"Whichever one is from Chicago arriving at two." Duff answered. He and Slash were standing before one of those evil cluttered boards at the airport, looking for Izzy's flight. Izzy's flight had been changed, moved from the 16th to the 11th and Izzy had called them explaining the situation. He hadn't been able to change his rent-a-car or hotel reservations, so he was meeting them at the airport and would be staying with Slash for a few days.
"United Flight 3372 from Chicago has landed. Passengers can claim luggage at claim three." A voice came over the intercom. Slash and Duff exchanged a look and decided to wait at claim three. Within ten minutes a familiar man came into view, a messenger bag over his shoulder.
"Izzy!" Slash called waving at him. Izzy looked over at him and smiled, hurrying over and hugging Slash.
"I haven't seen you in years! I missed you!" Slash smiled and held Izzy a few seconds longer than he probably should have, but he loved the tingly, happy feeling he got from Izzy's closeness and loved his scent, wild, spicy-sweet, and homey. He let Izzy go and watched as he hugged Duff briefly.
"What do your bags look like?" Slash asked, watching the claim.
"There are three of them, they're all black and very plain. Ones a duffel-bag, there's one of the roll kind, you know with the little wheels, and an actual suitcase suitcase. I tied green bandannas on them to be able to identify 'em." He said.
"I'll go get one of those little carts and go out to get the car ready and pick you guys up at the door." Duff said, heading off.
"So, how've you been?" Slash asked. He'd barely seen Izzy in years, they'd talked on the phone every couple weeks but never really had time to talk and hang out in years.
"I'm..." Izzy hesitated. "I've been okay..."
"Yeah, pretty much."
"There are the bags." Izzy said changing the subject and walking forward pulling the bags off the claim just as Duff showed up with the little cart.
"Let's go." Duff said and lead the way out of the airport, Izzy and Slash following, Slash pushing the cart. They spent the drive in relative silence. Izzy was a combination of tired and, what seemed like to Slash, uncomfortable. When they arrived at Slash's house, they hopped out and thanked Duff for the ride. Duff waved and drove off.
"C'mon." Slash helped Izzy with his bags, bringing them up to the door. As they got up to the door, it opened and a friendly looking woman with long red hair came rushing out.
"Saul, darling!" She kissed Slash's cheek, hugging him briefly. "And you must be Izzy, welcome!" She hugged him too. Izzy looked extremely uncomfortable. "I'm sorry, I overdid it a bit, didn't I? I'm sorry. Saul, inside, I'll help you with your bags Izzy." She helped them get the bags inside. "Welcome, sorry it's a bit of a mess, but I had to get dinner started. And Saul, that snake of yours...I can't get it to leave the guest bathroom."
"I'll get him out and help Izzy in, you just focus on dinner okay honey?" Slash kissed her. She smiled at him and Izzy before heading back into the kitchen.
"Sorry about Perla, she's usually a little mellower, but she's just excited about, well, lord knows what, but she--"
"It's fine." He said, casting Slash an oddly sad smile. Slash opened the door to the guest room.
"Here we are, this okay?" It was a simple room, almost like a hotel room, nightstand, dresser, double bed, desk and TV with a small bathroom.
"Of course." He set his bags down and laid back on the bed.
"I'm going to go get the snake..." He quickly scooped one of his little pets out of the tub. "You little monster..." he said to it, lovingly before taking it out to the hallway. "Go find Perla..." The snake slithered off, not really in search of Perla but to explore. "Snakes gone Izz..." He walked back in and Izzy was still laying on the bed, his eyes shut. "Izz?"
He sat by Izzy whose eyes opened. "What?" He looked...broken.
"What's wrong?" he asked, looking straight into Izzy's eyes. Izzy looked away. "Look, I'm really sorry about Perla, but if you don't like her--"
"No. She's lovely. She's a wonderful woman. I'm happy for you. It's not about Perla." He sounded partly upset and partly annoyed. Slash sighed and laid next to him.
"Then what is it about?" He gently reached out and took Izzy's hand. "What is it? Please tell me." Izzy's eyes fluttered shut and Slash could tell he was about to cry. "Please Izz." He couldn't stand seeing Izzy like this, something was terribly wrong. Izzy gave a sob and tears were starting to roll down his cheeks. Slash pulled Izzy to his chest, holding him close. "Oh Izz..." he whispered, nestling Izzy against his body. "Please tell me, I don't want to see you so sad. Izzy gave a sniffle and took a deep breath. But Slash never expected the words he uttered,
"Annika left me..."