Axl and Slash get married in New Orleans in 1987, on the Appetite For Destruction tour.
A moment later, a pair of familiar, strong arms came around his waist; soft lips pressed against his neck. “Hey, sugar,” Slash murmured into Axl’s ear. “Y’ready?”
Was he ready? Oh, Jesus, what a question. He’d been ready for this night since last Christmas, when Slash had come to him, all shy hesitation, asking if he’d marry him, holding out the two rings he’d bought at the antiques store, one emerald, one onyx. They’d been planning the wedding ever since—because gay marriage was illegal, they’d decided to get married on tour, at night, in New Orleans, where there was bound to be someone who wouldn’t give a shit about performing a ceremony like this. And they’d found someone, a voodoo woman who lived on an ancient plantation, and now it was their night off, and they were going, finally, to seal the deal.
“Damn, fucker,” Axl breathed as he and Slash headed for the limo. “I can’t believe this is really happening…”
“Me neither,” Slash whispered, twining his coffee-colored fingers gently in Axl’s copper hair. He opened the limo door and Axl slid in, then opened his arms, face splitting into a wide smile.
“Saul…” he said, voice husky, and Slash crawled in, settling between Axl’s legs, wrapping his arms around his waist. He pressed his lips against the slope of the singer’s shoulder in a gentle kiss, tasting strawberries and peppermint. Axl sighed softly, allowing his eyes to slowly shut. As he always did when he was with his fiancé, Axl felt truly happy. The limo started off, and Axl kissed Slash back, inhaling his nicotine and chocolate and coconut scent; tasting the bittersweet flavor of the Goldschläger they’d had with dinner.
By the time they’d reached the plantation, they were floating, drifting on an aphrodisiacal cloud of sweet lust. Axl reached into his back pocket and pulled the rings out, gave Slash an uncharacteristically shy smile, and handed them to the guitarist.
“Lovely,” said Slash, putting them in his shirt pocket, for easier access. He slipped out of the limo; held out his hands. “C’mere, baby…” he whispered, referencing Aerosmith’s Crazy, the first song they’d ever fucked to, and Axl twined his fingers in Slash’s, a soft flush rising up on his cheeks. He got out, and the younger man pulled him close, kissing his temple.
“Baby…” he murmured. “I love you…”
“I love you too, Saul…” Axl replied. He hoped it could stay like this forever, all soft words and warm touches and shy looks. He felt safe with Slash, safe with trusting him, in a way he had never trusted anyone else, not even Izzy. Three years ago, he’d given himself fully over to Slash, and in return he’d gotten the best relationship of his life. Oh, they were perfect together… glamorous and sexy and so different they completed each other, like the dark and light halves of the yin yang. Slash leaned over and kissed Axl for the millionth time that night, making him go weak in the soft heat of his arms; then he pulled away and twined their fingers together, coffee on cream.
“Let’s go,” he said, and they started forward.
The plantation was surrounded by live oak and cypress, beautiful trees overhung with Spanish moss. The gnarled branches bowed over the path up to the front door, twisting, cutting out the silvery blue glow of the moonlight. The emerald sheen of the leaves, combined with the green-gray glow of the moss, reflected on Axl’s eyes, making them stand out even more. Slash felt the timelessness of this place; he looked over at his redhead, all beautiful and pale in the dusky light, and he smiled, content.
And then they were at the door, and Axl knocked, his heart racing. A moment later, the voodoo woman answered: she was short, old, and dressed like a gypsy. She looked them up and down for a moment, then grinned, revealing cracked teeth, wizened gums.
“William and Saul,” she said. “Please come in.”
They went in together, the wood creaking beneath their feet, the smell of pine and candle wax strong in their nostrils. Axl looped one arm around Slash’s waist, hooking his thumb in his belt loops, and pressed a hot, slightly sweaty kiss to the side of his neck.
