If somebody had asked him how it had happened, Duff wouldn’t have known what to say. He would have stammered something about going to a bar, meeting Kurt Cobain, talking to him, and then… and then what? Fuck knows! He got lost inside those eyes, blinded by that golden hair… he was hypnotized! Something other than him led him to do that! Yeah! That was it!
Or maybe he was drunk. Yeah, drunk just with a couple of beers. Drunk on beauty and drunk on the excitement of something new, of something forbidden. Drunk on danger.
That was why he got inside his hotel room and responded to Kurt’s hungry kisses. It looked as if the grunger was dying with desire. For him? Perhaps, perhaps not. Duff couldn’t help thinking Axl had been the same with Kurt. And now Kurt was playing Axl’s part. Why? God, this man was complicated.
Complicated, but irresistible, Duff concluded, when their clothes began going to the floor and Kurt started showing himself, a little slowly and teasingly, in all his naked glory. Duff had never felt attracted to a man before, but… oh God. Kurt Cobain was the last temptation. The Devil himself. And something inside his tight leather pants he had not taken off yet agreed.
“I think you want your pants off, Mr. McKagan,” the grunger teased.
The bassist looked down in a somewhat stupid gesture. By now, it was obvious he had to shake those pants off. He did so, and then turned to Nirvana’s leader and both started kissing again, their hands free to roam all over their bodies, the feeling of their skins brushing against each other’s just helping the night’s mood. Kurt’s skin was warm and soft, Duff thought, as he started kissing the other man’s shoulders and chest, doing the same thing he did whenever he was with a girl. Except he was with a man. Well, he needed a starting point anyways.
And it may have been a good starting point, for Kurt answered with a moan that sounded like a purr. Very well then.
So, Duff moved over to Kurt’s nipples, and started caressing them with his tongue, the left one first, then the right. He sucked on them, kissed them, left love-bites. Then he started trailing down the skinny body, on to the navel, and on to… he jumped to Kurt’s thighs, not because he was teasing, but because he felt a little awkward at the sight of Kurt’s erection. He kissed and bit the skin near it, but he wasn’t going to take the dick in his mouth. No, not ready. Instead, he grabbed Kurt’s butt (not so big, but nice, he thought) and started massaging it, while he kissed the singer’s hips.
“Yeah… that’s good, McKagan… my ass is what comes next…” Kurt groaned. Duff stopped the massage and kissed Nirvana’s leader, trying to hide the fact that exclamation he’d just said had made him a little nervous. Kurt saw it in his face, and answered:
“Don’t worry. Axl taught me a thing or two… and I’ll take the hard part… cunning wordplay, hey, McKagan?”
Duff felt his voice freeze in his throat once again and nodded silently, though a second later the scream he let out made up for all the silence. Kurt was sucking at his length: he was not deep-throating it, but sucking, licking, and even teasing with the teeth. Right at the tip! The tall bassist felt he was about to faint. He lost his footing and fell face up, his long legs a heap on the floor. He was about to climax… he looked at Kurt almost pleading him to go on, but the other man smiled and gave him a small peck.
“No, not now McKagan. If you cum, I’m going to miss the interesting part. And I don’t want that to happen. And I’m sure you won’t want it to happen as well.”
The bassist agreed to everything Kurt said. It looked as if his wishes were his command, even though he felt uneasy yet again when he saw Nirvana’s singer placing himself, legs spread apart like a girl, on top of him… on top of his cock, naturally lubricated by precum.
“Kurt, are you sure—oh, fucking God!!!”
The grunger started, slowly and carefully, to impale himself on Duff’s shaft; yet, when his muscles started applying pressure on the bassist’s sensitive organ, that was enough to drive the taller man wild. God, Cobain was tight. And it felt so good, so fucking good… like fucking his wife, but with a forbidden twist that made it sexier.
Finally, Duff felt he had reached something. A deep, long moan from Kurt confirmed his thoughts.
“Yeah… McKagan… there it is… now... roll over…”
And, once again, the bassist obeyed. He placed his hands on Kurt’s back and they both rolled on the floor till he was on top. They were face to face now, the taller man looking deep on those pale blue eyes… and the grunger reached out for Duff’s long blonde locks and kissed him deeply.
