Continuing Slash and Axl's tumultuous relationship....(you should probably read my first two before starting this one...or not...)
"It's totally not a problem, you know?" He was saying. Slash was having a hard time concentrating on anything other than the remaining contents of his stomach, which were soon lost in the ocean. "I'm not gonna tell anyone anything about you and Axl, so don't even worry." Slash nodded, and wiped the sweat away from his forehead.
"Slash!" He heard Axl call again more urgently. He looked around, but Steve came up, and grabbed his shoulder.
"What about you and Axl?" He asked. Duff just shook his head.
"Nothing." He said, taking another long swig of alcohol. "I was just assuring Slasher here that I wouldn't spill the beans about him and Axl's little secret."
"What secret?" Steve asked, taking a generous bite of a turkey sandwich. The smell set Slash's nausea off again, and he leaned even further over the railing. He waved a hand at Duff, trying to sign to him to shut up. But it was no use.
"Oh, it's not a big deal." Duff continued. Slash grabbed feebly at him. He knew that if he opened his mouth again, he'd vomit. "You know Axl and Slash have been screwing eachother when no one's around." Slash's eyes went wide. He couldn't believe Duff had just said that.
"Oh my god!" Steve said. "Are you serious?!" He started laughing, holding his sides. He looked at Slash. "Dude, that is so......so.......so GAY!!" He continued cracking up, pointing at Slash. "Hey, Izzy!" He called. "You'll never guess what I just found out!" Slash moved to grab his shirt, but still hadn't found his sea legs, and tripped.
"Steve!" He managed to get out, but it was too late, Steve was already talking to Izzy.
"Slash!" He heard Axl cry again. He looked over and saw him hanging off the back of the boat. "Don't let me fall!" For one brief second, he saw the look of terror in Axl's eyes, then he was gone. His stomach pain completely forgotten, Slash ran to the spot where Axl had disappeared.
"Axl!" He screamed. He saw him in the water, being carried further and further away by the waves. He tried to jump in, but was held back. He turned around, ready to shove whoever was holding him, and saw Duff and Izzy.
"Let me go, we gotta save Axl!" He screamed, his heart racing. He tried to pull away, but they held tight.
"He's already gone." Izzy said. "There's nothing we can do."
"What are you talking about?" Slash yelled, desperately trying to pull away. "Let go, I gotta get him!"
"Don't even bother, he's not worth it." He heard Steven say. Slash turned back around, and scanned the water for Axl, but he could no longer see him.
"Axl!" He screamed, still being held by Izzy and Duff. "Axl!!!" He grabbed the railing, attempting to pry away from his bandmates, but this time Steven grabbed him, and they all pulled him back. "Let go! Axl! Axl!!!!".........
Slash sat up, breathing hard. He was drenched in sweat, and tangled in the bed sheets. He looked around, and remembered that he was safe in his hotel room. Putting his head in his hands, he lay back down. They'd been on their European leg of the tour for less than a month, and it took Slash a minute to remember that he wasn't home. Axl had been called back to L.A. for some business reasons two weeks ago. Slash grabbed the phone and began dialing Axl's number. He stopped halfway through, and slammed the phone back down. He got up, and walked over to the window. Pressing his head against the cool glass, he stared out at the city. The view was completely lost on him as he was lost in his own thoughts. He wished Axl was here. It just wasn't the same talking over a phone. He needed to be able to see him, and feel him. But Axl was busy and hadn't really had time to call Slash very often. Slash was always the one to make the call, never Axl. He'd even made sure to tell Axl when he'd be calling. It was made harder by the time difference, but Slash didn't think it would've been this difficult to talk to him.
Angry and hurt by Axl's apparent lack of interest, he'd began falling back into his old habits. More than once, he'd met a contact he knew to score some smack. He'd polished off a bottle of Jack the other day, and had emptied the mini bar in his room.
He watched the cars drive by five stories down, and saw three people get out of cabs and enter the building. None of them were the person he most wanted. He picked up a shot glass he'd left sitting on the windowsill and threw it at the phone. It shattered and knocked the phone onto the floor. He glared at it for a moment, then picked up the receiver. Dialing the familiar number, he waited as it rang twice.
"Hey." He said, when he heard an answer. "It's Slash." He listened for a minute, then hung up. Throwing on some clothes, he left the hotel and grabbed a taxi. Ten minutes later he had a pocket full of the only thing that helped him forget his frustrations.
Ring ring ring
"Axl? Hey it's Duff, man."
"Hey, what's up?"
"I was just wondering when you were gonna be joining us again."
"Probably a few more days, why?"
"It's nothing really....I'm just a little worried about Slash?"
"What? What's wrong? Did something happen?"
"No, not really. It's just he's been a little...I dunno...."
"Duff, what's going on?"
"Well, I've only hung out with him a couple times in the last few days...but he's really out of it."
"Duff, tell me exactly what's wrong."
"He's been high basically the whole time. He's been drinking non-stop, and I'm pretty sure he's been using heroin again. I can't prove it, but I know him....ya know? He's strung out."
"................I'll see if I can't come out sooner."
"Okay, I just thought I'd tell you."
"Thanks. Is he there with you, now?"
"No, he's out somewhere. Have you spoken to him recently?"
"Not exactly....To be honest, I've kinda been avoiding his calls."
"Well, you know a while back when I had the seizure?"
"I kinda had another one last week..."
"Axl! Are you serious?! Why didn't you tell us?"
"I was going to...I just know that Slash worries about me. Maybe a little too much, but I knew I'd have to tell him eventually. Also if he'd found out, then he would've insisted on flying over here, and we can't afford to take more time out of touring."
"Axl, you know, you're really taking this too lightly. Having seizures is not a normal thing..."
"I know, I know...But I'm gonna be back out there in a few days....Just try to keep him occupied for me, will you?"
"I'll do what I can, but you know him. He's not one to be babysat."
"See what you can do, okay?"
"Hey, Duff, man?"
"Just.....thanks, okay? For everything. I know it's not easy on you....ya know with everything goin' on. I just wanted you to know I really appreciate you not telling anyone..."
"Hey, dude, like I said before, it's not my place. It was admittedly a little strange at first, but once I got used to the idea......you two kinda work out perfectly. But just get your ass back out here and take care of him, will ya?"
"I'll call the airline right now and see how soon I can get there. Oh, and Duff, could you tell Slash to call me as soon as possible?"
"Absolutely. See ya."
Slash sat on his bed staring at the phone. Duff had told him Axl had asked him to call. He wasn't sure he even wanted to hear Axl's lame reason for not calling. Duff had been vague when he'd recapped his conversation with Axl. He said he'd called him about four hours ago, and that Axl wanted to talk to him. He looked at the clock. It would be about three in the morning in L.A. Well, he thought to himself, he'd at least be depriving Axl of a litte sleep if he called him now. It was something he'd been dealing with on a nightly basis. He was annoyed that he depended on Axl this much. It was kind of alarming to him that his happiness and contentment depended almost entirely on someone else. He looked over at the empty side of the bed. As angry as he was, he knew he'd give just about anything to have that space filled. He reached for the phone. Just as he was about to pick up the reciever, it rang. He grabbed it.
