Screeching guitar chords erupted from Dick Knubbler's pocket and the producer pulled the spiked phone from his trousers. A particularly unflattering picture of Dethklok's bassist illuminated the screen and Knubbler groaned, tempted to ignore the call. It wouldn't have been so bad if Murderface wasn't such a high-maintenance client. Knubbler's mixing skills could make the bassist’s off-key attempts at music sound like gold, but he needed something to work with, and Murderface was always reluctant to give anything up for Dick. The phone continued ringing and Dick Knubbler finally answered, ready for the levels of bullshit that awaited him as he lightly rested the phone’s spikes against his cheek.
He'd barely said hello before the sound of spittle flew through the phone’s earpiece and Murderface’s voice told him to come over right away. The producer forced a smile, his eyebrows rising above his electric eye pieces as he promised he would go right over. As he put on his smartest-looking Nehru jacket and hopped into his car, Knubbler clung to the hope they might accomplish something. He didn’t care what, anything would make him happy.
By five o’clock they were nowhere near recording their first note, though Murderface hadn’t managed to break Knubbler’s hopes for productivity. The bassist slouched on the couch, kicking his legs out and staring at the ceiling as he hemmed and hawed over what his first song should be about.
Knubbler half-listened while zooming in and out with his electric eyes, boredom driving him to see how large he could magnify Murderface's face before quickly zooming back and holding back his need to vomit. Damnit, he was high and needed to create something, he needed to mix something, but Murderface was cockblocking him every time he gently suggested they begin recording.
“Sho, I was thinking," Murderface said as he gulped some wine and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. "The schirts will be thisch awechome mix of black and pisch-yellow.”
“Uh-huh, that would help create brand identity for you.” Knubbler’s mouth moved on auto-pilot, “branding… that… that's, ah, good to have.” He glanced at his watch as the bulky bass-player latched onto his suggestion.
“Yeah! Branding! I gotta get my image out there.” Murderface sprang to his feet, spilling wine on his lap. “I’m gonna get started on that!” He ineffectively rubbed at the alcohol soaking his shorts and began to leave the room.
Knubbler hopped to his feet and took a few steps after him, reluctant to leave the studio. “What about recording? Was there any point to me even coming here?”
Murderface stopped and flashed him a gap-toothed grin. “You can help with the merch!” He spun around and stomped down the dark hall of Mordhaus.
Dick Knubbler felt his resolve to fight shrivel and he surreptitiously sniffed his pinky finger before leaving the recording studio to follow the brashly awkward bassist. He'd known they wouldn't get anything recorded that day, though it didn’t frustrate him as much as it should have. Whenever Murderface invited him over they seemed to do everything but record a single track for Planet Piss. It was a waste of his time, but he always came back for more. At first he’d chalked it up to his greed and willingness to do almost anything for money – the Christmas special being one of their more embarrassing escapades – but he was beginning to suspect there was another reason he stuck around the bassist, even outside the studio.
It had been ages since Dick felt anything akin to friendship; having thought he’d killed it with copious amounts of cocaine, alcohol, and self-destructive tendencies. But, like a cockroach, it skittered over his heart every time William's face appeared on his phone, accompanied by that malignant tune that echoed Murderface’s personality to a tee.
The two of them wandered aimlessly through Mordhaus for what felt like hours, like two children on a playdate looking for trouble. Knubbler had no idea how the fuck they ended up in the kitchen baking cookies.
He realized their predicament when the crisp reality of sobriety came to him and he was up to his elbows in sticky, chocolate chip-ridden dough. From somewhere in the pantry he could hear Murderface clashing about, supposedly looking for a secret ingredient to add to the mix. Dick Knubbler stared blankly at the dough before him, feeling it under his fingernails and creeping up his forearms to his rolled sleeves. At least he’d had the wherewithal to remove his jacket. He tried to keep his cool as he backed up, wiping at the bits of dough that clung to his skin in the most uncomfortable way.
“Hey, uh, Murderface?” he turned towards the pantry, rubbing his hands together. Peering through the doorway he could almost see the other man in the darkness beyond. A strange, white haze floated through the air. “William?” He leaned in, trying to see what appeared to be the bassist, but could have been a large bag of potatoes.
“What?!” Murderface hollered back, drawing Knubbler’s attention. He gripped a rolling pin in his knobby, calloused hands and hoisted it over his head in a magnificent display of violence as he vigorously beat the living hell out of a bag of flour.
“I thought you, uh, called me here to record some… Planet Piss. What do chocolate chip cookies—?"
"Pisch cookiesch," Murderface laughed as he smacked the bag again and again. "They've got pisch in them, scho they're branded a'sch Planet Pisch!"
Knubbler took a breath to say something, but stopped. His irritation over wasted time was still active, but the other part of him – the one that took stupid ideas and made money off them – was also working. It was trying to calculate how much money they could make after all the lawsuits were settled, but kept coming up short. "You want to put piss in the cookies? Babe, that's not a good idea."
Murderface frowned and sulked like a child. "You alwaysch hate all my ideasch!"
