In which our heroes visit the people who made them hate that town…
Being so used to the LA weather he was only wearing jeans, boots and a shirt tied in a knot at the front. His beaded necklaces didn't exactly keep out the breeze. Axl on the other hand was snug in his leather jacket, which he had worn to hide his tattoos.
The singer didn't say anything and just kept walking, staring at his own boots and dreading meeting his parents again. And before he knew it, they were walking up to the door of the Bailey residence. The house was notably bigger than Izzy's house but much less homely, in Axl's opinion anyway.
The Guns stood and stared at the large wooden front door, neither saying a word. After a few minutes Axl nodded to Izzy and the guitarist knocked on the door.
After a moment footsteps could be heard approaching the door. Axl held his breath as he heard the click of the lock and the creak of the door as it eased open revealing a face he hadn't seen in so long.
"Hey mom." Sighed Axl.
Mrs. Bailey looked at her son in utter astonishment. Her green eyes were as wide as saucers as she took in the sight before her.
"Oh sweetheart this is a surprise!"
She quickly stepped off the doorstep and pulled her son into a tight embrace making Izzy smile. After a moment Mrs. Bailey pulled away and looked over at the guitarist.
"Jeffrey too? My goodness this is so wonderful!" Izzy too was given an affectionate hug.
"Mom made these for you Mrs. Bailey." Said Izzy and he handed her the cookies.
"Oh your mother really is just a dear!" She cried.
Mrs. Bailey was quite similar to Mrs. Isbelle. She was a very beautiful lady with fine features. Her copper hair fell to her shoulders in soft waves adding to the simple femininity about her. She was a shy lady but a very warm and loving person.
A low, male voice called out from somewhere within the house.
"Sharon dear, who's at the door?"
Izzy glanced at Axl and noted the singer's body stiffening slightly.
"Oh honey, Bill and Jeff are home! Come out here and see!" Mrs. Bailey called back excitedly.
Axl took in a shaky breath as his stepfather walked out of the house. Mr. Bailey was tall and slim and greying slightly. His face was stern and masculine and his eyes immediately rested on Axl's.
"So you've come back then." He stated dryly.
Choking back his nerves, the singer tried his best to not give his step dad the satisfaction of knowing he scared the shit out of Axl.
"Yeah. Izzy and I just came to visit for a few days." Said the singer as calmly as he could.
Mr. Bailey looked over at Izzy and the guitarist smiled politely.
"Good to see you again Jeffrey." Mr. Bailey smiled and shook Izzy's hand warmly. "Come in boys! Come in!"
They were sat in the grand living room with all white furniture and white carpet drinking tea and coffee apart from Axl who didn't want any. Izzy had only said yes to Mrs. Bailey's offer to be polite.
"Bill I'm concerned about you hair." Said Mr. Bailey fixing Axl with his deathly glare.
"Honey don't start, not now. The boys are just here to visit for a little while." Pleaded Mrs. Bailey in a timid and slightly exhausted voice.
"Well I don't like it. You look wild and rebellious."
Axl smiled to himself but knew Mr. Bailey didn't mean that in a good way. His hair was the very reason Axl had been kicked out of his own home in the first place. And it was above his ears at the time.
"Boys how are you finding California? Is it everything as you hoped it would be?" Mrs. Bailey asked excitedly.
"It's great!" Said Izzy, "LA is the coolest place in the world! We both love it there and we've made like a million friends and-"
"I doubt any of these friends go to church or even fear God for that matter!" Mr. Bailey quickly interrupted.
"Err...we don't know what religion anyone follows." Said Izzy. "It never really mattered to us."
Mr. Bailey just scoffed and Mrs. Bailey went back to her excited questioning.
"And what about that band? You wanted to play music out there didn't you?"
"Yeah!" Cried Izzy and even Axl smiled this time, "We've got an awesome band together! Me and our friend Slash play guitar and he's the best bluesy rock guitarist in Hollywood and when we met him, we met his best friend Steven who is just an animal on the drums! Then there's Duff on bass, he's from Seattle and he's a punk and he's like a hundred feet tall!"
With the description of every band member, Mrs. Bailey's eyes twinkled even more.
"Oh it all sounds so wonderful, doesn't it honey?" Her husband didn't agree at all.
"It's sounds ridiculous. Slash? Duff? What kind of names are those? And you didn't mention what part Bill plays in this circus of yours." Said Mr. Bailey making Izzy beam.
"He's our lead singer."
Mr. Bailey locked Axl's gaze with his own making the singer want to crawl into a hole and die. Before her husband made some kind of snide remark about they boys' chosen career path, Mrs. Bailey quickly proposed;
"Boys you'll stay for lunch won't you? I'll go start preparing something nice. All your favourites! Goodness knows you need it, look how skinny you two are!" And with that she scurried off into the kitchen.
After a few moments of unbearable silence Axl couldn't take it any more.
"Come on Izz, let's go upstairs!" And with that he grabbed Izzy's wrist and booted it out of the living room ignoring his stepfather's menacing looks.
Axl's bedroom was very plain and simple with white walls and sparse furnishing. It was a very large bedroom but Axl felt more claustrophobic in here than anywhere else in the world.
"Man your dad's really laying into us isn't he?" Said Izzy as he sat down on the bed.
Axl sat next to him and just stared out the window, not saying anything back to the guitarist. Izzy knew Axl all too well and if Axl wanted to stare out a window and be left with his thoughts, you left him to it.
Content with the silence for now Izzy looked around him at the room he didn't really spend much of his childhood with Axl in. The singer was almost always at Izzy's house instead. The guitarist remembered how nervous he'd be when he came here. After the initial beating Izzy had been kept updated on Mr. Bailey's behaviour at home and so was more than a little anxious about being around him, partly because he was afraid of Mr. Bailey lashing out at him and partly because he was afraid of lashing out at Mr. Bailey.
The guitarist stole a quick glance at Axl who was now curled up in a ball with his head resting on the pillow, staring blankly into space. Izzy wanted to just wrap his arms around him again, the way he did that night so many years ago, and tell Axl everything would be alright and that he can’t let his stepfather get to him anymore.
Of course it's easier said than done. After all, Izzy wasn't the one who got the shit kicked out of him by the Bible bashing maniac on many an occasion.
Izzy averted his gaze to something shiny on the bedside table next to him. The little table was scattered with photo frames, each boasting a picture of a person or a moment that was special to Axl. His grandmother, his mother, his step-sister and step-brother and right in the middle of these frames was a photo that made Izzy's heart well up with love.
He picked up the frame and smiled down at his own younger self, beaming at the camera like he was the happiest kid in the world. A younger Axl was enjoying his piggyback ride from Izzy and also grinning from ear to ear. He remembered Axl's grandmother taking the picture when they had gone up to visit her one time. They were fifteen at the time of the picture being taken.
"That's my favourite."
Izzy jumped slightly at the sound of Axl's voice. The singer was sitting up again and looking at the photo over Izzy's shoulder.
Before the guitarist could continue Mr. Bailey's voice boomed through the house.
"Boys, food's ready."
"...and of all kinds of music to play you chose rock and roll? Devil music! Didn't you learn anything from Father John when I took you to see him after I found those KISS records in your bedroom? And the clothes you're wearing!..."
Mr. Bailey had been ranting and raving for a good ten minutes now. He hadn't stopped since they all sat down for lunch. Although all the listed offences applied to both Axl and Izzy, Mr. Bailey seemed to only be accusing the singer alone. Izzy could see Axl's mouth open and close every time his step dad took a breath, ready to jump in with his own arguments but he couldn't get a word in at all.
"...and I'll bet you've been sleeping with every slut in Los Angeles!" Yelled Mr. Bailey making his wife blush, "You're never going to make it as a rockstar! You're barely surviving out there! You're probably on the streets living off of every whore you can find! Sinning night after night! What kind of life is that to live? I raised you better than this William!"
Axl gave up on trying to sway his stepfather over to his side. There was no use. He couldn't even enjoy his lunch anymore so he sat there poking at his food while Izzy poked at him under the table urging him to eat.
Once the lunch from Hell was over, they all went back to the living room and it all started again.
"Billy sweetheart it's very warm in here. Why don't you take off your jacket?"
The singer was about to take it off when he remembered why he was wearing it and stopped himself.
"No I think I'll keep it on." Said Axl, pulling the jacket tighter around himself.
Izzy bit his lip and waited for the inevitable.
"Are you hiding something William?" Mr. Bailey stood up and walked over to Axl, peering down at him making the singer feel tiny and scared.
"N-no?" He stuttered.
"Then take off your jacket." The low, male voice had turned to a growl.
Axl let the jacket slide off his shoulders and refused to look up at his stepfather. He heard his mother gasp and then the yelling began.
"Tattoos? First you grow your hair to an unsightly length and then this? Desecrating the body that God has given you by getting tattoos? Disgusting! Unbelievable! How dare you disobey me by getting not one but several! Devil art! It's Satanic!" As he paused for a second to take a breath Mr. Bailey noticed more, "What are those things in your ears?!"
He roughly pulled Axl up to his feet to get a better look at the singer's piercings.
"Sharon have you seen what your son has done to himself? He looks crazy!"
Mrs. Bailey, who couldn't handle anymore of the yelling, decided to leave her husband and her son alone.
"Jeffrey sweetheart maybe we should leave these two to talk things over." She smiled sweetly and left the room quickly.
Izzy stood up and walked to the door before turning back to Axl. The singer looked back at him with the expression he had on his face all those years ago when he had come to Izzy late at night after his stepfather had hit him. Izzy couldn't just leave Axl to be ripped to shreds by this monster. With a deep breath the guitarist plucked up all the courage he could possibly muster up.
"Mr. Bailey, Axl can do whatever he wants, he's not a baby and you don't own him."
Mr. Bailey turned to face Izzy, stunned and caught completely off guard.
"He can make whatever decisions he wants to make and he can get all the piercings and tattoos in the world if he wants to and there's not a damn thing you can do about that!" It came out angrier and louder than the guitarist had expected.
Axl's shock soon disappeared and he beamed at his friend. He would have run over to Izzy to kiss him full on the lips but that would probably bring on a heart attack for his stepfather.
"What did you call him? What was that name?" Mr. Bailey asked incredulously, inching towards Izzy.
"Axl. A-X-L. That's his name now. W. Axl Rose. Yeah that's right! ROSE!"
Mr. Bailey swung around to face Axl.
"So you've kept your father's name?" He asked, shocked.
"Well," Axl smirked, "Axl Bailey doesn't sound very Rock N' Roll does it?"
Mr. Bailey let out an animal roar before swinging a fist in Axl's direction. Quicker and sharper than he was at thirteen, the singer ducked and swerved around his stepfather.
"Lay a finger on me and I swear I'll kill you!" Said Axl in as calm a voice as he could manage.
Mr. Bailey looked from one Gun to the other and decided it was easier to give up than fight. He stormed out of the room and Axl knew he would never have to see this man again for a very long time.
"Boys it was so nice to see you again!" Mrs. Bailey said as she gave each of the Guns a kiss and a hug. "Billy honey, please don't let your father get in the way of coming back to visit me?"
"Don't worry Mom, I'll come visit you. And you'll come visit me too!" Mrs. Bailey squealed with excitement.
"Jeffrey honey, give these to your mother and send her my love!" She handed him a plate full of brownies and both Gunners looked at eachother and rolled their eyes.
After saying their goodbyes Axl and Izzy began their walk home in the cold afternoon air.
"That was really cool Izz. What you said." Said Axl shyly. "You're a really great friend."
The singer's face blushed red and he averted his gaze from Izzy's. He wasn't very good at soppy, sentimental stuff like this and it made him all the cuter. Izzy turned to Axl and squeezed him tight, shocking the singer slightly but he eventually hugged the guitarist back.
"Come on! Let's go get some more tattoos and piercings!" Cried Izzy.
The Gunners burst into laughter and made their way home. You could almost see the weight being lifted off Axl's shoulders and all his worries melt away as he replayed the coolest moment of his life in his head again and again. He knew that Izzy was the best thing that ever happened to him and the greatest friend he'd ever have.