The park seemed somewhat darker tonight. Everything looked somehow dull and disheartening all around. Adam had taken to the swings, where Jace had joined him, and now the two of them were sitting, drowned in distrust of each other and of Paul. Adam had no idea where anybody else was right now. He was strongly tempted to call Veronica, but it was late now and he didn't want to disturb her sleep. Most of all, he just wanted to actually know what was going on with what had been, until now, a fantastic band to be a part of.
"Where do we go from here, do you think?" Adam asked of Jace, who was leaning against one of the bars supporting the swings that Adam was sitting on.
Jace took a moment considering things before he actually had an answer to give. "I don't know for sure really," he declared honestly. "There are a lot of different possibilities. We could talk it over, and I think it's probably best to do that, but that doesn't mean that Disbelief has a future as a band, does it? Fire Brand has a page dedicated to Paul Taylor on their database and he's been singing for another band. It's been made quite obvious that he can do it without us, and it looks to me like he's been making preparations. On the other hand though, he has been the one holding the other three of us together, and he's given up a lot for us. If it was anybody else, I don't think we'd be anywhere near as successful as we are. That shows loyalty to Disbelief and to us as well, so I have absolutely no idea where his head is now. What do you think?"
"I don't bloody know," said Adam quietly. He was not swinging back and forth, nor was he tempted to. His mind was moving enough to hold his body back. "I barely even know what's going on, but that doesn't stop me from being upset with it all. Nobody's actually told me anything, even when people were working things out. All of this is falling apart just after I turn down the opportunity of a lifetime. I really do believe that it could work out, but he's risking everything and we don't even know why."
"You know, I met Matthew Cooper," Jace announced. "It was an experience, I'll tell you that much."
"Why did you go to see him?" Adam asked suspiciously.
"Well, I was trying to work out what the hell was going on with Paul and how he actually knew this guy," explained Jace. "It was enlightening. You learn a lot just being there. Colt works there apparently, which surprised me. Cooper himself was entertaining to say the least. He has the strangest office I've ever seen. There was even a woman who I swear was trying to flirt with me in such an obvious way it was like she was trying to embarrass Cooper."
"I thought he met Colt at the Union?" Adam inquired, feeling a tiny flame of aggression flaring up once again. They had met up with Colt, with many microphones around recording their every note and movement. If that had been for the sake of Fire Brand Records then Adam couldn't really see an up side to it.
"Well it's just another piece of confusion to put on top of all the rest isn't it?" said Jace with a sigh. "The whole point of making that deal with Colt was that we were supposed to be able to sort of leapfrog Fire Brand, or at the very least Matthew Cooper. It makes absolutely no sense to be saying stuff like that and then have a plan that's actually completely different."
For a minute, Adam simply looked over at Jace with a raised eyebrow. Finally, he simply had no interest in learning more things that he neither knew nor particularly cared about. "Do you think there's anybody who might actually know what's going on with Paul?" he asked. "Usually I would think that you would know considering just how long you've known him, but you don't really seem to have a clue either. I thought I know him well."
"Honestly, the way I see it, we have two options," Jace announced, extending two fingers on his left hand. "There are only two people that I actually know Paul better than I do, or at least that I would accept know Paul better than I do. It's either Ally, who's extremely unhappy with him right now, which is kind of my fault. The other option is Ronnie, but he's a little far away right now; something like three hundred miles."
Adam groaned and lowered his head into his waiting hands. "Then what do we do?" he asked, defeatism rife in his tone. "I've never even met Ronnie and I don't know what happened with Ally. There's all this arguing going on behind my back and everybody already knows everything that's happening in my life. I'm open; I'm honest. Why is it that nobody trusts me with this stuff?"
There was silence for a moment, which drew Adam's attention straight back to Jace again. Looking rather hesitant, Jace spent a couple of seconds with a shrewd look on his face. "There is a reason," he said calmly, though even Adam could pick up the tension beneath it. "I guess we've been kind of selling you short here. You were the new guy with us, and we didn't know you that well. You looked a bit fragile to us, so we always tried not to put any more on your shoulders than necessary. I mean, we both know I was selling you short, but I'm sure you can understand. We've just had a hard time integrating you, you know?"
Of course, Adam was more than a little insulted. He spend a little while, watching the guilty expression on Jace's face and considering what had been said. From Jace, this had actually been expected, but to hear that even Paul thought him so weak and breakable was not something that he was quite prepared for. His best friend was trying to protect him from the big, bad world.
"We're kind of sorry about it," Jace continued. "It's just how things wound up. You know what I mean, right? On first impressions you have an idea about somebody and it just sort of sticks. After a while you don't even realise you're doing it any more."
Adam couldn't help but glare a little. The feeling of anger and disappointment was growing. "I really couldn't say I do," he said sharply. "When I first met you guys I had a bloody good first impression because you were both talented and you were nice to me. I was bullied through most of my time at school and I actually thought I'd found some decent friends for once, but you guys certainly proved me wrong, didn't you?"
"Yeah, yeah we did," conceded Jace. He took a long sigh, which killed all latent feelings of aggression that Adam had. For once, Jace actually seemed to care about something. He wasn't looking up at Adam. Instead, his eyes were downcast, which was strange enough. "We both f--ked up royally when it comes to you. We thought you were this weak little coward who always needed somebody looking over your shoulder, so we just did all that we could to be there on either shoulder. Turns out we're liars, we're cowards and we're the ones weak enough to give in when we get pissed off. We let you down, kid."
Thinking carefully, more than slightly worried that Jace was trying to trick him in some way, Adam took his time considering what he could say to such an outburst. "Well it's all about where we go from here, isn't it?" he said eventually, hoping to move forwards with the question. He kept his head working while Jace hesitated, working hard to try and find an answer that they would both be satisfied with for his only question, but he only arrived at one that he thought sensible. "I think we should go back to Fuse. You know what Paul's like; he's probably drowning in alcohol poisoning right now. I don't really think he's going to survive without us around, do you?"
"No, not really," responded Jace. "You know, I remember the first time I met him. He had Ally following him around wherever he went in primary school, but he kept pretending not to notice. You could see he liked it though. He had this little smile whenever she was around; she made him feel safe. Probably still does really. He just sort of came up to me and made a friend out of me, and in about an hour I was defending him against a teacher he'd got in trouble with. As soon as I gave in, Ally jumped up and started explaining how the teacher was wrong and Paul was in the right. Where was Paul during all this? He'd wandered off to draw guitars. He's always so full of ideas; it's what I like most about him, but there has to be somebody one step behind him ready to mop up the mess he leaves behind. This is a perfect example of it. He's used to having Ally there, and me I guess. We just have to be there purely so that he can survive. He's never had many people behind him just because of how he is. Yeah, he's intense, he's devoted and he leaves a lot of mess behind him, but he gets bloody good results. We know that for definite, don't we? I bet even with all of this going on he's still thinking of dragging us along with him when he makes it, because he's going to make it. There's no stopping him. It could go wrong a million times, but he's going to get it right and we know it. We have a chance to be there supporting him and following him to the front lines. I'm angry at a Paul Taylor web page, but I'm not surprised. Now the anger's buggered off again I can see it as pretty much a stepping stone, else you and Ed wouldn't be on it, would you? This is it now. I've been playing the game for f--king years, but Disbelief can make it just because he's the guy in charge."
"You believe in him that much?" asked Adam.
In answer, Jace laughed sarcastically and then, fixing Adam with an intense gaze and a warm smile, he simply said, "don't you?"
The answer was simple. Adam put his feet back on the ground and left the swing behind. Jace followed quickly behind.