I should’ve known by then that Ziggy’s motto was applicable to all things in life. Ziggy’s motto, or maybe it was more of a worldview since it came in a lot of different expressions, was basically nothing is ever just an either/or proposition. Don’t make fake divisions. No false dichotomies. It’s not just that things aren’t always black and white, it’s that they’re always some kind of gray.
Which meant of course that when I was trying to figure out if we were headed for a relationship talk or sex, I was forgetting that of course both my instincts were correct. We were heading for both.
In fact I knew perfectly well that if we had sex first, it usually made relationship talk easier. I know I’m not always the most open person.
(Don’t laugh; that wasn’t meant to be a comic understatement.)
What I hadn’t counted on was the talk starting while we were still in the middle of it. Ziggy writhing wantonly in the middle of the bed is a good look no matter what’s causing it. So I wasn’t really thinking about the fact that all it took was a few puppy whines and a lick behind my ear and a tug on my wrist to get me to wrap a hand around his joystick. Making him lose himself in sensation and pleasure is one of my greatest pleasures.
Losing myself in it is a close second.
I mean, when you think about it, sex is such a weird set of things that humans do to/with each other. So sometimes the only thing to do is stop thinking about it. Music is kind of the same sometimes. We build these weird contraptions and we contort ourselves all kinds of ways to make them make sounds that are pleasing. We learn to go through those motions faster, more accurately, with more expression. Some people do it for the money and some for the joy. Just a thing people do.
“Bite me on the neck while you make me come?” he asked.
I wasn’t a big biter in general but I liked biting him while he came. It always made me feel like I was–I don’t know what to call it–marking him as mine? I don’t remember when the first time we did it was but by then it was enough of a thing that he would ask for it. I still felt like I had to check that he really wanted me to.
“Are you sure?”
That sounded like he was sure.
Ziggy liked to be held through his afterglow and he made happy noises like he kind of wanted to be saying something but didn’t have words yet. He slipped out of my arms long enough to wipe up and then came back to fit snugly against me.
“How’s your hand?” he asked, nosing against my collarbone.
“Fine,” I said automatically. I flexed it, thinking more about what he was asking and the answer. “I mean, no cramps or anything.”
He rolled me onto my back and lay on top of me. “When were you going to tell me there’s nothing wrong with it?”
His voice was so light and sweet but I froze, hearing–or at least imagining–the dagger-shaped icicles under the surface. “What do you mean?”
“You just said it was fine.”
“For the moment,” I said, trying to keep my hackles down.
“Oh. Court told me the doctor said it’s all healed and that I shouldn’t worry about doing this.” He laced his fingers into mine–on both hands–and pinned me in place while he writhed against me.
“It’s… a little… more complicated… than that…” I stopped trying to explain while his mouth searched me for erogenous zones.
Remember what I said about losing myself in it? You’d think I wouldn’t be able to do that while worrying about what he was going to say next, but I guess he knew how to get my guard down. To make a musical analogy, Ziggy knew how to play me like a temperamental harpsichord.
Next thing I knew I was lying there in my own afterglow, thinking about how utterly fucked up it was that priests and nuns could make people terrified of their own bodies. Had I ever believed the line about masturbation striking you blind? I don’t think I did, but can you imagine being a desperate, horny teenager, terrified to jerk off in the shower because—what if it’s true?
It’s not true. None of it is true. There are other ways your body can betray you that you should be worrying about instead.
Ziggy snuggled against me again. “So what did your doctor say? You still haven’t told me.”
“No, dear one. And I’ve been waiting to hear about it.”
“Oh.” Had I really not told him? There had been so much going on. “I saw a new doctor, actually. A woman. She said that maybe slacking off on my exercises like I did was actually good for it. Which surprised the hell out of me.”
He laughed with his mouth closed, his rib cage against mine.
“Supposedly all my fingers work, the tendons are okay, the bones are where they’re supposed to be. The main problem is the scar.”
I could sense him holding back. Don’t ask me how. “Oh?”
“Yeah.” I was trying to remember Dr. Saguil’s exact words. “She basically was like… I can’t tell if the symptoms you’re having are psychological or physical. But maybe if we do something about the scar tissue, it’ll work no matter which.”
Something about what I said let the air out of Ziggy’s balloon. He relaxed against me. “Oh.”
“Yeah. So I’m ‘fine’ but I’m not fine.”
“You might be better than you think,” he said brightly. “You don’t know because you haven’t tried.”
“I know I haven’t tried.”
He kissed me on the cheek as he sat halfway up. “And that is why it feels a little like you’re making excuses not to find out.”
“I’m just not ready.”
“Physically or psychologically?”
“Does it matter which?” I had my other arm draped across his stomach. “If I’m not ready, I’m not ready.”
“It matters only because physically, well, people can understand that. If your ankle’s broken they aren’t going to make you wal up a flight of stairs. But if it’s just in your head that you aren’t ready to go up the stairs…?”
My blood pressure should have been rising, but having just had an orgasm I was still pretty relaxed. “You’re saying I get a pass for my physical limitations but not for my mental ones? Zig you’re the last person I expected to brush aside psychological stuff.”
He blinked and opened his mouth. Apparently I’d derailed his argument somehow. “That’s… that isn’t quite what I was saying.”
“No.” He sat all the way up and combed his fingers through my hair, as if that could smooth out my tangled thoughts. “What I’m trying to say is that if this is a mental block, then we should be tackling it together. Otherwise it just feels–and I’m not saying it is, just that it feels like–to me that you’re using it as an excuse to tell me ‘no.'”
“You mean I’m sabotaging my own ability to play so that I don’t have to go on tour with you?”
“You said it, not me, dear one.”
I mulled the thought over for a few seconds. “I think it’s a stretch.” But even as I said that I was starting to wonder if he was right. “And if it were the case, you wouldn’t be the person who could help me untangle it, because anything you said would be fueled by your own self-interest, right?”
He frowned. “I suppose. But you know who’s supposed to be helping you through this kind of thing? Your shrink. Back in Boston.”
I wanted to curl into a ball and hide under the covers. “We never would have left there if you hadn’t insisted we go to Tennessee, you know.”
“I know,” he said, rather loudly, “and maybe that’s why I’m so adamant about getting you out of there. Because it is my fault.”
There were only a couple of months left on the Boston sublet. We’d been paying for a place we hadn’t seen since before Christmas.
When was the last time I touched a guitar, anyway?
My thoughts and the argument were interrupted by the phone ringing. I hopped up to answer it, assuming it was Courtney calling to find out if we were done.
But it wasn’t. It was Flip. And it wasn’t good news.