Chapter 1: Radio
Disclaimer: I do not know any members of either My Chemical Romance or Rammstein. This is strictly a work of fiction and I do not profit nor claim to represent true aspects of their lives in this story.
This is basically a MCR/Rammstein crossover. I'm going to chronicle culture clashes and things like language immersion between the American and German bands. I'm neither American nor German, and have actually never visited either country (I want to so badly though, God). As of March I have been learning German for a grand total of five months. Is this unholy? Yes it is. Will I try my best? Yes I will. Read on.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Like Wild Falling Rain (Chapter 1) - 'Radio'
Pairing in Chapter: Frank Iero -> Till Lindemann voicecrush
There are many forms of love in the world and just as many ways to fall in love. The first time Till Lindemann's voice came on the radio, Frank Iero fell in love in one of those countless ways, not because of the other's voice, looks or even his lyrics but because of the beauty in which his German accent wove into and ruthlessly mangled the English language. All things considered though, the rhythm guitarist was also incredibly hopped up on drugs after two days at the hospital, so it was kind of inevitable that such strange things would happen to him.
When exactly he fell in love was a more typically expected factor, which was to say that he had not expected it at all. He'd simply been sitting up on the hospital bed, occasionally adjusting the collar of his pajamas (which were a little too big for him) and going through stacks of fan mail that Ray Toro had brought for him a day ago. He had a pen in his hand and a pad of writing vellum on his lap, sometimes drafting a little reply and making a note of the address whenever he found a letter that he found particularly interesting. The rest he either became a little creeped out or fell about laughing at, and when he felt particularly mischievous he would correct grammar/spelling mistakes on the letters with his pen, feeling an odd sort of pleasure with each red correction that he made. Next to him was a little bedside cabinet where all the envelopes were sitting, along with a little black radio that was blaring music into the room. Being in a private room was good in that way, he would have never heard the end of it if he were in a ward with others and if it weren't a lazy Tuesday afternoon. Every now and then, when he felt as if there was too much talking and not enough good music playing, he would tweak the dial a little to get a different station. This was indeed the established scene before he fell in love.
"-mostly sunny, temperatures will remain at around fifty-three point six Fahrenheit until nightfall and then will plummet as rain clouds approach from-"
That's quite enough from you, Frank thought as he reached over without looking and tweaked the dial again, nibbling lightly at the pen cap. Some classical music followed, which he enjoyed for precisely long enough to draft the final sentence of a reply to a twenty-year old fan; after that, it faded away and the announcers began talking again. He reached out - hesitated without looking - and in an act of faith that would change his life, turned the radio dial a full quarter of the way through. A brief buzz of static and white noise cut through the atmosphere before switching to what sounded very much like industrial metal. Frank paid no particular attention to it until-
"This is not a love song!" the vocals suddenly growled in a very thickly accented, but perfectly comprehensible English. The guitarist turned around, startled, to look at the radio. "this is not a love song!"
"Oh boy," he breathed excitedly, scooting closer to pay attention to the words.
"I don't sing my mother tongue!"
"No - this is not a love song!" a blast of heavy guitars followed, and then the chorus carried on in an accent that he recognized as German. "we're all living in Amerika, Amerika - ist wunderbar- "
"Blasphemous," Frank murmured, grinning from ear to ear, pressing right up close to the radio. "devastating. Inconceivable. Hilarious! Fiddlesticks."
But even though the lyrics might have sounded ridiculous, Frank was already completely hooked and there was no denying it. He turned up the volume a little and carried on listening, feeling rather like a child sampling chocolate for the first time; whoever the singer was, he certainly had a very powerful, charming and ever so luscious voice. The guitarist was instantly fond of way the singer trilled his 'r's, especially in the word 'Amerika' - exaggerated, perhaps, but it wouldn't have sounded right any other way. Much to his chagrin, he found that he'd tuned in a little too late to enjoy most of the song; it ended after only a couple of choruses and guitar riffs. But he wasn't dismayed for long, as almost immediately afterwards another song began playing that featured the same intensely beautiful vocals.
"Du... Du hast... Du hast mich!"
Frank could even dare to say that it was better this time around, despite the lack of English, because he vaguely recognized this one from radio play, quite some years back. He'd heard this band before for certain, although he couldn't quite place his finger on it nor recall their name. He'd quite forgotten about the fan letters at this point, having pushed them aside to pay attention to the music - the song ended after a few minutes as the presenter's voice came on. "You have been listening to 'Du Hast', a favourite classic of the band Rammstein. Before that we had 'Amerika', also from Rammstein, 'Bad Blood' by Ministry-"
"Rammstein," Frank murmured to himself. "Rammstein... oh yes, I do remember!" he'd never listened to the band's catalogue before, but it was certainly a famous name that he recognized from random mentions on the radio, from music shops and the occasional headlines. Now that he was really thinking about it, he was sure one of the Way brothers had a couple of their albums as well. So why hadn't he developed such an interest before? Frank wasn't sure, but he put it down to the lead singer's English capturing his attention. It wasn't just the vocals themselves, he'd probably have been hooked a long time beforehand if that was the sole reason - no, the rather hilarious pronunciation and the shockingly biting lyrics beneath it all had to be the answer. After 'Amerika' getting his full unyielding attention, 'Du Hast' had simply awakened Frank to how darkly menacing and attractive and catchy the vocals were. "very deep voice too," he remarked to himself, gazing straight ahead and chewing on his pen lid, before he was suddenly blasted by another loud burst of industrial metal from the radio. But he wanted to think now, so he winced and quickly turned the radio off, the room falling silent and leaving him alone with his thoughts. "it's gorgeous. I wonder if he had voice training in a different genre? What would he sound like if he was... just talking to people?"
But he was promptly interrupted from his contemplations as the wall-mounted clock struck four o'clock in the afternoon. Frank glanced up, pen in mouth, grinning as he remembered the visitor who was due to arrive; and he wasn't disappointed as he picked up familiar footsteps on the corridor outside, along with a few muffled voices. He had company, right on time.
"Ladies and gentlemen," Frank mock-announced out loud as the door began to open. "the charming and magnificent Gerard Way. Just look at him. What a major hottie," at this point the door swung fully open, revealing a man in his early thirties who held a covered laptop and had on a little shoulder bag along with a completely deadpan expression. He walked inside, placing his laptop down on the bed, even as the guitarist kept on going. "seriously. What a major fucking hottie."
"Eh. Nice to see you too," Gerard Way said nonchalantly before his expression changed to a slightly troubled one. "say, Frank, could I borrow that pen off you quickly? I met some people who asked for autographs just outside, I can't really let them down on that front... sorry to ask..."
"Mooching off ill people, are you now? That's just disgusting."
But despite this, Frank grinned wide and tossed the singer his pen before the latter could even reply. Gerard simply caught the pen in mid-air, nodded, and rushed out of the room so that he could give out the autographs; the guitarist cleared a space by the table, pushing the stacks of envelopes aside so that the other's laptop could have a proper place to rest. Fame was a pretty strange thing to have around, and it was more unusual than not that both of them were often recognized and pestered for autographs whenever they tried to do anything. But Gerard's first allegiance being to his close friends and family, he was done within a few minutes and quickly re-entered the room, giving the lucky fans outside a little wave and a smile before closing the door. "Thanks for the pen. Really helped there."
"No problem. Though I still can't believe the second thing you said to me was asking for a pen. Not even an 'Are you doing okay there, Frank', and I've gone over four days without seeing a wink of you! You're really slipping up, Gerard."
Frank's tone had been completely lighthearted, indicating that he really wasn't being serious; but the singer sighed, looking irritated. "I did say sorry, Frank. I really didn't see that coming. Are you high from all those drugs again?"
"Rid - rid my sight, you despicable prep," Frank giggled.
"You say that again and I'll rid you of your sight all right, you bastard. With my own bare hands. Important things need to be discussed here, okay? How are you coming along and how long did they say that you needed to rest for?"
"Epstein-Barr is kicking my ass. Was kicking my ass," the guitarist said just as solemnly, but he didn't lose his smile. "what else is new."
"It's been doing that for over a week now. About time it went away, isn't it? Is it getting worse?"
"Nuh-uh," Frank shook his head. "I think I'll be out in a couple of days. Can't wait to leave, really - the vegetarian selection in here is terrible, you have no idea..."
The two men shared a guilty chuckle after an impromptu glance at the doorway, mindful of any nurses or nosy patients looking in. Gerard pulled a chair close by and sat down in his usual slouched manner, picking his laptop back up and setting it on his knees before looking back up at the guitarist with a small smile. "At least I'm glad that you're better. It's not quite the same without you around, Mikey's being a cranky bastard again..."
Frank shifted in bed a little, wincing as his back creaked. "And I'm the only one who can handle your bro, huh?"
"He misses you," Gerard replied simply. "we all do. I wish that virus didn't flare up on you so often, Frank. I swear it's only possible to get mono once."
"You say that every time I end up in hospital. It's a lifelong companion, the kissing disease, and some of us get kissed more than once. What can I say?" he shrugged casually, but really he was kind of touched by the concern. "anyhows. I need to catch up. What's been going on? Ray only had time to drop off the mail yesterday before he had to leave."
The singer chuckled and rubbed the top of his head. "Typical. Busy as always, although I'd be lying if we said that we've been able to do anything particularly new without you. Ray's been going to the gym more often. Bob's, well, being Bob and may-be preparing something for you for when you get back."
"Maybe," Gerard laughed and winked. "I told you about Mikey already. As for me-" here he paused, his smile becoming a little frown of displeasure. "well, I can't say I've been having the best time myself... writer's block has really kicked in. I know we've got quite a bit on our plates at the moment and Mikey's been a good sport, giving me basslines and suggestions when not busy moping around, but I just find it hard to write or think of a real concept for the next album, you know? I think I've got to ride it out over the next few weeks, but even then that's not really a guarantee."
The guitarist (having leaned forwards to hear Gerard out) nodded sympathetically. They all contributed to lyrics every now and then but Gerard was the one who was mostly in charge of it, and having him come down with unexpected bouts of writer's block could indeed be crippling in a big way; whenever it happened the singer tended to become irritated and somewhat difficult to get along with, which would then go on to disrupt the dynamics of the band. Luckily he wasn't quite at that stage yet, and Gerard was not an unreasonable person; he had Frank's health in mind first, that much was obvious. "So if you ever get any ideas, anything at all - hell, doesn't even need to be a coherent concept, just throw words at me if you want - then do help me out, will you?"
"Of course I will."
"Thanks. But enough about my writing woes. What have you been up to?"
"Oh, not much different from what you already know. Answering those fan letters. Waiting for the mono to go away. Listening to Germans dissing America."
Blank stare. "... The fuck?"
Frank grinned happily in response. "Rammstein!"
"Oh, Rammstein!" Gerard's confused expression changed into one of understanding - and delight, although Frank didn't immediately understand why. "that's wonderful, Frank. Very convenient in fact. You're being a good boy, aren't you?"
"Um, sure, why not. Say, Gerard, you sound like you know quite a bit about them. You wouldn't happen to know their singer's name, would you? His voice just blew me away!"
Gerard gave him an odd look. "Him? He's... wow, he's... don't tell me you don't know this already."
Frank stared. Gerard was not a malicious person at all, but he had the habit of referring to random strangers with 'this bastard' 'that bastard' or on the occasions when he was in a good mood, 'that other bastard'. Sometimes, when he was feeling especially affectionate, he would even throw in a 'this/that/that other son of a bitch' to go with it. Being used to this way of speaking, it was strange and new to Frank to suddenly not hear any of those things - it could only mean an air of immense respect from Gerard's part.
"I heard his voice on the radio before you came in, is all. That's what I meant by listening to Rammstein. And did I just hear you use proper, non-offensive pronouns?"
"Ahhh, be quiet," the singer snapped good-naturedly before he gazed at the radio again. "I guess that explains things a little better. Though I should probably chew you out for living under a rock. But you've been ill, that's not your fault... this is Rammstein after all, probably the most prominent industrial metal band in the world, and seeing as we've got the honor of joining up with them for about a month while they're touring Germany-"
The guitarist blinked in disbelief. "... You're joking, right?"
"Nope. Totally serious. That's partly what I wanted to tell you about today, Frank - then you mentioned them and I thought you'd heard from Bob or Ray or something, and that you were just doing the research. One of the legs of our little tour and theirs cross over in Germany and we're following roughly the same route. We'll open for them in some tours, they'll open for us in some others."
Whoa, hang on. What kind of coincidence is that?
"That's... not going to work, is it?" Frank said simply, although he was feeling a twinge of excitement deep inside him. "we're going to get the shit bottled out of us. The audience there are metalheads. We aren't metalheads. Likewise, our audiences are probably not going to be expecting an industrial metal band to play for half an hour at the start before transitioning onto us. This is an unholy combination, Gerard."
"Having random stuff thrown at us is not a new thing, though, is it, Frank Anthony Iero Junior?"
"It's not a new thing."
"That's right. It's not a new thing. Gotta bite the bullet and carry on. We've been to Germany before, no big deal."
Nevertheless, from the suddenly rather disconcerted expression on the other's face, he could see that Gerard had also been worried about such a possibility. Neither of them were about to forget their experiences at Reading Festival anytime soon, for one, and with such differing genres of music anything really could happen. Frank, feeling a little bad that he'd pointed this out instead of thinking in more practical terms, reached out an arm and patted the singer on the shoulder. "Hey, Gee. It's okay. It's just an opener, after all. And if we're the ones playing the main set, we'll be amongst fans. You're right, it's no big deal," Gerard gained a little bit of his smile back and nodded. "so... when do we leave?"
"Two weeks or so. We're staying a month, and we'll be mostly in Germany, although I think we're venturing to Austria for a couple of days as well. So you'll have plenty of time to catch up on things and learn more about them."
"Sounds like a plan. So how much do you know about them yourself?"
The singer brushed back a lock of his hair, "Enough to answer that question you asked. The singer of the band, the one you were talking about-" here he nodded in Frank's direction. "-his name's Till. Till Lindemann. You'd know him a mile off, his voice is very distinctive, isn’t it? There's also Richard, Paul, Schneider, Flake and Oliver... can't say I can state their complete names though; I need to look that up. They started up in 1994 with the exact same ensemble they have now, and they brought out their sixth album about two, three months ago. Hence why they're touring to promote it now! Here, I'll just do a quick search," Gerard sat down on the bed and opened up his laptop; Frank squirmed a little and protested that he was squashing him and taking up too much space. The singer acknowledged this complaint by ignoring it completely - but then stopped, his finger hovering over the 'power' button. "hang on. This place hasn't got wireless internet, right? I'd have thought it didn't, what with it interfering with the equipment and all?"
Till Lindemann, Frank repeated silently to himself in approval. An unusual name, but the man certainly sounded like a 'Till' all right. Very fitting. He repeated it to himself again before he realized that Gerard needed to be replied to. "Mmhmm. You thought right. Lounge does, though."
The older man closed his laptop back up again and stood up, gazing at Frank worriedly. "You can walk around, right? We'll save it for later if you can't or shouldn't be walking, I wouldn't want to make you worse-"
Frank smiled with a mixture of exasperation and fondness; it was seldom anyone got to see Gerard showing genuine moments of concern towards the younger man like this in public, but it happened all the time. One wouldn't have thought that it made it any more special because they played their 'relationship' up to eleven in public anyway, but Gerard did fuss and coddle over him when Frank was ill and that was really just the end of it. "I'm recovering from mono, Gerard. Mostly recovered, even. Not even close to the worst mono flare-up I've ever had, it's not a big deal, we'll just make it quick. I really want to see this guy."
"Well. If you're sure."
A quick search on Rammstein turned out to be extremely enlightening; Frank nibbled slightly on his lip ring as he nodded to himself, reading the basic biographies of all the band members for reference. He knew too well that some of it might not be true, of course, and was taking it all with a grain of salt. Frank was hardly a stranger to seeing false facts about himself and his bandmates being circulated everywhere, so why would it be any different for Rammstein? He would be meeting the real deal soon, so this didn't worry him too much. One factor about everyone in Rammstein that bothered him slightly was their height - when he commented on this to Gerard the response had been somewhat sympathetic.
"I'd stick out like a sore thumb," he complained as he rocked back on the chair. "you guys are tall enough as it is! I'd look tiny compared to some of them - look, he's something ridiculous like six feet seven for God's sake. Even the shortest person - oh hey, he's a rhythm guitarist like me - is three or four inches taller than I am!"
"That's nobody's fault. Frank. I guess... rhythm guitarists are just cursed to be short in general? Though I'd be the same height. Besides, you're enough of a handful to deal with as it is. Not sure if any of us would be able to handle you if you were any bigger."
"You're such a dick sometimes, Gerard. I'm not even joking. You are."
"You and me both, Frank. You and me both. It's part of why I love you so much."
The irritation melted away from the guitarist's expression at this half-jesting statement and he chuckled, pressing 'back' and now doing an image search for Till Lindemann. He was rewarded instantly with pages and pages' worth of pictures, ranging from blurry fan photos of performances to promotional material. "Damn," the German possessed a strong, toned body, and Frank was mesmerized as he flicked through what he was presented with. More provocative and downright confusing images came to view, and he wasn't sure what to make of most of it (there was an inexplicable picture of him riding a bike lopsided on some railway tracks, for starters), but Till Lindemann was a wonderfully sculpted creature and that's what mattered. "damn. He's a fine one. Damn."
"Not so loud, Frank."
"Daaaaaaaamn. Da - arghhhh, holy shit, what the fuck, why is he grinning like that? That's fucking scary!" pause. "ahh. Better."
"Frank, for God's sake."
"Oooooh," Frank moaned, although he was now admittedly trying to wind Gerard up rather than genuinely being overcome by the German's physique. "oooooooooooh."
"Frank. Up. Shut."
The time on the computer was conveniently (for the very-agitated singer at least) running out; the younger man closed all the windows that he had open so that he could let the computer shut off on its own, but at the same time, he still couldn't stop laughing as the older man hissed at him to be quiet. It was a pity that the lounge was empty at this present moment, because the look on Gerard's face was priceless. "Ohmigosh," he gasped out, wiping away tears of mirth from his eyes. "I wish I had a camera. That look on your face. Oh. Oh man."
"Alright, that's it. You can be quiet or you can be dragged to bed by your ear. What's your choice?"
"Drag me to bed by my ear!" Frank dared lightheartedly, smiling and at the same time not really believing that Gerard would do that to a person recovering from mono. He was thus a little disappointed when Gerard got up and proceeded to actually drag him to his bed by his ear, pushing him lightly back on the mattress and even deftly wrapping him up with the covers when the guitarist yelped and squirmed in protest. "hey! That wasn't what was supposed to happen!"
The singer huffed, his hands on his hips. "Well, you were totally asking for it," he said. "give a man a choice, he takes one, you do as he asks - and all he does is complain about it. Gawd."
The guitarist pouted slightly, reluctant to admit that Gerard was right. "Said man has the right to complain because he's a patient in this hospital!"
"No, Frank. No you don't. You said it yourself, you've gotten better. So you don't get to complain about anything."
Frank purposefully turned his head away, pretending to sulk, but he still couldn't stop a smile rising to his lips. Seeing this, Gerard's gaze softened a little; he had to leave now, but he was at least reassured that Frank was doing perfectly okay. He tucked his laptop back into his arms and handed the younger man a pack of chocolate biscuits and a can of coke from his bag. "I hope you'll be back in shape soon, you cheerful little bastard," he said gently, and ruffled the other's hair a little before getting up, giving him a nod and walking out of the room. The younger man gave him a bright smile and a wave, watching his friend disappear around the doorway; he chuckled to himself and pulled up the covers a little bit more before sighing contentedly. Five o'clock, and he was pleasantly worn out from Gerard's visit and the effect of the drugs slowly beginning to dissipate. Left alone in comfortable silence, Frank's thoughts drifted over to Till Lindemann, and his smile widened. He'd gained something pleasant to keep in mind while he was recovering.
Now that he was by himself, he could relax and start recalling the details of the singer's looks. From what he could see from the pictures, Till Lindemann was rather handsome in a sullen sort of way, with green eyes, the occasional stubble and seemed to scowl more than he smiled. The few smiles he seemed to have did look very lovely, though, and his overall gaze was intense and focused. He was also incredibly and inexplicably muscular, rather tall and heavily built, and it had certainly been very impressive to see. Frank closed his eyes, conciling the image of the German and his deep resonant voice together, and concluded that as soon as he was out and about he'd be searching around for all the albums that Rammstein had produced in their career - and that he'd perhaps print off a nice image of the man to keep before they traveled over to Germany. Frank was already determined to look up live Rammstein performances later as well; and the best thing about all of this was that he could simply pass off his newfound love as essential research. What more could he ask for?
"Well, I certainly could do with seeing them in person," he chuckled out loud. "but until then - patience, Frank Iero!"
All this reminded him that he still had some letters to go through. He sat back up and looked at the pile of envelopes, sizing them up - it was probably a strain to try to go through all of them that day, so he simply picked up ten at random to set his limits and picked his pen back up. But Frank simply couldn't concentrate - the German singer was still very much on his mind, now combined with the details of what Gerard had told him earlier. A month touring alongside Rammstein; he understood that to mean that they would be sharing the same facilities and be affiliated with the same transport. They'd essentially be living together for four entire weeks. Certainly a very interesting experiment for sure - it could be very successful or a trainwreck. He had no way of knowing. Frank really had to wonder who'd gotten in touch with them and Rammstein and had arranged for the two bands to tour together, and how strange it seemed that the German band had even accepted in the first place. While the guitarist was understandable a little nervous, though, something in him told him that this could be the beginning of something excellent, and he decided to hold onto that belief as much as possible.
To try to clear his thoughts a little, Frank picked up his third letter. It turned out to be from a particularly gushing and non-coherent fan, unfortunately, which meant that he made it through about two and a half sentences before giving up. He considered himself a nice person who replied often to fan mail but this was a little too much; the handwriting was good, and so was the spelling, but apart from those factors it just appeared to be five pages' worth of stream of consciousness that was going nowhere. If not for 'To Mr Iero' written on the starting page, he wouldn't have even figured out that it was addressed to him at all. But something about it gripped him, and even though he couldn't understand a word of it he kept on fiddling with the edges of the letter and frowning very lightly as he tried to figure out what exactly he was trying to achieve. Not a response - he couldn't even begin to comprehend the letter so it failed sadly on that account. But he didn't want to throw it away, either - something about the paper was appealing to him, he decided, how elegant and beautifully embellished it was with gold edges. And there was certainly a factor there of the apparently-charming but completely alien prose written on it. He flipped to the last page of the letter, which thankfully only had three lines on it and the fan's name signed elegantly on the line beneath them.
Looking at the blank space left in the letter gave him an odd idea. He took that page, folded the part with the written lines forwards, and tore the paper away lightly - with the utmost care, mind you - before smoothing it out and tidily putting it back in the envelope with the rest of the fan's correspondence. He might not reply, but he'd certainly keep it around so he'd later have a chance at deciphering the contents of the letter. Now he had a little less than a page of blank A5 letter paper in front of him; taking up his pen, he hovered over the page, thinking of Till Lindemann's voice all the way through.
"How do I even start this? With a 'Mister'?" he muttered to himself, and then shook his head. "no, no - he's German. Get your thinking gear on, Frank."
A little chuckle escaped him at the thought - one and a half songs, a few pictures and he was already a fan! Frank was often the object of fandom rather than the fan - of course there were things that he loved and faithfully followed, My Chemical Romance had bands they were friendly with, but that was different. He'd almost forgotten what it had felt like to be a first-time fan of someone, how it felt like to write a little note of admiration for once instead of receiving them. The German vocalist was certainly worthy in that regard. He held up the paper with one hand, admiring his work.
"To Herr Lindemann, I long for you most beautifully, faithfully and most tragically," the page now read. "Frank Iero."
He was pleased with this little bit of melodrama and propped it up by his bedside with the aid of a book and some creative folding. He then proceeded to steal glances at that particular sentence and giggle shyly at it until the nurse came by and told him that he was going to have to quiet down and get some sleep. Because he was a nice person, he complied ever so politely and settled down beneath the covers; in a couple of days he would be able to leave the hospital and then be freed from this drug-induced haze that was coloring his perception of the world into pure hilarity. It would all eventually wear off, as was obvious to all members of My Chemical Romance and to Frank himself most of all, and while finding everything funny was good, he did long for a semblance of sanity and order.
But as he closed his eyes, the singer's intense gaze and thick German accent invaded his mind and he chuckled softly to himself again. Maybe he'd keep that thought for a little while longer. He certainly didn't want to lose a happy thought like that one for anything. And he most certainly couldn't wait to meet the man in person.
A short little prologue-ish chapter. The first chapters of anything I write for anything are always the weakest because I don't get a feel of the footing of the overall story. No over ten-thousand words chapters for this fic, hopefully.
This is set in very early 2010 over a period of one month, so Rammstein are on their Liebe ist Fur Alle Da tour. I plan to write this so that it can technically take place during the timeskip between Ch. 8 and Epilogue of 'Silence', and will preserve quite a few character traits from that fic; so you could technically place this within the 'Silence' continuity. But I personally would not recommend that approach, mainly because the tone of the fics are different. By all means, this is completely separate and there will be no need whatsoever for anyone to trudge their way through over 50,000 words of Richard Kruspe's angsty contemplations. Crossposted to DA as well as a gift for Withinmeloveresides1, who requested this in early February.
