DISCLAIMER: I don't own any of the songs(Africa, If I Ever Lose My Faith In You & Vreemde Wegen) mentioned in this entire story. They're all the properties of their respective owners(Toto, Sting & BLØF) and I make no money from this.

The music of the band, joined together with the cheering of the crowd, almost filled up the void behind the drums, even though someone was sitting there. Oscar waved at him, trying to catch his attention, and Jacob snapped out of it and nodded before looking back at the audience.

Of course. That's where my attention's got to be, after all.

He looked back at the crowd, enjoying the song.

If I Ever Lose My Faith
If I Ever Lose My Faith
In you

Patricia, the singer of Jacob's band, stood on the stage, holding her electric guitar, entrancing the audience with her song. They all sang along, and clapped, and wherever Jacob looked, he saw only smiles. The song was intended for a male voice, but Patricia's wide range didn't make it hard for her to sing it.

She was a very good singer – there was a reason why she was the singer, and also, the main guitar player.

Jacob knew that this was the reason why he played the keyboard: because he loved being in a band, and he loved to play before an audience. Yes, he was happy.

Everything was almost perfect.

I could be lost inside their lies
Without a trace
But every time I close my eyes
I see your face

Patricia kept singing, and Jacob looked at Wesley, obviously enjoying himself too. He was the bass player, his fingers sliding over the bassguitar like there was no tomorrow. Wesley looked back at him and smiled before focusing on the crowd again, just like Jacob did once again.

But then, Jacob let his gaze fly over Oscar, their new drummer: he had been in the band for about two weeks and this was his first performance together with the rest of the band. He was the next one in a long line of drummers: they just couldn't settle down on a drummer, as no-one seemed to want to stay longer than a month. Even then, Jacob hoped Oscar wouldn't stick around for too long – he didn't like him, and he did a poor job of hiding so. Jacob decided not to pay attention to the drummer, who didn't seem like he was enjoying himself either.

He was the only reason why the performance wasn't perfect.

If I Ever Lose My Faith
In you

Patricia repeated, and the song was supposed to be over. They had decided on this beforehand: they rehearsed it, and this was the end of their performance in Stage Salmon, where they were extremely popular. They called it Stage Salmon because Salmon was the name of the first band who had a performance there – although the pub itself was called The Golden Lion, everyone called it Stage Salmon simply because of its famous stage.

Jacob, Wesley and Patricia needed to share only one look and a mutual smile. They weren't stopping here, and they knew it. It was their last song, and they wanted to stretch it a bit – after a pause for applause, Patricia suddenly repeated the chorus, joined in by Jacob and Wesley on their own instruments.
Jacob himself looked one time at Oscar, and saw his anger at this unexpected twist – he had to pick his drumsticks back up. Oscar didn't like it if things happened behind his back, everything had to go his way – that was why Jacob disliked him.

If I Ever Lose My Faith
In you

Patricia finally concluded, and the song just stopped as the entire crowd in Stage Salmon yelled out of enthusiasm that they wanted more. However, Patricia simply smiled and waved, and took one last bow, before going back into the wings of the stage. The other band members followed her, and Jacob could hear the pouting of the crowd behind him, making him feel very good about himself.

While he was on the stage, Oscar seemed to be very happy. But Jacob knew that was all just make-believe, and it showed as soon as the crowd couldn't see him - the smile had melted off his face.

"I am just so tired of hearing that I'm not good enough," Oscar said once they were in the dressing room. "Every time, I hear that I can't compare, that I'm not enough of a drummer, that I want everything my way… and I've only been here for two weeks," he complained, angrily.

"We just have to get used to you," Patricia said. She was pretty much the only one who still wanted this guy in the band – Jacob and Wesley could live without him easily. "Please, wait a bit more."

"No." Oscar said, and he threw his drumsticks down on the table violently. "I am so fucking tired of hearing that I'm not good enough compared to that… that Matthias. For two weeks, you continued to whine about how good he was, about how he can't compare to me… he's like a drum-god, it seems, and I just can't fucking stand being compared to a drum god." Oscar said loudly, almost shouting. Patricia seemed to give up after this rapid-fire cursing.

"You're probably right. We're so sorry," she sighed.

"Yeah," Oscar said. "You'd better be," he walked out of the dressing room, slamming the door shut behind him as the other three band members fell quiet.

"This is our fault," Patricia finally said.

"Who cares?" Jacob said. "I mean… come on, I never liked the guy."

"We should've taken better care of him," Patricia continued. "Make him feel more at home."

"Well, I'm not gonna baby him," Wesley replied, agreeing with Jacob. "Done is done. We can do without a drummer."

