Duff gulped looking down at his fragile band mate. Izzy trusted him. To do what, he wasn’t sure. Izzy leaned up supporting himself on his elbow bringing their faces closer. A hand threaded in his...
Slash had watched the pair disappear into Nikki’s room. He didn’t stick around to listen. Okay, he stayed a few minutes, but after the thuds and groans died off, he left. He found the hotel bar and sat down with a bottle of Jack to think things over. He believed the two to be happy. He was happy for Izzy. Okay, not really. He wanted Izzy to give Duff a chance, but he understood why Izzy pushed Duff away and ran to Nikki.
Duff was great, loyal, sweet, kind, hot, but pure. Izzy didn’t want pure - it was too close to innocent. Slash hadn’t necessarily been a total virgin when they hooked up, but Izzy had taught him most of what he knew now. Axl wasn’t a virgin when he and Slash hooked up. Duff on the other hand had never been with a guy, ever. Izzy didn’t want that responsibility. Not again.
Duff was also too close to Slash, too close to the break up itself. He was Slash’s best friend. How would that look dating your ex-boyfriend’s best friend? Nikki was far more removed from the situation, which gave Izzy comfort and a feeling of security. If Slash had money, he would bet that Izzy hadn’t told Nikki much of anything about the past because he wants to forget it. He knew Nikki wouldn’t press it unless he felt Izzy was withholding something he wanted.
Nikki wasn’t out to hurt Izzy, Slash thought. Did he love Izzy? Well, he doubted that either one of them was looking for that. The two were probably loving fuck buddies at most. Could it lead to something? Possibly, but that left Duff out in the cold.
“Axl, baby.” Slash’s smile faded as he saw the torrid red head rip into the room like an angry whirlwind. Axl swung and hit Slash square in the jaw, knocking him to the floor. Curling into a ball, he clutched his jaw, looking up into the fiery emerald eyes.
“How the fucking hell could you do that?” Axl screamed higher than his singing voice ever had. He was pure rage. “How? How the fuck…Damn it, Slash you told me…Fuck! How could you do that to Izzy? He loved you, dumbass!”
Shit, Axl knows, Slash thought.
“Baby, listen, I can expl…”
“Don’t you fucking, baby listen me! Don’t talk to me again!” Axl tore out of the bar just as quick as he had entered it. He ran to a secluded lonely end of one of the hotel floor’s hallways. Falling to his knees, he pounded the walls again and again as tears spilled down his cheeks as sobs shook his body.
Duff had been wandering in search of Izzy non-stop since being mobbed by the horde of crazy fans. His guitarist had disappeared. He kept at the search despite his gut telling him where his band mate had wondered, or been dragged off to.
A stream of copper red tresses flew out of the bar entrance in a frantic rush. Axl? He looked disconcerted. Quickly the blonde took off after him, concerned, but a gruff moan caught his attention. He stopped at the entrance to the small hotel bar. A bloodied mop of clothes and curls lay in a ball on the floor. Axl was out of sight so Duff hurried into the bar fending off the approaching bar attendants.
“Slash, what the hell happened?” Duff asked, stripping off his t-shirt to use as a makeshift rag, wiping away the blood oozing from Slash’s face down his chest.
“Izzy told Axl.” Slash flinched as Duff wiped his forehead. “What I did.”
“Slash,” Duff said slowly. “Did you ever love Izzy?”
Slash hung his head, hair swallowing his face. Duff turned away trying to accept the silent yes. Focusing every facet of his being to squelch the desire to beat the guitarist to a pulp, he pulled Slash to his feet, gently towing him to his room.
Duff helped Slash into the bed he shared with Axl. The guitarist curled mutely to the right side where the singer usually slept, pawing slightly at the bitter cold sheets. He was disheartened but not a corpse like Izzy had been. A mumbled voice cracked over dry, bloodied lips. Duff took the hint and left.
Duff’s mind roiled again as he lay back against the headboard. He hated Slash. He wanted to kill him. Yet he hated the thought of hating his best friend. Slash had been in love with Izzy. A part of him probably still was in love with him. Because, honestly, who wouldn’t be, he thought. Izzy was a great guy once you got pass, his nonchalant, somewhat surly demeanor.
Propping himself against twice the normal amount of pillows, Duff’s mind began to drift as if it were a boat bobbing in the sea. Every so often he found his fist curl angrily around a pillow, squishing it. Relinquishing his grip, the pillow slowly sprang back to life, never reaching its original state.
Maybe Steven was right - maybe he should be more aggressive. What did that mean though? By nature Duff wasn’t violent and was concerned for everyone in the band. He loved all of them. He even liked Axl who could be an asshole at times and Slash who had all but ruined Izzy. But Duff needed to be assertive. Izzy needed that or at least liked it. Right? Should he go find him and drag him away by his hair like a cave man? That’s barbaric. Duff sighed, sinking into the plush hotel bed. It smelled slightly stale and the air was clammy.
A soft rapping at the door lured Duff out of his thoughts. Slipping from the comforter he found his way to the door. His eyes widened as he opened the door.
“Hey, man,” Izzy said softly with a vague smile.
“I-zz,” Duff croaked.
“Well, don’t act so surprised to see me,” Izzy said with an attempted laugh - it failed. He tilted his chin upward. “You have someone in there?”
“What? Oh, no,” Duff said stepping back from the door. An odd scent drifted off Izzy as he passed under the blonde’s nose. The exotic aroma stirred urges deep inside the bassist’s belly, but he pushed those aside. He couldn’t just jump Izzy. He couldn’t. Izzy didn’t need that.
“The show was off tonight,” Izzy said from his cross-legged position on the floor. Duff blinked confused. “We were on, but Axl and Slash were… their hearts just weren’t in it, you know?”
“Yeah,” Duff said as he sat next to the guitarist.
“How did you manage to get away from the crazy fans?” Izzy asked, playing with Duff’s frayed jeans. The blonde smiled to himself.
“I shouted, ‘look Axl and Slash are making out!’” Duff said.
Izzy laughed. “Axl’s going to be pissed at you for that one.”
“It worked, so I’ll take his wrath,” Duff said smiling back.
“I’ve been thinking a lot, you know.” Izzy paused. Duff waited knowing he wasn’t supposed to respond. “About, a lot of things I guess. Me, the band…you.”
“Made any decisions yet?” Duff asked after a few minutes of silence.
“I still have more questions,” Izzy said as he laid his head against Duff’s thigh staring at the far wall, still picking absently at Duff’s jeans again. “How did you find me?”
“When I left the house, ending up in the dumpster with a gun.”
“Guess I just tried to put myself in your position. I tried to think if I were you where would I go, what would I do.” Duff sighed remembering that day with solemn depression. His hand began stroking Izzy’s hair as if trying to calm himself. Izzy allowed the gesture to continue.
“Wasn’t I doing a good job looking all happy and shit?”
“Yeah, that was my first clue,” Duff said with a gloomy smile. His thumb brushed over Izzy’s thick eyebrows. Dark eyes looked up, shining bright in the hotel lamplight. “You played it too well. You’re a great actor, but I couldn’t believe you’d snap out of it that quickly. Not after the look you had when I found you in…”
“Axl didn’t notice,” Izzy cut in. His eyes clouded over with melancholy, hurt. Duff tugged a loose strand of hair.
“Axl was caught up with Slash,” Duff said. Izzy didn’t flinch, but Duff felt his body grow colder. “Not much of an excuse, but that’s what I think it really was. He still cares about you.”
“And you’ll always care for me.” Izzy exhaled. He readjusted his head in Duff’s lap, looping an arm around his knee, tugging him close, like a child clutching a blanket. Duff’s long fingers slid down to run lightly along his shoulder blade.
“Always,” Duff confirmed giving Izzy an affectionate squeeze.
“And you’ll always find me, won’t you?” Izzy pulled back, resting on his hands and knees to stare at the blonde who shook his head.
“Always,” Duff said with a slight smile. It faded fast as he saw a familiar look in Izzy’s eyes. “You’re going to leave, aren’t you?” Duff asked sadly.
“Not tonight,” Izzy said.
“But you will.”
“Will you let me?”
“I wish you wouldn’t run, but you always do,” Duff said remorsefully. Izzy stretched on his back, raising his left arm above his head, he looked up at the blonde, waiting.
Duff gulped, looking down at his fragile band mate. Izzy trusted him. To do what, he wasn’t sure. Izzy leaned up, supporting himself on his elbow, bringing their faces closer. A hand threaded in Duff’s hair, pulling him close. The bassist rested his lips on Izzy’s forehead before trailing down Izzy’s strong nose. Trepid lips ghosted over the red lips resting on the guitarist’s chin. He moved to Izzy’s lips that parted slightly, but closed and pulled away whenever Duff came too close. Izzy pushed Duff away, softly. He watched and waited.
“Talk to me?” Duff whispered taking the guitarist’s shoulders in both hands. Izzy nodded as Duff climbed over him. Lying on their backs, they laid their heads on each other’s shoulder, staring at the ceiling. From time to time Duff moved his head to face Izzy, letting his lips grace the soft flesh of his cheek, but never piercing.
“Remember when we use to steal that drug dealer’s pick up truck and drive out to the middle of fucking nowhere and lay in the bed like this just to look at the stars?” Izzy asked.
“When it was too hot to be in the hell house?” Duff laughed. “Yeah, we’d fall asleep and end up tangled together or on top of each other every morning.”
“We should do that again,” Izzy said. Duff smiled.
“Look at the stars?” Duff asked.
Izzy remained silent, but his lips found Duff’s cheek. He pressed a delicate kiss to his cheek, ending it with a flick of his tongue. Duff moaned in surprise, earning a slight smirk on the guitarist’s face.
