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Old 06-16-2005, 03:56 PM   #1
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The promises we make pt 17

**Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Full of crap. Not true.

The Promises we make Chapter 17

Simone hated the sterility of hospitals. She didn’t understand how anyone was supposed to get well in such a cold, plastic environment. Her heart was racing as she stepped into the little, cramped room with the curtain dividing it down the middle. Her eyes swept over the nearest bed, finding it empty and she moved on to peek around the curtain and find her mother sitting in an uncomfortable looking chair beside the bed. She was holding the hand of a man Simone barely recognized.

How could her father, a man who, in her memory, was larger than life, be the same person confined to this hospital bed, looking so small and fragile? He had been a Drill Sergeant in the USMC for two decades, and he had run his family and home very much the same way he ran a group of new Marines through training. Quick and harsh discipline, constant observation and intimidation, but also a good deal of serious teaching involved.

For as much of a leatherneck as he was, Simone knew he loved them. She’d seen it in his eyes when his guard was down, when he didn’t know he was being watched. She’d seen it in his actions and reactions to the myriad of dilemmas he’d been forced to face as a father. She’d seen fear in his eyes when a child was in danger, even if he tried to hide it behind anger or indifference. They all knew the truth, though. They knew also to pity any fool who would try and do any of them harm, because their father was, in their eyes at least, invincible.

Now, she saw a man laid low by something inside of him, defeated by his own body. His left side was limp, even the left side of his face drooped dramatically. She tried to force a smile, knowing she probably looked pathetic, but not sure what else to do. She certainly would never allow him to see pity in her eyes or tears.

“Moni!” Her mother gasped, standing quickly and hurrying to embrace her daughter as if she’d come back from the land of the dead. Simone chuckled lightly and held her mother close, the scent of her shampoo taking Simone back to her childhood. Suddenly, she was not a grown woman and mother, but a five year old girl who was quite certain her parents knew everything worth knowing.

“Hi Mom.” She told her softly, fighting back tears of nostalgia.

“How on earth did you get here so quickly?” Her mother asked, pulling away from the embrace to look her daughter up and down appraisingly. “How did you actually manage to get a flight the same day I called?”

“I was very fortunate.” Simone told her mother vaguely, not ready to discuss the private plane which had brought them directly to Florida from Ireland. “How about the others? Did you get a hold of everyone?” She asked, and her mother nodded, her face drawn and tired. She sank back down into her seat and took hold of her husbands hand once more.

“Everyone but Tim. The Red Cross is working on that. The others are all down in the waiting room or the cafeteria right now.” She informed her, noticing for the first time that Simone was not the only person who had joined her in the room. “Who…?” She asked, leaning down to peer under the curtain at the pair of booted feet standing back a few feet behind Simone.

“Oh. Mom, this is Larry Mullen. Larry, this is my mother, Patricia.” Simone said, stepping back and gesturing for Larry to come forward and meet her mother. He held Pauley firmly with one arm, Pauley’s head resting on Larry’s shoulder and his little arms around his neck. Larry held out his other hand in greeting, and Patricia shook it gently.

“Nice to meet you.” Larry told her, his Irish accent making Patricia’s eyes widen slightly. She smiled and covered her shock almost immediately, nodding in reply. “I wish the circumstances were better, of course.” He added as she released his hand and settled back into her seat.
“It’s nice to meet you, too, Larry.” She said, her eyes washing over the sleepy child who clung to him. She smiled, a more honest smile this time, as she recognized her grandson. “Is it possible that little boy is the same little baby I saw two summers ago?” She gasped, and Simone

“You always told me how fast the time went once you had children.” Simone replied with a proud smile. She loved that little boy more than she could ever have imagined before becoming a mother. Pauley, recognizing that he was being discussed, lifted his sleepy head and rubbed at tired eyes with the back of his hand.

“Hello Paul. I’m your grandmama.” Patricia informed the boy gently. “I bet you don’t remember me at all, do you?” She asked and he simply stared at her, the answer to the question obvious in his reluctance to address her.

“Pauley, this is Grandma Pat. Remember I told you we were coming to visit my mom and dad?” Simone told him, reaching up to stroke the boy’s shaggy blonde hair soothingly. “And this is my dad. He’s not feeling well, remember?” She added and Pauley nodded, resting his head against Larry’s shoulder again, his eyes wide and nervous as he looked at the stranger in the hospital bed.

“I think I’ll take Pauley to get something to eat. Give him a few minutes to wake up a bit more.” Larry told them, smiling politely at Patricia and nodding his farewell. He leaned down and caught Simone’s lips in a brief but tender kiss which made her mother blush and look away and hurried out of the room with Pauley holding tight to him.

