He had never been a fan of mirrors. The clear glass reflection had never shown him what he had wanted to see, but the reason for that was obvious. That which he wished to see was not the reality. Instead he was simply faced with the small, thin and tired looking abomination that was his true self. In every line of his face he couldn't see himself. The eyes of his mother stared back at him with a baleful stare. There was no hatred in those eyes, no anger or arrogance. Instilled within was a nameless fear that had haunted him for all of his life. However, that was where the resemblance to his mother ended. The rest of his face and body belonged to the image of his father. There, as plain as day, was the cause of the fear that the rest of his face beheld. Every mirror he had ever looked in had shown him the same image. His face was at war with itself.
"Where did Ed disappear to?" inquired Adam as he returned to their little table from the bar. His hands were wrapped around fresh drinks as he and Paul had begun to drink quite heavily since his friend had arrived. Neither of them were likely to get drunk, but they had never found anything wrong with being slightly intoxicated.
"He went for a piss," Paul replied, taking his drink from Adam's hands and bringing it to his lips. The first drink he took with evident pleasure. "We have more important things to talk about anyway," he continued afterwards, placing his glass on the table with the other two. "We have a show to play, all our instruments are here and the usual clan's going to be here too. Somehow we need to keep you from being distracted. There's going to be a lot of female flesh wandering around and we need you to keep your cock in your pants."
"Hey, I'm not that bad," said Adam, hearing the rise of his voice. The teasing was expected, but Adam wasn't about to let Paul get away with it. "You're the perverted one here, one girl or not, so you'd best keep quiet or I'll be telling her when she comes in."
This made Paul cease his jokes quite quickly. Suddenly, he looked both shy and pensive. Undoubtedly attempting to cover this, though he failed to do so, he took another drink before replying: "that's if she turns up you realise? Personally, I don't really see it happening. I was told she'd turn up. That's one of the major reasons I said yes to this gig."
This confused Adam. "This is a great gig, what do you have to complain about?" He asked in disbelief. "Redchip are huge, this place is already filling up. I don't even know how you would manage to get hold of such a brilliant spot. We're opening for the second biggest band around. This is going to give us such a boost. It's the sort of performance that everybody wants to give. Seriously man, how did you get this gig?"
"I got hold of a few new contacts didn't I?" Paul told him. "You met Colt, but he's not the only one I know who knows a few good names in the business. Besides, Redchip aren't that special are they? Rick Ash was the big thing. These guys don't have a chance in hell without him, so they were looking for a band that they didn't think would eclipse them. We're a small enough name that they already have good connections with. They think that, even if they really do play absolutely terribly, we'll still make them look good by being crap."
"We're not crap though," Adam responded simply.
"Damned right we're not," Paul sent back with a wide smile. "This is their first gig under Redchip in a long time, but the name's still as popular as ever. Everybody who's turning up today are turning up to either see Rick Ash or Ed Finn. Only one of those are going to be here. Here's the man now - welcome back good sir, we were just talking about you."
With his trademark smile Ed dropped into the seat beside Paul, sinking smoothly into the world of comfort that Adam had had great difficulty leaving. He simply adored these sofas. The urge to own one had claimed a great deal of his attention since he had first entered this place. Nevertheless, the idea of having Anna and Veronica in close proximity was one that he found quite terrifying. Worse was the fact that he wouldn't be there to intervene. The four men of the party would be wandering up to play their hearts out for an audience. The three women would be left alone to talk. Perhaps they would simply converse about the wonder of the seating. Adam was hoping to convince himself so.
Ed's appearance had been in its typical style. He had arrived at a random time and seemingly had no idea as to where he was until he managed to discover Adam and Paul sitting in the corner near the major window. At first, a little lost, he had wandered over to the area where Redchip were preparing to perform. Here, a large group of people were beginning to converge around the young singer. He answered their questions, signed their napkins and their scrapbooks, then moved on to the next member of the group. Adam, watching it from afar, had compared it to a vampire descending to feed on the flesh of the uneducated. Regardless of this, Ed had wandered happily forward towards them all, looking around for his friends.
It wasn't long before the attention of the group began to wander towards the guitarist who was bordering on entering their midst. Giving brash smiles to the men and shy smiles to the women, Ed was almost instantly recognised and, wandering away from the preparing Redchip, people began to ask for Ed's autograph instead. As the Redchip bandleader silently seethed in Ed's direction, the young guitarist simply wrote his signature upon every piece of paper that was handed to him. Once he was done there he had finally managed to find Paul and Adam, both of whom had been watching them for some time. Using a marker from somebody who had been proclaiming themselves to be his biggest fan, he wandered over to his band mates, signed their arms with the marker, and then walked off again. Neither of them had tried to stop him. The marker would wash off easily and they had already had quite a lot to drink.
Now, sat before him with a playful grin, Ed looked immensely pleased with himself. Adam pushed the glass of Jack Daniels a little further along the table to show Ed that it was meant for him. It was snatched up quickly.
"I think I can see Jace outside," Paul announced quietly, bringing Adam's attention back to the matter that they had been discussing. Paul's eyes were focussed out of the window behind Adam. He would have turned to see for himself, but chances are that that would make it too plain that he was worried. "Anna is with him," Paul continued, confirming his fears. "Veronica and Ally are with them too by the looks of it. Hey, it looks like everybody turned up. Awesome."
A broad and genuine smile had captured Paul's face as he looked out over the others. Adam put it down to Ally with no second thought. His friend was fairly easy to read. His eyes finally shifting from the view outside, Paul brought them down to Adam's face. "I'm sorry man, that was a bit mean of me," he said, looking quite honest about it. "You're probably not going to be having fun for the next couple of hours. It's alright though, we're up soon and then we can all join together in seeing if Redchip end up being any good. I'll do my best to look after you, alright?"
"I don't need any help," Adam responded. "Whatever happens is going to happen and I'll just meet it when it does. My mind's on the show, nothing else." There was a brief pause, during which both Ed and Paul looked at him in a way that said, quite clearly, that they both knew different. "Are they looking?" he conceded. "Does Veronica look angry?"
"Yeah, they're looking," Paul answered calmly. To Adam's horror, he lifted his arm and waved through the window at the group outside.
"Don't do that," he whispered as loudly as he could. "They'll see us."
"Wow, you're really panicking aren't you?" Paul said, evidently enjoying Adam's discomfort. "What happened to your mind being on the show and nothing else? What am I supposed to do? Should I hide so that they can't see us, even when we're up playing our gig without a drummer? God man, relax for a bit. I know it's not going to be easy but we'll get through this somehow. Veronica's not going to know about anything, I promise."
As Adam watched the three girls and Jace entering the bar area, his eyes focussed on them completely. All of the women were so different in style, personality and posture. Veronica was always upright and uptight, presenting a well made and professional face to the world. Anna, in contrast, looked quite appalling. Her make up seemed to be made to make her look ridiculous. The orange hue of her skin coupled with the painted lips, short skirt and low cut top just made her look cheap. Still, it was an improvement. Previously, at Fuse, she had been wearing much less clothing.
Ally, as usual, had her own style, but today she had something of a surprise in store for them. Much to Adam's dismay she had seemingly cut off most of her long hair and removed her purple streak. Now her hair was short, layered and straight. She had it black as well. It did not particularly suit her. It was an unwelcome change to Adam, but he was not prepared for Paul's reaction to it. He turned to his bassist, expecting to see a strong and vehement reaction, but there was nothing. Paul made no reaction whatsoever. Instead he simply remained, sitting in his chair, drinking his drink, and watching her closely. His face had became blank and impassive. It was something that Adam had never seen before.
"Just in time," Jace said to them all, waving over to his band mates. He took a few steps closer, the females following behind him in a small swarm. "I'm going to go set up guys," he told the three men gathered around the table without so much as a greeting. "I want to be prepared for this and we're up in about fifteen minutes away. They'll want to run a sound check and everything. It's a bit more professional here than anywhere else we've played so far. Come on, we should get up there."
Paul's mouth opened, supposedly to argue, but Jace interrupted smoothly. "Besides, you want to get the microphones set up for your voice don't you, Bass? They'll have it set up for them instead. Come on."
The moment Paul rose, Jace had him by the elbow in what looked to be a friendly grip. The enthusiasm did not fool Adam and it certainly didn't seem to fool Paul. Confused as to how the females weren't horrendously suspicious, Adam turned to look at them. However, it seemed as though Ed had stepped in to distract them using his marker pen and whatever skin was available on their bodies.
"Adam, come on, we have to get over there," Jace sound quickly, drawing Adam's eyes back to himself. "We'll need to sort your mic and your effects. Ed can catch up. Come on you two, I'm not going to let either of you argue."
In a quieter voice, as they all moved away from the rest, Jace added a few final words. "Look, I know there's going to be plenty of drama. I didn't want to bring Anna, but she's here so you'd best get used to it kid. Keep yourself focussed and don't touch."
A little insulted, Adam decided to let it be. Deep down, he was still recalling the memory of what had happened the last time that he had encountered Jace's little sister. However, Jace was not finished. Turning to Paul he said, quite simply: "And we're going to be having words, Bass. After the show I want to talk to you."