically; she lies so still in that hospital bed. Worry creases my face as I stare down at her. The doctors tell me it was a panic attack, that nothing I had done caused it. Not intentionally, anyway. She’d been dehydrated, and likely hadn’t eaten in a day or so. I’d suspected that much; what I hadn’t expected was being pulled aside and asked if she was a cutter. The strange thing is – I don’t know. Most roadie or grips had scars on their arms; part of the job. But she does have an awful lot of them, some faded and old, some not quite so old, and one or two fresh ones.

I wish she’d wake up.

I hate this feeling of hopeless waiting.

The other guys hadn’t even teased me, just told me we’d peel out and get to the hospital as soon as the concert ended. Which we did, in record time.

We’d found out her name by the simple expedient of looking at her id after she’d passed out, so we’d have a name to give the paramedics. Levi Landry Dixon. It was rather fitting, I think. Tough, egnematic, just like her.

We are a family; we take care of our own.

I’d started to think of her as one of ours when she began to take care of Anne and I while we were at the hotel, making sure fans left me alone, sneaking me extras up from the kitchens at the most dreadful hours of the night, after the crew had gone to bed. I don’t know why she did it; she just did.

She sighs, turns her head towards me; her eyes are still closed, and the long, dark, curling lashes are still.

And yet, I know she’s awake.

“Why aren’t you at the hotel getting some sleep?”

“Hello, sunshine.” I tease gently, wanting to hug her to me.

“FOAD, Mofo.” She retorts, and grins at me wryly. Her eyes open a little. Then, they open all the way and she stares at me as though she’s never seen me before. “I swear, I do declare!” She begins to giggle. Quite sanely, this is a relief to me.

“What?” I blink at her, confused.

“You look like a half-butchered kewpie doll.” She manages through her giggles. “You have an Adam-worthy Mohawk in the middle of your head, and all manner of cowlicks flying out.” A sudden, pregnant pause, then, with that old mischief dancing faintly in tired brown eyes, “We are not going to discuss the state of your clothing, and the smell of you is not to be borne.”

I flush, unaccountably. I knew I’d taken a shower as soon as I got off stage – hadn’t I? I looked down at myself, trying to figure it out, when she began to laugh. “Gee, dufus, I’m teasing you. You don’t smell. You’re just a little wrinkled.”

I sigh, and grin at her. “So – want to tell me how long you’ve been treating yourself like shit?”

“Well, I could, but I don’t want to.” She looks away, pressing her hands through her hair. “But I suppose I should; after all, you came here when you could have just moved on. You get negative one cool point for that. And six for showing up without worrying how your hair looks.” She pauses, grinning at me as I smooth my hair back down.

“Nerves will do that to you.” I try to regain my dignity. She was awfully good at deflating it.

“Well, see, most of it is chemical – as in my brains don’t like serotonin much, so it doesn’t process it right. Makes it hard for me to really take care of myself. Weather’ll make me crazy, that sort of thing. And some of it is trying to do too damn much with too damn little so I can escape having to look at myself honestly.

I tilt my head at her, and then slouch in the chair, crossing my arms loosely over my waist.

“The rest of it – well, I don’t really feel confident in telling you right now.” She looked at me, as though expecting I’d start yelling at her, and try to make her tell me everything.

“I understand,” And strangely enough, I do. She’s like me: very suspicious, doesn’t really take anything at face value. She want s to look deep at me before she goes diving in.

“So, Levi, I have a proposition for you.”

“Do you?” Her brows arch, and she gives me a leering grin, batting her lashes at me.

“Levi!” I growl mock-sternly. “I am not removing any clothes.”

She chuckles at me. “Well, fine, then. Just wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to have to call your wife on you.”

“She’s not my wife,” I retort automatically.

“Larry – after thirty years, she’s your wife. Get over it; you’re married to her.”

I sigh. “You have a point. Now – the guys and management want to offer you a job with us. You did a real good job taking care of us, making sure we got what was needed without a fuss. Don’t think we didn’t notice all that you did, at risk to your job.”

She grins wryly. “Yeah, well, management was being stupid, anyway.” She sits up. “So when do I start.”

“Not immediately. You have to heal up some. You had a seizure.” I grumble. “You’ll travel with us, but you aren’t to lift anything heavier than a piece of paper until we know you’re fine.”

“Oh, boy. Just promise me one thing?” She sounds plaintive.

“Anything.” I assure her.

“Keep Bono away from me. He was here earlier. Drove me crazy, the way he kept mothering me. I had to have Edge and Adam make him leave.”


I laugh. “Not a problem.”
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Old 07-10-2006, 12:51 PM   #9
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She would never say where she came from
Yesterday don’t matter if its gone
While the sun is bright
Or in the darkest night
No one knows
She comes and goes

Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday
Who could hang a name on you?
When you change with every new day
Still I’m going to miss you...

Don’t question why she needs to be so free
Shell tell you its the only way to be
She just cant be chained
To a life where nothings gained
And nothings lost
At such a cost

There’s no time to lose, I heard her say
Catch your dreams before they slip away
Dying all the time
Lose your dreams
And you will lose your mind.
Isn’t life unkind?

Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday
Who could hang a name on you?
When you change with every new day
Still I’m going to miss you...


It takes a few months before I fully recover from the seizure. Apparently, the panic attack had triggered a grande mahl seizure. The doctors had finally pinpointed the cause: ironically enough, the pesky sinuses structure had been getting worse for months, and was partially blocking my airway. I couldn’t breathe well enough, so they had to do some surgery to open the airway completely.

Of all people, it was Larry who spent all of his free time at the hospital with me – he knows how much I hate hospitals. And Ann has been priceless. She would bring me all manner of odd and completely lovable little gifts from herself, and Ali Hewson, whom I had never met. They both were determined, that since I had to stay in the hospital, that I should at least be comfortable.

When I asked her about it, Ann merely shrugged and said, “Larry adores you. You’re like his sister, and, well, that makes you family.” I couldn’t help but smile. The gruff drummer has grown on me as well; showing a warm, goofy – and it surprised me to know – sensitive personality. Not shy, though: while he is distinctly not a people person, he is definitely charming in his own understated way.

I knew I could trust him with things I’d never tell anyone else. Through all the doctor’s visits, I would tell him about my childhood, about the things I had seen. And he would listen, quietly and intently. Often he would even hug me and apologize. But never once did he not tell me I didn’t have a right to be aggressively angry. Nor did he tell me I had to move on from my anger until I was ready to let it go.

Though he did once tell me that if I didn’t give myself an outlet, I’d kill myself. He looked faintly worried when he told me that.

“Why?” I’d asked, glaring at him ferociously.

“Because,” He said thoughtfully, “the truth is you can’t kick your father’s ass for being such a loser. And you can’t kick your mother’s ass for not having the good sense to lose him. And you can’t kick your brother’s ass for not living up to being what he should have been for you. I still can’t imagine why he would think it’s a good idea to let a fourteen year old watch him have sex, though I could imagine why you were curious.” He raised his brows at me. “After all, you’d had to watch your parents at it for years, wasn’t that normal, too?” He scrubbed his hands over his face as I stared at him, wonderingly. “Jaysus, did they realize it was a form of molestation? Probably not. At any rate, lass, after awhile, you get it stuck in your head something’s wrong with you. So you beat the shit out of yourself. And it’s making you crazy. So. You need something to beat on when it gets to be too much, so you don’t have to swallow your anger anymore.” He’d paused, then, significantly. “The physical abuse we won’t discuss.” His hands flexed, as though he’d like to choke my mother for her abusing me.

He’d sounded so firm on that.

One never knew the depths of a person until they spent a dark and stormy night with that person.

I agreed with him.

So he began teaching me karate and kickboxing. I turned out to be a natural at it, once I got my strength back. After awhile he even got his sensei to test me, and give me the belts as I moved through the stages.

All of it gave me a budding peace of mind that I hadn’t had before; I was truly relieved, and often a little bit scared of it all. Larry always took good care of me, the same way he did Cecilia, who is his elder sister. I met her once or twice, and she is as beautiful as he is, and as warmly generous beneath the gruffness. “You’re one of us!” She told me firmly. “If Larry likes you, God help anyone who goes against you.” And she laughed gaily.

As if I’d needed any more brothers.

But I gave up fairly soon. It seemed like I’d been adopted into the U2 clan.

And for the first time in my life, I got along with women! It was strange at first, getting used to the idea that women in this camp were expected to be as smart and tough as the men, and to be as individual as snowflakes.

And yet, it’s true.

Nobody minds that I don’t wear makeup, or that my clothes are usually worn and bleach-stained half the time (I’m terrible at doing my own laundry despite doing a bang-up job at Larry’s). They just shrug, and say, That’s Li. Don’t fuck with her.
They’re such big brothers, the four of them.