“Now… you know what to do, McKagan.”
All right, then… Duff started moving inside Kurt, and quickly got the hang of it. Kurt’s moans and passionate whispers (“yeah… hell good…”) encouraged him to bury his shaft inside till he touched the grunger’s prostate, over and over again. Also, he felt a tickle every time Kurt’s erection brushed against his hips and navel. That was arousing as well, so he pulled his body even closer to that of the skinny blonde, and kept on going in and out, kissing him passionately. It was almost as if Kurt had been a woman.
And Kurt was enjoying it as well. Not only had Duff become an expert at finding his sensitive spot: also, the fact the taller man had wanted to get closer in order to feel the tickle of his erection, had resulted in the grunger’s dick being trapped between two bodies; between two sweaty, hot skins. This friction was heavenly… so Kurt came before Duff, getting them all dirty with his fluid. The bassist came inside of him a while afterwards, and rested his long messy blonde locks on the grunger’s chest.
However, it wasn’t very long before Duff went out from his state of ecstasy to that of suspicion. He pulled out of Kurt and looked at him, so peaceful, his eyes closed, as if deeply enjoying the moment. God. So fucking beautiful.
“Hey, Kurt…” the bassist whispered, feeling a little guilty to disturb the wonderful image in front of him.
The singer’s eyes fluttered open.
“What’s the matter, McKagan?” he whispered back, in a soft voice that sounded almost tender.
Duff doubted a little before simply saying:
A crooked smile lingered on Kurt’s lips. Suddenly, he sat up, kissed Duff lightly, and went to his clothes. The bassist remained seated.
“Why, Kurt? Why?” it now sounded as if he was asking the question to himself.
“I needed to,” Kurt’s voice rang out. Duff raised his head violently.
“But why, Kurt? Why did you need to?”
Nirvana’s leader faced him. Looking rather serious.
“It was Axl’s fault. Blame him. I was just like you. Wondering why. And I thought about it so much, thought about my past, people I knew, about times when I had wished I was a woman… but I also thought about desire. About lust. About that night…” He paused, then added: “Those are the reasons why.”
Duff now looked like a confused child. He stared right at the floor.
“But… why me?”
Kurt, now fully dressed, walked over to him and cupped his chin in his hand.
“That’s the easy question. You’re a pretty thing, damn right you are. Maybe I also picked you because you reminded me of my wife somehow.” He smiled and went on: “And you were staring at me at that bar in the first place.”
Duff didn’t know how to take that observation: if as a compliment, or as an offence. But he had so many things to ask… there was no time to ask Do I really look like Courtney?
“But… why me and not Axl?”
“He desired me. That wouldn’t work. I had to find somebody to desire. I had to feel just like him that night…” The next words were more to himself than to Duff: “I had to understand. I had to. And, anyways,” he added, recovering his usual tone, “I’m pretty sure Axl had a normal life to go back after that night. You know, his girlfriend, or whoever, and all that. I didn’t want to make him think I could be in a relationship with him. That’s something I can’t do. Calling him now would have been like asking to rekindle the flame.”
Oh. So Kurt considered what had happened between him and Axl as something that needed to be explained rather than an act of love. But maybe he was right. After all, Axl had a life to go back. Not with Stephanie, but with Slash. Maybe Kurt had done the right thing by reminding him it had been a one-night stand.
“And what about you?” the bassist wanted to know.
“I told you already. Now I guess I understand Axl. I’m going to think about all of this.”
Understand Axl? No, no you don’t! Before he could stop himself, Duff let it all out.
“Do you even know that Axl has been fucked up ever since that night? Do you know he’s fucking everything up because of you?”
“He will fix it,” Kurt replied, and his voice sounded firm. “He knows how to fix things.”
Not sure about it, Duff thought, things are bad.
“Maybe if you had stayed with him…”
The bassist was surprised that he was not “McKagan” anymore, and also when he saw Kurt’s eyes looked sadder. He asked why yet again.
