(Kickstarter ends tomorrow! Last chance at the cool swag, Colin/Daron bonus scene, etc! It all ends at 12noon eastern tomorrow! Also remember I’ll count any Paypal donations made by then to the final total, too! Right now we’re at $4,412, which means only $589 from unlocking ALL the stretch goals! Click to donate: http://kck.st/R31kCx -ctan)
I really hadn’t expected to fall into bed so easily with Colin. Well, to be clear, I hadn’t expected it at all. But I felt really good about it. Like mutual pleasure with someone I trusted and felt close to was something reasonable to expect, without the expectation itself creating anxiety.
I had a couple of little revelations though, thinking about it. The last time I’d had sex with Colin, that night in Cleveland, I’d been a complete emotional wreck. The contrast to how I felt now was so stark, even I grasped how much of a basket case I had been. By extension, I think I was starting to understand how much of a basket case Ziggy was when he wanted me but couldn’t have me. Maybe I even had a hint of how much of a basket case Digger was while married to my mother. Not that that excused anyone’s bad behavior, but at least I felt like I understood something I didn’t before.
I was still lying there feeling pleasantly sticky when I heard the doorbell ring.
“Oh shit, that’s Bart,” I said, jolted by suddenly remembering that we were due to rehearse. Was Chris home yet, I wondered?
“Come on, then.” Colin shepherded me into the shower, brought me dry clothes while I was hurriedly rinsing off, and then got in himself while I combed my hair and pulled on the shirt and jeans he’d brought me.
I opened the bathroom door, ready to dash downstairs, only to run nearly headlong into Chris who looked from damp me to the bathroom door. The sound of the shower still running was quite loud.
“Who’s in there?”
Chris coughed lightly. “Oh. Um.”
I tried to change the subject. “Was that Bart at the door?”
“Yeah. I’ll, uh, meet you downstairs.” He disappeared down the hall. Whoosh.
I felt a little dizzy and weak in that moment, like the shower water had been too hot, like the sex had taken it all out of me. But I knew it wasn’t that. I knew it was something darker.
I leaned against the wall and took deep breaths. I wasn’t going to let Chris being freaked out about me being gay freak me out about being gay. Or about having sex in my own damn house. I wasn’t. I wasn’t. I’d come too far for that. But I knew exactly how weird and icky Chris felt because of how I used to feel myself, and I felt a chill, like the ghost of that feeling passing right through me. And then I felt hot and cold, having quick flashbacks to Colin on top of me, and a throb in my gut because I wanted him to do that again.
That want, that need, that sudden craving, I knew why Chris equated it to drug addiction. Maybe he couldn’t see it any other way and that was why he was always going to be uncomfortable with it, even if he could get over the usual homophobic crap he’d grown up with?
I forced myself to move rather than analyze someone who wasn’t even in front of me at that moment. I went downstairs barefoot to find Bart in the basement, sitting in a chair, tuning the cello. I put the shoulder strap on the Ovation. Given what Colin had just done to me, I figured I shouldn’t sit down.
Chris appeared a moment later, carrying a beautifully tooled metal dumbek I didn’t remember seeing before.
We both said “Sorry about that–” at the same time, and then laughed at ourselves.
For once I recovered first. “I didn’t mean that to come as such a surprise.”
“Er, it wasn’t, I mean, I kinda thought maybe last summer–” His blush went all the way down his neck. “This isn’t coming out right.”
“It’s all right, Chris.”
“No, it isn’t,” he said. He sat down and rested his arms on the dumbek as if it was a tiny table. “I mean, talk me through this one, will you? I’m fine with you being gay. I really am. I really really am. But this kind of threw me for a loop, and that’s probably just… I don’t know. Is it normal for gay guys to… to…” He flailed, waiting for me to pick up the explanation.
“Like I give a fuck what’s normal?” I said. I know, I know: I used to give a fuck about that a lot even though I knew “normal” is a lie.
“But Colin,” Chris managed, with a grimace.
“Colin’s had a crush on me forever. Where’s the harm in it?”
Chris fished around for what was really bugging him. “But he’s your housemate. Tenant, technically. Isn’t that weird?”
“It’d bother you less if there was some total stranger in the shower?”
“That’s not what I mean.”
“Then what do you mean?” I don’t think I was doing my best to convince him of how to get over it.
“I mean, who’s off limits then? Or now that you accept your sexuality are you just a–” He cut himself off before he could call me something he would regret. He tried again. “I thought that’s what bothered you about Ziggy. That he’d fuck anything that moves.”
