It had been three weeks since the fire, and Adam was not nearly as depressed as he thought he'd be. For one thing, he'd had to move back into his mom's house, much to her joy. It seemed that his presence in the basement and casual appearances at the dinner table were, in fact, a vital ingredient to her overall sanity. Who would have thought? After thinking about it, he realized that he was the perfect Yin to his Anita's Yang – they balanced each other out, and for now it would have to do.
The arrangement was just as agreeable to Anita, who felt that having a hand in the destruction of Rocky's house was the ultimate in revenge for Destiny, who had since gotten over Adam and was now dating their school mascot. (The boy inside the suit, not the actual mascot).
Eventually he would move out, Adam told his mother, because if what the Wong's were saying was true, he could be a full-fledged manager in six months. Not too shabby, he thought.
In fact, the situation seemed to be working out for everyone involved. Both Elma and Jackson found that having employees who weren't there children to be rather refreshing. And the Wong girls? Well, Adam had spoken with one of them several times over the past few weeks, and that had only been because she was constantly over at Rocky's when Adam came to visit him in the pool house. Ada, it seemed, had taken up permanent residence in her family's basement, emerging only to go to some undisclosed location. The reasons why were still fuzzy to Adam, who had managed to glean only snippets of information from her sister.
It wasn't just him Ada wasn't talking to, though. She had cut off communication from everyone.
Luke had even come down to the liquor store about two weeks after the fire to see if Ada had been around. That had been an uncomfortable conversation, and Adam was happy to send Luke on his miserable way after quickly assuring him that Ada was nowhere in the vicinity.
Adam was behind the counter of Wong's Beer, musing over the recent turn of events on a quiet Wednesday afternoon, when Rachel came into the store. She was followed closely behind by a doting Rocky, who it seemed had actually combed his hair before showing his face in public. Adam shook his head inwardly wondering what other influences Rachel would bestow on Rocky. A shower every day? Clipping his toenails before they cut through his socks? It was sad, in a way.
Rachel said a quick hello to Elma (who still refused to look Rocky in the eye) at the back of the store and strode immediately to the front counter, where Adam was standing. She took off her sunglasses and folded her arms on the counter, narrowing her eyes at Adam.
"What?" Adam stepped back. Rachel was a good half a foot shorter than he, but still intimidating as hell when she wanted to be.
"You're back in the circle of trust," she said, stone-faced. Rachel held her serious look for a few seconds before cracking a smile and giggling.
"Ha, ha. Yes, very funny Deniro. Did you come in here just to bug me?" said Adam, sneaking a glance at his boss in the back of the store. Daughter or no, he didn't want to lose his job.
"No," said Rachel with a smirk. "I've come to tell you that Ada wants to have a conversation."
Adam raised his eyebrows and looked up at her.
"Yes, I know, what an honour," said Rachel sarcastically. "The queen wishes to speak with you and I am but a simple messenger."
Adam ignored the eye-rolling. "When does she want to talk?"
"You can come over to our house after work," said Rachel. "She should be there. It's not like she ever leaves."
Adam considered this as he watched Rachel take her leave and swing into the back of the store to talk to Jackson. It still wasn't entirely clear to him why Ada had been avoiding conversation. He knew he'd screwed things up at the RetroPit, but couldn't imagine anything he had said was that terrible. There was that whole thing with Luke, but surely three weeks was long enough to get over that. Right? Even Adam had come to terms with the fact that Ada currently despised him and that had only taken a few days.
Rocky wandered over to counter, with a stupid grin plastered across his face.
"So, another chance with Ada?" he grinned.
"I really doubt that," said Adam. Despite his recent luck with the ladies, Rocky was as clueless as ever.
"Too bad, because those Wong girls…" Rocky trailed off and winked. Adam looked away. That had been creepy.
"So is your dad still threatening to sue you for the house?" asked Adam.
Sammy Shaw had not taken the destruction of his tax shelter lightly, vowing legal action on his only son shortly after viewing the charred remains of the three-storey.
"Nah," said Rocky. "He calmed down after a couple weeks. I guess the insurance was worth more than what he could have sold it for. He's just gonna sell the land at top price and maybe buy a ski-doo for the lake. It's cool."
They were silent for a few moments, and then Adam asked Rocky something he really cared about.
"How's your mom doing?"
Rocky only gave him a sneered look and then walked away. Adam had garnered that he'd found out about the conversation he and Mia had had just a few weeks ago. Not that it mattered anymore, he had come to terms with the reasons why he was attracted to Mia, and now it was simply a case of caring for her as a friend.
Adam shook his head and went back to straightening the lottery tickets and scanning the store for shoplifters.