In time, I got used to it, though.




Today, we’re entering Chicago again. It’s been a year since I left. I wonder how the old neighborhoods are doing. I’m a whole year older, and in better shape than I was before. I’d even lost fifteen pounds, making me as slender as Larry. It was weird, knowing I could fit his clothes. Half the time, I think I did wear them, and as often, he wore mine. We shared a similar taste, mostly. He isn’t going to do the Goth thing, though. That’s out of the question, though I managed to get him into gothic gear for Halloween. We all had a good time laughing at Bono’s reaction when he saw his friend completely Goth’d up. He about fainted, and Ali chortled, “Speechless! Oh, thank Heaven! He’ll be speechless all night!”

All four of the Hewson kids were positively gleeful at the prospect.

I stare out the window, twirling a loc around my finger. They’re longer than they were. Time to get them cut again, I suppose. Larry looks out the window as well, long legs splayed casually into the floor of the limo. For such a small guy, he’s got long legs. You don’t realize he’s not six feet tall until you get up close.

I grin suddenly, mischievous. “You know, Larry – I always wanted to ask you something.”

“What, love?” He asks absently, rubbing long fingers down his thigh in a ritual habit of boredom. He can’t wait to get out of this limo, I can tell. His Harley hasn’t caught up to us yet, and he was getting antsy about being in a limo with Bono forever. I think we’re all antsy. And we’re all ever so glad that he’s also asleep. The man has more energy than a ten year old.

“Do you arch your eyebrows?”

The limo was silent a long moment.

Adam’s face screwed up. He snorted, swallowing a bray of laughter as Larry looks up at me, horrified at the very idea.

Edge claps both hands over his face, his shoulders shaking silently.

Paul McGuiness stares at me as though he’d never seen me before, his face reddening with smothered laughter.

I give Larry my best innocent face as he rubs at his eyebrows with his index fingers. Both of them. At once.

The car erupts into hysterical laughter. Even Larry has a good laugh over it, though he tries to glare at me and look disgusted with his mates.

Bono, however, sleeps through it like a baby.


We were headed to the hotel to drop off Edge and Bono at the hotel. Larry, however, surprised me this morning with a wistful desire to see my old neighborhood while I go and check in at the church I attended while at Chicago. Adam agreed to come along, just because he’s bored. And, I suspect he’s feeling a bit lonely for less cerebral company than bono and Edge. Larry and Adam have a very odd bond, but it’s deep in its own way. They need to be, because they’re the practical pair of the band.

I don’t know why I want to; they’ve always been rather annoying as a whole, insisting on ridiculous rules for me that they never asked of anyone else.

But still, there are those who I have a certain tendril of affection for, so I let them know how I’m doing.

I agree, of course; I plan to have much fun with the bad boys of U2 in a church. It ought to be amusing, particularly since Adam, while spiritual, doesn’t really have much interest in the traditional. And Larry can often scare the wits out of the religious with his pedantic tendencies.

Not to mention his vicious snarly touch-me-not glare.

In case the reader was not hitherto informed, let him beware: I am devilment personified; I am patently incapable of not creating mischief when it has entertainment value.

I learned it from Bono; yeah, that’s it. I’m blaming it on Bono.

Dropping Edge and a very sleepy Bono off (we all have a good giggle as Bono is taken by the hand by both Edge and Paul to be taken directly to bed. Adam, I believe, snorted something about tucking him in.) at the Hyatt, we are soon on our way. In about an hour (unfortunately much too short a ride for my suddenly nauseous belly and pounding head; what is it about the place that makes me positively ill?), we’re there.

There is startled commentary as the limo halts, and the driver opens the curbside door to allow us to depart. First Adam, then I, then Larry, who promptly glares at the head Deacon when he starts to fuss about the limo taking the pastor’s parking spot.

Patting Larry’s hand to clam him, I tell Johnny, “Look, pastor isn’t here yet, and the limo’s not staying there. Jeez, Johnny, take a breath, will you? Nobody’s disrespecting him.”

Adam sticks his hands in the pockets of his slacks and murmurs something to the limo driver, who grins impudently. “Right-o, soir.”
Getting back into the limo, he pulls off.

Larry is still glaring at Johnny in the most intimidating fashion. “Phooey, Larry; Phooey!” I joke, falling back on my dog-handling days to dredge up the stern rebuke for an erring police dog. “Blide!” He glances down at me and laughs. “All right, I won’t bite.”

“Supah.” I grin impudently.”

“Brat.” He retorts with no heat at all, squinting as the sun decided to beam brilliantly into his eyes. I lean against him and bat my lashes at him, Betty Boop style.

“Pretty Larry wants a cracker?” I poke his crooked nose deftly as he tries to snap at my finger. “You do remember you’re vegetarian, right, Larry?” I ask facetiously as his teeth clip together centimeters from my fingertip.

“I’m also hungry as hell.” He grins at me, tucking hands in his black slacks.

“Hey!” Mother Rush greets, rubbing my shoulder affectionately. I hug her tight, and then introduce her to Adam and Larry. “Meet the bodyguards, Agents Mullet and Posh Spice.” Adam pulls my hair affectionately and Larry mock glowers at me.

“I can fire you, you know.”

“You wouldn’t dare. I’m the only one who can feed you adequately when all else fails.”

Adam ignores us both and sets out to be extremely charming to Mother Rush, who blushes at his attention. “Adam, you be nice to her or you’re in for it.”

“What, is someone going to smite me?” He retorts laughingly.

“If God doesn’t, I will.” Larry threatens with a grin.

“Trust me; you don’t want me to borrow Mimic from the clinic. It’s around the corner.” I retort laughingly.

“You’re a poet, Cherie.” Adam wriggles his fingers and allows Mother Rush to lead him into the church.

Larry and I look at each other, roll our eyes, and follow as everyone begins to file in and find seats. It’s going to be one of those days.

I shall enjoy it immensely.


Once in, we firmly plant ourselves together on a pew, me between the two. Ironically enough, we’re all dressed casually, in black. We look like grim death, but then, until you’ve tried a fourteen hour flight with Bono, you just don’t know tired.

But at least we’re not wearing jeans and flip flops. Just men’s dress sandals, slacks, and silk polo shirts.

We are the Men in Black. We are the Borg. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.


Amusingly enough, none of us has bothered to close them completely, either.

I get a couple sideways looks; looks that mean they don’t approve of the fact that our collarbones are clearly visible.

Hey, at least they see no boobs or moobs. That’s a plus, isn’t it?

Oh, wait, it’s the fact that Larry’s put my hand on his thigh; I hadn’t even noticed him grabbing it when he began to get nervous at all the attention from the congregation.

I forget he gets attention shy at times.

I also forget how exceedingly friendly this church can get. In the rush to make people feel welcome, they tend to overwhelm. Everyone has to greet each new person effusively, and Larry was getting rather tired of being greeted by so many new people at once.

Adam, however, doesn’t mind a bit; he is in his element. He mingles and charms, perfectly at his ease among the crowd. He’s even up and wandering around, talking to people amiably. I hadn’t seen that coming, either. He’s usually not that friendly.

Bono has best look to his position as Most Charming Man in the Band.

I tap out the ‘dangerous curves ahead’ tattoo on Larry’s thigh. He casually drapes his arm across my shoulders, and now gives Adam a thump on the shoulder as he resettles himself on the pew, trying not to settle into his usual sprawl.

Aww, Adam’s behaving himself. It won’t last long.

Adam gives me that crinkly eyed frowny smile.

I simply cross my legs demurely and pretend I haven’t noticed the disapproving stare of the head nurse at all. After all, you couldn’t see my breasts, and there was no way in heaven or hell I was going to try and tell two grown men how to dress or behave.

If women couldn’t keep their eyeballs where they should, that wasn’t my problem.

Though I could understand their difficulty.

I swallow a grin and settle down to pretend to enjoy the praise team’s singing.
It was difficult, however, to keep from laughing when a particularly piercing note had Larry wincing as though stabbed, and Adam covering his eyes as someone butchered a bass line.

And then there was the horrible moment when the drummer went totally off track. Larry sat bolt upright, tense and vibrating with a probably desire to laugh. I squeezed his wrist gently.

We studiously ignored each other.

We ain’t misbehavin’. Really, we ain’t! Our innocent expressions project blandly.

The torturously long praise and worship section finally concludes, and none too soon, from the rather pinched expression Larry wears. Adam, ironically, merely looks pleasantly interested. He’s very good at ironically pleasantly interested.

