I Won’t Back Down

No one in the bus said anything for the first several minutes. I mean, not a word. I’m not sure why. Maybe they were waiting for me to say something first.

We were well on the highway when I burst. When I just couldn’t keep my mouth shut anymore. Christian was sitting against the back wall of the lounge with his headphones on and his eyes shut but he didn’t look remotely asleep.

“This is what happens with an attitude like yours, motherfucker,” I said.

His eyes snapped open. “What did you call me?”

“Same thing you called me. You said we’re the same, right?”

“What the fuck–”

That,” I said, pointing to the back of the bus where the graffiti was, “is your fault. Even if you didn’t paint it there yourself. Your whole fucking attitude is what lets that kind of shit happen.”

“My attitude? If you guys weren’t such outrageous queers you wouldn’t draw that kind of fucking attention! You think it’s easy being lumped in with you?”

That was when Ziggy jumped in. I hadn’t even realized he was standing right behind me. “Oh, is that what’s bothering you?” he sign-songed in mock sympathy. “Did one of the Megashits call you gay? Did they call you a pansy and hurt your feewings?”

In all fairness, I have to say that was a very “provoking” thing for Ziggy to say. So I can’t say that I really blame Chris for lunging at him. However I don’t think anyone can really blame me, who was standing between them, for clocking Chris in the neck with my elbow. It wasn’t even like a Bruce Lee kind of moment. He’s just tall and we were too close together for my fist to go where I wanted it to.

Chris fell right back onto the bench where he had been sitting, coughing and spitting. And then it was Ziggy–and everyone else–holding me back from just jumping on him and punching the living shit out of him. Granted, by then, everyone else was screaming at the top of their lungs. I won’t even try to do that justice. It was mostly them screaming at Christian.

When it died down, I wasn’t less angry, but I was at least less violent. “Listen to me,” I said to him. He hadn’t moved; I don’t think he dared. “If you really can’t stand being in a band, or a bus, with me and Ziggy and Colin, and whoever else here might have homosexual tendencies that I don’t even want to know about, then when the fucking tour is over you can quit. But quit now and as far as I’m concerned, we sue you for something like a quarter million dollars in lost revenue.”

“Oh, so you want the house, now,” he said.

“No, I don’t want the fucking house! I want the Christian Gallagher I used to know back. Barring that, I’d like the Christian Gallagher we’ve got to shut the fuck up and do his fucking job.” I gripped onto the stripper pole as the bus rocked a little.

“You don’t understand,” he said.

“No, I don’t fucking understand. You know how fucking hard it was to come out to you? It took me fucking months to get up the nerve, and then you were like, cool with it. I thought, jeez, all that worry over nothing. Now I find out I was right in the first place?” It’s hard to remember being more upset than I was at that moment outside of fights with Ziggy. “Are you fucking kidding me? We bought a house together, motherfucker, and now you’re going to tell me–”

“Daron! Stop! That’s… that’s not what I meant.” He looked much more scared of what I was saying than he was of me threatening him physically. “That’s really not what I meant. Not about you.”

“Then what did you fucking mean? Just which of us weirdos and outrageous queers are you having a problem with? Because if you’re having a problem with them, you have a problem with me.”

“I just… I’m sorry. Everyone. I’m really really sorry.” He put his hands over his eyes. “I don’t hate you. I don’t… I don’t hate gays. I’m not like that.” He looked up and repeated it. “I’m not like that. I’m just… out of my mind. I’m sorry. I’ll get help. I will. I just… I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

He went on like that for a while. I’d heard enough. I pushed my way to the front of the bus and sat for a while on the jump seat with Marty with the pocket door shut behind us. Up in very front, there was just the noise of the engine and the occasional crackle of the radio and the kind of hypnotic dashes and stripes on the road going by. Marty and the other bus driver made comments to each other every once in a while. It was soothing. We crossed into Mississippi, then into Alabama.

We were getting close to Mobile when Marty said, “I’ll get a can of black spray paint first thing in the morning. Cover it up a little. Then we’ll find a place that can really paint it. Joe knows a guy in Atlanta, but your boss lady, she’ll look in Pensacola.”

Joe was the other bus driver, I think. “Okay.”

“And we’ll be there soon. Real soon. Send boss lady up with the parking instructions, will you?”