“Is he the one? The one you wouldn’t talk about the last few times we saw you?” Patricia asked, not looking directly at Simone, but, rather, at her father. Simone sighed and leaned against the wall. “Is he the reason you stopped coming to visit?”

“You mean is Larry Pauley’s father? The one none of you would leave me alone about? The reason I stopped visiting was because we had the same fight over and over, mother. No matter what the occasion was, one of you would give me a hard time about Pauley not having a father.”

“We just wanted what was best for you. Always have, always will.” She replied coldly.

“And I told you then, the best thing for both me and Pauley was to be without the man who … the man who fathered him but couldn’t take responsibility for himself let alone a child.” Simone said, her throat tightening around her words as she struggled not to raise her voice.

“So is that him?” Pat asked again, and Simone threw her hands in the air, turning in a circle because there was not enough floor space to pace the room as she was inclined to do.

“No, mother. Larry is not Pauley’s biological father. But he is the only man who Pauley has ever had to call daddy. He is the only man to ever want that, and he is the only man I have ever wanted to have that title.” She told her hotly, hoping the note of finality in her voice would end the argument. If not forever, at least for awhile. She was here to see her father, not to have the same argument she’d already had yet again.

“Are you married?” She asked and Simone closed her eyes, running a hand over her face and suppressing a groan.

“No. And to answer your next question, no we don’t plan to get married.” She told the woman who she knew so well and yet would never truly understand.

“I see.” She said and Simone felt like a five year old who had been caught writing on the walls with crayon. There was nothing wrong with the relationship between herself and Larry Mullen, and she could not understand how her mother could make her feel so guilty about it.

“How’s daddy?” She asked, thankful for the brief pause of conversation so she could change the subject. She approached the bed, kneeling down beside it and taking her father’s right hand in her own.
He drew in a deep, sudden breath and his eye opened, turning toward her. It took him a moment to recognize her. His mind was tired, and injured, and he had seen so many nurses and doctors and distant relatives and old friends in the past few days that in some ways it was a wonder he recognized her at all.

“Moni.” He mumbled, only one side of his face responding to his neurologic impulses.

“Hi, daddy.” She told him with a sad smile. He tried to tell her something, but she could not understand his words. He could see it in her eyes, in the blank expression on her face. He tried again, becoming frustrated and agitated with the inability to communicate a simple message to his daughter. She saw the tear forming in his eye, the shiver of his jaw, and she felt his hand tighten around her own.

“It’s ok, daddy. Give it a little time.” Simone told him, steeling herself to keep from breaking down and making him feel worse. The most horrible thing she could do to him would be to let him see her pity. He sighed and his eye closed again, his grip loosening on her hand as he forced himself to rest.

“The doctor says he’ll be going to rehab later today. They’ll start working with him on his speech and they’re hopeful he can regain some control even, on his right side.” Her mother informed her, allowing no sorrow or pity into her voice, either.

“I’m sure he will. He’s far too stubborn to give in to this.” Simone agreed, hoping her words reached her father before he drifted into sleep once more.

“Why don’t you go on down to the waiting room. I’m sure everyone will be glad to see you.” Her mother urged, and Simone complied with a nod and one last glance back at her father.

********************************************************************

“That’s a weird tree.” Pauley said, pointing out the long windows lining the wall of the cafeteria at the palm trees outside.

“That’s a palm tree. They only grow in places where it’s hot a lot of the time.” Larry explained.

“Not like at home.” Pauley added, shaking his head emphatically.

“No, Dublin isn’t exactly known for it’s tropical climate.” Larry chuckled as he watched the boy shove a too-large portion of pizza in his mouth and then struggle to chew it. His mouth opening and closing like some little fish, his lips smacking loudly.

“You are truly the noisiest eater I’ve ever known.” He informed his young friend, arching an eyebrow and trying not to smile. “Didn’t your ma ever teach you it’s rude to chew with your mouth open?” He asked, knowing full well that she had given that lecture countless times. Pauley shrugged and grinned at Larry, drawing the back of his sleeve across his mouth and wiping off the grease and extra sauce which had pooled in the corner of his mouth.

Larry looked around the large dining area and wondered if any of these people were Simone’s relatives. He couldn’t really tell through deductive reasoning, since they were at a military hospital, many, if not most, of the people wore standard military hair cuts and stood stiff backed and square shouldered. Many of them were in uniform, though there were some who looked as though they were obviously military personnel of some sort but wore no identifying garb.

As he sat there wondering, he heard someone behind him making a comment about foreigners in the hospital, on a military base. He didn’t hear the whole conversation, but he did hear the phrase ‘security measures’ and the word ‘terrorist’ more than once. It was when he heard someone mention Belfast that he turned to look at the group of soldiers seated just one table behind them. There were three men and a woman, and their attention was clearly directed at Larry. He met each of their eyes in turn, none of them looking away.