"It's not that I hate all your ideas, William," Knubbler said, patting his chest only to realize his blow was in his jacket pocket, and then realize he'd smeared dough on his shirt. "It's just that most of them aren't profitable."
Murderface paused his beating and sneezed all over the pin. “You know, you schound like our robot lawyer guy. I-I'm feeling a little schtifled here. Creatively repressched. Geezch, can’t you let me explore my creativity once in a w-while?” The asshole bassist persona had morphed into that of a child looking for reassurance; someone to tell him it's okay, everything will be fine, you're wonderful the way you are.
Knubbler, with his morals as loose as they were, couldn't bring himself to tell him it would be okay. Life was hard and he wasn't the coddling type. When things turned to shit he’d throw acid in someone's face to save his own ego. “Hey, you called me here to help you fuck around and find yourself? I’ve got stuff I could be doing, William.”
“Well go, then,” Murderface sniffed. “Nobody cares about Planet Pisch, anyway.” He absently smacked the bag of flour and began to sulk.
Knubbler frowned; Murderface was overestimating his tolerance for bullshit. Moving into the pantry he swiftly shut the door behind him, trapping them in darkness. Murderface didn’t get a chance to complain as Knubbler moved upon him, his wiry physique allowing him to pin the bassist to the wall with ease.
Murderface tried to resist, his squirming, uncoordinated movements becoming more desperate as it became apparent how compromising their position was.
“Listen, William,” Knubbler breathed somewhere against Murderface’s neck and shoved him hard. “I've spent enough time waiting to record a track for Planet Piss. Don't tell me I don't care when I've wasted so much time just sitting around on my ass waiting for you to go in the studio.”
Murderface stopped squirming and sniffed. "S-so, you do care?" His voice was shallow, still carrying the rough grit that permeated everything about him, but there was that hint of vulnerability that peeked through every now and then. His eyes blindly searched for reassurance, but only Dick’s eyes could see in the darkness.
He loosened his grip, but didn’t let go. Dick Knubbler usually relied on bullshit and smooth talking and, in Dethklok’s case, tough love, but right then he could see Murderface's fragile ego needed something more genuine. Sympathetic pep talks weren’t his forte, to be sure, so the silence dragged on for a few moments of mounting tension as his mind searched for the right words.
Through his night vision Knubbler could see Murderface – so close and scared to do anything on his own – and the producer wondered why the hell he was even there. He could have dropped him as a client, but he didn't. He didn't know if he could. It was as if Murderface had untapped potential that he wanted to harness – for monetary gain or the satisfaction of delving into new creative territory – and so he stuck around, rushing to Murderface’s side whenever his phone rang. Well, not running, but he did cancel that one potentially-lucrative meeting in favour of a Planet Piss jam session, so he was either very dedicated to the dream, or very stupid.
Alright, maybe he did care.
Suddenly their dominance-fueled embrace felt more awkward. So, it was with great levels of care that he released his hold on Murderface and turned things around, striking hard and fast. Murderface recoiled, putting a hand to his cheek and looking blindly to where Knubbler stood before him. His mouth moved, but no words came out.
“Sometimes I think I'm the only one caring, William,” Knubbler rubbed his fist. “You do this every time I come over. You talk big about Planet Piss but then you lose interest. I'm sick of being the only person trying to get this record made! It's your band, Murderface. Take some pride in it!"
There, that sounded like a safe level of hostility and encouragement.
"Y-you hit me!" Murderface's face twisted up in hurt-covered-by-anger. "Y-you can't hit me, I-I'm a member of Dethklok!"
Knubbler smacked him again. "It's that kind of thinking that's keeping Planet Piss down! You're a member of Dethklok, but you're the founding member of Planet Piss, now take some pride in that!"
He watched the words sink into the bassist's very thick skull. Knubbler swore he could almost see them taking root and he quickly guided his client out of the pantry and into the kitchen. He felt hopeful as his eyes quickly adjusted to the light. Murderface rubbed his eyes, wiping flour everywhere and Knubbler realized he’d succeeded at wiping cookie dough all over himself as well.
“Aww, look what you did!” Murderface whined, shaking off whatever vulnerability he’d betrayed in the darkness. “Now I’m covered in dough!”
“Ah, yeah, Murderface,” Knubbler replied, settling back into his regular role of professional buddy. “We were making cookies, you know?” He gestured to the counter where the cookie dough was still piled high, waiting to be mixed.
“Oh yeah, the Planet Pisch cookiesch!” the bassist rushed towards the mound and began unzipping his fly.
“No!” Knubbler felt his eyes flare red as he quickly grabbed Murderface’s arm to stop his attempt at branding. “Let’s… just bake the cookies and eat them, okay?” He pushed up his sleeves, ready to resume mixing the dough and hoping Murderface didn’t piss on him.
“Fine!” William grunted before pushing his hands into the mixture alongside Knubbler. “Asch Planet Pisch’s producer I truscht your judgment. I can’t do everything myschelf!”
The producer sighed and nodded, letting Murderface lead the charge once more.
Outwardly, nothing had happened in the pantry; just two men making cookies and not consoling each other over their failings. Knubbler nodded, feeling a sense of warmth spread through him that may or may not have been drug related. It might have been victory.