It was very close to midnight at Indy's. Outside, thick and heavy rain was pounding against the walls and windows, deterring the few remaining occupants from leaving. The lights, though as bright as they had been all day, seemed almost diminished by the all consuming darkness outside. More often than not, the only sounds that could now be heard were scattered whispers of conversation and the occasional sound of glass meeting glass as the bar staff restacked their tools of the trade.
Redchip had eventually proven unable to perform. The broken amplifier had triggered a horrific verbal battle between Bret Turner and Rick Ash. The two Disbelief guitarists had simply walked away and left them to it. Supposedly, the shouting match had damaged Bret's throat. This, coupled with the broken equipment, had been the given reason for Redchip's premature departure. The owner of Indy's didn't seem to care. He had been there for the guitar battle; nothing else mattered.
Paul and Ally had not returned, nor was anybody sure as to where either of them had gone. It was very unusual, but, given recent circumstances, not a complete surprise. While conversing, or rather speculating, about where the two might have gone, Adam and Jace had turned to ask Ed, only to find their mute guitarist had vanished also. Jace had left soon after, dragging a somewhat alcohol influenced Anna back home, despite her vocal and physical protests. Her youth was evident in every action and word.
Finally, Adam had managed to direct himself to the place and company that he had desired most all night. With his eyes on the storm raging out of the window, he had settled himself into the exact spot that he had taken up when he first entered Indy's. The pure level of comfort that reached every part of him on the chair encouraged him to simply lay down and curl up, but he controlled his urges. Sitting opposite him, sporting a welcoming and comforting smile, was Veronica. They were alone now, which only added to Adam's feeling of complete and utter relaxation. This feeling was helped along by the amount of alcohol swimming through his own bloodstream, and also by the fact that nobody else was even close to them. The small collection of others were a minimum of several tables away.
"You look completely out of it," said Veronica with a mocking smile. "You've been sitting there blissfully unaware of anything around you for a while now. Are you that proud of yourself?"
Adam remained still, considering this for a moment. "Wouldn't you be?" He answered. "Didn't you hear us? Weren't you here? It wasn't just Ed as well, he stepped back so that I could have my turn in the spotlight. It's team work; we did it together. I don't know, that just seems pretty special to me. We're two people, but we work that well. What did you make of it?"
"Well, it was alright, I guess," Veronica replied nervously. Immediately after saying it, Adam had felt guilty for putting her on the spot so abruptly, but he couldn't call the words back now. "It just sounded like music to me. You know I'm not technical like that; it's not the sort of thing that I'm into. I'm just happy you're happy."
"Really?" Adam asked, temporarily shocked. The idea that Veronica was satisfied, regardless of the fact that he was still talking about music, was not an idea that he usually considered.
"Yes," she answered suspiciously. "What's wrong with wanting my boyfriend to be happy? I know I haven't always been the most supportive partner but I'm just trying to stop you from being so miserable all the time."
Looking back at recent months, Adam was unable to find anything to dispute this, so he left it be. So far, he had had an amazing day and he had no wish to start an argument.
"There you go," Veronica continued, returning to the well-natured smile from earlier. "You're wandering back into that relaxed but gormless thing you had going on a minute ago. You're basking, aren't you? You had so much fun on that stage that you're just laying there enjoying the feeling. I'm right, aren't I?"
"Of course you are," answered Adam quite honestly. In truth, the memories were still wandering back and forth across his mind, overtaking his eyes more often than not. He could still feel the exhilaration as adrenaline had coursed through his veins. Now, with the feelings having long worn off, he felt tired, but he still felt invigorated by the whole experience. Tonight, he had placed himself amongst the two giants of the local rock scene, and he had held his ground as though he was one of them. Everything about the night had gone so smoothly that it felt meticulously planned. Unfortunately, it was impossible to capture his true feelings in a way that she would understand, so he simply said: "You know me well enough to know that I love playing guitar. I love being part of it all, whether I'm the top layer or the bottom layer. I just love doing it."
"That sounds gay," Veronica announced before surrendering to a giggle. Adam shook his head at her, but still found himself laughing when he reviewed what he had actually said from that angle. "You and Ed have always had a special relationship, haven't you?" She continued happily.
"What can I say?" Responded Adam. "He knows how to handle my instrument almost as well as he handles his own."
This caused Veronica to surrender to her laughter and lose control temporarily. It was good to see her being so cheerful. It was a sadly rare sight for Adam. At least, recently it was. Previously, before the two of them had started to argue almost constantly, the two of them had been very happy together. Thinking back, Adam had serious difficulty even remembering what it was that the two of them had been fighting about.