"Hello?" He said.
"Hey..." Answered a tentative voice. Slash didn't say anything. He'd been craving this voice for over a week, and now that he heard it, he was reminded of just how hurt he really was. "Slash?" Axl said. Slash still didn't answer. "Look, I know you're mad. But I called the airline, and I'll be there tomorrow, okay?" Slash rolled his eyes, but still didn't answer. He wasn't in the mood to talk, he decided. "Okay, I know I've been a complete ass. It's just......something happened, and I didn't want you to worry...."
"You should've called." Slash finally said.
"Hey, you're talking." Slash could hear the smile on the other end. His stomach constricted. He'd missed Axl more than he'd realized. Hearing him only added to the loneliness. Slash hated this. He hated that he needed Axl more and more. Slash had never been this dependant on anyone in his life. It scared him. And when Slash was scared, he got angry. "Just....get back here and we can talk then." He hung up the phone. Sighing, he lay down and covered his head with the pillow. He was hung over, and tired. Kicking his shoes off, he curled up underneath the blankets.
He was awoken by someone banging on his door. He poked his head out of the blanket cocoon he had made, and looked at the clock. He'd been asleep for ten hours. That was the longest he'd slept in the last week by about six hours. The banging continued.
"Slash, get up, man!" He heard Steve's voice. "Axl's back, and we're all gonna go meet him at the airport."
"Go away, Steve!" Slash yelled. He was not going to go meet Axl. He was still mad.
"C'mon, the car's waiting." Steve continued.
"Fuck off, Steven!" Slash yelled. He heard Steve arguing with Duff outside the door.
"Fine, we'll see you later, then." Steve called. Slash shoved his head back under the pillow. Thank god for Duff, he thought. He'd been so understanding with him and Axl, and Slash had a great affection for him because of it. He'd even averted some situations that would have otherwise brought up some awkward questions. Such as when Steve asked why Slash and Axl always wound up with the same hotel room. Or when Izzy had found Slash's pants in Axl's bunk in the bus. Duff was there to change the subject, or smack Steve upside the head. Slash smiled.
He reluctantly got out of bed and headed toward the shower. The hot water hit his skin, and he let out a deep sigh. It felt good to get cleaned up, especially when he'd let his personal hygiene take a back seat for the last few days. He toweled himself dry, and threw on some clean clothes he found in his still unpacked suitcase. He never bothered to unpack while they were on the road. Axl, on the other hand, would have everything neatly put away within minutes of arriving at a new hotel. Slash looked over at the empty closet, and sighed. He really didn't want to sit around and wait for Axl to get there. He grabbed his wallet and headed out. He'd already familiarized himself with all the bars within walking distance, but he wasn't in the mood to drink. Instead he went to the music store he'd seen a few blocks down.
Zeppelin was playing over the loudspeakers as he walked in. The smell of old vinyls wafted over him as he entered, one of his favorite smells. It wasn't a big place, but they had a good selection, and Slash busied himself. He plucked through the various categories, and came out with five new albums. He noticed a flyer hanging on the wall advertising the Guns show they were scheduled to perform the following week. He smiled, and left to find a place to eat. He was in a good mood, still on a slight high from the heroin he'd done, and distracting himself from his inevitable return to the hotel. He saw a few guys on his road crew hanging out at a restaurant, and had a bite with them. He packed it in after about an hour, and decided to head back.
He went back to the hotel, and left his new albums with the lady at the front desk. He knew Axl would probably be there by now. Slash's heartbeat picked up as he ascended the elevator toward his room. As he stepped out of the elevator and into the hall, he saw Axl coming out of the room. It took all of his strength not to race over and tackle him. He reminded himself how angry he was and walked over to him as calmly as he could.
"I was just about to go look for you." Axl said. Slash just went into the room. Axl sighed, and followed, closing the door behind them. "Look, Slash, there's no excuse for me not calling you, but you gotta know, it's not like I didn't want to talk to you....." Axl began. Slash wasn't facing him, instead he was staring out the window, trying to ignore the overwhelming desire to charge Axl. He gathered his thoughts and turned around, ready to tell him off, and Axl tilted his head. His hair fell over one eye, and he looked so beautiful that Slash never stood a chance. He gave in, and rushed over, grabbing and holding him around the waist. Axl looked surprised at Slash's aggression for a split second before he and Slash were tangled around eachother. Slash kissed him with such a force that he thought he might break. Axl grasped him, pulling him closer and wrapping his arms around him. Their mouths stayed locked together for several minutes, until Slash broke off, panting for air. Axl held onto him, their foreheads pressed together.
"Do you have any idea how much I missed you?" Slash said, staring into his eyes. Axl looked down, frowning.
"I'm so sorry." He whispered. "I wanted to call you everyday." They continued holding eachother for another minute. Slash let go and took a step back.
"I needed you." He said. "I really did. And you just didn't seem to care." Axl walked forward and held his hand.
"I'm here now." He said. "Of course I care. You're the only real thing in my life right now, besides the band."
"Then where were you?" Slash asked. Axl sighed. His eyes were shadowed, and Slash noticed the bags that were developing under them. He took a closer look, and saw that he seemed thinner, and paler. "Axl, what's been goin on?" Axl sat on the bed. He closed his eyes, and sighed.
"I took another trip to the hospital." He said. Slash was beside him in a second.
"Why? What happened?" He asked, fully concerned.
"It's nothing, just another seizure." Axl continued, trying to play it off lightly. But Slash wasn't fooled.
"Tell me the truth, Axl. What really happened?" He asked again.
"The doctor said that it probably is still stress." Axl said. Slash rolled his eyes.
"That's what he said last time, and he gave you those pills that were supposed to help." Slash reminded him.
"I know. He gave me a stronger prescription this time." Axl said. "But, I don't really feel all that stressed, to be honest. I mean, other than the normal things that get to me, like being on the road, and touring. Stuff like that is stressful, of course, but I dont see you guys flipping out over it."
"Then it must be something else." Slash said. "You know, maybe it's got something to do with..." Slash wasn't sure if he should continue. He'd been thinking about this for a while, and he wasn't sure how Axl would react.
"What?" Axl pressed.
"Well....You had that first incident after we went to see your parents..." Slash continued. Axl raised an eyebrow. "All I'm saying is that maybe you've got a lot of pent-up frustration there."
"Pent-up frustration?" Axl asked. "What do you mean, I never even speak to them. The last time I saw them was when we went down to Lafayette. And we all know how that turned out...." Slash remembered all too clearly their little road trip. That was where Izzy had confided to Slash about Axl's past. It had answered a lot of questions about Axl, but had created a lot more as well.