I must cultivate this talent, sensei, I think, and stifle another giggle as Larry raises an eyebrow at me, his eyes sparkling with repressed mirth. I’d warned him that they were rather more enthusiastic than gifted.

I read his mind. They minded him of Bono, who can’t sing too well, but has the enthusiasm to pull it off anyway.

I do grin at his slight twitch of lips.

We aren’t going to laugh. Yet, anyway.

Adam gets a sudden twinkle in his eye, and I try not to laugh aloud as we are told to stand so the pastor can make his way up to the pulpit. He’s probably amused at all the pomp and circumstance. Larry rubs his nose and stares determinedly at the floor. I look anywhere but at the two of them.

I suddenly realize I don’t feel ill anymore.

I’m not the only one who sees the humor in all this.

The pastor begins talking, and Adam has a coughing fit. I suspect he finds it all too humorous, the way the man starts talking about random subjects that seem to have nothing to do with anything at all.

It plainly reminds him of Bono.

I wonder why.

I grin at him when he peeks at me out of the corner of his eye.

Lest you get me wrong, I actually like the guy. It’s just, the man has a serious tendency to continually try and build up himself in order to hide his own insecurities. He needs too much ego-boosting. It’ll be his downfall. I just hope it doesn’t hurt too much.

He’s an unpolished version of Bono, who at least recognizes his megalomania and laughs about it.

Pastor Durr hasn’t seen the foolish trap he is in yet.

I take the cup of water from the all-too-attentive nurse and send her away. Then I quietly threaten Adam with exquisite torture if he doesn’t behave, trying not to laugh all the while.

Larry stares at the old worn carpet, wringing his fingers idly.

He’s colossally bored.

What had I gotten into?

It was only noon, and I had two bored, mischievous men to try and handle at once.

Perhaps I ought to rethink my stance on prayer. Then again, maybe I won’t; these two wouldn’t be themselves if they don’t behave like they do.

After awhile, however, Adam begins to settle a bit, listening with every evidence of really enjoying the sermon. Even Larry perks up a bit, though he doesn’t lose the stone-faced expression. At one point, he crosses his legs – rather primly, I think in amusement, and rests his shoulder against mine, lacing his fingers through mine.

Adam rests an arm across my shoulders, his fingertips idly tapping against Larry’s shoulder. Though they don’t look at each other, they grin suddenly, mysteriously. I roll my eyes and nudge Adam with my elbow. “Behave, you.” I growl under my breath, stifling a giggle as Adam winks brazenly at me when the head nurse walks by, eyeing the three of us with patent disapproval. Adam’s eyes twinkle as he gives her his most charming upside down smile. She returns his smile, but gives me a long look. I shrug helplessly, and grin. It’s not my fault Adam’s a hopeless flirt.

He, too, has learned from Bono.

When the theoretical church doors are thrown open in the traditional unsubtle hint to become ‘born again’ and join the church, That Song is played. The one with the fifty one stanzas, that is supposed to melt the heart of the most hardened sinner so that he will repent of his wicked ways. Nobody moves, but there is expectancy in the air; a certain sly watching of the guests; a hoping that they will join the cult.

Neither of them so much as twitches an eyebrow. In fact, Larry is all but asleep, his cheek resting against my hair, his eyes nearly closed. His fingers are slack in mine, and his chest moves with lazy sloth. I don’t think he hears the impassioned pleas of the Pastor or the mournful tones of the choir’s singing.

“Brother, why don’t you come?” Adam is jerked out of his introspective silence by the pastor’s question, and looks up to find himself being singled out for special attention. He frowns, ever so slightly, looks down at his hands. For a moment, it appears that he is seriously considering it.

He looks over at Larry, who merely raises a shoulder with a crooked smile. Your call, my brother, that shrug indicates. I will not hinder you; I will not speak of it unless you want to. I love you no matter what you do.
Adam twists his Cladaagh ring around and around on his finger, staring down at it as though he finds it fascinating. I think it’s one of the few times where I’ve seen Adam look distinctly nervous. The easygoing bass player is rarely bereft of his aplomb.

I feel his eyes rest on me a moment. I give him a sidelong glance, and then extend a hand to his. I squeeze his thumb lightly, reassuringly. Up to you, man; nobody’s going to make a big deal out of it. Adam rolls his broad shoulders back, but does not rise. Instead, he crossed his legs and looks up at the Pastor.

And then he surprised us. He actually got up and went. Larry looked up, and then stared at me in surprise. I shrugged. “You know how he is; he always wants to gain new experiences. I wouldn’t read too much into it.” Larry gives a wry twist of lips, and plants his cheek back on my head.

I still can’t get used to his random acts of affection.

Still, I try and enjoy them when I can.

Meanwhile, Adam is asked whether he believes Christ died for him. He stops the pastor, gently, “I thought I’d have a pit of prayer, that’s all.” He’s firm on that; I must admire his aplomb. Durr has no choice but to submit to that; after all, to try and force Adam against his will is futility.

Eyes fall on Larry and I, and one of the deacons asks him if he’d like to join them. Larry’s eyes close. “Already a believer, man; I’m good.”

“You don’t need prayer?”

“At the moment, I’m content.” Larry rubs his cheek absently against my hair; an intimate gesture I’d seen him do to Ann when he’s feeling particularly peaceful. In that instant, I know he isn’t feeling shy anymore. I smile to myself.

We are left alone, now, thankfully.

Things at the altar were done differently today; where they usually prayed for everyone with a blanket prayer, today they pray for each person individually. When they get to Adam, he looks considerably more relaxed than he had been a minute ago. He even goes along with the raising of hands to the sky thing without demur.

Larry is watching him intently from beneath his thick lashes.

I sit very still. I wonder what’s going to happen here.

They begin to pray.

It happened so quickly that neither Larry nor I am prepared for it.

The pastor grabs his shoulders and shook him once.

Adam took one step backward, into the two deacons standing immediately behind him.

With a startled yelp, Adam falls straight over onto the floor.

In startlement, Larry goes from sommulence to standing, prepared to defend his brother ferociously, I get up, walk towards the front, and with the casual arrogance of one who knows she will not be stopped – after all, their health is my responsibility, and if Adam is so much as scratched, I will have to explain it to Paul in detail – I lean over to give Adam a once over, one hand wound tight in Larry’s, who was rather pale with worry.

Adam was grinning madly. His eyes were twinkling slits in his face. He was having a merry old time. Rubbing his face, he even essayed to sit up the second people stopped trying to hold him down.

Just as I’d suspected – he’d been tripped up, and found the idea immensely funny.

Despite the deacons’ attempts to make us let him lie there, we pick him up anyway. He rolls his shoulders backward against the pain of having his spine slammed against the floor, and waves away the omnipresent fans and water. “I’m quite all right, darling, thank you.”

I press my palm against my face. Larry is wearing a peculiarly pleasant expression.

One hopes we can contain our shared amusement until service is over.


Fortunately, it ended rather quickly. I don’t think they realized he hadn’t really ‘gotten the holy ghost’, but rather had been distracted by being shaken. After service, while everyone is mingling and milling about, I uttered, low, one thing: “Eeeeeee – thump.”

Larry and Adam begin to laugh hysterically. “Geez, Ads, and here we thought you’d been taken by the Christian faith...” I tease in amusement. “C’mon, now. Don’t be fooling us like that.”

“Well, I do believe in God, it’s the rest of it that makes me suspicious.” Adam retorts calmly enough, though he’s still wheezing from laughter. “Yeah, me too.” I admit with an unrepentant grin as they both stare at me with mock surprise writ on their faces.

“Hey, can I talk to you for a second?” Those words put the fear of God into me, especially when the Pastor says them. Never a good thing comes of those words spoken by him.

Larry raises his eyebrows at me.

I’d forgotten I’d told him about my own dreaded phrase.

I wrinkle my nose at him in reassurance. I have allies.

He nods, indicates he and Adam are going outside. I nod, and follow the Pastor into his office, Mother Rush and Minister Coney on our heels. At the door, he asks for Larry to come join us instead.

Larry’s brows knit in a frown, and Adam pauses, and then finds a chair immediately outside the office.

Once in the office, the pastor begins, with the usual prayer (which lets me know he plans to come out with something spurious and possibly very imaginative and entertaining, as well as completely insulting), he begins, “We noticed some behavior between you two that wasn’t very Christian. If you two are courting, that’s great, but you were all snuggled up and that’s not right behavior in the middle of service!”

The conclusion is foregone: we begin to laugh, hysterically.
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Old 07-11-2006, 04:46 PM   #10
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Devlin,
It took me a while to get to this. I wanted to read it whan I had time to take it all in. I really like the work you have done and you are another one of the few gifted writers here. Good job girl

BTW Agent Muttet and Posh Spice
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Old 07-14-2006, 11:26 AM   #11
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Thank you, thank you; I will be at the Improve all week
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Old 07-21-2006, 10:17 AM   #12
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Strange things happen when I get bored.

