163. Instant Karma

I had just hung up the phone and was exploring the extra-large bathtub in the suite’s bathroom–it had some kind of jets–when I heard the door open. Ziggy came in and threw himself down on the king-size bed.

“Tired?” I asked as I paused in the doorway from the bathroom, my voice neutral.

He threw his arm over his eyes. “Yeah. But kind of wired, too. It’s this place. Talk about a party town.”

I sat next to him on the bed and crossed my legs. “I just got off the phone with Bizzy.”

“Oh, yeah?” His eyes were still hidden under his arm.

“Yeah. I told her I wanted her to come back.”

“I thought she had some kind of family emergency…”

I pulled his arm down and looked into his eyes, anger sudden and rough in my veins. “Don’t give me that bullshit. You know she left because of you.”

He furrowed his brows in mock disbelief. “Moi?”

“Why?” I held him down, my hands on his shoulders, my legs under me. “What possessed you to fuck with her head like that, huh?”

His lips pressed into a thin line. “Fucked with her head? She… that girl is insatiable! Come on, Daron, you know she flirted with me. It’s not like a forced her into anything.”

I let him go with a grunt of exasperation. Even Car’ had said that; I couldn’t argue with that. And I couldn’t bring myself to wave the safe sex issue in his face. “She was our road manager,” I said lamely, glossing over the fact, for the moment, that I’d slept with her, too.

“Is it my professionalism that’s at issue here?” He turned over onto his stomach, crossed his feet in the air. “Just who are we allowed to get to know biblically and who aren’t we, then, huh boss? I don’t remember anything in the contract about this.”

I stood up but did not pace, no matter how much I wanted to.

“I mean,” he continued, rolling onto his side and holding up his fingers to tick off items, “it would seem that fans and groupies should be allowable, right? And how about total strangers, that’s a nice option. Let’s see, who else do we ever see? Hmm, local sound engineers, club managers, bartenders? Are they on the list or off?”

“I didn’t say–”

“How about members of the press?” His eyes glittered black.

I was shoving my hands into my pockets again. “I did not sleep with Jonathan.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“What are you trying to say, that because I might have slept with a reporter it’s okay for you to sleep with our road manager?” I was breathing faster, and my words came out in a rush before I could really think about them. Danger, Will Robinson. I tried to breathe deep, but it was too late for that. If I’d been on edge before, now I was positively teetering.

“I didn’t say anything of the kind,” he said and I cursed myself for walking into another one of his traps. “I’m trying to point out that it’s useless to try to make a rule against sex with a person based on professional relations.” He looked down and blinked his thick black lashes a few times, then looked up at me through them. “Case in point…”

And I did it. I stepped off the edge. “I never should have slept with you.” I gritted my teeth against the word “never.” There was no stopping me, no rationalizing, no going back.

His mask crumbled and tears, possibly real ones, sprang into his eyes. “Oh that hurts,” he said, as if to himself, as if he hadn’t meant to speak aloud. “Oh-my-god.”

“Look at yourself,” I said. “Ziggy, you hurt people. You totally messed with Carynne’s head and made her fucking run away because she couldn’t trust being with you. And I’m supposed to trust you now?”

“Christ, I’m sorry,” he said, not looking at me. “But I was jealous, okay? I’m not used to that.” Tears ran down his face, leaving gray trails of eyeliner pencil. “I’m not used to caring one way or the other. But it was like… I mean, we were finally beginning to work again, and then he came along…”

“And you took it out on her…?”

“No! I like her. I was lonely. I had no idea she thought it was too much. It wasn’t meant to hurt anyone.”

“Anyone except me.” I had that urge again, to hit him across the face, like that would change anything. Could it change his feelings for me? Would it make him hate me? Of course, the last time I’d tried to really hit him I’d ended up with a sprained thumb.

Violence was no answer, not when words could do as much damage as they did.

I took another step backward to put some space between us anyway, before I asked, “So, why did you want me to be here when you got back?”

For a moment it looked like he was going to get up and walk out. Like he was going to leave me hanging, or chasing after him for the answer.

Instead, he clutched his head in his hands. “Things have been better, haven’t they? With you and me.” He was positively whining. “The shows have been pretty good…”

“Because we’ve been ignoring each other.”

“Do we have to keep doing that? Onstage and off?”

“I think it’s a good idea not to fuck with it.” Or each other, I didn’t add.

He blew air through his lips and turned full-on puppy dog eyes on me. “I’ve missed you, okay? I didn’t come here to fight with you.”

“You mean that now that you don’t have her around, you’ve decided to see if you can get some from me. Am I right?”

“It’s not like that,” he said, frowning. “It’s not like that at all.”

“Then what is it? It’s not as if you love me.” I shocked even myself by saying it.

His answer was immediate. “I never should have said that.”

So I stared at him, daring him to fill the silence.

“I don’t know why I said that. At the time, I thought…. Shit.” He was working out the puzzle in his head just as I was. If he meant it then, then he was being a manipulative shit now, and if he meant it now, he had been a manipulative shit then. “I mean, you were so gun shy…”

“And this is going to make me less gun shy, now? My neck is sore from you jerking my fucking chain so much…”

Things got worse from there. There was name calling. There were accusations. Once the fight got going, maybe we were fighting for the sake of fighting. I don’t know. Nothing we said mattered anymore. We were so far off the map of reality that there was no telling what was truth or lies from either of us.