"Look, Axe, I'm just saying that you don't have the best relationship....I mean, not everyone is on good terms with their parents, but to have no contact with them at all? There's gotta be a reason for that." Slash wanted Axl to tell him about his past on his own terms, but he was starting to think that Axl would never want to open up that can of worms. Axl huffed a breath, clearly getting annoyed.
"I really don't want to talk about this, okay?" He said. "I came here to apologize to you, not argue." Slash suddenly remembered that he was supposed to be angry at Axl. He smiled in spite of himself. Axl always had a way of making him forget about his anger, even if the red-head was the source of it.
"What?" Axl asked, seeing the smile. Slash just shook his head.
"Nothing." He said. "It's just, you always know how to get me off-topic. I'm supposed to be mad at you." Axl looked away.
"Yeah....about that." He said. "I know you would've taken the next flight to L.A. if you had known...I didn't want you to worry..."
"Worrying about you is what I do." Slash said. "But, yeah you're right. I would've been on the next flight out. And we would've had to cancel the next show, and maybe even the one after that....It would've been a mess." Axl laughed. He got up and opened the minifridge.
"So, what is there to drink...." He stopped when he saw the entire alcohol section had been cleaned out. "Slash?" Slash knew his question before he asked it.
"I was pissed." He explained. "You know how I get when I'm upset." He didn't mention all the smack he'd done recently.
"Duff called me." Axl said, sitting back down next to him. "He said you'd been scoring again?" It was Slash's turn to look away. In the beginning of their relationship, he'd had a hard enough time quitting....Axl had helped him through it, and he didn't want to put that burden on him again.
"It's not a big deal." Slash said. Axl took his hand.
"Don't give me that." Axl said. "Like you said, I know you. I also know that you go to the extreme when it comes to that kind of shit. Tell the truth."
"Oh, please, Axl." Slash said. "It's not a big deal."
"Slash." Axl pushed. He took Slash's chin in his hand and turned his head so he was forced to face him.
"Just a little." Slash said, never able to resist Axl's eyes. Axl raised his eyebrows. "Okay, okay. More than a little bit."
"Are you high right now?" Axl asked.
"No!" Slash said defensively. "Maybe a little."
"When's the last time you used?" Axl asked.
"Last night." Slash said reluctantly.
"How much?" Axl asked. Slash shrugged. Axl stood up abruptly and walked into the bathroom. Slash groaned, knowing what he would find.
"The garbage can, really Slash?" He called. He came back out holding a needle. "You know never to hide it in the garbage." Slash rolled his eyes. "Slash, I love you, but I'm not gonna watch you go through this again. Do you remember the first time around?" Slash did, with painful vividness. The withdrawal was one of the worst points in his life. He remembered Axl sitting up with him night after night as he forced himself to quit. He'd kept a bucket by his bed, which Axl had to continuously empty. He couldn't eat or sleep for days. He'd eventually pass out from sheer exhaustion. Axl had kept a thick blanket and fan in the room to accompany Slash's temperature shifts. He knew he'd never have been able to do it without Axl.
"I'm forever grateful for you." He said. "I won't use again, I promise." Axl kissed his cheek.
"That's what you said the first time." He reminded him. Slash interlaced his fingers through Axl's.
"But this time, I truly mean it. You're right, I don't want to go through it again, either." Slash said. "But just do me one favor?" Axl nodded. "Don't ever let an entire week go without talking to me. And if something serious happens to you again, tell me. I do worry about you, perhaps more than is good for me, but not knowing what's going on with you is infinitely worse for my health." Axl smiled.
"I promise." He said. "And I understand about the worrying thing...I do the same with you." Slash laughed, and Axl pulled his chin close. They spent the next several minutes wrapped around eachother.
"What would I be doing right now, if not for you?" Slash wondered out loud.
"Probably you would've taken that gig with Poison." Axl said. Slash snorted.
"No way!" He said. "I tried out for them once, and realized what shit they are."
"Oh, c'mon." Axl said. "I can totally see you in that band....You know, just brush some rouge on you, add a little mascara and foundation....You'd look just like the rest of them." Slash laughed.
"I would never play for a band like Poison." Slash said.
"Oh, now never say never." Axl continued teasing him. "That Brett Michaels is a pretty man....If you just changed your name to C.C., and slapped on some high heels, I bet he wouldn't be able to resist you." Slash grabbed a pillow and smacked Axl.
"If you'd begged them enough, I'm sure they would've let Stevie in, too. You guys would be touring the world, gaining flocks of eye-shadow, teased hair, tied up shirts so it looks like it's a tank top wearing fans....I can see it now...." Axl gazed into the distance. Slash just hit him with the pillow again. Axl laughed, and grabbed the pillow. Slash jumped on him, pinning him down.
"In all seriousness, though, I know how lucky I was to get you." Axl said, staring up at him. "Whatever band you had chosen would've been something great."
"Are you kidding?" Slash said. "I spent most of '84 and '85 waiting for your bands to break up so I would have a chance to steal you. When you left your first band, I tried to swoop in, and then you moved on with Tracii. Axl.....you know you were the alpha of the Strip? Even Vince Neil told Izzy that you were the most intimidating singer around. There was a point where everyone wanted you in their band. You were in high demand, honey." Axl looked contemplative.
"Hmmmm." He said. "Maybe I should've fronted Poison instead?" Slash dove on him again.
That night the band had a interview with one of the local rock magazines. They met the interviewer in the hotel lobby, finding Duff and Steve already there ordering shots for everyone. Izzy came later than the rest, having spent almost the entire day exploring the city with friends.
"So.....Guns N Roses. I'm Helen, by the way." She shook each of their hands. "You're the newest upstarts flown over from the infamous Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, California."
"That's us." Steve said, pouring another shot. She smiled.
"Okay, so first, I just want to say, that I listened to the record, and it rocks, of course. It's a much grittier sound than one is used to at the moment."
"If you're talking about Poison, then yes, they suck balls." Steve said. "You wanna have some of this?" He offered her his whiskey.
"Uh, I'll stick to coke, thanks." She said. Slash smiled. Steve was always the more animated one in interviews. "So, you guys started out as two separate bands, is that correct?" She looked expectantly at Axl, who just nodded.
"Yeah, that's right." Slash said. "Axe and Izzy were in L.A. Guns, and Steve and I were in our own band. Duff came in a little bit later." She busied herself writing on a notepad.
"But we stole Axl." Steve said, smiling.
"Excuse me?" Helen said. They all laughed.
"Yeah, I had heard Axl singing at a club a few months before we got together, and knew that he'd be our singer." Slash said. Axl smiled sideways at him.
"I heard that you didn't originally want Slash to be in the band. Is that true Axl?" Helen continued.
"Yeah, is that true, Axe?" Slash asked, adjusting his chair so he was facing Axl, who just laughed.
"Slash tried out for the band, yeah, and originally I wanted to go in a different direction." He looked at Slash. "But it all worked out in the end, didn't it?"
