Title: Like God's Only Dove
Category: Romance, angst, Dark!Bono, Zoo era, smut to come
Disclaimer: Never was mine, never will be mine...but a girl can dream.
Feedback: Love it, need it, live it, breathe it.
Summary: A brooding rock star finds beauty in a young girl who possesses something he lost a long time ago--innocence. But will she give him the solace he longs for? And at what price?
Notes: Thanks once again to Rhiannon for being an awesome beta! (*cough*snogging*cough*)
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
What was wrong with him? What had he done? Had he come on too strong? He had been taking up an awful lot of her personal space to lean in and gaze at that lip. Why had he been so obsessed by it? But then, that was just like him. To manifest his emotions physically, to find it easier to succumb to the magnetic pull of a plump, blood-red lip than to make genuine conversation. To lose himself waxing poetic over a few square centimeters of perfect flesh. What did he really want, to get to know this girl or to devour her face? Okay, so maybe it was both. But clearly this wasn’t the sort of girl who allowed a strange man to suck on her lip and ask questions later. Even Bono Vox. And he didn’t want her to be that sort of girl.
Bono shook his head and laughed dryly as the phone rang.
He dreaded a ringing phone. Dreaded the empty distance of the voices on the other end. This morning, the empty voice belonged to The Edge.
“Hey, Bono, it’s Edge.” When had Edge started announcing himself to Bono when he called? He knew full well that Bono recognized his voice, proper and soft and nearly as familiar as his own.
“Morning, Edge. What can I do for ye today, man?” Christ, he sounded like a fecking telemarketer. Plastic, forced congeniality.
“We were just wondering how your trip was going...the, ah, interviews and such...and if you’d be interested in coming into the studio as soon as you get back. We’ve been working on some stuff that we’d really like you to hear.”
Bono took a moment to process this information. It wasn’t uncommon for Edge to go off and write on his own, just as Bono often secluded himself to find his lyrics. But the way he’d said it just now made it sound as though he, Adam and Larry had been hard at it without him. Edge might has well have said that they’d finished the album, could he please maybe come and write some lyrics and throw down some vocals so they could be done with it?
‘Don’t be a child,’ he berated himself silently. That was bullshite and he knew it. “Sure, Edge, that sounds great. I’m looking forward to hearing what you’ve come up with. I’ll, ah…I should be home on Sunday. I’ll give you a call when I get in town.”
“All right. Good. Sounds good. Talk to you on Sunday.” They were both quiet for a moment, hating the silence on both ends of the phone line. “And…hey, B?”
Bono started at hearing Edge use that intimate nickname.
“Ah…have, have a safe trip. See you on Sunday.”
“Okay…thanks, Edge. G’night.”
Bono hung up the phone wondering what Edge had really wanted to say, and how they’d ever let things get so bad that they could no longer talk to each other.
* * * * *
“One, two, three, four, one, two, three, four,” Angela rapped a light, steady rhythm above the keys of the slightly battered Yamaha upright as her sheepish pupil bumbled through his obviously unpracticed Hannon exercise. She was too distracted today to lecture him on the merits of rehearsal, however. This morning, her mind was preoccupied with a piano lesson of a very different kind. Preoccupied by the feeling of Bono’s eyes on her as she’d played, by the way he’d stared at her mouth with that look in his eyes—that look that meant he’d been about to kiss her. It had been a while since anyone had looked at her like that. But that wasn’t why she had balked. Actually, she wasn’t quite sure what it was that had caused her to panic. Was it the fact that he was Bono? Or the fact that he was Bono and he knew it, and had been about to try and use it against her? She had a feeling it had been a bit of the latter. She tried to force the corners of her mouth back down into her interested teacher face, but they wanted nothing more than to smile bemusedly at the memory. Cocky bastard. God, she wanted to see him again. But would she? Who knew how long he was in town for? And she’d blown it anyway. Dammit, why hadn’t she just let him kiss her?
“Miss Avery? Miss Avery?” Angela was plucked from her reverie by young Jacob tugging on her sleeve. “Miss Avery, there’s a man here!” She looked down at Jacob, brown eyes big as saucers, skinny arm pointing toward the grubby pane of glass in the practice room door.
It was him. Her breath caught in her throat as she rose from the bench. “Uh, good job today, Jake. You need to practice some more, though, so same exercises next week, ok?” She gave him a quick squeeze on his bony shoulder and then opened the door for him as he gathered up his books and stuffed them into his bag.