PS. Cookies to anyone who caught the My Immortal reference. I should stop making those because My Immortal is a terrible fanfic, but I'm writing a story that JUSTIFIES HAVING GERARD WAY IN IT AND I CAN'T HELP MYSELF
Chapter 2: Polyamory
Disclaimer: I do not know any members of either My Chemical Romance or Rammstein. This is strictly a work of fiction and I do not profit nor claim to represent true aspects of their lives in this story.
Well no one's went 'dude what the hell's wrong with you' yet so here's another chapter. And this will just keep on going in this fashion. Until all eight unholy chapters are up. :3
Now that quite a lot has been established, it should be easier from this point. I had this experience with 'Silence' as well because during the second chapter, four new people got introduced. But in this one I've brought forth Bob, Mikey and Ray now along with everyone in Rammstein, about nine extra characters, so this was one I found to be a bit of a struggle. x_x More character development for all.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Like Wild Falling Rain (Chapter 2 of 8) - 'Polyamory'
Pairing in Chapter: Frank Iero -> Till Lindemann slightly more than voicecrush, Frank Iero + Gerard Way, Till Lindemann + Richard Kruspe, Paul Landers + Ray Toro, all friendship. General friendship and gayness abounds from both bands, both as part of a performance and genuine.
"Aww, what? It was bad enough we missed the first gig of theirs and we don't get to join them for this one either? That's poor, that really is!"
"Couldn't be helped," Gerard sighed, looking over at the notepad that had all the time schedules of their tours written on it. A stewardess came by with a tray of drinks; Frank declined but Gerard took a glass of water, giving her a smile and getting one back in return before she moved on. "we have to do without them and vice versa for some venues too. Like today. At Hamburg. We arrive too late to open for them, and we have to move on the next day to Stuttgart... seven hours to get to that one, and that's when we can really start."
The guitarist frowned and pouted slightly as he leaned back, but he couldn't say that he was really surprised. By the time they got to where they needed to be, it would be around seven in the evening with only about an hour to go before Rammstein began their gig. It was a shame but it couldn't be helped; they were en route to Germany, about four days later than expected, as the result of slowed-down communications from the company that was in charge of both tours. The schedule was otherwise far cleaner than what Frank had originally thought it would turn out to be, so still, it could have been worse. It was simple enough to understand - they followed the same route and stayed for two or three days in each city, alternating with them playing one night and Rammstein the next so there were hardly any clashes. "The day after Stuttgart is when we start our gig, is that right?"
"Mmhmm," Gerard sipped at his water, talking more to himself than Frank. "and they're free for that one so they'll open for us."
"Dresden and Nuremburg weren't in our route, though."
"Neither was anywhere in Austria for theirs. I guess this means ample opportunities to really travel around for us. Looking forward to it?"
"Hell yeah," Frank smiled, and looked at his watch. Five hours before they were set to touch down. "I can't wait."
Gerard returned the smile, and seeing that the discussion was over, closed the notepad and laid it down on his tray. The younger man leaned back on his seat and rummaged around in his pockets for his mp3 player; he had spent the past two weeks and a half practicing their setlist, both for opening acts and their main one, but he thought he'd still managed to fit in quite a bit of Rammstein knowledge during that time. He'd listened to their full output now, for one thing, and could name almost every song by just listening to a small section or the intro even though he still did not understand German. He could even play sections of certain songs by ear (well, he was a rhythm guitarist after all, and an excellent one) because he had listened to them so much. Till Lindemann's voice had not lost its grasp on the man in the slightest - in fact it had simply gotten stronger with each new song he listened to - but it hadn't been long before he started looking up translations and really paying attention to how the music itself had been put together. What he'd gained had impressed and pleased him very much indeed, although a couple of the translations of the lyrics had made him wish that he had rather not known.
He hadn't managed to watch many recordings of live performances, though, and admittedly didn't quite know what to expect for this one. Frank was also not entirely sure how to tell certain members apart yet, although he would recognize all by their names. All things that would be improved on once introductions were made. Pulling out his mp3 player, he unwound the cables and put the earbuds in as he turned the device on - Gerard, noticing this, looked over.
Gerard sat up straight and gestured at the younger man, pulling out a pen from his jacket and turning to a fresh page of his notepad. "Let me listen too. Maybe listening to them will bestow some ideas on me, so help me God, I just need something..."
He would have responded with a playful 'nah, Gee, get your own' or something like that, but his friend had been struggling with his writer's block for over three weeks now and counting. Frank, after being discharged from the hospital, had indeed complied to Gerard's request to 'throw words at [him]' but it sadly hadn't done him a lot of good; so feeling especially sympathetic, he immediately switched around the earbuds and leaned in close to give the older man the left one.
"Thanks, Frank," the singer smiled gratefully, and shifted as close to the other as he could so that they could enjoy the grating strains of 'Stein Um Stein' in peace together without jostling the earbuds around too much. And this would have been just the end of it all if Frank hadn't heard a low chuckle from the seats behind him; he sighed and rolled his eyes, knowing that his bandmates had seen it all, as a hand reached over the back of his seat and ruffled at his (now-longish) hair.
"Now kiss!" Mikey's voice proclaimed from the back along with Ray's barely stifled giggle and a bout of wolf-whistling. This was going to be a long ride.
First impressions were very important things. Till Lindemann had Frank not at 'hello', but at 'may I get past you?'. This was quite a feat considering that he hadn't realized that Till had been the one to ask this question until some hours later; he'd only said a polite 'oh, sure, go ahead' and let the man move past him. Even that was a fairly meager conversation, though he would (much later on) file it away in his memories as their first, and the gentlemanly politeness of it all would make the guitarist fall in love all over again.
But before that, he really did have to wonder: how in the world had he missed Till when he was wearing that outfit?
"Come sit down, Frank," Gerard called; they had arrived just as Rammstein were preparing to make their entrance and thus they would have to wait until after the performance to properly meet them. Backstage, up a flight of stairs where a couple of stage technicians were monitoring various parts of the arena through screens, the members of My Chemical Romance had gathered around one particular screen that gave them a fairly clear, if slightly angled, view of what was happening on the stage so they could observe the performance.
"Holy shit, what is he wearing," was literally the first sentence out of Mikey's mouth as the band got up on stage. It was certainly an appropriate question, certainly what everyone else was doubtless thinking - Frank had to do a double take when he realized that the man with the red apron, a hairnet and a red boa around his neck was the exact same man who he had passed by some minutes ago, and that not only had he not noticed the weird costume, he also hadn't realized that he'd been talking to Till Lindemann himself. How had both of those details slipped him completely?
But that was only the beginning. They hadn't even started on the pyrotechnics yet. The five mostly watched in awed silence; they had started off inwardly taking notes as to how things would play out, but after the fourth song or so, they were simply watching and occasionally making a stunned remark about the insanity. Till's costume at least was getting better with each song; he had soon shed the apron, boa and hairnet, revealing his sweat-slicked dark hair with longish bangs. But the pyrotechnics - the sheer amount of fire being used onstage was truly remarkable, to an extent that none of them had expected - and not only that, the pyrotechnics were simply being tossed about by everyone in the band without so much as a blink of the eye.
"Ich tu dir we-eh - tut mir nicht le-eid!"
"Oh no, no, man, he isn't - oh my God he is!"
"Das tut dir gut-"
Gerard stared with a half-horrified and half-stunned expression. "Did he just... did he just pour an entire fucking bucketful of fire on his keyboardist?! I'm not just seeing things, right?"
"Hör wie es schreit!"
"Uhhhhh," Frank uttered, looking at the flames licking within the tub that Rammstein's (unfortunate?) keyboardist was strapped into; it was only a minute or so before the flames were doused and the man emerged from the tub, looking relatively unhurt and deadpan as he quietly returned to his place. He glanced over at Bob, who from the expression on his face was relieving unpleasant memories from the Famous Last Words video shoot. "... nobody could survive that. This happens every show?"
Bob opened his mouth to utter his reply, but instead was cut short by a collective gasp from everyone else. Through the screen, the final chorus of 'Ich Tu Dir Weh' was being played and all band members were safely back on ground, and Till was just getting to the end of the first line when a (thankfully empty) bottle came flying through the air and onto the stage, nearly hitting him on the head. The singer moved out of the way at the last second, and the bottle clattered right onto the floor, rolling away from him. The music didn't falter in the slightest, and nor did the singing, but the man gained a look that Frank might have described as 'adorably confused' (probably not an apt description, considering the situation, actually) as he stared ahead to try to figure out what had happened. The crowd's cheers also died down slightly to a murmur.
"Faschisten!" a man's shouts cut through the noise, presumably the same one who had thrown the bottle. "faschisten! Faschisten!"
The puzzled look on Till's face disappeared; instead of getting angry, he started laughing uproariously, simultaneously joined by all the others onstage. He bent down to pick the bottle up and then tossed it towards Flake; the keyboardist proceeded to catch it as if rehearsed, casually handing the object over to a rushing roadie as he played the final chords of the song. Till's eyes seemed to meet Flake's (it was kind of hard to tell under the shades of the latter), and amongst the applause and the continued shouts of the man in the crowd, it was obvious that they had something in mind.
"Schneider!" Till hollered through the applause. "Links!"
Evidently this was what the drummer had kept in mind as well. Schneider immediately stood up with a triumphant smile on his face, gesturing with both his arms before expertly twirling his drumsticks and beating out two notes. At this cue, two things happened at once: the introduction of the song that they recognized as 'Links 2, 3, 4' began playing and a massive scream of adoration and laughter rose from the audience.
"Kann... man... Herzen brechen...? K ö n-nen... Herzen sprechen...?"
"Isn't that..." Gerard broke the silence amongst them. "isn't that... the one they wrote just to piss off the bastards who accused them of being Nazis?"
"Kann... man... Herzen qu ä hlen...? Kann... man... Herzen stehlen...?"
"Yes," Mikey breathed. "yes. Oh God yes. It's glorious."
"Sie wollen mein Herz am rechten Fleck doch-" Till, meanwhile, was clearly enjoying his rebuttal, staring at the direction of the shouting man in the crowd. The two guitarists standing by him moved closer in formation as well, watchful yet clearly pleased with the way the situation had turned out.
"Seh ich dann nach unten weck - dann schlägt es links!"
What Frank loved about this the most was that the three men at the front then slapped their fists on their left chests just to make the point even clearer. He really had to wonder if this was part of the choreographed performance, or if they were improvising, but surely a better comeback couldn't have been devised either way.
They would later find out that this song had indeed been in the planned setlist, but it had intended to be closer to the encore; other performances would revert to this formula. Because of this, the pyrotechnics that would have usually been utliized during the performance hadn't gone off due to the song being performed out ot plan. It was surely a testament to how well they had pulled it off when no one noticed the sudden lack of fireworks within the show.
"Links, zwo - Links, zwo - Links, zwo, drei, vier - Links!"
Security had reached over the barrier now, nigh climbing on the concert-goers to grasp at the man who'd thrown the bottle. As he was dragged out he struggled and shouted, but it was no longer possible to make out anything that he was saying because of the now-unbelievable amount of cheering from the crowd. The situation was over by the end of the first chorus, just like that, with the riotous man being escorted out of the doors - Till glanced in the general direction of the exits and grinned triumphantly at the audience, using the instrumental break to shout an 'Alles da?' at them and giving them a thumbs-up before resuming the performance smoothly. And all the members of My Chemical Romance, watching all of this happen from backstage, had to concur that what had happened was something really quite remarkable.
"Awwwww," Frank breathed out, and then he started to laugh, slapping his knee. "awww. Badass."
"I think I'm in love with the whole lot of them, I swear to God," Frank said, giddy and restless with pleasure as they left the room, leaning against the wall and letting out a little laugh. The show was over and from what they knew, everyone in Rammstein was now either just downstairs with the roadies or getting changed in the dressing rooms. "you were right, Gerard, that was one hell of a rock I was living under. I'm in love with them. All of them."
Gerard and Mikey flashed him a winning smile, but Bob appeared to be indifferent. "That'd be a lot more exciting to hear if you didn't fall in love with everything all the damn time, Frank. If it walks, you love it. And I'm not sure if the walking is even a requirement."
"It sure is. And how glorious their walk is."
"That's not what I - how - what the hell?"
"You're just jealous because my affections have moved towards six strapping Germans. Playing with fire."
Bob didn't look impressed. "... Way to play on a justified fear of mine. We need to talk, Frank."
"That's right. We do need to talk Frank. I'm pretty awesome."
Mikey burst out laughing and gave Frank a hearty slap on the back, and even the drummer had to crack a smile at this. "Bless you, Frank. What you just said sums up my prediction of how this whole month is going to turn out."
"How do you think it'll turn out?"
"I think," Mikey brushed his hair back lightly and leaned over the banisters, gazing at the scene below. "I think this is going to be the start of a self-realizing, fiery and ridiculously Teutonic adventure."
"Amen to that," Gerard said, and grinned at his bandmates - before doing a double take. "guys... where's Ray?"
A quick scan around the area concluded that he was not anywhere them, nor was he back in the room with the monitors. "That's odd..." Frank muttered, nibbling on his lower lip slightly before squinting down below. "Ray definitely didn't say anything? Like, to tell us where he was going or anything?"
Bob shook his head. "Don’t recall any. You think he's down there?"
There was nothing left to do but check. But they were all noticeably hesitating - they didn't know who out of the six would be downstairs, or if any of them had emerged from the dressing rooms yet. Frank took a couple of steps down to peer in closer, and much to his relief (and delight) he saw at least three of the Rammstein members that he recognized due to sheer height and presence. Seeing them in such close distance made his heart skip a beat ever so pleasantly. He recognized Paul, who was perhaps most suited to be his mentor out of the six members of Rammstein - being a rhythm guitarist like Frank as well - and the moment he took the sight of the man in, he fell in love with him as well. Frank was completely and utterly in awe of the incredible being that was Paul's hat; it was huge and fluffy as hell with silky fur that made him think of bunnies and sunshine, and much to the younger man's delight, upon closer examination he also found that it had cat ears. What right in the world did the man have to look so utterly amazing in such a ridiculous hat? He didn't know but he could see that he was going to like Paul, very much so. As he was pondering this, Paul laughed at what whoever he was talking to had said; he gestured and moved a little to the left, making Frank blink at what happened next. "Hey, guys," he commented quietly to the rest of the band. "look... can't have been more than five minutes that he was gone and Ray's made friends already..."
"Seriously?" Bob leaned in to look, and had to concede that this was indeed true. Ray and Paul were leaning against the wall together, the latter with a glass of champagne in hand, both laughing and making conversation as if they'd known each other for years. "bastard's like a friendship magnet! How does he do that?"
"Well, he broke the ice for us for sure. Might as well introduce ourselves now," Mikey commented, and with a reassuring wink and a smile, descended the flight of stairs and into the larger backstage area. Frank was the next to follow, feeling eager to get to know the band but at the same time a little nervous - admittedly he didn't have much idea how to go about approaching anyone. He wasn't usually shy, but the definitely foreign atmosphere sobered him a little, and he decided to keep watch for a few minutes to better adjust himself - if he was lucky, he might even be approached. Frank glanced at the little after-hour buffet - he didn't see anything that he recognized as vegetarian, but then this didn't surprise him - and picked up a glass of cola before edging up a little closer to Paul and Ray so that he could hear what they were saying. Perhaps it might give him some tips as to how to go about doing this.
"I thought that was awesome, really," Ray was saying to him. "is that how you respond whenever something like that happens?"
"It was more of Till's whim, but the song was on the setlist after all!" Paul laughed, adjusting his hat lightly over his head. "so we could get away with it. You arrived at a very apt time, I'm glad you liked the performance even if wasn't quite the norm."
"Oh, we did. We've gone through bottling a couple of times ourselves, but can't say we were expecting such a thing to happen here, and certainly not to you guys..."
"Ach, all that goes out of the window the second we set foot in our homeland! We've had such a low reputation in Germany since our formation that it simply was never possible for it to get worse elsewhere," the older man paused there before his face suddenly broke out in a million-dollar smile. "but do you know what the best part is? 'Links 2, 3, 4' doesn't even really represent our true views. We're apolitical - we always have been - it's a way to confuse more people!"
Frank giggled and had to hold a hand over his mouth lest the two men overhear him. He sipped at his cola, finding the exchange too entertaining to pull away from - perhaps he should join in when he felt a lot more at ease, only God knew how Ray could be so confident enough to win over Paul in a timespan that couldn't have been more than ten minutes altogether -
Frank did not realize that he was being addressed at first, because his last name had been pronounced as 'ee-row'. But when the voice in question repeated it again, closer and a little more tentatively this time, he was startled into turning around - and directly coming face to face with none other than Till Lindemann himself. His shock must have shown on his face, for the taller man tilted his head a little and gave him an inquisitive look without saying anything more. "Oh! Um... good evening!"
"Till!" Paul called from close by before the singer could answer, giving them both a wave to catch their attention and grinning like a maniac. (That glorious hat.) "Denglisch!"
The singer thought about this and nodded. "Danke, Paul," he called before turning back to Frank (who meanwhile had locked his gaze with Ray, who was mouthing 'this is awesome' at him). "Mein Name ist Till Lindemann," he said, looking directly into the other's brown eyes. "and our rhythm guitarist comments that I likely haven't addressed you properly. I apologize for that. But before we get onto formalities..."
There was a significant pause at this point. The guitarist found himself feeling quite uncomfortable with this, but at the same time he was aware that he was in front of Till, a man who he'd been admiring by voice and looks for three weeks now; he was even more menacingly handsome in real life than he'd have expected, having a tall, straight posture and piercing green eyes alongside a strongly muscled body. He wasn't the best looking man that Frank had ever met, but the masculine charisma in him was utterly undeniable-
"... May I have a sip of that?"
-All right, perhaps 'undeniable' was taking it a bit too far. A little taken aback at the unusual request, Frank glanced down at his glass of cola. "You mean this?"
"Ja. If you won't mind."
"Oh, by all means... do finish it if you want, I probably wouldn't have done myself..."
Till took the glass from his hands with an appreciative 'Vielen Dank' before tilting his head back and drinking the over half-full glass in one go. It was quite a sight; he set down the glass on a nearby table afterwards, his expression having remained completely neutral throughout. This had been a very thirsty man Frank was dealing with. "That's much better. Now," he raised his head, his voice softening considerably. "I shouldn't keep being so rude. How exactly is your last name pronounced, Herr? It wouldn't do to get it wrong again from my part."
"It's, um... pronounced 'eye-eh-ro'."
Till repeated the other's full name to himself before looking up with a nod. The guitarist was a little surprised at how different his first name sounded when the older man pronounced in his Germanic way, but it was a pleasant feeling. "that would make sense. Tut mir leid! 'I' and 'e' in that order is pronounced as 'ee' in our language. I should have considered that."
The guitarist thought about this; the mispronunciation of his surname was a common mistake people made, but this was the first time anyone had given him an actual explanation for their mistake other than 'your name is confusing'. "How..." he started, not sure to phrase it but wondering nevertheless. "how would you write it in German? My last name, I mean. Phonetically? Oh, man, I'm so sorry, I'm not being very coherent, am I?"
Much to his surprise (and inner delight), Till actually smiled at him. It was a little smile, certainly not the bright, cheerful grin some of his other band members wore, but it was somehow more substantial and softened his features considerably - and totally enamored Frank. "Ihr Nachname? Let's see..." he searched around in his pockets and brought out a little leather-bound notebook and a pen and flipped to a fresh page, scribbling something which Frank assumed was the phonetic German version of his last name. It took only a couple of seconds before he lightly tore out the page and showed it to the younger man. Sure enough, two words were scribbled on the page in a strong, handsome swirl of a handwriting: Frank Iero.
"The 'i' and 'e' go the other way around if you pronounce it the way you have done-" Till explained, demonstrating this by writing a little comparison between both forms. "-so if we added an 'e' in front of your surname-" he did so, in little brackets. "-then it would be the logical way of writing it."
Frank took the piece of paper with a slightly shy thanks, but his mind was working on overdrive. Not even five minutes into our first real conversation and he's given me a German lesson? He must really love words...
"Is your name short for something?" Frank asked. In response the older man raised an eyebrow and offered his notebook and pen to the guitarist, requesting a visual explanation. "oh, no, it's not much of a question - you wouldn't mind?"
"Not at all."
Frank took the items (noting to himself the singer's lingering warmth on them) and quickly scribbled out the other's name. "It really wasn't important, really. I was just referring to 'Till' (he circled said word here) - it's not a common name, and I just wondered... if it was short for something else? I couldn't think what it could be."
"Oh, that was all! A reasonable question," Till said, taking the notebook and pen and tucking both back into his pockets. "well... it's a diminutive. My birth name is Dietrich," he frowned very slightly and only for a second as he said this name, but it was clear that he didn't like it at all. "but I never liked it much. That's all there is. You may have noticed that almost no one in this band likes going by their given first names, so I'm not an unusual case."
The younger man would have liked to carry on a little further from that point, wanting to know why this was so, but decided that this was probably too much of a personal thing to ask. "Thank you for telling me," he nevertheless responded gratefully. "I should really have mentioned this earlier but we were watching your performance, it was amazing. None of us knew what exactly we were to expect but I thought you guys are one of the best bands we've ever seen live, seriously, and there was that thing with the guy with the audience too..."
The older man laughed and brushed hair back a little. "I could have handled that just a little more professionally, I suppose," he said, but there was a mischievous glint in his eyes. "if that had happened at any other point in the performance, I would have let it be. But he did so at a particularly dangerous point in the show, when the flames were being put out - it was fortunate that he had good aim, it might have injured one of the technicians otherwise and that would have resulted in a world of trouble, you would agree."
He's a pyrotech, I remember reading about that... wow, so considerate... check that off the list...
"And we were to perform that song anyway. It was just out of order this time, that was all. A small lesson directed at a sadly misinformed man, and unlike his assault, I'd say it was mostly harmless!"
... More sense of humor than I expected of a German, check. Good looking, check. I think we have a winner.
As Frank was thinking this, from behind Till he spotted a man with slicked back, longish black hair walking towards their direction. He recognized this man as the lead guitarist of Rammstein almost instantly; he was wearing a long coat and was very smartly dressed, carrying with him an elegant grace. Seeing where Frank's gaze was fixed, the singer glanced back as well, smiled and beckoned the man over. "Ah, this is Richard, our lead guitarist and a close friend of mine. I don't know if you've been introduced yet," Till pronounced the name differently this time around as well, like 'Rikh-hart' instead of 'Ree-chard'. "Richard, das ist Herr Iero - oder Frank."
"Freut mich," the older guitarist said solemnly, offering a gloved hand. Frank shook his hand a little nervously - the other's grip was quite tight - and this made Richard smile in a surprisingly friendly manner. "I'm pleased to meet you. May I refer to you as Frank?"
"Of course! And could I..."
"Either 'Richard' or 'Risch' is acceptable," the older guitarist had the smoothest English out of everyone Frank had heard so far; his German accent was nigh nonexistent and he'd offered an American-style 'Richard' to boot. "the latter is what I'm called most often, though."
"Nice to meet you! Say, do you live in the USA? Or have you before?"
"I live in New York City. Did the American accent give it away?" Frank smiled and nodded. "I thought as much."
Richard had seemed very charming onstage, playing his heart out and keeping his cool at all points without seeming overly expressionless, but now that he was backstage he seemed a little tired and worn out somehow. The man would prove to be the one that Frank would later have the most difficulty pinning down a personality to, but he wouldn't find this out until some time later as the conversation was cut short by one of the roadies calling out to them in both German and English. "The storm's getting heavier," he shouted. "we'll have to move now to get to our hotel. The buses will be ready in about five minutes, keep that in mind, please?"
"There was a storm?" Frank exclaimed as he glanced at a window; it was dark out, but when he went over to one and peered in close, he could hear the vaguely muffled sound of raindrops and fierce wind. "aww, hell. I can't hear it, but it looks bad."
Apparently this announcement was just as much news to everyone else. Till and Richard had followed him to look out the window and concede this fact, and after a hasty look at the time (nearly ten at night), a very quick clean-up began to take place amongst the roadies and the band members. "What if it carries on raining like this tomorrow?"
"Bald regnet es; bald scheint die Sonne," Till commented as he looked away from the outside, and smiled down at Frank. "first it rains; and then the sun shines. It’s been like that in Germany all this week and today was rainy. So by all means, Frank - I think will be a very pleasant day tomorrow."
He called me Frank, the young man thought, suddenly feeling a little dazed. The feeling was only heightened when Till briefly squeezed his upper arm, his hand comfortably warm and his grip reassuringly strong. He actually touched me and called me by my first name as if we were close friends! Through the roadies' shouts of 'Okay, buses are ready - please board now-' and Gerard's vaguely 'come along, Frank, let's hurry', this was what he kept dwelling in even as if he walked towards the exit. It appeared, from the joyful expressions on the other's faces, that their four days' worth of delay in getting to Germany had not affected their ability to get along with Rammstein at all.
But Frank did not miss the way Richard looked at Till as they were walking, how he'd put his hand on the other's shoulder, and how the latter had responded with one of his softer smiles. There was something between them, an almost secretive attitude that both treated with relative indifference but nevertheless made Frank raise an eyebrow in question.
... Close friends?
But he'd have to solve that mystery later. "I'll see you tomorrow!"
"Ja, schönen Abend!" Richard called, waving at him.