He scowled at them, knowing in his gut he had just met the rest of the Drake family. The woman looked so much like Simone, there could be no doubt in his mind. He turned back to see Pauley was no longer eating his pizza, but had moved on to creating a mess on his plate by stripping the cheese and sauce off the crust and pushing them around with his fork.

“You done?” He asked, gathering the boys plate and silverware quickly as soon as Pauley agreed he was not going to eat any more. Larry wanted to avoid a confrontation with the family before he was even introduced.

As he and Pauley passed their table however, one of the men made a smart comment about Larry’s pierced ears and another laughed about his shaggy hair. Larry was not the type of person who went looking for a fight, but he was not one to back down from one either. He braced himself for a heated exchange, keeping in mind that any sort of physical fight would be extremely bad news in this setting.

“Excuse me?” He asked, turning on his heel and gazing sharply down his nose at the group who looked back at him in surprise. Either they hadn’t expected him to hear their comments, or they hadn’t expected him to confront them. His guess would be the latter, rather than the former, considering they had not lowered their voices in the least.

“You got a problem, Mick?” the eldest of the men replied, rising to stand a full five inches taller than Larry.

“It sounded more t’me like you were the one with the problem.” He replied, his jaw set, his eyes never leaving the man’s gaze and his voice never wavering. Perhaps he was simply confident in his own ability to defend himself. Or, possibly it was because his bodyguard, Dave had just returned to the cafeteria after excusing himself to find the bathrooms a few moments ago. Either way, it was a strong show of machismo, one which did not go unnoticed by the Drakes.

“Maybe you…” the man started, his eyes drifting away from Larry’s as he saw the big man approaching with long purposeful strides.

“Excuse me, sir. Mr. Mullen is here on a private matter and doesn’t need to be disturbed at the moment.” Dave informed the man, using the speech he had used more than once in his career, even though it didn’t appear as if the man were asking for an autograph. Sometimes the tone of voice with which he spoke was enough.

“What?” The man asked, his eyebrows drawing together in question.

“I said no autographs or interviews today. Now please take your seat.” Dave replied firmly, his slightly louder now.

“Who the hell are you?” the man demanded, obviously baffled. Before Dave or Larry could answer her brothers question, however, Simone volunteered. She had witnessed the last part of the confrontation from the doorway, and now she spoke up as she hurried across the room to stand by Larry’s side.

“He’s with me, for one thing.” She informed him, and the others at the table rose quickly to greet their wayward sister. Dave looked as if he were ready to try and take them all on if he had to, but Simone touched his arm gently. “Dave, Larry, this is my family.” She introduced them, accepting handshakes and hugs from siblings she had not seen in a long while. Pauley stood behind Larry until Simone took his hand and guided him out to stand in front of her, her hands on his shoulders reassuringly.

“Pauley, this is your uncle Danny, uncle John, uncle Steve and aunt Georgia.” She introduced them, and they were all just as shocked by how grown the boy was since they had last seen him. He greeted them in much the same way he had greeted his grandparents, with stoic silence and a wide eyed stare.

“And this is?” The eldest brother, the one whom she had introduced as Danny, asked with a nod toward Larry.

“This is Larry Mullen. He’s my…” Simone paused here, not certain what to say. At their ages the word boyfriend simply didn’t seem to fit. Lover was too suggestive for the group to whom she was introducing him, and they had no other title which might apply accurately.

“That’s me daddy.” Pauley piped up and Simone laughed nervously, looking down at the boy.

“My, Pauley. Not me, my.” Simone corrected him, suddenly realizing her son had developed a very noticeable Irish accent. Why had she never heard it before, she wondered.

“And this is Dave, Larry’s bodyguard.” She finished the introductions, the tension so thick it was a wonder anyone could see through it.

“Oh my God. Larry Mullen, jr. Right?” Georgia gasped, her eyes widening as a possibility dawned on her. “I was a huge fan of U2 when I was in high school.” She explained, the first person to offer her hand in greeting. Larry shook it and nodded at her, confirming her suspicion.

“Why don’t we take this little reunion somewhere more private?” Dave suggested, glancing around the room to see that all eyes were on them. Danny pursed his lips and looked around as well. Not one to cause a scene, he agreed and led the way to the waiting room where they had already spent several long nights.

*******************************************************************

Larry had suspected Simone was exaggerating about her family, but now that he had met them, he understood much better why she had been nervous about returning. Personally, he was ready to give them a piece of his mind on their disrespect for other people and generally judgmental attitudes. For Simone’s sake, though, he bit his tongue and said as little as possible.

Pauley, on the other hand, was quick to speak his mind when he didn’t like something one of them had to say. At one point, when his eldest uncle asked him what branch of the military he was going into when he grew up, Larry was about to come to the boys aid when Pauley made it apparent that he could stand his ground on his own.

