That left the unfamiliar LA number that Ziggy had left.
I dialed it. A woman answered.
I was a wuss and hung up.
DGC, Joy Division
“Oh, my god.” I stare at Michael then at the shorter boy—man, I guess I should say, since I’m fairly sure he’s legal to drink—behind him. “Did you kidnap a rock star?”
“Louise, I can explain,” Michael says, raising his hands with his palms up. “This is… Ziggy. Ziggy, this is the light of my life, Louise, and that one in the playpen is your niece, Eugenie Ann.”
No shit, I think. That’s definitely Ziggy Ferias, actor, singer, tabloid cover model, standing in my living room in ripped jeans and huge black boots covered with enough buckles that they probably qualify as some kind of silver deposit.
“Honey,” I say, using up most of the patience I have left after a long day on no sleep with a colicky baby, “why is there a rock star in my living room?”
“Because he’s my brother and asked to meet you and our daughter,” Michael says like it’s perfectly reasonable to be standing in my living room while I’m in ratty sweats and one of his college tee shirts (with bonus baby vomit on the shoulder) with a rock star looking at us both like we’re a sitcom in a foreign language he barely speaks.
“I’m going to pretend this makes sense,” I say. “I will not bring up the fact that you told me your brothers were Charlie and—”
“Please don’t say it. No one’s called me that in years.” Ziggy speaks up and we both turn to look at him. “If this is a bad time…”
Michael shakes his head, gives me one more ‘baby, please,’ half-smile, and says, “No. This is fine. It’s all fine. Lou, he needs a place to crash for a couple of days, somewhere quiet.”
I agree because…
“Why the hell not?” I laugh, possibly a little hysterical. “It’s not the first time you’ve brought home a stray, and this one’s probably housebroken.”
Buddy, our pit bull, takes this as his cue to thunder down the stairs, bark his fool head off, and pin Ziggy to the floor. I laugh until tears start streaming down my face and the baby gives confused hiccups from the bottom of the playpen.
“You weren’t at the funeral.” Ziggy looks at me over a cup of coffee, seated at the kitchen table like he’s lived here as long as Michael and I have. His eyes barely meet mine before they skirt away, and he bites his lower lip like maybe he wants to take the words back. Too late, kiddo.
I pour my own coffee, processing the fact that he must have brewed it since Michael’s still asleep, and sit down across from him. “I was too far along to fly. Genie was born three weeks later.”
“You named her after Mama.”
“We did, and after my grandmother,” I say. “He never told me you were… you. We went to one of your concerts, and he never said a word to me. Not one damn word.”
“It’s complicated, between us,” Ziggy says, addressing the wooden table top more than me. “Everything is complicated.”
“Un-complicate it.” I hear the hard tone in my voice the same time he does but I’m more surprised by it. Embarrassed, a little, to sound that way with a guest. I get to my feet and open the fridge. “I’ll make breakfast. You explain why you’re here, and maybe you can convince me why I should ever trust my husband again.”
“I can explain, but I’m not a miracle worker,” he says, giving me just a trace of the smile I’m used to seeing from the front of the Enquirer. I like it better here, where it seems genuine. “He’s the only family I have left. Michael and Eugenie, and you. I said I would visit. I don’t think he believed me. I don’t… I’m not sure I meant it then, but here I am.”
“Here you are. Here you are, in suburbia, doing what?” The tone creeps in again, and generations of Southern ladies along my family tree roll over in their slave cemetery graves.
“Seeing what normal is like,” Ziggy says after a long, silent moment. “My life isn’t normal. It never has been. I need a little bit of normal right now.” He turns the coffee cup between his palms, and for a second, just a second, he looks more like a lost little boy than a guy I’ve seen on MTV twenty times a day for the past few years. “That’s the truth. I promised Michael to leave the bullshit at the door, so that’s the truth.”
His life isn’t normal, but he cooks like any other twenty-something bachelor. Badly. I give him points for making lunch, even if the pasta borders on gummy in some parts and crunchy in others. I toss it out and start over, pointing him to a chair, planting Genie in his arms, and cutting off his protests with a simple instruction.
“Don’t drop her on her head.”
