After a week of waiting, Slash finally learns how Axl really feels.
“Hey, Slash,” he said, “you ready to go?”
I nodded, shutting the door behind me. “I hope you haven’t been waiting too long…” Axl’s shift ended at five, like everyone else’s; he’d have to have been sitting in this car for an hour, waiting for me and Mark to be done closing up.
He shook his head, turning the key in the ignition. “I was asleep, anyway… it’s fine.” He backed out of the parking space, and we headed for the Interstate.
“Are we going to have another jam session, or…?” I glanced over at Axl, hopefully, but he shook his head.
“It’s a conversation,” he said, keeping his eyes on the road. “About what happened… last week.”
I’d figured that, but it didn’t stop the shiver of excitement which ran down my spine. So Axl was finally ready to talk. And then, as we started for the exit for Laurel Canyon, it occurred to me that this had to be a good sign; Izzy had waited four years, but I’d only had to go for seven days. Which meant he respected me. Which meant—probably—that he wanted to be together. Which meant that, whatever I was doing, it was a hell of a lot better than what Mark had done.
We arrived at his house and got out, the slowly cooling evening air making me shiver a bit. Axl flipped his keys over his thumb and pointer finger and grinned at me.
“You could be a ringmaster,” I said, following him to the front door and waiting as he unlocked it. “Y’know… at a circus?”
“Probably was in a past life,” he replied, nodding. “Just gotta find some picture from the 1800s of a pale fucker with red hair and green eyes…”
I laughed. “Ax, you realize they didn’t use color film in those days…”
“Hey.” He turned, laughing also, one hand on the doorknob. “I’m Axl fuckin’ Rose; I can make anything happen.”
For some reason, I felt my cheeks heat up. “Yeah,” I said softly. “You can.”
His laughter changed into a small, slightly affectionate smile, and he opened the door, stepping inside. I followed and shut it behind me, and then we were both in. It was dark, and I couldn’t really see. I felt Axl’s long, cool fingers enclose over my wrist, and he murmured:
“C’mon, the piano room will be way lighter.”
I let him lead me across the room; once he opened the door to the piano room, sunlight streamed in again, striking over his hair. We walked over and sat on the piano bench together, and Axl took his fingers off my wrist.
“Listen,” he said, “I was thinking it over in Argentina… I really like you, Slash. You’re a cool guy; you’re the first person I’ve ever met who wasn’t afraid to tell me that I’m being a self-centered fuckhead who needs to get stuffed.”
Blushing, I ducked my head. “Sorry,” I mumbled, digging my fingers into my thigh.
Axl shook his head. “S’not… don’t apologize. It’s just… I don’t know. Like I told you before, a lot of shit has happened to me… I don’t exactly have great trust in people. But you… you’re different. I feel like I could trust you… y’know?” He tucked his fingers under my chin, lifted my head up to meet his. His emerald eyes were shining with an emotion which I hadn’t seen since the morning we’d woke up together.
“So you’re saying you want to be with me?” I asked quietly.
“I’m saying I trust you,” he replied, reaching up with his free hand and sweeping back his fine, copper hair from his face. He trialed his other fingers slowly down from my chin to the hollow of my throat, leaving a burning trail despite the coolness of his skin. “An’ I usually don’t trust people.”
I nodded. Axl was offering himself to me, letting down the guard he’d built up because he saw something in me. I wasn’t going to take this lightly.
“Thanks, Axl,” I said. “That means a lot to me.”
He nodded, his hair falling softly back over his forehead. He slid his gaze from mine, focusing on the far wall, behind my head. Absently he dropped his fingers from my throat and lay his hand on mine. Axl was incredibly close to me by this point, but I don’t think he realized it.
And then he spoke. “Slash, I know you like me. You want me, don’t you?”
I swallowed. “Yeah…” I couldn’t see where he was going with this, but then I was finding it hard to focus on much of anything, with his face about two inches from mine, pale, sharp features within touching distance, every contour, every line traceable by my eyes.
“You’d take me no matter what? Because, y’know… I’m not the easiest person to be around. I have a lot of shit to deal with… you’d have to hear me spilling my thoughts all the time because I rant a lot, and you’d have to hear about all the fucked-up aspects of my past—”
“Ax,” I interrupted, because I could see he was starting to get upset. “I like you for who you are, all right? Rough spots and all. You drew me in the second I first saw you, and you haven’t let me go since.”
Axl shrugged. “What can I say, I’m charismatic,” he muttered, but he was smiling.
I reached over and poked his shoulder. “Ego trip much?”
“Hey, watch it, fucker,” Axl said, warningly, “or you won’t get any later.”
My heart rate sped up. “Is that a threat,” I asked, “or a promise?”
He arched one eyebrow. “Depends on how you look at it,” he said quietly, before leaning in a little further and kissing me. He lifted one hand and lightly stroked my cheek with his thumb, tracing his tongue across the roof of my mouth when I opened up for him. He worked our mouths together, tasting of nicotine and peppermint and strawberries. I lifted one hand and ran my fingers through his hair, and wondered how the hell I’d become lucky enough to end up in this position.
When he pulled away from me, he was breathing hard. He lifted his eyes and half-smiled at me, and I reached out and touched his jaw.
“So,” I said quietly, “are we together now?”
Axl hesitated, then nodded slowly. “But I swear to god, Slash, if you do anything, and I mean anything, to hurt me, I will fuckin’ kill you.”
I just shook my head and kissed him again. I couldn’t figure out why anyone would want to hurt someone like him; someone so perfect and lovely as Axl Rose.