"It surely did." Slash smiled. Duff cleared his throat. Everyone looked at him.
"Was there something you wanted to ask, Mr. Mckagen?" Helen asked, her pen poised.
"Oh, uh...no." Duff said. "Just that, uh, you know....rock on." Everyone laughed except Helen.
"Alright." She said. "So, Izzy Stradlin, is that your real name?"
"No, it's Jeff Isbell." He answered quietly.
"And you and Axl knew eachother growing up, yes?" She asked.
"Went to high school together." He said.
"That must've been interesting." She continued. "Tell me, what was W. Axl Rose like as a teenager?"
"Normal." Izzy usually tried to stick to one-word answers in interviews. He lit another cigarette. Helen looked put-off, and Slash knew this wasn't the interview she was expecting.
"This one was a freak." Steve said, pointing to Slash. "He once stole an inflated raft from a sporting goods store." Slash had forgotten about that, and cracked up. The rest of the interview went basically the same way. Helen tried to get some real answers out of them, and succeeded to an extent. But, mainly it was Steve who kept it going. She thanked them for their time, and left with her notepad.
"Screwy lady." Steve said.
"Ah, she was nice." Duff said, opening another bottle of Jack.
"Did you notice she kept staring at Axl? It was creepy." Steve said.
"Bet she just wanted to fuck him." Duff said. "I bet if he caught up to her, she'd be more than willing to go back to the hotel room with him."
"Oh, please." Axl said. "I think I've got better taste than that." Slash smiled to himself.
"You should go ask her out." He said, playfully shoving Axl toward the door Helen had just disappeared behind.
"Shuttup all of you." Axl said. "I'm going upstairs."
"You're going to bed?" Steve asked, confused. "But, you just got back today, you haven't even seen the best part of the city."
"I doubt Axe wants to go see your gross skin bar." Izzy said, getting up.
"It wasn't gross." Steve defended. "I mean, yeah the toilets were a little fucked up, but the ladies were real nice...."
"Listen, ladies, I'm jetlagged, and going to bed." Axl said. He headed for the door.
"I'm feeling kinda tired myself." Slash said.
"Not you, too." Steve said. Izzy looked at him, then at Axl's retreating figure. "You gotta be my wingman."
"Maybe tomorrow night." Slash said.
"But we're back on the road tomorrow." Steve complained.
"Wow, Steve, you want a little cheese with that whine?" Duff said. "C'mon, I'll be your wingman. Let's go get shitfaced."
"At least someone is up for a party." Steve said. Duff winked at Slash as he and Steve left. Slash silently thanked him, and turned toward the elevators.
"So your really that tired?" Izzy asked. Slash turned around and looked at him.
"Yeah. I didn't sleep much today." Slash said. "Why?"
"Nothing." Izzy said. But it obviously wasn't nothing. Slash continued to look at him, but Izzy just shrugged and left. Confused, Slash went up to his room. He found Axl already in bed, and went to lay next to him. Axl smiled and turned over.
"Hey." He said.
"Hey." Slash kissed him. He ran his fingers through Axl's smooth hair, and moved closer. Axl pulled away slightly, and Slash looked at him. "What's wrong?" He asked.
"Nothing." Axl said. "It's just....I really am a bit jetlagged."
"That's okay." He said. He kissed him again, and got up.
"You're not tired?" Axl asked. In truth, Slash was very tired, but had no intention of going to sleep at the moment.
"Oh, no." He said. "I'm just gonna go and, uh....find Duff and Steve."
"Slash?" Axl said. Slash sighed. He knew Axl could read his moods almost as well as Slash could read his. Axl sat up.
"It's just....I haven't been sleeping all too well in the last few days." Slash admitted.
"Why?" Axl asked, his eyes full on concern. Slash scratched his hair, not knowing really how to explain what he'd been thinking.
"I've just been having dreams, is all." He said simply.
"What kind of dreams?" Axl asked. Slash shrugged, but Axl took his hand and pulled him down next to him.
"Well...." Slash said. Axl looked at him expectantly. "It's always the same dream. We're all on a boat, and I keep throwing up all over the place. You keep calling me, but I keep getting distracted. First Duff comes up, plastered, then Steve, and Duff tells him about us...." Axl's eyebrows knit together.
"But you know Duff wouldn't really do that." Axl said.
"Yeah, I know. But that's not the worst part of the dream." Slash continued. "You keep calling and calling me. Finally, I look over, and there you are, falling off the back of the boat. I try to get you, but the rest of the guys hold me back." By this point, Slash was trying to control his shaking as the realness of the dream came back to him. Axl put his arms around him.
"Hey." He said. "I'm right here, and I'm not going anywhere. I know I haven't been here for the past couple of weeks, but-"
"I know." Slash interrupted him. "But I don't think that's what is really bothering me." He looked at Axl.
"Then what is it?" Axl asked. Slash took a breath, deciding it was now or never to get this out in the open.
"Ever since our trip to Lafayette, you've been different. You seem distant, and there's been times when I've found you staring at nothing, completely distracted. I think that my dreams are trying to tell me that you're getting lost, and I can't do anything about it. As much as I want to help, and to be there for you, I can't. And it's because you won't let me in." He looked at Axl, who stared at the floor. "Axe, at some point, you gotta let someone in there with you." They sat for a minute, neither one of them speaking. Slash was starting to fear he'd put something too hard on Axl.
"You want in?" Axl finally said. "You really want in?" His voice took an edge that made Slash wary, but he nodded anyway. "Okay." Axl was quiet for a few more seconds. "Let's see, where to begin, where to begin....Well, my father loved to hit me on a regular basis, and my mother stood by and watched. He'd hit me for a number of reasons, like not having the dishes done, my room not being clean, listening to anything that wasn't gospel, and the ever-favorite no-reason-at-all reason. See this?" He pulled his shirt collar down, showing Slash a scar that was barely visible running from his neck down to his shoulder blade that he'd never noticed before. "That one was the time I'd gotten a 'C' in English class, and he decided that throwing a glass mug at me was the best way to deal with it. Oh, and this one..." He pulled up his pant leg and traced a scar across his knee. "Happy twelfth birthday, Billy. Getting shoved down the stairs was a great present, thanks dad!" His voice was cynical, and Slash felt very disturbed. "The reason I can't stand small spaces is due to his little 'repentance closet' that he'd stash me in for hours at a time when he was sick of dealing with me. Usually, there wasn't even any light in there."
"Axl-." Slash started, but was cut off.
"No, this is good, Slash." He said, angrily pacing the room now. "You wanted to share, so that's what we're doing.
"Okay, okay." He said. "We don't have to do this, Axl-"
"No, you wanted to hear it. Here it is." Axl said. "Did you know that I used to wear long sleeves, even in the summer, just to cover up the bruises?" Axl looked down at his arms, covered them with his hands. Slash wrapped his arms around him.
"I'm sorry." He said. Axl was physically trembling, and Slash held him tighter. "Axl, I'm sorry. We're done, okay? It's over." Axl was taking shaky breaths, his mouth clenched in a frown. Slash held him for a few minutes while he calmed down.
"Is that what you wanted to hear?" Axl asked. "And even when I was able to escape, and get out of that fucking house for a while, I still wasn't away from being hounded. I'd love to tell you about all the times I was arrested, thrown in prison like a fucking dog for no fucking reason. How about the time three cops surrounded me, and harassed me just for walking down the street? Let's go into detail about the fucking Lafayette cops."
"Axl, I'm sorry, okay?" Slash said. "I won't bring it up again, I promise."
"But you did bring it up, Slash." Axl said, pulling away from him. "Now you know my sad little story. Poor Bill Bailey and his fucked up childhood."
"Axl, thats not what I-" Slash started, but was cut off again.
"No, it's fine, Slash, really." Axl said. "Now you're 'in', as you put it. You get a bit of a glimpse of something I've been trying for years to bury. Thanks for bringing it all back up." Slash didn't know what to say. He tried to touch Axl's shoulder, but was shrugged away. "You know what? I'm not feeling so tired anymore." He walked out the door. Slash followed him out, but Axl turned around.
"Don't even think about following me, Hudson!" He got into the elevator, and Slash watched, astonished, as the doors closed. Axl had never called him by his real name before. Slash didn't know what to think. He was left in the hallway, gazing at nothing but the silver doors of the elevator.
He went back to the room and sat on the bed. Great, he thought, Axl's not even back for five hours, and they were already fighting. He put his head in his hands and lay back. What the fuck was he supposed to do, he wondered. Axl's mood swings were really starting to wear on him. He knew he'd sit there and take it, simply because it meant being with Axl. And not being with Axl.....he couldn't even comprehend that possible reality anymore. So he sat and waited.....and waited.....and waited.
He looked at the clock for the thousandth time that night. Four hours. Four hours had gone by, and nothing. He'd paced, sat, lay down, and had even played himself five games of solitaire with the playing cards Axl had brought with him. Finally he got up. He was tired and pissed. He didn't want to sleep, and he didn't want to stay in the hotel anymore. Grabbing his jacket, he headed out. He had no clue as to where Axl had gone, and he wasn't intending to find him.
All that he had wanted was to have a conversation with him. Simply state what he'd been worrying profusely about for the past few weeks, and Axl had gone off on him as usual. Granted, he knew getting into it that Axl never talked about his past. But that was no reason to.....to what? Slash knew he should've handled it better, or not brought it up at all. Or, he should've completely ignored his dreams, and just dealt with them inwardly. He punched the elevator door as he walked out.
"Dammit!!" He shouted. "Dammit dammit!" He hated this. Blaming himself for something that clearly wasn't his fault was something that he'd been doing more and more often. It wasn't fair that Axl should be let off so easily. He wondered if Axl ever felt pains in his stomach when they were separated. Wondered, not for the first time, if he meant as much to Axl as Axl meant to him. Everything he did revolved around Axl. It wasn't fair. He remembered the anger he'd seen in Axl's eyes when he'd stormed out. "Fuck it." He said, hailing a taxi as he stepped into the cool night air. "Fuck it all." Making up his mind, he told the driver to head in an Eastern direction.
He found Steve, Duff and Izzy at one of the bars they had frequented over the past couple of weeks.
"Yo, Slasher!" Steve said when he saw him. "You changed your mind."
"Damn straight, I did." Slash said. He ordered a bottle of vodka, and sat down.
"Where's Axe?" Duff asked. Slash just shrugged. Duff looked confused, but Slash wasn't about to explain. He sat and cradled his bottle for the next half hour, accompanying it with shots of scotch. There were quite a few people with them at the bar, an assortment of roadies, crew members, and hangers-on, that soon the place was full. Someone had a house nearby, so they decided to move the party there. It was loud, cloudy, and the alcohol and drugs ran rampant. Slash allowed himself a free run of whatever he could get his hands on. He'd taken some pills from Steve, not even bothering to look what they were, and downed them with his now almost empty bottle of vodka. He stumbled into a room where he found a few people doing lines, and gave in. He didn't know how much coke he'd done, or even how many pills he'd taken. After almost two hours of being there, he wasn't even aware of himself anymore. The last thing he remembered was Duff grabbing his shirt, and pulling him into the bathroom.
The next thing he was aware of was a slow and steady beeping. He slowly opened his eyes, but closed them quickly again. The room was bright white. He also noticed the smell. It was too.....clean, he thought, like disinfectant. Trying a second time, he got his eyes halfway open, but kept them squinted. He tried to swallow to alleviate his dry throat, but immediately gagged as he felt like he was swallowing fire. Looking around, he discovered he was in a hospital bed, hooked up to different beeping machines. He raised his hand to rub his eyes, and saw an IV connected to it. He groaned, feeling the fire in his throat again. Something near his leg moved, startling him. He looked down, and saw Axl slumped on a chair, his sleeping head right beside Slash's hip. Slash rubbed his eyes again, making sure he was really seeing Axl there. He was, to Slash's great relief. Still feeling a bit disoriented, he tried sitting up. His head swam, and he quickly lay back down. The motion woke up Axl, who immediately sat up, and looked at Slash with desperation.
"Oh!" He gasped, noticing he was awake. "Oh, god, Slash!" He was beside him in an instant. Slash looked at him closely, noticing the dark circles under his red puffy eyes.
"What-?" Slash was able to choke out.
"You're in the hospital." Axl answered his unspoken question. "You OD'ed at that party a few nights ago." A few nights? Slash's eyes went wide. How long had he been in here, he wondered. "It's been almost three days." Axl answered again. "They had to pump your stomach the second you were brought in. Then you...." Axl stopped, unable to continue. He touched Slash's face, barely brushing his skin. "I'll go get the nurse." He said. He turned to leave, paused, and turned back. He placed a soft, quick kiss on his forehead. "I'm so glad you're awake." He whispered, and Slash noticed moisture in his eyes.
The next hour was filled with doctors and nurses coming and going, asking questions, taking notes, and taking his vitals. Axl was always lingering in the background, staying out of their way, but never leaving the room. When they had a few minutes, Axl sat next to him, and grabbed his hand.
"So, what really happened?" Slash asked. Axl looked away, a pained expression on his face.
"I'll never forgive myself." He said quietly to himself. He took a breath, and turned his eyes back to Slash. "Duff called me at the hotel a few nights ago. It was after our fight. I was gone for a few hours, and when I got back, you were gone." Slash remembered. "Anyway, Duff said you'd gone to a party.....had taken some pills and stuff...." He didn't need to continue. Slash could fill in the blanks. He didn't remember the party at all. He remembered meeting Steve and Duff at a bar, but nothing beyond that. "I got here after they'd already pumped your stomach. But, then you went into cardiac arrest. They had to use the defibrillator....." He stopped, and took a breath. Slash was gazing at him. His reaction told Slash everything. If he'd witnessed the same thing happening to Axl, he didn't know what he would do. And watching Axl now put an end to the question of whether he was less committed than Slash.
