Technically, if Dirk were to bother to think back, he'd have to conclude that it started about a year ago. That was the first time Steve Mander had not simply asked him out to the pub but actually bought him a drink, an act that would've been more suspicious were he not so thoroughly flush with hereditary cash and Dirk so thoroughly... not that in the slightest. Whatever suspicious he may have had -- may indeed still have -- have long since been drowned in pragmatism: it certainly beats going to bed hungry. Dirk has, moreover, always been blessed with a reasonably extraordinary constitution, making him both an ideal test subject and an ideal pub crawl partner: he rarely regrets it in the morning. And Steve, utterly unbeknownst to him, makes out like a bandit, raking in more than he loses on the drinks in bribes.
Neat. Clean. Dirk, for his part, gets to pretend for an hour or two every week or three that Steve doesn't spend most of their every conversation looking as though he wishes he were elsewhere. Counting his money, perhaps, not that Dirk knows that part of it. All that he does know is that Steve Mander is a prick, but an astonishingly generous one. Not without his odd habits, certainly; Dirk has awakened in the night more than once to find Steve hunched very near the edge of his bed, trying very hard to pretend as though this is a normal position in which to be doing his reading. Fortunately for them both, Dirk is entirely accustomed to being watched and had, perhaps wisely, refrained from inquiring in favour of rolling over and going back to sleep.
That doesn't make it any less strange, he supposes, smiling benevolently over his second pint at Steve, who seems to be preoccupied with expectantly watching Dirk toy with the condensation on the glass. Whatever he's waiting for to happen, though, doesn't. Or at least, Dirk has no interest in maintaining eye contact long enough to discover whether or not it does: a squeal of feedback draws his attention back to what he's been ignoring. The squealing, noodling, and clunking seems to be an intrinsic part of the live music experience,
which is something he never would've guessed before the event he prefers to think of as 'the breach', the foreboding and mystery more than enough to keep him from actually examining the thing in any detail, which is for the best. Still, it's not bad, exactly. Sort of nice. Like it's a real thing real people are doing,
which is fascinating, even more fascinating than the comparatively sterile sound of whatever they'd allowed him on cassette tape at Black Wing.
There hadn't been much. Since coming here, he's yet to encounter a genre he hasn't liked at least a little bit. The sheer variety is dizzying.
Dirk rests his chin on the heel of his palm, looking away from the table, away from Steve, away from his drink to the figures milling about on the tiny little stage. Not the usual for this pub on this day of the week, and that's rather nice too. Under duress, he'd probably be forced to admit he'd been growing a bit tired of banjos and accordions.
That impression is short-lived. If nothing else, the set the band plays is good for that. No, that's excessively harsh. It isn't that they're bad, far from, but they're certainly louder than he'd been expecting this evening. Louder, livelier, more. He'd loved every minute of it, but there's still a hint of relief when it ends, when he can glance back to his drink -- mysteriously refilled, pint three --
and Steve's increasingly desperate attempts to hold his attention. God knows why. It isn't as though they're friends. Dirk isn't stupid. He does know that much.
After that it's the familiar dance. Dirk drinks, Steve watches him like a hawk, they go home, Dirk sings in the communal showers to ensure he gets some time to himself, and then he sleeps. He wonders faintly if Steve is trying in some awkward, affected way to date him, decides that's patently ridiculous, or at least too disturbing to seriously consider, and drifts in to unconsciousness. Credulous economics students are made very happy. All is right with the world.
All is, in fact, even better with the world when, not two days later, Steve wheedles him into attending another boozing session -- somebody's birthday, apparently -- and the lager he's drinking has just begun to swing lazy fists at his forebrain when new arrivals catch his eye, stalking past his table on their way to and from the stage, laden with gear.
Dirk beams a brilliant smile at the... guitar-man. Guitarsman? What are they called? Does it matter? Not at all. He seems like a reasonably delightful person regardless, slightly sullen perhaps but already better company than Steve Mander has ever been. "Oh, hello again!"