Oh. My cheeks got hot in spite of myself. “You’re okay with me being gay but not me being a slut?”
“Well, yeah…?” He didn’t sound too sure of himself, possibly because I was giving him a death-ray sort of look.
I closed my eyes for a second to turn off the death ray. “Me sleeping with Colin doesn’t make me a slut. Honestly, Chris, think about that for a second.”
“I know, I mean, I heard what you said, about Colin having a crush, and I wasn’t exactly blind to it, even if I was wrapped up in my own shit when we were on the road, you know.”
“But you’ve extrapolated that to if I’ll sleep with Colin, I’ll sleep with anyone.”
“No. Yes. I don’t know.”
Bart decided to cut in at that moment. “You’ve never had a problem with me sleeping with anyone I wanted to.”
“Well, that’s just it, though,” Chris said. “You’ve slept with half the Eastern seaboard but not with, like, people we know. That’s what makes it weird.”
Bart thought about that for a second. “So you’d be okay with it if Daron was doing random groupies who happened to be male.”
Chris’s fingers tapped nervously along the edge of the drum head. “I guess. I mean, now that I think about it, I can see why you wouldn’t. AIDS and all.”
Bart shrugged. “Is that why, Dar’? I kinda think it’s the whole thing about how you don’t like strangers in the first place.”
My cheeks got hotter. “What do you mean I don’t like strangers?”
“Are you kidding me? You hate having to talk to anyone you don’t know.”
I tried to argue. I really did. “Don’t be ridiculous. I do perfectly well at cocktail parties.”
“But you hate it.”
“No, D, in fact, some of us really like parties.”
Oh. I thought about how Jonathan often seemed in his element in a crowd he didn’t know, while I was happier sitting in a corner watching everyone, preferably with someone I knew on either side of me. “Okay, so talking to strangers is not my favorite thing.”
“That’s why Carynne never inflicts her boyfriends on you. The last one was the guy she brought to your birthday party who you never said a word to.”
“What guy?” I literally couldn’t remember a guy.
“That time we surprised you at the No Name?”
“Oh, wait, maybe I do remember she brought someone.” I didn’t remember his name though, or what he looked like. “Was I supposed to say something to him? What was I supposed to say?”
“Never mind. That’s not the point. The point is you don’t like new people for anything, really, why would you like them for sex? Heck, you taught Colin about guitars instead of hiring a professional.”
“Colin needed the money and I didn’t need one of those guys who thinks they’re a race car pit mechanic just to keep track of three guitars.”
Bart sighed. “Yes, I know, but that just proves my point. I don’t think it’s a gay thing. I think it’s a Daron thing to stick with the people you know. For everything.”
“Hey, I met a total stranger and went all the way to Spain and lived with him,” I pointed out.
“Which only proves my point. Chris or I would have probably slept our way across half of Europe in the same amount of time.” Bart shrugged; he wasn’t boasting. “Anyway. I have no problem with you being fuckbuddies with Colin. Or whatever you are. As usual, my only concern is how any of our interpersonal relationships affect band unity.”
At that point, Chris got a little upset with Bart. “Oh, like you’d have the right to tell me not to get involved with someone?”
“No, no, I never said that–”
“Because if you thought Lacey was a mistake you should say so.”
“I didn’t think Lacey was a mistake. I had no idea she was going to turn out to be bugfuck crazy!” Bart made an exasperated noise. “What I’m saying is I don’t have the right to vet who anyone in the band sleeps with or otherwise gets involved with. None of us have that right. But when those relationships threaten the group, we have to speak up. Because we all have a vested interest in the group.”
Chris seemed mollified. “Okay.”
“So my only question for Daron is… is this thing with Colin going to turn into something else?”
“What do you mean, something else? We’re not boyfriends, if that’s what you mean.”
“I mean, is it going to turn into something that will freak Ziggy out.”
“Ah. Ziggy’s slept with Colin, too, you know,” I pointed out.
Chris made a surprised noise. “When?”
“In New York.”
Chris winced. “Colin always struck me as straight.”
“I always struck you as straight, too,” I said, then paused for a second. “Wait. That’s what’s really bothering you, isn’t it? That you think I turned Colin gay or something.”
“There used to be a steady stream of pussy in and out of his room, you know.”
Bart snorted. “And there still is. Colin gets laid more than anyone else we know.”
“True.” Chris fidgeted uncomfortably on the stool. “Okay, but then is there, like, a competition between you and Ziggy for Colin’s affections or something? Is that why you and he aren’t getting along?”