"Hey." He said, squeezing Axl's hand. Axl took a shaky breath, and looked at him. He held his composure for a good two seconds until he broke down. Axl's over-tired eyes filled with tears, and they fell down onto Slash's shoulder.
"Slash, I thought.....I thought you...." His voice broke, and he gripped Slash with a fury Slash had never felt. Slash was taken off-guard, but he reacted instinctively. He grabbed Axl, unable to bare seeing him in pain. Axl cried, and Slash did whatever it took to soothe him.
"Axl, please don't." He pleaded. "I'm okay now, see? I promise never, ever again. I won't put you in this situation....Axl, please!" Slash could feel his own composure starting to break as Axl continued to collapse in front of him.
"I'm so sorry, Slash!" Axl said, his voice muffled as he pressed his face into Slash's shoulder. "I will never storm out on you like that again. If you want to talk about something, we'll talk, okay? It doesn't matter anymore. I'll tell you anything and everything you want to know."
"Axl, you didn't make me go to that party. You didn't make me drink, and take whatever else it was I took." Slash tried to comfort him. He couldn't stand seeing Axl this upset, he was desperate to make him stop. He grabbed his face, forcing him to look at him. "This wasn't your fault!"
"Yes, it was!" Axl said. "I'm the one that left that room. If I'd stayed, this wouldn't have happened."
"No!" Slash growled forcefully. "I won't let you take the blame for this." Axl just stared at him, shaking his head. Tears continued down his cheeks, and Slash pulled him into his arms. He didn't know what to say.
"Oh....sorry." They heard from the doorway. Looking over, they saw Izzy, Steven, and Duff standing awkwardly in the doorway. "Just, uh, thought we'd check on you." Izzy said. Axl stood up, sniffed, and wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. He cleared his throat, and looked back at Slash.
"I'll let you guys talk." He said, his voice breaking. Slash nodded, and Axl left the room. The others parted, letting him through. They came in, surrounding Slash's bed.
"Hey, man, how you feeling?" Izzy asked.
"Okay, I guess." Slash said, not quite sure how to explain what they'd just walked in on. "Uh, about that little scene just now..."
"It's okay, man. We already know." Izzy said. Slash looked at him, surprised.
"You know?" He said, confused.
"Uh, yeah." Izzy continued. Slash looked at Duff.
"Hey, I didn't say anything, I swear." Duff defended.
"Actually, it was Axl." Izzy said. "I mean, he didn't outright admit anything, but when he got to the hospital.....he kinda lost it."
"He broke my wrist!" Steven exclaimed, showing Slash a cast on his right arm.
"What, why?!" Slash said, completely confused now.
"Shut it, Steve." Izzy said. He took off his sunglasses to reveal a deep bruise underneath his left eye. Slash looked more closely, and noticed a cut running down his upper lip down to his chin.
"Okay, what the hell happened?" Slash asked.
"Well, basically, Axe got to the hospital in a fury. He started yelling, asking us who gave you the pills, how much you took, blah blah blah. Anyway, I tried to calm him down, but he wasn't having it. Then, he found out you'd gone into cardiac arrest....." A pained expression came over Izzy's face. "Your heart stopped for eight minutes, man. We thought you were dead."
"It was really bad, dude." Steven said. He patted Slash on the shoulder. "Glad you're alright." Slash nodded, but Izzy wasn't finished.
"Anyway, when we heard about that, Axl.....I mean, I've seen Axl angry before...but, he was like a totally different person. He went ballistic. Steve made the stupid decision to tell him that he'd given you some pills."
"Hey!" Steven said. "He was losing it, I had to say something." He looked at Slash. "He was fucking ferocious, man." Izzy just rolled his eyes.
"He went after Steve, and I tried to stop him. I've never been in a fight with Axl before, I mean like a full blown fight. I now feel kinda sorry for everyone's he's ever beaten up. The look in his eyes.....It took three doctors to sedate him." Izzy took a breath. "So, that brings us to now. Look, Slash, I know I'm not the talkative one, but I notice things, alright? I've been noticing for a long time now something going on between you two. I wasn't sure what it was, but you guys were getting along better than you ever had, so I left it alone. But lately, I don't know....I'm kinda surprised I didn't see it. And then Axl's reaction when he got to the hospital....You know he hasn't left your side once? He's slept maybe, like, three hours in the past three days. That's why I know I can't have a problem with this. I don't. Because I've known Axl a lot of years, and I've never seen him as dedicated to anything as he's been to you."
"Really?" Slash said. Izzy nodded.
"But you really should've told us." Steven said. "Dude, you're my best friend, why would you think I'd have a problem with this? As long as you're happy, be with whoever you want."
"Thanks, Steve." Slash said. He didn't think they realized how much this meant to him.
"Yeah, yeah." Steven said, never one for sentimentality. "So, when do you get out of here? We've already had to cancel the next three shows."
"What?!" Slash said, sitting up fast. He got a head rush, and lay back down.
"Well, yeah....I mean, you're in no condition to play, and look at me." Steve held up his broken wrist. "How'm I gonna drum with this thing?"
"Shit." Slash said.
"Hell yeah, shit." Steve agreed.
"I'm sorry for this, guys." Slash said, rubbing his forehead.
"Hey, we don't blame you." Duff said. "Not even a little bit."
"Actually, it's kinda our fault." Izzy said.
"What? No it's not." Slash said, shaking his head.
"Yeah, it is." Duff said. "I mean, we know you've been working on your sobriety, and we're not helping any. We've always got our booze and everything strung around. We're gonna try to stop doing that."
"Hey, nobody has to do anything like that for me." Slash said.
"We do, and we're going to." Izzy said. "We don't want to end up in this kind of situation again."
"Well, thanks." Slash was starting to feel drowsy. "That would really mean a lot to me, guys." Just then, the nurse walked in.
"Alright, boys, I think it's Mr. Hudson's time to rest." She said, ushering them out.
"Well, see ya, man." Steve said. They all waved and left. The nurse came back and fiddled with some of the machines around him, and adjusted his IV.
"Hmm, I see your shadows not here." She commented.
"My what?" Slash asked.
"Irritable red-head with the attitude." She explained. Slash chuckled. She increased his morphine, and he drifted off to sleep thinking fondly of his 'irritable red-head'.
"Does this look infected?" Steven asked, holding up his wrist. Guns was now almost three weeks back on the road, and Steve was due to get his cast off in two days. He'd cut his arm fooling around with Duff, and had fallen off the stage right onto one of the lighting rigs. The cast kept rubbing against it, and now it was turning a deep purple.
"Gross, Steve get that thing away from me!" Axl said, shoving Steven away.
