A jam session at Axl's house turns out to be an eye-opener for Slash to his true feelings.
After a while, Axl glanced over at me and caught me staring. The corner of his mouth twitched up into a grin, and I felt my face growing warm.
“Y-you sing really well,” I stammered out. He laughed softly, reaching over to turn the volume down on Pink Floyd.
“Thanks. I used to sing in…” For a moment he hesitated, biting his lip, then he cleared his throat and finished:
“…in my stepfather’s choir. He has a church in Lafayette, and my sister and brother and I sang in it.” There was a story behind his words, but judging from the look on his face I wasn’t going to hear it. We were silent again; Axl’s knuckles were white against the steering wheel, and his shoulders were tense, but I was afraid to ask what was going on.
Eventually, he pulled off the Interstate and drove to a McDonald’s. The drive thru was virtually empty, so Axl took it and ordered a Big Mac for himself; a Quarter Pounder for me. After paying, he parked and we ate, windows rolled down slightly. He seemed deep in thought, unwilling to talk, and I watched him as he stared out the window, sliding one fry in his mouth and chewing slowly. There was something about Axl, something sad and mysterious and deeply sensual that drew me to him, made me want to get closer. He had a strange look in his emerald eyes, long and lost, and I got the feeling he was thinking of the choir he’d spoken of earlier.
After a while, he reached for the cup of Dr. Pepper he’d ordered and, putting it to his lips, started gently sucking on the straw. The hollows in his pale cheeks became more pronounced; as I watched him, I was overcome with a sense of power and beauty so strong it nearly blew me away. My cock twitched in my pants, and I felt my face growing warm again.
Then he put his cup down, lifted his fingers to his lips, and started licking the grease and salt off his skin. Oh god, he knows what he’s doing, I thought, as the strain on my crotch grew worse. And then he looked at me, and I thought my face would catch fire. He was laughing, but in a slightly puzzled way, which meant he had no idea of the effect he was having on me.
“Slash, what’s wrong? You look stricken.” He picked up the last remnants of his burger and tossed them in his mouth.
I swallowed and looked away. “Nothing,” I said quietly. “It’s nothing.”
He shrugged, then opened his car door and slid out. “Hand me your trash. We need to go.”
I gave him my half-eaten burger, mostly full drink, and pack of fries. He tossed his and mine in the nearest trash can, then got back in the car and gunned the motor. It was a pretty short ride to his house, which was off Laurel Canyon.
“I used to live near here,” I said as we got out.
“Yeah, when I was younger and mom and dad were still together… we lived a few blocks away from here, and so did Jim Morrison.”
His eyebrows shot up as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a house key. “No shit? Jim Morrison? Did you know him?”
“No. I know Bowie though. My mom designed the outfits for a movie he was in.”
“That’s way fuckin’ cool.” Axl sounded interested, and I couldn’t help it: I wanted to impress him some more. As we walked into the house, I looked around and saw artifacts from the different countries he’d visited—Kenya, Turkey, Queensland. There were awards and photos on the walls, though not all of them were from his animal dealings. The best one was a black-and-white of him at a piano, his face serious and concentrated. I became so caught up in staring at the picture that I forgot where I was.
He dropped his keys on his table suddenly, bringing me out of my reverie. I glanced over at him and he walked towards me, though for some reason he seemed unable to meet my gaze.
“Izzy took this two years ago,” he said, nodding at the photograph I’d been admiring. “The piano was in an abandoned warehouse he and I were walking in; we had to drag it out and I had to spend $250 to get it tuned, but…” He gestured towards a door, off to the side. “It’s in there now.”
My eyes widened as I walked forward. “Do you have guitars, too?”
A nod. “They belong to Izz, really, but he keeps them here if he can’t fit them into his apartment.” He moved ahead and opened the door. The piano stood there, gleaming ebony and ivory keys shining invitingly out from a pure black body. The instrument took up almost half the room, because it was a small sized space, and I felt as in awe of it as I did of its owner.
Izzy’s guitars were lined up on one wall—a Gibson, two Fenders, a BC Rich. Immediately I took the Gibson—a Black Beauty; it was, in my opinion, even more beautiful than the piano.
“Picks?” I asked. Axl nodded vaguely, already settling himself down in front of his instrument, running his long fingers over the keys. After a few seconds, he lifted his left hand and pointed over his shoulder at the small shelf over the guitars. There was a metallic tin on it; I opened it and found four picks, one with an American flag on it, the other three with solid colors. I picked one up, slung the strap over my shoulder, and sat on the chair beside the piano bench.
“Do you do scales?” he asked me.
“No,” I said, and he grinned.
“Neither do I,” he said, and then he started playing. Right away I recognized the key—C minor—and started playing along. Axl sent me a quick, surprised glance, but kept going, improvising beautifully and adding in little flourishes here and there which gave the crashing octaves his left hand was doing a softer edge. Clearly, whatever opinion Mark had of Axl was not based at all on his musical abilities.
Then he switched keys, surprising me. I fumbled for a second and a tiny smile played on his lips, making me blush even though he wasn’t looking at me. After a few seconds, I caught up—A minor—and kept right along with him. And then, after I’d switched on him—going to G major and then to D minor—everything became flawless. It was amazing how natural this seemed, how easily and fluidly our brains connected. I felt for every chord change he made, and I could tell he was feeling for mine. At some point, I stopped thinking entirely and just let my fingers take over, running up and down the neck of Izzy’s guitar in sequence with what Axl played. There was no doubt in my mind now that this man, with his fall-fire hair and ocean eyes; this man who I’d known for a day and a half; he was perfect.
Sometime later—it could have been minutes or hours, I wouldn’t have known the difference—I came halfway out of the trance I was in to discover that Axl had stopped playing and was watching me with his head tilted slightly, a curious expression on his face. Dipping my chin and letting my hair fall over the frets and strings, I finished the solo I hadn’t even really been aware of playing, then looked up and smiled hesitantly.
“What?” I asked. He shook his head, seeming to come out of a trance himself, and said:
“Nothing… just… you play really well. I haven’t heard anyone play that well…ever.” It was kind of cheesy, but Axl was smiling equally as hesitantly as I was, and I felt something loosen in my chest as I realized this was a sort of acceptance.
“Thanks,” I said. He was close to me, almost close enough to touch. Every speck of color in his eyes was visible, every contour on his face. I was glad the guitar covered my lap, because being this close to him; it was like nothing I’d ever experienced. I could feel my eyes shutting by degrees and thought it would be soon.
Then, suddenly, he was pulling away from me, sliding to the other end of the piano bench. He looked at me warily, his cheeks flushed; then looked away.
I cleared my throat. “Axl—”
“We should go back to the zoo,” he interrupted me. “They’ll be wondering where we are.”
I sighed. “…Yeah, Axl. Okay.” I stood up and slung the guitar back onto its stand, put the pick up. As we walked out, he had to edge around me to get to his car, and I caught a whiff of his scent: leather and cigarettes and some exotic cologne I’d never smelled before. Another surge of heat filled my body, and as I settled myself into the passenger’s seat it occurred to me that I’d never wanted anyone more than I now wanted Axl Rose.