The look on his face… I could sell a photo and pay Genie’s way through her PhD. He covers well, though, and lets her wriggle around until she decides she’s comfortable. He reminds me of Michael then, the family resemblance creeping up as he goes from terrified to awed, my little girl charming him with a burble and a clenched fist in his shirt.
“You both look like her,” I say, turning away to examine the state of the stove and the ingredients set out haphazardly on the counter. “Like Eugenie. You and Michael have her eyes. Where should you be today, if you weren’t here?”
“It doesn’t matter. I said I needed a few days to take care of something,” he says. “My manager trusts me.” He gives a little laugh, setting Genie on the edge of the table in front of him, hands supporting her back like he’s done this before. “He shouldn’t.”
“You know, you say things like that and it doesn’t help my impression of you,” I point out. “You don’t talk to people much, do you?”
He laughs again, louder, fuller. “God, I talk to people all the time. Talk, talk, talk, and it’s all…” He gestures like he’s brushing something away. “It’s all so fake, you know? You, you’re real. You won’t let me be—Michael says you can spot a lie at twenty paces and you don’t take any shit from people. You don’t think I’m charming at all, do you?”
“I think you think you are,” I say, folding my arms across my chest and leaning one hip against the counter. “I also know that any guy who starts off trying to convince me he’s not trying to get into my good graces wants to do exactly that, thinking I’ll believe he’s being upfront when it’s just another act.”
“You’re a hard lady. I see why Michael loves you,” Ziggy says. “Everybody needs someone who sees through them, don’t they?”
“I tend to think so. You found that person yet?” I ask. He doesn’t answer and I leave it alone, turning on the radio next to the toaster and start another pan of water for pasta.
Sitting on the couch next to Michael, Ziggy looks farther from white than any of the media photos ever show, less European mutt than high yellow. I understand the stories about Eugenie favoring the new baby, being ashamed of her older sons, with a sharp, sudden clarity that hurts my heart.
Genie gives me no time to think about it, breaking her staring contest with Buddy on the floor by poking him in the nose. He howls, she howls, I want to howl. Ziggy and Michael laugh, one scooping up the baby, one drawing the dog’s attention with a treat, both of them wearing the same smile under the same high cheekbones.
“It’s nearly bedtime for this one, isn’t it?” Ziggy asks, holding Genie like a pro now, helped by the way she’s screamed each time he’s moved out of her short reach today.
“Soon,” I say, folding the last of her endless supply of onesies and dropping it on top of the laundry basket. “You know any lullabies?”
Ziggy grins. “I might know a few.”
“Good, then you put her to bed. I’m going to curl up with the rerun of ‘Doogie Howser’,” I say.
“I met that guy,” Ziggy says, his grin slipping away into something softer, more thoughtful. “Taller than I expected.”
“You’re what, five four? Everyone’s taller than you,” Michael says, lifting the dog’s leash from its hook near the door. “Lou, I’m going to take Buddy-boy for a trip around the block. Shouldn’t be more than fifteen, twenty minutes.” He walks over to Ziggy and Genie, and kisses the top of her head. After a moment, he winks at me and kisses the top of Ziggy’s head, too.
“Aw, man, come on.” Ziggy manages to pack more New York into those four words than I’ve heard from him yet. He still laughs as he pushes Michael away and they go back and forth, teasing the way only siblings can, until Buddy herds Michael out the door. Ziggy turns for the stairs, pausing on the second one. “I left the number here for someone. If he calls, tell him I’ll call him back?”
“Sure,” I say. “You’re going to tell me all about meeting Neil Patrick Harris when you get back here, too.”
Ziggy laughs, the sound echoing up the stairs behind him. I pick up the TV remote and prop up my feet, ready to be entertained.
Notes: I needed to explain who the mystery woman was, and I have theories about Ziggy’s actual relationship with his siblings, especially since losing their mother. Thanks to ctan for pointing me to relevant bits of canon and encouraging the caffeine-fueled silliness of the first bit, as well as for letting me play in her sandbox, and to the real Buddy’s owner for letting me immortalize him in fanfic.
I couldn’t resist the NPH reference once I realized the timeline fit. It’s now my headcanon that Ziggy met him at some MTV thing and corrupted him a little. NPH clearly had a thing for bad boys, and I found evidence because the internet forgets nothing. Just look at this:
Testing if we can leave comments now…? Yes! Sorry about that folks, commenting was broken and now it is fixed. The whole site is on a new disk now — apparently all the glitches of this month were symptoms of the disk dying. New hardware has been deployed. Rock on.