"Steve, you do know that you're supposed to be the drummer, right?" Izzy asked, sliding playing cards across the table toward Duff and Slash. They were on the bus headed to their next show. "You can't keep getting yourself fucked up like that."
"Yeah, I know, Iz." Steve said, scratching his cut. "But it's not my fault Mr. Schitzo over here had to go ape shit all over everyone." He indicated Axl. "If he hadn't freaked out on me, I wouldn't be in this stupid itchy thing." He continued itching his arm.
"God, Steve, it's infected, alright? Stop scratching, and leave it alone!" Axl said. "You're so disgusting." Steve responded by shoving his cast in Axl's face.
"Yeah, take a big ol' whiff." Steve said. "Smells, huh?"
"Augh! Stoppit!" Axl shoved Steve harder, knocking him onto the floor. The others just laughed. It had been like this with them ever since the hospital. Steven was taking every chance he could get to dig at Axl for breaking his wrist. They had temporarily replaced Steven with someone on their crew who had played drums for another band. It was definitely an ego-boost for Steven every time the new guy went onstage and the crowd booed and called for him.
"When are we gonna fucking be there?" Steve whined, not bothering to get up. "I'm so bored!"
"Play with us." Izzy said. Steve just rolled his eyes.
"You guys have been playing the same fucking game for three days. No one is gonna win." He answered, stretching across the floor.
"Let's play something else, then." Duff suggested. "How 'bout strip poker?"
"Yeah, that's only fun with chicks, Duff man." Steve said. He suddenly blushed bright red. "I mean, uh....you know...it's only fun for Iz and Duff and I.....But, if you guys wanna play...."
"Steve, shut up." Slash sighed. "You are making this a lot weirder than it has to be." They all knew that Steven was having the hardest time being okay with Axl and Slash. He kept putting himself into these awkward situations. "Like I said, just treat us like you usually do."
"But usually, I'm trying to get us both laid." He pointed out to Slash. "And you always turn down my ideas for scoring chicks, which I'm now realizing why..."
"Anyway." Duff said, pointedly changing the subject. "Let's do something else then. Anyone have any ideas?"
"We could moon passing cars again." Steve suggested.
"That's only a game that you play, Steven." Izzy reminded him. He got up, and grabbed his guitar. He strummed a tune, and Axl mindlessly hummed along. Steven drummed his hands on the floor, and Slash and Duff continued their card game. Duff was taking a particularly long time to choose his next move, and Slash's mind wondered.
"What?" Axl said, smiling at him. Slash came out of his reverie, realizing he'd been staring at Axl for the past few minutes. He blushed as everyone had noticed.
"Nothing." He said, looking back down at his cards.
"Googly-eyes." Steven said, rolling his eyes. "Slash only makes that face when he's drooling over a new guitar." Slash blushed more, and put his face down, letting his curtain of hair fall between him and the rest of his band.
"What was that tune?" Duff asked, finally picking a card.
"Oh, just something we've been working on." Axl said. "It doesn't have any lyrics yet."
"It sounds good, you should keep working on it." Duff said. Axl nodded. It took almost an hour for Slash to finally get bored of the card game. Duff had all but stopped trying, and Slash tossed his cards onto the table.
"This game is never gonna end." He said, frustrated.
"Told you." Steven said, still on the floor. Axl was lightly napping, his head against the window, and Izzy was reading a book he'd bought at their last stop.
"We're here." Their driver called, pulling into a parking lot.
"Finally!" Steve hopped up, running to the front of the bus. Duff and Izzy followed, and Slash nudged Axl's foot.
"Hey, time to go." He said. Axl inhaled deeply, rubbing his eyes. He looked up, and smiled.
"Hey." His voice was caked with sleep. He looked out the now-dark window. "What time is it?"
"Nearly show time. We got an hour of soundcheck first." Axl cleared his throat, and stood up, stretching. Slash followed him out of the bus, wrapping his arms around him. He was so glad that he didn't have to hide anything from the band anymore. They were still careful around all the people at the new venues, but were becoming more comfortable.
Soundcheck went off without a hitch, a first for them. Axl was in a good mood which put everyone else in a good mood. The stadium started to fill with people, and they waited anxiously for their cue to go on. Finally, they took the stage. The roar of the crowd was deafening, and they were all pumped up. Steve watched from the side, cheering just as loudly as anyone. They started with Nightrain, the energy starting high and only going up as the concert progressed. By the end of their two-hour set, they were sweating, gasping for air, and completely ecstatic.
"Wooh!" Steve yelled as they walked offstage. "Guys, that was intense!" He high-fived Duff, and pounded Izzy's back. They hung out for a while while their gear was packed up. While the rest of the band stayed back and had beers with the crew, Axl and Slash headed to the bus. Slash grabbed Axl by the waist, and swung him on top of his shoulders.
"Hey!" Axl laughed. "Put me down!" Slash flung him onto his top bunk, and jumped up with him. Axl was laughing, and Slash couldn't help but laugh with him. It had been a really good show and he was in a good mood. He reached out with his foot and kicked the door shut. He looked at Axl, and made a playful growl. Axl pulled him in, their lips crashing together.
"Ow." Axl mumbled, licking his lip. It had a small cut, but that didn't stop him from going at Slash with even more aggression. They were just getting started, when the door was pushed open.
"Yo!" Duff said, blanching. "Seriously? Why is it always me that walks in on this?" Slash quickly jumped down, straightening his shirt. Duff was followed by Izzy and Steve.
"Whats going on......" Steve's eyes travelled from Axl on top of Slash's bunk, to Slash. "Oh...." He quickly turned and walked back out. "Okay, we gotta set some ground rules!" He called. Izzy just chuckled, shaking his head.
"I agree." Duff seconded.
"Sorry, guys." Slash said, he could feel the heat coming off his face. He looked up at Axl, who just shrugged. "Okay, you're right....we should have some kind of rules on the bus."
"Well, if we can't bring chicks on the bus, then you two shouldn't...you know...."
"You know what, Steve, for once you're right." Axl said, hopping down. "Slash and I will cool it when we're on the bus, okay?" Duff sighed, nodding gratefully. The driver started the bus, and they all sat as they pulled out. No one talked for a while, and Slash felt the awkwardness growing.
"So....." Steve said. They all looked at him. "Nevermind."
"What, Steve?" Axl asked. He just shook his head. "Obviously it's something, Steve. Just say it."
"I was just wondering....I mean, people don't just decide to go gay...." He said. Slash groaned. He knew this was gonna come up sooner or later.
"Yeah?" Axl said, raising his eyebrows.
"Well, I mean....why did you guys....you know...." He didn't have to actually word the question right for Slash to get it.
"Do we have to talk about this now?" Slash asked, really not in the mood.
"No, I'm sorry...I was just curious." Steve said, shaking his head. Slash sighed. He knew Steve meant well, and he wasn't upset at him for asking. He knew the others were curious, too. The difference was they had a little more self-control.
