Slash gives Axl a very special birthday present. Set in 2012. Short, fluffy thing.
The younger is taking longer to grow old; his coffee-colored skin is still flawless, his curls only have white in certain places, near the crown of his head. He’s got a pacemaker, but he’s had that now for nine years; it doesn’t count. His doctor gives him medication for his liver, eaten up with alcohol, and for his blood, damaged by heroin injections. Neither man smokes anymore; not since Izzy nearly died of emphysema last year. They can hardly believe they are only half a century old, but here they are.
It’s the older man’s fiftieth birthday today. The younger is glad he’s back in this man’s life; he’s missed celebrating his birthday, just the two of them, just Axl and Slash. He reaches across the table and squeezes Axl’s hand, smiling at him.
“I love you, Saul,” Axl says, smiling back through the steam the coffee gives off.
“Love you too, baby.” Slash reaches into his bag—he’s been carrying one around a lot lately—and pulls out a tiny box. “Got you a present.”
“Jesus, Saul, you didn’t have to…you’re good enough for me.” Axl takes a sip of his coffee, the hot liquid burning his throat slightly. Slash shakes his head, chuckling.
“You’ll like this one, I think,” he says. Axl shrugs.
“Let’s see it then.” He starts laughing too, reaching over to take the box from his lover. “What could a fifty-year-old man possibly get that— ” His voice cuts off abruptly as he finishes unwrapping the present, opening the box he finds. Inside is a ring, fourteen-karat gold, encrusted with diamonds, an emerald set in the center. His eyes go wide. His mouth moves, but no sound comes out.
Slash slides out of the booth and gets down on one knee. “Axl Rose,” he says softly, “will you marry me?” He takes the ring from Axl, feeling tears pricking at his eyes.
The singer is crying too, staring down at Slash, at his beautiful guitarist. “Yes,” he whispers. “Oh my god, yes.”
Slash slides the ring on Axl’s finger, then straightens up and takes his redhead’s chin in his palm. Axl stands up, wrapping his arms around Slash’s waist. They kiss, crying and laughing and tasting each other’s salty tears. Axl thinks he might burst from happiness.
“I love you so much,” he says finally, breathlessly.
Slash smiles, touching their foreheads together. “I love you too, Axl,” he says quietly. “Happy Birthday.”