“Bye, Miss Avery!” Jacob threw Angela a lopsided grin and waved over his shoulder at her as he sprinted across the small, cluttered music store to his mother, who was sitting cross-legged on a folding chair by the front door. He flung himself into her arms and she fussed lovingly over him, kissing his mop of silky brown hair and squeezing him hard. Angela smiled at this unabashed display of affection, and then remembered the man who was now standing next to her in the door frame. She glanced up at him to see him admiring the mother and son, his expression faraway and soft, a small smile playing at his lips. Angela drank him in, abusing his distraction as an excuse to explore his face with her eyes. Smooth skin peppered with a few errant freckles, intense blue eyes lined with years and wisdom and something dark and hidden. A hard-set jowl full of stubble that she longed to feel against the soft flesh of her neck. She gulped at the heat that stabbed at her heart and threatened to rise up into her throat. My, but he was beautiful.
Bono turned to look at her, smiling. She smiled a genuine smile back at him. “Hi,” she ventured nervously.
“Hello, Angela,” he said in that maddeningly soft lilt, leaning a shoulder against the door jamb. “Sorry to interrupt your lesson.”
“Don’t worry about it, we were almost finished anyway. Besides, Jake hadn’t practiced a bit so it was sort of a waste of a half hour anyway,” she laughed. “I can always hear my old piano teacher, crazy old Sister Augusta, screeching at me to ‘practice, practice, practice!’ every time I try to con my students into rehearsing on their own time. Hannon can be pretty tedious, but good technique is important if you want to be able to play well.” She realized she was rambling, so she looked at him and shrugged, but he actually seemed interested.
“You took piano lessons from a nun?”
“Yeah...she was the music teacher at my elementary school. She realized I had some musical talent so she started giving me lessons after school when I was in first grade. Every Tuesday and Thursday at 3:30, for three years. Then my parents decided it was time to get me a real teacher.”
“She wasn’t a good teacher?”
“Oh, she knew her stuff, that was for sure...but I was terrified of her. Every time I’d make a mistake she’d rap my knuckles with her conductor’s baton. One day when I was nine I came home from school in tears, dried blood on my swollen fingers. Wasn’t too long after that that sort of thing was no longer deemed appropriate in Catholic schools and Sister Augusta was shipped off to the Archabbey to play organ for the choir there. Rumor has it she was forbidden any contact whatsoever with the children of their congregation.”
He made an appropriately horrified face, causing her to laugh sweetly at him, and the loveliness of that innocent smile sobered him. “Listen, Angela, I wanted to apologize for last night. I didn’t mean to come on so strong. I just...ah...well, you’re a very attractive woman. And the way you can play a piano...well, I guess I’m a bit taken with you, is all.”
She felt the familiar heat creeping up into her cheeks as he winked at her. “Don’t be embarrassed, love. Just take the compliment. So, how many more of these lessons do you have to give today?”
“Um, actually, Jake was my last one. I was supposed to have one more this afternoon, but they cancelled.”
“Perfect,” he drawled, and grazed a knuckle against the back of her hand. “Would you care to join me for an early dinner, then?”
* * * * *
An hour later, they were tucked into a dark, secluded corner of the nearly deserted Italian restaurant down the block. The pasta was sticky and the bread was burned, but the conversation more than made up for the lousy food and even lousier service.
Bono had wanted to know all about how she’d learned to play, so she told him about her succession of questionable teachers. The cat lady who’d charged $1.50 a lesson but didn’t teach her how to count; the college student who’d learned to play from a series of mail-order video tapes. Her parents weren‘t stupid, but they couldn’t afford the best teachers. Mostly, Angela had taught herself. It was in high school, however, that she’d really blossomed. She’d joined the choir but wasn’t much of a singer, so the choir director, Mr. Diamond, took the hodge podge of mediocre theory she’d been taught, along with the passionate manor in which she attacked the instrument, and molded her into a respectable pianist. She accompanied the choir at all of their concerts in her junior and senior years.
“What do you mean, you’re not much of a singer? Your voice sounded lovely the other night in the bar,” Bono assured her.
“Well…I have come a long way since then. I’m a so-so singer. But the piano is my real passion.”
Then he’d wanted to know how a small town girl from Tennessee had ended up in Los Angeles. Her face darkened and she told him how her parents’ marriage had fallen so suddenly and violently apart and how her high school boyfriend, whom she’d thought she’d marry from the time she was 14, had broken her heart shortly after they’d graduated. How she’d felt let down by the three people she’d depended on most in her life, and how it had burned a streak of independence in her that had made her want to make a life for herself somewhere new. So she thought she’d try her hand at being a professional musician. Nashville wasn’t far enough away and New York was too scary, so she’d settled on LA. She’d never seen the ocean, so she figured it would be a good fit.
