Categories > Celebrities > Guns n' Roses > Concrete Jungle Gym

Time Gone By

by SADIS 6 reviews

“We were a secret?” Izzy asked. “What was the secret? What was the secret, Will? You never told me.”

Category: Guns n' Roses - Rating: G - Genres: Angst,Humor,Romance - Published: 2013-05-31 - 3706 words

“No! Wait! I know it’s here! Jeff, please wait!” William screamed, falling over a chair as he reached for the shrinking figure. Jeff didn’t turn. He never did, but William swore the misted figure’s step faltered this time. If only he could reach him. He’d throw his arms around the guitarist’s waist and beg for forgiveness. Then Jeff wouldn’t have left him. He would have held him. William knew Jeff would and William would have opened up to him. He would have showed him all those feelings that threatened to overtake him everyday with each breath he took.

Jeff only faded faster. William ran harder, legs flying under him, but it was useless. The walls faded into the distance, as if he were running backwards. With a final scream, Jeff was gone.

Axl bolted awake with a violent jerk of his legs. A warm body shifted beside him. A sleep-heavy, paw-like hand brushed his cheek clumsily, mumbling reassurances. Craning his head, he found Duff’s newly opened eyes filled with concern.

In a way, Axl was happy to wake up with someone’s arms around him. Someone who would hold, and touch him, but his pious mind still rejected it. He hated the idea of another man coddling him. He was a guy for fuck’s sake. This wasn’t right, but the toned arms felt good and warm around his waist. If he closed his eyes, he could almost pretend the arms belonged to… No, he wouldn’t do that. Not again. He couldn’t. It wasn’t right. Shaking his head, to eradicate himself of that horrendous thought, he heard a voice.

“Are you okay?” Anxious sienna eyes questioned him, from behind matted blonde hair. Duff had dyed it again. The fumes made Axl dizzy, so Duff had told him this was the last time for a while, but then he went back and dyed a dark almost charcoal gray streak. Axl had laughed and sat in the open window.

“Mm fine,” Axl grumbled, pushing Duff away. The blonde watched Axl stand and stumble slightly from sleep. His body wasn’t fully awake yet. Axl winced when a shot of pain tore up his skin as he tried to pull on a t-shirt.

“Do you know who it was?” Duff asked.

“Never do.”

Duff let the subject drop. Then he beamed brightly, as he ruffled his bed head.

“Oh! Here.” Duff passed him a balled up napkin. Axl opened it, finding a blueberry muffin. “Helped out at a lunch rush over at Canter’s Deli and they gave me a muffin.”

“And that was all you got for your work?” Axl asked, taking a huge bite.

“No, they paid me too.” Duff grinned sheepishly, pointing to a full bottle of vodka. “Just wanted to treat myself, and I also got some guitar strings.” His face brightened even more. “Speaking of which, I found a band! They seem cool and they need a bass player, and a singer. I told them I’d swing by this afternoon, for a formal tryout, and said you might be interested too. Want to come?”

“I don’t sing,” Axl replied, around a full mouth.

“But you told me you did?” Duff cocked his head, confused.

“Did. That’s the opportune word there.” Axl whipped his head around, and then pushed his hair over his shoulders. “Where the fuck is my bandana?”

“It’s in the sink. There was a lot of blood on it,” Duff said with trepidation.

“Don’t ever, fucking, touch it again!” Axl screamed, ripping the sopping wet fabric from its water bath. He wrung it out, pausing slightly. “There was already blood on it.”

“I’m sorry I touched it,” Duff said apologetically. Axl sighed, looking at the tall lanky blonde. Duff’s eyes drooped, as he tucked his chin into his chest. How can someone so big and powerful look so small, Axl wondered. He rolled his eyes, but placed a hand on Duff’s shoulder, causing the blonde to jump.

“Hey, man, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have snapped at you.”

“I’m sorry too, dude,” Duff replied, then held out his hand. “I swear to you, I didn’t take this. I found it beside the dumpster in the alley.” He dropped Axl’s golden cross in his palm. “Must have slipped off your neck when the fighting started.”

Axl’s fingers danced along the chain. He wasn’t even a month old when he was baptized. Yet his parents gave him the silver chain, a persistent memory of the silver coins that Judas earned for betraying Christ. He had worn the reminder since he could remember. The cross…the cross came later. It was a present at his Confirmation, from the one person he never thought would give him something like this. Jeff.

Jeff had made it for him with his bare hands. He said he wanted to show respect William and that he accepted every aspect of him. Unfortunately, it only added to William’s guilt. He shook his head, placing it back in Duff’s hands. “Thank you for finding it, Duff, but I’m done with this. I’m done with my past.”

Duff looked from Axl to the necklace. The silver rope dangled carelessly from his fingertips. The pendant pricked his palm.

“So, uh,” Duff began, pushing away his immediate questions. “Do you want to come with me, to check out the band later?”

“Naw, you go and report back to me. Let me know if they’re cool or just a bunch of lame ass posers. I’m gonna go make some money.”

The bright and shiny Sunset Strip still didn’t glimmer like the beacon that had illuminated the TV screens back home. Nonetheless, California was bright. Random rockers lined the gutters watching and waiting for a suit to stroll up and offer them a contract. Or they scoped out the strippers, hoping they’d buy them food or give them head, whichever came first.

Nobody was hiring. Again. The stores were walls of cold reflective shop windows that bore nothing but streaks from window cleaner. Axl shuffled along, getting bored and more agitated with each step until he came to a telephone pole, littered with paper graffiti. Rancid colors encircled the wooden column flashing garishly in the harsh afternoon sun. One pamphlet stuck out to him. Pristine crisp typeface set on a pungent white paper, perfectly straight edge and meticulously stapled to the pole.

Frowning slightly, he tore it off the pole to read it. UCLA’s medical school conducting a study on smoking. Need human test subjects. $8/hour. Free lunch. Axl was sold on the promise of money and a free lunch. Not because of the immaculate achievements of graphic design the flyer exuded.

Walking into the sterile clinic was like venturing into an uncharted jungle. Clammy and stuffy, the waiting room was bare save for a couple med students studying quietly. The receptionist, though nice, was formal and stiff.

Axl hated the lingering presence of death that wafted in the air. People entered hospitals, but only a few could navigate the way back out again. Trying to push the unease out of his mind, he set to work filling out the medical form as best he could. He grew bored of that and decided to make most of it up, including his name.

Once done, he walked around the waiting room, staring at the dreary sand colored walls that attempted to bring some warmth in this god-forsaken place. Poorly designed abstract paintings draped lifelessly on the decaying walls. When he first got to L.A., he was told the city was a jungle and he was going to die. Biting his lip, he wondered if the premonition was coming true. Was he dead? No. Shit, he didn’t believe that voodoo shit. He was a Christian... no he couldn’t be that either, could he? His hand flew to his shirt collar. He wasn’t wearing his cross anymore. Despite giving up some of his beliefs it made him even more nervous not to be wearing it.

Tracing his fingertips along his naked flesh his gaze fell to the children’s corner. Two little boys sat next to each other, building block structures before knocking them over with their trucks. They were nestled amongst a canopy of vivid primary colored walls and exciting paintings.

He liked the paintings in the children’s section better, pictures of safaris and rain forests. Animals roamed the canvases in their sheer, raw beauty, untouched by human hands, or society. This was art Axl could relate to. The world is a jungle, he thought. Sometimes, all he wanted to do was drift away into the secluded underbrush. In a way he had done just that when he left home.

One of the boys playing laid his head against the other’s shoulder, coughing slightly. The other patted his head, as he tried to distract him with the fire engine. Their moms smiled at the pair as they talked. The boys were so happy together. No one ripped them apart.
“Fucking shit!” Axl yelled. The room turned on him, alarmed.

“Bailey Thompson?” He stood up. The med student nodded. “This way please.” He followed her to room number 101.

A small gathering of people were scattered about the room. Some were glam rockers, UCLA students, and still others looked like reputable members of society. Axl glanced over the people with little interest save for one.

A cobalt shadow gleamed in the thick sterile air. The thin figure leaned thoughtfully against the floor-length window. A cigarette dangled at his skinny thigh. A sheen of blue danced in his black hair beneath a cowboy hat.

Axl nodded intermittently at the med student who explained the case study, but his focus kept drifting to the cowboy. Smiling to himself, the man looked like something he and Jeff used to dress up as to get sent home from school early. The ripped black pants were tight and disappeared into heeled worn out boots. A loose thrift store blazer hung over the boy’s thin frame. When he shifted his weight Axl saw a flash of a pink scarf, and a black and white Marilyn Monroe t-shirt.

“All right Mr. Thompson, do you need anything else?” Axl shook his head. The med student nodded and left.

Axl hit the box against the palm of his hand before pushing one up, catching it with his lips. Flicking the lighter, he inhaled the sweet tobacco. Silent as the night wind, the rail thin cowboy appeared beside him. Reaching out a slender hand, the cowboy took a box. Tapping it three times against his thigh, he then tore it open with his teeth. The simple gestures of his movements eradicated any doubt from Axl’s spinning mind.

“Jeffrey,” Axl said, in a low voice that was several octaves deeper than most of his singing voices.

Cold umber eyes flickered up. As they met Axl’s, their body's tensed. Turning, the cowboy looked at Axl curiously. His jaw clenched, but his eyes started to dance with excitement. This is a good sign. He recognizes me, Axl thought.

“William.” The voice was still the same sultry ragged voice he remembered, but different, more raspy. A smile cracked like a bolt of electricity over his face. The smile flew to Axl’s lips. He forced himself to suppress an excited whimper as those dark eyes warmed his soul when he saw the flecks of sienna ignite.

“Well, fuck, dude, you know I don’t bite,” Axl chided.

Izzy laughed as he threw his arms around Axl’s neck and drew him into his chest. Axl hugged back feverously, running his hands through Izzy’s dyed hair. The cowboy hat fell to the ground. William’s dream had come true. Finally, he saw Jeff’s reaction. Burying his nose deeper in the wild dyed mane, his cheek brushed a large hoop earring, Axl found that odd, but he still exhaled happily. Izzy didn’t smell like fresh air and stolen bourbon. His scent was harder, more powerful, but he could pick out a small trace of his Jeff. Axl did not just say that.

Izzy pulled away to flip off the person who cleared their throat at them. Axl’s eyes flickered between the two slightly bewildered.

“I know. Couldn’t do that back home.” Izzy smirked.

“Hell no,” Axl mumbled, not letting his grip slacken from Izzy’s biceps. He yelled loudly, “Go fuck yourself!” Turning back to Izzy. “You look… different.”

Izzy smiled. “I like it.”

“You look like a chick or a gypsy.”

“That a compliment?” Izzy teased. Axl shrugged, rolling his eyes in mock annoyance. “Hey, let’s grab those recliners.” The two quickly jumped into the sagging leather chairs, draping their limbs over the arm rests like kings.

“So when did you become a cowboy?” Axl asked, knocking Izzy’s cowboy hat off again with a swift kick. Izzy grinned as he leaned down to pick it up. His smile illuminated his brown eyes, removing any grime from the porcelain orbs. Axl liked that. Izzy smashed the hat down over Axl’s head, covering his eyes. Axl didn’t like that.

“I was going for a sort of glam Jungle Jim.”

“I remember that show,” Axl said, readjusting the hat so he looked like an outlaw. Dropping his voice to a low southern grumble, he said, “We used to watch it at your house, since my Dad hated TV. Always sucked when the electricity went out though.”

“Those were some of my favorite times, Will,” Izzy said. When you were in my bed, and no matter how hard the thunder pounded the house, you remained at my side, curled against my hip. In my arms, we made each other stronger, happier. “Bet you loved the paintings out in the children’s area.”

“Yeah, they reminded me a lot of that show. I watched you… there were kids playing with some toys and shit.”

“I don’t remember the toys, but I remember you did love animals. Well, except snakes. You still want kids, William?”

“Don’t call me William anymore. That fuck’s dead and gone. I’m Axl now, Axl Rose.”

“I like William,” Izzy replied sincerely and earning himself a hard glare from Axl. Izzy rolled his eyes. “Fine. Then you have to call me Izzy Stradlin.”

“What is that your stripper name?” Axl asked. Izzy cocked a curious brow, the whites of his eyes illuminating in the glow of his lighter.

“I don’t strip.”

“Too bad,” Axl drawled softly. He peered out of the corner of his eye to watch Izzy’s reaction. Izzy had a hazy smile on his lips, but otherwise wasn’t perturbed by Axl’s comment.

“My name came from a cowboy I found in a bar.”

“Ha! So you are stripping or a stripper named you! Or are you still seeing imaginary people, Izz?” Axl snickered, pushing Izzy’s shoulder. Izzy kicked him, but laughed along with Axl.

“Haven’t been in L.A. long, have you? Seeing a cowboy is pretty normal around here. Seeing a nun, now that is unusual.” Izzy grinned mischievously.

“I think I’ve found my permanent home,” Axl mused, “Those nuns were damn scary in school with their fucking yard sticks.”

“High school wasn’t much better. Same fucking kids, same fucking attitudes, same fucking rules,” Izzy said. “Anyone burn it down yet?”

“The school or the church?” Axl asked with a sly smirk, completely unaware his fingers kept tugging at the top button of his shirt.

Izzy’s fingers touched the base of Axl’s neck, creeping under his shirt collar. Axl pressed his lips together harder to still the soft moan that danced on the tip of his cherry mouth.

“You finally gave up on religion?” Izzy asked, withdrawing his hand.

“The fuck you care!” Axl snapped.

“I don’t. I told you I don’t when I…” Izzy sighed. He mumbled ‘fuck’ and turned away. Axl pulled the hat down lower, trying to shield himself from the outside world again.

“I still have it, somewhere, you know,” Axl said as he reached into his pocket. “You can have this back.”

“My bandana?” Izzy murmured, fingers traversing the fabric. “I thought I’d lost it. And you claimed you hadn’t seen it, asshole!”

“I’m a liar, blow me,” Axl replied. Izzy’s eyes flew wide. Realizing what he said, Axl kicked Izzy off the chair with his boot. Izzy picked himself off the floor and leapt into Axl’s lap.