"No, we can't," Patricia replied, emphasizing the last word. "We'll have to find someone new again. Maybe later, but a drummer is vital to a band."

"We are so synchronized, I'm sure we can do without a drummer," Jacob shrugged, but Patricia disagreed.

"A drummer's always necessary, in every band. We need one too, one to fill in Matthias' place."

"Matthias was great," Wesley said and nodded. "He could drum, like no-one else, convincingly. If there's a good drummer, it's him. Men like him are rare."

"Too bad his illness got the better of him," Patricia added. "We'll have to find a new drummer, guys, even if he isn't Matthias, or as good as him. We'll have to find a new one. Maybe it'll be a woman this time."

"Yeah," Jacob replied, sarcastically, "how many women play drums? It's not a very popular instrument among females, remember?"

"But it would even things out nicely. I'm sure they're out there, and if they're not… we'll have to find someone, guys."

"I need my beer," Wesley said. "Where's the manager? He's coming, right?"

"He'll be here soon," Patricia said, shushing Wesley. "But hopefully, without beer. Beer is bad for you, you know that? You're sixteen, not even twenty-one, and when your father hears…" Jacob had stopped listening. Patricia always did this: whenever she started about Wesley's drinking, she wouldn't stop quickly. Just like Jacob, Wesley had stopped caring about it a while ago.

In a way, this was part of their ritual: whenever Wesley would get himself some beer – which he always did, in tricky situations – Patricia would comment on how much she hated it and how she wanted him to stop, because his brain was still developing, and more like that... but Wesley didn't listen anymore, and had learnt to agree with her to end any form of discussion.

"You guys were great," the manager of Stage Salmon said: he was carrying a tray with four glasses on it. "The audience absolutely loves you. Have I told you before you should bring out an album?"

"Yeah," Jacob laughed. "Thanks for the drink."

"No problem. A glass of water for the prettiest female singer in the world, a glass of rice milk for my favorite keyboard-player, a beer for a rocking bass player, and a coke for an awesome drummer. Speaking of which… where is Oscar?"

"I'll drink his coke," Wesley said, and he took both glasses from the manager.

"What a shame," the manager sighed. "I really liked the guy. Ah well, if there's no dynamic, then he'll have to quit as the… seventh this year?"

"Eighth," Jacob replied, and shrugged.

"I'll go back up now," the manager replied. "You guys really should perform more often," he said, enthusiastic. "You've got talent!"

"Thanks," Jacob said and laughed.

Once the manager had left, Jacob drank his glass of rice milk, all in one go. He was lactose-intolerant, so he couldn't drink any kind of milk except for rice milk without feeling very bad the next day. The manager always arranged to have a glass of rice milk for him after performances.

"You get out your iPod and its speaker?" The door opened, and there was Wesley. "I think we could all use some music to smoothen things out."

"Yeah, think you're right," Jacob said, and reached out to get the iPod from his bag.

"Now, I have a problem," Wesley replied, and he took the glasses. He asked, sounding mock-desperate, "with which glass shall I start?"

"The fullest," Jacob responded as he turned on his music.

This was another one of their rituals: after every performance, the band would withdraw in the dressing room to talk about things with Jacob's music and his speakers on: it was their way to process everything that happened during the performance.

After the fourth song, though, Patricia was a bit fed up. "Sonata Arctica, followed by Beethoven, followed by Sting, followed by klezmer folk music…" she sighed,

"There's only one iPod in the whole wide universe where that's possible," Wesley added.

"Jacob's," Patricia continued, sighing again.

Jacob's music taste was indeed very wide: he had gotten himself an iPod on which a lot of music could fit – there were a lot of genres, and singers, bands, and albums on his music player. At home, he had a huge collection of CD's of his favorite singers – and he had a lot of favorites.

"Dear Jacob," Patricia whined a bit, "your wide music taste will, likely, one day save us all…"

"…But for now, it gets a bit annoying," Wesley added, and Jacob rolled his eyes.

"I'll put on a playlist," he shrugged, and complied: he put on the playlist with the most mainstream songs he had.

He looked back at the other two members of the band and smiled despite himself. This was the way it should always be, the way it was always going to be. The three of them, working together like they were one person, getting along incredibly well. They just knew each other, they sensed each other, and knew each other's personalities. With friends like those, he simply felt at home.

Which wasn't odd, considering that they had been together in a band for over five years now. Four years of those were together with Matthias: back then, they had really felt complete.

Without even paying much attention, Jacob suddenly noticed the next song his iPod was playing – he immediately recognized that as being Matthias' song.
As sounds of the song filled the room, all three of them fell quiet again, until Patricia finally opened up.

