The first thing that he had expected upon entering Roadkill was for somebody to mention his eye. His reputation would precede him, leading to awkward questions. The idea of such an aggressive and quite sturdy man being injured so would be quite strange to those who knew him. As such, he made no effort to hide it, choosing instead to let them enjoy the sight. He could easily have worn a pair of sunglasses; he had some hooked on the collar of his jacket, but he had decided against it. Jace had nothing to hide.
He spotted Paul and Adam quickly they were sitting at their usual table between the bar and the door. Briefly, upon looking directly into Adam's eyes, Jace could swear that he saw fear, but it passed quickly. He began to question this, quite strongly, when he had taken his seat and found that Adam was actually laughing at him.
He had taken the seat beside Paul, where the sunlight shone through the window to burn his bare forearms, before Adam managed a coherent sentence.
"What happened to you?" he began as he finally managed to calm himself. "Who'd you pick a fight with this time?"
"I wasn't picking fights," Jace replied through clenched teeth. Being the subject of such amusement was not something he was entirely happy with. Thankfully, before the two of them could continue their potentially passive-aggressive conversation, Paul stepped in to bring the subject back to where he wanted it.
"I'm glad you came, man," he said to Jace with a crooked smile. "I'd ask how you've been but I don't think I need to. Anyway, you know why we're here, right? Disbelief is on the rocks. I need to know if everybody still wants to be involved in this."
There was no hesitation in Jace's mind. Disbelief was a choice he had made a long time ago over many more capable and more popular bands. Originally, it had been for Paul more than anything else, but lately Jace hadn't been so sure. There was a lot of potential in this band, especially from Paul and Ed. All in all, they were relatively new, and they had had very little exposure beyond the few gigs that they had played. However, of those gigs, they had had some serious good luck. Perhaps this was down to Paul's abilities to negotiate a good arrangement, or perhaps word was beginning to spread about the enigmatic young guitarist that they had at the front of the line.
"I still think it's an awesome band," Jace answered slowly. His thoughts came quickly, but he wanted to give himself time to say them well. "We're more focussed when we practise than any other band I've ever been in. When we're up on stage we're all professional, but the crowd still love it. I think we could make a great run of it. We're all good at what we do, even this little bitch here."
"Hey!" Adam responded, knowing that he was being addressed. The volume of his annoyance drew minor attention from the people gathered at the bar. This gave Jace the delight of watching Adam's cheeks turn pink with embarrassment as he continued. "I came here to be in a band with you so you'd best be bloody civil or I'll walk straight out."
"Alright, alright," Jace conceded. "I'll take it back, okay? Listen, kid, I've been meaning to talk to you. I flew off the handle before and I'm sorry, alright? If it was your little sister you'd understand, but that's no excuse. If this whole band thing's going to work then we need to work together. I've regretted it since it happened, so I'm sorry. Really. Anna's pissed at me as well - who do you think gave me this thing?"
A tense moment followed, during which Adam glared at Jace suspiciously. It was a rather ugly look for somebody so young and small to sport. Nothing Jace had said had been a lie. The last few days had been a mass of arguments with his sister, to the point where she had finally managed to strike with her flailing fists. His anger had peaked several times, but he could never hurt his sister. Instead his mind had drawn him back to some truly vicious memories. He had done horrible things while he was angry, both to those he despised and to those he truly loved. Pride was not something that Jace could keep hold of for long.
"You're trying to trick me," Adam replied finally. He spoke quietly, but very defensively.
"No, I'm not," Jace tried to assure him. "Seriously, I really regret it. It's not going to happen again, I swear. Reckon we can let it go?"
The suspicious glare did not cease. Obviously, Adam was not prepared to let go. "I was warned you'd try this," he announced. "Veronica told me you'd try and make me trust you again, then you'd get angry at some point and everything would go wrong."
For a moment, Jace's anger flared up to make a mockery of him. He quelled it quickly, but couldn't keep the bitterness from his tongue when he spoke: "Been talking to that old snake again have you?"
"You should watch what you're saying," Adam answered without raising his voice. He sounded oddly calculated, as though his words had been rehearsed. "I don't just love her, I trust her. I don't trust you."
"Guys," Paul interjected, drawing Jace's attention away from Adam's accusing stare. "We have to understand it's going to take a while for you to trust each other again. Things take time. What we need to decide on is if you both think it's worth trying, because if it is then that's what we'll do. If it's going to be too hard for you guys then that's going to be the end of Disbelief, isn't it?"
This ended the debate between them quite quickly. Jace could tell from Adam's eyes that they were thinking the same thing. They both wanted to make music, and they both thought that Disbelief were the most likely band to get somewhere. It seemed as though the two of them would just have to get along.