“Fuck…” he mumbled, hoarsely, his voice catching slightly at the back of his throat. A lone tear streaked silver down his cheek, and Slash paused mid-step, glancing at him.
“You all right, love?”
“Y-yeah, I just… I can’t…” Axl swallowed. “I can’t believe we’re really gonna do this… it’s such a huge step…”
Slash heard the slight tinge of insecurity in Axl’s voice and sighed. “Ax… I love you, you know that. And I want this with you. I can’t imagine being married to anyone but you… and when they legalize gay marriage for real… we can get hitched legally. Permanently.”
Axl’s lips curved into a pleasantly beautiful smile, his pale cheeks flushing red; only Slash was able to reassure him of anything that quickly. “You’re perfect, Saul, did you know that?” He leaned over and kissed him, and they kept walking.
The voodoo woman was waiting for them in a dining hall, with candles burning on a table; a single rose in a vase. She smiled as they entered, and stepped forward.
“Saul,” she said, “and William, are you ready to begin the ceremony?”
Axl nodded, ducking his head and letting his soft copper hair fall over his sharp emerald eyes. Slash released his hand and reached into his shirt pocket, pulling the rings out. He placed them carefully in her palm and stepped back, shaking his curls into their usual position, hiding his expressions. After a minute, he slid his gaze to Axl’s and smiled faintly, and the singer returned the smile.
The woman placed the rings on each side of the vase, her long fingers working intricately over the metal. She took two rose petals and lay them on each side of the candle. The only sound in the room was that of the soft rustling of leaves outside the great paneled windows.
Eventually, she spoke:
“William Rose and Saul Hudson, you have come before me this evening in anticipation of sealing the bond between yourselves. You understand that marriage is a lifelong commitment, and that, even if separated, the ties will never really be broken.”
Axl and Slash nodded, glancing at each other. Separate? No fuckin’ way. They were too in love; too close in thoughts and feelings. Slash could read Axl’s emotions simply by looking into his eyes, and Axl usually didn’t have to press Slash for very long before he revealed whatever might be upsetting him. Even if they did leave each other, it wouldn’t be for very long—their minds would force them to seek each other out.
“These rings are a representation of the eternal bond of your marriage and love,” the voodoo woman continued after a moment. “Saul, take one and place it on your partner’s finger.”
Slash reached out and took the ring with the emerald stone from beside the vase. He waited until Axl had turned completely to face him, then lifted the singer’s hand in his own and slid the ring on his finger, his expression softening. Axl felt tears springing to his eyes, and he had to swallow to hold them back.
“William,” said the woman, “please do the same.”
Trembling, Axl reached over and took the onyx studded ring, sliding it carefully over his lover’s callused finger. Then he slipped both hands into his, pressing their palms together, twining their fingers. He could not take his eyes off Slash’s face; he thought he might burst from happiness.
“Saul Hudson,” she said, now smiling, placing the two rose petals on their intertwined hands, “do you promise to love and cherish this man, William Rose, in sickness and in health, for better and for worse, for all the days you shall live?”
“I do,” Slash whispered, his emotions getting the better of him as he looked at Axl. Damn, he was beautiful; so perfect and amazing. The guitarist couldn’t figure out how he’d gotten so lucky.
“William Rose, do you promise to love and cherish Saul Hudson in sickness and in health, for better and for worse, for all the days you shall live?”
Axl’s mouth worked, and the tears he could no longer hold in began to spill out. “I do,” he said, his breath catching at the back of his throat.
“By the binding power of the rings you wear, I pronounce you to be married,” said the voodoo woman. “You may kiss.”
Slash slid one hand slowly around to the back of Axl’s head, and he kissed him slowly, gently, working their mouths together, feeling his singer’s tears, wiping them off with his thumb. When they pulled away from each other, Axl was smiling, his cheeks slightly flushed. He pressed his forehead to Slash’s and whispered:
“Thank you, Saul… I love you so much.”
“I love you too, Ax…” he murmured, and the world fell away around them.