Obvious Heart

The obvious heart has come to collect
Cause it tore apart like a tortured insect
The obvious heart waits here to heal
And balances out a subtle reveal

Cause there’s a remedy close
In a familiar dose
This bitter pill to swallow
Is last in the bottle tonight
You’re empty it’s alright

And full of yourself
No need to explain
To anyone else
Broken in time
Taken what’s left
No need to deny
The cause or effect

This heart is not a broken one
But where have all the colors gone
It’s still among the lucky ones

This heart is not a broken one
But where have all the colors gone
You’re still among the lucky ones
And burning longer than the sun

Cause there’s a remedy close
In a familiar dose
Now you can find out who knows
Soaking the truth that she says
In taken chances


I cannot believe this. I am being accused of molesting a woman in public, in a church no less. I don’t know whether I should be outraged or amused. Considering the things Li has been telling me about this place, I opt to be amused. After all, she doesn’t seem too worried about the accusations being thrown at her from the Minister and the Pastor. The Mother (Rush, I think her name is) looks a bit sick at this whole interview, as though she doesn’t want to be in the room.

Gently, I touch her hand, tacitly asking if she’s okay. She looks at me, then straightens in her chair and stares at the Pastor hard.

“You know, that is enough. I’ve held my tongue because I don’t want to go against you pastor, but in this case you’re dead wrong. You’ve been riding this girl from the moment she joined this church! You believe rumors over the truth, you barely speak to her unless it’s to accuse her of things she’s never done. You crucify her at every turn, and yet she comes to church anyway. She’s forgiven you things you don’t have the right to be forgiven, overlooked all the hurt you’ve heaped on her for three years, and now you have the audacity to outright accuse her of something that is blatantly not true, and in front of a visitor? How dare you, sir?” She is standing, trembling and crying, between a very surprised Li and the Pastor. “You are arrogant, stubborn, and foolishly led by those who tell you what you want to hear! You listen to gossip and use it to shore up your own ego. Watch yourself, pastor, you are becoming a hypocrite yourself. I mean, did you even bother to ask them what was really happening? I sat there and looked at them. All he was doing was holding her hand and leaning against her. Did it ever occur to you that he could be shy? Or that they were praying privately? What if he just felt less nervous while he was holding her hand? Or if they were just supporting each other?”


I stare at Ms. Rush as though I’ve never seen her before. Li also has a bemused look on her face. I suppose the woman has never given the Pastor a setdown quite like that, before. And he deserves it; I’m not the kind of man that goes around seducing women. The thought makes me ill.

Durr opens his mouth and promptly inserts foot: “You know she’s got a bad spirit – “

That is it! I can’t stand this anymore. “Have you ever considered the fact that your overly friendly little flock could make a shy man nervous?” I ask, my voice dangerously quiet, cutting coldly across the man’s diatribe. “I don’t like crowds, sir. I don’t like being mauled, willy nilly by perfect strangers who greet me as though we’re the closest of friends. If holding her hand keeps me from feeling too nervous, what’s it to you? And do let us not forget the fact that I have a lover at home whom I am loathe to leave. I would not trade Ann for any supermodel in the world, and believe me when I tell you I can.” I stare at him, icily. “You may not insult Levi in my presence, sir. Do you understand me?”

“She’s not following the rules of this church! You don’t do that kind of thing unless you’re married to the person!” Durr thunders, and I scoff. “You ought to look to your other ladies, then, sir. I was indecently mauled by at least three of them, putting their hands where only my lady Ann is allowed to touch.”

Levi smothers a laugh. “I did see that.” She agrees calmly enough when his irate gaze swings on her. “You know good and damned well you have no case, here, and are just trying to get rid of me because you feel inferior. Well, I’ll give you what you want. I will not return here, period. And the last tithe check I have here? I will not give it to you. I owe it to God, not you. I’ll find a more deserving house of worship to give it to.”

With that, she rises, and walks out the door. I follow, ignoring his orders to come back, that we aren’t done discussing things. Adam pokes his head in, “I do believe we are, sir.”


Later, I can’t sleep for the nightmarish desire to go back and kill that man for hurting my Levi. I could see how upset she was, how she curled up on herself and refused to come out. Adam and I gave each other doleful looks all the way back. We wanted, needed, to comfort her, and she wouldn’t let us. But it explained a lot: the true depths of the emotional damage she’d suffered, and the sometimes unreasoning rage, aggression, and rebellion she showed when asked to do what seemed simple and reasonable at times.

At least I know why she’s so fractious, so anxious, so nervous.

It doesn’t ease my mind any.

I rub my hands over my face, then whip the covers off my legs. I have to go check on her. I simply have to.

I open the door to the common room to find her standing there, staring out the window with a bottle of liquor in her hand. Her back is to me, and she’s shaking. “Levi.” I call, softly. Don’t startle her, old man. I think to myself. This could turn south. “Levi, sweetheart, what are you doing?”

She doesn’t turn – apparently she heard me moving. I’d forgotten her uncanny ability to simply know what was happening in the next room, even if she can’t remember what she did with her keys five seconds ago, or remember what day or month we’re in. She’s a walking oxymoron. Part of why I love her, I guess; she’s very like Bono that way.

“Drinking the pain away.” Her tone is flat. “It’s a perfectly sound thing to do right now.”

She looks so frail! I want to hold her close, and move without thinking to wrap my arms around her.

To my utter surprise, she lets me.

“Levi,” I whisper against her hair, my voice thick with unshed tears, “Don’t do this. Don’t let him take you from me. I don’t want to lose another sister.” She turns her head, looking at me from under the dark fringe of her lashes.

“Am I indeed your sister?” She asks faintly. “Then why do I feel so completely alone right now?”

My heart breaks for her. I hate the way she feels right now, as though she is worthless, something to be thrown away because she isn’t what she’s ‘supposed’ to be, made to feel that way by those she’s loved the most. It isn’t right, and I don’t know how to fix it.

I kiss her, then, frantically searching for a way to bring her back to me. My fingers frame her face, gently. She surrenders so easily, sliding her arms around my slim waist as she turns into my body. I wrap my arms around her, holding her tightly against my chest.

“Levi,” I whisper hoarsely. “I wish I could make you forget. I wish I could convince you that you are worth loving.”

“If that’s so, why is it that I can’t keep a normal relationship with anyone? I seem to shove everyone right out of my life.”

“You’re lonely.” I state. She does not deny it. “Stay with me, love. Let me hold you – you don’t have to fight this time, love. Maybe you don’t feel safe anywhere..do you feel safe with me?”

She considers me thoughtfully a long moment, as though measuring and weighing my very soul. I am very still in this moment, knowing she needs to know my motives are not sexual, despite the physical craving that creeps up on me – God knows I have been without Ann long enough to want sex very, very badly.

“Ironically enough, I do.” A hint of tired amusement warms her monotone voice as she gives me a mocking, leering glance.

I flush. She grins and swats my shoulder affectionately. “Do stop glowing like a virgin milkmaid.”

With a mock growl, I pull her close again, and steal a kiss from her. “I can’t help it. It’s the curse of fair skin.”

“Hah.” She scoffs at me, then tickles my ribs. That did it – the depressive tension dissolves into an all out tickle war that would shock my children – they’ve never managed to set me giggling like she does.

Eventually, we do climb into bed, where I struggle to ignore the frantic, heated needs of my body as I hold her close to my chest, my breathing ragged.

Damn, but this is going to be tough.

I need sex. Badly.

So much for that whole waning drive men complain about. I kiss her forehead shen she murmurs sleepily, and edge my lower body away from her a little. She settles down, and goes deeper into sleep.

It's going to be a long, long night.

I shiver when her breath touches my neck, and tangle my fingers in her hair. Levi. I close my eyes. I love Ann - she's the only woman for me.

I'm failing, miserably, to convince myself that I don't want to ease my sensual tension right this second.

Ann would reproach me for my stubborn pride. In fact, she'd probably chew me out over it. We'd been together forever, she and I - she knows I love her deeply. She also told me I can be a fool.

Well - I'll be a fool. I cradle Levi closer, inhaling her scent, feeling more roused by the second as she entangles herself with me.

This is going to be an exceding long night.

I brush my lips against her temple. "Levi." I breathe against her ear.

"Wha.." She's only half awake.

"I..oh, damn, Levi - I'm not made of stone." I whisper huskily against her jaw. "I want to.." I can't say it.