"Bis Morgen!" Till also joined in, giving him a nod. Frank waved at both men and hurried alongside Mikey and Ray (both quite cheerfully retelling their experiences of the evening) and towards the door. The wind was strong and caught him by surprise when he stepped outside; wincing a little, he jogged ahead. The black bus on the left was theirs, he reminded himself, before sticking his hands in his pockets and feeling the rustle of the piece of paper that he'd tucked in there. It then struck him that somehow, because of that impromptu conversation about names, Till and he had ended up kind of sharing autographs - only they had shared each other's names instead of distributing their own. Quite unconventional, really.
As Frank was contemplating this and hopping on the tour bus, Bob was the last one of the group to emerge, closing the doors behind him, with Till, Richard some of the roadies just in front of him. He fastened his jacket tighter around him, shivering as the cold rain whipped at his body; the night was dark and the rain was getting ever stronger, more than he'd expected, and it was unsettling.
"Kommen Sie hier!" he turned around to look; the German singer was just putting up an umbrella, and was gesturing frantically at him. Richard glanced at them both, but Till nodded at him, conveying that the man could go ahead. "bitte!"
Bob hadn't actually talked to the man before but now was as good a time as any. He immediately jogged forwards and accepted the offer. "Thank you... whew, it's cold..."
"It's no problem at all. You are Herr Bryar?"
"That I am! Just Bob is fine though," pause. "and what do you prefer to be referred as, Herr Lindemann...?"
"Not quite anything as formal as that," the older man laughed good-heartedly. "'Till' is fine with me. Was it a good evening for you?"
"It was indeed."
Till gazed ahead, adjusting the umbrella a little so that it covered them both. "You look very tired. It was a long flight from there to here, I assume?"
"Seven hours and then we drove from Berlin-Tegel to here. But I didn't really feel it until right now, we certainly didn't feel it while we were watching your show - it was incredible! Frank being his usual self throughout today kept me sane too, bless his heart..."
"He seemed like a very cheerful young man indeed. Is he always so affectionate?"
"Frank? Oh, yeah, he falls in love with anything and anyone," Bob said nonchalantly, but Till did not miss the light twinkle of amusement in the other's eyes.
"So he is... panromantic, would you call it?"
"I'm not sure what to call it myself," the drummer answered as they reached their respective buses, but he was thinking over the issue; he soon smiled and answered: "but I think it's less love in the more conventional sense and more that he just loves life and everything in it!"
It was with a relatively light heart that Frank awoke in his bed the next morning. He stretched and rolled over, reaching out for his alarm clock, relieved that no performances from either themselves or Rammstein were due that day - they would set off later that afternoon in their respective tour buses, but they'd be driving overnight. And even when they arrived, they were to spend another day relaxing and getting ready for the set-up. Of course after that the schedule would become more stricter for them, but at least they would have a chance of recovering somewhat from jetlag.
Jetlag was a terrible curse upon man, he swore to himself as he finally gripped the clock in his hands and tugged it off his bedside, raising himself on an elbow to peer into it; he was proven right as he saw the digital display read 4:25 am. "Ugh," he groaned as he sank back down onto the pillows, covering his face with one arm. He had only been asleep for five hours, nowhere near what he should be getting; it had felt much longer, somehow, but now he was consumed with both the urge to be out and about and to go back to unfulfilling sleep. Frank thought about what time it must be back home - 11:25 pm, technically he should be going to bed about now. But once the sun rose outside he knew he wouldn't be able to sleep again. Coordinating sleeping times became surprisingly tiring during tours; he'd quite forgotten about that little detail.
But awake he was and he had to make something of it. Frank realized only at this point that he was still clutching at the alarm-clock; he reached out to set it back on the bedside table again, and lay there staring at the ceiling for a few more minutes before he raised himself up from the bed. He stretched again, wincing as his back creaked, before getting up and padding across the room in his slippers to peer out of the window.
"Whoa," he whispered at the view, covered in what initially seemed like pitch-black darkness, his breath misting the glass lightly; but his eyes soon adjusted and he could make out that little white lights were illuminating the path outside of the hotel. He hadn't quite picked up on that before because he had been so exhausted. Figuring that he could use a walk to wake himself up, Frank quickly changed out of his pajamas and into jeans, a shirt and a warm jacket (bearing in mind the cold weather), giving his hair a slight brushing through before he left the room. He kept as quiet as possible as he slipped through the corridor, mindful of the Rammstein members and his own bandmates who were still sleeping soundly on the same floor, then down the two flights of stairs and out of the back entrance of the hotel.
His first thought upon stepping out was that it was darker than he had thought it would be, and that it was very cold; but not something that couldn't be fixed with a brisk walk, anyhow. Frank cupped his hands in front of his mouth and blew into them, warming them up a little, and then set off towards the path where he knew there would be some lights to guide his way. The path was still freshly wet and glistening from the overnight rain; this didn't dissuade him from skipping along a little when he came to a turn in the path that was laid with red brick. Following that, Frank was then pleasantly surprised to find that he had been led to a rock garden area, with a lush growth of trees and bushes surrounding a large pond.
"Wow." he murmured to himself, and let out a low whistle. Had he not awoken as early as he had done, he would probably have ended up leaving the hotel without even realizing that such a landscape was close by; pleased with his discovery, he stepped forward and began to walk slowly around the pond. It was certainly a lot larger than what he'd first thought - the lack of an overall light source apart from sodium lamp-posts scattered about the path probably contributed to this - and Frank was just enjoying the sensation of gravel and pebbles crunching lightly underneath his feet when he heard a rustling sound from behind him. It was not the wind, and went on for several seconds; the guitarist froze in place right there, eyes widened in shock, quite forgetting to breathe. The sound didn't come again for several seconds as he waited in tense silence - and just as he was about to exhale and calm down a little, there was a sudden unmistakable dull splash in the water that sounded like a large pebble being thrown into it. Frank spun around to see large ripples spreading out over the surface of the pond, and looked around, a chill travelling down his spine.
"Who's there?" his voice came out too quiet for his liking, so he nervously cleared his throat and tried again. "... hello?"
There was silence for a while. And much to Frank's horror, without warning or even so much as another noise, a tall human figure rose from the bushes about twenty paces away from him and began rustling towards him, step by step.
"Ahh, what the-"
That was about as far as he got before his throat seized up in mixed terror and confusion. But he needn't have worried. As he watched, the man stepped into the light - he was very tall and thin, a foot and a half over the guitarist's height, wearing a white hoodie and jeans with the hood pulled over his head. Frank wasn't sure what to make of this until the other pulled down his hood, blinking a little in the sudden light - then he suddenly found himself staring into a vaguely familiar face from the night before, that of a man with a beard and possessed soft brown eyes much like his own. But in the sheer amount of shock that he had experienced and the still-thick darkness, any further details had escaped his mind altogether.
Apparently he wasn't the only one experiencing such recognition. The man blinked again and stared at Frank for what seemed like ages before he spoke up (in a surprisingly gentle and soothing tone, the guitarist noted) in English: "I know you."
Oh my God help me. Who is this? Why can't I remember?
"You... you do?"
Sensing the nervousness in Frank's voice, the man backed away a little, looking quite nervous himself. "Perhaps that wasn't the... how would you say it... best way to put it. I meant that I recognized you - I saw you last night, but we didn't talk then."
"Oh..." it was then that things fell into place. "... oh! So you're-"
"The bassist of Rammstein," the man paused awkwardly. "... I don't believe we have been introduced yet."
"No," Frank responded, still a little stunned. "... I don't believe we have."
"... Oliver Riedel."
"... I play rhythm guitar for My Chemical Romance, my name's Frank Iero..." what Richard had said the night before floated back to his mind, and now seemed like the best time to try it out. "...um, freut mich, Herr Riedel...?"
"Ah, mich auch! But please do call me 'Olli'. Do you speak German?"
Frank had to shake his head at this. "I'm afraid not."
"Should I call you by your first name?"
"I will keep that in mind. Danke."
With that, another awkward silence fell between them. Germans really were very meticulous when clarifying things like names, Frank thought to himself as he stood there wondering what to do next; now that introductions were over and done with, he had no idea how to proceed with the conversation. But then he noticed that the taller man had a handheld camera and a flashlight in one hand, which seemed sufficiently curious enough for him to ask about it. "Did you come out early to take photos?"
"Oh yes," Olli replied, sounding vastly more relaxed at the mention of his favourite hobby. "I'm an amateur photographer - when we go on tours, everywhere we go, I have to take photos and sort them into albums... I also do some night-time photography so I came out early as possible to try to take some of this place, but I can't find a good spot. They're either too bright or too dark," he shrugged lightly. "but it wasn't entirely unexpected, by any means. And you?"
"I couldn't sleep, I needed a walk to clear my head."
The bassist gave him a sympathetic look. "Is it the jetlag?"
Frank nodded in response. "Got it in one."
"I can only imagine. Shall we walk around a little more? This garden is quite big and it's fairly calm out - that is, if you don't mind, of course..."
"Oh, of course I don't mind! That'd be good. Man, I'm sorry for all that yelping, I wasn't expecting to see another person out-"
"Neither was I, Frank. Neither was I."
Having settled on a bench after a good half-hour of walking and making conversation, Frank was considerably more warmed up and at ease. The bassist turned out to be a very interesting soul, quiet and soft-spoken but truly passionate about the things that he liked; he was also very considerate, having slowed his pace considerably to let the guitarist catch up, aware that he had longer legs and his stride covered more distance than Frank's. He was very open-minded and honest but at the same time his silence made him quite mysterious, and Olli reminded Frank quite heavily of Bob - perhaps less snarky, but just as thoughtful somehow.
"This is our first tour in quite some time," Olli was now saying, sitting just next to him and looking over at the brightening horizon; happy for the somewhat lighter sky, he had taken out his camera and was now taking a few shots of the rock garden. "even six months back we had thought that it might not happen - 'Liebe ist fur alle da' was quite a difficult album for us to make - but it did come about in the end..."
"I was told that this was your second leg of the tour," the guitarist commented, getting an affirmative 'ja' back in return. "where would you go next, if there's a third one?"
"We haven't thought of that yet. If there is a third leg, it'll happen a couple of months after we've finished this one. We'll see how we feel - we're getting on in years now, I think that's evident-"
"We sure didn't think so last night," Frank admitted shyly. "you're the youngest, right? I thought you looked younger than quite a few of the others."
"Do I?" the bassist sounded pleased at this. "das stimmt! I'm only thirty-nine years old."
That's still a decade older than me, the younger man thought to himself in awe, before a thought crossed his mind. "What about Till?"
"Ah, Till?" Olli laughed, putting away the camera; he bent down to pick up a flat pebble and skipped it effortlessly across the water. The pebble hopped a few times on the surface, glided and then sank. "the oldest one!"
The guitarist blinked.
"That's, uh, not a real thing. Is it a real thing?"
"It's as real as the spider tattoo on your neck."
"Scorpion. So, um, not a real thing?"
Olli peered for a brief moment at Frank's neck. "Ah, so it is! I apologize. I wasn't sure if I had it right, really, but it's so dark out and I didn't want to intrude in your personal space either..."
Ah, of course... Germans don't have the same kind of perception regarding that as we do... "Oh. It's okay! It really is. I should have been a bit more considerate. But... really, just how old is Till, again?"
"He turned forty-seven just this year. He's as old as the hills, even compared to all of us."
Oh my God. That means he was old enough to reproduce before I was even born.
Frank was silent and somewhat stunned at this information before it sunk in that he probably shouldn't have been surprised in the first place. After all, he had vaguely been aware of the birth years of everyone in Rammstein - it simply hadn't sunk in until that point that Till was forty-seven years old, because somehow spelling it out so blatantly like that had a different effect from calculating onwards from 1963 and the man himself hadn't seemed quite that old. While he was still mulling over this the bassist drew himself to his full height, stretched, and asked Frank if he wanted to get some breakfast before 'the best food ran out' - the younger man nodded a yes and was soon drowning his sorrows over a bowl of cereal and some toast.
... And despite knowing that I still think he's fine as all hell! Well, shit.
How the hell do I get myself into those things?
But he was in it now, and he was going to have to work with it for the next month. And the more he thought about it, the more it seemed acceptable - he still had a lot to learn, and what better way to do that than actually get to know everyone in the band? He could approach Till better the more German he knew and the more culture clashes he could overcome, that much was obvious.
He was up for the challenge. Keeping that in mind, Frank then proceeded to make a very tired and disoriented Bob into a slightly less tired and disoriented Bob by sneaking him the last full glass of orange juice, which did succeed in making him feel better about himself. He just prayed that he would be able to stay that way.
Oliver Riedel you weirdo. What the hell are you doing creeping around a rock garden at dawn and being a Mr. Exposition? For shame. XD He and Frank's introduction scene has to be the most awkward introduction scene I've ever written. Olli is the tallest in this insane line-up of the cast and Frank is the shortest, so it makes for some pretty interesting comparisons.
There will be a lot of German formality and language discussions in this story from this point onwards, alongside lyrics of songs from both bands. The name thing is something I really have noticed with my German penpal and during my classes. Germans are not the type of people to just casually slip into first name terms, even if they're much older than the people that they're addressing. I find that kind of respectful actually. <3 There's a lot that I could comment on but I'll just make do with four random things: I gave Bob a bit of nervousness regarding fire because of his 2nd/3rd degree burn accident during the Famous Last Words shoot that resulted in gangrene *cringe*, the 'pour a shitload of fire onto your keyboardist' stunt during 'Ich Tu Dir Weh' was very very real, Till's outfit during LIFAD Tour was also as described (although he would progressively become more like this) and Paul's hat described in the chapter actually does exist and it is the most AWESOME HAT EVER. If I ever had this hat then I think I will never wear any other hat because it is just so incredible. Paul can get away with wearing whatever the hell he wants because he's always so adorable. And yeah Paul Landers and Ray Toro BFF is now totally a thing. XDDDD
Chapter 3: Flamethrower
Disclaimer: I do not know any members of either My Chemical Romance or Rammstein. This is strictly a work of fiction and I do not profit nor claim to represent true aspects of their lives in this story.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Like Wild Falling Rain (Chapter 3 of 8) - 'Flamethrower'
Pairing in Chapter: Till/Richard. Other friendships and performance-induced moments, but mainly Till/Richard.
"Frank, Frank, you've got to see this! They're practicing their opener for us tonight!"
"Ugh, Ray ... is this... so important that it justifies you calling me at half seven?"
"Gonna be worth it. Cross my heart and hope to die."
"What's so special about this?"
"Three words. Till. Flamethrower. Gauntlets."
"You save a seat for me right fucking now."
"Knew you were going to see my point of view eventually. Mikey and Bob are here too - shit, man, hurry up, they're gonna start in a few minutes-"
"Awright, Ray, just getting up, I swear to Jesus-"
"-Christ, you really weren't kidding," Frank gasped as he sat back on one of the plastic seats. Till was onstage with three roadies behind him; one was setting up a large set of speakers, but otherwise the stage wasn't set up for anything else. Richard was also standing beside Till with his guitar and amp, staring blankly into thin air as he plucked at the strings and tuned them to his liking.
It was their third day in Stuttgart, and due to a mishap in hotel management the two bands had spent the night in their respective tour buses - not a bad arrangement by far, considering they all had fairly comfortable bunks. Rammstein had been the main act the night before, and the MCR members had performed their first opener for them, composed of the songs they deemed 'hardest' out of their entire discography by far. Alongside a considerably more metal but subdued attitude and respectful demeanor, they'd been well received ('No bottles,' Frank still remembered Gerard screaming with ecstasy after they'd retreated backstage). So they were all rather tired but nevertheless hyped up for the start of their gig that day. The two bands were all introduced to each other now, everyone having talked at least twice to everyone else and clarifying what they preferred to be referred as. Frank brushed his dark hair out of his eyes and accepted the carton of juice that Ray tossed him. "Cheers. I ran all the way from the bus, I need it. Where's everyone else?"
"Gerard's God knows where," Mikey spoke up. He had a pair of sunglasses perched neatly on top of his head. "as for the others-" he pointed to the row just in front of theirs, where Paul, Olli and Schneider were sitting and chatting amongst each other. It was Paul who noticed Frank first and waved to him.
"Guten Morgen," he greeted, and the younger guitarist did the same. "hope you slept well?"
"I did, thank you."
Paul grinned; he had a newspaper spread open on his lap. "Good to hear! This is the first song that ought to be on our opener setlist tonight."
"Aren't you joining Till and Richard onstage?"
"It's really those flamethrowers that matter the most," Schneider answered for him in his lusciously accented voice. "so they need to be tested first."
The drummer was the last person out of all the members of Rammstein that Frank had become acquainted with, and he'd found the man very agreeable but with a few quirks that were strange by even Rammstein standards. At the start they'd actually had a few problems understanding each other because Schneider had the thickest German accent out of all of them; and Paul had actually played a little prank on the man while he and Frank were engaged in their first conversation together. "Achtung!" he'd called out of the blue, causing Schneider to flinch and actually snap to attention, military-style, before he looked around in confusion to find Paul doubling over in laughter.
"He's never lost that reflex," Frank recalled the man explaining amidst his giggles, Schneider blushing a deep red in response. "comes from his military days when Germany was still divided, the rest of us refused to go. Till nearly went to prison for it, too. Doom's the only one who went, the damned conformist," but Paul had looked like he had nothing but affection for the drummer, so that was that.
His thoughts were interrupted by Richard beginning to strum on his guitar, a serious expression on his face. Without looking back, he gestured with one hand towards the speakers, delivering the cue to start the pre-recorded music; Till couldn't exactly move from his position. The music was switched on, the guitarist playing smoothly along with the intro - after a few seconds Till turned his head towards Richard, receiving a nod in return.
"Ramm-stein!" Till began singing, rolling his 'r' in his magnificent way; it was only then that Frank noticed that the singer's thumbs were actually resting on buttons that released a truly spectacular tower of flames when pressed. "Ein Mensch... brennt!"
This sentiment was apparently shared by everyone but one. "Fire," Bob murmured, looking slightly ill; he curled up a little, hugging his knees. "why did it have to be fire."
Ray, who'd been watching the sight with a fascinated expression, glanced in his direction. "It's not your first time seeing it, Bob! Why so nervous? You know they like fire."
"It's hard to gauge just how much when you're seeing it through a screen."
The one time they'd experimented with pyrotechnics in the scale that Rammstein used, Bob had ended up with third degree burns and gangrene, certainly not a pretty sight to watch - it had instilled a sort of nervousness around fire in all of them since, and especially in the drummer. They were all slightly better about it now - Frank considered himself on okay terms with fire now, he found himself more amazed and gripped than anything whenever he watched Rammstein perform. But he did sympathize and told Bob as much, which seemed to relax him a little.
Little did he know, he would have been better off saving his sympathies until later on. Within a minute something happened that made all of them need it desperately.
"Ramm-stein!" Till pressed the buttons again but this time, it didn't fire up. Till's gaze flickered towards the gauntlets, but it was for only a second, and his singing didn't falter in the slightest.
At this point Till stopped singing completely. His expression didn't change - he kept on looking straight ahead, his arms fixed in their upright position. The rest of the line he was meant to be singing passed like that in awkward silence before Till slowly pressed his lips together in a thin line, staring at nothing, clearly seconds from losing it altogether. Bob started to bite on his nails when he saw this; Frank could feel him tense next to him. "Oh boy. Oh. This isn't good."
Frank said nothing because he was looking at Richard, who seemed to be the only one who was enjoying the situation. The guitarist had also stopped playing but he was gazing at Till with a barely restrained excitement dancing in his eyes; he said nothing, but slowly licked his lips. This made Frank frown ever so slightly - he'd spent three days with the other band, and seeing Till and Richard together always made him feel a little strange. He couldn't pinpoint it exactly, but he could swear that the two of them had some seriously odd ways of reacting to certain situations - like what the older guitarist was doing now, for example.
Mutual oddness. Perhaps it was what made the two men such close friends.
"... If you'd be so kind as to turn the music off, bitte," Till said in a completely tranquil tone of voice, but the three roadies winced. Nevertheless they did as they were told, the arena falling into a very tense and uncomfortable silence; even Richard had quietly knelt down to disconnect his guitar from the amp, and when he straightened up he took a few steps back from Till as he wound the cables around his arm, never looking away from the singer.
"They cost over ten thousand Euros," Olli whispered to Frank from the row in front of them. The younger man couldn't help notice how the bassist had barely needed to reach up to be heard, because he was so tall. "so it's not as if he can just throw them away and go home, see."
"... You mean this isn't the first time?"
The bassist didn't answer, because at that precise moment Till had broken the silence by carefully pressing the button on his left gauntlet. Again, it refused to fire. "It's not working," he commented, his voice quiet and just as completely smooth as before but nevertheless carrying through the silence perfectly. "I wonder why. I really do wonder why."
One of the roadies (a pale blond with a red bandanna around his neck who had a weary, unfortunate face) gulped and spoke up. "Herr Lindemann, we don't know what's wrong, but I think we might need to unstrap those - if you won't mind, could we-"
"-step back," Till cut in, a dangerous tone having entered his voice, effectively silencing the young man and making him retreat hastily. Without further ado he pressed both buttons on the flamethrowers and held them down for a few seconds; nothing happened initially, but then they both sputtered a little and weak flames emerged from them.
"We're getting somewhere," Richard said something for the first time that morning, and with some unease Frank noticed that he had the strangest smile on his lips. "try again, Till!"
The singer, however, was beyond paying much attention. "Hard!" Till shouted, frantically pressing the buttons on his flamethrowers, making the flames shoot up in a slightly stronger manner. "hard, hard, you bastard, hard! Hard!"
"Not just that," Richard hollered as well, a maniacal grin on his features. "harder's the way to go! Press harder, you magnificent bastard! Harder!"
This he did. What happened next was something no one, not even Till himself, had apparently expected.
Two huge columns of fire and smoke suddenly burst from the ends of the gauntlets, a strong burning smell of plastic coming from them. Till let out a cry of surprise and let go of the buttons but there was clearly more than just a simple malfunction going on because the flames refused to stop; one spluttered and went out, but the other one had soon covered the singer's arm in smoke that was surely hot enough to singe. "Ah, Gott!" the man shouted, taking a step backwards before he suddenly let out a piercing scream.
"Fuck," Bob moaned, shakily getting up and backing away from the stands. "oh my God. I can't watch. Memories, man. Memories."
Before anyone could stop him, he was gone. "But I don't think that Till's in pain, guys," Ray commented quietly, staring at the stage and back where Bob had gone in awe. At this Mikey and Frank both spun around to look back at him, an incredulous look on their faces.
"Are you crazy? Look at the guy, he's on-"
"I think..." the man carried on as if he had not heard. "I think... he just... likes it..."
Ray's statement was truer than they could have imagined. Till was indeed holding onto the flamethrower gauntlets for dear life despite the fact that they appeared to be smoking in an unnatural manner, his arm enveloped completely with grey smoke; he was shouting and cursing, but he really didn't appear to be in pain. When a roadie rushed over with a fire hydrant on hand (clearly an inexperienced one who had very little idea how to deal with the situation), he was actually kicked away by the singer who yelled something at him in German and kept on clutching at the gauntlets while Richard kept laughing in the background. Smoke had reached him by this point as well, but he didn't even flinch. But it was the reaction - or the lack of, rather - of the other Rammstein band members that really sealed this perception.
"Looks like it's going to be a good day," Olli said nonchalantly, and Paul didn't even look up from his newspaper as he nodded. Schneider gazed intensely at the scene, seeing the flamethrower straps be tugged off Till's arms while the latter kept screaming in pleasure and trying to push away the roadie because he was 'ruining the experience'. "bet you ten Euros that he needs bandages on his shoulder, Doom."
"What, only ten? Ach. I say the lower arm, from the way he's holding those things."
The bassist opened his mouth to debate this statement, but didn't quite that far as the two gauntlets were finally unstrapped from Till's arms amidst loud cursing and protests. "You bastards," the man was shouting, a look of half derangement and euphoria on his face as the gauntlets were quickly taken away. "you bastards, I was enjoying that, can't even let me have a bit of fun-" here he winced and grabbed at his wrists, his features twisting into a look of pain only then. It was here that Richard grabbed two water bottles and threw their contents all over Till's arms and hands. "-Gottverdammt, Risch, oh mein Gott that was just completely-"
"-Completely according to protocol!" Richard cut him off, grinning ear to ear. Till, now in a state verging on shock induced hysteria and also sopping wet, was nearly sobbing in both delight and pain as he hurriedly ran off the stage to put some ice on his hands. As he ran past the stands, they could all see that he was clutching at his wrists and he had a large red burn on his right hand that surely was 'hurting like a motherfucker' as a stunned Mikey so eloquently expressed.
"Told you," Schneider merely said cheerfully as a now considerably-downhearted Olli fished out ten Euros and held it out towards the drummer. At this point Flake came strolling by the chairs, his hair neatly brushed and dressed casually in form-fitting trousers and a white shirt; he was holding a steaming cup of coffee.
"Guten Morgen. What's been happening?"
"Rehearsal for 'Rammstein'. It didn't go well. And where were you?"
The keyboardist didn't answer this question. "So how badly is Till burnt this time?"
"We don't know yet," Richard ran past them all, hooting with laughter, the two empty bottles clutched to his chest and leaving a trail of smoke behind. "but it shouldn't put him out of action."
"Oh my," Flake commented mildly as he raised his eyebrows and sipped his coffee; he looked back at the MCR members, staring transfixed at the scene with a mixture of terror and utter bewilderment in their faces, and held up the mug.
In a different room of the arena, Gerard had been having a rather different time.
