I got back to the apartment feeling vaguely grimy, probably from the travel but maybe also from the lawyer talk. When we practiced the deposition, Feinbaum tried every underhanded trick he could think of to try to get me to act defensive. Because the thing is even if what you’re saying is the absolute truth, if you sound defensive about it, it sounds like you’re either lying or hiding something. And if the jury thinks you sound like a crook, well, it’s not good.
I got in the bathtub. (With water, in case you were wondering.) And I lay there letting my thoughts drift around like the ends of my hair, seaweed-like and slightly tangled.
I wondered how Court and Claire were getting along.
When Ziggy came in, I was still in the water, though it was lukewarm at best. It was a warm day outside, though, so I didn’t mind.
Neither did he. He stripped out of what I think were his dance-workout clothes (as opposed to some new fashion trend) and shooed me to make room for him in the tub. He slid in behind me without splashing too much water onto the floor and kissed me on the back of the neck. “Hi.”
“Hi. I made it here.”
“So I see.” He leaned back against the porcelain, pulling me with him. “I hear we may have to take a trip to LA.”
“I’m getting deposed in the Sarah versus Digger case, too. Not that I really have that much to add.”
“Evidence that Digger was skimming from me isn’t the same as evidence that he was skimming from her, so might not be allowed. I’ll probably mostly be testifying about his character and business practices.”
“Are you suing him, too? I can’t remember.”
“I’m currently not. I can always threaten to,” he said sweetly. “Hey. Barrett wants to have us over for dinner tonight.”
“Just us? Or us and Carynne.”
“C, too, I think. I teased him and asked if we were too broke to go out. He was like hey, if you really want Le Cirque, we can do that, but he’s trying to cut down his calorie intake and he wants to actually use his kitchen for something other than making coffee and toast.”
I sat up and squeezed out my hair. “Does he want us to bring anything? What do you bring if you’re not drinking?”
“I’ll ask. We could probably pick up a loaf of fresh baked bread or a cheesecake or something.”
“Cheesecake would probably torpedo his plan to lower his calorie intake.”
“Hm, true. Didn’t we give him a bottle of fancy olive oil once? Maybe it should be balsamic vinegar this time.”
“I’m leaving this up to you.”
He laughed and reached for the soap while I climbed out of the tub.
“I guess this means we don’t have to get dressed up.”
“True.” He opened the tub’s drain and then pulled the curtain closed so he could shower off. I toweled myself dry.
“You should try the leave-in conditioner,” he said over the sound of the water.
“In the green bottle. Here, just wait, I’ll do it for you.”
So I waited until he got out himself. He put some stuff from a green bottle into his palms, rubbed them in a quick circle, and then ran them over his own hair. He repeated the process for me, then picked up a comb and gently combed it through, taking care not to yank the extensions. It felt nice.
I dug a clean T-shirt and jeans out of my bag and put them on. There. Ready for dinner at home with my manager and my grandmanager.
We in fact went out to get him a nice bottle of fancy vinegar and a load of crusty bread, and poked around some shops in the neighborhood because they were interesting. I mostly didn’t worry about much. The weather was nice and I let myself be wholly distracted by Ziggy himself, kind of like how I used to get except this time I wasn’t trying to hide it from anyone, which made it feel a hell of a lot better.
One of my eyes started to water while we were walking back to the apartment. It’s funny. I was thinking about the explosion. I hadn’t thought about it in a while. It’s funny what you remember. I was thinking about an interview we did while eating fried chicken at a venue in Atlanta. It was so strange to think that he and I hadn’t been together at that point. That was the same Atlanta trip when we’d pulled in Christian’s old band as openers to fill in for Megaton, and they’d gone all Jesus-freak god squad on us. The same tour stop where Jonathan showed up and kissed me out of the blue, and where Courtney had gone toe to toe scripture-quoting with those homophobes.
Three years ago. Or if you want to be mathematical about it, something like 12 percent of my life ago.
“Hm?” I turned to look at Ziggy behind me. He’d stopped in his tracks and was smiling that smile that was both amused and bemused at the same time.
“Are you going somewhere?” He was standing in front of the door to his building, which I’d just sauntered past while reminiscing.
“Yes,” I said. “Deep into the recesses of my own mind.” Then I thought about how that sounded. “But not too deep, I promise. Remember that time we ran away from a party in Toronto?”
He grinned. “I do.” He unlocked the door and we let it close behind us before he checked his mailbox. “I remember us dueting on MuchMusic, too. They still play that video, you know.”
“Dueting isn’t a word.”
“It’s Canadian English,” he said, completely seriously, then smirked as he keyed open the door into the first floor and hit the up button on the elevator. “Am I remembering right we found an absinthe bar?”
“A goth bar at least.”
“I wonder if it’s still there. I’d love to go back.”
“Yeah.” As if we could just hop on the train or a plane or whatever and disappear into the night like any two black-clad twenty-somethings looking to dance the night away. Reality was more complicated than that, but that didn’t stop it from being a nice daydream to share.