It ended with me sitting on the rug hugging my knees and saying, “I don’t even know whose fault it is. I don’t even care anymore who loved who or when. I just want it to stop. I just want you out of my face. I’ve had it with you jerking me around and screwing with the others. Next time it won’t be Carynne who leaves the tour. It’ll be you or me, do you hear me? The bullshit stops now, Zig, or it’s all over.”

He didn’t say anything to that, just twisted his face into a wounded look, and walked out.

I had the feeling the evening with me had not gone as he had planned.

And I’d never felt so shitty after winning a fight.


  • BriAnne says:

    I really hope this isn’t as much of a ‘beginning of the end’ moment as it feels like.

    I’m sorry it had to come to that.

    • daron says:

      I hope it’s the beginning of the end of the bullshit. Once you dig through the crap, is there anything left? Or is that all there is to him?

  • Sara Winters says:

    Speaking of things that had to be said…wow. At least it was all honest (hopefully). So, more or less awkward now?

    • daron says:

      Probably more awkward, but you know, who can tell? Tomorrow he might pretend it never happened. And if he does, I’ll pretend with him for the sake of the tour.

  • Kat says:

    I go away for a month, and look at what happens! I’m still rooting for Ziggy (even after everything in the previous chapters), especially after this chapter… I think he’s young, and not intentionally a total dickhead… well, I like to think that, at least. I’m so afraid to read “Another One Bites the Dust”, and it’s still five chapters away. *sigh*

  • Um…wow! You’re messing with a shark tank there…the whole dream could blow up! But good for you for standing your ground.

  • Dani says:

    Gosh! Can he be any more heartless? How can you bit someone when they are down, poor Ziggy. I think Daron is being selfish, he could try and see how much what he does can hurt Ziggy.

  • alyssa says:

    I just started reading night before last, im hooked && although Ziggy is a bit too back and forth im keeping my fingers crossed for them to work it out & just be-together.

    Almost makes me want to skip ahead, but i wont, cant miss out on the journey just to see how it ends. πŸ™‚

  • s says:

    I have never felt so bad for Ziggy. Now I want to hug HIM! I get that Daron thinks he’s being jerked around but he’s done plenty of jerking too.

    Daron, he’s just a boy that wants to be loved. Can’t you see that?

    I’d love to know more of Ziggy’s past. I get the feeling he has some scars he’s hiding.

    • daron says:

      We all want love, we need it like air, but most of us are choking.

      • s says:

        I’m rereading the D and Z parts to see if I feel any different this time around. Nope. You both behaved badly. And I still maintain that Daron jerked Ziggy around as much as he felt he was being jerked. And that much of this could have been avoided with simple communication. I know. Young guys probably both in love for the first time and don’t know how to handle it. Plus the dynamics of the band, etc. But still, it’s frustrating to watch you both fuck it up so spectacularly…

        • daron says:

          For me it always boils down to two options with Ziggy: protect myself and potentially live through the experience or let him have his way and guarantee that the relationship and my psyche go down in flames. Which therefore isn’t actually an option if either of us ever wants it to work out.

          • s says:

            Oh Daron, that might be the saddest thing I’ve ever read. You see the dark stuff so thoroughly that it blocks out the light. Your inner turmoil is heartbreaking.

            • daron says:

              It’s not sad, it’s just real. Ziggy tears everyone around him to shreds. He would tear me to shreds if I let him, so it’s my job not to let him.

              • s says:

                You make him sound like a monster. That makes me sad because I can see a lot of good in him and I don’t think you do. I’d like to say I’m being objective since I’m on the outside looking in but we all know I’m crazy about him, so that’s probably not true…

                • daron says:

                  He’s not a monster, but he is the way he is. He’s a self-centered ego-maniac who likes to control people through sex. He’ll tell you that himself.

                  • s says:

                    Point. He’s not an innocent little kitten here, I know that. He shouldn’t try to control people. But he loved you and the more you pushed him away instead of talking to him, the more desperate he got to try to keep you. He held the gun, but you gave him the ammo…

                  • Bill Heath says:

                    And that’s the first time you’ve said it out loud (or at least written it “out loud.”) Controls people through sex. What happens when he encounters someone he feels he needs to control, but can’t do it through sex? I see a major crash coming for Ziggy. Yeah, he will have brought it on himself, but that will make it no less sad.

  • Bill Heath says:

    “It’ll be you or me, do you hear me?” Aside from personal relationships, this is a business. And that was a business owner talking.

    Ziggy shreds people around him and you put that to him in no uncertain terms. The people around him are your band, your business. As you said, the bullshit stops now.

    I see this as a necessary warmup to Daron dealing with Digger. Thank God.

  • Bill Heath says:

    Third read-through and I finally got it. This is Ziggy’s worst nightmare.

    Manipulators who use sex to control others first need the target to cede control. The target must give his permission to be manipulated that way. Daron just withdrew his permission, and Ziggy has too few other arrows in his quiver.

    By leaving, Carynne also withdrew her permission. Now what does he do?

    He can try honesty but has no credibility. He can try logic, but the underlying assumption that he has to win disables that option for Ziggy. The only route to getting Daron back means abandoning manipulation and using a much stronger approach: music. It’s up to Ziggy to convince Daron that he wants to help Daron make great music.

    Until he uses that approach, which takes a whole lot more time than fucking, Ziggy is doomed to failure. This could take years or decades.

    • daron says:

      Don’t beat yourself up, Bill. You’re faster on the uptake than me. I was there and obsessed over it a few million times before I started to get it. Hell, there are things I still don’t understand–or that I didn’t understand until I wrote them down to tell you guys about it.

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