He'd passed on watching Rammstein practicing their opening act that morning, preferring to focus on his vocals. Tonight would be the official start of their gig - they'd performed an opening act for the other band the night before, but that was with a much shorter setlist. He was currently in a practice room by himself, the door propped open with a doorstop to let the air circulate, with only his CD player to aid him - but didn't think too much of it as he trusted the others with their instruments.
"I think I'll be okay with that one," he murmured to himself, inhaling the remainder of his morning coffee and letting out a small 'tch' as he swirled the dregs in the cup. "let's see..."
He pressed 'next'. 'Dead!' began playing; he shook his head. He preferred to sing that one in particular with Ray or Frank providing backup vocals. He skipped a few other tracks until he got to one that he thought would be good; taking a deep breath, he stood up straight and reached for the mic.
"Mama, we all go to hell..." Gerard nodded along to the guitar chords. "Mama, we all go to hell..."
He'd always found the rhythm very catchy, even to his own standards. The thought made him grin. "I'm writing this letter and wishing you well... Mama, we all go to hell!"
Perhaps the background music was a little too loud. But he could still sing above it and be heard; shrugging it off, the singer simply focused on practicing, losing himself in the song as quickly as anything. He was in good condition today, he was certain of that - he hadn't even needed to warm up all that much before he'd felt comfortable with his voice,
"Here it comes-"
The bridge section had come on, what was passing for Ray and Frank's guitars blazing around him; Gerard was so into it at this point that he had quite forgotten where he was. He was clutching the mic stand with both hands at this point, nearly tearing the actual microphone off it as he frantically belted out the lyrics with an agonized expression on his face.
"Ma-ma! Ma-ma! Ma-"
A sudden 'thud' near the door made him stop completely and look around wildly in said direction. To his horror he found that the keyboardist of Rammstein was standing in the doorway, watching him with an unreadable expression on his face.
Gerard couldn't even finish cursing, trailing his syllables off limply as he stared into Flake's eyes. The older man was holding a mug of hot steaming coffee in his hands and was neatly dressed, and Gerard could only theorize that he'd been heading towards the main stage to watch his bandmates practice when he'd heard the young singer nigh screaming from the practice room. Flake stared at him for what felt like an eternity in total silence, and Gerard stared back, frozen to his spot. He was aware that the background music was still playing on without his vocals, and the staring between the two lasted for so long that the track actually ended and faded to silence before either one of them made a move. Eventually the keyboardist turned and carried on his way, his expression unchanged, the speed of his pace no less faster nor slower than before.
Gerard stood in place until the clicking of the other's shoes faded away, Flake eventually disappearing around the corner. Then he walked across the room and pulled out the doorstop, leaving the door to swing shut with a click; with that done, Gerard sank down on his knees and clutched at his head.
"Oh my God."
"You don't understand, man," Gerard moaned, back in their collective dressing room ten minutes later. "I never want to leave this room ever again. He looked at me as if I were insane, as if I were a freak of nature," his voice was rising steadily in his agitation. "he looked at me as if I was offending him by just standing there and singing. He looked at me as if I were violating his ears, tearing out his auditory nerves and stamping it into oblivion! He looked at me as if I owed him money!"
"My God," Ray said flatly. "that last one is just terrible."
At this moment, Mikey chose to enter the room and glanced around at the decidedly-odd scene; their distraught singer was sitting with his head buried in his hands, while Ray and Frank both had looks of alternating anguish and amusement on their faces. "... Am I missing something, guys?"
"Nothing at all," Frank said. "Gerard just got given a 'dude-you're-so-retarded' look from Flake, that's all."
"... Eh. What else is new."
"Cut the shit, Mikey, you really aren't helping matters," the singer groaned, not looking up. "seriously. How am I going to face Flake from now on. Like, ever."
Mikey sat down, swinging his long legs over a sofa and kicking off his shoes. "What happened, then? Do spill. I want to know."
"I was just practicing one of our songs. You know. 'Mama'. I was really getting into it, but I left the door open - yeah, I guess I'm the idiot there, I shouldn't have done that even without Flake in the picture - and just as I'm screaming out the chorus, who else but Flake stops past and looks at me like I'm crazy?"
The bassist groaned, tugging down his sunglasses to cover his eyes. "What's with singers going through crazy shit today, seriously," Gerard frowned a little in confusion and opened his mouth as if to ask a question, but Frank interrupted.
"He probably wasn't expecting it, Gerard. You're reading too much into it."
"But Flake makes me nervous," the singer admitted, looking very distraught. "I heard he didn't really like American culture, or pop for that matter... what if he doesn't like us? And he's so quiet but at the same he's - he's always there, you always notice him, you get what I mean? Like I half expect him to spout classical music talk one moment and then he's getting a boatload of fire being poured on him the next and laughing about it. I can't figure him out."
"Dude, you've been nothing but polite to everyone since we came here, right? What with your raven black hair and piercing hazel eyes, I reckon you went over pretty damn well anyway, Flake's not going to have a problem with you just because he caught you being passionate about our music."
"Flake, have a problem?" Ray sniggered. "with Gerard's amazing ethnic voice? I surely-"
"-I do not have an ethnic voice!" the singer wailed, interrupting this flow of conversation. "why is everybody around me making references left to right?!"
"Sorry, man. But it's practically mandatory."
Frank stood up and dusted his knees before stretching his back a little. "Imma go for a walk," he announced, making his bandmates (save for Gerard) look up. "we're leaving tomorrow and we haven't had the chance to look around much. Might as well."
"You're not going to disappear until late afternoon or anything, right?" Ray asked cautiously, getting a shake of the head in response.
"Nah. Just a bit of walking around. But I want to check up on Bob too, so there's that-"
"Is he still holed up practicing his drums?"
"Practicing his drums, hell," Frank sniggered. "more like desperately trying to forget about his phobia by snapping innocent drumsticks by the dozen."
"Poor bastard. I'll go check up on him too. You have a nice walk, Frank."
"Mikey, please take care of Gee," Frank called as they left. With that, the two guitarists went in opposite directions - the former towards the tour bus to get changed and go on his walk, and the latter to seek out Bob and try to comfort him a little. Gerard and Mikey were then left alone; the younger man lit up a cigarette and passed it to the singer.
"Here you go," he said, trying to keep his voice as cool and indifferent as possible but not being able to hide the tinge of worry in it.
Gerard took it with shaking fingers. "Thanks," he said, sounding a little more subdued; he took a long drag, leaned back, and inhaled the smoke in short puffs. "... I don't care what Flake thinks of the overall music, though, even if he thinks I'm an idiot," he suddenly looked a little defiant, the nicotine having relaxed him a little. "anything goes as long as he doesn't call it emo."
"I doubt he thinks you're an idiot. And I don't think anyone's particularly interested in digging up our past and calling our music emo, Gerard. But if Flake thinks so, you've still got nothing to worry about. I'll just beat him up for you. No problem. Nobody gives you weird looks and gets away with it except this band, and even then there are limits for everyone except me."
The older Way brother stared. "What the hell is this, a playground? Will you really?"
"Of course I will," Mikey said, completely deadpan. "I'm your bassist. I'm Mikey motherfucking Way. I'm your brother. Does it need asking?"
"Eww. Watch what you're saying," Gerard pulled a face, but he too chuckled gratefully as he leaned into his brother's shoulder. "... don't, uh, ever beat Flake up, but... thanks, Mikey. Really."
One hour later, Gerard was in considerably better spirits. Ray had also come back with an update regarding Bob's condition - although he was still with his drums, he was now feeling much better and would be good to go soon. "What's wrong with him?" the singer had asked as they walked down the hallway leading to Rammstein's dressing room, wanting to pay them a visit - he didn't know about the events in the arena that morning, and neither Mikey nor Ray had answered, preferring to let him find out for himself.
"Hallo," Schneider called from across the room almost the very instant they approached the open doorway. He was smiling at them, holding his drumsticks and tapping out a rhythm on his lap. Paul and Olli were also there.
"Schneider, could you please stop the tapping, we can barely concentrate," Till's voice rang out from the other side, giving the MCR members no time to answer this. They turned to look and was greeted with the most bizarre sight - the singer had bandages wrapped around both hands and wrists, but his fingers and the mild burns on them were totally exposed. As if this wasn't unexpected enough for Gerard in particular, he was leaning forward with both hands pressed flat on the glass table, while Richard (dressed in tight black clothes and red armbands) was-
"... Painting... nails?"
"Mm," Richard muttered without looking up, examining the tip of a brush before dipping it in black polish and running it over Till's right thumbnail. "I'll be done soon... pardon me."
"It's not as if he can do it himself with either of those heavily bandaged what the fuck happened," Gerard uttered, staring at the older singer's hands. Till looked at him with a curious tilt of the head before realization dawned upon him.
"You weren't there this morning."
"Flamethrower accident," Olli told Gerard to save everyone else the problem. "a major malfunction happened and he burnt both hands."
Indeed, upon closer inspection, they all realized that the man had been burnt slightly more than what had been shown within the arena. It was probably a godsend that they couldn't see the burns, but they could estimate the extent of the damage. "This happens all the time?" Ray asked.
As if on cue, Schneider, Paul, Olli and Richard all simultaneously stopped what they were doing. Within seconds they were showing the MCR members the various burn scars they'd gained over the years; not one of them had perfectly clear skin. Richard had a rather rough mark around his upper arm where it was usually covered by his armbands. Paul had one that looked quite new on the back of his shoulder along with a scar near his abdomen; Schneider had been burnt near the wrists and fingers, possibly from the drumsticks that could shoot flames. Even Olli, the quietest and the one least exposed to pyrotechnics, was not exempt - an old faded burn mark, unnaturally smooth and pale compared to the rest of his skin, stood out on part of his right leg.
"Shiiiiit," Mikey uttered as he stared at the marks; he was shocked perhaps more because of the utter nonchalance they were all showing. It was all that needed to be said. Ray was examining Paul's burn with some awe, while Gerard simply gazed at them all disbelievingly.
"And it really hurts!" Till exclaimed with a hearty laugh. They really could only suspect masochism at this point. Thankfully, Schneider stood up at this point, flexing his fingers lightly and looking at the three younger men.
"Would you like a beer?"
Gerard shifted in a slightly uncomfortable manner. "I, uh, don't drink," he explained, feeling a little self-conscious; he didn't know what he was expecting, perhaps the older men raising their eyebrows and commenting on how strange it was to see a man in Germany refusing to drink alcohol. "I used to struggle with it - was a terrible addict, really - so I quit."
"I can drink, I just try not to - I want to support my brother," Mikey added, receiving a look of gratitude from his older brother in response. Rather unexpectedly, Schneider simply smiled at the two, not minding any of this in the slightest.
"If only we had the same determination. And that's admirable of you, truly," he nodded towards the bassist, making him flush a little with pleasure. "how about coffee?"
Mikey and Gerard both perked up considerably at the mention of this magical beverage. "Coffee? Ooh, yes," the younger Way brother said excitedly. "we run on the stuff. Over five cups every single day!"
"Glad to hear it. We all like coffee," Till responded, and winced a little as Richard picked up his right hand and blew gently on his nails. "Risch, could you move your hand a little... you're pressing right on the burn..."
"Ohh. Es tut mir leid," the guitarist said, looking genuinely worried for a moment as he hastily shifted positions and ran his own hand gently over Till's. "there. That hurts less, ja?"
"Doom makes good coffee. Do the honors for us, will you, Doom?" Paul was saying while this was going on, serving as a distraction for the MCR band members from Till and Richard. Schneider nodded and winked at them before he left the room to get the coffee. "how's the manicure going, then?"
"As well as it can go."
"It's very neatly done," Gerard commented as he looked at Till's hands. The older singer's nails were quite rough and unkempt at first glance - not surprising, if his hands were burnt so often - but they seemed much neater when painted black with a slight reddish tint near the tips, being sealed off with a glossy layer of top coat. It was simple, clean and effective in the way that would suit Till and only Till, as strange as that sounded. "professional, I'd say. Would do any salon proud."
But what he hadn't expected was the man doing the manicure taking this compliment to heart. "Would you like to have one as well?" Richard suddenly asked, staring at Gerard directly in the eyes. Taken aback, the younger man blinked a couple of times before the question really sunk in.
"Say yes!" Ray goaded from next to him, peering at the other's nails. "when was the last time you had your nails manicured?"
"Two months ago, maybe?"
"Risch does a better manicure than any salon in Germany can do for us," Till spoke up with such a calm, assertive authority that the younger singer couldn't help but nod. "and it'll be no problem at all, isn't that right, Risch?"
Richard nodded, taking this as a yes. "There's a basin there. Soak your hands in it, it'll soften the nails - I'll get to you after I'm done with Till," he said, gesturing with his head towards a large basin sitting on a coffee table. Gerard walked over and sat down beside it; the basin was filled with warm water. Rolling up his sleeves, he soaked his hands in the water and sat there somewhat awkwardly as Richard finished applying the top coat on Till's nails. Schneider came back with a tray full of coffee at this point, and everyone who wanted coffee took a cup.
"I just can't get over that," the younger singer commented, briefly taking his hand out from the basin to sip at the (very nice) coffee; the heat had reminded him of Till's burns. "it must hurt like hell."
"One tends to get used to such things," Paul answered. "it's a strange day if Till doesn't end up being burnt with all of the stunts that he does. Doom and Olli are lucky, though, they don't get exposed to it much compared to the rest of us - Till just likes it, and me and Flake just learnt to watch out and get out of the way if anything looked off. But of course we don't get a lot of warning, that's why we always have to keep an eye on the pyrotechnics regardless of everything else on stage-"
Mikey inhaled through his teeth, pulling an pained face at the sheer thought of it. "What about Richard?"
"Him?" Paul laughed a little, folding up his finished newspaper. "oh, Risch usually stays and gets burnt with Till instead. Even if he sees it coming. And the two bastards just love it."
"We are here, you know, Paul," Richard said flatly, causing the older guitarist to chuckle as he tossed the newspaper on the sofa. He nodded at Gerard, gesturing to the hand towel next to the basin, indicating that he could stop and dry his hands now. The younger man did as asked and after a couple of inquiries from Richard's part (spoken in German) towards Till, presumably about the state of his hands, the man came over to sit right opposite Gerard.
"Lift up your hand, bitte," the guitarist commented as he picked up his right hand, scrutinizing his fingernails with a narrowed gaze; the younger man swallowed nervously at the rather critical look he was getting, but soon Richard's expression softened. "you do take good care of your nails. I'm impressed."
"Uh, thank you! Danke schon!"
This made Richard smile; Gerard, seeing the change, immediately relaxed his guard as he became convinced that the older man was nowhere near as disapproving as he looked. His left hand was examined and approved in a similar way before Richard sat up properly and got to work. Till was watching them lazily, letting the polish on his own nails dry; Gerard was aware of how utterly bizarre this was looking, getting a manicure from this rather intimidating German guitarist, but to say that he was uncomfortable would have been a lie. 'Manicure' was far too girly a word for what Richard was doing with an orangewood stick and three bottles of nail polish, anyway. With the stick he carefully pushed and cleared away the cuticles on Gerard's hands, his touch reassuringly warm and strong, before he glanced up at the younger man. "Do you have any specific colors in mind?"
"Just black would be fine."
"Black it is, then."
Gerard's nails were deemed of a good enough shape to leave uncut for the time being. The guitarist buffed his nails with a nail file very briefly before applying a thin base coat to all ten nails. "Three minutes," he said with a solemn nod.
"You're very good at this."
"Plenty of experience."
Taking up the bottle of black nail polish, Richard gave it a little shake before opening it up and applying a coat onto the other's thumbnail in one deft movement. He repeated this on the other nails as well, making sure to dab on only the exact amount of polish needed and blowing on Gerard's nails slightly to let them dry faster. When he thought the first coat was dry enough he applied the second, making sure to gently wipe off the polish that had gotten onto the surrounding area with a cotton swab that was soaked in nail polish remover. Richard was very methodical, working quickly but with the typical Germanic efficiency that the younger man would soon become used to seeing. "How's it going?" Paul asked, standing up with his empty cup of coffee; he didn't need an answer for this as he gazed upon the scene and gave them an approving smile. "I swear you ought to have been a beautician, Risch, you'd have been sought after by every salon in the country..."
He liked Germany, Gerard decided right there and then. He liked Germany and he liked Rammstein and he had the feeling that being there, just chilling out and focusing on what they were there for, would be a key to overcoming his writer's block. A nice change of scenery for sure. Gerard was then briefly startled into nearly smudging Richard's hard work when Flake passed by with music sheets in hand, giving the men within the room another of his strange looks. "What's the matter?" Richard asked, not knowing about the incident with the keyboardist - and Gerard didn't have much intention of telling him, either. It was much too embarrassing.
"Nothing... nothing at all..."
"... Are you sure?"
"Yes! Yes, definitely!" it was a good thing that the top coat had dried by this point, because Gerard swiped at his fringe without putting much thought to it. "I was just thinking... I wonder where Frank is?"
Stuttgart had a good selection of outdoor cafes. While Gerard was getting a manicure from Richard and everyone was slowly starting to think about either what to have for lunch or whether they should be having a last-minute practice session, Frank had found himself a nice place to enjoy a slice of cake in and enjoy the rare February sun. Café Künstlerbund, he noted silently to himself - a large scenic building, a place that he'd looked up beforehand without telling anyone else. Enjoying foreign cuisine on his own was somewhat of a strange pleasure to him, especially considering the restrictions placed upon him for his vegetarianism, but whenever he hit the jackpot it just made the whole experience a hundred times better.
"Mmmh," he exclaimed to himself as he sampled his cheesecake, closing his eyes in utter bliss. This was one of those times. Authentic chocolate Kasekuchen, made of quark cheese and perfectly suited for vegetarians - he'd heard that German desserts were supreme and so far he really hadn't been disappointed. (Even the fairly run-of-the-mill apple pie from the other night's dinner had been delicious.) The texture of the cake was smooth, rich and creamy with just the right balance of sweet and bitter; admittedly it looked quite denser than what he would normally think of cheesecake, but it melted in the mouth with light, fluffy ease. Frank licked off some of the chocolate sauce and whipped cream from his fork, feeling very contented.
Startled, he looked down to see that a cat was sitting beneath the table, staring up at him; it was a beautiful creature, its coat a sleek, solid grey, and it looked at him as if its presence in the cafe was the most natural and expected thing. Frank watched as the cat stretched out its lean body and licked a paw before properly rising to its feet.
"Hey there, kitty," the guitarist grinned as the cat then hopped onto a spare chair next to him. "where'd you come from?"
The cat only meowed and stared at him with haughty green eyes. Frank laughed and lifted up a gloved hand - only to quickly lower it so that he could tug the glove off and pet the cat properly. When he held out his bare hand, palm facing upwards, the cat cautiously crept towards him before rubbing its head against his skin, appreciating the warmth. The guitarist watched, delighted, as the creature's eyes slid shut lazily in response to his petting; he rubbed the top of its soft head lightly, hearing the cat purr. He was more of a dog person, but he quite liked this cat and how it was reacting to him.
When the cat butted his palm, he smiled before looking at his half eaten slice of cheesecake. Dabbing a little whipped cream and filling off it with one finger, he held it out to the cat and giggled as it licked his finger clean, finding the rough sensation of its tongue pleasantly ticklish. "No more, sweetheart, no more," he cooed affectionately when it leaned over, two front paws resting on his lap, meowing for more. "it's not meant to be. I didn't come to Germany so I could upset cute little cats' stomachs."
The cat looked at him disdainfully. Frank simply smiled and petted it again, feeling its wet nose pressing against his palm as he started on the rest of his cake. For the rest of his stay in the cafe, the cat curled up on his lap, purring deeply and occasionally pawing at him whenever it felt it wasn't being petted enough; the beaming waitress commented on this when she came to take his plate and cup away. "We've seen this cat around for weeks now," she told him in her lusciously accented English. "we don't own him, but he's not done anyone harm - and he's loved by our customers, so why not?"
When he got up and left, feeling satisfied, the cat followed behind him. Frank walked along the streets with the grey cat closely at his heels; he'd assumed that soon it would give up and head back towards the cafe, but clearly it was used to wandering much, much further away than that. He'd only turned one corner by the time the cat had overtaken his pace, walking with purposeful strides and twitching its tail; he rather fancied that it was trying to lead him someplace. Figuring that he had time, he humored the cat and followed it to a mostly-deserted but charming little street, decorated with homely little shops and the like.
"Come back!" he called softly, laughing as he caught sight of the cat trotting merrily across the road and settling down in front of a shop. With a quick glance behind him - the cafe was still in sight, he wasn't lost - he made his way across, letting the cat purr and wrap itself around his leg sleekly before he actually looked up at the shop window. "Antiquariat... Hohmann?"
A bookshop, clearly dealing in out of print, rare or otherwise non-mainstream books. The shop was small and elegant, with lots of wooden bookshelves inside, and seemed like a very cozy little place to be. Frank was not the best of readers and he certainly didn't read German, but the cat was still nudging his leg lightly with its head as if it wanted him to go in and take a look. He took several steps forward and peered inside - a middle-aged lady, clearly the shopkeeper, was bustling around with armfuls of books. Certainly open. He turned to look at the cat, only to find it gone from sight, presumably having run off after having achieved its goal of bringing him to this place.
Oh well. He might as well check it out.
He pushed open the door; it opened with a distinct bell chime, causing the lady in the shop to pause and give him a gentle smile. "Guten Tag! Kann ich Ihnen helfen?"
"Guten Tag," Frank responded somewhat unsurely. "and uh... I just came in to look..."
"Oh, you're American!" she said warmly, switching to a slightly muddled but nevertheless perfectly comprehensible English. He nodded, glad that she had figured him out. "you haven't been in Germany long?"
"I guess you could say that, yes. Ich... ich spreche... ein bisschen Deutsch."
He didn't trust his pronunciation and felt rather embarrassed, having recalled the phrase from one of the basic German guides he'd read, but the lady smiled. "Keine Angst! You will learn fast. We do have some English books in here. We deal in poetry, plays and classics mostly - so do look around."
With that the lady excused herself behind the counter and began to stack up her armful of books on a nearby shelf. Relieved that the encounter had gone over well, Frank turned and looked around the small shop - it was just as cozy as he'd expected it to be, with the warm dusty smell of books delighting his senses. Even though he doubted that he would be able to read most of the works there, much less making an actual purchase (that would make the first souvenir that he bought in Germany, everyone in MCR had agreed to show each other the first item of significance they bought in the country as a laugh), he nevertheless spotted an English section down a set of small steps and walked down it.
Some of the books were new and some were clearly very worn; the guitarist thumbed through a copy of an English version of 'Faust' that had apparently seen much better days. Overall, not a bad selection, although not quite to his taste. The lady had been right when she'd said that they dealt mostly with classics and poetry. Moving towards the other shelf, Frank noted that the books there seemed relatively new and some were still shrink-wrapped. Probably leftover stock from larger bookstores. They were mostly all German, though, so he simply skimmed through the titles - until he found something that caught his attention for real.
Frank blinked and stared at a particular book. It was a relatively large one compared to the other more conventional novels, and a clean copy as well. He pulled it out - his hand was shaking somewhat, why was that? - and looked, letting the words there sink in. 'Messer', it read, with a vastly black colour scheme and a photo of a man on the cover. The eyes of the photo were covered by the author's name though, a very familiar name-
"Till... Lindemann? Our Till Lindemann?"
It was most definitely the Till Lindemann that was being discussed. He only had to skim the first few pages of the introduction to pick out the words 'Rammstein' and a few others that he recognized as relevant to Till - he had known that the man was a poet as well as the lyricist of Rammstein, but not that he'd actually published a full book of some of his poems. Most definitely just a collection of poems, judging from the index. Flicking through the pages, Frank soon realized that there was more to the book than just Till's poems - there were pictures too, of a bizarre photoshoot involving a bunch of mannequins and the man himself dressed up like one. He was wearing what appeared to be a glossy, white, full-body length spandex suit; his skin was powdered with white also and he wore red lipstick for the majority of the shots. The guitarist couldn't even begin to fathom what any of the pictures could mean, especially as he saw Till posing in decidedly odd ways with the mannequins - if only he could read and understand what was going on!
But at the same time, he also had the feeling that that would only help slightly, considering how cryptic the singer could be in his lyrics.
"I... I got you, man," Frank muttered as he flicked through the curiously disturbing pictures. They were trying to tell him something, something profound, but he couldn't understand German for one thing and he probably shouldn't stand around just staring. Closing the book, he looked about for the price tag - 30 Euros - and pondered upon what to do for a couple of minutes more because he made his decision.
He wouldn't be showing this one to people anytime soon.
"What the hell did I tell you about disappearing until late afternoon, Iero."
Frank supposed that he couldn't blame Ray for this outburst. He'd returned at four o'clock, which wasn't exactly the ideal time for him to come back - they'd been expecting him an hour earlier at the latest. "Aw, I'm sorry, man," he said to placate his fellow guitarist, seeing the older man huff indignantly - but with less anger than before. Ray never was angry at anyone for too long. "Stuttgart was just too lovely."
"We're due at seven. Get in the shower, get changed and tune your guitar - have you eaten anything?"
Ray groaned and buried his face in his hands. "Jesus Christ. Right, get some eats, then get in the shower and do what I just said. I guess I should be glad you weren't wandering around until evening."
