(Thanks to the generous donations of readers this week, here is a Saturday story post! -ctan)
It’s not like I didn’t know we had issues. Me and Ziggy had massive issues. It’s not like we were using sex to cover them over or ignore them. But I think if we were in unspoken agreement on one thing, it was that whatever it was that attracted us to each other–chemical, magical, or inexplicable–sex itself wasn’t the problem.
Could it be part of the solution? Maybe it needed to be.
We didn’t waste much time, both eager for it even if we were still angry at each other and hurt and all that. It was hammer-and-tongs sex: we went at it until we were both limp. When we were done we might have even dozed off for a second or two.
When time started to move forward again I said, “Well, I sure as hell am calmer now.”
“You’re always calmest when you’re not worrying about where your next sex is going to come from,” he said. His voice was only slightly muffled because of how close his mouth was to my damp skin.
“Is that why I don’t ever want to let you out of my sight? That doesn’t sound… healthy.”
“You don’t ever want to let me out of your sight because I keep doing stupid shit like running off to other continents, or at least the wrong side of this one.”
“If that’s what you think, then why do you do it? Why don’t you just stay with me, Zig?”
For the record, these words were coming out of me without any filter, without any forethought, and without any thought for actual facts or circumstances. I think Zig knew that.
Ziggy, though, was never unfiltered, though he could be brutally frank when it suited him. “Because I get tired of being pushed away.”
“Ah.” I licked the part of his skin nearest to my mouth: the top of his shoulder. “It’s all my fault, then.”
“No. There’s a lot more going on than that.” He shifted position–we both did, like ballroom dancers with long practice together–and I settled against him again. “But remember that piece of it, will you?”
“Okay.” I can’t say that I really did remember, exactly. The lesson that I was happier when I was with him than when I wasn’t did seem very obvious at that moment, though. At least it seemed like it when I couldn’t even think about all the other junk, yet, the industry stuff and the contracts and the bullshit that had torn us apart in the first place.
That crap began to filter back into my brain slowly. “Remo says I overreacted to you signing the contract.”
One of my ears was against his chest so his voice sounded deeper than usual when he asked, “And what do you say?”
“I say it’s taken me two months to come to terms with the fact that even if you did the right thing for me, for everyone, knowing that hasn’t made me any less angry at you. I guess I have to own that.”
“I feel like it should: like facts should trump anger, you know? I should be able to make myself reasonable about this. Or therapy should help, right? But I’m still incredibly pissed off. Therapy hasn’t made me less angry; it’s made me accept that I am.”
Ziggy stroked my hair. “You know what’s dangerous for me? Sex with you is so incredible when you’re angry. It tempts me to piss you off. But I promise I did not sign that contract trying to piss you off. I swear on my mother’s grave, Daron.”
“Maybe I’d be less angry if I knew what was going through your head,” I said, trying to sit up a little so I could see his face, but failing. Lying down with as much of my skin touching his skin as possible felt better.
“When I signed it?”
“When you decided to, yeah.”
“Okay,” he said, but then was silent for a while. I felt him swallow and take a deep breath. “I can admit this now that I have a feeling you’re not going to shut me out again. At least… at least not right away.”
“I promised we’d have sex after we talked, didn’t I?”
He laughed in spite of himself. “You did. And I trust your promises.”
“So what are you admitting?”
“That I was afraid of two things if I signed it. One was that you’d shut me out.”
“So you knew I’d be pissed off.”
“Um, I strongly suspected it–”
“And then I actually was. Can you blame me for that?”
“I guess not.” He let out a long breath and it was like he was deflating. “But it still hurt like hell when you ditched me.”
“You do understand that it felt to me like you ditched me.”
“After all those talks we had in Boston? It felt like.. the same old thing, only a hundred times worse. You got me completely disarmed and believing we were soulmates. And then you turned around and ripped my testicles off.”
“Hm.” He was silent. I couldn’t tell if he was processing that or preparing a rebuttal. He ventured carefully along the same path. “I was worried because you always react badly to me taking charge of anything to do with the band.”
“This wasn’t just anything, though. This was everything.”
“I… I see that now. I… really hadn’t looked at it like that. I was thinking of it in terms of your control over my career and my control over my own career…”
I clenched my jaw. “Listen to what you just said. You basically just said you chose yourself over the band.”
“Except I didn’t. I could have signed a deal that screwed you all good and hard. I really really did try to get everything you expressed concern about. Money. Your ability to work. The lawsuits. I really tried.”
“Okay.” Maybe I got what I deserved there, for insisting on control when our band relationship should have been more collaborative all along? Money skews everything, fucks everything up, though. I know it was my own weird morals that made it seem like if I took the million from the deal I was somehow dirty and corrupted. Would playing martyr have been better? Probably not. I just had to get over myself, maybe. “You said there were two things you were afraid of, though. What’s the second thing?”
“That I fucked it all up completely and made the wrong deal.”
“Maybe I was in over my head. I thought I played them but maybe Mills played me.”
“Wait, you were afraid it was the wrong thing before you went through with it? Or afterward?”
“Afterward. I thought I was playing hardball. I made the deal with Mills without Digger, you know, because the plan was to cut him out of the deal, right? I thought I could handle it.” He was trembling. I could feel it everywhere my body touched his–which was everywhere. “But Mills agreed so quickly to what I asked for I not only had no leeway, I immediately suspected I didn’t ask for enough.”
I held him then, pulling him onto his side so I could cradle his head and he could cry a little, tears of fear and regret. Like he was still afraid.
When he looked up his cheeks were wet. “Are you still angry?”
“Yeah,” I said, “but maybe a little less. Thank you for telling me.”
“I know I did it to myself,” Ziggy went on with sudden urgency. “The one person I needed to turn to for support about the decision was the person who was going to be the most upset about it. You. ”
I remembered him clinging to me in the limo like a child. “Was that like, I dunno, having to confess to your mom that you needed her help even though she was going to punish you for getting in trouble?”
He leaned back from me and blinked in surprise. “Whoa.”
“What? Was that yes or no?”
“Yes.” He looked at me then like he was seeing me with new eyes. “I hadn’t even thought of it that way. But, yes. It was exactly like that. Except I always knew my mother loved me no matter what. You, I thought maybe I finally broke everything so irrevocably that there was no going back.”
So, he felt as relieved as I did that we were talking like this. “You thought you poisoned the well.”
He sat all the way up. He almost sounded accusatory: “You heard that song.”
“From the on-air gig? That’s how I knew when to page you.”
“Fuck.” He put a hand over his eyes and drew a few deep, even breaths. I wondered if he was meditating. “Okay, look. Are we at the stage where we can apologize?”
“I don’t think I can apologize for being pissed off at you, Ziggy. I know maybe there was no real choice, I know maybe Moondog Three would be dead no matter which way we went, but it still really feels to me, deep down, like you killed something that was mine.” Or took it for yourself. I didn’t say that, though.
“I’m not saying apologize for being angry. But how about for not being there when I needed you?” He looked sad and pathetic.
I almost didn’t have the heart to say what I was thinking, but I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t get the words off my chest. “Okay, you know when you actually needed me? Before you signed that contract. That’s when you should have called me up for a heart-to-heart.”
“Shit.” He winced and screwed his eyes shut again before looking at me. His voice was a whisper. “You might be right.”
We stared at each other for a long time then, like we were frozen. Me, I was mostly savoring the extremely rare feeling that I had won a fight. I mean, these kinds of fights didn’t usually have a winner or a loser, you know? My eyes began to itch but it was like I didn’t even want to blink.
He finally spoke and broke the moment. “I’m a little parched.”
I wasn’t sure if we were done talking, but we had definitely come to the end of a round. I felt a little parched myself. “Well,” I said, “There’s juice.”
(Jeez, 1990 had a lot of forgettable “hits.” -d)