Typically, during the late hours of the evening and the early hours of the morning, Roadkill was a fine musical establishment. It was known for big name performances, legendary drunken escapades and more than one angry brawl. However, during those hours when it was not home to these activities, it was also a very calm and quite relaxed watering hole for many of the locals. The alcohol was cheap, as were the soft drinks, and the company was good. A CD would be playing over the speaker system, oblivious to the fact that it had already been played several hundred times. The lighting streamed in through the windows, illuminating the comfortable chairs and the small account of occupants inside.
It was a dreary day. Rain was battering the window against which Adam was sitting, while the wind rattled in through the doorway whenever it opened. He was cold, bored and rather lonely, but he had agreed to be here to meet up with the rest of Disbelief. Obviously, their band was going through an incredibly rough patch and Adam did not want to give in. Still, he did not really wish to be seeing Jace again any time soon.
Most of the last week had been spent in the company of Veronica. She had gladly taken up most of his time of late. She would make a fuss of him, massaging his shoulders, reading him extracts from her current reading material and generally making him as comfortable as possible. She had also taken to buying him gifts like new shirts. His wardrobe was now her wardrobe, as she had bought him far too much in one shopping escapade. The whole thing had proved relentlessly boring, but Adam had been on very thin ice for the entire time, so he had kept himself in line.
It was hard to work things out completely, so much so that Adam was still not sure that he had managed it. Whenever he thought that they were a couple, she would veer away from his awaiting arms, yet if he decided not to hug her, she would be furious with him and ply him with accusations of disliking her. It was all rather confusing, but women had always been quite a tricky subject for Adam. They were all very strange creatures.
She had let him go quite reluctantly. However, he had managed to stress the importance of this little meeting. On some level, he suspected that she actually understood what Disbelief had always meant to him. This was tremendous progress for Veronica, who had always had trouble in that area. To her, the band was unimportant merely an indulgence that Adam enjoyed too much to evade. Nevertheless, things seemed to be changing. She had walked him to Roadkill, then given him a kiss on the cheek and left him there. It was the most sexual thing that had happened between them all week.
The lack of passion was certainly causing some level of concern for Adam. Previously, though the first time had taken a while to come to fruition, things had proved quite active between them. Though he had always been quite nervous, Veronica had taken the lead in first showing him what he was doing and then in showing him better ways to have things done to him. At this point, there was none of that. He thought it likely that it was too soon after a break up, but he was quite worried that things would never quite be the same between them again. It led him from one worry to another, and on to another. It was not comforting.
He had entered the bar with a great urge to begin drinking his troubles away. Whether or not that would work, he was yet to discover, but he had made a good start. Already there were three empty pint glasses on the table in front of him. He had been here a while, but he felt that he had made good progress in that time. His senses a little dulled, he failed to notice that Paul had entered the bar until his friend and fellow music student had taken the seat across from him and placed two glasses of Absinthe on the table between them.
I know I need one of these, Paul began as he took the seat, and I think you probably will too. It's been a hell of a week. Cheers?
Raising the shot glass expectantly, Paul managed to draw Adam into toasting to their health and drinking quite easily. The alcohol slid down Adam's throat easily, awakening all of the intoxicating liquid already in his system. The burn was still far from familiar, but it was not unwelcome.
How've you been then? Paul asked calmly. He looked concerned. Whether this was for Adam or for himself, Adam wasn't sure.
I've been pretty good, Adam answered, quite honestly. I've been taking some time away from Uni to work things out. I've got girl troubles, you know.
Yeah, me too, on both counts, Paul replied. Seemingly, neither of them had been bothering to turn up for their music lectures. This was not a good sign, especially considering that it was the chosen career for both of them. Ally and I had something of a falling out. Wellkind of. I've had a lot of free time recently, put it that way. I've been playing my bass more and more because I've been on my own more and more. I miss you guys.
Though quite flattered, Adam wasn't quite ready to admit the same, despite it being the truth. I've been with Veronica mostly, he announced. Me and her are doing great. She's been really attentive lately as well.
Ah, is that right? Paul asked rhetorically. So you two are back together then?
Adam's smile faded a little. No, not quite, he admitted ruefully. We're nearly there though. I think we just need to spend a bit more time together. We've been talking about the problems a lot recently. She mentions Disbelief a lot.
Paul paused for a moment. The name of their band, though undecided as to whether it was past or present, had brought him to a halt. He recovered his composure quickly: And yet you're here.
Yes, I'm here, Adam confirmed. Things had gone very wrong for them, but he was ready to begin talking things over. Veronica had accepted it as a part of him something that had to be accepted in order to be with him. Lately, this had weighed heavily on Adam's mind. The little, barely known band that Paul had assembled meant the world to their rhythm guitarist. Adam wanted his role back more than anything in the world. This is my band, he said quietly. I love it, and I love making music with it. I'm not very happy right now, but I want it to get somewhere. If I can talk things over with Veronica after everything we've been through, I think I can talk to Jace too. It's not just him either. Without me there's something missing, isn't there? I'd be letting you and Ed down too, and you guys don't deserve it. If you want to keep going then you can count me in.