The Wong house was like nothing Adam had expected. First of all, the lawn needed a good cutting. By the way Jackson ran the store, Adam had expected his house would be under the same strict regime. There were leaves on the sidewalk and a dead bird underneath one of the windows, which Adam tried not to look at as he made his way up the front walk to the door.
He knocked twice and then rang the bell. A few minutes passed and the lock finally rattled. Ada poked one eye out and then opened the door entirely, walking away and beckoning Adam inside. She was in her pyjamas, even though it was five o'clock, and her hair was messy. Adam wondered briefly if she'd gone off the deep end.
"There's a dead bird on your sidewalk," he said.
Ada turned around to look at him and scrunched her nose. "I know. Dad's been bugging me to clean up the yard for days now. I can't even look at the poor thing without gagging."
Adam nodded. That would explain the state of the yard. Looking around the house, from what he could see, it was just about as clean as the liquor store. There were even bulk cleaning products he recognized from their storeroom sitting in a corner by the shoe rack.
"How have you been?" ventured Adam. He was mystified by not only Ada's appearance, but her attitude as well. She was acting as though she'd seen Adam just the other day, and not ignored him for the last three weeks.
"I'm a mess," she said. At least she was being honest.
She walked up the stairs from the landing to the main floor. Adam followed her into the kitchen and watched as she began to rummage through the cupboards for cereal.
"Is it because of Luke?"
Ada stopped mid cereal-grab and rolled her eyes at Adam. "I burned down a house. I'm not that shallow that I'd have a nervous breakdown for a guy I'd known for a month."
Adam sat down at the kitchen table. As usual, he couldn't get a proper read of the situation. Would probably be a good idea to just shut up and listen.
"Is that what you wanted to talk with me about?" he asked.
Ada took her cereal and grabbed a bowl from another cupboard before sitting down across from Adam.
"I guess," she said. "I also wanted to make sure things were okay between you and me. I was pretty mad that night at the bar."
"Yeah," said Adam.
"I hope you know I still consider you my friend. That's cool, right?" She shoved a spoonful of frosted flakes in her mouth.
"I think I can handle that," said Adam.
Ada concentrated on her cereal for a few minutes, leaving Adam to watch her slurp away.
"Sam doesn't blame you for the house," he said. "He knows you didn't mean to set it on fire."
"It was still my fault," said Ada glumly.
"Everyone screws up. There isn't anything you can do about it now."
Ada nodded slowly and sipped up the last of her milk. Adam had a feeling she'd received the same bit of advice from everyone.
She looked up from her bowl and gave Adam a long look. "I'm going to miss you."
"You're going somewhere?" Adam almost choked on his own spit.
Ada raised an eyebrow. "Japan. Didn't Rachel tell you?"
Adam sat straight up in his chair. "No!" He felt a little sick. This had been unexpected in that while he had been prepared for the 'let's be friends' talk, the 'I'm going to Japan' speech was something else entirely.
"Oh, well I am. I'm going to teach English there for a year." Ada shoved her chair from the table and stood up to take her bowl to the sink. She looked over her shoulder. "Sorry you didn't know."
"You can't go," said Adam, a little desperately.
Ada stood across the kitchen with her hands on her hips. She tilted her head to one side. "What?"
"I'm sorry," said Adam quickly. "When are you going?"
"In a month," said Ada. She opened the fridge and began to rummage through its contents, leaving Adam to catch his breath at the table.
"Because – well, why not? I have nothing keeping me back here anymore. Being out of my parent's house for the last little while has really proved to me how much I need to get away. Don't you just want to run away sometimes?"
Adam blinked. Nothing to keep her back? "Yes."
"There you go. I'm so excited, Adam. I just can't imagine what it's going to be like." Ada smiled for the first time since opening the door, and Adam couldn't help but smile right back.
"You'll be back though?" he asked.
Ada looked away. "Eventually, I suppose. Although I do plan to meet some rich, Jewish Japanese man and move to Hawaii."
Adam forced a laugh. "Back to where your ancestors come from, eh?"
Ada looked down and smiled.
"Send me a postcard?" said Adam.
"Of course. I know where you work."
Adam stood up and walked across the kitchen to hug Ada. She rested her head on his shoulder for a few seconds before pulling away.
"You've changed my life, you know that?" she said.
Adam shrugged and shoved his hands in his pockets. "It's only a start, Ada. I'll see you around, okay?"
They both nodded and Adam turned to leave. Ada called out goodbye to him as he reached the front door and waved backwards. The door shut behind him and he left the Wong house, making sure not to stare at the dead bird belly-up on the sidewalk.