“Me and Ziggy aren’t getting along because Ziggy disappeared and hasn’t spoken to me in a year,” I pointed out. “Maybe when I finally talk to him everything will be just fine.”
Bart grimaced. “When are you going to talk to him?”
“I don’t know. I guess I have to talk to Feinbaum first.”
“When are you doing that?”
“Tomorrow, supposedly. And then I’ll try to call him, I guess. He’s in L.A. this week for the movie premiere, so who knows if I’ll be able to catch him.”
We all pondered that for a few seconds. Bart said what I think we were all thinking: “It’d be better to talk to him in person.”
“He can’t just blow you off as easily that way,” Chris added.
“I know, that’s what I’ve been thinking, too,” I said. “But I’ve got to figure out when. Where.”
Another couple of beats of silence passed. Then I said, “Okay, so have we settled the issue of it being okay for me and Colin to have recreational sex when the mood strikes us?”
“Yeah,” Chris said. “Yeah, I’ll get used to it. Come on, now, let’s play some music.” He moved his chair closer to Bart’s, angling toward him halfway.
Standing up was going to be awkward if they were both at a similar eye level. I somewhat reluctantly put a chair facing them both. and then gingerly sat. Colin had been energetic and I hadn’t been on the receiving end since Japan, many moons ago.
I was a bit too obvious about my discomfort, I guess. Chris put his hand over his eyes, exclaiming, “Oh for crying out loud!” Which made Bart and me crack up laughing.
When Bart could stop laughing long enough to get words out, he said, “Okay, so that was what was really bothering you all along, wasn’t it?”
Chris was red in the face. “What?”
“It’s the whole taking it up the ass thing that makes you uncomfortable.”
“Well, shouldn’t it? I mean, c’mon!”
Bart sighed and shook his head. “How can you even say that if you’ve never tried it? Michelle’s got a strap-on–”
“That is officially too much information,” I said. “I’m about as uncomfortable talking about you having anal sex as Chris is talking about me.”
“Okay, see, but if we get it all out in the open we’ll never have to discuss this topic again,” Bart said. At which Chris and I both sniggered, knowing full well it never worked that way.
“For the record, that was the first time Colin and I went all the way,” I said.
“Can we stop talking about buttfucking!” Chris roared and then put his face down on the drum head, his long, feathered hair hiding everything. “Oh my god,” he moaned from under there.
Bart and I exchanged holding-in-laugh smiles. Later I would ask him if he thought we pushed Chris a little too far and he’d say no. Chris had talked to him a lot about the value of getting stuff out in the open and how hard he’d worked with his counselor to do it, and especially not to bottle stuff up inside with us, his bandmates. Bart had always been ridiculously frank about sex stuff, so that was easy for him. And I guess I was still trying to undo all the damage of years of silence and hiding on my own part.
I let the silence stretch out for a couple more seconds and then I started to play something. Bart watched my fingers and began to play along–well, actually, he began to play counter to me, but you know what I mean. Chris picked up his head, started tapping the drum with his fingertips at first, until I had established a rhythm, and then he started using his palms, too.
I had a lot of bits of songs and riffs and things that had been building up over the last year. So I had a lot of things to choose from when I decided what to play. But once we had jammed for a bit we started building it into a song, just like we always had before, discovering bits we liked and then gluing them together bit by bit. With no lyrics in mind and no specific goals, and only the riffs and melodies to guide us, we discovered some cool stuff, letting some really exciting sounds grow.
It was well after eleven when we finally quit, because we were getting hungry and needed a break. It was the quietest rehearsal we’d ever had and we realized with no amplification and only the hand drums our neighbors probably couldn’t even hear it.
Bart convinced Chris to come with us to Chinatown for a bite to eat then, and we went to our regular place, which hadn’t changed at all while I’d been gone, thank goodness, and I stuffed myself on greasy beef fat and chow fun noodles. It was almost like old times. Chris apologized for being, as he put it, “an ignoramus” about my “lifestyle,” and he was so sincere about it I accepted it.
He really did calm down a lot after that night, though.
Last reminder that this is it, folks, for this Kickstarter! I really really hope we hit some of those stretch goals to get the individual paperbacks done, too, and wouldn’t it be fun to have a backers-only IM livechat with Daron at $4,500? And at $5,000 comes the DGC timeline! And as promised, if we even get to $5,001 I’ll make backstage passes for everyone! As of this morning we were at 100 backers exactly, and we were only $589 from unlocking ALL THE GOALS!! Donate by Paypal or via Kickstarter: