During the last week, a cold wind had descended over the city, bringing with it both rain and storms. To be caught in a surprise shower was typically no surprise, but it was seemingly impossible to escape the weather whenever anybody left their home now. The constant showers, the high winds and the intermittent sounds of thunder had everybody on edge and more than a little cranky. With the roar and flash of nature outside their windows, everybody had begun to have trouble sleeping. The puddles and drizzle that accompanied them wherever they went became an irritation that most people were more than a little tired of. The few women that still bothered to make a fuss of themselves found their efforts in vain when the wind would force tears to steam from their eyes, ruining their make up. Not content simply with that, mother nature would take it's toll on their hair and skin as well. It was the sort of time when everybody in the city could do with cheering up.
Adam, as usual, was one of them. The lightning that pierced the thick material of his curtains at night reminded him of days that had long since passed. As a child he had been terrified of thunderstorms. The violent sounds that had ripped through the night forced him to retreat beneath the covers, huddled into a tiny ball and hoping that it would pass quickly. It never would of course. Instead the storm would remain, baiting him and hating him, roaring out its anger to the world. Even now, with more than a decade more behind him, the sounds and sights still made him weak at the knees.
Since Disbelief's arranged practice at Colt's studio, Adam had only really found two things to do with himself apart from attending his University courses. The thing that he had done most was to prepare. His instrument, always a cause for great pride within him, had been cleaned, polished and restrung in preparation for the upcoming show. He had run through every movement of his hands, however large or small, more times than he could count to make sure that he was ready. When the storms hit their peak, he would take up his guitar and play through his parts again, trying to focus only on what he could hear within his bedroom. The outside however, would always find its way in.
The second thing that he had spent most of his time doing was guarding Veronica's applied self image. Having spent so long meticulously arranging her foundation, eyeliner and hairdo just the way that she wanted it, Veronica would be absolutely furious when, the moment she stepped outside of her door, it would be ruined. When he was not playing his guitar he would be either with her or talking to her, ever reminding her of how beautiful he found her, regardless of the fake tan, running dye and push up bras she would insist on using on herself. In many ways this just made things worse, but she would not let him go without it.
They had gotten much closer again, though not as close as they had been before the break up. Sex was still nonexistent, though they had come quite close on numerous occasions. He still didn't dare to bring his instrument anywhere near her, but she didn't inquire as to that. It was a new thing, but in more than one instance he had been allowed to keep his thoughts to himself. It was a marked improvement and one that he had thus far found no reason to complain about.
Tonight she had consented to come along and watch Disbelief in action. They weren't travelling together, which Adam was grateful for, but Veronica would instead be travelling with Ally. This would give Disbelief some time as a unit first. This was no small gig; they needed some time together. Tonight they were opening for a band named Redchip. Recently, Redchip had gone under quite a transformation. The bassist, as well as Rick Ash, their enigmatic guitarist, had left the band during the recording of what would have been their debut album for a major label. Having lost their guitarist, Redchip were dropped from the label without a moment's notice. Now however, with the same Redchip material from before, the singer had supposedly put together a band worthy of continuing the name. They brought with them one hell of a crowd and, somehow, Disbelief would be playing for an hour to open the major two hour set. It was quite a dream, and a tremendous stroke of luck that Adam attributed to Paul. However, Jace was the one who really new the band well. The singer had tried on countless occasions to make Jace the official drummer for Redchip. Instead, he had had to settle for somebody else.
They were playing at a hotel near the city centre. The entire downstairs area was split into two sections. A third of it acted as the reception, which included the stairs to the rest of the hotel. Here the receptionists flirted outrageously with anybody who wandered by, ignored their paperwork and sat on the phones making calls to their boyfriends. The rest of the downstairs had been made into a bar area. The name of the bar was Indy's. Its reputation was by far one of the best in the city, especially for music. Live bands had been made in the rooms of this place, while many careers had been cut drastically short. Sitting alone on the faded couches nearest to the back, Adam couldn't help worrying that he could easily make a mistake that would end Disbelief tonight.
He had been there for a while, having arrived early due to the urge to check out the competition. Without Rick Ash, Redchip were a completely different band. At one point they had been fluid, acting as one and working together to achieve a goal. Now, watching them set up on the stage at the other side of the bar, Adam could tell that this was no longer true. The singer, well known for his arrogance and his egotism, was barking orders to the rest of the band, while seemingly doing nothing himself. More confusing was the fact that he seemed to be carrying around sheets of paper with him, reading the words aloud from them as he paced back and forth, inspecting the work of his band. Adam had crossed his fingers in the hope that it was a checklist for setting up rather than a sheet of lyrics.
