I've been staying awake in the front seat for days Let the wheel turn and take me away Oh, the truth I must tell Is I'm lonely as hell Still looking for myself
Arms wrap around your waist and a light kiss was pressed to your shoulder, you feel soft hair against your cheek and a sigh caress the skin of your neck but the atmosphere was wrong, something wasn’t right; it feels like a goodbye embrace. “Saul. Saul I can’t take anymore, I’m leaving; it’s over” with one devastating murmur the gentle embrace fades away, leaving you desolate and icy, this chilling touch expands leaving fiery brands over your future. Your present. Prolonged misery marred by short bursts of sunshine and glorious joy, short bursts that were growing every day, growing, growing ‘til they’re big enough to experience true euphoric love and they’d run off too, to chase the dream that everyone was searching, but hopefully, hopefully, you pray, they won’t experience the bitter ending and crush down to reality that you did.
“Slash?” he stirred and looked towards the source of the noise “You ok?”
“Wha… yeh I’m fine; just zoned out, what were you saying?” he answered quickly, resolving to focus on Albion, his brother, his baby brother and not dreams mixed with the words of half-forgotten memories “Tell me” he insisted when silence and a worried gaze had been his response
“Just talking about Tracii, you remember him right? Tracii Ulrich? You guys were pretty close, yeh?”
“For a while. What about him?” Slash answered guardedly, the acrimonious flavour of regret and guilt thick on his tongue.
“Well not much, just saying that I hear about him every now and then. We don’t have to talk about him if you don’t want to” Albion mumbled, drawing patterns in the split sugar on the table with his finger as Slash shook his head
“No, no it’s fine. How’s he been?” the elder asked, only just realizing how much he did actually want to hear about the other
“He’s been ok I think, very proud dad at the moment…”
“He’s got a kid?” Slash interrupted with a frown as Albion nodded
“Yeh, graduated from high school a year early and won a scholarship to Julliard”
“Who’s the mother?”
“No one knows, I doubt Tracii knows himself to be honest, it was a one night stand and she named him as the father but left the baby at the hospital, she was gone by the time they had managed to contact him” Albion finished with a shrug and they both lapsed into silence once more, save the occasional sip and background chatter of the other patrons of the coffee shop.
“You should talk to him again you know” Eyes flicked up from the table top to meet Albion’s sincere tone
“You should talk to him again. I don’t know why I just feel like you’ve been different since you guys stopped hanging out and… maybe; maybe that’s what you need. Make peace with your past and all that” Slash stared for a moment before lowering his eyes; he supposed he could see the sense in that; with a sigh and a short nod to his brother, he stood murmuring
“Yeh. Maybe I should” he made his way to the door, lost in his thoughts and missing the concern on his younger brother’s face as he watched him leave.
You were at a party, a party hosted by someone you didn’t like, surrounded by people you didn’t like and who didn’t like you, drinking booze you didn’t like. They were his friends, this was somewhere he wanted to be but that was just it, he wanted to come here and you’d promised to do anything you could to make it up to him. Including this stupid party. Things were slowly beginning to improve at last, after weeks of watching him flinch away from your touch and hearing him whimper if you tried to do any more than kiss, hug him or hold his hand. Last night was the first time he’d stayed at your house, hell the first time he’d been back in your room, since it’d happened. You managed to pass it off as the drugs, swore you’d never do it again, and blamed Steven for giving them to you. He’d believed you. Just. You think it was the bit about Steve that sealed it, he’d never liked him. Even so you stuck to it, stuck to your promise ‘cause despite the many times you’d heard that you didn’t know what love was at that age, high-school relationships never lasted; you knew. You knew that he’d always have a place in your memories, your heart; you still had one. Not many believed that anymore especially your redhead, you’d hurt him the worst but that was another reflection, for another day. Getting back to him, you knew he had a place, you knew he had a place in your future. Whether it was a physical place depended entirely on you winning his trust back but you’d gone and screwed that one up hadn’t you?