“Okay.” I got up and went back.

Everything was quiet. Everyone was also evenly spaced throughout the bus. Trackie had gone with one of the equipment trucks. Courtney was sitting in the front lounge, right at the front. Ziggy was on the opposite side, near the back. Colin was in his bunk. Bart, Carynne, and Christian were spread out in the back lounge.

Courtney caught my sleeve as I went by. I sat down next to her.

“Sorry you had to see that,” I said. “It’s not usually like this.”

“Are you usually one big happy family?”

“If you’d asked me that the week before we hit the road, I would have said yes, absolutely.” Those easy couple of months where we just hung around the house and had people over and rehearsed and played around on secondhand pianos seemed like they’d happened to someone else. “Can I say ‘don’t do drugs’ without it sounding like a lecture this time?”

She just nodded. “I get the feeling he turned sort of Jekyll and Hyde on you.”

“Christian is the nicest guy we know. Seriously. And has great chops, too. And yeah, all of sudden he’s not.” I pulled my feet up onto the seat and hugged my knees. “Oh shit, and I just realized, you probably didn’t know.” That I’m gay.

She put a hand on my shoulder. “It’s all right, big brother,” she said with a little laugh. “I came out as bi when I was sixteen.”

“You what?” I looked at her and blinked.

“That was part of the whole moving to Texas and putting me in a special school and all that. I should’ve just waited until I got out of the house like you did. Would have been so much easier to just keep stringing mom and preacher man along. But nooooo. I was stupid…” She trailed off because I think I was staring and maybe my jaw was flapping like I was trying to say something.

What came out was, “Court. I’m not out.”

“What do you mean, you’re not out?”

“I mean, I’m still in the closet. A couple of people know. In fact, outside of the people in this bus I can count the people who know on my hands.” In my head I couldn’t help trying to count them. Matthew, Remo, Martin…

Wait. Not counting all the people I’d slept with who might have recognized me. Ah, fuck.

“Does Dad know?”

“Sort of?”

“What do you mean, ‘sort of’?” She looked as incredulous and confused as I probably had a minute earlier.

“I mean, Digger and I have a kind of mutual plausible deniability policy. I don’t call him on some of his shit and he doesn’t call me on mine.”

“Daron, your sexuality isn’t shit–”

“Save it, save it. Carynne’s already given me that speech.” I waved her off. “I mean, from Digger’s point of view, that’s what it is. I haven’t pushed it. It’d be like breaking the rules to actually walk up to him and say, ‘By the way, I’m gay.’ He knows. I know he knows. He knows that I know that he knows. But if anyone asks him if he knows, he can say no. And that’s enough.”

She gave me a look like she wasn’t sure it was. But she didn’t give me any more shit about it, that night anyway.

I moved on to tell Carynne that Marty wanted to see her for parking instructions.

She stood up and we put our heads together in the narrow corridor between the bunks. “What do you think, if we see a motel when we get off the highway, pull off there for the night? Just our bus, I mean,” she said. “I think maybe getting everybody some space to cool down would be a good idea.”

I promise not to strangle anyone in their bunks, I thought, but it wasn’t funny and I didn’t say it. “What if there’s not a place?”

“Well, the original plan was to spend the night in the buses at a truck stop about a half hour from the venue, and we could still do that. But I want to get everyone out of the bus if we can.”

“Okay. I guess tell Marty to keep his eyes peeled.”

She went forward, and I went back. I ended up sitting next to Bart and telling him what we were hoping to do. “Should you tell Chris, or should I?”

“If you can tell him without either of you flying into a violent rage, then you,” he said.

“Okay.”

I went over to Chris. He was acting like he was sleeping again, but he opened his eyes as soon as I got near. “Hey,” I said.

“Hey.”

“Boss lady thinks maybe we could all benefit from some… space tonight. So Marty’s looking for a motel.”

He looked sort of…wounded.

“For all of us,” I added, in case he thought we were just dropping him off or something. “Well, just our bus.”

“Okay,” he said, and looked somewhat relieved. “Look, man, I’m sorry.”

“I’m sorry, too. But let’s say that again when we’ve both got clear heads, okay?”

“Okay.” He slumped back down.

I made my way forward again. As I was passing through the bunks toward the front lounge, looking for Ziggy, something soft bonked me on side of the head.

