It’s probably going to come as no shock to any of you that in the back of that dark town car, Ziggy glued himself to me. This one wasn’t a stretch limo, just a Crown Vic, and I sat in the middle of the back seat with J. on one side and Zig on the other. When I say glued himself to me I mean physically. I petted his hair, thinking about what Tony had said about cats, and Ziggy purred, I swear.
That kept him calm and quiet while we rode uptown.
In the suite upstairs we found Colin watching late-night TV by himself, sitting in the center of the big couch, his combat-booted feet on the coffee table and the wide-screen television straight ahead. Ziggy managed to drag me over to the couch and land us almost on top of him–we ended up one on either side of the poor guy. The good part about that was he let go of me to latch onto Col’ instead, burying under Colin’s arm like a ferret. Colin smelled like the residue of a fake fog machine and clove cigarette smoke. I suppose he had been out clubbing, too, but to a different style of club. He gave me one of those questioning looks.
I backed off a bit and spelled out “X – T – C” with hand signals. Colin gave me a big nod of understanding as he said, “Oh really?”
“Apparently.” I stood up, trying to figure out how to politely ask if Colin would take over babysitting duty.
Ziggy’s head popped up. “You’re talking about me.”
Colin took a fistful of Ziggy’s hair and made Ziggy look at him. Ziggy made a happy growly noise and stared into his eyes.
Colin: “Let me guess. You want to play Twister.”
Ziggy: “I want someone to fuck my brains out.”
Colin: “That’s what I said. Go on. My room. Now.”
He let Ziggy go, and Ziggy made a dash for the door, and Colin ran after him like a greyhound after a rabbit.
The moment I heard a door slam somewhere out in the hallway, I slumped against the couch in relief. I looked up at Jonathan, who had been observing this entire episode with the bemused smile I think was his writer’s poker face.
I had apparently covered my face with my hands because I peeked at him from between my fingers. “Um. Do I have to say that this is all off the record?”
He put one knee on the couch next to me, the leather creaking as he peeled my hands away from my face. “No, darling. You don’t. Come on. Let’s go to your room before anything else happens.”
“Good idea.” I turned off the TV.
In my room I think I drank about a gallon of water from the tap. Then I stared out the window for a few minutes while I waited for my mind to settle down a little.
When J. touched me on the back with his hand, I jumped. Not a big one, pretty slight actually, but a little startle nonetheless. And then I leaned against him and tried to relax, but I was too high strung, I guess.
And there was that confusing moment again only this time I was coherent enough to take the scarf off and put it aside, and then to say, “I know we had a shower already, but can we have another one?”
“We can do whatever you want,” Jonathan said.
“No. Don’t cater to my whims if they’re ridiculous. Three showers in one day is ridiculous, right?”
“I wouldn’t say a shower after dancing like a banshee is ridiculous.” Jonathan spun me in a circle like we were ballroom dancing, looking down into my eyes. “That sounds quite sensible, actually.”
“I dance like a banshee?”
“Well, no, mixed metaphor. I’m not sure banshees dance at all, actually,” he said. “Are you okay?”
“I don’t know. I want to be really pissed off at him, but I’m not at all angry at you, so I don’t want to be angry when I’m with you, because that’s totally not fair to you, right?”
“It’s okay if you’re angry with Ziggy.”
“Stop saying it’s okay. It’s not okay. He did an incredibly fucked up thing tonight. And I feel like crap that first Tony and now Colin have to deal with it.”
“It seems to me Colin’s not finding it a hardship,” J. pointed out.
“Maybe it’s not. But that he HAS to, that he didn’t really have any choice about it, that’s what bugs me. I foisted Ziggy onto him because if I didn’t… well, you saw what he was like.”
“It didn’t really look to me like you forced Colin into anything.”
Maybe I was being paranoid, but I had the strong feeling that Colin was doing me a favor. “You didn’t hear what Colin and I didn’t say out loud.”
“Daron, it’s not news to anyone around here, least of all me, that Ziggy is sexually attracted to you.” J. rocked us now, side to side, like we were slow dancing. “Or that you’re attracted to him.”
“How can you say that so calmly?”
“It was a fact of life long before you and I got started,” J. said. “I can’t change it any more than I can change the weather.”
“So when Ziggy’s all over me that’s like when it’s raining or a hurricane?”
“To stretch the metaphor until it breaks, yeah. I wait it out just like you wait out a storm.” J.’s body was warm against mine.
Being angry at Ziggy hadn’t made me any less horny, of course. If anything it had sharpened my hunger. “I’m trying to keep my promise, you know. To be with you when I’m with you.”