P.S. This fic is bloody brilliant. So spot on.
WHOO and HOO for fixes. It’s nice to know it wasn’t just Murphy kicking me in the head, but sad for the disk that is no more. It is an ex-disk.
It’s exciting and humbling and something I haven’t the word for right now that both you and some of the hardcore fans like this. I haven’t set a fic out into the wild in at least two years, probably longer, even though I’ve been writing constantly. So, it’s pretty gratifying to know I’m still able to tell a decent story.
Awesome! I love this. This makes me want to write fanfic about what Ziggy gets up to when Daron is not around.
Oh, please do! There’s been such a long stretch of them away from each other, and you know Ziggy’s not exactly sitting around pining. Cecilia and I were discussing our mutual theories that he hangs out with Sara Rogue when he’s in New York and does her make up and dresses her up like a girly girl. I also think NPH wasn’t the only closeted famous boy he was corrupting. Plus there were a ton of rock stars with whom he’d have been contemporaries or just a few years younger than, who were getting into all kinds of things. So, yes, please, let’s build a whole world of adventures for Ziggy’s time between seeing Daron.
A whole world of adventures for Ziggy sounds great. I would love to see what everyone else thinks Ziggy gets up to as well. It’s amazed me when I read the comments about Ziggy how vastly different some fans see him and his intentions.
Maybe we should do a ‘downtime’ challenge at some point? We could ask what Ziggy’s up to, what a typical day for Bart and Michelle is like when he’s not on the road, or what Courtney and Carynne are doing when Daron’s away.
Yeah, we definitely all see him in different ways. Those are some of the conversations I love having in comments, because we’re all reading him with our own experiences and philosophies in mind.
You don’t have to share it here if you don’t want to. But there is still one slot open in August for a fan post…? (And when August ends the offer is still open to anyone who wants to add a fanwork in the future!)
I will most likely write something eventually. I have been trying for quite some time to write the threesome everyone wants to see but as soon as I get them to the bedroom Daron just freezes and watches Ziggy and Colin.
If you need one more post for August I have a suggestion. I think it would be fun to see pictures of what people think the characters look like. Just a thought. I know I have a picture of Bill Kaulitz that looks pretty close to how I picture Ziggy. Not exact but damn close.
That sounds about right, Amber. I wish I could write one but I like to write characters IN CHARACTER…mostly. Everytime I try it sounds so fake…:(
Ooh, a post where people cast characters could be kind of fun.
Regarding the threesome…try writing it from someone other than Daron’s point of view? If he’s stuck on the sidelines watching, something tells me Ziggy or Colin would come up with a way to draw him in eventually.
I think I just need to stop wishing he would do something different and just meet him where he is. I think Colin will find a way to help him into it.
You know, there’s nothing wrong with Daron being there as a voyeur. We already know he likes watching Ziggy perform, and the sexual dynamics between Ziggy and Colin are very different from the ones Daron has with either of them. I think it’d make perfect sense for Daron to be all for the three of them getting down, then having a moment where he just has to stop and figure out what exactly is going on, where he fits in with them, while Colin and Ziggy just plow ahead.
Depending on your timeframe, there’s also the question of whether he’s seen Ziggy with anyone else before. We know he walked in on that moment at the film premiere, but otherwise, it seems like Daron’s not really seen Ziggy being sexual with anyone else. So, if it’s after catching Ziggy with the random suit, Daron could have to consider how different or similar seeing him with Colin is. If it’s before that, there’s the simple fact of seeing him with someone else. There’s also the question of Daron’s emotional reaction, whether he’s jealous or not, whether he thinks about having known Ziggy and Colin were together in the past, or he could wonder if either of them are thinking having been with Daron himself before.
I don’t know if any of that will help get you past the block you’re running into, or if you’ve thought through all that already. Another possibility would be changing your starting point to a moment where Daron is actively participating and work back from there. It’s a lot harder for him to freeze if you’ve already got him on the bed with Colin kissing him and Ziggy undoing his jeans or something.
If you want a beta for what you’re working on, or to bounce ideas around, I’d be really happy to. I know what it’s like to get jammed up, especially when characters decide to get shy at the bedroom door.
I looked up Bill Kaulitz, and agree. I’m leaning Avan Jogia for Ziggy, personally, though. He’s never, as far as I can find, had the right haircut, but his face just fits for me. After watching him in the Tut miniseries and the sadly-canceled show Twisted, he definitely has the right ability to manipulate with a glance, and to prowl across a room like he not only owns it but every person in it.
I bet Colin’s sherpa instincts would kick in, he’s very caring and attentive when he wants to be. They’d give Daron a bit of a show and then pounce to let Daron be the center of attention (for as long as Ziggy could stand not being it, heh). I do agree that it’s totally in character for Daron to freeze up and turn fifty shades of red while his brain tries to catch up to the rest of him.
As I said to ctan, I think Colin will find a way to pull Daron into it.
Yeah, the difference in sexual dynamics is something I wanted to play with.
I recorded Tut but haven’t watched it yet. But I agree Avan Jogia is close but he’s just not as effeminate as I picture Ziggy.
And thank you for the offer of being a beta reader. I might take you up on that at some point.
I thought Tut was pretty good, if bloodier than I’m used to in TV these days (for a gauge, I watch a ton of L&O but cringe a little at CSI, and this was just past that in the battle scenes). I’d love to hear what you think of it once you get a chance to watch.
I think Jogia works for me because I don’t necessarily see Ziggy as effeminate as much as placing himself outside of the masculine-feminine spectrum while still squarely being male. It makes a lot more sense in my head than in words, I think.
Thank you! I just really needed to put Ziggy, a baby, and a pit bull in one place, and I could not let go of that phone call. I’m glad it worked for you, and I might play with the family angle a little more in the future.
Love this! The image if Ziggy holding a baby has to be the best mental image since Ziggy looking like a white cotton mermaid!
Also thanks for making the dog a typical sweet, cuddly pittie. They are my favorite breed, even after more than 20 years of working with dogs. I always laugh/cringe when people compare others to pits. I think, “what, he rolls over for belly rubs and licks you to death?” Lol
Great job (again), sanders!
Thank you! As I just wrote to Tom, and like I told Cecilia, I just really needed Ziggy and a baby and a pit bull together.
My girlfriend and her husband have the real life Buddy, and he is the chillest, sweetest, goofiest boy. Most of the behavior I’ve seen in him, and in the pit bull my brother had years ago, that other people call aggressive is a product of anxiety and protective instincts, if not outright human abusiveness. In some ways–and yes, I’m bringing up race–I think pit bulls get the same stupid assumptions applied to them that young black men do: big, deep-voiced, and loud, and therefore they must be dangerous. Treated respectfully, kindly, they give the same respect and kindness back, but treated poorly… *sigh*
Wonderful! This was a lovely humor treat with Ziggy and Normal People (and their pets/offspring), I really enjoyed it.
Thank you so much! I had a lot of fun writing this, and I’m so glad people are enjoying it.
my original comments didn’t save… Basically I said I love this! It’s even better now seeing all of the comments. great job Sanders, hoping to see more from you very soon!
Thanks, Chris! I’ve been talking to Cecilia about doing a regular fanworks day each month with a theme since it seems like a lot of us have had a good time posting and seeing what other folks created. This feels like a really positive, safe space to try out some new mediums, like artists doing fic, writers trying their hand at gifs, etc. Hopefully we can keep that energy going.
It struck me early (and incorrectly) in the story that you had Ziggy’s voice wrong. Then it struck me. The only other examples of Ziggy’s voice that we have are his interactions with Daron and his diary.
I think you got Ziggy’s voice absolutely right. This is the unguarded Ziggy who’s not looking for something from someone except being part of their family. This is the Ziggy who realizes he can’t bullshit and stops trying.
This is the real Ziggy. Not that the others aren’t equally real, but this is the Ziggy from before he became Ziggy. This is the somewhat awkward kid brother who became Stardust and changed forever.
Ctan, please make this Ziggy-before-he-became-Ziggy a part of canon. It just fits, and gives you and the DCG community a valuable data point.
And, Michael knows Ziggy’s biological father. That’s something nobody else in the cast knows, and would be an excellent point of departure to exploring the origin of Ziggy’s needs to control and to be dominated simultaneously.