I looked and it was the white fuzzy nose of a stuffed unicorn. The unicorn was staring at me from where it was sticking out behind a bunk curtain. “Psst, hey Daron, Ziggy wants me to tell you something,” said Ziggy’s voice, but high and unicorn-y.

“Yeah, what’s that?”

“That he’s having an attack, but it’s totally okay, because he’s strapped in.” The unicorn then ducked behind the curtain.

Fuck it fuck it fuck it. I tossed my high tops into my own bunk and then slipped behind Ziggy’s curtain, and just hugged him until a half hour or so later we pulled into the parking lot of a motel just off I-10.



(Speaking of Tom Petty…)

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Comments 14

  1. Jude wrote:

    Bus = giant rolling pressure cooker

    [Reply]

    daron Reply:

    No lie bwana. have I mentioned how smart Carynne is?

    [Reply]

    Posted 04 Sep 2012 at 9:19 am
  2. sanders wrote:

    Oh, jeez. What a chapter.

    Addiction or no, Christian’s just being a jerk, and as much as I abhor violence, I was really pretty glad Daron hit him. I’m also impressed D was thinking clearly enough to threaten to sue him for lost revenue. That’s just… the things you think of in charged moments can be so strange and so concrete. Then Courtney coming out; didn’t see that coming, and now I’m wondering about her and Carynne, and thinking that might not be such a terrible side story to ask for. Please? I’ll send truffles with the cookies. And Ziggy with the unicorn. That had to take some thought on his part, and I want to call him a manipulative shit for it, but it was entirely too adorable and too good at distracting Daron, and I support any opportunity for them to cuddle more often. I also love Marty being so nonchalant about things. He’s such a great supporting character.

    [Reply]

    M.C.A. Hogarth Reply:

    I find often that when you have panic attacks, actually asking for help normally can make it worse. So using a stuffed toy for it doesn’t strike me as manipulative at all, but as a “I’m having a terrified as a child moment and I can’t come out and say that, except maybe to make it sound silly, and then I’ll get it out” thing. Very believable, actually. Kind of heart-breaking, even.

    [Reply]

    daron Reply:

    I’ll never know when he’s being manipulative and when he’s being geniune — maybe with Ziggy it’s not an either/or thing. Right then, I didn’t care which it was.

    [Reply]

    sanders Reply:

    You have a point, but it’s still Ziggy, so I maintain a certain level of skepticism. On the other hand, it’s still Ziggy and being direct about what he needs is a skill he just doesn’t really have a lot of the time.

    [Reply]

    ctan Reply:

    Glad you liked the chapter! Sometimes a lot goes on in a single one but it just doesn’t want to be broken up into separate pieces.

    I think Courtney and Ziggy are a lot alike.

    As Daron says below, maybe there’s a point beyond which it doesn’t matter whether Ziggy is being manipulative or not if what they both need is a hug.

    [Reply]

    Posted 04 Sep 2012 at 9:43 am
  3. Tryslora wrote:

    My favorite part of this is that at the end, when Ziggy did need something, he asked rather than just turning into a shit in silence like he normally does. Maybe it’s manipulative, maybe it’s distracting Daron, but it also looks like he’s doing something he doesn’t normally do… he’s actually able to say “I’m in trouble” which he couldn’t do just days ago. I’m hoping he and Daron have turned a corner, because with everything exploding on tour, it’d be nice if they could lean on each other at least.

    [Reply]

    ctan Reply:

    Kind of funny how there’s a way in which they *both* suck at asking for what they want, but they’re both improving over time.

    [Reply]

    Posted 04 Sep 2012 at 10:36 am
  4. Emma wrote:

    I feel real bad for Christian. Drugs can fuck you up. My friend took E at a festival about 2 and a half weeks ago, and he only stopped feeling it this Friday. So if Christian is taking shit all the time I can’t even imagine how he feels.
    Him taking drugs is his fault, I guess. Then again, he has a lot of pressure on him. I can’t understand the people annoyed at him. He can’t help it, and he’s obviously sorry; he said it enough this chapter.
    And I think the cuddling was a perfect end to this chapter. Ziggy isn’t being manipulative. He just needs help and doesn’t know how to ask for it. Panic attacks suck, and so does paranoia. I have social anxiety and I think I feel similar to how he does. Sometimes you just need a rock to cling to, someone to reassure you that everything is okay. My girlfriend is my rock, I’m guessing Daron is Ziggy’s. Just ghdfjhfkdhfjfh my feelings are all jumbled

    [Reply]

    ctan Reply:

    Your feelings are as jumbled as Daron’s. Thanks for being along on the ride while he tries to untangle them!

    [Reply]

    Posted 04 Sep 2012 at 3:17 pm
  5. Tina Thurston wrote:

    You know , it has never felt to me like Ziggy is manipulative. It feels to me like he is protecting himself from the effects of things we don’ t know about him. We know about Daron’s life and his traumas, trials and tribulations, but nothing much about Ziggy’s. You learn how to behave from the environment you grow up in and survive in. it feels to me like he is simply unlearning stuff he was ‘taught’ and I have an incredible amount of empathy for him. But maybe it’s just me lol.

    [Reply]

    ctan Reply:

    I assure you it’s not just you. :-)

    [Reply]

    s Reply:

    This.

    [Reply]

    Posted 04 Sep 2012 at 3:50 pm
  6. Jessie wrote:

    Ctan, may I please have my bonus chapters already?

    [Reply]

    ctan Reply:

    They’re in the mail! (Email, that is.) I left town on August 29th so today’s my first day back with my real computer and Internet access to send them out.

    [Reply]

    Posted 04 Sep 2012 at 6:48 pm
  7. deb h wrote:

    loved it ,wow a load of drama ,drugs really do change people ,chris was one of the nicest people too,this whole tour he has just been nuts.I don’t think I have ever read Daron losing it like that before either,stress must be getting to them all ,I blame megaton…..

    [Reply]

    ctan Reply:

    The last time Daron lost it like that was when he and Ziggy fought way back in chapter 99.

    They’ve come a long way since then.

    [Reply]

    Posted 04 Sep 2012 at 7:52 pm
  8. Krista-Without an H wrote:

    I’m soo fucking annoyed with Chris- he should consider himself lucky that the band doesn’t drop him off at some rehab, or some street corner, as they drive through town. I know addiction sucks.. I’m a social worker- i see addiction every day… but addiction is no excuse to be an ass– go get help.
    And Daron made my heart jump when he crawled in with Ziggy. That’s an awesome man. Despite all the drama- Daron is still there for his friend. Good job.
    BTW- since im still relatively new to the Moondog fan club, I can’t tell you how much a thrill it is to check my twitter and see an update… especially after a day like today- I could use a little Daron cuddle– But don’t worry Daron, I know you’re busy ;-)

    [Reply]

    ctan Reply:

    I am so glad you’re enjoying the updates. I get a similar thrill when I see there are comments to answer. :-)

    Unfortunately Chris is convinced they *are* going to just dump him on a street corner somewhere and that’s not helping things.

    [Reply]

    Posted 04 Sep 2012 at 8:59 pm
  9. Treasure wrote:

    Lols two claps for Daron for sticking up for himself & not letting Chris get away with that. I felt so proud when he clocked Chris. Probably a little to proud I didn’t think he had it in him. He’s usually so laid back & non-confrontational. That little moment with Ziggy at the end was so cute. I hope that this means they finally ready to grow, up not too much though that’ll be boring. Neither one of them ever comes out & just says what they want from the other person. Its like they expect the other to be a mind reader. Even though Zig used a toy to help him its still a step forward.

    [Reply]

    ctan Reply:

    It really *is* like they each expect the other to be a mind-reader. But they’re so different they guess wrong a lot.

    [Reply]

    Posted 04 Sep 2012 at 10:43 pm
  10. Jen wrote:

    Omg, Zig having a stuffed unicorn (and a “unicorn-y voice”) is PERFECT for him. Can we get some swag of Ziggy with his unicorn? Sooo cute.

    I agree with Tina — Ziggy has never felt manipulative to me, just sad and lost and confused and defending himself the only way he knows how. For him to let down that wall and let Daron in just now is so great… and if Daron *hadn’t* hugged him until they pulled in, I would have been so mad at him. I just want them to be happy together! It’s been so long since we had a happy chapter. Can we have a happy, lovey chapter? Please? Then we can get back to douchebag Chris’s drama after.