“I fuck things up. Being with Axl will just result in things being more fucked up that what they are now. And that’s why. Axl will do without me…” He looked at Duff straight in the eyes, and whispered: “People will do without me.”
This said, Kurt opened the room’s door and walked out. Duff, forgetting he was still naked, wanted to run after him, but stayed halfway behind. The words about giving everything up and about understanding rang deep in his mind. He didn’t know what Kurt was thinking or trying to prove. What was inside that man’s mind?
Duff was taken from his thought when a very angry voice rang out Matt’s room:
“Yeah, I’m fuckin’ here already… we came here early because Slash puked on all the bar… what? Right now? It’s fuckin’ midnight man! Fuck you!.... OK, but only THAT song!”
The bassist started getting in his pants as quick as he could. When Matt knocked angrily at his door, he had just finished getting dressed.
“Duff? Wake up already.”
He came out, pretending to have just awoken.
“Wassup?” he slurred.
Matt looked at the bassist’s wrinkled clothes and thought he had fallen asleep without bothering to undress.
“It’s good you are still dressed. Axl motherfucker wants us back in the studio. The faggot song again. He said he wants you to come too, to play the bass lines for another song.”
Duff said nothing, but went to the studio with all the guys, and sat down, looking at them record “Since I Don’t Have You”.
That was when he noticed something. The guys looked tired and angry, but Axl sang the song in a passion, as if trying to make the dead listen to his message. For a moment, Duff thought he was singing to Kurt, but then he couldn’t help notice where his leader’s eyes trailed every now and then.
Kurt had been right. Axl could get along without him.
He just couldn’t get along without Slash. And that song, the song everybody hated and that was driving them crazy, the fucking corny ballad, was Axl’s way of saying he was sorry, so fucking sorry, though Slash was working on his solo and didn’t seem to notice.
Kurt went back to the hotel he was staying in, hoping nobody would see him. So, when he saw Dave walking with Nirvana’s new rhythm guitarist, Pat Smear, he trailed behind. Yet, he could hear bits of the conversation between his bandmates.
“Has he always been like that? So serious, and like sad and stuff?” Pat was asking. It was then that Kurt decided to follow. He was suddenly sure they were talking about him.
“Well… he has been sadder recently,” Kurt heard the drummer answer, “but I wouldn’t call it… well, not sadness. It’s just that Kurt is a guy who’s very passionate about things. I’m sure Krist would agree with me.”
“Yeah. You know, what happens with Kurt is that he cares too much about things. So… well, you know, something you may consider unimportant may be a big deal for him. That’s what makes him look so sad sometimes. He worries too much.”
That was all the blonde singer wanted to hear. He let his bandmates go and drifted off to the hotel bar. They were right, he thought. He cared about people too much.
Kurt walked to his room after a beer, the room he was sharing with Krist. He wanted to be alone with his thoughts: he would ask Krist to excuse him. Yet, when he came in, all the band was sitting around a table playing cards.
“Hey Kurt!” Krist greeted his friend with a hug, and then turned around to the table. “Wanna join us? We have not been playing for long.”
“No thanks,” Kurt answered with a sad smile. From the corner of his eye, he noticed Pat eyeing Dave, as if saying, See what I’m talking about?
“I’m going to work on a new song,” the blonde man continued. “Can I use your room, Pat, Dave?”
“Sure, go ahead… But are you sure you don’t wanna stay?” Dave insisted.
“Maybe I’ll come back later.”
Kurt grabbed his guitar case before anybody could insist, took the key from Dave, and went to the other room. There, he turned on the TV, on MTV, and, instead of taking the guitar, he rummaged around the case. Yet, he was not looking for his needle.
What he took out was a wrinkled cutout from a magazine. It was a picture of him with Courtney, at their wedding in Hawaii. He was wearing his pajamas and both were holding bouquets. He looked so happy…
What had gone wrong? What had happened? Wasn’t it a perfect love story? He had tried to overcome his heroin addiction, unsuccessfully. He tried to make Courtney do the same, and yet it didn’t work. And then there was his daughter, Frances. He loved her, he really did. And she was taken away from them. She was taken because, even though he was her very father, he could not give her the life she needed.
Kurt listened to himself playing, and turned towards the TV. “Lithium” was on. Krist usually laughed at those coincidences, saying it was fun to look at Kurt on TV and then to turn around and find him sitting on the bed. Well, Krist hadn’t considered it was also an uncanny sight, seeing yourself on the screen. And “Lithium” was a collage of all their live performances. So, Kurt did not only see himself, but his band, and his fans…
And what was wrong there? Had he not achieved the American dream? Unpopular kid from suburbia makes the stage and hits big time, becomes world famous and everybody listens to him, and loves him. He has everything.
Now Kurt thought about the band. About Krist, his friend since the beginning, and how his mother had let them rehearse on their house. Krist and his mother were responsible for the existence of Nirvana. He would have achieved nothing without them.
Then there was Dave. After the first drummer, Chad Channing, had left, Dave had taken the drums and done a great job. The guy was so talented, that Kurt sometimes thought he should leave Nirvana to him. Surely Dave could front a band. Maybe it was a good idea. He could retire and leave everything in Dave’s hands. Pat was there. Krist would understand…
But would the crowd understand? For some reason, the crowd loved him. Kurt wasn’t sure why. Yet, he knew he didn’t love them back. Maybe he had once, but not now. He had stopped feeling the thrill of playing live. He just wasn’t sure he could go out once again and make everybody believe everything was alright with him and that he was having the time of his life. God, why was he such a pathetic man? Why was he fooling not only his fans, but Dave and Krist as well? Why was he fooling his friends? A horrible person. I must be a horrible person.
A piano sounded on the TV. A shiver ran down Kurt’s spine. He knew that intro too well now. Some dickhead had decided it was a good idea to play Nirvana’s “Lithium” just before Guns n’ Roses’ “November Rain”. Two years ago, perhaps, this kind of coincidence would have gotten on Kurt’s nerves. Now, it just reminded him of Axl…
Axl. Axl Rose. God. Something else that was fucked up in his life. He felt a little ashamed for it. After all, Axl had been crazy for him. The grunger felt hurt. Axl had, if not loved him, at least wanted him in a blind and sincere way. The rocker didn’t care about his flaws, his doubts, if he was a horrible person or not. In fact, he had wanted him in spite of all these things that were wrong, so wrong, in spite of the hate he felt for him at the beginning… and there comes Duff and says Axl is fucked up now. Shit. Was he to blame?
Duff. Duff too. He had tried to understand Axl’s feelings, but he had no idea how to do it. And into the bar walks Duff, as if led by fate’s invisible hand, and Kurt chooses him as his victim. He decides to want him blindly, as Axl had wanted him. And what happens? Kurt wasn’t sure, but from Duff’s eyes when their encounter was over, the grunger decided things were not right.
‘Cause nothing lasts forever, not even cold November rain…
All those lives. Kurt felt sick. All that people, and he had fucked them up. All of them.
The beautiful man left the cutout on the hotel bed, buried his head on his flannel-jacketed arms, and started crying. There was nothing left for him. Things had to stop. Sooner or later, but they had to.
The date was April 8, 1994. And Guns n’ Roses were back at the studio again, this time in Seattle. Axl’s idea, once again. He had called them all and said he had this new idea for an album, an album that would change the face of rock n’ roll, even better than Use Your Illusion!
But the band was certainly not enthusiastic. The idea of finishing the album and embarking in a never-ending tour once again… with all the tensions in the band… well, it seemed as a spectacular nightmare. But there they were, sitting at the studio, ready to start recording whatever song Axl had written. Well… all of them were, except Duff.
“Where’s Duff? How are we supposed to start without a bassist?” Axl hollered, for maybe the second or third time.
A little while before, nobody had answered, but this time Matt muttered:
“If he isn’t drowning in a puddle of his own vomit, he’s drowning in a puddle of Jack Daniels.”
Gilby laughed bitterly. Matt was right. Ever since those Spaghetti Incident? sessions, Duff had increased his drinking level drastically. At first, the band were amused when he started beating them at drinking contests. Later, they became worried. And now… well, Duff looked as if he was the next Steven Adler.