“I’m not gonna be a soldier.” He replied matter-of-factly, his intonation rising at the end in a distinctly Irish sounding accent. “I’m gonna be a singer.” He announced, a revelation even to Larry and Simone.

“A singer?” His Aunt Georgia repeated, blinking at the boy in shock. “You can be a singer and still be in the Army. Like Elvis.” She suggested, recalling Simone’s stories about the boys love of the king of rock & roll.

“I don’t want to be like Elvis.” The boy explained.

“You don’t?” Simone asked in shock.

“Why don’t you want to be a soldier, son? Don’t you want to do something important? Be strong and brave? Be a hero?” John asked, kneeling down beside the boy in what was meant to be an encouraging gesture but which came off as more pushy than helpful.

“I’m not gonna be a soldier!” Pauley insisted. “I can be brave an’ strong an’ a hero without bein’ a soldier.” He told the man with a scowl Simone would bet money was an imitation of Larry. “I’m gonna be like Larry an’ Bono an’ Edge an’ Adam. They’re strong an’ brave an’ heroes an’ they never had to kill people in a war.”

The room fell silent except for the laughter which Larry did his best to choke back, resulting in a snort and then a coughing sound as he cleared his throat. Pauley turned and walked away from the dumbfounded soldier.

“Well what did you expect, anyway? Of course Simone’s son isn’t going to have a clue about courage and honor, and especially not family tradition.” Danny complained, rolling his eyes dramatically.
“He might just as well be a stranger or a step-child to this family.”

“Hold on right there, mister.” Larry snapped, lurching out of his seat and closing the distance between himself and Danny in a few broad steps. He had kept his cool throughout the entire day as they took turns sitting with Simone’s mother and father, the rest of the family trapped in the waiting room like rabid animals. Simone had begged him to refrain from fighting with them, and he had managed to do so, for her. But he was not about to sit idly by and let them berate Simone or Pauley.

“How dare you suggest that Simone is not as good as you and your family because she chose to do something with her life that didn’t fall into the pattern the rest of you took. If you think for one second that there is anyone in the world who is stronger, braver, or deserves to be admired more than your sister, then you are an absolute idiot.” Larry told him, leaning down over the man in his seat, one hand on each arm of the chair to pin him down. Larry stopped less than two feet from Danny’s face, their eyes locked at the same level.

“That woman has made her way in this world with no one giving her orders or telling her what to do or think. No government giving her money, no one telling her what fights she will be a part of and which ones she will sit out. She is raising a child on her own and teaching him to think for himself as well. If you think those things are a sign of cowardice or weakness, you’re mistaken. I’ve never known anyone in my life with the heart and courage of your sister.” He told the man heatedly, his slivery eyes flashing in emphasis.

“Larry…” Simone cautioned, reaching out and resting a gentle hand on his shoulder. Larry scowled at Danny for a second longer before turning away from him to face Simone. She smiled at him, a broad cheeky grin which told him all he needed to know.

“Let’s go back to the hotel for tonight.” She said, her green eyes shimmering with love and pride. “There’s no sense in staying here, visiting hours are ending soon anyway.” Larry nodded in agreement and took Pauley by the hand. As they marched out of the room, out of the corner of his eye, Larry saw Pauley turn back to look at his family. He was just wondering what the boy was thinking when he saw his little pink tongue dart out of his mouth, pointed defiantly at them.
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Old 06-16-2005, 04:16 PM   #2
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I LOVE YOU!



I've been waiting for an update....exams..ugh.

Great chapter though..GO LARRY!
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Old 06-16-2005, 04:39 PM   #3
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thank you
It seems like it's been forever!!
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Old 06-16-2005, 05:59 PM   #4
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Great chapter! I love how Pauley stood up for himself.

Can't wait to read the next part!
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Old 06-16-2005, 07:58 PM   #5
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Go Larry!!!!
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Old 06-16-2005, 09:15 PM   #6
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Yes, exams, blech.

Aw, I love that bit with Pauley sticking out his tounge. And damn right for him to be a singer that's a hero! Hehe
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Old 06-16-2005, 11:02 PM   #7
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I love that part!
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Old 06-17-2005, 04:49 AM   #8
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This brightened up my whole day.
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Old 06-17-2005, 06:55 AM   #9
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well done sad girl, you've managed to do what i have not, write durring exam time
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Old 06-17-2005, 01:29 PM   #10
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Yay!!! I've been checking for an update everyday! I was so happy to finally see one! Good for Larry and Pauley for standing up to those bullies! I can't stand people who are prejudiced against "foreigners" for no good reason...it makes me so mad!
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Old 06-18-2005, 01:31 PM   #11
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ahh go larry! and hooray to pauley for standing his ground
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