“So you moved to California on a whim…because you’d never seen the ocean?”
“Basically, yes. I didn’t know what else to do with my life, and that certainly seemed like it would be an adventure. It wasn’t until after I got out here and started playing open mic nights that I realized the one minor flaw in my grand plan.”
“What?” Bono was enthralled. She never realized her life story was that interesting. It made her uneasy and comforted her at the same time, this attentive manor of his.
“I can’t play in front of a crowd. I just…freeze up, I don’t know why.”
“But…you played with the choir. You played at their concerts. What changed?”
“Nothing changed…when you’re accompanying, no one is paying attention to you! They’re watching the conductor, the soloists, and the choir. You’re invisible. Safe.”
“But you have such a great talent, you write and play so beautifully…that sort of thing needs to be shared! Not kept secret and played to empty bars at 2 a.m.” He was gesticulating wildly now, almost shouting, and clearly annoyed at her. Suddenly Angela was overcome by an uncontrollable fit of the giggles.
“What?!” he demanded through a confused grin, her laughter infecting him.
“I just realized how ridiculous that must sound to a great showman like you. I mean…you thrive on that sort of attention, right? You’re right at home in front of a crowd of 30,000 people, all screaming your name? And that’s why you’re looking at me like I’ve sprouted a third eyeball?” She giggled even harder, her face turning a delightful shade of pink, her hand coming to rest genially on his on the table. He laughed along with her, both at her and at himself.
It occurred to Bono that it had been a long time since he had laughed this much.
* * * * *
Dark curls floated restlessly on the salty ocean breeze, their inky blackness stark against her white cotton t-shirt. His eyes roamed downward, taking in the long skirt clinging slightly to round hips and fluttering about slender ankles. Her sneakers made him think briefly of Edge and their conversation from that morning, but he pushed the thought from his mind in favor of the more pleasant ones that seemed to both heighten and dull his senses as he watched her, like a sweet, mind numbing drug. His eyes made the slow journey back up to her face, her silhouette soft against the cotton candy sky. She looked pensive. Bono leaned against the wooden railing of the pier and watched Angela, back to him and arms crossed atop the opposite rail, and he wondered what was occupying her beautifully tressed head besides the sunset. It was a mediocre sunset, as sunsets went, but Bono certainly wasn’t going to complain about the view. He may have to complain to his driver later, however. In a moment of spontaneity he’d told the man to take them somewhere romantic, and he’d brought them to Santa Monica pier, with its stale popcorn and faint urine smell and shrieking children atop the rickety Ferris wheel. In Bono’s opinion, you couldn’t get much less romantic than that.
Angela shivered as the last slice of blood orange sun disappeared beyond the murky Pacific. He made the five lazy strides across to where she was standing and sidled up behind her, stopping short of enveloping her backside with his front. He began a gentle flirtation of her bare arms with his large hands, trying to smooth out the gooseflesh and coax in some warmth. “Cold?” His voice was husky and raw from the chilly air.
“If I’d have known I was going to end up on the pier after dark, I would have brought a jacket along,” she said in a strange, high voice. She cleared her throat. “Before I moved here I thought it was always warm in California, but it can get pretty cool here at night. Especially in November.” She was babbling as though nervous, but she hadn’t moved away when he’d touched her. Hooray for small victories.
“How long have you been here?” he asked, moving the tiniest bit closer.
“A few years. Enough about me. We’ve been talking about me all night...I’m tired of me. I want to know about you.” She leaned back into him, filling the divide he’d been hesitant to cross. Feeling brave, he entwined his thick fingers in her slender, delicate ones and wrapped both their arms around her and she sighed into the warmth, laying her head lightly back against his shoulder.
“What do you want to know?” he murmured low into her ear. She shivered again, but somehow he didn’t think it was from the cold this time. “There isn’t much about my life that’s secret,” he lied. He’d lived in the glaring public eye for the better part of fifteen years, sure, but even a celebrity such as himself could manage to keep some things private.
“Well...what brings you to Los Angeles?” He relaxed a bit. A safe question.
“Interviews. Magazines, you know. Photo shoots. Boring stuff really.”
“Interviews are boring? I was under the impression that you love to talk,” she teased, and was rewarded with a sweet, low chuckle. “So is it just you, or is the rest of the band here for the magazines too?”
He stiffened a little at this. “Just...just me. The rest of the band are back home...working on some new material.”