Axl had thought about kicking Duff out of the band, actually. Yet, he couldn’t bring himself to do it. The idea of losing his only confidante was too much. He wouldn’t be able to make it on his own, with Slash there, and the rest of the guys. He didn’t trust them that much…
“Speaking of the devil,” Dizzy said, and interrupted the singer’s thoughts.
Everybody looked at the door, watching a totally wasted Duff go in, dragging one foot after another, and looking as if he was about to fall at any moment. Matt wondered if he could even hold his bass correctly, when the tall blonde grabbed his instrument mechanically and sat down, looking at his feet.
He knew all the band was staring at him. He knew he looked like shit. He even knew so much drinking wasn’t doing him good. Yet… he couldn’t help it. After what had happened with Kurt, Duff had become obsessed with him. It was as if something inside him wanted to save that sad young man, just as he had wanted to save his band when the tensions had started. Duff had become a Nirvana fan and was attentive to every bit of news about Kurt. And the latest news, that said Kurt had attempted suicide, were killing him.
Then there was also the matter of guilt. Duff, of course, had kept his affair a secret from Axl. However, every time he heard Axl crying, or saw the singer was sad, he didn’t even stop to think if he was sad about Slash. He just felt he had contributed to Axl’s hurting. So, what was left for him? Drinking. So he wouldn’t think.
It didn’t help much that they were in Seattle. The very first days of their stay (maybe the second? The third of the month?) Duff was sure he had spotted Kurt around, in the streets, when he and Gilby went out for a cup of coffee (double caffeine shot for him). And God, the grunger didn’t look OK. In fact, he looked really strange. After a suicide attempt, looking strange wasn’t a good sign. That was why Duff had rented a car just the next day after supposedly spotting Kurt. Whenever the sessions went wrong, he would get out, into his car, and disappear into Seattle, hoping to catch another glimpse of Kurt, wondering if the grunger was OK…
He knew, as well, that the band wondered where he’d go every time he drove away. His secret. His dark secret…
“Fuck Duff! You missed your cue AGAIN! The bass had to start right there!!!” Axl’s hollering pulled Duff brutally out of his thoughts. His head, still not out of the hangover, suddenly started throbbing with a killing headache. The bassist felt as if somebody was pushing a drill through his skull and his brain was about to spill all over the studio…
“DUFF!! ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME???” Axl, seeing his bassist just kept on staring intently at his boots, increased the level of his voice even more, no matter how impossible it seemed.
The tall blonde felt like punching his bandmate. Leave me alone, can’t you? After all, your song is shit! Pure crap! You don’t have songs for that supposed great album, do you? All you have is just some shit lyrics you want to fill up with shit music! Just to keep us in the studio! And, what for? You just want to have us here so you can be close to Slash! It’s all about that fucker, isn’t it? All this music shit is only a excuse to see him, right? RIGHT?
If Duff had been strong enough to talk, he would have spat all those words right on Axl’s face and in front of everybody. Yet, his headache was eating him alive, and the pain now traveled from his skull to his gut. The bassist felt sick and puked right there. He spat what looked as liquid and no food. Just alcohol. He hadn’t eaten much. However, right after vomiting, the blonde felt as if all his force had been drained. He stayed there, staring at his mess, trembling, and then collapsed on an amp.
All the members of the band, including Axl, aided their bassist. They helped him sit down and brought him some cold water.
Finally, Duff looked better. He raised his head and saw all the band staring at him, looking rather worried. Huh. He was used to worried looks by now.
“I guess... the session’s over for today,” Slash mumbled from under his curls.
“Yeah...” Axl agreed with the guitarist for the first time in what seemed a lifetime. “You’re free to go guys. See ya tomorrow... let’s hope nothing like this happens again.”
After saying that, Axl left and didn’t look back. Meanwhile, Gilby set Duff on his feet.
“Did you bring your famous rental car?” he asked.
“No,” the bassist answered. “I was too weak to drive this morning.”
“Very well. Let me call a cab, then.”