“Get off. You’re heavy,” Axl moaned.

“Not until you take this back.” Izzy held out the bandana.

“Why should I?”
“Because I said so,” Izzy replied, wiggling around.

“Fine, whatever. Now get off!” Axl grabbed the bandana and tried to push Izzy off, but he just clung tighter. With a laugh and a sneaky smooch on the cheek, Izzy untangled his arms from Axl’s neck and slid off Axl’s lap. “How did you pick this dump to move to, anyway?”

“I’ve always liked the ocean,” Izzy said, stomping out his cig.

Axl nodded, puffing on his cigarette.

“What made you come here?” Izzy asked.

“Just did,” Axl responded. The pair fell into a charged silence. The air between them crackled and spit with energy, but neither could harness it yet. Neither knew exactly what else to say. Both grabbed for another cigarette. Fingers brushed the others, but they both each pretended not to notice. Their blushes told otherwise.

“So, you have a place to live?” Izzy ventured.

“Yeah. I’m staying with a musician I met when I first got here.”

“Tall, gangly, blonde guy,” Izzy mused, his fingers flicked the ashes from his cigarette.
“How did you know he was blonde?” Axl frowned.

“Peroxide is plentiful on the strip. That, and aqua net.” Izzy shrugged. Axl rolled his eyes. Something had visibly shaken Izzy. He could tell, especially when the wise ass was sarcastic. It was usually a dead giveaway.

“So, are you a drummer in a rock band yet?”

“No. My kit got stolen out of my car a year ago. I play rhythm guitar now.”

“Good, you can start writing.”


“You always wrote decent shit in English when we had poetry.”

So did you. You just never turned your shit in, Izzy thought with the faintest smirk. He remembered sneaking peaks at the poems when Axl had fallen asleep. They were the most beautiful words he’d ever read.

“I don’t want to know what you’re thinking.” Axl shook his head, knowing that trace of a smile.

“You still sing?” Izzy asked, trying to get back to their favorite subject. Music.

“I’m in a band. We need a singer.”

“Where do you want me?”

Izzy cocked his eyebrow puckishly. Before Axl could groan in disgust, Izzy said, “Gimme your arm.” Axl glared. Izzy smirked. “You always lost your school papers, so why the hell would I trust you with a piece of paper?”

“I never wrote a paper,” Axl pointed out. Izzy grinned, holding the cigarette away from his hair. Axl mumbled something incoherent.

“Secrets, secrets, are no fun,” Izzy teased.

“That’s all we were, Jeff.”

“We were a secret?” Izzy asked. “What was the secret? What was the secret, Will? You never told me.” Izzy studied Axl, but the red head’s face remained poker straight. Tapping his arm, Axl huffed impatiently. Izzy rolled his eyes, quickly pricking Axl’s arm with the point of the ink pen. When he was done, Axl looked over the address imprinted on his arm.
Izzy leaned back, draping a long leg over the arm of his chair, exhaling smoke from his cigarette. Axl knew Izzy would fade into the calm silence. The kind of silence the ‘quiet’ Axl loved to envelope himself in. The serenity of it was the ultimate escape from his home and his own tortured mind.

Watching Izzy lounge sedately in the chair, he bit back a smile. The tight t-shirt hugged his friend’s chest perfectly. Staring harder, he could almost see Izzy’s tiny nipples poking out…No. Axl wasn’t going to check out his friend’s nipples, again.

“Tony and Jill got hitched right out of high school,” Axl said, breaking the silence. He had been in silence for too long. He wanted more from his life. He wanted light, and piercing cries of passion, and to escape the haunting phantoms of his past.

“I give it a year,” Izzy said, exhaling a puff of smoke.

“She got his house, the kids, and his brand new car, a week before I left.”

“Well fuck, I should have put money on that one.” Izzy laughed, slapping his knee. With that encouraging laugh the silence lifted, and the two friends continued talking about old times.

At the end of the day, they stood outside the clinic. Izzy kept his hands in his pockets. Axl kept the black cowboy hat low obscuring his face from view.

“Well, man, I gotta split. See you around, okay?”

Axl nodded, not realizing Izzy was literally leaving again.


“We’re using our old names again? I thought we had new ones.” Izzy turned.

“Habit. I’ll. I’ll see you around,” Axl said smugly. His dream had come true again. A few quick steps, and his arms were hugging Izzy’s angular body to his own. Izzy patted his shoulder, rubbing it slightly.

“Yeah. I hope you do, mama.” He whispered the last word. Axl drew away as the two walked in opposite directions. Izzy descended into the cold forbidden underbelly, Axl wasn’t yet a part of. Axl treaded into the unglamorous barren streets of the Sunset Strip. Each not yet seeing the vines they had tangled themselves in, but they felt its force and presence in their lives. The web of their heartstrings was starting to weave together again and was pulling them back together.
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