Her eyes open, and she stares at me in bewilderment.Then it dawns on her. "Oh. Maybe I should leave now before something you might regret happens." She shifts away from me, preparing to leave.

I feel bereft of her warmth. And I'm lonely, too. I grab her hand.

"Stay."

The plea comes, unbidden, from my lips. I look at her wistfully, hungrily. "Please, Levi?"

She blinks, frowns slightly. I can see her turning it over in her mind.

She slides back into the bed, and we lie there, not touching, in the dark.

Finally, I can't take it anymore, and I reach for her. Ann would never forgive me for being such a fool.

I kiss her passionately, whispering against her mouth, "Levi - I.."

She hushes me, tangles her fingers in my hair. "I know."

We didn't need words.

Dawn was a long time in coming - and just this once, I didn't need to count the seconds.

Nor did I need to dream.
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Old 07-24-2006, 01:55 PM   #13
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oh snap


Keep writing, this is good
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Old 08-11-2006, 01:38 PM   #14
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Whatchu lookin' at, Willis?

Restless tonight because I wasted the light
Between all these times, I drew a really thin line
It’s nothing I planned and not that I can
But you should be mine across the line

If I traded it all
If I gave it all away for one thing just for one thing
If I sorted it out if I knew all about this one thing wouldn’t that be something?

I promise I might not walk on by
Maybe next time but not this time
Even though I know, I don’t want to know
Yeah, I guess I know: I just hate how it sounds

If I traded it all
If I gave it all away for one thing just for one thing
If I sorted it out if I knew all about this one thing wouldn’t that be something?

If I traded it all
If I gave it all away for one thing just for one thing
If I sorted it out if I knew all about this one thing wouldn’t that be something?

Even though I know, I don’t want to know
Yeah, I guess I know: I just hate how it sounds
Even though I know, I don’t want to know
Yeah I guess I know: I just hate how it sounds.

If I traded it all
If I gave it all away for one thing just for one thing
If I sorted it out if I knew all about this one thing wouldn’t that be something?





“Levi.”

His voice is soft, rough with emotion. His arm tightens about my waist, pulling me closer when I would have moved away. He doesn’t want me to leave, not yet. It’s only three in the morning, and we have time before the horde awakens, and road life must begin anew.

His lips brush my shoulder, thick, shaggy blond hair falling into his eyes as he looks down at me, his blue eyes a soft indigo.

“I’m not sure I’m ready to let you go just yet.” He buries his face in the curve of my neck, to hide the blush of his shyness. I smile and stroke his hair. “And what will you tell Ann when she comes in here at six in the morning and realizes you’re all cuddled up with someone else?”

His head jerks up. “What?” his eyes are wide with concern, and no little fear. “Ann’s coming?”

“I see Bono neglected to inform you that the families are joining us.” I can’t help laughing at the look on his face: he looks like a kid whose hand has been caught in the proverbial cookie jar. Ann’s actually not due until six this evening, of course; I should know, since I arranged it two days ago. She actually suggested the idea that I sneak into his room in the morning, just to give him a shock. She’s fond of shaking him up, every now and again; says he needs it to keep him from becoming too rigid.

Something in her tone suggested she knew he has a slight crush for me, and didn’t mind it one bit.

“Are you suggesting I seduce him?” I laughingly taunt, not at all considering the possibility that she’d been seriously suggesting it.

“Actually, I wish you would! I hate it when he gets so curious about something he thinks he ought not have,” Ann responded candidly. “I’ve told him twice, now, that I don’t ruddy well care if another woman takes his fancy and he wants to sleep with her. I mean, thirty years, Li! I’m hardly going to worry about him sleeping with you – you’re not likely to hurt him nor take it as more than what it is.”
“Are you serious!” I burst out laughing. “Wait, wait, wait, Larry is curious about sleeping with me!" I hadn’t bothered to be offended by her surety that Larry wouldn’t leave her for me. Even considering the fact that I'd always wondered what he was like in bed, it simply hadn't occured to me that he might also be curious.


In point of fact, I heartily agree with her.

Larry and I are good friends, and love each other dearly. But, we both know we’d never make it as a couple; Larry’s a one woman man, and that woman is Ann, for him, even when he’s aggressively aroused by someone else. It’s temporary. And, from what I know of their relationship, it’s fairly open.

Others are fair game, as long as there’s a heads-up about it before time.

And yet, he’s never taken advantage of it before.

I’m honored that I actually am so great a temptation that he overcame his shyness to try it.

I envy Ann his love.

Perversely I decide to terrorize him, just a bit more. “Yeah, she’s going to be here very early.”

He sits up, staring at me with wide eyes, worry wrinkling his forehead. His hair practically stands on end, and he rubs his chest, his breathing shallow.

I can’t control the fit of hysterical laughter bubbling up in my throat, then.

“Why, you little –” He whacks me with an overstuffed pillow, and I attack his ribcage.

“You idjit! Don’t you remember me telling you they’d be here this evening? Getting old, babyface?” I taunt, laughingly. He promptly tackles me, growling, “I’ll show you old, you little whippersnapper.”

Breathlessly, I submit to his advances. One does not deny Larry when he doesn’t want to be.


Hours later, we manage to get ourselves under control and out the door. Hunger is a powerful motivator, you see. Surprisingly, no one in the band says a word. Not so much as a lifted eyebrow or sidelong stare. They seem calmly accepting of it all. Or perhaps they just decided it was none of their business what happened last night.

I opt for the latter, personally.

They’re fond of giving each other privacy and space.

This is a good thing.

Laura, the new caterer, isn’t so knowledgeable of this rule, however, and proceeds to needle me. For God knows what reason, this woman has made it her goal to ‘turn me from my wicked ways’.

It doesn’t help that she’s a typical old church lady.

I of course have no use for the woman; she’s a fanatical born again Christian on a mission to convert everyone, the message ‘Live and let live’ apparently not getting through to her. She even aggravates Bono, who is notoriously hard to annoy when it comes to religion. You just can’t do it, I’d always assumed. But nope, Laura found a way: be obnoxious about it, and you will annoy the Bono. He pretty much avoids her, and he’s fond of cooks. Adam will not deal with her at all, period, end of story. He won’t even eat what she cooks unless there’s no other choice.

I find it all hysterically funny, of course.

“What were you doing alone in a room with a bachelor last night, young lady?” She begins. Edge’s head jerks up from the Irish Times paper he’d been buried up to the beanie in. Adam chokes on his cappuccino, and Bono gives her a red eyed glare from beneath a cloud of messy piebald red, black, and white hair, bleary eyes shifting between me and Larry, who is single mindedly pouring soy milk into his giant cup of coffee. He seems oblivious to everything, but I know he’s listening. He told me last night that he was attracted to my warrior’s spirit.

Heh. Romantic.

“Ha’bout none of your business.” Adam drawls lazily, raising both his brows, eyes slitted against the glare of too-bright lights.

I only just manage not to laugh at the distinctly ghetto drawl of his voice – he’s picked up the dialect someplace. Wherer, none of us can figure out, but it’s nonetheless the funniest thing to have the oh-so-posh Adam sounding like he’s going to offer a gangsta beat-down on somebody anytime now.

“It’s not ladylike – ”Laura begins, only to be interrupted, this time form another source.

“Who told you she was a lady?” Larry chimes in, looking at me with a wicked, challenging grin. I grin back, waggling my eyebrows in acceptance of the challenge.

We mean her no good, he and I.

“How dare you suggest such a thing!” Laura is shocked. “And for you to laugh at that, Levi, is just abominable! No, it’s the devil in you! You have to repudiate the evildoer!”

“Very well.” I grin, then dip my fingers into Bono’s suddenly conveniently placed water, and slap her forehead before she can stop me. “Satan, I rebuke thee! Go from this woman!”

Sheer blasphemy for the sake of humor, of course.

What we didn’t expect was that she’d fall out.

“Oops.”I say, slapping my forehead in dramatic amusement. “I forgot I got power.”

She’[s fine, of course, we know. Her tendency for the dramatic has been well established. We’ve seen her pull this trick before, under similar settings, like when we played tackle football one night, and Adam tackled me, deliberately tickling my ribs while he was at it. Of course, Laura noticed, tried to lecture, and promptly fainted when I told her to go to Hell in a pretty pink hand basket.

“Oh, knock it off.” Bono growls at her. “And get up; stop being ridiculous. She’s fine. Nothing you need to be concerned about happened.”

He sounds grumpy this morning. Methinks Laura has been filling his ears with all our sinful ways. All this before breakfast, of course. Bad idea, that. I snort and haul her up. “Yeah, Laura, knock it off. I’m a grown up. Stop bothering me and get over yourself. Go make Larry something he can eat, if you please. You know, without meat?”