J. brushed my hair back from my eyes. “You’ve already been with me way more than I expected this time. In my mind, tour time is work time for you. I was expecting maybe an hour here or there, away from the others, if I was lucky.”
“What would you have done if I had gone off with him?”
“If you went to his room, I would’ve hoped it was okay for me to sleep in here. And then I would be here for you when you came in, even more pissed off than you are now.”
“Seriously?” I found it really hard to believe that Jonathan would have been okay with me being the one to fuck Ziggy’s brains out tonight. “You would’ve been happy with that?”
“I didn’t say I’d be happy you slept with him. I would be happy, though, to be the shoulder you cry on afterward.”
“I wouldn’t cry after.”
“You wouldn’t? Daron, you told me you hate yourself when you let him manipulate you into sex.”
“When did I tell you that?”
“Hey, you’re the one who insists you and Colin can talk without words. You say a lot without saying it, dear.”
“Ah, fuck you for being all logical and right. You’re right. If I slept with him tonight, I’d be ten times worse than I am now. I’d be at the smash-everything stage of anger instead of the mere clenched-fist/clenched-jaw level I’m at right now.” I lay my head on his shoulder then, letting him continue moving us gently to unheard music.
“Would making love unclench your jaw?” he murmured in my ear.
“I don’t want to fuck you when I’m angry,” I said. “I told you, I don’t want to take it out on you.” My cock practically jumped on every word, though.
“Then don’t let him take you away from me, because that’s what’s happening right now. Even though you’re here, in my arms.”
He was right, wasn’t he? I was standing there with him but my mind was still having the fight with Ziggy that I couldn’t really have while he was out of his skull on banned substances. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry you had to put up with this and I’m sorry… just sorry. I don’t know how to let go of it.”
“Maybe you should actually tell me about him, then.”
“You shouldn’t have to listen to me whine about Ziggy.”
He stopped moving us, his face the most serious I’d ever seen it. Gone was the bemused observer as he faced me. “Hey. If all you want is sex and fun times, fine. But I’m a good listener, Daron. And not to put too fine a point on it, I want to be the one you go to for emotional support. I want to be that important to you. If you can be that open with me.”
And if I can’t be that open? Will I lose you? I thought but didn’t say. That was fear talking. But then there was also: What if you don’t like what I say? What if I just prove how terrible I really am? Will you still like me?
“I’m afraid to tell you and I’m afraid not to tell you,” I finally said. “Which is stupid, but there it is.”
“Relationships are scary,” Jonathan said.
“I’m afraid you won’t like me anymore if you hear it all,” I went on.
“Afraid I won’t like the real you? But Daron, if I’m not in a relationship with the real you, what’s the point?”
“That I’m trying to be a better me? And that’s the guy who deserves you.”
“Very noble. But everyone deserves love.”
“Even my crazy father?”
“Well, I’m not saying some people couldn’t use some work, but seriously, Daron, you don’t have to make yourself a better person for me.” He hugged me to emphasize the point. “I understand if you feel like you’re not ready for that much relationship. But please don’t hide from me.”
We stood there for a long time, then, or it felt like it, while I tried to get that all to sink in.
“I think we should take a vacation,” I said quietly.
“A vacation?” He sounded a little alarmed.
“Not from each other! I meant together!” Ah, why was I such an idiot? “I’ve been thinking we should go somewhere together. Like we talked about. We have to pick somewhere. We don’t have to pick this second, though, I just meant… I mean, let’s go somewhere together where we can actually see what we’re like without… everything.”
“That’s a great idea.”
“That is, if you still want to go, after you hear the whole story of me and Ziggy” I pulled back to look at him. “I still want a shower, too.”
“Sure. I don’t see how that could be a bad idea.” He let go of me and we went toward the bathroom.
The water wasn’t even hot yet when I said, “It started in Los Angeles, but I’d had a crush on him before that.”
“Did he know?”
“No. Well, maybe. I’d hidden it pretty well, I think. But now that you ask… I think he did know. Because the thing is, he only slept with me at the beginning because he was trying to… to…” I couldn’t make the words fit. I tried again. “He slept with me while trying to win the power struggle between us.”
We got in the water but I was seeing a hotel room in Los Angeles. The hot water and steam was releasing that ingrained scent of cigarette smoke and recycled club air like some kind of incense. I ducked my head under the water to give me time to think of what to say next.
“The thing was, it was okay for a while. I’d never had someone like that before.”
