Notes: This is for celticfaerie2. Not that 'shippy, but I tried. Writing Lindsey was a new experience for me, so I hope I did allright. Big thanks to snoopypez For the beta and crofan28 for the band name. Feedback makes me smile.

There was something to be said for the stench of cigarette smoke. It gave the mind something to focus on, in an existence that was pretty fucking bleak, otherwise. Or perhaps it wasn't the smell of it that he was concentrating on. Maybe it was the heaviness of the smoky air that filled the club. Could one concentrate on the smoke without concentrating on the air itself by association? Perhaps it wasn't the smoke or the air; maybe it was the club itself that had permeated the haze of his mind. Dark, smoky, and all but identical to every other dark and smoky club he'd been in. Not that it mattered. Or that Oz was even aware of what state he was in. Although, that didn't really matter much either.

This was his life now, driving aimlessly from club to club. Find a group that needed a sub, learn their songs, stand there and play. It was always the same. The group would politely thank him, give him his pay, but never ask him to return. A musician whose heart wasn't in it was barely a musician.

The voice of the club announcer broke Oz from his thoughts. The next 'act' (If you could call it that) was coming on. If it was anything like the other six he'd sat through this evening, he'd quickly be retreating back into his thoughts.

"Now presenting... The Flying Donkey Carcasses!"

Oz arched an eyebrow; at least the name was interesting. Although, Dingoes ate my Baby was interesting and that didn't make the band suck any less.

"I'll never understand why people feel the need to give their bands such stupid names."

He glanced at the man sitting to his right nursing a beer. Dark hair, pronounced jaw and an angry bruise fading from his face. Oz was just buzzed enough to speak to the stranger.

"So people remember them."

The stranger regarded him for a moment, and then snorted. "I sure as hell won't be remembering them for their music."

Oz winced slightly as the "singer" wailed at the top of his lungs for s moment. "Yeah, I hear you there."

"I'm sick and tired of the shit they let play in places like this. The good stuff is so hard to find."

"Unchallenged."

He took another long drink of his beer, and spared a withering glance at the band onstage. "The guitarist is shit. Honestly. He's fucking up the easiest chords."

Oz tilted his head "You play?"

"A bit."

"Same."

"You any good?"

"Doubt it."

"What's your story?"

Oz regarded him silently. He wasn't the type to strike up a conversation, but he wasn't about to turn down the first remotely intelligent discussion he'd been offered in months. "The same as everyone else. There was a girl, I fucked up, she's moved on."

"Women," the man snorted and finished his beer before turning and giving Oz his full attention. "Name's Lindsey."

"Oz."

"Interesting name"

"So's yours."

"Guess so."

"How come you only play a bit?"

"What?"

"Guitar?"

"Had to stop for a while, but just got back into it."

Oz arched an eyebrow. "Any good?"

"Been told so."

"That works. I've been working on the same chord for four years."

"Which?"

"E-Flat, Diminish Ninth."

Lindsey nodded. "That's a hard chord."

"It's a man's chord." Oz remarked bitterly. "Can you do it?"

"Sometimes. Not lately."

"Why's that?"

"Evil Hand."

"Hn."

Lindsey studied his empty beer bottle for a moment, then slapped a bill onto the bar.

"Headed anywhere specific?"

A far off look entered Lindsey's eyes for a moment, but was quickly replaced with bitterness. "Home, I suppose. If I even know where that is anymore."

It was Oz's turn to look bitter. "I hear you."

He pushed back from the bar and stood, pausing a moment before turning his gaze to rest upon Oz once more. "At the risk of sounding like a greeting card, don't give up on that chord."

"Oh, I won't."

Lindsey offered him a grim nod before leaving.

Gotta have something to keep me going.