“I’d noticed the dearth of vegetarian options on the side board. Today, I want no meat myself. I hope the witch makes enough for two healthy appetites, not two terminally ill ones.

“We have got to replace her,” Adam says unequivocally, his tone brooking no argument.

Not that he’s going to get one. “Good cook, just more suited to church functions than touring with us.” Bono agrees in amusement. “I do believe we shock the lady.”

I snort amusement at his ‘Southern Belle’ accent. “Bono. I will find you a dress. Behave.”

Larry whispers in my ear, “You sure you want to look at his pasty white legs for the rest of the day?”

I chortle. “You’re right. Adam’s legs are better.”

We all laugh at Bono’s pained, “Hey!”
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Old 08-30-2006, 12:22 PM   #15
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Okay, I've noticed the chapers are all screwy..ahem. Not that it matters, much, as I'm almost done! Woo-hoo! I'll likely repost with all the chapters in the correct order sometime soon. In the meantime, here be an update.

Larry

I can’t bloody believe what she’s telling me. I really can’t. It just does not compute, not really; how could such an intensely feminine woman want to be a man? She’s so beautiful, as she is, with her curves and – well. Maybe I’m overreacting here, but I have cause to. A woman that attractive has got to like the idea, right, of having men pant over her.

I think, anyway.

I turn to stare at her, leaning against the sink where I’d been shaving when she told me, clear as day and as though she were discussing the weather, that she was due to start hormone therapy that very day, and not to be surprised if her voice dropped an octave or two. I thought she was joking.

She’s perfectly serious, to my shock.

“Levi: why?” I ask, staring at her as though I’d never seen her before. And maybe I haven’t, not really. I just went with what my eyes told me, I guess. And apparently, my vision isn’t working too well these days.

“Because I’ve always hated looking like a girl; literally, I will stand in the mirror and try to figure out how to flatten my breasts just to make them smaller.” She ruffles her newly done – and much-shortened – locs and smiles wryly at me. “Larry, you likely don’t get it because you like being a man. And your body fits the idea you have for it. Mostly, anyway; what bothers you doesn’t bother you enough to really change it, right?”

I cross my arms over my chest, but have to concede the point. I nod.

“Well, imagine feeling trapped into a body that betrays you at every turn; a body that locks you into societal pressures for what you’re supposed to be, do, and enjoy. Imagine hating it, every moment, every second, and every stupid thing that keeps you from being yourself.”

“Doesn’t sound pleasant,” I have to admit, though I grit my teeth against objecting. Because she’s right: I don’t know what it’s like to be in a body that simply can’t do what I need it to – even though drumming hurts sometimes, I can still do it. She can’t be as physically strong as she wants to be, simply because a woman’s body isn’t built with the upper body strength she wants. “It must be tough.”

“Very. So, I’m taking the treatments to help me get to where my real self is, emotionally and spiritually. I simply am not female, in the traditional sense, and being stuck in a traditionally female body is limiting to me. I need more strength if I am going to be myself, which is transgender, to a certain extent.”
I blink; I suppose, when it comes down to it, she really is. It hadn’t occurred to me what was different about her, what makes me so curious about being with her, being around her. It took her putting a name to it to make me realize that she’s nothing like the women I know intimately; except, perhaps a few transgendered people I know. Only they went full-tilt. She merely wants to make her body go into the deep, ambiguous gray area that her mind and spirit already inhabit. Right; this I can understand.

It’s not exactly what I thought she’d do, but, well, it doesn’t matter. All she wants is my support.

I can give her that.

“So – you want me to help you become more masculine.” I raise my eyebrows, wryly amused. “Ehm – wouldn’t Bono be better suited to the task?” I’m the least masculine of the four of us, and it’s no lie. The other guys are often at a loss where grooming and other things are concerned. I think, out of all of them, I’m the most likely to know the difference between types of shampoo and the like.

“I said I wanted to be more masculine, not grossly negligent of personal hygiene.” Levi chortles, swatting me in the chest. “I would much rather not lose the ability to take care of my body and do it well, thank you.”

“Hey, they do shower regularly.”

“Bono has to be reminded to change his clothes, I must remind you. And so does Edge. Adam – well, nobody quite knows what he does behind closed doors. Even Suzie refuses to find out.” Levi tilts her head at me, mischeviously. “Are you suggesting I learn how to be a male pig, rather than a male model?”

“You calling me a model, woman?” I try to look intimidating, but she only shoves me again.

“You talking to me? You talking to me?” She Stands up on her toes, leaning against me and flexing her – considerably solid – muscles at me. “You want a piece of me, soldier?”

Despite being as strong as a decent workout can make her, she’s still very small. I pick her up by the waist between my hands and stare her in the eye. “Is that an invitation, little general?”

“Put me down, you horny old man, or I’ll tell Ann on you.” She threatens, tugging my hair –gently, this time. Last time, I had a headache for an hour.

“Do tell her, please? Maybe she’ll take the hint and do something about my – energy.” I grin cheekily at her, setting her down and patting her on the head.

She promptly bites my finger and dashes out into the bedroom of the hotel.

I wince and shake my hand. The little brat has sharp teeth.

I turn back to stare absently into the mirror for a second, and sigh. I could do with a haircut, but I don’t feel like getting it done. I’m starting to look like a hippie, or something. I grin, and walk out to go get dressed. It’s almost nine, and I’m due to have dinner with my lady. Maybe tonight we’ll do something wild; maybe I can get Levi to keep those children of ours occupied long enough. She’s altogether too good at keeping my rambunctious threesome out of dangerous mischief while giving them something fascinating to do. Probably something to do with her own childlike nature that allows her the understanding that children need to be busy and well-loved. Hmm - could be how she keeps Bono from doing something too out of control, too.

Idly, my mind turns back to the reason she’d come to me: she’s transgendered. I’m confused, in no small part, as to how we’d address her from now on out; some transgendered preferred really odd non-gender type adjectives: zir, ze – that kind of thing. Very aggravating, those; it just butchers the language wildly. I guess she’ll tell us when it occurs to her that we might need to know that.

But then, she has no intention of becoming a man in the traditional sense; merely changing her body externally, to the point where it matches her ideal body.

More muscle than softness; more masculine than feminine. I wonder if it would change her innate sensuality; I hope not. There’s something alluring about her, wild and untamable.

I sigh. I think I’ll miss the woman I knew that night.

Sometimes, I think about it, and vaguely want more.

Most of the time, though, I’m glad I got that chance to do it the once.

I’m not the man for her, and well I know it.

I just hope the man comes along who is worthy of her; I get the feeling that the four of us are going to want to make him understand that messing with her will make his life miserable. And shorter than he’d counted on.

With a grin, I get dressed, meticulous as always over how everything lay against my body.

Ann, my sweet, sweet woman. How I’ve missed you, love; how I’ve missed dancing with you.

Tonight, I get to do all of that, and then some.

Nothing shall make me happier than that.




The club is crowded; we had expected that. The eight of us decided to go anyway, just because it was billed as a great place to hang out. We’d ditched security about two miles back – I suspect Levi’s fine hand in that. She, of course, knows exactly where we are, and joins us as soon as she’s soothed the agitated nerves of the camp. I raise my brows inquiringly.

“I promised I’d stay with you guys and keep Bono out of trouble.” She grins at Ali’s snort of disbelief.

“We’ve been trying that for years,” She chuckles. “It doesn’t work.”

“I have my ways.” Levi winks at Ali. She dangles a long, slim whistle towards her, grinning maniacally.

Ali grins back. “A dog whistle?”

“And a correction collar.”

The two women stare at each other, and burst out laughing. “Can I borrow them some time?” Ali asks wistfully, eyeing her husband as he wanders absently through the crowd, happily engaging people in conversation.

“Anytime you like, Ali. Just give me a ring when you need ‘em.”

I laugh. “Why couldn’t this kid have been born a decade earlier?” I ask Ann, who grins mildly. “Larry – she’s not that much younger than us, you know that, right?”

I blink at her in confusion. “Huh?”

“Bono’s infected him. I’m thirty eight, you idiot.” Levi laughs at me. “And you are almost forty seven.”

I stare at her, trying to look stern. “Will you please remember I’m your employer?”

“When you remember that glaring at me doesn’t work.”

I give up. She’s a tyrant.

It’s a relaxing evening; the children are all being cared for by staff; apparently even my little demons are so tired from the flight over that they just wanted to eat and sleep. Fine with me; it means I get to be selfish for one night before I get buried in babies. Ah, well; they’re my babies. I love them.