The incessant arguments were getting them nowhere, but Paul doubted they were going to stop for a long time. Both of them were sticking to their guns far too strongly to back down. It was almost nauseating to watch them, two of his closest friends, risking everything for one tired little fight. However, if Paul had to act as mediator in order to reform what had previously been a fully functional band then he was prepared to do that. Disbelief meant everything to him.
He was thirsty, and quite liked the idea of going for alcohol, but leaving these two alone would be the sort of thing only a complete idiot would do. Paul didn't like to think of himself as an idiot, so he chose against it. Instead he searched his brain for a topic that did not involve music, Adam or Jace. His heart made the leap almost instantaneously to the topic he quickly settled on.
He turned to Jace and put a hand on his shoulder to draw his drummer's attention. "Have you heard anything from Ally?" he asked in what he hoped was a nonchalant voice.
Evidently it was not. Jace turned to him with a laugh and a wide smile before answering: "Back on topic for you, eh? Yeah, I spoke to her a couple of days ago. She says she's being hounded by phone calls from annoying people who want to get into her pants. It better not be you."
"Of course it isn't me," answered Paul, sounding as insulted as he was. "I haven't called her at all. Every time I give in her phone's engaged anyway."
"What happened between you two?" Adam inquired, returning to taking slow sips of his beverage. "You said you'd had a falling out but you didn't explain how."
"Oh, you fell out did you?" continued Jace. "Is that what you call it? She generally calls it something different when she's interrupted trying to have sex with somebody."
"That's not what happened," Paul replied indignantly.
"I thought that's what happened," Adam added with a smirk. "Good old predictable Paul eh? What got in the way this time? I remember last time it happened."
"You do?" asked Paul, quite confused. "I don't remember telling you about it."
"No, but she did," Jace said, laughing again. "She's told us every time it's happened and she told me this time. What is it with you two anyway? You both obviously want to be doing it, so do it. Is it really so hard? She opens up and in you go."
As crude and wrong as the image was when presented to him, Paul couldn't help but laugh at it. "Well I'm sorry Jace, but we don't seem to have ever quite worked that bit out," he said, his voice dripping sarcasm. "Something always goes wrong, doesn't it? If you both know all about it then you definitely both know that. I don't know why it happens, but there's always something that gets in the way. I'm starting to think she's not even interested anymore."
"Don't worry, man, she's interested," Jace explained. It was a very good thing for Paul to hear at this point. "She's just got a lot on her plate, that's all. Maybe next time you should get her to drop her stuff off in her room and come to yours though. That's where most of your problems seem to be coming from. Do you guys want drinks?"
Paul nodded fervently, but there was another moment of suspicious hesitation from Adam. He visibly took a deep breath to repel his fears before he answered: "Another beer wouldn't go amiss."
Jace gave him a small and tidy smile before he left his chair and wandered towards the bar. He took several of the empty glasses with him. As he reached the bar, Adam leaned in a little closer to speak quietly to Paul.
"I know it's going to be hard," he said clearly. "As long as he's not trying to take the piss out of my girlfriend I'm fine, but I'm not going to take that, okay?"
"Okay," Paul sighed. "I'll talk to him about it. It's not just him, you know. Those two have been butting heads since they met. Maybe he just needs to work out that she's here to stay. Neither of them have made much effort with each other. So, if I talk to him, how about you talk to her about it?"
Adam considered the facts presented to him, glancing back and forth between Paul and Jace. However, the decision was clear in his face. "Alright," he answered. "I want to make this work, so we have a deal. When's Ed due?"
"It shouldn't be too long now," Paul responded. He had taken to looking out of the window every now and then while Adam and Jace had been arguing, hoping to see Ed in the distance, wandering towards them. Something about Ed just made everything so much more lighthearted, which gave Paul a lot more confidence to deal with the situation. Nevertheless, at this point, there was still so sign of the black haired guitarist.
It was while he was looking out of the window that he spotted something far down the street. His eyes spotted two female figures, who quickly resolved into Ally and Veronica. They were talking animatedly, waving their arms frantically to assist their speech. This, in itself, was fairly strange. They had both always had their own friends and, as such, only spent time together during Disbelief shows. At those times they were always together, seeing as they were the only people who were really attached to the band. However, right now they were on their own, just the two of them.
A feeling of unknown dread washed over Paul at the sight of them. Adam was saying something, but he couldn't focus on it. Watching closely, he saw them joined by another figure, wearing black and a little further in the distance. They both went to meet this person, obscuring them from view. Regardless of this, Paul was quite sure of who it was. As the three of them turned a corner and went out of sight, Jace returned from the bar with the drinks. Paul, returning to the conversation, cut in on whatever Adam might be saying to ask: "Why are your girlfriend and my wannabe girlfriend meeting up with Ally's ex-boyfriend?"