After a while, Izzy calmed down and pulled away as Slash gave him a box of tissues. Izzy blew his nose and wiped his eyes. "I'm sorry, just seeing you so happy with Perla, it just, you know, I..."
"Hey, it's okay." Slash hugged him again, patting his back. "If you're okay for a bit, I'm going back downstairs cause if I've presumed correctly, you didn't really want anyone knowing about the divorce am I right?" Izzy nodded. "So we probably don't want Perla coming looking for me." Izzy nodded again and they shared another quick hug before Slash went to the door.
"You really won't say anything?" Izzy sounded scared.
Slash smiled reassuringly. "I won't say a word." They shared a smile and he left the room shutting the door behind him.
"Hey sweetie, how's Izzy? You were up there for quite a while..." Perla was standing at the sink washing lettuce. Slash was glad he was wearing a black shirt; Izzy's tears didn't show.
"He's fine. We just talked for a bit."
"He's so quiet, I mean, I know I just met him, but he practically doesn't talk."
"Yeah, he can be kind of quiet at times." He decided to change the subject. "When's dinner going to be ready?"
"In a bit, you can go visit with Izzy some more. How long has it been since you've seen him, seven years?"
"Don't tell me you didn't miss him? He seems so sweet, i mean from what you've told me and what very few words he's said to me."
"I did miss him."
"Just giving him some space?"
"Yeah, he's always been kind of like that. But he's still wonderful."
"I know. Is he up in his room unpacking?"
"He's up in his room, I don't know what he's doing."
"Hm." Perla nodded and began cooking boiling water for spaghetti. Their conversation just seemed to stop dead, not necessarily in a bad way, but just ended.
And Izzy chose that moment to poke his head around the corner from the hallway. "Hi."
"Oh hello. How're you? How was your flight? Are you hungry?" Perla turned and smiled at him, sending a barrage of well-meant questions his way.
"I'm fine. The flight was okay, and I'm not really hungry." He seemed to shrink back slightly, lingering in the doorway like a child. It was in that moment that he looked older to Slash. He had been surprised by the change in Izzy when he saw him at the airport, but now he could see the beginnings of deep lines forming on Izzy's face. His hair was short, no longer shoulder length and curly, boyish and adorable. He looked tired, his eyes dulled, and his outfit wasn't helping. He had been wearing jeans and a button down at the airport but now in sweats with bare feet he looked so much older, his youth worn away by his rough life. Slash then realized he was staring at Izzy. "What?"
"Nothing. You just don't look very well, are you alright?"
"I'm okay." But he still stepped forward and rested his head on Slash's shoulder.
"Hmm." Slash soothingly put and arm around him, Izzy's eyes closing as he gave a sigh, his arms going around Slash's waist. Perla just watched, not saying a word to break their intimate moment. "Do you want to nap before dinner?" Izzy shrugged.
"I wouldn't mind getting some sleep, but I'll stay up until dinner. Um...could I maybe lie on the couch for a bit?"
"Of course Izz. You want me to sit with you?"
"If you want." They left the room, Izzy laying down on the couch like he said he would, curling up in a ball, his head on the armrest. Slash sat next to the sofa on the floor.
"Are you sure you're okay?"
"...No. But I will be eventually..." Izzy gave him a sad smile. Slash could only give him a pitying look.
"I'm here for you, you know?" Izzy nodded. "Perla'd probably back down a little if she knew about Annika, well...actually she'd probably hug you and try to make you feel better. She may do either..."
"You can tell her if you need to..." Izzy replied before closing his eyes. "I think I wanna be alone for a little."
"Okay Izz, I'll come get you when dinner's ready." He wanted to pet Izzy's hair or rub his shoulder or back for a second, but decided against it. He'd upset Izzy with asking about telling Perla; he felt bad for making Izzy feel bad, but if Izzy was going to be an ass about it...
He took a deep breath before stepping back into the kitchen. "Sorry about that."
"Am I allowed to ask about that?"
"Are you mad?"
"No. No, no. I'm just curious as to what's going on with Izzy. I have the feeling he's normally not like this."
"You're right, he's just...he hasn't seen me in years, he missed me and he's been having issues back in Indiana a bit this year."
"Hm...dinner's about ready..."
"I'll go get him. You sure you're not mad?"
"I'm not mad Saul. Seriously."
"And you won't say anything to Izzy?"
"I'm not going to not talk to him, but I won't talk about whatever that moment was that you two just shared."
"Thanks honey." He gave her a quick kiss on the cheek before going back into the living room. Izzy wasn't there. It was then he saw the open patio door, he stepped out and saw Izzy lying in the hammock, curled up, his face buried in his hands, his shoulders shaking. "Oh Izzy." He whispered to him, kneeling beside him. Izzy looked up at him with sad, hurt eyes. "Izz," he whispered and held his arms out, Izzy shifting up to return the hug, sniffling. "Izz, it's okay. It's okay." He gently rubbed Izzy's back. He realized another thing about Izzy now, his changes with age. He had more substance to him now, he was still slim and lovely but he had definitely gotten healthier, probably a good 30 pounds, at least, heavier than his hardcore drug days, but he still felt small and fragile in Slash's arms. He sniffled again and pulled back, wiping his eyes.
"I think I'm okay for now, do I look like I've been crying?"
"Only a little, give it a minute. Deep breaths." Izzy nodded and soon looked normal, no evidence of tears on his face. "You'll be alright." He helped Izzy up and they walked in.
"I thought you two had gone missing, I was about to come looking for you. Sit down, I'll be there in a second." Slash and Izzy obeyed seating themselves around a small kitchen table set for three. Perla returned moments later, setting plates of spaghetti with garlic bread on the side in front of them before going back and bringing bowls of salad and glasses of water. "Eat up boys." she said, sitting down in the remaining chair.
They all began eating quietly until Perla broke the near-silence of the room. "So, do you like it?" she looked over at Izzy smiling. Izzy nodded.
"Yeah, it's great." Perla smiled sweetly at him, comforting and kind.
"So when are you planning to go into the studio?" she continued.
"A little over a week..." Izzy began and explained why and all sorts of other things, soon good conversation was flowing between all three, laughter and joy in the atmosphere of the room. Izzy looked and felt happy, and alive for the first time in a few months.
"I think a while back Saul told me you have a wife, how's she?" Izzy froze. Slash looked over at him worryingly.
"Are you not feeling well again?" Slash said, quickly changing the subject and covering for him. Izzy nodded. "C'mon, let's go upstairs." They both rose, Slash gently wrapping an arm around Izzy's shoulders. They quickly left the room. "I'm sorry, I had no idea she'd asked that..."
"No. It's fine. Thank you for what you just did. I really appreciate it." Slash smiled.
"Anytime Izz." Izzy return the smile before sighing as they entered his room. He flopped down on the bed, peeling his sweats off, revealing an old shirt and a pair of boxers. "Sleepy?" Izzy nodded, crawling under the covers. "Okay." He gently squeezed Izzy's shoulder before turning to leave, only to have his hand grabbed by Izzy.
"Could you sit with me for a bit, not very long, but you know, just sit, maybe hold my hand?" Izzy sounded horribly embarrassed.
"Of course." Slash sat by Izzy's side, their hands together, until the rhythm guitarist was sound asleep, his face relaxed and peaceful. "Goodnight Izz." He whispered, rising and as an after thought, bending over and pressing a soft kiss to Izzy's cheek before leaving the room.