“What do you mean? Like what?”
“I mean, regularly. A regular sex partner. It was intoxicating. I completely lost my head over him.” I was vaguely aware of J. scrubbing my back because my forehead was against the tile. “Despite him telling me flat out it wasn’t love. I couldn’t get enough of him. And he was so… overwhelming. He was there, constantly, every night, every minute.”
“For how long?”
“Um. Couple of weeks. Until we got here. New York. Somehow it all fell apart here.”
We switched places and J. gave himself a good rinse under the spray. When he could hear again I went on.
“That was when he started pulling the strings and driving me crazy.”
J. plugged the tub and made the water hotter. As it filled up around our ankles, I told him, “And we’ve been on and off ever since, I guess, because every time he showed up wanting sex it felt like he was just yanking the chain around my neck. I’d get desperate and give in and then, how did you put it? I hate myself the most when I let him use me like that?”
J. switched the water from the shower to the faucet and sat down, beckoning me between his legs. He sat back and I leaned against his chest. The water was almost too hot to stand. Almost. It was relaxing, like I couldn’t stay tense because it melted me partially. He switched the water off before it could overflow and we settled again.
“That sounds pretty toxic,” he said.
“Well, the thing is he eventually apologized for being such a dick, and begged me for another chance, but I’m kind of skeptical, because it felt at the time like that would just start it all over again.”
“Is that what you think now?”
“I don’t know what to think now. Tour life doesn’t leave you much leeway, you know? We’re living in each other’s pockets. We’ve been through a lot together. I thought it was starting to get better. I at least was starting to trust him some. He’s been trying hard not to freak me out, you know?”
“Except for tonight, you mean?”
“Yeah. Pretty much.” I didn’t want to bring up San Francisco–that had just been weird and at least it set our boundaries pretty well, I thought. And I didn’t want to bring up New Orleans, too much going on there, we were both kind of desperate. “Does him being on drugs make it okay?”
“Well, depends on what you mean by okay. Self-control he’s definitely not going to be able to exert.”
“I wonder how he’s going to feel about it tomorrow. Will it be ‘oh shit, I can’t believe I said that? Daron I’m so sorry?’ Or will it be, ‘well, tough shit, ball is in your court now, Daron?'”
“I think you should worry less about how Ziggy feels and worry more about how you feel.”
“Yeah. I suppose. We had a kind of meltdown in Cleveland. No, Pittsburgh. Wherever the fuck that was. Let’s see. Cleveland was where everyone hooked up with groupies…” And was where I had seen his lyrics book. And it was me who had the meltdown, inside my own head. “The thing was, he was taking a lot of painkillers because of the burns and his throat, and then having trouble sleeping so taking sleeping pills on top of that, plus they gave him a shot for his throat that could cause mood swings… so maybe I should take everything with a really big grain of salt… which means I don’t know if I can trust any of it.” I felt a lump in my throat at the thought that the good parts, the good things, might have been fake or just drugs talking. “I mean, was it you who wrote, ‘will the real Ziggy Ferias please stand up?’ What if there is no real Ziggy?”
“While I agree Ziggy’s whole thing is about personas and masks… we’re back to speculating about him instead of talking about you.”
“You’re right. But that’s what happens. He takes over.”
“Which was his purpose in getting you involved romantically, I suppose. For what it’s worth, D., M3 is hardly the first band to have personal troubles because a front man’s need to be the center of attention was pathological.”
“I know. I know. He wouldn’t be Ziggy if he weren’t like that. He was terrified that anti-depressants were going to mess with his mojo.”
“He’s on anti-depressants?”
“Shit. I wasn’t supposed to tell you that.”
“Hush. Nothing you say tonight is ever going beyond me. Nothing.”
All right. “He might have stopped taking them. I’m not sure. He was having side effects and talked to his shrink on the phone and I think he was supposed to halve his dose but I kind of suspect he got all out of whack when he was taking the painkillers. For a while I was taking them, too, but I didn’t like it that much.”
That wasn’t quite true. They felt good–that was their job–and I kind of liked the feeling that he and I were on the same wavelength… but I liked it better when we got on the same wavelength without drugs.
“We stayed up all night talking in the bus one night,” I said. I couldn’t possibly recreate that conversation though. It wasn’t even like we’d really talked about our relationship exactly, but when I looked back on it now I thought of it as us making up after my meltdown. I realized now that Ziggy had been the one to suggest it. I’d been distant and disconnected from him for a few days, and he reconnected us painlessly. Without sex.