But he wasn't mad at the younger man anymore. That was all that mattered. When Ray left, Frank did as he was told, grabbing himself two sandwiches and some juice; he ate remarkably quickly, sitting on his bunk in their otherwise-deserted tour bus. There was something poetic about sitting alone eating sandwiches in an empty bus, the guitarist decided, while watching the sky darkening rapidly around him. Till would have been proud. He smiled a little to himself, feeling the reassuring firmness of the book hidden beneath his covers; he'd have a look at it later.
Frank was freshened up and dressed by the time Rammstein was out on stage, performing their short setlist. He hadn't been able to see them beforehand, but he could sure hear the music; contrary to them, the band had chosen some of their less harder songs to try to match them as much as possible. Leaning against the backstage wall, he sat there and tuned his guitar quietly before Bob came in.
"Hey. You feeling better now?"
"Much better. Man, I'm sorry for freaking out on you, I really am."
Frank grinned. "Well, you saw that happen, you've pretty much seen it all, I guess."
"Yeah. Just gotta get used to it. Say, you've seen Ray around anywhere? Can't find him - bastard's got my drumsticks, he took them from me so that I could 'stop breaking things', whatever the hell he meant by that-"
The guitarist chuckled in a slightly guilty manner at this, recalling what he'd said earlier in the day. "Heheh. I reckon he's not far away, maybe talking with one of the security guys - have a look in the hallway, yeah?"
Bob nodded and left, leaving Frank alone for all of five seconds. Vaguely, he heard Richard's voice announcing (in English) that MCR would be up within ten minutes from the stage, and the applause had barely started up when the entire band filed in through the other backstage door, giving Frank a smile. "You're due up soon," Richard told him. "good luck."
The rest of the band soon left for the showers with the exception of Till, who had leaned against the wall, looking quite tired but satisfied. "Flamethrowers worked fine this time around," he spoke up without prompt, his eyes closed. He was dressed in noticeably tamer attire this time - no red apron, hairnet or boa was in place, and he was simply wearing his normal dark outfit with suspenders. "this will the first time we'll be able to see a full performance from you."
"You'll be watching?"
Well, that's another incentive to do well if nothing else, Frank thought to himself, and suddenly felt butterflies dancing in his stomach at the thought. It was not about the performance but the thought that Till would be watching him; would he need to tone down his usual antics to impress the older man? Or could he let himself go, considering that Till was probably at a slightly higher level of wildness when it came to live performances?
"Do you have a cigarette, Frank?"
"... Oh, oh yes, I do. Marlboro's okay for you?"
He was answered with a nod; Frank pulled out a pack and handed it to the older man, who took one out with a thanks but did not light it. Figuring that he himself could use a little bit of relaxing before he went on stage, Frank also plucked out a cigarette from the pack and reached for his lighter, flicking it open - but there was no flame. He flicked the wheel a couple more times to the same response. "Aw, hell, I'm all out of fuel-"
Till handed him his own lighter without a word. Startled, Frank took it and looked; small, silver, mostly plain with one side only coated in mother-of-pearl. No logos or other insignias; it was elegant enough as it was, and quite frankly the younger man would have thought it garish to have seen anything of the kind on it. "It's a good one, that," Till commented as he noticed Frank examining the lighter; the latter looked up. "I've had it since our 'Reise, Reise' days. One of the longest-lived gifts I've ever received."
"When did you get it?"
Till let out a small 'hmm', rubbing the tip of his thumb and forefinger together and frowning in thought. "A Christmas present back in 2004, I think. Yes, that must have been it. It's not all that clear, but it was Richard who gave it to me. You've seen how much he smokes?"
It was certainly true. During the few days that they'd been in Germany, he'd seen Richard go through at least a pack a day - and seeing as he hadn't actually been able to talk to or see him around that much in comparison to the others, it wouldn't be too much extrapolation to say that he quite likely smoked more than that. Frank flicked the lighter on, touching the tip of the flame to the end of his cigarette.
"Hold it still for a moment, bitte."
Before Frank could even take the first puff, he very nearly ended up dropping it altogether in shock as Till bent down, his lips suddenly entirely too close to the other's - only to find that the older man had simply leaned in towards the other's hand to light his own cigarette. He straightened up afterwards, exhaling pearly smoke and giving the dumbstruck guitarist a cool glance. "There you go," he said, holding his cigarette between his index and middle finger. "could I have it back now?"
"Oh. Oh, of course!"
Still feeling a little stunned from what had happened, the younger man quickly handed over the lighter (Till took it with a murmured 'Danke') just as Gerard and Mikey bustled in. "Good to see you're ready to go," the latter said as they walked past, giving their uniform a last-minute check and fiddling with the strings of his bass. "we're going up soon, Frank. Be quick about the smokes, yeah? Five minutes."
"I gotcha, Mikey. Cheers."
He had a cigarette that needed smoking. So he said nothing more and simply leaned against the wall next to Till, inhaling the blissful smoke and letting it calm his nerves - he now felt shockingly relaxed, despite the fact that he was next to someone who made him feel jumpy for reasons he couldn't quite put a finger on yet. After all, a lot had happened that day, pleasantly bizarre things; it wasn't as if a routine stage performance could rile up his nerves at this point. As he was contemplating this, being halfway through smoking at this point, Till flicked away the ashes from his fully-smoked cigarette and stubbed it out on a nearby ashtray. "I've got to bandage my hands again," he said casually, flexing his fingers; it was only then Frank realized that the older man had taken off the bandages encasing the top of his hands. Only his wrists were wrapped up. "I took it off for the performance. You must think me very foolhardy, Frank."
"No, no, that's not it at all! But didn't it hurt?"
"Only a little-" from the other side of the room, Gerard peered through the backstage curtains and gestured wildly at the guitarist. "-oh. That must be your cue."
Frank stubbed out his cigarette and picked up his guitar. "Looks like it."
"Good luck with your performance."
"Thank you. And, uh, do please bandage your hands very well, okay? These burns look mighty painful, even if you were used to it..."
Till raised his eyebrows. "I didn't make a good impression of myself today, did I?"
"Because of the flamethrowers? On the contrary! You were amazing. And... and I reckon you look pretty good right now, Till."
A surprisingly gentle smile drifted onto Till's lips at this, as soft and silent as a new moon, and Frank could feel himself blushing at just how beautiful his smile really was even as he turned away and climbed the few steps up towards the stage. He was so happy about the whole thing that he didn't even end up hitting Ray or Mikey during their performance, a fact that didn't go unnoticed with them (and would be commented on later on backstage). His thoughts were too full of what had happened that day for that.
"Well, is it hard understanding... I'm incomplete..."
He closed his eyes and focused on the rhythm, remembering and smiling.
"A love that's so demanding... I can't speak..."
Mmm. Aw, yeah.
I forgot to update this on AOO! D'oh.
Till's flamethrower gauntlets are indeed real. I believe his Wikipedia page has a similar picture. It's the first picture of him I ever saw and terrified the crap out of me, which led to the love I have for the man. I'm weird like that. XDDDDDD At this point all the eleven characters are laid out now, basically. No awkward introductions this time, I can now focus on individual relationships developing between the two bands. I had a lot of fun with Gerard, surprisingly; such a cutie. I’m having more fun than expected writing him in his state of writer’s block and his recovery from being an alcoholic. I’m a big sucker for protectiveness between siblings too. No Gerard/Mikey here, but lots and lots of brotherly affection :heart: A lot of things happened in this chapter, and I got to show off my love of cats. I love cats to bits. Seriously. I like them just as much as food. This is a Skype conversation I had with a friend regarding the cat.
[11:48:19] (Me): Say, what colour should the cat with Frank be
[11:48:47] (Awesome Friend): Grey.
[11:48:53] (Me): Okay
This is basically my thought process/inspiration for events like those. Often improvised, but goddamn if they don't turn out good for it. :XD:
Messer indeed costs 30 Euros as of 2010, as my copy is. I got it for half the price though. A worthy read if you read German, which I barely do. I translate Till’s poems from it for fun and for German practice. The photoshoots in there are also incredibly bizarre as shown here. This is the tamest picture I can find.
Gerard was da sexiest guy eva! He locked even sexier den he did in pix. He had long raven blak hair n piercing blue eyes. He wuz really skinny and he had n amazing ethnic voice. We moshed 2 Helena and sum odder songz. Sudenly Gerard polled of his mask. So did the other membez. I gasped. It wasn't Gerard at all! It was an ugly preppy man wif no nose and red eyes... Every1 ran away but me and Draco. Draco and I came. It was...Vlodemort and da Death Deelers!
"U moronic idiots!" he shooted angstily. "Enoby, I told u to kill Vampire. Thou have failed. And now...I shall kill thou and Draco!"
Chapter 4: Sense
HOLY SHIT IT'S AN UPDATE
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Like Wild Falling Rain (Chapter 4 of 9) - 'Sense'
Pairing in Chapter: Various moments, but Frank/Till prominent, Frank/Richard, Gerard and Flake friendship.
A week and a half. That was how long My Chemical Romance had been in Germany already; and their tenth day in the country was marked by their collective arrival at Leipzig. Shaken awake from a light doze at the wonderful hour of 3 AM in the morning, they silently disembarked from the tour buses (seeing Rammstein just ahead), entered the hotel, and literally pushed past the bewildered receptionist to claim their rooms and collapse into bed. At least they would be spending that day relaxing and recharging their batteries; Rammstein would be the main performing act the day after, and straight after the performance would lead them back to the tour buses where they would then move onto Erfurt.
It was all very exhausting. (At least Erfurt wasn't far away.)
But the fact that they had thrown themselves into the vastly-different atmosphere with enthusiasm showed, and that was the important thing. The two bands were now fairly comfortable with each other and it wasn't too unusual to see Paul teaching Ray the basics of German language or Olli and Mikey maintaining their bass guitars side by side. Frank himself had taken to bumping into Till; the older man always greeted him politely whenever they met, and Frank was careful not to pester him too much, keeping things short and cheerful. With this, and the younger man's noticeable interest in German language and culture, Till in turn had taken to sitting down with Frank to just talk about little things and occasionally teach him useful phrases.
But so far, it wasn't entirely too different to the kind of casual friendship the others shared with one another. And Frank was reasonably content with this - he did feel rather warm inside whenever he saw Till, an affectionate feeling that was quite unlike anything he felt even around his own bandmates, but he merely put it down to excess admiration. Little did he know - as he curled up beneath the covers and closed his eyes - that the entirety of their Leipzig stay would bring forth some serious changes between his and Till's relationship.
It wasn't particularly notable at first. He slept, got up, had breakfast, engaged in conversations and stayed in the conference room that had been corded off for their use; it did not take long for him to realize that Till had been absent all morning. He couldn't imagine why this must be so, and as the morning turned to afternoon, he couldn't hold back his curiosity any longer.
"Where's Till?" he finally asked Olli, who just happened to be in the room with him at that moment; the bassist gave him a curious look in response.
"He didn't tell you?" the younger guitarist shook his head. "well, Leipzig is his birthplace. He went to visit his mother and some of the relatives, I do believe. He does have a soft spot for her, out of everyone in his family. Every time we come here on tour, he always spends the first day visiting them!"
"Oh, I see!"
This cleared things up for Frank for some time. He even managed to derive some amusement from it - hey, even tough guys like Till love their mamas, after all - however, just after lunchtime it began to rain, soon evolving into a torrential downpour. It did not cease; the young rhythm guitarist couldn't help feeling rather worried at this when he realized that it was four o'clock in the afternoon, that the sun would set soon, and that Till was still nowhere to be seen. Of course he knew that the singer was likely just held up by the weather or spending as much time as he could with his family, and really, there wasn't much that he could do about this. Nevertheless, watching the rain beating ferociously against the conference room windows, he could only chew nervously at his lip ring and hope that the older man had taken an umbrella or something to shield him from the rain. He had no way of seeking out Till to amend the situation in the event that the man hadn't taken anything, either, for Leipzig was unfamiliar territory to him and he very well couldn't go around exploring in darkness and rain.
While he was staring out of the window, the guitar on his lap quite forgotten, the door opened and quietly closed behind him. He vaguely felt the opposite side of the sofa sink lightly in response to whomever had entered sitting down, but didn't notice nor felt the need to acknowledge the other's presence until he heard the soft clink of a china bowl being set against the glass tabletop.
"Who-" he turned around, saw, and then gasped. "oh, Richard...! I didn't see you there."
The older man dismissed this with a small shake of the head and a casual wave of the hand. "I did not mean to disturb you."
"I wasn't doing anything much to begin with. It's nothing to worry about."
"If you say so."
There was a little pile of books, folders and such on the sofa between them; seeing that the pile was about to collapse on either Frank or himself, Richard set to picking those items up and rearranging them on the coffee table as neatly as possible. Frank also joined in and moved the last couple of folders over - his sleeves rolled down in the process and he could feel the older guitarist's eyes on his heavily tattooed arms.
Now he was used to this kind of attention, so disregarding this was no big deal in itself. At least he was thinking that and feeling quite relaxed about it until Richard started speaking.
"You have very well-kept hands," the older man commented out of the blue as he picked out a chocolate cherry from the little bowl, delicately twisting off its stem as he let out a little 'mmm' of delight at the taste. He nodded towards the bowl. "cherry?"
"I, uh, no thank you... I'm not fond of cherries."
Richard's expression didn't change, but he did stop chewing and give Frank such a long look at this that the younger man found himself having to resist a little shiver, wondering if he'd said something to offend the older guitarist. "Doom's like that," he broke the silence only a few seconds later, however, plucking out the stone of the cherry and tossing it in the bin with almost dissonant elegance - the younger man had no idea it was even possible to do such a thing elegantly - "he only likes glace cherries on top of cakes. A pity. But that's no one's fault. As I was saying, Frank... I like your hands. You take good care of them, it seems and they're the - how would I describe this? - ideal shape."
He picked out another cherry and popped it in his mouth. Frank, not knowing how to respond to this, said nothing and merely waited.
"Especially suited to a guitarist."
"... Thank... you?"
"Bitte," the older man nodded at him, smiling only for a brief moment - it wasn't quite enough for Frank to relax his guard, but nevertheless gave him some reassurance that Richard meant no harm to him whatsoever. "are you allowed to wash dishes? I'm not allowed to wash dishes. Ruin my fingers, and then there goes everything, they said."
This conversation was rapidly taking a bizarre turn, and Frank wasn't quite sure how it had happened, but he probably had to say something. "That's... that doesn't seem very logical. You're allowed to handle all that fire onstage, but not wash dishes...?"
"Genau! That's right. My exact sentiments on this matter. I like the way you think. Besides, I did some physical labour and wrestling as well when I was learning to play - back then, there were none of those overtly-sensitive regulations that are in place nowadays. I hope they've never demanded something so ridiculous of you."
"I can't say that they have."
"I'm glad to hear that."
Richard then asked for a cushion at the other's end of the sofa; while Frank was handing it over, he caught the faintest hint of vanilla cologne from the older man and thought it a very pleasing scent. Perhaps I could ask about that, it'd be something else to talk about, he thought to himself, before logic set in - what would he even do with the information? There a silence between the two of them for a few more minutes before Richard spoke up again.
"Do you have other musical projects that you're working on right now, Frank? I read somewhere that you had a side band."
"... Oh. Oh yes, I do have a side band."
"'Leathermouth', wasn't it?"
Frank was about to respond in the affirmative, but then paused, feeling rather strange upon imagining Richard sitting by a computer doing research on him. It just didn't seem right, somehow - but then, really, it would have been problematic if neither of the bands had read up on the other before they'd met up. Hell, hadn't he himself spent so much time looking up pictures and little tidbits of information about Till? Hadn't these men, whom he now knew as friends, been not much more than a disembodied voice on the radio, a simple contextless picture, or a subject of his own little fan speculation less than two weeks ago?
He suspected that it was less about the research and more that it was Richard, but he was certainly not going to answer in that vein.
"Yes. That's right."
"How is it turning out?"
Frank fiddled with the edge of his shirt a little. "It's on hiatus at the moment. The tour and all - and we want to work on a new album soon, so I thought it best to leave that aside."
"Perfectly understandable. I did that with Emigrate. My side project," Richard explained as he finished the last of the chocolate cherries. "Rammstein went on a long hiatus for several years from 2005 onwards until now; but I'm not exactly very laid-back when it comes to creating. I feel the need to do something, to keep making things all the time, so I began that band. Came out with a fairly good album as well, even I say so myself..."
"What happened to it?"
The older man met Frank's eyes, and the latter was briefly surprised at how suddenly dull and melancholy his blue eyes had gotten. "Rammstein was always the priority. When we started working on 'Liebe ist fur alle da' I left the project - that was nearly two years ago - and while I can't exactly say that I was as comfortable working in Emigrate as I am now with all my bandmates, it was still an original creation of mine. One that I can't help but think that I didn't do enough justice for when I could have," he paused. "I haven't exactly let on the fact that I felt like that to anyone in Rammstein, you know. Not even to Till. I don't even think I've been able to really admit it to myself. It doesn't make much difference now, but... well... talking of side bands just brought back memories. That's all. Don't mind me."
Wow. Well, damn, I wasn't expecting that. Does this mean that he thinks I'm trustworthy?
"That's the bad thing about that need to create," the younger man said. He could see that this was something that he and Richard actually connected on, and he wasn't about to miss this chance. "you don't really think about it at the start, but once it's done - you can't just let it collect dust in the corner. And the more you make, the more you have to take responsibility for. It's quite stunning, really, of how pressured you feel when you have even one little thing lying around that keeps reminding you that you need to pay attention to it..."
He could see that he had impressed the older man from the way he nodded, blue eyes intense and focused upon Frank's own. "I completely agree with you. You do interest me, Frank," Richard said, his blunt Germanic honesty showing through; he didn't even blink. "and I can see that my interest is justified. I must admit to you, I noticed that you've been looking a little troubled all day. I won't press and demand that I know what's going on-" he nodded. "-but I just wanted to tell you that if there's anything bothering you, you can always talk to me. From one guitarist to another."
"I'll keep that in mind. Thank you."
He smiled, and then checked his watch. "Four thirty. You haven't seen Till anywhere near the hotel in the past couple of hours, have you?" Frank shook his head. "... hmm. I ought to give him a call, perhaps."
"He hasn't called or texted all day?" Frank finally spoke up, to which he received a casual glance and a shake of the head in response.
"He'll come back in his own time, don't concern yourself over it. It wouldn't be the first time," Richard said, but something about that answer rung hollow with Frank. The older man hadn't been looking at him in the eye when he said that, for one, and he too had been gazing rather worriedly at his phone and out of the rain-blurred windows throughout their entire conversation. But no matter; the younger guitarist had no desire to press any further, not wanting to provoke any more awkward silence between him and Richard, and simply excused himself from the room.
Ten days they'd been in Germany, touring, travelling and basically living together with Rammstein, and Frank still did not quite know what to make of Richard. He found this somewhat disturbing - he liked to consider himself as friendly and easygoing while still being respectful as possible, but this just didn't seem to be working with the older man. He found the man fascinating, that certainly wasn't a lie, but there were just certain attributes to him that made Frank nervous around him somehow; he and the younger guitarist just didn't seem to be operating on the same wavelength, and then of course there was the fact that Richard was very close to Till in a way that he so far hadn't managed to observe in the other Rammstein bandmates.
It was all very confusing, and just thinking about it made Frank feel vaguely upset in turn. And what better to dissipate nervous energy and get himself back on track than a short walk? The only problem with that idea was of course that it would be all dark within an hour or so, and he couldn't venture too far from the hotel.
Ah, screw it. I'll just walk once around the hotel, cross the road and keep the building in sight. What's the harm in that?
It might not have been very well thought out; Frank didn't inform anyone of where he was going, for one, and his preparation for the walk consisted entirely of him pausing by their tour bus to fetch a large umbrella and a jacket before setting off. But this one time his impulsiveness would pay off in the best way possible, and he was about to find out how.
While he was crossing the road, Frank was thinking about a lot of things, only paying the least amount of attention to his surroundings. Leipzig struck him as a place that he sorely wanted to explore and simply wouldn't have the chance to; the day after would be too busy. A shame, really. The large umbrella in hand, Frank stopped in his tracks and breathed out heavily to try to settle his thoughts a little, his breath emerging as pearly mist in the cold surroundings. "Jesus, it's freezing," he uttered out loud before he gazed up into the sky - there was nothing to see but the rapidly darkening sky and the speckles of rain being illuminated by the streetlights.
He passed a fence snowy with tightly-budded honeysuckle; he raised the umbrella a little to try to avoid brushing up against the flowers, but the path he was passing through was much too narrow for that. He ought to have folded up the umbrella, in hindsight, but this solution didn't occur to him until after the point when he'd managed to knock off and scatter a load of flowerbuds onto his hair and clothes. "Aw, damn," he mumbled, sighing in irritation as he folded up the umbrella and examined himself. Even in blossom their aroma was strong, melding seamlessly into the fresh smell of the rain and creating a soft amorous scent that he had to admit was quite pleasant.
But enough of that. He was getting wet. He brushed off the honeysuckle flowers from his jacket and hair as best as he could and left the path, emerging out onto open street where he could put his umbrella back up. Blinking rain out of his eyes, he frowned lightly and peered into the distance - the hotel building was still in sight, and the streetlights were beginning to come on despite the sun being fully down yet. Letting out a 'hmm' he resumed walking, taking in the sights around him. While he had a very limited area to work on, and there wasn't a lot of sunlight left, what he saw of Leipzig was still very clean and organized. Turning left, Frank found a set of traffic lights that he quickly crossed over; a couple more, and he'd be right at the back of hotel building, which he would then be able to circle around to get to the entrance.
And that was when he saw Till.
He could have sworn that he hadn't seen anyone even remotely like the older man during the entirety of the walk; but they had at least crossed the same traffic lights at the same time, so he had been just behind him at some point. Till himself appeared to have not noticed the younger man at all, and simply walked right ahead, towards the second set of traffic lights. Frank stared and even rubbed at his eyes a little to really make sure that he wasn't just seeing things - but no, it was most definitely Till, dressed only in a long-sleeved shirt and trousers and talking to someone on the phone. The guitarist was much too far away to really hear what he was saying, but he established that much at least by watching the singer wait for the green light. He had no coat or jacket on him and was thus absolutely soaking wet.
Then the green light came on, Till walked right across, and Frank realized that he hadn't actually moved since crossing the first set of traffic lights because he had been too busy watching the older man. Suddenly he felt panicked; even though he knew that the man could make his own way back to the hotel with no problems at all, he suddenly felt the urge to catch up to him, to be the first to greet Till back into the hotel. And even that aside-
"Frank, oh Christ, what the hell were you doing just standing there," he groaned to himself as he started jogging to catch up with Till. "he's getting rained on."
Luckily, fate was on his side. Frank managed to catch up to Till just as the back of the hotel building came into view; upon closer inspection he saw that the older man was speaking on his phone, though, so he refrained from calling out to him for the time being. Every now and then he heard snatches of conversation from Till the closer he walked, and while he couldn't figure out what he was talking about (the conversation being entirely in German), he was fairly certain that he was talking to someone back in the hotel.
"... nein, keine Sorge, es macht keine Mühe!" Till was saying - then rather suddenly he stopped in the middle of the sidewalk to peer up towards the hotel, turning his face heavenward. This wouldn't have been particularly remarkable if not for the fact that the man then laughed out loud at whatever the person on the other end had said, breaking out into an almost-childlike smile. The younger guitarist stared through the shower of rain; the rain ran down the singer's face, trailing off his hair, highlighting his smile and his eyes as the waterdrops glistened in the last of the sun, and the younger man felt his heart skip a beat at the sight. In that single moment, in the wild falling rain, Till's smile was honest and true - and Frank thought him quite, quite beautiful.
Then he blinked, and the moment was over; Till had started walking again, and Frank hastened to catch up. It was about time that he made his presence known.
"- ja. Ja, ich komme... was? Ein paar Minuten-" Till was still talking rapid-fire into the phone when he paused to let a car go past. But then he slowly trailed off as he became aware of a shadow falling over him: "-Ich bin gleich so weit," he said, hung up, and then looked around to find-
Yep. Hello, Till.
"... Umbrella?" Frank offered in a tiny voice, reaching up on tiptoes so that he could put the umbrella over them both.
For a moment Till just stared at him, phone in hand, looking utterly bewildered. But within seconds, understanding set in and he let out a pleasant chuckle. "Why, Frank," he laughed. "thank you. I needed that."
Relieved and charmed, Frank smiled back as the older man took the umbrella, beckoning him closer so they could share it. Brushing against Till's coat and feeling his strong hand resting on his shoulder, guiding him, was something that he'd keep in mind for days afterwards. Together they walked back in comfortable silence, Till folding the umbrella back down and shaking the raindrops off it carefully before handing it back to Frank once they got back to the hotel. "Danke," he said again, nodding politely.
"Bitte schön," Frank answered, pleased at the light of approval in Till's eyes. "I wasn't expecting to run into you, but I'm glad that I did."
The singer chuckled. "I was visiting family, that was all. Were you informed of that?" the younger man nodded. "ah, good. We should dry off, though."
"Oh, of course..." this was indeed true. Despite Frank's umbrella, Till was still soaked in rain and likely needed a change of clothes. Frank could do with a towel himself as well. "I guess I'll see you later, then..."
Till's response, though, stopped Frank right in his tracks. "Come up to my room with me," the older man said. "I should thank you for the umbrella, Frank, the least I can do is to lend you a towel. I'll also make you a cup of coffee... we both could do with one..."