He’d made it home. Don’t ask how, one minute he was pulling away from the car park, the next he was sat in his driveway, Cash and London knocking on the window of the car, just returned from school and wondering why he was just sat there. A smile tugged the corner of his lips and he climbed out quickly hugging them both to him tightly, the sudden inexplicable urge to cry strangling his throat. London wriggled away after a moment or two, heading for the front door but Cash, always the more sensitive, remained “Are you ok Dad?” a quiet whisper of concern as his father pushed his hair to the side and kissed his forehead before giving his curls a ruffle with smile that had more than a touch of sadness to it
“I’m ok little man, just got a lot to think about it”
“Can I help you?” this put a grin to his mouth, gaining an answering one from Cash
“’Fraid not, this is grown up stuff” he told him, picking him up causing a squeal as he swung him over his shoulder
“It don’t seem like much fun being a grown up!” Cash giggled as his dad set him on his feet and leant in conspiratorially making Cash lean forward as well and Slash whisper into his ear
“It’s not fun to be a grown up, that’s why I only pretend” an infectious giggle left his son before he hugged him once more around the middle and ran off to join his brother on the Xbox; a smile was still playing on his lips as he watched his bursts of sunshine for a moment and headed towards the stairs, towards his office/studio down in the basement that provided his secret garden.
You’re back at the party, dwelling on the trust issue again. You’re trying, you really are, and you don’t wanna lose him so you’re trying. More than you ever have in the past, more than you ever will in the future because there’s something there, there’s something there; you fear you’ll never find it again and falling in love wasn’t ever meant to be this hard, it was never meant to cause fears, jealousies, insecurities, dizzying heights of overwhelming joy that make you want to cry from the sheer extremities you experience. It was never meant to be a whirling mass of miscommunication and new darker emotions that make you shiver to think of them; although whether in pleasure or disgust depends on which lie you’re telling yourself today. But you’re trying, and he appreciates it, tells you each time you force your wandering hands to stop; “You’re trying” he murmurs “And that what matters”. The bruised, rubbed raw redness of his wrists has faded now and healed to a faint raised pink line, he ignores them; he used to hiss in pain if they were touched yet guilt still flashes through you at the sight of them, you always avoid touching or seeing them when you reach for his hand and you try to hide from the thrill of excitement that threads in a rush through the guilt but like those marks it’s there. Taunting you, haunting your illusions, hovering at the precipice until you reach your climax and it blazes forward to tip you off the edge. And you fall, fall, fall, the harsh, sharp rocks of guilt being your cushion as you plummet to the, your, unforgiving conscience.
He raised his head from the desktop with a groan he needed to stop thinking about this, needed to stop thinking about Tracii, what the fuck had brought it on? He hadn’t seen the younger man in years, hadn't spoken to him for even longer than that. There was no reason to be thinking about the other, there was no feasible answer. Other than the conversation with Albion earlier, Tracii wasn’t a topic he discussed regularly. Admittedly he was a rather painful topic and one that Slash tended to avoid despite attempts from Steven. “Slash! Come upstairs!” a scowl twisted his mouth at her voice, he didn’t regret many relationships, many of their endings yes but the actual relationship was hardly ever regretted. But Perla; Perla was regretted, their marriage had brought about the end of, not only a self-destructive era but one of the best but most abusive relationship that Slash had had. “Slash!!” there it was again, her voice grates harshly on his hearing and he did his best to avoid it unless strictly necessary, god what had he done by marrying her? Curse drug addled minds for believing that he’d found love with that woman!
She explains once he’d managed to drag himself reluctantly to the kitchen, that the kids had gone to their friends’ and they were “all alone” for the evening, voice dropping in a way he’d once thought seductive, body pressing against his, he forces himself to play along, forces his lips to react, to form a suitable response, lift his hands and slip them around her waist, this is wrong, the curves are all wrong but she’s his wife. And he’s her rock-star husband, as much as he wishes otherwise. It’s time to perform marital duties and keep them ‘happy’.
He appears back at your side, your arm automatically snakes over his shoulders, he doesn’t mind this, doesn’t mind public affection too much, he doesn’t want to look like a prude bitch in front of his friends. Hmm, maybe this party was a good idea after all. He breathes a ‘thank you’ for coming into your ear and presses a sudden kiss to your cheek, surprising you; normally you’re the one to instigate kisses you turn your head hesitantly, wondering how far you could take it but before you can consider it any further his lips cover you, indulgent, chapped cushions of warmth. Blindly you set your cup down, atypical plastic red, and hold him properly to bask in this unexpected fondness; his fingers card through your hair, twining some of your curls around his fingers as his sweet mouth leaves yours, easy smile on his lips as you see in his eyes a little more trust be added back to your name; you smile back unspoken gratitude as he presses another swift kiss to your cheek and disappears back into the throng of people milling around this guy’s house “He told me what happened” urgh, it’s his supposed friend, Rob, the asshole, you grunt non-committedly and pick your drink back up, peering suspiciously into the murky depths(what the fuck is this shit anyway?) before knocking it down your throat with a shrug and turn to Rob with a sneer
“And?” he glares at you, glances quickly around them, at the crowds, before stepping forward in an obvious attempt to intimidate you
“And you’re to keep your hands off him”
“Don’t push me” you snarl back, stepping up as well so you’re practically nose to nose “What exactly is Tracii to you, Gardener? You wanna look after him? Keep the fuck away”
“You can’t tell me to stop hanging out with him” you laugh mockingly and toss the cup away, the liquid tasted like piss anyhow
“On contrary I can, the argument we had prior to it, was about you” with this you lean back against the window frame and watch the conflicting emotion flit across Rob’s face “We argued because you can’t keep your filthy hands to yourself and because of it I did stuff I shouldn’t which led to more arguments which led to me getting high to forget about it, and me getting high, Rob, me getting high led to that incident you’re talking about” Rob remained silent, watching him cautiously “So when you think about it, it was caused by you” he watches you for a moment before muttering unconvincingly
“That’s bullshit, this ain’t my fault” a sneer fast-tracks back to your mouth as you answer him
“Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but you don’t wanna risk it now do you Rob?” the silence that follows spans dangerously until Tracii breaks it, nestling back into your embrace as you kiss him deeply, ensuring Rob knows just who’s with the dark haired beauty
“Hey Robbie” He smiles at Gardener when you break apart and you watch him, waiting to see what he does, Rob glances at you, returns the greeting and for a moment you think he’s not gonna listen, that you read him wrong until he mumbles
“Gotta go Trace, just seen Jackie” and makes his way across the room, confusion haunts his departure and Tracii turns back to you remarking
“That was weird” you smile and shrug, taking him back into your arms enjoying the way he snuggles into your chest, alcohol mixing with his natural honeyed scent, he’s more relaxed than you’ve seen him in ages and a flicker of guilt ignites before you squash it and say
“I know; he’s normally all over you. But he had just been complaining that you’d been a whiny bitch for the past month or so” hurt flashes in his eyes and a hand covers his downturned mouth
“Rob said that?” you fake concern and cuddle him closer
“Yeh, he came over to ask if we’d argued recently so I told him yeh we had, and he said well that explains it, I asked what he meant and he said that you’d been acting like a little bitch for ages” the lie slips easily between your teeth, not a hint of doubt was in Tracii’s eyes as he looked towards the crowd, towards where Rob had disappeared to, visibly upset in the downturned wobble of his mouth and the pain in his eyes “It’s a good thing you came over when you did babe, I was all ready to knock him out for saying it” he hummed in acknowledgement and turned to you, pressing your lips back together for reassurance whispering once you pull away
“I haven’t… have I?” you shake your head promising soundly that he hadn’t and even now the branding fingertips of remorse only surface when you’re feeling sorry for yourself, even now when you knew the irreparable arguments that that lie had caused between the two friends. But Rob was always too close to him, always too close, it would have been so easy for that stupid drummer to steal him away had he put the effort in, it was like Izzy with Axl, they were far too close and you were too paranoid to see that it was merely a close friendship and if there had been a chance of it being anything else Axl wouldn’t have been with you. But you had to ensure that Axl was yours and yours alone, just like Tracii had been, but Tracii had got away unlike Axl, you’d left Axl for the woman you now have to share your life with and maybe that’s what was making you dwell on him, Tracii had got away he was still one of the few people that had left you not the other way around. That had to be it, you were left wondering about Tracii whereas with all the others you knew they wouldn’t work despite your best efforts and so you left, not caring for the messes you left behind but Tracii had done it to you, he’d been your first heartbreak and it had taught you to be cruel, taught to leave before they left you. And that was it, that was it, he was the unresolved past, you could never resolve it with Axl, you’d hurt him too badly for him to ever forgive you but he was moving on, you could see it, see him opening up to that kid, the latest one in a long line of guitar players for his band. But Tracii, you didn’t know about Tracii; perhaps you could see him and convince him to give you another chance, this could be your happy ending and his name was leaving your lips audibly. It’s time to wake up before Perla noticed and you end up in another screaming match with her.
“Tracii. Tracii” the name was being mumbled as Slash opened his eyes, his mouth was dry and tasted salty he pulled a face and grabbed the glass of water set next to the bed, he could hear the shower running, so that’s where Perla was. He swung his legs out of the quilt and reached for his short, Japanese-y dressing gown, she entered the bedroom again and came over to his side of the room for a kiss and a hug, giving him a smile, he smiled back robotically but he was feeling calmer, he was going to find Tracii.