    [Reply]

    ctan Reply:

    I will admit, I think if we do another Kickstarter for the next omnibus, Ziggy-decorated stuffed animals will probably have to be a reward. (He still promised to make one for Daron, if I recall correctly.)

    You know, he can be lost and confused and hurt AND still be manipulative. Being wounded isn’t an excuse for Daron to act like a jerk, and it isn’t for Ziggy either. Fortunately… they’re growing out of some of their most destructive habits.

    [Reply]

    Bill Heath Reply:

    Absolute YES to the “AND.” On my re-read and the detail I lost the first time around is that Ziggy made himself vulnerable to Daron. He wanted Daron to do exactly what he did, but couldn’t ask for it, or even give a hint of it, except by proxy. He is, after all, pretty fucked up.

    Daron’s response was perfect. Ziggy made himself vulnerable to Daron, who used the opportunity to comfort Ziggy. Making himself vulnerable is a huge step in dealing with his love for Daron and his need to evolve.

    Go Ziggy!

    [Reply]

    Posted 05 Sep 2012 at 5:27 pm
  11. terri h. wrote:

    This chapter was fantastic! I am glad D confronted Chris, and I loved that he snuggled with Ziggy. I so want those two to be together…

    [Reply]

    ctan Reply:

    Snuggling’s more rare than sex, I think. And possibly more meaningful, too.

    [Reply]

    Posted 05 Sep 2012 at 9:23 pm
  12. Kunama wrote:

    “kind of mutual plausible deniability policy I don’t call him”
    deniability policy. I don’t

    Hahaha unicorn

    [Reply]

    ctan Reply:

    :-)

    [Reply]

    Posted 30 Sep 2012 at 6:23 am
  13. Joe wrote:

    Still catching up with the 4th eBook (I ration it, otherwise I’d sit up all night reading it). The little bit with the unicorn at the end made my heart break.

    To D – I love you; when you’re tired of J and Z and all the rest, come look me up.

    To ctan – Wow, that was a powerful final 5 paragraphs. I can’t tell you how scarily accurate it seemed, from so many different angles. Actually, all of Ziggy’s reactions since he started on the Prozac have felt very, very scary-very real.

    [Reply]

    daron Reply:

    If these motherfuckers ever drive me into retirement you know man I will.

    [Reply]

    ctan Reply:

    I’m so glad you’re enjoying it. OMG, rationing it! You must have some strong willpower. For every reader who says they hold themselves to a certain amount per night, there are a handful who wrote to say “I haven’t slept in days because I can’t stop reading…!” More power to you.

    Remember when Prozac was kinda new and people didn’t really know the drug that well yet? Fun times. ;-)

    Thanks for dropping by the website to check in!

    [Reply]

    Bill Heath Reply:

    Prozac, and the underlying depression, MIGHT be exacerbating the insomnia and the panic attacks, but I doubt it. The underlying anxiety is a separate illness; Prozac and depression should make him sleep, not lie awake.

    When one has to function (which is every show) with a high level of background anxiety, the strain is intolerable. I’m astonished Z can acknowledge D’s existence.

    [Reply]

    Linda Reply:

    I am trying to ration it too, but I am still finding myself reading at 1am…haha! So tired at work the next day. I promise myself one more chapter but then find that I have to read the next one. I loved Daron standing up for himself and the snuggling at the end…ahhh…I love Daron and Ziggy. I hope they work out their issues. Sorry, Jonathan is great and maybe a safer bet but D and Z are just so good together *now that they aren’t tearing each other apart.* hang in there boys!

    [Reply]

    ctan Reply:

    I have to ration *writing* it. Whenever I don’t have to get up the next day (which is rare) I have a tendency to stay up all night writing chapters ahead. (That’s so rare these days that last night I was up writing the chapter at 5am that I posted TODAY at 10 am… cutting it close!)

    [Reply]

    Posted 23 Jan 2013 at 6:06 pm
  14. s wrote:

    Fuck yeah, Daron! I love it when you take the bull by the horns!

    And omg, Ziggy and the unicorn…words fail me on this one. “Love it” is not a strong enough expression.

    You two have been really supportive of each other the last few chapters. It warms my heart.

    Love you both so ridiculously much.

    [Reply]

    daron Reply:

    Yeah, 21 years old and growing up fast, I guess.

    [Reply]

    Posted 31 Mar 2015 at 12:20 pm

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