The rhythm guitarist got into the cab with his bandmate and did not only drop him off at the hotel, but escorted him to his room and watched him lay down on his bed.
“Now rest, man. No more drinking for today, please,” he softly scolded Duff, and then left.
But the blonde wasn’t having any of it. Just after Gilby left, he phoned room service and asked for three bottles of whiskey. If he wanted to drink, he was definitely going to.
Well, the bassist did not only miraculously open up his eyes, but he woke up with a start, and looked around the hotel room, strangely alert. He had started drinking and then drifted off into oblivion, passed out.. when, from the darkness that surrounded him, he saw Kurt coming out of nowhere, smiling at him, offering him his hand… and, for some reason, Duff had felt terrified, and opened his eyes, and…
God, how long had he been asleep since he started drinking? He looked at the watch on the night table. 2 o’ clock in the morning, perhaps some minutes past. He had been lying there on the floor for ten hours or something! Ten fucking hours! Alone!
I could have died.
Duff shivered. It was true. The empty bottles, just dropped carelessly all around him, now looked like his enemies. I could have died. I could have drunk myself off to sleep and then I could have choked on my own vomit and died like Hendrix. Maybe some hotel employee could have found me. And then they would have gone looking for the guys, and, since Gilby was the last who saw me, they would have interrogated him. And he would have said he thought I was asleep because I was so sick in the morning and he was definitely sure I was recovering in bed. He would say he had no idea. He would say…
The blonde could actually hear the morning news in his mind. “Duff McKagan, bassist of the rock band Guns n’ Roses, found dead in his hotel room this morning.”
“When I talk about giving everything up, I mean everything.” Duff could have sworn Kurt just had spoken to him, behind his back. Goosebumps covered the bassist’s body. What the fuck?
OK. What he was about to do could be considered as rash, desperate or plain stupid. But he had to. He rummaged into a drawer and pulled out the keys of his famous rental car. He was going to look for Kurt. It didn’t matter if the grunger kicked his ass or whatever. He had to find him. At least to get that bad feeling off his chest.
Axl tossed and turned on his bed for the millionth time that night. He just could get no sleep. Though sleep didn’t grant him rest. Ever since Slash had left him, dreams were either nightmares where the demons of his sadness would run after him, or dreams where he was in Slash’s arms, but that would make him cry when he realized he was only dreaming.
The strawberry blonde sat up on the bed. He had made a decision. Everything, or nothing. Slash had to forgive him.
He would firmly confess he could not live without him. As soon as he could. Maybe even in the small hours of the morning, when nobody was awake yet, so they could have all the time they needed to discuss what would come next.
Duff drove through the deserted Seattle streets. Nobody was in sight, just the typical lost souls in dark alleys. Not that one of them was Kurt.
I must be fucking crazy, the bassist thought.
That was when he drove into a fancy neighborhood near Lake Washington.
The streets were even more silent and lonely there. In fact, Duff felt there was something uncanny about the neighborhood, in spite of all its fancy, big houses, which suggested rich, happy families. All silent. All asleep. Perfectly peaceful families dreaming inside.
So, what the fuck was making him so anxious?
The Guns n’ Roses member got out of his car. Instead of an April night breeze, a cold wind hit his cheek. Maybe it was just him, but the wind felt unusually cold. Maybe it was just him, but he could swear he saw a police car down the road. Or an ambulance. Or something.
Maybe it was just him.
God. Maybe he was going fuckin’ nuts, after all. The bassist got on his car. It’s all in your head, Duff. Nothing bad’s going to happen. You just gotta get out of this place.
Axl could not believe himself when he decided he was going to write his speech down, in order to find the right words to say. He would write it down and read it over and over again before telling it to Slash. He had to be sincere, heartfelt, passionate… everything that lurked in his heart! But he still had to be careful. He felt as if any failure would drive Slash away from him.
The singer almost laughed. He didn’t even work on songs as hard as he was working with this. If you thought about it, it was somewhat funny. This was supposed to be something that came from his heart, something he knew perfectly, a feeling everybody knew, and it was the hardest thing to define.