Axl and Slash go to the bar, where the truth about Mark is revealed... as well as a few other things.
“You got a lighter?”
He was holding a cigarette between his long, pale fingers and looking at me with that intense gaze; I wondered how long he’d been watching me. Nodding, I reached into my back pocket and pulled out my lighter, rolling my thumb over the dial and pushing down slightly. The flame leaped up, as orange as his hair, and clung to the end of the cigarette. Axl thanked me with his eyes—you really have to know him to get what I mean—and drew in a long breath.
“We really need to talk,” I said, swallowing down the last few drops of Jack and motioning for a refill. A shadow briefly crossed Axl’s face, but he nodded, flicking ashes on the Formica table and turning his body slightly to face me.
“So talk,” he said, lips moving behind the orange stub of the cigarette. I frowned.
“I’m not the one who needs to be talking.”
“What the fuck am I supposed to say?”
“You told me you had something to tell me about Mark. About what went on between you two.”
“You suggested I tell you about McDunn,” Axl replied coolly. “Don’t mean I gotta do it.”
“Then how the hell else are we supposed to get past this point?!” I was almost screaming, and I knew I probably looked like an idiot, but I didn’t care. I was positively furious; Axl was acting like this wasn’t a big deal, and for Christ’s sake it was, and—
“I’m not the one who decided to try an’ kiss another guy!” Axl yelled suddenly. He looked as angry as I felt, his green eyes blazing like a wildcat’s. “I invited you to my house to play music, not to try and fuck me!”
My mouth dropped open. “I wasn’t trying to fuck you!” I yelled back. “I got carried away! I’m sorry!”
“All you fags are alike,” Axl snarled, gritting his teeth. “You all say you ‘didn’t mean it’ and then you go right back and do it again.” He reached over and grabbed at the bottle of Goldschläger, tilting the neck back and allowing the liquid to pour down his throat.
“I’m not a fag,” I protested, and was suddenly, acutely aware of how whiny my voice sounded. Axl sneered.
“You’re just like McDunn,” he spat. “So goddamn eager to keep me in your life that you lie about your own sexuality in order not to lose me. Fuckin’ hell, Slash, I ain’t gonna quit the job or anything…” He looked sideways at me, those perfect lips folded over the mouth of the bottle, an almost curious expression on his face.
“I didn’t say I thought that,” I mumbled, though some part of me had been thinking that secretly.
Axl smiled down into his drink, and I felt my face flushing. I went to take a sip of Jack, realized my glass was empty again—how the hell did that happen?—and ordered another one. It occurred to me that I could get drunk if I wasn’t careful… but then I really didn’t give a shit.
After a while, Axl said quietly, “You wanna know what went on between me and Mark?”
Sensing a shift in the atmosphere, I nodded. Axl sighed, waved at the bartender to bring him another drink, and started talking.
“I came to Los Angeles from Lafayette, Indiana, six years ago. Mark was just starting out in the zoology field at that time; he had an exhibit at the San Diego Zoo and he said he could hook me up with a position in the animal field.” He laughed shortly; took a sip of Goldschläger. “I highly doubt he meant for me to get farther than he ever did.
“Anyway, about a year later, Mark was teaching at that college you went to, and I had started trying to figure out how to get a position in the business I’m in now. He’d been acting really weird around me, but I didn’t really think too much of it—he’s always been kinda possessive, and I just chalked it up to his being jealous of Izzy, who had moved in with me after his girlfriend dumped him.”
“That’s weird that he would’ve been jealous,” I commented. Axl frowned a little, looking slightly pissed that he’d been interrupted.