“Ah, a new album?” She was trying to sound casual, but he detected the slightest trace of hopefulness in her voice.
“Ah...eh, well, top secret. Trade secrets, you know. Not sure if you can be trusted with such sensitive information...”
She giggled and burrowed deeper into his body, drawing his arms tighter around her. The amount of bodily contact she was allowing him was making it difficult for him to concentrate on conversation. He wasn’t sure he deserved it. But it made him feel wide open and raw.
“Actually, I’m not exactly sure what they’re up to. The lines of communication are rather...strained between the band and I these days,” he blathered before he realized what he was saying.
“Oh,” she said uneasily, not sure how to respond to this. “Did something...happen? I mean...I guess I always thought you guys were really close.”
“We are...we were...we...ah...we had a bit of a falling out, I guess you could say. A couple of years back. It’s a long story with an unhappy ending. Not the sort of thing you want to hear about, I’m sure.” He hung his head to rest his chin on her shoulder.
Sensing it unwise to push the issue, she simply gave his hands a sympathetic squeeze. He turned his face toward hers to nuzzle into her lavender scented curls. “You smell delicious,” he whispered, lips brushing the sensitive skin behind her ear, fingers probing gently at the bones of her hips. He heard a sharp intake of breath and felt her body tense and was afraid for a moment that he’d gone too far. He didn’t realize he’d frozen until she spoke.
“It’s ok,” she said in a whisper so faint it was almost carried away on the ocean breeze.
“Are you sure? I don’t want to-“
“I won’t run away this time, I promise,” she interrupted him. He peered around the side of her face to see her lips curling up into a shy grin.
He took a long, deep breath of those exquisite smelling locks and disentangled his fingers from hers to wrap his arms tight around her waist. She let out a small, pleasant sigh and brought one arm up around his shoulder, fingers curling into his hair.
“Turn around,” he grumbled, loosening his grip on her and moving his hands back to her hips.
She took her time about it, making a slow business of coming round to him. He sensed her fear but also her gallant effort at hiding it. Finally facing him, she became fascinated with his top shirt button. He hooked a finger under her chin and tilted her face upward toward his. She tore her eyes from his chest to meet his, and Bono felt a warm surge of affection at the sight of her, sweet and pretty and scared shiteless.
“Why are you afraid of me?”
He laughed softly. “I won’t hurt you.” But as soon as he said the words, he realized they were shite. Wasn’t that what he did, after all? Hurt people? Wasn’t he a fecking ace at it? He dropped his hand from her face and backed away, wandering over to the railing and gripping it hard, squeezing his eyes shut against the long-gone sunset.
“Bono?” The voice behind him sounded small and concerned. He wouldn’t do this to her. She was too sweet, too young, and too innocent. She’d thought that breaking up with her high school sweetheart had been the end of the world. He didn’t even want to imagine the kind of damage someone like himself could do. He felt her hand on his arm and steeled himself against his want.
“Bono,” she said again, “are you okay?”
He turned to look at her. She really was a fine bit of stuff. Large, caring green eyes and creamy skin, small upturned nose sprinkled with tiny freckles barely visible in the early evening light, one fine, jet black curl blowing across her forehead. And the lips. Those fecking lips. Red and plump and glistening, the bottom one being worked worriedly in her teeth.
“Feck it,” he said almost inaudibly, and went in for the kill.
She gasped as he grabbed at her hips and captured those delicious lips with his own, pressing into her until her back hit wood. Her hands gripped the front of his jacket to steady herself. He probed at her, pressed at her, hardly able to contain his desire, but she met him with admirable gusto. Her lips were every bit as soft as he’d imagined, but her kiss was firm and without any trace of reservation. Her lips tasted of the vanilla ice cream she’d had for dessert. His tongue greeted the soft wet flesh of hers and he willed himself to calm down, just calm down and kiss her. He loosened his grip on her hips and slid an arm around her waist, one hand pressed at the small of her back. Her arms slid up around his neck, long, graceful fingers entangling themselves in his hair and pressing hungrily at the back of his skull. She kissed as if she hadn’t been kissed in a very long time. She gave a faint whimper of protest as he broke away to look at her. Eyes wanton and wide, breath coming in small hiccups. He lowered his lips back down to hers.
“Sorry ‘bout that,” he whispered against her mouth, hovering and teasing and allowing only the slightest touch of his lips against hers.
“Why are you sorry?” She looked him straight in the eyes now, daring him to take back that unbelievable kiss. That kiss that somehow felt more intense than some of the best shags he’d ever had.
“I have no idea,” he growled, and dove back in.
* * * * *