"I requested a room with a coffee maker, and it makes more coffee than I can drink by myself. Besides, there's something dismal about making that much coffee just for one person to drink, wouldn't you agree? But I wouldn't insist upon it, if you had other-"
"-I'd like to. Very much."
Within minutes they found themselves in front of Till's room, situated on the third floor of the hotel. Till unlocked the door and flicked the light switch on, gesturing for the younger man to come in; out of politeness, Frank took off his jacket, hung it by the door, and leaned his umbrella against the door itself so that he wouldn't be dripping water everywhere. As soon as he stepped further in, Till reached out and handed him a towel from the bathroom. "Danke schön."
It wasn't long before his hair had been dried off to an acceptable level, and he lightly slung the towel around his shoulders. It was still slightly damp, and he'd be able to wash and dry himself properly later on. Till was a slightly different matter, however, having been completely soaked in the rain; he excused himself for a brief moment and closed the bathroom door, and from the little shuffling sounds in there Frank deduced that he was changing into another set of clothes altogether.
He might as well take a look around. The room was a spacious single, just like his, with a bed, a desk, coffee table with two chairs, long cabinet and wardrobe. All standard hotel accommodations. And sure enough, the coffee maker in question sat on the cabinet along with two white china cups on their saucers and a little box filled with sugar packets and creamers; it was switched on and was presumably heating the coffee that the singer had made in the morning. Frank walked and sat himself down on one of the chairs by the coffee table, leaning back into the softness; it was completely dark outside now, with only the streetlights and still brightly-lit buildings in the distance illuminating the rain-dotted windows.
... Completely dark... hang on...
"Till, did you tell anyone that you came back all right?"
"I have," the older man called from within the bathroom. "when I met you, I was informing Richard that I was very close to the hotel and had eaten dinner beforehand, in fact."
There was a little creak as the door opened. Frank turned away from the window and looked at the direction of the bathroom, only to end up hastily looking back down again when he realized that the older man was completely shirtless; he was still in there, applying cologne to himself. His wet clothes were draped over the sink, and he at least had clean, dry trousers on - but he seemed so completely casual about the fact that he was, indeed, utterly shirtless in front of Frank as he emerged from the bathroom and walked towards the coffee maker. "That's the coffee. Sugar or cream?"
"I... uh..." the closest that Frank had seen him like this was that first day, back in Stuttgart, when they had watched the performance backstage. "two sugars, but I can do it myself, it's really no-"
"I insist. You're a guest in my room."
And that time it had been through video screens, certainly nothing that could be classified as 'up close'. At this distance he could see Till's well-defined chest and abs, the contours of his muscles defined clearly from his skin still being slightly damp; he was also scarred too, that was the second thing Frank noticed. There were burn marks, little cuts on his biceps, and a long faded scar on his abdomen. As he was pondering on what on earth could have happened to the singer when it came to the latter, Till set a cup filled with coffee down in front of him, close enough to the guitarist that his body heat could be felt. "Da. Is it good?"
Stil dazed, Frank took a sip of his coffee. Pleasantly hot and just the right amount of bitter. "Yes. Thank you."
Till nodded, looking pleased with himself. Only then did he move away, heading towards the wardrobe and searching for a shirt. As he drank his coffee, Frank supposed that all of this was especially jarring because off-stage, he so far had never seen any members of Rammstein being under-dressed in any way. Quite the opposite.
But then again, this was Till Lindemann. And Till was a man full of surprises.
"Hmm," Till was peered at himself in the full-length mirror; he rubbed at his chin lightly and frowned a little, then stepped back so he could change into the shirt that he'd picked out. "not too bad," he said as he tugged the shirt over his head and straightened it, still staring at his reflection. "when I was younger, whenever I came back like this I would consider myself quite unpresentable, especially seeing I wasn't even good looking to begin with. Nowadays it's somewhat more forgivable, I suppose..."
"... When you were... younger?"
"Ja," Till nodded solemnly, brushing back his damp hair with one hand. "I was ugly then. Ugly as sin. I still am. Someone had to be."
He found that hard to believe. Frank doubted that he'd ever believe such a statement in a thousand years as he stared, dumbstruck, at the older man; sure, Till wasn't the most handsome man around. Out of everyone in Rammstein, Richard was probably the most unanimously handsome one with taut, smooth skin and a face that made him look younger than his age. But by no means was Till bad looking, no, quite the opposite - the younger man needed to think no further than that split-second of complete and utter beauty that he'd caught earlier on from Till, that image of the man standing in the rain.
"But - but you're not," he said, stumbling over his words in sheer shock and then cursing himself out of fear that he'd come across as insincere. "Till, you... you're not ugly at all..."
This made Till look away from the mirror. But there was no debate about the matter as Frank had expected - had there been one, the guitarist would have done his utmost best to get his point of view across, social boundaries be damned - rather, Till simply gazed into his eyes for a few seconds before the most peculiar and sad smile rose to his lips.
"It is kind of you," he said. "but I've lived for four decades not believing otherwise, Frank, at this stage it would be more difficult to revert to normalcy."
"Don't worry about me."
Something in the other's tone told Frank that he wasn't willing to discuss the subject any further. The younger man was far from unreasonable, so he said nothing more; but it was a reluctant silence, because he knew for sure that the singer was not ugly and he felt immensely frustrated at himself for being unable to convince Till otherwise. They stayed silent for what seemed like several awkward minutes, with the younger man sipping at his coffee and determinedly staring into the bottom of his mug - before Till spoke up once more.
"I apologize if I came across as too harsh to you," he said quietly. "it's just not a topic that I've ever been comfortable talking about. I've spent so long thinking of myself as ugly that I tend to react this way to others when the subject comes up."
"Well, I'll be honest. I completely disagree with you, Till," Frank said, which caused the singer to blink in utter confusion. The younger man was far from confrontational, but he felt that he really did have a responsibility to say this much; if none of Till's bandmates had done so, he would. "it's none of my business to pry into this and ask you why you think of yourself as that way - and maybe you don't exactly fit the societal norms when it comes to looks - but that doesn't change anything," he took a deep breath. "this coming from me. I get called a bad influence all the time because of my tattoos-" he held out his hands. "-I think you're you, and I think you're perfectly fine looking how you are."
He was quite red in the face when he'd finished from both exhilaration and embarrassment. To avoid looking at Till, he turned his face away, stood up and picked up his empty cup to put back on the cabinet - the older man said nothing as he walked across the room to do so, and for a moment Frank felt a little regretful that he'd had such an outburst. It wasn't that he regretted what he'd said, but rather that he feared having made the older man uncomfortable, which was in all honesty the very last thing he wanted. But much to his shock, just as he was setting the cup down. he felt a hand tighten around his right shoulder; with a gasp he turned and saw that the older man was gazing at him in the most curious manner. Green eyes met brown in that one long moment before Till spoke.
"May I feel your hands?" he asked ever so gently - Frank didn't know what the deal was with his hands and German musicians that day, but later on when he returned to his own room (with Till bidding him a 'wiedersehen') he would become more and more fond of how the singer had phrased it. He knew that Till had been more interested in the details of his tattoos, but 'may I feel' - it was such a soft way to say it, intimate, quite romantic, really. And he certainly felt his heart beat a little faster when Till took his hands and held them up close to his eyes, inspecting every tattoo on them with an inquisitive, serious look.
Frank blushed a little. "Mmm. That was when I was born. I wanted to commemorate it."
"Far more exciting than the fourth of January," Till commented wistfully; then, much to the other's shock (and delight), he began rubbing his thumb lightly over Frank's knuckles. "reminding me of how old I'm getting with each new coming year. Does it hurt you to get all those tattoos?"
"It certainly does," he admitted, flexing his fingers lightly in response. Everyone he'd seen in Rammstein was rather tattoo-free, with the exception of Paul and his biceps, and even then he'd obviously had those for quite some years. "but it's a justifiable pain. Every one of those tattoos mean something to me, no matter how small they are - I've got more, I think you've seen those while we performed..."
The older man nodded. "Justifiable pain. I like that phrase. Would you care to elaborate?"
"There's not a lot to it," Frank said - but then he had to pause there, because as soon as the words left his lips, he knew that it wasn't quite the truth. He had tattoos done for many reasons, of course, but no one had ever asked him about the pain that had come with the needle and ink, instead wanting to know what tattoos corresponded to what occasion in particular. Not at all the same thing. It was odd to think that he'd never stopped to justify it to himself, because it wasn't even as if he was dulled to the pain; Frank was delicate, he was sensitive, and with every new tattoo that he received he suffered through every minute of the inking and healing process. "I think... the pain itself is a vital component to the experience. It's not a matter of simply gritting your teeth and trying to forget about the pain so you can admire the finished product later, that's not it at all. When I get a tattoo to commemorate something, it hurts, I won't lie. It hurts like the devil, it always has, I doubt that's ever going to change. But every single one of those mean so much more precisely because I endured the pain while getting them. It's what makes it memorable. Like when I had my scorpion done-" he gestured to the side of his neck. "-I still remember everything about getting it done that day. How the tattoo parlour smelled like, of ink and disinfectant. How the guy operating the machine sat next to me while I was there, the machine sticking needles through my skin, and how cold his fingers were when he touched my shoulder. How I was thinking all the way through - that this tattoo was a sign that I never needed to have a proper job ever again. There was something quite poignant about it, I think. It gave me a lot to think about. Made the pieces fall into place."
"It's worth it because I really do get to understand what those tattoos mean to me. The more it hurts, the more I get to appreciate the end product, and the more I appreciate my ability to heal. And because of that... I like the pain, I guess. I really do."
It was this confession, that they both discovered beauty in physical pain, that truly sealed a bond between them.
"Then," Till said quietly, enveloping Frank's right hand with two of his own and smiling his rare smile. "then, Frank, you understand me."
Evening came swift and fast. Frank lay on his stomach on the bed, having retired to his hotel room for the night for a drink, a hot shower and a quiet evening on his own. He had a pen and notebook in front of him; it was Gerard's, the one that he'd freely allowed his bandmates to take and scribble song ideas on. Flicking through the pages, Frank passively noted incomplete drawings that the singer had sketched out in pencil, along with various phrases, daily observations and such written all over the pages in five different styles of handwriting. There was nothing particularly concrete about them, and definitely nothing that pointed towards an album concept of any kind. But Frank knew that it didn't matter at this stage; writers write what they know, he thought to himself with a nod, and the more they know and feel, the better.
Frank had, however, temporarily claimed the notebook for himself for a different reason altogether. The clock ticked half past nine, and looking up at it he yawned a little; he was quite tired. Rolling over on his back, Frank stretched his lean body and sat up, gathering the pen and notebook before getting to his feet. He padded across the soft carpet and pulled out the chair by the writing desk that stood against the wall; settling himself upon it, he noted the items on it. His alarm clock, two pencils, a German dictionary, his laptop, and now the notebook (which he opened to a page that was half filled with his scribblings). Frank reached down and picked up a shoulder bag that had been lying against the desk and pulled out a can of coke, smiling at the metallic popping sound the pull tab made as he opened the can, leaned back and gulped down the cold sweet liquid. It made him feel a bit more awake than before, which was good. He couldn't sleep just yet.
He had work to do.
From his bag he carefully pulled out the copy of 'Messer' he had bought in Stuttgart and carefully thumbed through the pages until he got to a double side with a bookmark set in the middle; propping it open, he took up his pen and dictionary. Seeing as it was work that involved Till, he was going to finish it no matter how long it took or how hard it was. And he did have to admit: translating anything from 'Messer' was difficult, even taking into account the amount of help he had at his disposal. He still spoke very little German and he hadn't exactly bought the book with the full intention to translate everything in there; he'd been aiming to be able to read them by some point, but that would have to be a slow process, one that likely wouldn't be completed until long after they left Germany behind to return home. For the moment he'd only been seeking to skim through them, stare at the photos and get used to the way the words sounded and looked on the page. But what Till had said had impacted Frank so much that he had sought out one particular poem to translate on his own. He, after all, had a basic understanding of what the poem was about from having talked with Till and having listened to what was his current favourite Rammstein song.
Maybe I ought to put that song on... it might help...
He reached for his mp3 player and turned it on, carefully tucking the earbuds into place and browsing through all the songs on it until he got to the one that he wanted. Soon he heard the familiar intro of the choir and drums; nodding in satisfaction, Frank got back to his work, thinking about Till.
"So muss sie sich am Tag verstecken... will das Licht doch nicht erschrecken..."
As Till's soulful bass voice rang out in his ears, he found himself flashing back to that moment when they had actually been holding hands. They'd stood there for a long time together, Frank's colourful and guitar-roughened hands in Till's bandaged and burnt-scarred ones, creating a striking contrast along with a pleasant abundance of warmth. As he nibbled at the end of his pen, he looked down at his left hand, staring at the tattoos there that ran up to his arms - and recalled the feel of Till's hands and fingers, how sculpted, large and pleasantly warm they had been, and blushed as he imagined how they would feel around his waist, roaming over his chest, his body-
Get a hold of yourself, Frank, he told himself sternly as he shook his head; there was no point in dwelling in such strange thoughts now. He was close to his goal. When he'd first flicked through the pages and had read the poem he'd wanted to translate, he had indeed felt somewhat daunted at the prospect of putting it into English. But still Frank had gone into it, believing that a couple of hours with a dictionary and knowing something about sentence structures would bring a bit more light to the poem; and as he scribbled down the final line, he knew that he had done it. Frank sighed, flexed his fingers and pushed his pen away before he looked down at the fully translated poem, reading through it with 'Morgenstern' playing in the background for full effect. He wanted to understand.
(Oh, because no one can see
Under my hideous face
Beats a beautiful heart...)
"Mor-gen-stern, ach, scheine - auf die Seele meine!"
(Oh God, touch me!
Spit your heavenly cascade
Over my enchanted visage
Then for you I would pray
Oh God, make me beautiful!...)
"Wirf ein war-mes Licht... auf ein Herz das bricht..."
(I would gift my soul to you
For a little grace on my visage
So that I may use it for my lust
So that I may secude the enchanting
The lovely angels
Who only look upon their equals...)
"... Sag ihr dass, ich weine..."
He didn't understand why he was feeling this way. He'd after all been working on every single line himself, so it wasn't exactly as if he was reading this poem for the first time and by all means it should have felt very familiar. But somehow, reading the full text alongside the music and the accompanying photo (Till with his makeup smudged and wearing an expression of the utmost melancholy) - it felt curiously new to him, and that of course meant that the impact was far stronger than he'd expected it to be.
(Give me this - and forgive me, because
- I want it all.)
Frank wasn't sure what to do or say now that he was finished. The urge to head out and knock at Till's door so that he might ask the older man for a heart-to-heart was certainly strong, but then he'd probably end up admitting that he had 'Messer' in his possession. From 'Hässlich' alone Frank had caught a quick glimpse of the man's inner torment and anguish - mingled self-hatred, lust, loathing, lack of confidence - and if that was just one poem, what kind of secrets did the others hold? And would Till even be comfortable about explaining all this to a man eighteen years his junior who he'd known for less than two weeks?
Probably not. Frank couldn't blame him. And the fact that he had no one and nothing to blame for this situation made him terribly sad.
He was feeling really quite down now, and decided that it really was time for bed. What he felt was neither bone-dry exhaustion nor depression; no, it was simple sadness at the fact that Till had been feeling this way when he'd been Frank's age and writing those poems - and that even now, nearly ten years from then on, he still thought so little of himself. And while the younger man now understood more than before, that wasn't the same thing as helping, and that was the worst of it all. Sighing, Frank closed the notebook and dictionary, tidying the desk to a somewhat reasonable extent before he turned the light off and nestled between the bedsheets. Almost immediately he felt sleep clouding his thoughts and vision, but even then what Till had said hours ago echoed inside him, and he knew that he would be haunted with dreams of the older man and his heartbreakingly melancholy expression that night.
"I've lived for four decades not believing otherwise, Frank, at this stage it would be more difficult to revert to normalcy... don't worry about me..."
Taking Frank's guitar with both hands, Ray gave it a glance through and tested out the strings one by one. "Good," he said with a nod when he'd twisted the machine head for the D-string around a little. "doesn't need polishing at the moment, either... that's great. Give me another."
"You're a godsend, Ray," Frank said lazily as he handed over another of his guitars. "what would I do without you?"
"Ideally you'd get up, tune and polish your own damn guitars."
Gerard looked up from his notebook and smirked. "Take a leaf out of Mikey's book, he's always maintained every single bass he got his hands on by himself, hasn't he?"
"I think that was less diligence and more that he'd get pissy about anyone touching his bass guitars."
"You give me too little credit," Mikey slurred out from the opposite sofa; his own bass was set up on its stand next to him, cleanly polished and tuned as always, and his amp and pedals were also neatly packed and laid to the side. The last one of the band to still be suffering some remnants of jetlag, he had taken up the habit of waking up at ridiculously early hours of the morning; Frank, an early riser himself, had spotted him taking strolls in the pitch dark around wherever they were staying a couple of times. Mikey would also spend those times maintaining all his equipment with almost saintly patience and focus that he hardly seemed to spare to his own bandmates - this made him one of the most efficient members of the band for the time being, but he also tired earlier than the others and what he was doing didn't exactly fit in well with the tour schedule. Right now was one of those times; he'd doubtless gotten up before sunrise and was pleading early exhaustion, and it was only nine-forty in the morning. "it's called the protective instinct. I love my basses. And you, Frank, knowing the hellhound that you are, I don't think I'll be trusting them with you for a long time yet."
"You wound me," the rhythm guitarist said flatly.
It was going to be an interesting day, Frank could certainly see that. At that moment, the door opened and Paul and Richard walked in; the former held a newspaper under his arm and was wearing his fluffy hat, and the latter a tray that held two steaming mugs of coffee. "Guten Morgen," Richard greeted the four men with a little gesture of the head, and quickly walked across the room to set the tray down on the coffee table.
"Guten Morgen," Gerard responded with a grin and wave, showing off his still neatly-manicured nails; Richard had done such an excellent job with it that it was still perfectly intact after a week. "how's things going?"
"I'm perfectly fine, danke. It's Paul who isn't."
Ray looked up from tuning the top E-string of Frank's guitar, immediately concerned. "Oh no. What's happened?"
"Nothing special," but clearly the older Rammstein guitarist didn't mean this, as he half-heartedly sat down beside Ray and gestured for him to look over. "I'm making a fuss over nothing. It's certainly not the first time we've had to deal with anything like this. But I'll translate the gist of it for you - basically, it covers our combined tour, and there's an entire article inside about how we are nothing but violence-mongering bands playing with fire and controversial lyrical content."
"Oh," Ray groaned. "one of those. Nothing like a cum hoc statement to brighten up the headlines! Say, you guys remember the time that one paper claimed that our music encouraged suicidal tendencies in teenagers?"
The rest of the band nodded grimly while the two Rammstein guitarists looked over sharply at them, a look of disbelief on their faces. "You must be joking, Ray! I could understand in the case of black metal or something like that, but surely they weren't quite as audacious as to claim that you were-"
"Oh no, Paul, they did. We couldn't believe it, either, seeing as teenagers are the very group we try to help out. We had a lot of defenders, but shortly after those headlines went up we played a gig and got pelted with all sorts of things, tomatoes and God knows what else - Gerard can confirm that, seeing as those were mostly headed at him-" the singer nodded again, looking considerably more perturbed as he recalled those times. "- I guess the one good thing from the experience was that we managed to have a nice salad later, but that's not the point. I think we were more disturbed at how many people believed those claims, though they did get quickly discredited. It's still the epitome of easily misled."
Richard let out a 'hmm' and leaned back, examining his nails and frowning to himself. "I fully sympathize. Some people just can't let it go."
"Indeed they can't," the older guitarist said; he turned the page, shaking his head in disapproval. "all the same arguments that's been used for decades, though claims of suicide or murder rates rising because of music are usually considered too overboard here... As musicians - well, don't you find it all very silly?"
"Of course," Mikey snorted, and adjusted his sunglasses. "listening to music alone doesn't lead to brutality. How does that even work? You just sit there with your headphones in, listen to whatever song you might be listening to - and then you suddenly feel the urge to get up, roll up your sleeves, and run outside to engage in some good old ultraviolence? Nothing has that effect in real life. Not death metal, not emo, industrial, violent pop - nothing. Long story short, music doesn't cause or increase violence amongst people, and I'll kill any idiot who says otherwise."
"Thank you for your wisdom, Mikey, oh our destroyer of valid arguments."
"Ah, you know what I mean, Frank."
This banter was then interrupted by a knock on the door; 'Come in!' Gerard called, and immediately gasped and ducked his head down in embarrassment when the door swung open and revealed Flake standing in the doorway, dressed in a neat dress shirt and tie with black trousers. Rather unusually, he wasn't wearing his glasses; rather, they stuck out from the breast pocket of his shirt. Without those glasses he was almost shockingly unrecognizable, as odd as that sounded.
"Guten Tag. I need to fetch some music," Flake responded, getting directly to the point as per his usual demeanor. Richard smirked playfully and shook his head as the keyboardist made as if to step into the room proper.
"Guitarists and vocalists only, Flake!"
"I sang 'Pet Sematary'. It's on record and video as well. It counts."
None of them anything more to say to that. Looking rather proud of himself, he walked into the room and picked up a stack of books from the nearby coffee table, barely giving anyone else a glance as he tucked them underneath his arm, said a 'bis später' addressed more to the room itself than anyone in it, and walked right back outside. Gerard shuffled on his seat a little, still very embarrassed as he was wont to do nowadays when around Flake's presence.
"Are you all right, Gerard?"
"I'm fine, I just... um, how can I get on Flake's good side?" he asked timidly.
"Flake has a good side?" Paul laughed, but immediately stopped when he saw the vaguely terrified look on Gerard's face. "nein, I was joking. Flake is, well, much softer than he lets on. Did anything bad happen between you and him?"
The singer hesitated. Admittedly he and Flake hadn't exactly talked since that incident in Stuttgart (which he wasn't eager to retell in a hurry) but it would be pushing it terribly to claim that even that was a 'bad thing' by all means - just unfortunate, and a tad embarrassing. "No, that's not it. I want to talk to him and get along with him and everything, but I don't know to start."
Richard nodded sympathetically. "Understandable. But I don't think you've got anything to worry about, Gerard... I'd actually say that he keeps to the spirit of German formality more than most of us, and that's really just it. Flake takes a while to open up to anyone."
Gerard didn't look entirely convinced, but responded in the affirmative nevertheless, and for about an hour or so the subject didn't come up again. By this time the MCR members had all finished tuning their instruments and were simply relaxing with Paul and Richard. Hardly unusual by any means, and it likely would have stayed that way, but a mass text sent by Bob from the other side of the arena put a stop to that.
"What's this?" Mikey was the first to get to his phone; the look of profound alarm on his face as he read through the text prompted the others to quickly check theirs as well. "oh. Oh. Goddamn."
"What is it?" Gerard asked anxiously; his own phone was in the tour bus.
"We can't perform 'Mama' while we're here, Bob says. Heard it from authorities. We're going to have to leave that one off the setlist."
"What? How come?"
"Too many references to war. Leipzig is offended."
"Ah, shit!" Gerard exclaimed, summing up his band's feelings on the matter in those two words. With a groan he leaned back on the sofa, staring up at the ceiling. Everyone else watched him anxiously; his bandmates worried that this news would end up affecting his performance that night, but Paul and Richard were more indignant than anything.
"Isn't that typical," Richard muttered, and threw the others a rather apologetic gaze. "... it's probably more our fault. We still can't perform 'Ich Tu Dir Weh' with its original lyrics here because it was considered too violent... I didn't imagine that it would spread to your setlist as well..."
But there wasn't much anyone could do about it at this point. Ray sighed and rubbed at his forehead. "... We're going to have to choose something else, I suppose."
"We don't have anything else that's quite as hard-sounding, though."
"Choose one that you want, Gerard. We have ballads too. It's not going to make much difference for a couple of days."
Paul's words were reassuring to them, but only just. With not a long time left to decide, they all fell silent as they pondered upon this dilemma; it was some five minutes before Gerard raised his head. "... Are we okay for 'I Don't Love You'? I know we haven't done that one for a while, but we've got the music for it, haven't we?"
"Let me check."
A quick flick through one of their folders revealed that they indeed had the music sheets for the song. "Yeah. Only thing, we need keyboard parts, and last time I checked none of us could play keyboards," Gerard threw Frank a positively wild-eyed look at this, which made the latter shrink back a little. "... we could leave it out-"
"One of us can," Paul cut in, smiled - and with no further hesitation, fished out his phone and dialed a number. "Flake? Ja, ich bin's. Wir brauchen dich hier," the young singer's eyes widened at the mention of Flake and he frantically shook his head, mouthing 'no, it's all right!', but it was to no avail. "... ja, bis dann!"
"Oh no. Oh, Paul, you didn't."
"I did. I know Flake. We've been friends for longer than Rammstein's even existed, and I know that he'll be willing to help," the older guitarist assured him. "it's going to be okay, I promise."
If Gerard had wanted to protest any further (and he already seemed to have resigned himself to it anyway), he never got the chance to, because as soon as Paul stopped talking, the door opened to reveal Flake standing in the doorway. He looked exactly the same as he'd looked one hour ago, and he tilted his head in silent questioning as he gazed around the room.
"That was pretty damn fast even for your standards."
"I'm always punctual," Flake replied calmly. "what did you want me for?"
"We've been put under a ban from performing one of our songs here," Mikey spoke up; Flake turned to look at him, and he looked straight back, keeping a wary eye on both the keyboardist and Gerard. He hadn't forgotten his promise to his brother, after all. "and the one we chose as an alternative needs keyboard parts. None of us are good with the keyboard... the parts are fairly short, so we hoped that you might be able to help."