"It's been a weird couple of months," Adam said casually. He was suddenly feeling quite retrospective, but it was no reason for complaint. "I definitely didn't expect to end up here when I first joined Disbelief. I'm so glad I did though. Everybody made me feel so welcome. I know it caused a lot of arguments between us, but it makes me happy, so that makes you happy, right?"
"Right," Veronica answered with a simple nod. "If that's what you want then that's what you should have. I said whatever makes you happy and I mean it."
"So what would you say if I told you that I was offered the chance to leave Disbelief, get signed my a major label and become stupidly successful by doing very little work?" Adam asked next, shrewdly.
This confused Veronica. She frowned at him several times, while hesitating profusely. He gave her plenty of time to come up with an answer, making sure with his expression that she knew he was being serious. Adam had thought about telling Paul, but thus far the opportunity had not presented itself, so Veronica would have to act as the sounding board.
"That would be a big step up for you," Veronica began slowly, obviously considering each word carefully before she said it. "Like you said though, I know you well. I know that you'd want to stick with the people who got you noticed. You do love being in Disbelief, don't you?"
"It's like a dream," answered Adam. "I took this music course hoping to make something new and fresh, but I had no idea how difficult some of this stuff is. I spent years learning theory before I even came here, and Paul spent two minutes talking about modes and embarrassed everything that I thought I knew. It comes so easy to these guys. Ed can just make it all up as he goes along, but it sounds perfect. It's never what you expect, it's even better. I'm part of that now. I get dragged along on the adrenaline rush and before I know it I'm halfway through a song and my hands are doing something completely on their own. I want to be a musician, and I don't think there's anybody in the world better to do it with."
He found Veronica looking down with quite a shy expression on her face. She looked sad, likely because she would be feeling overshadowed by Paul, Ed and Jace. This was a recurring problem, but, for once, Adam suspected that he knew how to solve it.
"You love those guys, don't you?" She asked carefully.
"Yeah," Adam replied. "They're helping me become exactly who I want to be. Even Jace, the wanker that he is. Still, they haven't helped me as much as you have. You've always been there for me, no matter what I've done. Maybe I haven't said it enough, but I love you. You know that?" As rare a sight as it was, Veronica actually blushed. He had to look closely to see her red cheeks beneath her foundation, but it was there. "I know we're not technically together anymore," he continued, pressing the advantage, "and we haven't done anything like couples do in a while, but I still feel really close to you. Probably more than I did before to be honest."
Veronica sighed. "Well, you're a flirt today aren't you?" She said, teasingly. "Have you been practicing charm or something? Or maybe you've just been looking in the mirror and working on a cute face. Come on then Adam, what do you think we should do now?"
A world of different opportunities played across Adam's mind. Suddenly, he felt as though he was standing on a pinnacle from which he could fall, but never hurt himself. Whatever he chose to say now, he felt confident that she would go with. He could attempt to say something romantic, though he had never been particularly good at that. He could suggest that they have a few more drinks and spend some more time in the most comfortable chairs in the world. He could aim to have the two of them naked in bed before the hour was up. Somehow though, that felt like it would be a backwards step. Realising this, he pushed all of the different ideas out of his head.
"Do you think there's anywhere around here that will give us something to eat?" Adam asked, more out of pure curiosity than out of hunger. He had abandoned all pretence of forethought, choosing instead to simply see how things went.
"It's midnight Adam," Veronica replied with a smirk. "I would imagine everywhere is either closed or closing right now. We could go for a walk and try a few places out I guess, but I don't fancy our chances of finding anywhere before we're soaked through."
"How about we go back and I try to cook you something?" offered Adam openly. In response, she spent a moment laughing at him.
"You can't cook," she said eventually. "You're a terrible cook. You burn toast. I remember the first night I spent at yours and you tried to make me breakfast in the morning. Do you remember?"
"I remember that you wouldn't let me back in the room until you'd sorted out your hair and put on your face again," Adam mocked.
"Oh, hush you," said Veronica. "Just remember the cooking part. How did you do?"
Adam thought carefully about what had actually happened, making sure that they were both thinking of the same time. As chance would have it, they probably were. Adam had burnt the bacon and the mushrooms and made a fried egg that looked, felt and tasted something like rubber. She had not been happy with him. "You banned me from ever cooking again," he answered eventually. "I think I can do better this time though. Besides, if not then I'll just try until you take pity on me and take over. Deal?"
Veronica gave him a crooked smile, then, after turning to glance at the rain smashing against the window behind her, she gave him her answer: "Deal. Now come on, we'd best get going before it gets any worse."
They left together, arm in arm, with Adam's coat wrapped around Veronica's shoulders. As the hour turned to midnight, Adam found himself drenched through, but blindingly optimistic. It had been a fantastic day after all.