We ordered lunch delivered. It wasn’t worth causing a scene to go downstairs and eat in the 24-hour coffee shop. I still believed that Bart and I could’ve without attracting too much attention, but we were forbidden when Toph came back upstairs with the latest headcount on the crowd outside. I felt a little bad for the fans. I mean, what was the point of standing around for hours outside of a hotel hoping to catch a glimpse of someone if you never got that glimpse?
“There’s an art to these things,” Carynne assured me. “I’m going to send Courtney down in a little while to collect some autograph books and bring them up here for you guys to sign and that will get the pot simmering.”
“Okay.” But wasn’t the whole point of an autograph that it was like proof you had met a person? Like signing a little contract that said: hey, this really happened. Did it happen if we signed the books seventeen floors up?
I asked Court that herself. “I mean, is that actually exciting?”
“Well, yeah, because you touched it.”
Okay. I didn’t really understand it, but I didn’t have to. Court was a good go-to authority on fans so I took her word for it.
Around the time we were finishing lunch — around the time I was starting to get anxious about Ziggy, since I still hadn’t laid eyes on him that morning — Colin came in and said Ziggy was asking for me.
I followed Colin back to the room, which was dark except for one lamp in the far corner. Colin gestured to the bathroom. A flashlight was propped under a washcloth, providing dim light.
Ziggy was sitting up in the bathtub, in the water, with a towel over his head.
“Zig?” I sat down on the lid of the toilet.
The water made a watery noise as he moved a little. He raised his head very slowly, then peeled back the towel until I could see his eyes. “Oh god,” he said.
“That bad, huh?” I said, acting on the assumption he was referring to his hangover and not anything else.
“Why didn’t anyone warn me?” He moaned and leaned his cheek against the tiled wall. “I had no idea.”
“Was it X?”
“Tony told me it has one of the worst hangovers ever.”
“It’s totally karma. It is. You feel so-so-so! good, it’s unbelievable. This is the payback. It feels like an elephant is crushing my head. And the rest of my body.”
“Can you eat? Maybe Advil would at least take the edge off.”
“Shit, why didn’t I think of that?” He moaned again. “It’s hard to think with an elephant crushing your head. It’s not like booze at all. My stomach’s fine.”
“Stay put. I’ll be back.”
Colin was hovering outside the door. He beckoned me into the hall. I told him we should at least get Ziggy something easy to eat and some Advil and probably coffee couldn’t hurt either. Colin seemed to think a multi-vitamin was a possible strategy, too.
Then Colin said, “How does he look?”
“I don’t know. I can’t really see him in the dark.”
“Okay.” He gnawed his lip. “I’ll go get the stuff. But, don’t worry about… um.”
“Don’t worry about what?”
He glanced up and down the hallway. “The bruises. We played a little rougher than I realized.” Colin’s skin was normally somewhat pallid, which made his black neck tattoos stand out. Right then he was blushing scarlet, though. He was looking down at the carpet. He looked up and a sort of complicated moment passed between us, where I felt dislocated for a moment, like maybe I didn’t know him as well as I had thought, and he looked like he really wanted to say more or explain or something but didn’t really know what to say.
And then I had a moment of vertigo when I realized that had to be what happened to some people when they discovered midway through a conversation that the person they were talking to–i.e. me–was gay. Was that what Christian felt like when I had told him, and had he felt, like I did right then, like he wasn’t sure he could trust me, or his own impressions of me, which amounted to the same thing?
“I didn’t know you, uh, liked it rough,” I said, sounding like an idiot but I wasn’t about to let him walk away and leave another noose hanging.
“Yes, you did,” he said. “Remember that time you walked into my room and saw all the cuffs sitting on my bed?”
Oh. That was like two years ago before, though, and I had forgotten all about it. Probably because I hadn’t really absorbed what I’d seen. Also, at the time I’d thought of Colin as straight, which was probably why I hadn’t absorbed it. “I had forgotten about that,” I said. And then because I was on a sleep deficit and had no braincells functioning either, I couldn’t stop myself from saying, “You weren’t rough with me.”
“Wasn’t what you needed,” Colin said simply.
“Ah. Okay.” The world was slowly righting itself. Colin was a good guy. He really was.
“If you ever want to give it a try…” A teasing note slipped into his voice.
“No, thanks!” I said, with a nervous laugh, which then made both of us laugh because I was that ridiculous. “Yeah, not for me, I think.”
“That’s what I thought.” He patted me on the arm. “I’ll be back with the stuff as fast as I can. Now, don’t let him drown.”
“Shit, okay.” I didn’t know if he was joking about that last bit and I didn’t pause to find out. I hurried back into the room.
Zig looked like he hadn’t moved.
“Are you going to be okay?” I asked.
“Presumably, eventually,” he said. “People take this drug all the time. They must get over it somehow since the streets aren’t full of shuffling, moaning zombies.”
“Was it worth it?”
“Hm. Ask me again in a week. Right now I’m thinking no. But once I forget how much pain I’m in, I might change my answer.” He groaned again.
We sat there in silence for a little while.
“It’s show day,” I finally said, because the silence was getting to me.
“I knowwww.” He folded the towel over his face again. “Isn’t this a fucking rock star cliche? Daron, I’m turning into a cliche. This has to stop.”
“Okay. That would be good, actually.”
“That was a joke. Except I’m serious.” He sucked in a deep breath and let it out slowly. “If I can get through tonight, I’ll…”
He trailed off without finishing the sentence. I waited to see if he’d pick it up again, but he didn’t.
Colin came in and handed me a bottle of Gatorade, then went out again.
I cracked the bottle open and Ziggy emerged from under his towel again and sucked it down greedily.
“Next time, if there is a next time, I need to have a backpack of a couple of gallons of this stuff with me. That’d probably help a lot. Is there more?” Ziggy licked his lips.
“I’ll get more. Will you be okay here for a minute?”
“I promise I won’t drown.”
“You better not.” I hurried down to the suite and pulled a couple more bottles out of the fridge. No one spoke to me or interrupted me, though there were several people hanging around at that point.
Back at the Cave of Ziggy’s Penance, the flashlight battery was starting to die. I opened the curtains in the room and left the door to the bathroom propped open some. He hissed at first, but then adjusted to the increased light. We debated how gradually to reintroduce him to actual sunlight.
Ziggy eventually got out of the water to eat about a quarter of a turkey sandwich, which we deemed enough to let him take some ibuprofen, after which he heated up the water again and climbed back in.
Colin went off to get more helpful supplies. I sat in the damp bathroom in the dim light with Ziggy some more.
This time he was the one who said, “It’s show day.”
“Yes, it is.”
“In how many hours?”
“Three to go until soundcheck, then we meet the press.”
“Fuck. I don’t suppose an amphetamine would be a good idea right now.”
“I have no idea, Zig.”
He sighed. “I don’t think willpower alone is getting me through this. Although maybe I should look on the bright side. At least I’m not unconscious or in the hospital.”
“No, I mean, really. This was purely recreational. I kind of wonder if it wasn’t cut with speed, though.”
“Who’d you get it from?”
“Oh. Some girl.”
I stood up. I didn’t want to hear any more and if I stayed I was going to probably ask. And then I was going to regret it. I tried to stay focused on the goal, which was get everyone, myself included, through the show tonight. That was all that mattered. “I’m going to go find out if the press thing is going to be over here or over there, okay? Promise me you won’t drown.”
“I’ll get out, how’s that? Give me a hand.”
I gave him a hand. He climbed shakily out of the tub again, bumping wetly against me. I don’t even think it was a sly move to get close to me. I think he was that wobbly.
He put his sunglasses on and then lay down on the top of the bedspread. I spread a towel over him like a blanket.
“You’re mad at me, aren’t you,” he said, as I turned to go.
I didn’t face him. “Is that what you think?”
“I’m too hungover to think, Dar. But… but that’s what I expect. And… and I’m angry at myself.”
I let out a long breath and curiously enough, I felt less angry than I had before. Somehow knowing that Ziggy was angry with himself meant I didn’t have to be.
I turned around. I knelt at the side of the bed. I took his hand in mine. I talked as gently as I could. “Listen. I can’t even tell you all the things I have to be angry about right now. But I’ll forgive you. I’ll forgive you every possible thing I can come up with, if you’ll just be there, and be yourself, and be okay when we need you to be.”
“When’s that again?”
He closed his eyes. “I’ll try. We can deal with all the rest later, right?”
I kissed his fingertips. “Right.”
(I’m still working on the Colin/Ziggy bonus scene! Details on how to get it, see previous post! -ctan)