He had no intention of including the numerous and sometimes quite heated debates that he had engaged in with Veronica over this very thing. She was very vocal about the fact that she wanted him to quit Disbelief and let it continue without him. In her mind, rhythm guitar was far less important than lead, and, with a guitarist such as Ed, Adam wasn't necessary. It had been quite a painful thing for him to hear. Her opinions were usually very blunt and strong, but to think that he was in a band that didn't need him made him feel very undervalued. The truth was that he was an integral part of the Disbelief sound, and he knew that - so did the rest of Disbelief. Still, it had helped him come to some rather difficult decisions.
"I'd like to play less covers as well," Adam continued, having steeled himself with alcohol. "I don't think they're letting all of our members show off their talents. It's mostly just you and Ed that people are always talking about. People don't talk about me at all. Sometimes it's like I'm not even there."
"You're needed, man," Paul countered smoothly. "I think you're right though. People are starting to hear the Disbelief sound. If they want it, I think we should let them have it. I have a few potential bookings lined up if we can decide to keep going. I have a few new contacts. One of them, an Irish guy called Colt, he owns a hell of a lot of very delicate and expensive equipment that he'd let us play with. If we don't break anything it could turn into a common gig, and that's something we need right now. If we have that then we don't need to be a cover band really, we can just be ourselves."
"Some covers are nice sometimes though," Adam included. He did so quietly, but Paul stopped talking quickly in order to let him speak. "We still haven't done Paradise City yet and I've really been looking forward to that one. It's important to me and you said that we'd play songs that everybody wanted to play."
"You're right, I nearly forgot about that one," said Paul. "We've been playing most of Ed's stuff, but I'm sure he wouldn't mind taking something of a back seat. He's a very laid back and carefree guy after all."
There was a pause, during which Adam considered all he knew about Ed. It was a frighteningly small amount for somebody he not only spent a lot of time with, but also for somebody who was virtually his counterpart when they were both up on stage. Ed was a confusing fellow, but without him Disbelief wouldn't be half of the band it was. "When's he coming?" Adam asked. Ed habitually appeared out of nowhere, so knowing when he could be expected was always something of a plus.
"He'll be here later on," Paul replied, looking around the bar as though he expected Ed to be sat casually on one of the seats somewhere. "I can't say exactly when, but I wanted some time to talk to you on your own. I'm glad to see that you're not too bust up. Are you alright?"
The flash of memories was becoming all too usual. Whereas most of the bruises had faded quickly, Adam's arm still ached every now and then. There didn't seem to be anything seriously wrong with him, and Veronica had confirmed this when he first arrived at her home the night when it happened, but something still felt strange. It had affected his guitar playing, though he wasn't willing to admit it just yet, even to himself.
"I'm fine," he lied. "I'm not as weak as I look you know. You guys are always discounting me, but I got involved when Sean was trying to hurt you and Ally, didn't I? I'm not a coward."
"I never said you were," Paul interjected quickly. For a moment, guilt overtook Adam. He had not only run into assumptions, but surely the same flash of memories happened for Paul as it did for Adam. Paul had been brutally attacked, while Adam had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Disbelief bassist had never really talked about it. Likely he thought exactly the same as Jace had done: Ally was in danger, nothing else mattered. This was how Jace had convinced Adam to rush out to their aid that night, and, to be honest, Adam would probably do it again. "I never said thank you, did I?" Paul continued thoughtfully. His eyes were downcast, as though he was nervous. This was a new thing for Paul Taylor. "Well I should have done. Ally might have been hurt if you and Jace hadn't stepped in. I know you guys are having trouble right now, but you really helped out, so thanks."
There was another pause. Unsure of what to say to such a thing, Adam went back to his pint glass of alcohol. Meanwhile, after a few seconds of silence, Paul moved on to a different topic: "I re-wrote the Piano part for A Fish Named Goat. It doesn't have to be on Piano now - Ed can do it near his bridge pickup while you play the chords. I know you like that song."
"Well I did help write it," Adam answered defensively. "I don't write much, but I helped with that and I think it's a good song. You've done most of the writing so far, for my guitar too. Ed gets to write everything himself, why can't I?"
"It's not quite like that," Paul responded. "It's more that, when I write down lyrics to sing, the chords are playing in my head with it. In the same way, if I put together a couple of chords, I might pull out a decent melody for the vocals. You should try it. If you want to write more stuff than play around with your guitar until you get something that works, then bring it to practice for us to listen to. I'm sure Ed and Jace would listen too. Then they can make suggestions, and I can make suggestions and before we know it you've written a song that we can perform."
"It can't be that easy," Adam said. "Surely there's more to it. What else do you do when you're trying to write a song?"
"No, I'm being serious, it's that easy," Paul assured him. "You just keep trying until you get something that really works out for you. You should definitely try it out."
Though he was about to answer, Adam quickly silenced himself at the sight of Jace walking in the door. The feeling of fear that washed over him at the sight of this tall and muscled man vanished the moment he saw the large, dark bruise around Jace's left eye.