"How long has it been?" She sighed as the Dutch words filled the room: it was Matthias' favorite song and he himself was bilingual.

"In two weeks, it'll be a full year," Jacob said, and he sighed. "A full year since Matthias left us."

"He got ill," Patricia said, saddening. "That stupid brain tumor led to him collapsing on a performance…"

"…and the doctors found out it was inoperable," Wesley continued.

"I miss him," Jacob admitted.

"We all do," Patricia said.

"I'm glad we were there when he died, just like his family was," Wesley said. "I remember drinking my first beer the next day." That was the day Wesley had started drinking and getting beers from Stage Salmon's manager.

"It's tough… getting over someone you've been so close to," Jacob said.

"It seems there's just no other drummer good enough to match him." Wesley continued. "Men like him are rare."

"That's true," Patricia added, taking another sip of her lemonade. "But we'll have to move on some time."

They all left Stage Salmon later that day: partially sad, because Matthias' death day came closer and closer, but also happy that they were that much of a success. The manager kept repeating that they could return any time they wanted, and that they were always welcome – thanks to them, his business was booming. Stage Salmon's manager was always out for more money, and he didn't even try hiding it.

The three of them, living close to each other, took the bus, and came home together, saying their goodbyes and wishing each other good luck for tomorrow, when they'd see each other back at school again.

When Jacob came home, he saw the lights were on – his parents were already home. They had been at the performance, and they were probably positive.

When Jacob shut the front door, his parents immediately greeted him.

"You were great," Jacob's mother, Ruth, said, hugging him. "I'm so proud of my son. And Patricia, Wesley and Oscar were all fantastic." Jacob's father, Joseph, didn't say much – he withdrew himself a bit, but Jacob himself didn't pay attention to that.

"What did you think?" Jacob asked, turning to his sister, Caitlin, or Kate for short.

The dark-haired girl just looked back with her hands in her pockets, her face emitting nothing but boredom. She lifted her chin, but said nothing.

Jacob's relationship with Kate was never really good, but for the past years, the fighting had worsened: Kate was two years younger than him, and had never minded to tell him how worthless he was. She was a terrible teenager. Jacob himself, of course, returned the favor frequently.

"Love you too," Jacob replied, rolling his eyes. "It got tricky near the end of If I Ever Lose My Faith In You, but… it was great, overall. The manager loves us," he laughed at his parents. His mother kept hugging him – he was too happy to notice how much his father wanted to blend in with the background.

"I have something to tell you," Joseph said once the happiness and giddiness had died down a bit, and not soon after, the doorbell rang. Joseph opened the front door before anyone could respond.

"What… what's it? What's wrong?" Jacob asked – those words were repeated almost word-for-word by Kate, who was just as puzzled. Their mother just looked sad.

In the doorway stood a man, a bit muscled, with soft blue eyes, looking back at them. He looked sad to be there, as if he wanted to be everywhere except in the doorway of their house. He had his hands in his pockets, and his face was a bit worn out: Jacob estimated him to be about forty.

"Hello everyone," the man said.

"This is Nathan," his father introduced the man.

"Nice to meet you, Nathan?" Jacob asked, puzzled.

"Nice to meet you, Jacob, Ruth, Kate… I heard things about you from your father."

"Who are you? What are you doing here?" Kate asked, herself very confused too.

"I'm a government official," he said: he seemed a bit nervous.

"What agency?" Jacob asked.

Nathan seemed to want to be everywhere but the place he was standing - he looked around, in the doorway, before finally saying it. And it seemed that he wanted to say anything but that.

"WITSEC. I'm here to help you move."

Author's Note: Well, hello there, I'm back! Did you miss me, after I Never? I spent a lot of time trying to get these two stories just right. If you've finished this first chapter, make sure to check out Twice's prologue as well. Yes, I'm going to post these two stories simultaneously.

However, after this first chapter, I'm going to take a break from posting and continue posting only at the beginning of September, since I'm going on a holiday without laptop and internet. So you'll have to wait a bit until you'll get the second chapter, but I hope it'll be worth it. Once I start updating again, Testify will be updated every Tuesday.

Did you like this first chapter? Did you feel Jacob, Patricia and Wesley were well characterized? Were you having any difficulties keeping track of all the characters, or was it easy as pie? Did you like the pacing as well, and the twist at the end? Did you see it coming? Make sure to tell me in a review. All reviews over ten words are returned. And that might take a while - but I never forget.

I will see you in September! Oh, and follow me on Twitter, if you want. Just like here, my accountname is DutchAver!