"A reasonable request, don't you think? Work your charm, Flake. And Erfurt isn't far off, they might put them under the same ban - but we want them to have the best shows possible, don't we?" Paul added with one of his winning smiles, turning to Mikey and Gerard shortly afterwards. "Flake here has some history with the city. Quite a significant part of his training when he was actually thinking of a classical career was done there."
Much to their collective relief, the keyboardist nodded, actually gaining a look of fond nostalgia. "Ja. Erfurt was a good place for pianists," Flake reminiscenced, tapping his long slender fingers on the doorway. "it's where I had my first cheesecake. There were other things too, yes, but it's the cheesecake that stands out."
"As opposed to, oh, I don't know - an entire year of being a full-time pianist?"
"Ach, you know what I mean," the keyboardist shot back, but there was the faintest glimmer of a smile on his lips; it did not last long, as he entered the room and turned to Gerard (who gulped and tensed in response). "I'll record the parts for you. Do you have the music for it?"
"Oh, yes! I've got them here!"
Flake looked them over for a few minutes, and set them down before briefly leaving the room. He came back carrying a keyboard and a folded-up stand and set them up in the room before propping the sheets upon the keyboard; he worked so quietly, expressionlessly and yet with such an intense focus that no one could bring themselves to start a conversation over him, choosing to observe the man at work instead. Once he was satisfied with everything he set it to record the parts that he needed to play, placing his hands over the keys - and then paused, looking up and straight into Gerard's eyes.
"I need some kind of melody to follow. I'm going to have to ask you to sing, bitte."
"I'll help," Frank interjected before Gerard could respond, reaching for his guitar. "it's without the amp, Gee, so it's going to be pretty quiet - but I'll set the rhythm for you to sing along to, that works, right?"
"Hey, hey! It's the melody that we need. Leave it up to the lead guitar," Ray said, his guitar already positioned on his lap, and he'd have either gotten his way or have started bickering with his fellow guitarist if not for Mikey coming to the rescue. Without commenting or arguing for once, he simply took up his bass and met Flake's eyes, launching into the bassline and giving the older man the cue that the intro was beginning. "... Mikey?"
"Less talk, more helping my bro out."
This was all it needed. Frank quietly joined in, and after a little bit of hesitation Ray did also; quite suddenly the singer found himself in the middle of an almost-complete practice session, and his utter bewilderment (mingled with gratitude) was plainly obvious in his expression. Flake downcast his eyes towards the music sheets near the end of the intro, knowing that he was due in soon, murmuring ever so quietly: "Eins - zwei - drei - vier-"
"Well, when you go-" Gerard started, his voice slightly shaky and unsure. "-don't ever think I'll make you try to stay..."
But despite him being slightly disoriented, Gerard was still a professional, and sought to show this as much as possible. Having the support from his bandmates certainly helped. "And after all this time that you still owe..." his voice faltered a little from sheer nervousness, although he managed to get a hold on it soon. "... You're still the good-for-nothing I don't know,"
"Keep going, Gee," Frank murmured quietly under his breath.
"... so take your gloves and get out; better get out - while you can..."
For not having practiced this song in a while, they were keeping up surprisingly well with each other. Of course it wasn't perfect - once or twice Frank found himself puzzling over a chord, they were still devoid of drums, and even Ray was making a couple of minor mistakes. But it was more than enough for Flake to keep up and record the parts that he needed, and it was certainly more than enough for Gerard who was getting more and more into it the further the song went on.
"When... you go..." His eyes were closed now, having lost himself in the quiet strands of the keyboard and within his own lyrics. The change brought forth by this was significant, softening his features and yet lending a melancholy, mature quality to it that hadn't been there before, and for a moment Frank caught the keyboardist giving him a long look. "would you... have the guts to say..."
"I don't love you... like I loved you... yesterday...!"
Right, Frank. Gerard needs a perfect finish. Back him up.
"I don't love you like I loved you..." the music reached its climax. "yester... day..."
The final notes of the song seemed to stay in the room for a long while. It wasn't long before they faded away to nothing, but the nuance - the suggestion of them still remained in the air, even as the last guitar string was plucked, and even as Flake lifted his hands off the keyboard and quietly switched it off. For a long time they were all silent for a reason none of them, whether participant or observer, could exactly place.
Then Gerard exhaled and opened his eyes nervously, looking around the room; his eyes met with those of his bandmates and then with Flake's. The older man nodded - Gerard realized that they had all succeeded in impressing him - and time started to flow once more.
"Bravo!" Paul called and clapped, joined soon by Richard who gave them all an approving smile. "that was quite the performance, Flake, wouldn't you agree?"
"Admirable," Flake said, and gave Gerard a surprisingly honest and charming smile. He stood up and picked up the music sheets, tidying it into a neat pile; he then walked it over and handed it over to Gerard with both hands. "you're very emotive. Had Till started his vocal career much earlier, and under happier circumstances, he might have... well. Still, you are an excellent vocalist, Herr Way."
The young singer paused in nervousness, but he couldn't give up now. "it's just way too formal, that's all! Not when everyone in Rammstein is so much older and more experienced than us, so please - please call me Gerard!"
It might have come across as mindless stutter, and Gerard certainly blushed heavily as this fact dawned on him. And for a while Flake seemed to look at him with almost a reflection of that odd stare he'd given the younger man the day he'd stumbled across Gerard rehearsing; but then he did something that none had expected and actually laughed, his features softening considerably as he did so. His own bandmates seemed rather stunned by this development - Flake wasn't one to laugh at anything often when not performing.
"I understand," the keyboardist said, nodding in acknowledgement. As he turned to leave, he paused at the doorway. "should you ever need extra keyboard parts during any of your songs - I shall be happy to record you some, Gerard. I shall see you all later."
Then he left, as silent and dignified as he had been when he'd entered. The room remained quiet for some time, with everyone trying to process what had just happened - the famously aloof keyboardist of Rammstein, paying multiple compliments in a day and offering to assist a much younger musician purely out of friendliness? Of course Flake had never been antisocial by any means, but this had to be some sort of record.
The young singer knew very little of this backstory, but he knew one thing for sure: he had earned Flake's respect. "Yes!" Gerard cheered, pumping one fist up in the air. "Yes! Yes! Wooooooooo!"
Without waiting for any other comment, he whooped and hurtled out of the room, laughing all the way and leaving the other MCR band members to stare after him in amusement. "Now there goes one happy Way brother," Mikey grinned.
Over two months without an update, and it's finally done. It was about bloody time, that's for sure. I just had so many other things going on from April to June, and recently found the inspiration to work on this again - and somehow managed to expand the planned fourth chapter by over twice its length, requiring it to be sawn in half. Derp! The good news is, however, that you get one more chapter. Now Like Wild Falling Rain will have nine chapters instead of the planned eight.
And what a monster this one is. There's a lot in those one-chapter-turned-two-chapters, and the fifth will update in a couple of days seeing as it's already mostly written. I wanted to pay a little homage to Frank Iero's side band Leathermouth contrasted with Richard Kruspe's side band Emigrate in the rather bizarre conversation the two share towards the beginning of the chapter. As of 2012 it seems that Emigrate might revive again soon; but in the setting of the story which is February 2010, it was on hiatus. Their titular album was a good one, too.
The poem in the chapter, 'Hasslich', is indeed part of Till's book 'Messer' and the translated lines present in the text is accurate. (There are a few lines that I'm not sure of, and I didn't include them because I can't claim them as accurate.) I recently finished translating the entire set of poems in there, all 54 of them, and I've used my translation for this one. 'Morgenstern', a song present in Rammstein's album 'Reise, Reise', also shares many of the same themes present in the poem and is worth a listen and read through the lyrics as well.
The British (racistracistracist) newspaper, The Daily Mail, did indeed publish an article with My Chemical Romance mentioned as a band that contributed to increased suicide rates. Quite stunning, actually. It's worth a read just to see how utterly stupid it is. Mind you, it is The Daily Mail, a newspaper that no one with half sense takes seriously or ought to take seriously in Britain because they are horribly fear-mongering, conservative, and quite frankly very misinformed. (and very racist.) Rammstein also had to perform Ich Tu Dir Weh with altered lyrics (which were actually quite funny) in Leipzig during their LIFAD tour due to censorship in place; that, and I'm just fond of poking fun at Leipzig in general. I'm sorry. I can't help it. XD
Next chapter up soon. More character development ahead.
Chapter 5: Glass
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Like Wild Falling Rain (Chapter 5 of 9) - 'Glass'
Pairing in Chapter: Various moments, but Frank/Till, Till/Richard most prominent. Mikey and Schneider friendship, too.
Speaking of the Way brothers, however, Mikey himself wasn't entirely lucky later on that afternoon. The sun was shining, and there was a breeze outside that would have made that particular February day bearable. Neither of the bands got to enjoy the breeze, however; they were all cooped up in the performing arena for the day, practicing and performing instrument checks, and going outside was out of the question. The younger band probably had it easier than the members of Rammstein, who were already getting ready and had to walk around in their stage outfits for several hours, but nevertheless the fact was that they were mostly confined to a single large room for the day with the exception of Till, Flake and Bob (the former two being in their dressing rooms and the latter being God only knew where). Of course per arena regulations for the season, the heating was on full blast, and even though they opened the windows to counter this, the humidity from the torrential rain the day before was absurdly high and not helping them in the slightest.
In short, it was ridiculously hot in the room, there were eight people crammed in there, and it was hard to bear.
"Oh God," Mikey groaned around four o'clock in the afternoon, undoing the first two buttons of his shirt. He sank back onto the sofa with a half-exhausted sigh once he was done, his bass leaning precariously against his legs. "I'm absolutely boiling... Ich bin heiß to the max, don't you agree, Doom?"
Schneider nearly ended up coughing up his beer with laughter as soon as Mikey said this while Paul too chuckled out loud. Mercifully, the other members of Rammstein were a little bit more discreet about this, but they were clearly amused; Mikey gave them all a strange look, suddenly looking a little anxious. "What's... what's so funny?"
"Oh, Mikey," Richard said, trying to hold back a smile. "it ought to have been 'mir ist warm' if you meant that the temperature was getting to you. You just told Doom that you were horny."
The younger bassist immediately turned about seven shades of red, utterly mortified at his error, and somehow this just seemed to make it funnier for the others. Even the MCR bandmates, who hadn't initially seen the problem, were trying very hard to keep their laughter from showing through this time. "I, uh," Mikey blurted out as he quickly got up, nearly tripping over his bass and biting back a yelp; he picked the instrument up with his right hand and hurried towards the door, eager to escape. "I - I need - to iron my pedals! I'll see you all later!"
"You need to what?" Frank called after him, unable to hold back his laughter, but Mikey was already gone. "oh. Oh, bless him. He's so adorable."
"But eighty percent of the time he's just cranky, the bastard," but Gerard's tone held nothing but fondness as he turned towards the drummer and grinned. "he's quite the pain sometimes, isn't he, Doom?"
"I like your brother," Schneider responded; he gathered his drumsticks and set them upon his knees, a small, almost-bashful smile on his face as he gazed downwards at them. "I find him quite sweet, actually. Me and Mikey's talked quite a few times now and I'd be lying if I said that he wasn't interesting."
"Oh?" Gerard inquired; his tone was light, but Frank could see that he was slightly tensed in both anticipation and his protective instinct at the drummer's words. "what do you find interesting about him especially?"
It could have gone in any direction from that point, really. Schneider could have made some comment about how 'cute' he found the younger Way brother, which would have warranted him a few hearty slaps on the back along with Gerard's watchful gaze. He could have just talked about the less-personal things like his and Mikey's discussions about food, music and film tastes, which (while safe) would not have been sufficient enough of an answer. Luckily, the drummer knew exactly how to answer, and smiled at Gerard.
"He talks a lot about you," he said as he stood up and dusted his knees, tucking his drumsticks in his back pocket. "I'm the oldest of six children myself - I'm used to being an older brother. He reminds me of the fond times I had with my siblings - it's so fortunate that you and Mikey are so close, being in the same band and all, wouldn't you agree?"
And the singer agreed, very much so. He relaxed and became significantly less wary around Schneider, even bidding him a cheerful 'bis bald' when the drummer briefly departed the room, having persuaded Paul to come with him so that they could pick up some snacks before the performance. The atmosphere in the room took on a relaxed tone, with everyone going about their own business in comfortable silence. Olli claimed that the memory card of his camera was full up from the days before and opened it up to switch in a new one; Ray was leaning back and idling, playing soft chords on his disconnected guitar; Gerard was attempting to draw some concept art on his personal notebook; and Frank and Richard watched on lazily, not having anything much else to do and being completely fine with that. The fact that he and the older guitarist were not alone like they had been the day before was also a weight off his mind; it gave them both something to focus on that weren't themselves.
"You draw well," Richard complimented as he peered over the young singer's shoulder. Gerard looked around, startled, but upon seeing that he had the other's rapt attention he relaxed and smiled back at him with a 'danke'. "don't mention it. At least, I'm not the one who you need to mention this to - has Flake seen your art? He paints, you know... one more thing that you two can identify with..."
"Ja. For an amateur, he's very good. I think he'd be happy to show you some examples of his work sometime."
He does care a lot about band chemistry, internal and external... ah, God, how do I even figure him out? He's not bad by any means, he really does care, but...
"Flake's usually painting landscapes. Sometimes Olli takes a picture that he likes the look of, a cityscape or a sunset atop a hill or something of that vein, and he'll go and draw it - isn't that right, Olli? You and Flake make the best team in that department, especially considering the quality of your photos!"
The bassist looked up from his camera at this. "Absolutely," he nodded; upon catching Frank's eye, doubtless realizing that the younger man was flashing back to the time when they first talked, he gave him a smile and wink that the guitarist couldn't bear to not return.
... Maybe it's just me.
This was not a particularly encouraging thought when regarding himself, for Frank liked to think of himself as a honest judge of character. But nevertheless he thought about it a little more, concluding that while it didn't speak much of himself, it was probably for the better that Richard really was a deeply caring and almost-paternal figure. It was sensible for him to be that way; he had been the one to gather the members of Rammstein together at the start, after all, and had Till not taken up the frontman role he probably would have done so himself. Thinking of it that way, Richard knowing ever so well how to keep peace amongst his bandmates and others made perfect sense. He probably simply concealed his real self within strangeness and that desire to be looked upon by the masses. This chain of thought settled his mind a little, and when Schneider and Paul came back in with a tray with eight cocktail glasses and a large bowl full of bite-sized pretzels, he jumped on them with gusto.
"Anything special happening out there, Doom?"
"Nein," Schneider shook his head - before he tilted his head a little in thought. "... actually, I thought I heard someone arguing with someone else a while back. It was so brief, though, I don't know if it ev-"
"Just leave me alone, will you!"
The shout from outside was unmistakable and loud, so unexpected that Gerard and Frank (and even Richard) actually flinched and looked about wildly; Ray nearly ended up dropping his pretzel into the soundhole of his guitar and hastily had to shove it out of the way in response. "... You mean that fight?"
"... I... think?"
The argument outside was getting steadily louder - Gerard's eyes widened as he recognized his brother's voice, and he hurriedly stood up, his notebook falling onto the ground. (It was Frank who picked it up and hastily tossed it on the coffee table.) "I told you, Bob, I honestly didn't mean anything by it," the bassist was saying. "I just thought that now we've changed the setlist a little, we might be able to edit it a bit further so that we have songs where the drums stand out a bit more. I swear to God I didn't mean to offend-"
"Well, you did, and I don't like it," Bob's voice retorted angrily. "I'm doing perfectly fine here, all right? Who the hell even suggested that I'm an attention-seeker? Or did you come to that conclusion yourself?"
"Jesus Christ, talk about extrapolating! Look, that's not how I meant it at all! Why are you making this into a fight?"
"I'm not. I just want you to lay off me."
"Are you trying to argue with me?"
"Are you an insufferable prick?"
"Goddamnit, you are trying to argue with me," Mikey said angrily as he kicked the door open and hurled himself into a sofa, glaring at the doorway. Bob stood by it, his entire body tense with one hand clenched around the door frame - his expression was just as furious as the bassist's. "all I give you is one suggestion and you blow your fucking top. I get that you aren't much one for attention, all right - I'm sorry about that - but why on earth do you think that it justifies you giving me the cold shoulder and shoving me about?"
"I didn't need to shove you about until you cornered me and demanded that I listen to you. I don't like being cornered," he stepped inside the room, apparently paying little attention to everyone else in the place. "you should have known better than to do that, you asshole, you're the chief claustrophobic of the band!"
"It's called 'evening things out'. You sit on your ass, Bob. Every gig we do you sit on your ass and you will always be sitting on your ass as long as you stay a drummer. How can you blame me for wanting to give you more prominence, when we're in a big-name band as it is and trying to make the best impression in this place?"
Bob did not get a chance to reply to this outburst, as Paul immediately cut in. "I must object," he said, looking somewhat indignant for the drummer (and earning a grateful glance from Bob in return). "I find that way of describing a batteur's job rather inaccurate and shameful! It is entirely up to them if they wish to be as low-key as possible."
"Yes! Vielen Dank, Paul!" the drummer did not fail to take advantage of this, staring at Mikey with a half-defiant and half-triumphant air. "what's wrong with being low-key, huh? And you think arguing with me is going to make a good impression anywhere? Dream on!"
"Jesus, woman, is your uterus shedding or something?" Bob made an incoherent noise of anger at this, almost seeming as if he wanted to lash out again; but thinking better of it, he turned away and stormed towards the door, yanking it open. "where are you going?!"
"To buy some goddamn pads!" Bob shouted back before the door slammed and his angry footsteps faded away into the distance.
There was a stunned silence in the room for a long while.
"... Was..." Schneider was the first to speak up after a few long, agony-filled minutes had passed by, voicing the question in everyone's minds. The bassist himself was now trembling in his seat, his face buried in his hands, not looking up. "... Mikey, was... ist los?"
"Es tut mir leid," a voice called from outside before this question could be answered; they all looked up to see a pale blond roadie standing anxiously by the doorway, the one who'd been onstage with Till the day he'd had the accident with the flamethrowers. Frank could almost swear that the young man's face became wearier and wearier by day. "we need some wineglasses set up in advance, the management said that they were kept in a cupboard around here - may I take a look?"
"Take them! They're here all right!" the bassist shouted, nearly tearing out his hair; he wasn't actually paying attention to the roadie and he meant no offence, he was just reacting to what was being said. "in a box!" he added, but in his agitation it came out more like an exaggerated 'baawks', which unfortunately prompted a snigger from Gerard's part. He spun around with a half-insane look in his eyes. "what the hell are you laughing at?"
The poor roadie simply flinched and let out a near-desperate 'well, really!' before he backed into the corridor and hastily fled the scene; everyone else in the room just stared at Mikey, and Gerard himself blinked in shock. "Sorry, Mikey, I wasn't-"
"Oh yes, you were! Laughing at me, were you? Not even you're on my side!"
"Look, bro, I don't even really know what happened between you and Bob, why in the world would I-"
"I hope your mic slips up tomorrow," Mikey cried, clearly unwilling to listen to reason. "I hope one of the blasts from Till's fire bow hits you right in the face. I hope a groupie steals your wallet, knocks you out with a spiked drink, takes naked photos of you and blackmails you into utter oblivion! I hope you step on Lego blocks!"
"Okay, look here, Mikey," Ray interjected with a look of disgust. "that is utterly vile. I know you're pissed off, but I certainly wouldn't wish that one upon anybody, much less your own brother! What a terrible thing to say!"
"I agree!" Olli nodded with a similar look of distaste. Mikey was beyond listening to all this, though, and simply held his hands in both hands, his mutterings becoming increasingly incomprehensible in his distress. The singer's face softened a little upon seeing this and he reached out, trying to get the other to look at him, but he was batted away.
"Leave me alone, you bastard!" Mikey wailed, and tears actually started running down his cheeks. "you dumb bastard, you insensitive, inconsiderate, insufferable fuck, leave me alone!" but at this point he began sobbing and snorting with laughter at the same time, realizing how far he was blowing this out of proportion and how unintentionally funny it must be for the others, much to both he and Gerard's dismay.
"There, there," Schneider cooed in his thick accent as he sat down next to Mikey, holding him in an attempt to comfort. Much to everyone's surprise, he wasn't shaken off. "there, there..." he then reached out towards the table, fetching a strawberry daiquiri and offering it to the distraught young man to cheer him up. While it only partially worked on the grounds that the strawberry daiquiri only had half a strawberry on it (and the fact that he initially resisted, shaking his head and sobbing that he didn't drink, revealing that his support for his brother hadn't wavered in the slightest despite all of this) it was nevertheless enough to stop his hysterics within a minute or two and for him to compose himself and apologize - including to Bob, who he sought out and found in the practice room eventually - which was accepted and considered satisfactory enough for all present.
Later that night, Frank decided on a whim that he would give the others the slip.
He didn't mean that in the sense that he was about to abandon his bandmates during their opener, no; such a thing would have been utterly shameful, and completely unlike Frank who truly loved and was devoted to his responsibilities within the band. No, his plan was considerably more minor than that: he was going to perform the opener, and then stay with the band until about twenty minutes before Rammstein finished onstage. Then he would plead tiredness and retire to the tour buses early - when in reality he would be disguising himself in plain clothes and sneaking into the arena to watch the other band perform.
The Stuttgart performance aside, videos of the shows could be found easily online, so it wasn't as if he needed to do this. But Frank wanted to see one song in particular being performed live, in front of his eyes, and as he settled himself down upon a stall seat (successfully hidden by the crowd) he focused his gaze upon the stage and held his breath.
This was the final number of the performance, and the stage was illuminated in faint deep-blue lighting, with only the faint silhouettes of Flake, Schneider and Olli visible towards the back. Nothing was being played yet, but the audience was still cheering - a noise that only grew louder as Richard's almost-iconic whistle cut through the air and signaled the intro to the song. (Frank briefly wondered if he ought to be cheering loud as well, but everyone he was next to in stalls seemed much calmer compared to everyone on the floor, so he didn't go that far.) Keyboards, guitars - he waited impatiently through the intro, something that couldn't have lasted more than twenty seconds at the most - until he saw the one he had been seeking for emerging onto the stage.
"Wer zu Lebzeit gut auf Erden-"
Here it comes.
"- Wird nach dem Tod ein Engel werd-en-"
The stage was completely illuminated now and from where Frank was sitting, he now could see Till quite clearly. The older man cut an odd figure, menacing from the way the blue lights glinted off the large metallic wings that he wore on his shoulders like sunlight over slivers of broken glass; but they weren't open yet, they were folded back for the time being, and this somehow added a plaintive atmosphere that made Frank's heart beat just a little faster.
"-Den Blick gen Himmel fragst du dann-"
Till was staring at the front row now. The guitarist didn't know who he might be staring at, or even whether he was staring at any individual at all, but imagined that he'd just made a dedicated fan's night in that case.
"-Warum, man sie nicht sehen kann..."
The cheers grew louder as the chorus was sung and Till's wings began to open. Within a few seconds they had been fully unfolded, their combined length spanning almost half the stage itself, the tips of the appendages almost brushing Richard and Paul's shoulders; he really had to wonder if they never had any accidents onstage, stumbling backwards into those wings, but Till stood so still and the guitarists were so in tune that he doubted that somehow. It only added to the mystique. Frank took a deep breath-
"... Gott weiß ich will kein Engel sein!"
-and joined in the audience's collective singing for the last (and most important) line. He could have sworn that he saw Richard smile before he began to whistle into the mic once more, slicked-back hair glistening in the light.
He was beautiful. (As nervous as Frank felt around the man, he wasn't going to deny that Richard was a very handsome individual.) They all were, perfectly balanced in their harmony, surrounding Till with his soldered-on wings and flames. As the song went on Frank became aware that he was holding his breath; he slowly exhaled, eyes fixed on Till alone, unconsciously clutching at his jacket. 'Beautiful' was a woefully inadequate word to describe the scene. Till in the rain had been 'beautiful'. This was something entirely different - Till as Frank had seen the day before had laughed, locked in the embrace of rain, and the look in his eyes had been nothing but tranquil. Right now the singer was the embodiment of aggression, the flames from his metallic wings illuminating the side of his face, blurring the air around his body, his expression that of the utmost seriousness. This Till Lindemann was the polar opposite of the man Frank had seen yesterday.
So why was it that he still possessed that innocent gaze, turned towards the LED-shattered sky, and why was it that Frank found him just as alluring as he had done the day before?
His face felt hot, and for a moment Frank wasn't sure whether this was so because from all the fire onstage - a substantial amount, so much that it made hot air buffet even towards the very back - or for a different reason altogether. Just as he raised a hand to touch his (very warm) face, the bridge section ended, Paul and Richard let go of their guitars - and for a second, just for a second, Frank could have sworn that the older man had turned his head to stare in the direction of where the guitarist was sitting, seeking him out amidst the anonymous crowd. Their gaze appeared to meet in mid-air; the younger man saw that the other's usually calm-green eyes were flaring golden from the reflection of the flames, and for a moment he thought that he might close his eyes, duck down and hide.
"... kann man uns am Himmel sehen..."
He knew that the possibility of Till having spotted him in the audience was very slim; he was dressed in a jacket with the hood up, and it wasn't as if he was even very close to the stage. And the singer looked away after only a second or so, instead reaching out with his arms towards the audience as if to embrace them all. But just the thought of it - it was immensely exhilarating, and what better than that to dwell on?