Nikki awoke smiling to himself as he felt his body groan from last night’s activities. Last night was heaven and he was about to wake up to his gorgeous dark angel. Reaching out a long arm he felt the cold sheets. With a bone-crunching jerk, he sat straight up. Izzy was gone.
“Looking for someone?” A poisonous voice asked. Blackie sat in a nearby chair, swirling the remains of the previous night’s wine.
“What the hell did you do with him?” Nikki roared, rising onto his haunches.
“I didn’t do anything.” Blackie flicked his wrist. “You didn’t tie your little angel down and he flew away.”
“Shut the fuck up! Where is he?” Nikki stormed around the room sending his elaborate decorations flying.
Blackie tossed the wine glass against the wall. Shattering, the red liquid dripped down the wall like blood. He seized Nikki’s hair, bringing him back against his chest. Pressing his toxic lips to his ear, he snarled.
“Calm yourself, little Nikki, and think where would the little guitarist scamper off to? Who would have a strong enough pull on him to draw him away from your bed?”
“That fucking blonde, fuck.” Nikki seethed, forgetting the head splitting pain from the strain on his hair. Blackie jerked harder.
“There’s a smart boy. Now what are you going to do about him?” Blackie taunted with amusement.
“Fucking, kill him,” Nikki howled wrenching himself free. He tore out of the room, barely having time to pull his pants on before sprinting to the Gunner’s floor.
“Ah…fuck.” A drunken voice moaned as Nikki’s foot collided with Slash’s elbow. The guitarist rolled over onto his side, clutching his head as he looked up at the bassist.
“Izzy’s gone,” Nikki repeated then arched an eyebrow. “Why are you outside your own room?”
“Axl threw me out,” Slash hissed as he sat up, leaning against the wall, swaying slightly.
“That skinny kid’s a helluva lot stronger than he looks.” Nikki mused before fixing his glare onto the guitarist. “Now where the fuck is Izzy!”
“Where Izzy is,” Slash moaned rubbing his head as he rolled onto his back.
“Izzy’s gone?” A growling voice asked as a door opened. Slash covered his sunglass face, dreading Axl’s explosion. “Again? Why the fuck is he gone again. Both of you! It’s all your fucking faults. Ever since either of you fucked around with him he’s never around!”
“Look, I don’t know what this fucking clown did to him, but what I do with him is none of your fucking business!” Nikki yelled back, matching Axl’s volume and wrath.
“Damn, fuckers, just shut the fuck up. It’s too fucking early!” Slash groaned from his place on the ground.
“You stay out of this! I’ll get to you in a minute.” Axl pointed a finger at the hung-over guitarist. He turned back to Nikki. “As for you, you stay the fuck away from Izzy. You’re not worth the mud on his boots and you sure as hell don’t deserve him, you fucking second rate musician asshole…”
Nikki seized Axl by the throat, cutting him off and tossing him into the wall, squeezing tighter as he bared his teeth. Axl sneered back despite the air being choked out of him.
“Izzy is mine, fire head. All mine and always will be, so the sooner you shut up and tell me where he is, the sooner I can put you down and let you breathe again.” Nikki’s hands loosened as he collapsed onto his side, muttering a curse.
Strong tanned arms caught the red head before he fell on top of the bassist. Still wheezing, the singer looked up into the angry blood shot eyes of his lover. Slash’s eyes fixated on Nikki, looking past Axl as if he were a ghost.
“I’m your friend, Nikki, but I want you to remember something.” Slash’s voice was hard and slightly less slurred. “This one’s mine, fucker, and I don’t ever want to see you touch him ever again.”
Together, Slash and Axl limped into their room, kicking the door closed. Nikki hissed as he rested against the door listening.
“Are you okay?” Slash asked trying to rub Axl’s neck.
“I’m fine.” Axl pushed Slash’s warm hands away.
“Axl, kitty cat, talk to me, please?” Slash crawled on his knees over the bedspread. “You know I love you.”
“Then why did you break up with Izzy? Didn’t you think that would hurt me too?”
“Axl. I was high and drunk all the time then. I couldn’t think of another way out.”
“Why didn’t you just ask me out?”
“Would you have said yes?” Slash whispered. Axl turned away, running a hand through his hair.
“Baby.” The guitarist held out his arms. “Please, you can be mad at me, you can hate me, but please, just let me help your neck feel better. Please.”
Axl stared at Slash, weighing his options, unsure of what to make of his lover.
The phone rang. Slash grunted irritated, but reached over and picked it up when Axl pointed to it.
“Hello? What? Du-you’re where? Man you gotta speak up I…okay…Yeah, on my way.” He looked at the waiting singer. “Duff says I need to go pick him up.”
Axl nodded, heading to the bathroom. Placing a hand on the doorframe he said Slash’s name in a low voice. The guitarist looked up.
“If you don’t bring Izzy back, I’m out of the band.” Axl disappeared into the bathroom, leaving Slash alone.