My arms are slack around Ann’s waist as we sniggle close, enjoying the feel of each other through a very slow song – which I ought to remember the name of. Of course, it doesn’t really matter. My Ann is in my arms. I sigh contentedly, ignoring the noise that impinges on my awareness of Ann’s slender body swaying in time with mine; the way her hands slide over my chest; the sweet scent of her perfume as I bury my nose in her neck..

“Just what do you think you’re doing?” An angry voice shatters the peace that filled me. MY head jerks up, and I look around to see a tall man pinning Levi against the wall, trying to fondle her. Her eyes are blazing; she’s snarling like a puppy in the face of an angry mastiff.

“I’m going to teach you how to be a lady, you bitch!” The drunken man snarls back, bending his head to kiss her.

His first mistake is in assuming he had her cowed. She chooses just that moment to spit in his face, one knee coming up to bruise his crotch – and his ego.

He drops her like a hot poker.

She promptly clobbers him one across the neck before putting him in a headlock and slamming his head against the wall.

He drops to the floor, and she kicks him in the ribs for good measure.

Adam reaches her just as she aims a kick at his face. He simply bodily hauls her into the air, taking the precaution of angling her body away from him so she doesn’t hurt him.

Gentle and calm Adam may be, but he’s far from crazy.

Bono, Edge and I manage to reach Adam’s side, along with our wives, as the bouncers converge.

The list of incentives that roll off her tongue are hot enough to peel the steel off a building.

“ – ignorant asshole!” She shrieks. “Put me down! I am going to kick his ass to Hell and back!

Ann whistles. “Remind me not to make her angry, will you?”

Edge chortles, “A well mannered lady, our Levi.”

I snort. “Indeed.”

Bono cheerfully agrees, “Absolutely.”

Morleigh rolls her eyes. “Men. Ladies, why don’t we peel her off Adam before the delicate Miss Levi breaks his neck?”

Suzie chuckles. “Yes, let’s; I want him operational for the wedding night.”

And Adam is indeed struggling to keep Levi from breaking him – I guess the testosterone is in effect. Or maybe she’s just angry enough for her natural strength to come out. Either way, it takes all three of us men to peel her loose, and then only after I managed to get a hand in her hair and yank – hard.

She whirls and swings.

Fortunately, I’m good at ducking, and her low-light vision is terrible.

Ali ducks in and wraps her arms around the hysterical woman, and says quietly, “Levi, relax, you’ve knocked him out cold already. I think his ass is sufficiently kicked. See, look – “

She manages to swing her about to observe two bouncers trying to revive the drunk, who keeps sagging between them. A third is calling for paramedics to get the man to the hospital before he bleeds out on the floor.

And, of course, they’ll need to call the police.

A fourth approaches Levi and Ali – sensibly cautious, for Levi is intimidating when furious: for all that she’s only five three, her obvious strength and the ability to half-kill a six and a half footer is not to be sneezed at.

“We’ll have to ask you a few questions, Miss –”

She stares at him, growling. Ali suggests tactfully, “Why don’t you let us calm her down first?”

The bouncer nods, and says, “Sure – take her into the office and we’ll join you there in ten minutes?”

Ali nods, and all but drags her off, Morleigh, Ann, and Suzie forming protective ranks around her.

I stare at Adam, Bono, and Edge.

“You do realize that we’re going to have to pay for this, yes?”

I indicate the bloody-nosed man being seen to by paramedics.

“Well, I don’t know about that shit, man,” Adam drawls slowly, eyeing the man with distinct distaste. The corners of his mouth turned down as he gives the man a dismissive flick of fingers. “He shouldn’t have tried to force the young lady.”

I don’t know why Adam always calls Levi ‘the young lady’. Perhaps it’s a habit he picked up somewhere.

“True,” Edge chimes in. “She had every right to plaster the jerk to the wall.”

“The attempt to break his face was a bit much, though, don’t you think?” I ask, more amused than unhappy.

“I ought to break it for her.” Bono growls. As the father of two very attractive teenaged girls, I suppose the fear that they wouldn’t be able to defend themselves against such an attack has made him antsy.

But then, Edge also has teenaged girls, and is remarkably calm about it all – or maybe not. His eyes are peculiarly sharp.

“I guess.” I give in; they have a point. She hadn’t done anything wrong; the man had assaulted her first, by all accounts. Even the police seemed less than inclined to pursue Levi for adequate defense of her person.

“I wouldn’t worry about paying for damages,” One sergeant says to me, apparently overhearing my concern. “She was well within her rights to kick his ass. I’d advise you all,” He grins with toothy malice, “To hire that girl as a security guard. Be amusing to have her crunch some macho idiot’s skull sometime.”

I grin, helplessly. “I’d rather not encourage that, you know.”
“NO, suppose not.” The sergeant laughs. “So, if she wants to teach my daughters that maneuver, have her call Detroit Main, willya?” Still laughing, he walks away.

Bono grins suddenly. He’s got a bright idea – I’m not sure I want to hear it. “She can teach Jordan and Eve that.”

Not such a bad idea, that. All the girls could do with some basic training.

“Immortal last words,” Edge chuckles. “They may try it on you the next time you need to punish them.”

“They wouldn’t.”

“Don’t bet money on it,” I snort. “Eve’s bigger than you.”

I laughingly duck the half-hearted punch he aims at me as we head out for the car – and home.



Levi is asleep when we get back. Ali had the notion that the quieter her exit, the better. I check in on her anyway.

Ann is sitting next to her, smoothing her hair back from her face. “She can’t tolerate men touching her much, can she?” Her blue eyes are soft with concern. “How do you get close to her?”

“I’m hardly threatening, Ann.”

“I suppose that’s true – you’ve too much of a gentle look about you.” She smiles and pats the bed next to her.

I sit down gingerly. Levi shifts, opens her eyes a crack, lets them close again. She’s not quite awake, not quite asleep: drowsing and alert all at once.

She never sleeps.

I curl my fingers around her hand.

Ann and I look at each other dolefully.

Levi chokes on a laugh. “Will you two please go to bed and screw each other’s brains out? You’re pathetic.”

I nearly jump out of my skin. “Levi..”

“I can take care of myself. Go, or I’ll make you go.”

“Better come on – you saw what happened to the last guy who wouldn’t leave her alone.” Ann is giggling madly, tugging my hand.

“Yeah, I did.”

We find our room, and rediscover each other.

Part of me, however, still worries about Levi.

I’m not sure she’s okay.

But there’s nothing I can do until morning.

So I let Ann soothe me.
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Old 09-13-2006, 02:31 PM   #16
War Child
 
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So - ehh..okay. I managed to finish this, finally. As with the other story, there is the unedited and the edited. And someone gets whacked by the author.

I'm good at that, dontcha know.
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Old 09-13-2006, 02:32 PM   #17
War Child
 
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And now: the final two chapters. I warn you now, unexpected character death ahead.

Levi

The day is hot and getting hotter; nobody much wants to move. Luckily, we’re not having a concert tonight, just a layover of three days so the guys can take a break. And they’re tired; even Adam, who is normally creepily cheerful under all circumstances, is starting to show some strain: he’s decidedly grumpy, in a quietly polite sort of way: he doesn’t smile much, and just sits very still, staring stonily out at the city, speaking in monosyllables when spoken to. He’s all but stopped teasing the staff. Larry is even quieter than usual, and Edge actually goes to bed every night.

That alone makes us want to drag him to a doctor.

Edge never sleeps.

Ever.

Bono is his usual self, wandering around like a madman, poking his beak into everything, and generally badgering everyone until we start threatening to peel his cranium if he comes near us again.

I actually took a slice of his hair, just to make the threat more real.

Fortunately, he took it in stride.

Intolerably bored, I sigh, shift the bicep bracelet I’d taken to wearing yet again, and begin practicing arpeggios on my new bass guitar. I have nothing else to do; grips don’t, when there’s nothing to set up or tear down, nor when there’s nowhere to take the equipment to. Besides it’s already there at the United Center, and Larry won’t let me go work. He’s mother-henning me again; he has been since that stupid fight at the club.

Maybe I shouldn’t have sad anything about the hyperthyroidism.

Ah, well. He’ll have to let me out of his sight sometime.

And I can lose him in the blink of an eye in this city.

I was born here.

The devil himself pokes his blond head into my room, and I raise an eyebrow at him.

“Wait a minute – is that a lack of gel I see in your hair, old buddy, old pal?” I grin laconically. His hair reminds me of an Irish setter’s: thick, fine, and utterly without body, yet beautifully silky. It falls over his forehead, making him look rather young, if a bit tired. He smiles at me, the first genuine smile anyone has seen out of him in quite awhile; his tendonitis has been rearing its ugly head with a ferocity that has us worried.

I pat the daybed beside me in invitation, and he sidles in, moving toward me with that slinky, graceful stride of his made slightly awkward by the taut muscles of his back. He settles down, crossing his legs primly as he rests his shoulder lightly against mine, resting his back against the window.

“Ready to go home, aren’t you.” I made it a statement.

“I miss Ann. I miss my children. Hell, I miss my dog.” Larry closes his eyes, and in that moment, he looks like a 45 year old father, not the eerily ageless drummer of U2. I pat his hand gently, wishing I could do something about this – but the Tour monster must roll on.

“I think we should schedule a break for you guys to go home for awhile. Not just a week, but six weeks at the very minimum. I think you’re all getting homesick, even Bono.”
Larry scoffs. “Him? He’s a vagrant.”

“Uh huh – and he misses his wife.” I grin at him. “I swear, he’s been in here six times asking me about mail from Ali. He’s becoming pathetic.”

One long lashed eye opens and stares at me. He almost looks like he’s leering, and I stifle a laugh. Larry has some of the oddest facial expressions ever – when he bothers to make them. “Huh. Means we’ve got to start finding him something else to do with his time. Can’t have my best gal stressed out.”

“Yeah, about that..” I begin, drawling. “I am going to go batshit nuts, here, if you don’t let me do something strenuous. I’m not going to fall apart, you know. They have medicine for that whole hyperthyroid thing. And it works amazingly well. Please, Dad, can I go to work now?” I bat my eyelashes at him in a patently false imitation of a simpering Southern belle, and he opens his other eye, lowering his head slightly to stare at me bemusedly for a long moment before he giggles at me like a seven year old.

It’s rather charming.

“Well, I suppose this once won’t hurt.” He sighs, then hugs me gently against his chest for a moment. “I just worry about you, you know? You’re so damned tiny these days.”

“Look who’s talking.” I poke a finger into his ribs. “You’re not exactly large yourself, guy.”

“Yeah, I know, I know, eat something.” He rolls his eyes.

People – fans, mostly – have been complaining for years that Larry is too thin. Of course, they don’t notice that he’s also got a very delicate bone structure, which might explain why he’s so small – he eats well and gets proper exercise, on top of it all. Americans aren’t used to that kind of thing.

“Only if you’re hungry, as far as I’m concerned.” I bounce off the daybed happily, and dart out the door to go get something useful done.




I rise groggily from the bed, coughing harshly and rubbing at my face. It’s too warm in this room; much too warm. Distantly, I hear the fire alarm screaming wildly, and roll off the bed in an automatic response to instinct-deep training. I crawl out of my bedroom, automatically testing the door for heat. It’s hot, but not enough to suggest that the fire is right at my door.

In the hall, I look about, getting my bearings. People are heading for the nearest staircase, yelling to each other to check the rooms, to get everyone out. Head counts are being done, and I see Adam’s silver head flash briefly among a crowd of staff members, cradling a groggy Bono close, protectively wrapping a jacket about his shoulders and guiding him towards the exit. Edge is drifting along at Bono’s other side, frowning as he looks around. Firefighters are herding people along, urging them to hurry.

Edge keeps trying to push back, snapping something at a firefighter when he pushes Edge determinedly towards the staircase.

I have a horrid, sneaking suspicion, and my belly turns cold.

Where is Larry?

I yell to Edge that I’ll take care of Larry, just get out. He still looks like he wants to come after me, but Adam manages to convince him that I can handle it.

I dash frantically down the hall, yelling for him, dodging hotel staff and firefighters like a greyhound, slippery as an eel. Larry has been down with a severe backache for a couple hours now; Edge told me about it with concern writ large in his soft green eyes.


After some frantic searching of rooms, I find him curled up near the door to a stairway, barely breathing and as white as old bones. He looks positively cadaverous, there, his body quivering with pain and exhaustion. He opens his eyes when I touch his shoulder and stares fiercely at me.

His wishes are plain: up. Up now. Get me out of here.

I smooth his hair back and say, “Hang on to me, brother.”

He nods listlessly, limply wraps his arms about my waist.

The smoke is very thick here, and we’ve both inhaled enough to give us stage three lung cancer, probably. So the fire is closer here; it’s hotter than Hell. I yank him out of the room, and start crawling down the hallway, careless of my recently grown, carefully polished nails.
I’ve got 140 pounds of very valuable drummer to get out of this hellhole.

I aim to do it.

With a steadiness worthy of a Navy SEAL, I haul him down the staircase, ignoring barriers in my way, my breath rasping and painful in my chest.

Larry’s arms slip from my waist, and he falls to the landing, curling up, his muscles spasming painfully.

Shit!

I take off my necklace – ironically, it’s a pair of handcuffs – and slap one end on his left writs, deliberately cruel. His eyes snap open.

Good. I have his attention.

I haul him up by the arm, slinging it over my shoulder and across my chest. He winces at the pain, but offers me his other arm, sluggish with pain and the raw effort to breathe. I lock the cuffs, thereby securing him to my back.

“Let’s ride, son.”

I’ll feel the effects of this later – now I have to get him out of here in one piece. I pull us down the stairs – amazingly enough, it’s easier than crawling down the staircase with him.

Wheezing, tiring, we manage – by some feat known only to God – to get to the ground level. An explosion shakes the building to the foundations, erupting over our heads with a rush of heat. Without thinking, I throw Larry against the door, ducking out of his handcuff-induced embrace and sending him tumbling into the arms of a firefighter.
And then, the iron stair collapses onto my back, and all I know is searing, bone-crushing pain – then nothing.

Epilgue: Wanted: Dead or Alive
Larry

In a little while, I won’t be blown by every breeze; Friday night running to Sunday on my knees..


“It’s not fair.” I snarl, pacing angrily back and forth. “It’s fucking not fair.”

Ann sighs, and looks up at me with sad, dark eyes. “You’re right, Larry, it isn’t. She was much too young to die. And not like that, either.”

Bono chews at his lower lip, jerking his shoulders back against the jacket of his suit, as though trying to rid himself of it. “Damn it,” He growls, yanking his tie loose. “Damn it all. How could we lose her.”

Edge just stares, mournful and silent, out at the Chicago Water Tower.

It isher favorite building.

Two weeks since that fire; two weeks where the doctors tried everything to save her life, and three days since they failed. She’d inhaled too much smoke – she’d given me all the protection I’d needed when she’d cuffed me to her body, ensuring that my face was practically buried in her hair.

Her long, beautiful locs, which she’d never gotten around to cutting.

I bury my face in my hands.

“She wouldn’t have died any other way.” Adam says suddenly, and firmly.

We all stare at him in bewilderment. “What?”

“She wouldn’t have had it any other way, ad we all know it.” Adam repeats, quietly. “She knew what she was doing, and she picked Larry.” He stares at me. “Don’t throw away the gift she gave you, Lawrence.”

“But – “

“Look, you’ve got three children. She knew all too well it would devastate them to lose YOU. She didn’t have a father growing up. She damn sure wasn’t going to let your three lose you. So don’t throw it away. And don’t carry any guilt about saving her, either. She opted for the greater good, and damn it, it would annoy the hell out of her if you – if wejust threw it all away for nothing.”

Her body (I still remember how beautiful it was, even after the testosterone injections) had been buried in Ireland at her request, out near Stonehenge. Why, we’ll never know; she never put an explanation in her will. All her earthly goods – not many; she was as much a vagrant as Adam and Bono – had been sent to the Chernobyl project for the children there, again at her request and without explanation.

At the funeral, I insisted that we do ‘Elevation.’ It didn’t seem right that we do the dry, tired gospel, which she’d hated, anyway. We had to celebrate her life, right? The ones who truly loved her showed up, and understood.

The church that had cast her out showed up; I think the pastor intended to do the eulogy. Adam, however, preempted him in his own fashion, and did it himself.

Mother Rush and two other women, who knew her well, spoke of her as well, and remembered her fondly.

Adam, Mother Rush, and I shared a moment of amusement at the wake about her last visit to the church, even.

I sigh, feeling just a bit lost. Adam is right.

“So what, now?”

“We go on.” Edge says softly. “She’d want that, I think.”


And so we do.

At the concert tonight, we dedicate her two favorite songs to her: ‘In a Little While’ and ‘40’.

As I do the drum solo – which she’d told me she adored – I begin to cry. And for once, I actually throw all I have at it, and it reverberates, shockingly loud in the arena.

As I head down the stairs, I can almost hear her saying, “Let’s ride, son.”

I shiver.

God, I'm going to miss her.

Ann told me she's pregnant; a surprise to both of us. We thought we were done with babies.

It's a girl - we're going to name her Landry Levi Mullen.
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