One thing that he had found quite surprising was the addition of a second guitarist. Previously, Redchip had always prided themselves on having only one guitarist. This was mostly because, when Rick Ash was soloing, the bassist, whose name Adam could not recall, would increase in volume and take up the slack that was missing from the rhythmic play. The solos were the best part of any Redchip gig, as Ash was well known for his improvisation. He could play anything he wanted and make it sound incredible, but he never took too long doing so. The audience was always left wanting more. Looking at the current line-up, Adam was confused as to whether there would be any improvisation. Again, he hoped that there would be, or Ed would be drastically upstaging the headlining act.
Indy's was a typical pub in most respects. They specialised in cheap beer and lager, the major seating was all short and knackered old stools and the floor had a thick, unusually damp carpet covering it. There were a few differences though, for example, the sofa that Adam was currently sitting on. For some reason, he had been drawn to it upon sight, only to find it the most comfortable seat that he had ever sat on. He was by a large bay window, looking out over the car park. It wasn't a particularly nice view, but as he had chosen to sit with his back to it he barely cared. The tables for these seats were not tall and round, but rather short and rectangular. The wood was light near the windows, but darker the deeper inside the bar a drinker chose to sit. It was a rather confusing place, but the bar was well stocked and the people seemed friendly enough. The atmosphere was very enjoyable, at least for Adam. Everybody was apparently both a musician and a regular.
The first member of Disbelief to arrive was Paul, as expected. Looking more than a little haggard, he wandered in, his hair dripping down onto the carpet. It was getting much longer now, Adam noted. It was almost all of the way down past his shoulders. With a silent wave to his bassist, Adam beckoned Paul over to the comfort of the couches around the little table. Paul smiled at him and wandered straight over without a moment's thought.
Today looks like it's going to be a pain in the arse, Paul began as soon as he sat down. I've still had no word from Ally as to whether she's even coming or not. I haven't even come close to being able to ask her why she was meeting up with Sean. It's a bloody nightmare. What is with women these days? I want to see my friend, is that so wrong?
The rhetoric was not missed on Adam. Paul felt like ranting a little, that much was evident, so he felt no need to answer any of the questions. I asked Veronica about it, but she didn't tell me much, he said slowly. In truth, he had worked very hard to gather the confidence to ask her and she had brushed it off as nothing without giving him any real answer. It had made him somewhat suspicious of her, but he had put it down to paranoia and tried his best to get on with things. She said that they were just meeting up so that Ally and Sean could talk about things. She only went along because otherwise Ally would have had to go all on her own. We don't want that, do we?
No, came the brisk response, we don't want that at all. He can be a dangerous man, as you know, don't you? He gave you a good few punches. Do you have any idea if Ally's going to be showing up? She's supposed to be. I know that she knows about it, I just haven't had the chance to ask her or anything.
She's supposed to be, replied Adam. Veronica said she would and, you know, if they're hanging around without us then they're obviously getting to know each other a lot more. How did she know about it, did Jace tell her?
For a moment Paul looked quite startled, but it was only a moment before he shrugged it off and responded. No, he didn't. It was a mutual friend of ours; not somebody you know. At least I don't think you know him. We should be glad Ally and Veronica are getting on you know, his tone changed significantly when he changed the subject back to the relationship between the two girls. Adam could recognise the mocking tone as it came up. If they're spending more time together then they'll both have company when we're playing. It means they're more likely to come along and show us support, doesn't it? Hell, all else fails, they make for wonderful lesbian fantasies.
What is it with you and lesbians? Adam asked with a weary laugh. You should stop joking around. If you like Ally you should just tell her.
You know, I don't see that happening Adam, responded Paul, dropping his eyes to the table as though nervous. Let me tell you why. It's obvious. It's blatantly obvious. Hell, it's stupidly obvious. I'm sure she knows. I mean come on, I tell her she's gorgeous all of the time. I tell her I like her hair and her eyes and her nose and her fingers and her legs and her arse and her...well, you know what I mean. She's just not interested. Besides, if I push it then chances are I'll lose the friendship of one of the most awesome people in the world. I really don't want to do that. He took a deep breath, sighed and then continued speaking. This time he brought his head back up to make eye contact. Besides, you're the one who needs to be on lookout tonight. I talked to Jace earlier. Anna wants to come along.
For a moment, Adam found it difficult to speak. Memories of Jace's sister, the few that he had of her, swam across his mind. Confused, and more than a little upset, he did something that he usually did in such a mental state. He talked to Paul.
Why is she coming? he asked of his friend. I thought she was too young to be allowed out.
Well, she begged and she begged and Jace gave in, came the unhappy answer. She has to stay around us so that he can keep an eye on her, but she is coming out. I don't know how she's going to handle Veronica though, especially if she tells her about your little crush.
It's not a crush, Adam denied quickly. It was brief and now it's gone. Well, this is going to be a major pain in the arse.
Laughing to himself, Paul added one last thing: I told you that when I came in.