258. Right By Your Side

We were picking up some station from San Diego that played actual alternative music, it seemed. I wasn’t sure if they were all New Wave all the time or if it was only this late at night or what. There were very few radio stations in the country–I knew because Carynne had told me–that specialized in “alternative.” Most of the rock stations that played REM, and INXS, and U2 (as well as bands that had actual words in their names like The Cure) were mixing them in with classic rock and pop metal.

I didn’t see what was wrong with mixing everything together, myself, and I thought we’d do better as a band the more we were played with non-alternative acts like Dire Straits and Tom Petty. But she felt strongly that the bigger an “alternative” marketplace there was, the better we’d do. Boston was one of the few places with a commercial “alternative” station, WFNX, and just a few months earlier, a station in Providence had switched from mainstream album-oriented rock to alternative, too. So maybe that was the wave of the future.

I can’t help putting quote marks around “alternative.” Alternative to what? Rock and roll is supposed to be about rebellion, they say. So the alternative rebels against the rebellion? But you look at Mills and Artie and the way they put bands into boxes and categories and I guess I could see the point. “Alternative” was the “alternative” to the way the majority of the music industry packaged things. It was meaningless otherwise.

It’s all rock and roll to me.

Anyway. The DJ came on and talked about how a hot new release from the English Beat had just landed in his hands, then played the song. I picked along with it.

Ziggy kicked off his shoes.

“If you feel like talking,” I said, “I’m listening.”

He shrugged. “Ditto. I mostly just didn’t want to be alone.”

“Okay.” I stopped trying to figure out the chord changes in the song. It wasn’t quite loud enough for me to listen to while playing and I had never heard it before. “I don’t really have a lot to say right at the moment, either.”


So we sat there in companionable silence, well, except that it wasn’t silent, what with the songs coming on the radio and me playing the guitar. Next came a song we both knew, and he sang along, softly, and I played softly. Kind of like we were trying to be really gentle with each other right then.

We played through a couple more, and then commercials came on. I yawned.

“Would it be crossing a line to ask to sleep in here?” he asked, suddenly. “I’ll sleep on the floor, if you want.”

“You don’t have to sleep on the floor,” I said. “Just no… shenanigans.”

He crossed his heart. “No shenanigans.”

I took that as a cue to put the guitar away and wash my face and stuff. When I came back out of the bathroom he was under the covers, lying on his side facing away from where I had been sitting.

A slip of paper came whispering under the door. Tomorrow’s schedule. I wondered if Carynne had stuck it under the door herself and if she was doing okay.

But I was too bone tired to open the door and get into another conversation just now. And the schedule had us getting up early. At least we were staying put for a few more days. I laid the piece of paper aside, kicked off my jeans, and climbed into bed.

Zig was shivering a little and I didn’t think it was from cold.

I didn’t even think about it. Didn’t even question or worry. I just put my arm over him, so we were loosely spooned. The shivering stopped and he curled his fingers around my hand. It was like the weight of my arm made him relax.

And when he relaxed, I relaxed. I was so tired, you wouldn’t think it would be hard to do. But until he let out that sigh, I hadn’t realized how wound up I was.

Neither of us said anything, not even good night. Sometimes there are no words. Or the right ones don’t exist. Or maybe they’re just not needed. I felt him feel better, and I felt better, and that was what mattered. I was asleep before I could think about it much more than that.

(By the way, a bit of DGC news, you know that Kickstarter that we were talking about a bit ago, to have real, printed books? It’s pretty much ready to go and we’re going to launch it Monday! So watch all the usual places for the announcement & link! -ctan)


  • cayra says:

    I’m looking foreward to that Kickstarter!

    Loved the chapter. A bit quiet time should do them good right now.

  • Andrea says:

    I like when things are simple between Ziggy and Daron. Sometimes you just need to forget the drama and have the comfort of a friend especially after a night like that. 😀 also super excited for the Kickstarter

  • Janie Friedman says:

    Well, it was choice A…really good. This may be what they both needed, a shared moment of comfort and support, and possibly the first small step for Ziggy to regain Daron’s trust.

  • Lizzy says:

    I think that was even more intense then if they had done something. Chills…

  • deb h says:

    loved it ,that was a sweet moment together(without sex).

  • Jaime says:

    Finally, a moment between Daron and Ziggy that actually meant something.

    • Jaime says:

      Oops. Accidentally sent that comment unfinished. I meant to say, “actually meant something. Whether or not they are going to be friends or lovers, or whatever happens between them, I feel like it relies on this moment. At least, to me it does.”

      • ctan says:

        I didn’t know what was going to happen when I put them in a room together, and this surprised me a little. 🙂

        • Bill Heath says:

          Don’t you love it when the characters take over and start telling the story? The “writer” is usually the most surprised of all.

          • ctan says:

            It’s pretty much like that for me most of the time. I think I know what’s going to happen–I may have even sold a publisher a proposal that says what’s going to happen–but they know perfectly well once things start to play out on the page the characters may have better ideas of how it should go!

            • Bill Heath says:

              Started writing a book about a high school basketball team with average skills that wins most of its games by fucking with the other teams’ minds. The characters then took over and it became a book about two young men dealing with the aftermath of trauma. Yes, both were gay, but that wasn’t central to the story, just convenient.

              I’ve started over on The Mind Game. I’m hesitating, though, because I don’t want the characters to decide it’s supposed to be a definitive history of Druid incantations when it’s done.

              • ctan says:

                Nah, the characters only get to decide what it’s supposed to be while it’s still going on. You have to write an additional book later if your subconscious later decides it wants a different subject, though.

  • Yvonne says:

    Ziggy, I’m proud of you. I know you are trying hard to control your self around Daron and this was definitely a step in the right direction.
    Daron it was very good of you to spoon with him. A kind word or a gentle touch can go really far and mean a lot. You both did well.

  • Songquake says:


    Like seriously, I’m feeling some UST here. I suppose it’s because the tenderness turns me on.

    • daron says:

      I never ever thought I’d say this… but right then lying next to him was so much better than fucking him. Which isn’t so say that I wouldn’t sleep with him in a heartbeat if I thought it wouldn’t result in me getting my heart torn to shreds and my mind turned inside out.

  • Alex says:

    Is it strange that I’m wondering what the boys wore to bed? They all seem to spend so much time sleeping in their clothes that I’m honestly curious.

    • ctan says:

      Daron usually sleeps in a T-shirt and underwear, whether it’s that he shucked everything else off or he changed into a T-shirt to get in bed.

      At home Ziggy usually sleeps in nothing, unless it’s really cold, in which case he puts on pajamas. In hotels he usually keeps his skivvies on but that’s all. In the bus he sleeps in his (non-show) clothes.

  • s says:

    The ending is SHOCKINGLY close to the dream I had about them the other night…wow…like, wow. It still disturbs me that I dreamed about them, fwiw.

  • Bill Heath says:

    It’s a cliche, but this might have been the time to use a specific song. The hotel is in California, it seems they can check in, but even if they do manage to check out they can’t seem to leave the hotel behind.

    I wonder what the name of the song is.

    • daron says:

      I’ve been boycotting the Eagles, though, ever since Don Henley was a dick to Remo and me. Then again, Don Henley is a dick to everyone, from what I hear.

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