I didn’t know what to think anymore. “He’s been through a lot in the past six weeks. The explosion, fucked up meds, a cortisone shot… God, did I tell you he fainted and fell off the stage in Chicago? I was convinced he’d died for a couple of seconds there.”
“Yeah, I heard about it,” J. said, petting me soothingly.
“So I can’t exactly blame him for wanting to have some fun and enjoy being the king of New York for a night, but jeezus did he really think I would sleep with him when he was like that?”
“Well, I hear Ecstasy makes you feel optimistic and happy about everything.”
“Does it? I guess that explains the name.”
“Yeah. I’m not sure, but I think it’s not recommended for people on anti-depressants, though.”
“Are illegal drugs recommended for much?”
“Well, Ecstasy was some kind of therapy drug before they made it illegal, I think, but I don’t remember the details. But again, that’s Ziggy and that’s tomorrow.”
“I suck. I can’t seem to stop talking about him.” I sort of wanted to cry at that moment, except I wasn’t quite upset enough for that.
“You don’t suck,” Jonathan said gently. “You have a lot of good reasons to be worried. Even if you weren’t involved romantically, he’s still your lead singer.”
“But let’s try to set him aside for a while, since there’s nothing we can do about him right now.”
“Okay. Hey, the water’s cooling off a little. Maybe we should get in bed.”
“That’s an excellent idea.”
I got up first, and retrieved the towels off the rack and handed one to J. before wrapping one around myself. We brushed our teeth and that kind of stuff, too, and then we got in bed, heads still damp, and cuddled and talked about where we were going to go on vacation when the tour was over.
“Well, we should go somewhere Moondog Three really hasn’t caught on yet,” I said.
“But we should try to find somewhere gay-friendly.” Jonathan hummed while thinking it over. “Ibiza, maybe?”
“What country is that?”
“I think it’s part of Spain. I’m not sure how it got to be a gay destination but it apparently is one.”
“I’ll have to check if the record is even on sale in Spain. Import-only, possibly. But would we have to learn Spanish?”
“There is that. What about Australia?”
“I think the album is catching on there, too. Mills was talking about when to book Australian and European dates.” I sighed. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I think I’d be more comfortable if we didn’t go somewhere too gay. Oh my god it sounds terrible when I say it like that.”
Jonathan’s chest shook as he chuckled at me. “It does sound terrible. But I think I know what you mean.”
“Do you? It felt almost like we went to a foreign country tonight at Matthew’s thing. Like Canada. Only gayer.”
That made him really laugh, which had been my intent, so I grinned and lifted my head. “But do you know what I mean? It was like everyone had different mannerisms and expressions.”
“That, my darling, is called a subculture,” he said, and tapped me on the nose.
“I knew it was there–I mean, I’ve been to the bars and bookstores–but it was the first time I wasn’t slumming. Or, you know, purely a tourist.”
“So you don’t want to be a double-tourist?”
“I want to go somewhere safe, where we won’t get beat up in the streets for being there together, but at the same time I don’t want to go somewhere so gay identified that just by hearing I went there, people will make assumptions about me.”
“Ah, yeah. It would suck to be outed merely from travel plans. Not Ibiza, then.”
“Chris and Lacey are going to Paris. At least, according to Lacey they are.”
“Paris is a thought. No one will give a fuck who we are there, I bet, from the gay angle or the famous angle. Big metropolitan cities have that advantage.”
“Wait, what about London? They speak English there, I hear.”
“I hear that, too.”
“Is Abbey Road Studios still there? We could go see it.”
“Not to mention the Royal Naval College.”
“You’re interested in the navy?”
“I’ll lend you the books of Patrick O’Brian. They’re age of sail books, Napoleonic Wars on wooden ships. We could probably see Wessex Studios, too, where the Clash and the Sex Pistols recorded.”
We went on like that for a while, speculating about what else we could see and do in London, what we’d eat, where we’d stay, and at some point exhaustion caught up with both of us. J. trailed off in the middle of a sentence and I quickly followed him into dreaming of a vacation yet to come.
(BONUS SCENE #5: Did you know that DGC is reader-supported? Readers can make contributions to the tip jar anytime, but one perk for those who are over 18 is a “thank you” in the form of a bonus scene! If you’d like to receive a PDF by email of the scene that took place between Ziggy and Colin after they ran out of the room, make a donation via Patreon or Paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org (or use button above) and we’ll email you back a PDF of the Ziggy/Colin bonus scene! WARNING: The Ziggy/Colin scene does contain consensual BDSM. -ctan)