"... wir haben Angst und sind allein!"
The man was a Lucifer, a fallen angel, searching for glory on earth while seeking to escape his bonds. Those straps that bound his wings tightly to his body were symbolic of that. He was sure.
"Gott weiß ich will kein Engel sein!"
Frank was flushed all over, his heart beating at a pace that he had never felt before. He inhaled deeply in an effort to calm himself down, but as he exhaled shakily he realized that it was no use; Till's soul had utterly thrown off the metronome of his heart. He really had to wonder if he was the only person who reacted like this to the 'Engel' sequence - he didn't imagine that many people were like him. But either way, he was in it now, and he was in it deep.
The on-stage pyrotechnics slowly faded out; the song was ending. The guitars and drums had fallen silent, with only Richard's clear yet melancholy whistle echoing through the air - the lights dimmed into a soulful blue and Till turned around, bowing his head and closing his eyes as his wings slowly folded back down. Frank watched him descending beneath the stage, the faint lights glinting off the wings, and suddenly felt a powerful surge of emotion that he could not adequately describe or even express; it was something between a wild joy at being allowed to witness such a sight, and profound sorrow at seeing the older man's expression of beautiful resignation. Either way, Frank suddenly felt a little choked up and hastily ducked his head down to hide it.
And that was when he knew. At first glance it might have seemed illogical, coming out of apparently nowhere, and he knew it all too well. But as Till disappeared beneath the stage and the cheers of the crowd washed over him, he became convinced that the older man was indeed an angel on earth; he was more than worthy of that title, with his morbid mind and rough appearance or without. Having decided that he had seen exactly what he had needed to see, Frank took advantage of the security guards beginning to mill about in preparation for letting the crowd out and slipped out of the stalls unnoticed, leaving the arena and heading straight for the tour bus. They would find him there in about half an hour or so, none the wiser as to what he'd been up to.
The driver was in his seat, apparently having slipped into a comfortable nap after maintenance work had been completed and every bit of equipment had been loaded. Frank did feel bad for disturbing him, but there was no other way to board the bus otherwise; raising his hand, he knocked a couple of times on the door until the driver awoke with a start and looked at his direction. 'Please let me in!' he mouthed, seeing that the man didn't seem angry about being disturbed (much to his own relief); the door opened only a second or two later and he hurled himself up, giving the driver another apologetic nod. "I didn't mean to disturb you, I'm sorry!"
"No need, sir, no need! Will the others be boarding soon?"
"I think they'll be a while - I left earlier than expected."
"That's understandable. We'll wait, no problem at all."
Frank thanked the driver and quickly padded across the tour bus; he slipped out of his shoes and tucked them underneath his bunk before he rolled over and lay flat on his stomach on the soft blankets. He was still somewhat breathless from his little adventure, but his mind was clearer than ever. Closing his eyes he reminded himself of 'Hasslich' and the lyrics of 'Morgenstern' once more, comparing them with what he had seen of Till that evening.
Oh God, make me beautiful!
Ideas were flooding his mind and he had to get them out somehow. Reaching for Gerard's notebook beneath the sheets, Frank opened it to a clean page and picked up a pen, tearing the cap off with his teeth as he scribbled his thoughts down on paper. They weren't very coherent, he could see that they wouldn't make too much sense to him in the morning, but right now he just didn't care.
So that I may seduce the enchanting
The lovely angels
Who only look upon their equals...
Well, he thought to himself. If these are the angels that he longs for - consumer products, angels illuminated in neon and artificially made up with garbage - why, they're not worth his time and effort at all. He's surpassed them already, at least that's the way I see it.
The man was definitely more to Frank now than just 'the lead singer of a German industrial metal band' or even 'a friend'. He had no idea how exactly to explain it even now, so he just settled on the image that had burnt itself in mind, so deeply that he doubted that he would ever be able to forget that particular moment ten or twenty years on. The way the flames had reflected off Till's green eyes as he'd stood there, wings spread wide, the ethereal look on his face - that brief moment when Frank had felt an odd thrill, thinking that he had been recognized - yes, that much was clear. He might not be able to give a name to what he felt for Till right now, perhaps he never would, but for that moment - as the rhythm guitarist scribbled down the few phrases running about in his mind - it was crystal clear that the older man was his angel and his muse.
I'd have Till any day than any other angel they can offer me. Most definitely. Because he's not fake.
Frank did not get to maintain this lightheaded thrill for long, however; contrary to Mikey's outburst, Gerard did not end up being the one who had troubles in Erfurt. The day started off well enough; they managed a good night's sleep after reaching the city quickly, and by the time evening rolled around the MCR members were dressed in their costumes and idling in the waiting area while the former band were performing the opener. Gerard and Mikey were tossing a ball wadded out of newspaper back and forth, reciting lyrics from 'Welcome to the Black Parade' in rhythm, while Bob carefully inspected the separated snare drum from his drumkit and Ray and Frank sat by with their guitars by the side.
"When I was-"
"A young boy-"
"Took - took me - pfffffffft-"
Gerard tossed the newspaper ball away in disgust. "Not even my own brother takes this song seriously."
"Aww, Gerard, don't be mad," Mikey laughed, putting an arm around the singer's shoulders; Gerard rolled his eyes, but reluctantly allowed his brother to give him a hug. "you know that we all love it, really. It's just, well, it's kind of different if you're saying the lyrics instead of singing them."
"Yeah, whatever," but there was no malice in Gerard's tone and soon enough he reached over to give Mikey's arm a brief squeeze. Ray and Frank shared a knowing glance at this, happy to see that the brotherly affection between the two hadn't suffered in the slightest; then there came the customary announcement from the stage that My Chemical Romance was due soon (Paul seemed to be speaking this time around). The band listened in relatively-peaceful silence, hearing the applause and the sound of roadies bustling past, followed shortly by the other band entering backstage. They hadn't much to say at this point except to quietly bid the younger band good luck; Till and Richard sat down opposite Frank, the latter balancing his disconnected guitar on his knees, while Olli and Schneider excused themselves for a shower. Flake remained standing by the wall, his shades pulled up and nestled on top of his forehead as he leaned backwards and closed his eyes; but he didn't look worn out in the slightest, just calm and collected. Paul gave them a wink and one of his sunny smiles before he sat down next to Ray, who (without missing a beat) handed him a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. "whoa, that's pretty smooth."
Ray grinned, hugging his guitar close. "I know, right? Paul and I were meant to connect like this. Das stimmt?"
"Ach, ja!" the two guitarists then briefly high-fived each other, much to the amusement (and one might daresay, envy) of the MCR bandmates. Ray and Paul had simply clicked together from the beginning, their mutual sense of humor and the former's eagerness to learn from the latter helping their bond. That kind of friendship was what everyone aspired to have, really. Gerard gazed at them with a little smile before he suddenly let out an 'oh' as he recalled something from the depths of his mind - and turned to Frank.
"Speaking of lyrics... Frank, was it you who added to the notebook last night?"
The rhythm guitarist blinked for a second before he remembered, and then felt quite nervous as he realized Till was now paying attention in his direction. He told himself that there was no chance that anyone in the room would connect his scribblings to Till, but it wasn't a particularly relaxing thought. "... Yeah. It was."
"I gotta thank you for it, because I like it. I like it a lot. I'm going to work what you wrote into a song even if I die trying."
"Um... thanks, Gerard, but they were about angels and consumerism, nothing too big... I really doubt that you liked them so much that you would literally die for them."
"Ha! Oh, trust me, at this point in time I probably would be able to," the singer's expression turned into one of vague exhaustion and he leaned back. "I'm at that stage of writer's block where things are - coming back to me, but I just can't seem to put them down on paper. It's very frustrating. Anything that's thrown at me, I'd use. Though I think I've come up with a concept!"
"What kind of concept would it be?" Till spoke up: he was perfectly aware of and sympathetic towards Gerard's anguish over his writer's block, so this was clearly good news to him.
"I kind of want this to be lighthearted. Free-spirited but rebellious, you know? Something that sticks it to the man - and yet is ridiculously fun at the same time," he gestured towards Frank's general direction; by this point everyone was paying close attention. "I don't want this to come across as mindlessly dark or filled with juvenile angst. We're past that period now - I've changed a lot in the past few years. Time to leave the Black Parade era behind once and for all - hell, we pretty much have already, this is the last tour we'll have involving those songs, isn't it? And even then we've mixed in a hefty bit of Three Cheers as well. Not that any of that was ever bad to begin with, but I'd like a different sound. We aren't going out of our minds from drugs or haunted houses any more-" Mikey shuddered a little at the reminder, and Gerard placed a reassuring hand on his brother's knee. "-so there's no point in sticking with those times. God knows how I'll go about making this incredibly fun world, but I hope to pull it off."
Richard let out a small 'hmm' as he mulled over this. "Does everyone in the band contribute to the lyrics?"
"Yes. We rotate and basically just come up with words and ideas first - and then we work towards a concept, and that's when we can really start writing proper lyrics for songs. And everyone has a part," Bob answered, lightly tapping his drumsticks on his lap. It was very much like what Schneider did often, something that did not go unnoticed with the older drummer himself - he smiled and winked at Bob, who blushed a little and stopped what he was doing. "so you were thinking of an anarchist feel, Gerard?"
"Something like that. Let me just think about it a bit more. Maybe get some concept art done."
Meanwhile, the older singer was staring directly at Frank. "Do you contribute often?"
Till's direct question caused the rhythm guitarist to tense nervously for a second or two. It wasn't as if he hadn't expected that question at all, but being put on the spot was not exactly the most comfortable feeling, even if did come from Till. (Or maybe especially because it was Till.) "As often as I can," he answered nevertheless, biting his lip slightly as he frowned and tried to think of his lyrical contributions over four albums. "Gerard's of course the primary writer, but I do like chipping in whenever he's sitting with his notebook."
"I think Frank contributes-" thankfully, Ray didn't get to continue because at that moment a roadie poked their head around the doorway and gestured towards them. "oh, that's our cue! Let's go."
Frank stood up and began walking towards the stage door, mindlessly fiddling in his pockets - before he suddenly froze in his tracks and scooted back to a chair, frantically searching himself for something. "Wait - guys -"
"My guitar pick..." Frank looked around helplessly, prompting Gerard and Till to both look back at him. "... I can't find it..."
"What? But we've got to go up now! What material?"
"Just acrylic... oh man, give me a moment, I'll run back and get one..."
Before he could leave, though, and before Gerard could admonish him, Richard quickly fished out something from his pocket and lightly tossed it over to Frank. The object landed neatly on Frank's lap, and he scooped it up; it was a guitar pick, smoothly rounded at the edges but with a sharp pointed tip at one corner. It was a glossy black colour streaked with milky white and was surprisingly hefty compared to his usual picks.
"Glass," Richard explained as the rhythm guitarist stared at it. "one of my custom ones. I'd like it back afterwards, Frank. It won't exactly make the same kind of sound as acrylics or other kinds of plastic, but it will do for now..."
He'd just been grateful that he'd been lent a guitar pick back then, so Frank had simply nodded his thanks and hurried out of the room after Gerard. But as they played on, Frank became more uncomfortably aware that the pick was much thicker and heavier than he was used to; it made his sound at least twice as brighter, louder and resonant than before. It was not a bad thing by a large margin - it meant that everyone could hear him better and he had more tones to work with - but he couldn't shake off the thought that this was not his sound. This was Richard's sound, the one he harnessed onstage next to Paul and Till, and this pick was one that was most used to his hands.
"In the middle of a gunfight..."
The new sound was jarring, though it was not a difference that people could presumably hear. But it mattered to Frank because he certainly could hear it, and he felt at points that he was genuinely drowning out Ray's lead guitar. The glass object felt uncomfortably heavy between Frank's fingers and his hands were becoming more slippery as he grew more agitated; now that he was onstage, flashbacks of being in the waiting room began coming back to him, and it was not at all appreciated.
"In the center of a restaurant..."
It's just a pick, he told himself. It's just a pick and I am the guitarist. I can do this. Stop overreacting!
"They say - come with your arms - raised - high!" Gerard raised his own arm in time with the lyrics, oblivious to Frank's distress. Closing his eyes, the rhythm guitarist bit his lip and tried to keep to his part, ignoring the lights and the cheers in an effort to get his mind to focus.
"Well, they're never gonna get me!"
But he simply couldn't.
"Like a bullet through a flock of doves-"
Ray, strumming his own part, threw Frank a glance and moved away a little. He had undoubtedly noticed that the younger guitarist was not in the best of moods for whatever reason; Frank was a little irritated that it had been obvious to Ray, but then the man had always been quite sensitive to changes like those. Perhaps he ought to be just glad that his fellow guitarist was giving him space.
"To wage... this war against your faith - in me..."
He recalled Gerard's vaguely irritated look upon being informed that he'd lost his own guitar pick. He recalled the way Till had given Richard an approving nod and a smile after having seen the latter lend him one, silently praising his quick thinking, and most disturbing of all was the way the older guitarist had smiled back at him, a self-satisfied glow playing about his features, gazing deeply into the singer's eyes. Without any sort of confrontation with Frank, Richard had established his dominance just like that, over Till and even over the dynamics of somebody else's performance altogether. And all this made Frank more and more desperate to have all of this over and done with - he wasn't sure how to handle it, trying to grasp this stranger's sound and failing, the glass pick threatening to slip away every couple of minutes or so. He wanted very badly to tighten his grip to remedy this, or let out his emotions by picking up his mic stand and hurling it across the stage or something, but he couldn't even do that when Richard had asked him - no, had told him - that he wanted the pick back. He couldn't risk breaking it for anything because the older man's existence alone simply terrified the life out of him.
"Do you have the keys to the hotel?!"
He had to act. He had to dispel this feeling somehow. Without thinking about it any more than that, he turned and hurtled across the stage as Gerard screamed out the bridge section.
"'Cause I'm gonna string this motherfucker on fire!"
Mikey was the first one he saw, so Mikey it would be. Sorry, man, he thought to himself as he raised his guitar, seeing the shocked look on the bassist's face, and let out a yell of his own.
As Gerard's scream rose to its highest pitch, Frank brought down his guitar hard on Mikey's shins, causing the man to topple over on his knees almost instantly to the stage floor with a scream of agony. A loud cry rose from the audience, one of approval at seeing Frank being his famed wild self; but there was no catharsis in it. Through the cheers of the crowd he couldn't really hear what Mikey was howling but he still managed to make out the words: "-holy fucking shit Iero owwwww God-fucking-damnit Imma kill you that was just uncalled for!"
"I love you too, Mikey," Frank shouted back, covered in cold sweat, the empty sinking feeling in his heart not having dissipated in the slightest. "I love you too, Mikey."
When the performance was finished after what felt like an eternity afterwards, the younger man was sweating heavily and pale as a sheet - he all but ran inside Rammstein's dressing room (thankfully empty) and placed the pick back on Richard's own table before bolting out just as quickly again. He really needed a hot shower right now to clear his mind.
"I'm a'right," he mumbled feverishly to himself as he stepped out his costume, shakily undoing the buttons on his jacket. "I'm fine - ow - what the fuck...?"
It was only then that he realized that he'd somehow managed to cut himself with the glass pick while he'd been onstage. His index finger had a faintly white, nearly invisible but painfully aching cut down it, which was now spotting blood onto the threads of his jacket - he recoiled in horror at the realization before he almost-literally tore off his costume and hurled himself into the showers.
When he'd had a shower and had returned backstage, everyone was there relaxing and chatting except for Mikey and Schneider. For Frank, this was rather inconvenient as he'd planned on apologizing to Mikey for the incident on stage. He inquired as to where the bassist was, and got the response that he and Schneider had gone out to a bar together to drink strawberry daiquiris from Gerard. "He looked like he needed it. Must admit, it shook me up a bit too."
But the young guitarist looked so miserable upon hearing this that Gerard immediately softened his stance. "Aw, cheer up, you crazy bastard," he coaxed, gently patting Frank on the shoulder. "Mikey's all right. Just a little shaken, is all, and he perked up like nothing else when I said he could go with Doom... I don't even think he's going to remember this tomorrow, and you being wild isn't a new thing, is it? Don't worry about it. I say that as his brother. More importantly, your guitar all right? Don't want one broken while we're abroad that's for sure."
"It's perfectly fine."
"Then what's the worry. Come sit down and relax, goddamnit."
This was thankfully hastened when sudden excited shouts from where all the others were gathered made both he and Gerard look over in said direction. Ray, Paul and Bob were sitting on the carpeted floor, everyone else either sitting or leaning on the sofa behind them; Ray's laptop sat on the coffee table and it appeared to be playing a video. "Come over! We're just getting to the good part!" Paul called with a wide grin; they hurried over to be greeted by a video of a considerably-younger Rammstein performing the song that Frank recognized (with a blush) as 'Buck Dich'.
If he'd thought the song was lewd before, it had nothing on what he was seeing right now.
"Till, honest to God, why is Flake gagged and what are you-" Gerard briefly fell silent, eyes widening in shock and face turning red - before he burst out into riotous laughter. "-holy shit!"
That just about covers it, Frank thought to himself as he too felt heat rising to his cheeks along with a strong urge to collapse in helpless giggles; to fight the urge he ducked his head down and bit down on the back of his hand, trying desperately to keep his shoulders shaking from mirth. He likely would have just given in if not for the fact that he still felt a little down deep inside, a feeling that was nevertheless briefly covered up by the hilarity of what was gong on. What made it even funnier for him was that he wasn't even completely unfamiliar with this performance - it was infamous enough that he'd found out what it'd entailed quite a while beforehand, he'd just never watched it before.
But just reading about Till Lindemann performing 'simulated sodomy' on his keyboardist with a dildo hooked up to a water-and-liquor squirting hose was quite different to actually seeing it. It was far more audacious and utterly shameless than Frank had imagined it to be; sneaking a look at Till, who was grinning (and clearly relieving fond memories) as he watched, the guitarist realized that he had discovered yet another facet to the man.
"Oh my God, you guys this - this is just unbelievable... But I watched Live aus Berlin before we came-"
"Haha, Ray, you said 'came'-"
"-oh, ha ha. But how on earth did I miss this one?"
"Because it was never included with the official video or DVD of it," Richard explained. His eyes travelled to rest on Till, then Flake, and then briefly towards Frank (which did a good job of halting the younger guitarist's giggles) before resting on Ray again. "they just pretended that this stunt never existed. Can you believe that? After all the months we spent actually working on the thing. That thing squirts hundreds of liters of Perrod and water, you'd think they'd have acknowledged that-"
Bob could barely speak through his laughter. "Oh my God," he choked out, wiping the tears from his eyes. "that's incredible. Wow. How'd you guys get away with it for so long?"
"That's the thing, though, we didn't always. Till and Flake actually got arrested back in 1998 because of this. Spent a full night in jail too."
"Yes, and I'd rather you not joke about it," the keyboardist said in a half-exasperated tone; Richard just chuckled. "you weren't the one who was arrested and held amidst armed criminals for an entire night."
"Hey, it wasn't my fault that Massachusetts didn't look upon a dildo squirting liquor for two straight minutes as funny."
"But we kept on performing the stunt anyway. Until the turn of the millennium, at least," Till interjected, still grinning. "then we moved on to other things. I still wonder if we'll ever have a chance to bring it back."
Ray was replaying the video while all of this conversation was going on; Frank, now quiet once more and not particularly knowing whether he wanted to join the talk, stared fixatedly at the screen. He was at least grateful that no one had yet commented on his silence. "I still find it hard to believe. How on earth did you come up with that stunt in the first place? I mean, call it an appeal to audacity," Ray paused thoughtfully, rubbing his chin. "but it doesn't look like something you'd agree to do casually."
"It's all based off mutual trust," the keyboardist answered. "I wouldn't have consented if Till was going to be genuinely disrespectful. Luckily, he knows what's good for him."
"In other words, he's a good dom and Flake's the best submissive partner he'll ever have in a lifetime," Paul grinned.
"... I strongly object to that way of putting it."
"I did get into it after a while," Till grinned and shifted a little on the couch. "it was like - 'Oh ja, that's right, bend over and lick my boots, you slut...'"
"Till, lieber Gott, not you too," Flake admonished, but he was chuckling. Till only growled a little in response before he reached out and tugged the keyboardist onto his lap, pulling him close and grasping him around the waist despite playful protests. "ach! Not there, you horny bastard!"
"On the contrary, I think you ought to be playing along with me, Flake," Frank, observing, found himself blushing a little but surprisingly receptive to the entire situation. This was the first time he'd seen Till's openly-seductive side outside of performances, and even if it was being played for laughs he appreciated it very much indeed. "quite an honor, I'd say so myself. Take note," he addressed this with a wink to the MCR band members who were either breathless with laughter or staring at them amusedly by this point. "you're witnessing a moment that countless reporters and fans have never managed to get out of us offstage in over fifteen years worth of us being together!"
"A grope is a grope, Till, it's not the Annunciation."
And yet despite this he played along, letting Till hold him in that immensely suggestive position with only a bemused smile. And Frank would have been completely fine with this if not for one person, and that person was Richard. "I want to join in too," Richard called out amidst the laughter; without further ado he settled himself down on the other half of Till's lap. While he did get some good-hearted complaints from the singer that he was 'doing a number on his knees', the guitarist was also embraced and allowed to stay there. In fact, Frank even noticed (with some discomfort) that Till actually was treating Richard in a considerably more careful manner. It was nothing like the overtly close, playful and non-serious atmosphere that he had shared with Flake - Till and Richard weren't outwardly showing quite that much intimacy, but there was something about the way they automatically leaned protectively towards each other that tipped Frank off to the fact that something was going on. He also did not miss the way that Flake quietly slipped off Till's lap and shifted over so that he could sit next to Olli; it was almost as if the keyboardist was aware of something between the singer and the lead guitarist that he felt that he had no place interfering in.
But was it just Flake who felt that way? Come to think of it, Frank couldn't really remember a time when he'd seen Till and Richard in the same room devoting most of their attention to other people. Of course they were attentive, but they often sat together, seemed to room with each other sometimes, and had bunks right next to each other on their tour bus. Everyone in Rammstein seemed content to tease each other about anything, but they never seemed to do this with either of the two for whatever reason. Of course Frank acknowledged the possibility that he might be reading too much into the situation, but still -
- It was not a comfortable thing to realize.
The talk in the room had reverted to more normal topics now. Richard was now leaning against Till, both comfortable and relaxed in the other's presence, and he smiled lazily as the singer's arms circled his shoulders. "Berlin soon," he was saying, his voice almost a soft, low purr. "the city of many memories. I can't wait to get there."
"Ja," Till agreed - smiled - and rested his chin on Richard's shoulder. "neither can I."
Frank didn't know what to think. He had the feeling that the older guitarist was looking at him and determinedly kept his eyes away from that direction; he looked down to find with some surprise that his fists were clenched tight, knuckles white with effort. What are you so tense for, he chastised himself as he slowly relaxed his hands, exhaling nervously. But still the older guitarist's complete and utter confidence haunted him and he wasn't sure if he liked Richard as much any more; even though it was a ridiculous thought, that little shared smile between him and Till had awakened Frank to an undeniable truth. The rhythm guitarist could see that there was a love between the two of them, an irrevocable one, perfect in the way he still hadn't quite gotten the hang of; and that because of what the two had already, Frank was not even remotely a threat to Richard. Of course it might not have been romantic - they were good at hiding it if it was - but there was love there somewhere, a strong platonic one perhaps. Not something Frank could hope to overcome in only a month. The cut on his finger began aching again and he grasped it quietly, trying to soothe it as best as possible.
Keep your immature little hands off Till, Richard's voice seemed to ring out in his head, and Frank whimpered at the pain alongside the weight of his own imagination. You're no competition for me, seeing as I've known him from when you were a mere child.
You won't get between us, Frank, don't even try.
'... And the Ritalin rats
Ask the angels made from neon
and fucking garbage scream out, "What will save us?"
And the sky opened up...'
- 'Na Na Na', from 'Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys' by My Chemical Romance
The album concept that was continuously being talked about? Yep. Here's how it starts being developed - Frank sets it off, and they begin writing Danger Days. I believe the bolded lyrics I picked up are adequate in expressing this little factor.
This was a tense scene. It was the bit of ch.4 that I was so looking forward to posting and didn't get to because it got to be too damn long ._. Mikey and Schneider are developed, as is Bob (somewhat), and of course... the main conflict pairing of the fic, Richard -> Till Till with the metal wings during 'Engel' is a real component of their performances and did start with the 'Liebe ist fur alle da' tour in 2009. Of course they also shoot fire like most Rammstein props do. I had the fortune of seeing Rammstein in February, and yes, he was incredibly beautiful - especially with the wings as well. And I'm sure that Frank being batshit insane onstage is not surprising in the least (RIP Pansy) The 'Buck Dich' stunt is exactly as described in the chapter - and Rammstein did indeed revive it for their 2011-2012 tour!
Despite it being played for dramatic effect, I'm assured that guitar picks aren't that lethal. Not even glass ones - I think often they are duller than plastics. And the reason Mikey is offered a strawberry daiquiri by Schneider is because I really wanted to write about a man offering a strawberry daiquiri to another man. Not everything I write has complex in-jokes and explanations.
'... You're the broken glass in the morning light;
Be a burning star, if it takes all night -
So just save yourself and I'll hold them back tonight!'
- 'Save Yourself, I'll Hold Them Back', from 'Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys' by My Chemical Romance