"Okay, who wants to open the topic?" Axl said. "I know you're all wondering the same thing." Duff and Izzy looked hesitant. Izzy lit a cigarette, and sat back.
"Actually, I am kinda curious...." Duff admitted. They looked at Izzy, who just shrugged.
"Whatever." He said.
"Okay, to be honest, Axl isn't the first guy I've ever been with." Slash said. Axl already knew this part of him, but he wasn't sure how the other's would take it. "Umm...Steve, you remember that kid we used to hang out with in tenth grade? He went to all the concerts with us." Steve thought for a second, then he remembered.
"Randy Henley?" He asked, clearly confused. "What about him? I remember he got wasted and threw up on my mom's front lawn. She got so pissed...."
"Well anyway, do you remember when we went to that KISS show?" Slash scratched his hair. He couldn't believe he was about to tell this story. Steve nodded, still looking confused. Duff and Izzy had unknowingly leaned closer. "Uh, well when you went off to catch some tail, he went to the bathroom to see if he could score something. I went with him, complaining that we were missing the show. We were both admittedly pretty drunk. So, uh, we were in the bathroom, surrounded by a shitload of piss-wasted old rocker guys....and he kissed me."
"What?!" Steve was shocked. "Randy Henley kissed you? But, he had a girlfriend!"
"Yeah, that's what I was thinking when he did it." Slash said. "I tried to shove him off, but he got pretty aggressive when he was loaded....Anyway, he pulled me into one of the stalls and by then I was kinda getting into it...." Steve was making a face that Slash was unable to read.
"Okay....so you made out with Randy at a KISS concert and never told me?" Steve asked. Slash just scoffed and rolled his eyes.
"What would you have done if I'd told you?" He asked. Steve shrugged.
"Probably gotten freaked out and stopped hanging out with you." He admitted. "So....was that it, then? Just Randy?"
"Not quite...." Slash continued. He tried to remember the names of the different guys. "Uh, lets see, there was Tom Jackson, Phil Stevens, uh......oh yeah, Derrick Drewill...."
"Jeez, Slash, how many guys were there?" Duff asked.
"Well, it's not like they were actual relationships like with Axl." Slash said. "Mainly it was just about the sex." They all visibly cringed. "Oh, c'mon, let's be adults here, okay?"
"Sorry...it's just a little weird." Duff said.
"So, why did you go with girls, too. Why not stick with guys?" Duff asked, now intently curious.
"Well, chicks are a lot of fun, too. Plus, how would it have looked if I'd never had a girlfriend? People would've started talking...my reputation would've been obliterated." Slash said. "I was very careful not to screw anyone who would go blabbing to everybody. But that's all over and done now." Axl smiled at him. They turned their attention to Axl.
"What about you, Axe?" Izzy asked. Axl shrugged.
"I used to fuck guys all the time in Lafayette." He said simply. Slash snorted, trying not to laugh at their facial expressions. Axl sighed. "Look, I'm not gonna try to pretty it up for you. I knew what I liked when I was thirteen, and I went after it."
"That is so Axl." Izzy said.
"Hell yeah that's so me." Axl said. "Why shouldn't I get what I like? I think you'll understand the reasons why I chose not to tell anyone, seeing as how we lived in a tiny ass town where no one can keep their fucking mouths shut. If any of it had gotten back to my parents....." He shuddered.
"Anyone I knew?" Izzy asked.
"Lets see...." Axl counted them off on his fingers. "There was Dante, Bruce, Dillon, Cambell, Charlie,.....uh, lemme think, who else....." Izzy's eyes got wider and wider as Axl counted off the names.
"Are you serious?" He asked. "I didn't know any of this."
"Really?" Axl asked sarcastically. "We all knew how to keep our mouths shut. You know that old abandoned house that was on the street across from Bruce's?" Izzy nodded. "That's where I used to go. A lot..." He smiled at the memory. Izzy looked like he'd just swallowed something unpleasant. "Oh, don't give me that look. You used to bring tail there all the time. I just brought a different kind of tail." Axl said. He and Slash laughed. The others didn't.
"Okay, just one more thing." Izzy said. "When you met Slash..."
"Wanted to fuck him the second I saw him." Axl said. Slash blushed, pleased.
"Yeah, not what I meant." Izzy said, shaking his head. "Why didn't you two hook up right away? You guys knew eachother for over a year."
"Um, I think for me, we were just too close for me to even think about that." Slash said. "I mean, yeah, I had urges, but I kept them in check. It's always basically just been about the sex part of it. But with Axl....I mean there were actual feelings involved and that was new to me." Slash said.
"Yeah, same here." Axl said. "I remember the first time I saw Slash in that club, you introduced us, Iz. Then he joined the band....I wasn't about to ruin anything by saying, like 'hey, you wanna go fuck?' I didn't even know he liked guys, ya know?"
"Then I brought him back to Vicky's that one night....It just kinda escalated from there." Slash said.
"I remember that." Duff said. "You two wouldn't even talk to eachother for a while. What exactly happened?"
"Basically we both realized what we were feeling and didn't know how to handle it." Slash said. "But, it all worked out in the end." He smiled at Axl, who nodded and smiled back.
"Well, I'm gonna go to sleep." Axl said, yawning. "You guys digest this information as best you can. But you gotta deal with it now, cuz we're on tour for the next few months, and you aint going nowhere...." He laughed again and headed toward the back. Slash looked at them. They were all staring into space, lost in their own thoughts.
"Uh...I think I'm gonna go to bed, too..." He followed Axl to the bunks in the back.
"Think we scared 'em enough?" Axl said as Slash climbed on the bed above him.
"Oh, I think we gave them a good frighten." Slash agreed. "But, I think they'll be okay."
"Yeah." Axl said tiredly. "We'll talk to them in the morning. Hopefully they'll still be there...." Slash laughed.
"They'll be alright." He said. "I think it's good that we told them now, and not when we were off the road. This way they'll have to deal with us daily, and see that it's nothing to freak out about." Axl was suddenly by Slash's head.
"You know those other guys I mentioned can't even come close to you, right?" He asked, his eyes serious.
"Of course." Slash said. "Same here." Axl planted a kiss on him. "They meant nothing to me. Just some convenient ass...." Axl chuckled.
"I know we set some new boundaries for the bus, but..." He said.
"We don't have to enforce them right away." Slash agreed. He pulled Axl in and kissed him. Axl snaked his arms under Slash's blanket, and pulled him closer to the edge. Slash moaned, wishing they could take this further.
"We'll be at the hotel tomorrow." Axl whispered. He gave him one last peck, and disappeared under Slash. Axl started humming that unfamiliar tune he'd been doing with Izzy earlier.
"What is that exactly?" Slash asked.
"Like I said, I don't quite have the lyrics worked out, yet." Axl said. "It's just an idea that I had, some thoughts about these past few weeks. It's called 'Patience'." Slash liked the title, and couldn't wait to hear the completed version. He drifted to sleep with Axl humming beneath him.