The sun was starting to set. I only knew that because the sliver of light that seeped in under the rolling door was getting dimmer and pinker. This place had no windows. It was a shitty plaster box. But it was our place, and it was better than sleeping on the streets, tucked in some back alley like pieces of trash left to rot.
Axl had slept pretty much all day. I didn't want to leave him alone in case he puked in his sleep and choked on it. So, I'd been here with him, eating what was left of our stale Ritz crackers and making sure he was ok. He hadn't woken up once since he passed out last night from his alcohol binge. All I knew was that it was starting to get light out when he finally fell asleep, head in my lap, still fucking wasted. My how the tables had turned. So I'd wrapped him in a blanket and laid him up in the loft on the lumpy mattress.
But I was getting hungry and these crackers sucked. I didn't want to just leave Axl by himself, but we had no phone or anything to order pizza with what little money was left from our paychecks. I wanted to wake him up...but what kind of reaction would he have when he realized where he was and how shitty he felt? Damn. Why were our lives so fucking complicated?
Deciding that I really wanted to go get us both something to eat that wasn't shitty crackers, I climbed up into the loft and went to prod him awake. He was sleeping pretty peacefully, his red hair fanned around his milky face, his complexion perfectly smooth. I always envied how smooth his skin was; he never got pimples or anything. Lucky bastard. His breathing was soft and deep, his chest moving. The years and stress of life fell away from him when he slept. He looked...perfect. I really didn't want to disturb him, but it had to be done. Maybe he wouldn't be upset if I offered him food.
Biting my lip, I called his name softly and gently shook him. He didn't respond right away, and when he did he just moaned softly and didn't open his eyes. I shook him again.
“Axl...Ax...wake up...” I said quietly.
Finally, he opened his seafoam eyes. He was slow to come back to waking, and understandably so, especially after binge drinking the night before. He rubbed his (presumably sore) head.
“S-Slash?” Axl moaned, squinting up to look at me, shielding his eyes from the only lamp we owned. He sat up slowly, the blanket sliding off of him, rubbing his eyes roughly.
“Axl, not so hard...you'll rub your contacts out.” I said, feeling more and more like his mother. Since when was I the responsible one? He looked around, taking it all in.
“How did I end up back here?” He asked, yawning. Then the effects of his hangover from hell hit him like a freight train. “Oh...my head...”
“Man, I hate to tell you this, but you were fucking wasted last night. Like, gone. I had to haul you into bed. You threw up outside and everything. You've been sleeping all day.” I said to him. He looked at me, like he couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
“Wha--I don’t understand---” He said, rubbing his forehead. “How the hell did I end up back here?”
“You kinda--found your way back yourself.” I said, chucking the Ritz box aside so I could stretch my legs up on the loft. Axl stared at me again before scoffing.
“Good one, Slash. You’re good at storytelling AND kissing. Who fucking knew?”
...Ouch. Boy, you had to go right for the jugular, huh? Whatever, Axl, I’m not going to stoop to your snippy, hungover level. Not my fault you decided to go out and drink yourself under the bar.
“Dude, I’m telling the truth. You stumbled back here, drunk off your ass. You didn’t even know what planet we were on. I dragged you in here before the vermin got you. Or the cops. I’m pretty sure you’re picture is posted up on the wall in the sheriff’s office. I was worried.” And that earned me a death glare. Jesus, what the hell was his problem tonight? I pick the guy up off his drunken ass, drag him in here and put to bed, and he gives me lip?
“Oh, is that what you call it? What do you call what you did the other night then, huh? Friendly concern?” Axl sneered, trying to pick himself up, but his balance was still a lot off. I went forward to help him, even though he was being a bastard. “No thanks. I don’t need your help. Or want it. In case you forgot, Slash, I'm rather pissed at you for lip-locking with me the other night. Or did that not matter to you?”
Ok, fine, you stupid little bitch. You wanna go, let’s go! I’ve about had it now.
“Hey, I'm not the one who drank twice my weight in vodka last night, or maybe YOU forgot.” I said, running my hands through my curls in frustration. I should have just left him sleep. Stupid me should have known he was going to act like this. He always does. Axl ironed his forehead with his hands.
“Ugh...stop yelling...” He moaned.
“I'm not yelling, Axl.” I said, folding my arms, trying to bite my tongue, trying to cool it down now. Maybe fighting with him isn’t the best thing at the moment. “Look, what happened happened. I'm sorry I kissed you the other night, ok? Why don't we just go get pizza or takeout or something? You must be hungry, you haven't eaten since yesterday.” God, I WAS turning into his mother. He frowned, folding his arms.
“How do I know you didn't do anything to me last night after I passed out drunk, since you're the one who kissed me and brought me back here?” I gaped. Oh my fucking God! This is ridiculous! Considering he's the one who just spilled his feelings to me last night under the influence of 2 gallons of vodka!
“Axl, you know damn well I would never do anything like that! Who do you think I am? Jesus Christ! All because of a kiss! You're the one who told me you liked me last night and was all cuddly with me when—”
But I cut myself off too little too late. Oh SHIT! I just opened my mouth and jammed my foot right in it. Dammit dammit dammit!
Axl's eyes grew wide with horror. I had never seen an expression like that on his face before. Ever. Oh no. What did I just do? He drew his shaking hands up to his mouth, like he could not believe what he just heard.
“You...that can’t...you’re lying!” He cried, but I could see from the look in his eyes that deep down he knew it was the truth. I felt physically sick seeing him look like that. He watched me, looking for some sign of denial. My stomach sinking down to my toes, I shook my head. He crumpled into himself like a burning piece of aluminium foil, putting his hands over his head and looking at anything but me.
I got closer and reached out a hand to touch his shoulder.
“Ax...” But I hesitated. I’d never seen such a look of horror on anyone’s faces, and I’ve watched a lot of slasher films.
He was crying. Crying. Like, I had never seen him cry before in the two years I had known him. I’d seen him fall off his skateboard and break his wrist, and I’d been in that car accident(*), but he never cried. Not until this very moment. Shards of glass spilled from his brilliant eyes and fell onto the blanket still covering his scuffed leather pants. He buried his face into his hands. Fuck... No way would I have ever guessed that he would've reacted like this...
I did the only thing I could think of. I sat in front of him and pulled him into me. I rubbed his back gently with one hand and cradled his fiery red head with the other. His head fell against my shoulder, and the dam broke. He sobbed into my collarbone without restraint. I could feel molten drops soaking through the cotton of my beat-up T-shirt, feel the shuddering breaths and hiccups as he let loose all his feelings in a flood.
“Oh G-God...what have I d-done?”
“Shh...you didn’t do anything wrong...It’s gonna be ok. Don’t cry…” I ran my fingers through his dirty, but still slightly silky, hair.
“I-I’m sorry..so sorry…”
“Why are you sorry…?”
“I--I don’t know!”
“Then don’t apologize. It’s ok…” I just kept rubbing his back, trying to calm him down while feeling absolutely awful myself.
Good thing we didn’t have a clock in here, because I knew it had to be night by now and I didn’t want to know how long he’d been crying.
(TO BE CONTINUED...)