“Yeah, well, I didn’t really think about it. But then one night I had to stay late at work. Everyone had gone home, even Izzy, and I was cleaning some cages…” He paused to take a drink, and I noticed the same look was in his eyes now as had been when he told me he sang for his stepfather’s choir in Indiana. It was a faraway look, like he was seeing shit from his past, and what he saw wasn’t good. After a bit, he continued:
“I heard the front door open, and I thought it was Izzy or one of my other coworkers, so I ignored it and kept cleaning. I heard someone walking behind me, but I didn’t bother turning around… and then Mark was there, and he was shoving me into the wall, telling me how badly he wanted me, trying to get me to turn around so that he could go down on me…” Axl’s voice trailed off and he stared at his hands, which had started to tremble. He swallowed, took a long drink; his normally pale cheeks were flushed and he had that vulnerable look in his eyes again, the one that made me wonder how this could possibly be the same man who had come into my life all of four days ago with all the charisma and authority of a dictator.
“Axl—” I started, but he spun around, cutting me off. His eyes were blazing, though I couldn’t tell if he was angry or just really smashed.
“You don’t fucking understand, Slash,” he snarled. “You don’t know about the shit I went through in Indiana for the first seventeen years of my life; you don’t know about my biological dad and what he used to do to me; you don’t know about my stepdad and his bullshit laws; you don’t know shit about me, so shut the fuck up.” He reached up and ran his fingers through his hair, looking frustrated, and I felt a slight pain in my heart for him. I reached over and put my hand on his arm, but he shook me off. A silence fell over us again, and we drank, the whiskey burning our throats. Time passed; I don’t know how much. Axl took out another cigarette, flicked on my lighter, and touched the flame to the stick. In the half-light, the bones of his face were enunciated, creating strange, beautiful shadows. He sucked in the smoke, held it, then blew out slowly. When he looked at me, I was startled to discover he was crying. I swallowed.
He shook his head and took in a deep breath. “Nothing,” he muttered. He hesitated, looking like he was making some sort of important decision, and then, shockingly, he kissed me. There was nothing gentle or hesitant about the way he kissed; the instant our lips made contact he was running his tongue along the seam of my mouth, asking for entrance. I parted my lips, and for a while we were silent, wrestling for dominance in each other’s mouths. He tasted like nicotine and whiskey and something bittersweet, like strawberries or dark chocolate. I could smell the heady mixture of his cologne and his leather, and my cock twitched.
When he pulled away from me, he was breathing hard, pale lips parted and reddened. “Let’s go,” he said hoarsely, and I nodded, nearly knocking my glass over in my haste to stand up. I didn’t know what had caused this abrupt change of mind, but I wasn’t going to question it. I had never felt this strong of a lust in my life. We walked out together, fingers twined in a beautiful mix of light and dark. He dove into his car and cranked the ignition.
“C’mon, Slasher,” he called. He was laughing, looking genuinely happy, and I clambered into the passenger’s seat, shutting the door and kissing the side of his neck. The drive back to Axl’s house was quick. He sang along with the radio, alternating voice impersonations and making me laugh. At stop lights, we’d kiss, alternating between fast and slow.
Laurel Canyon was completely shadowed over when we got there. Axl pulled into his driveway and cut the motor. For a second I thought he was going to change his mind and kick me out, but he didn’t. He got out and I got out, and we went in together. Axl tossed his keys on the floor and looped his arm around my waist, pulling me to the couch. We kissed hungrily, ravenously. I tugged his shirt over his head and he pulled mine off, biting at the inches of my skin as it was exposed. Then, surprisingly, he pushed me back against the cushions and his hot, sweaty lips left mine, traveling down across my collarbone and sternum, pausing at my stomach so he could undo my zipper. He buried his nose in my pubes as they sprang out, then kissed my hot, throbbing cock, glancing up at me for half a second with sex-darkened eyes before taking me in his mouth. It was obviously not the first time he’d done this; his mouth on my skin felt incredible. He held my hips down with one hand as he sucked, licked, even gently bit at my length. I was so aroused already that it wasn’t long before I could feel my climax building up. I barely had time to warn Axl before I came, streaming into his mouth. He caught nearly every drop, smiling as I groaned; then he kissed his way back up to my neck. He licked his lips slowly, seductively, never breaking eye contact with me, swallowing the last bits of my come; then he said, his voice barely above a whisper: