I'll tell you all my secrets
But I lie about my past
So send me off to bed forever more
-Tango Till They're Sore, Tom Waits
Two simple words were all it took; two simple words, from an excited German actor to the excitable American director. The American took a moment to mull over these words, though it was all too clear that he agreed with the German. Unexpectedly (both would learn soon enough to expect such things from their director), it dawned on him, like a revelation.
"God," the director exclaimed at them, "if this was like a movie in the Forties, you two would be the ones to play these characters!"
Neither the French actress nor the German actor hid their relief from him, or from one another.
Mélanie smiled broadly at him. No one was to know about this; as she had done many times previously, Mélanie stood before Daniel in his trailer, watching him expectantly. Only now, she wore a figure-hugging red dress, her lips and nails painted scarlet, her golden hair in curls.
"I had to discreetly sneak this out of the costume department," Mélanie informed him, "because I wanted you to be the first to see me in it."
Placing her hands on her hips, Mélanie held her head high.
Daniel was stunned into silence, his now wide eyes appreciatively raking over her form.
Words, like so many times before, proved to be inadequate between them.
"So, you two are Romeo and Juliet?"
Daniel smirked and nodded in response.
In between takes, Fredrick and Hellstrom, when able to, smoked together and discussed their character motivations. Today was no different.
"Who do you think you are, amongst all of this?" Daniel pondered.
"I," August declared proudly, "am Mercutio."
The two laughed, loudly, openly, drawing stares from cast and crew nearby. The German War Hero and Gestapo Major didn't notice, nor did they care.
Taking a drag off his cigarette, August exhaled with a sigh. Watching the smoke drift and dissipate, he mused,
"I get my crotch shot to Kingdom Come by a Basterd and the two of you die beautifully, tragically, together."
Again, Daniel gave a nod of his head. Averting his eyes to look down at his boots, he quietly asked of his friend,
"Do you think she and I would have made it?"
August appeared quizzical.
"Are you asking me, that if neither of you had shot each other, if you and Shosanna would have lived happily-ever-after?"
Daniel shrugged, slightly embarrassed that he posed the question at all, that he ever even bothered to think about it when not on set, that it remained in the back of his mind when with her.
"Well," August smiled, "I think so. It wouldn't have been easy at first, no, but ultimately, yes, you both would have. There was obviously something between the two of you."
Daniel noticeably relaxed, and raised his eyes to meet his friend's.
"And again, might I remind you, Quentin has declared you two to be his tragic lovers," August prompted him, "and he will gladly remind you and everyone else within earshot of that fact."
Daniel merely smiled, as nothing more had to be said.
His face was set in concentration.
"No one seems to understand him, do they?"
Daniel was seated on the bed, his back up against the head board. One hand mindlessly drumming its fingers on his thigh, his other hand holding a glass of champagne.
Mélanie lay on her back beside him. She was comforting, but blunt.
It was the night after the premiere of Inglourious Basterds at the Cannes film festival. Both had gone through a few changes of clothing (he adored her white pantsuit best, she was fond of his black suit and gray dress shirt ensemble), and now, he was in his black slacks and gray shirt, tie loose around his neck; she was in an off-white slip.
They had discussed the intricacies and layers of their characters many times over together, and now, with the film finally having been premiered, Daniel was bothered by the misunderstanding of Fredrick. He was, however, immensely proud of Mélanie's performance, and of Shosanna.
"He was based directly off of Audie Murphy! He suffered from post traumatic stress disorder, but he wasn't a monster. He was just damaged."
Mélanie pulled herself up to sit beside Daniel; reaching for his hand, she took the half-empty champagne glass and set it aside. She then brushed his rogue forelocks out of his face (yet another reminder of Fredrick). Looking to her, Daniel gave a small smile,
"He was the nice, likable German in the film."
Leaning in, Mélanie pressed her lips to his forehead.
"Oui," she murmured against his skin.
Daniel sighed contentedly; she always knew just what it took to calm him. Mélanie continued her barrage on his senses, covering his face with kisses, trailing down to his jawline and neck. Body relaxing, Daniel lay his head back, as he was completely at her mercy. With quick precision, Mélanie unbuttoned his shirt and slid her hands underneath the thin, cotton material of his undershirt, running her hands over his chest.
Daniel loved her hands. Delicate and tapered, he took notice of them when he shook her hand during their brief introduction during their audition; at that moment of contact, their eyes locked, and they were both lost.
Mélanie was now straddling him, her hands undoing his belt. With one, swift motion, she yanked it loose and threw it over her shoulder; Daniel could not help but chuckle to himself, for as playful as she could be, Mélanie took their fucking very seriously. Through half-lidded eyes, he watched as she unzipped his slacks and slipped her hand inside, giving herself better access to him. Satisfied (it did not take much for either of them to arouse each other), Mélanie pushed the straps of her slip down and over her arms, allowing the garment to fall away from her chest and pool around her waist. She then hitched up her slip, pulling it up over her hips, revealing the pale flesh of her thighs and a pair of flimsy, pink panties.
"You're so French," Daniel teased, though the undergarment very much enhanced his state of arousal.
Scrunching up her nose at him, Mélanie shot back, "And you're so German!"
She settled in his lap and felt his erection against her, but she was not yet ready to begin the consummation. Shifting herself forward, Mélanie took Daniel's face into her hands; looking him directly in the eyes, she whispered, with the utmost sincerity,
"Both of them were damaged."
She then claimed his mouth with her own.
A melancholy overtook them, fusing with their lust, adding a note of desperation. What they had, this, was always wanted, always desired between them; but now a twinge of something else could be felt.
Positioning herself over him, Mélanie reached between her legs to move her panties aside. Daniel however, took ahold of them and with one pull, ripped them off of her. Biting her lower lip, Mélanie lowered herself onto him, taking him within her; both of them gasped. Bringing his hands up, Daniel cupped her exposed breasts and ran his thumbs over her hardened nipples. Throwing her head back, Mélanie arched her body into his hands.
"Everything," Daniel groaned as his hands came down to grip her hips, "I just want that much from you."
"Oui," Mélanie complied, as their bodies moved together.
He thoughtfully considered Daniel's query.
"No," August decided, "Hellstrom wouldn't have had a chance with Shosanna. See, Hellstrom didn't give a shit about her in the first place."
Daniel tilted his head to the side.
"Then what about the restaurant scene?"
"Dieter enjoys wielding his power over others. He also fancies himself to be as much of a detective as Landa is. Recall the scene in Le Gamaar, after the screening of Glückskinder?"
Daniel's brows knitted together.
August gave further explanation,
"He wasn't even acknowledging her presence then, as he had already figured her out. Therefore, she no longer held any interest for him. By then, he cared more about getting the fuck out of there and having a boot-shaped mug of beer. As I said, Hellstrom doesn't give a shit about her."
Daniel bit his lower lip; his cigarette was nearly down to its filter.
"And what did he figure out about her?"
August put his Gestapo uniform cap back in place, ready to return back to the set.
"He figured that the Great German War Hero loved her, his Juliet, and that she, perhaps against her better judgement, held an interest in him, too."
Before departing, August gave Daniel a slap on the back.
"And Fredrick, you see, is at his core, a pacifist; a sweetheart."
Though content with his analysis, Daniel pressed him a little more,
"But what about Hellstrom?"
August grinned slyly.
"Rotten. Completely rotten."
As he walked away, Daniel yelled out at him,
"Never! He never would have had a chance with her!"
Without looking back, August shouted,
"Of course not, Romeo!"
Daniel lay on his side, watching Mélanie as she soundly slept. Their evening had been spent talking and drinking red wine. Daniel regaled Mélanie with tales of his adolescence, such as of his fictional French girlfriend and being a failed teenage Mod. In turn, Mélanie spoke of her ambitions to direct, her love of music, and her cat. It was, perhaps, all a little mundane (at least as far as the tabloids the two had so far cleverly evaded would be concerned), but it provided something familiar and comfortable between them; something that was once previously lacking in their liaisons.
The two were barely even halfway through their bottle of wine when, setting her glass down, Mélanie leaned over to Daniel; taking his face into her hands, she touched her lips to his. The glass in his hand slipped out of his fingers and fell to the floor, the red wine soaking into the fibers of clean hotel carpet, leaving a dark stain.
But it was of no concern to Daniel, as his freed hand now curved over Mélanie's hip, squeezing and kneading her through the material of her slacks as his other hand reached behind the back of her head, holding her mouth to his as he slipped his tongue into her mouth, deepening their kiss.
It was there, in their rented bed, bathed within the glow of a late-night showing of an obscure American film neither held much interest in, that Daniel and Mélanie had set all aside and made intensely passionate love.
Daniel furrowed his brow. Their activities had become lovemaking and ceased to be fucking many encounters ago, from the moment Mélanie surprised him in his trailer, clad in that red dress.
Suddenly, his thoughts were interrupted by the sound of his cell phone ringing. Not wanting to wake Mélanie, Daniel frantically scrambled out of bed and went to retrieve it from his slacks, which were strewn about on the other side of the room. Answering it, he spoke in hushed tones.
The voice on the other end was bold and emotional,
"I'm a father, Daniel! I'm a fucking father!"
It was August. He had not been able to attend the Cannes premiere due to the impending birth of his child; Daniel and the rest of the cast had been awaiting the news.
"Oh, God, August - that's amazing!"
"I know! I fucking know. I - I almost can't believe it."
Daniel was overjoyed for his friends; August had been his best friend since filming Love In Thoughts together and he befriended Julia after she and August had begun dating. And now, the two of them were married and parents.
It was almost unbelievable, but it was so terribly beautiful that now Daniel felt himself overcome with emotion.
Born just a few hours ago, August and Julia had a daughter, Elsa Augusta Diehl.
Daniel's smile was nearly audible.
August could only laugh.
The phone call was brief, yet overwhelming, with August doing most of the talking; many times, he was on the verge of tears. Before hanging up, August added,
"You'll know how it feels one day, too."
Placing the phone on the nightstand, Daniel lay back beside Mélanie, who was still asleep.
He figured he would tell her the good news in the morning.
She was seated at the edge of the chair before him, observing him with anticipation and wonder as he hitched the skirt of the dress up and over her knees; his fingertips skimming along the bare skin he slowly, but surely exposed. Throwing her head back, Mélanie hissed through her teeth upon feeling Daniel nuzzle her inner thigh with his cheek.
Mélanie's heart thundered as she opened the door and found herself greeted by Daniel's bright face. But now, standing there, face-to-face, neither could speak.
Their eyes remained on each other, even as their director loudly voiced his frustrations.
One hand was situated behind her back, carefully unzipping the dress as his other hand, with nimble fingers, stroked over the junction between her wide-spread thighs. Sliding the dress down low enough to expose her breasts, Daniel brought his hand up to cradle the back of her head as he then focused his attention to her left breast. He swirled his tongue around her nipple, and bringing it to strained attention, he eagerly took it into his hot mouth; ardently, Daniel suckled as he simultaneously plunged two fingers within her. Fisting her hands into his hair, Mélanie breathed in harshly as her entire body was overtaken with heat.
Fredrick's anger and heartbreak were almost enough to force Mélanie to put down the pistol. Though it was just a prop, the bullets were blanks, and his mortal wounds were well-timed squibs and stage blood, she didn't want to pull the trigger. Shosanna did not want to kill Fredrick.
She held their rapt attention: Tarantino, cast, and crew. As much as she would have wanted it to happen, Shosanna and Fredrick could not walk away from this ordeal alive. They had to die and they had to die together.
Reluctantly, Mélanie pulled the trigger.
She was on her feet, back up against the wall; red attire now gathered around her waist, with the hem of the dress bunched up above her hips. His hands - his deft fingers - grasped her thighs. Lifting a leg up higher, Daniel, like so many times before, thrust into Mélanie, further heating her already fevered flesh. This time was different; their need, their actions, were frenzied, yet precise. Teeth nipping at collarbones, tugging at earlobes, and grazing her long, pale throat. Tongues intermingling and lipstick smearing, hands cupping breasts, hips, and ass; fingers, everywhere they trailed, digging in deep. Pushing, pulling, biting, licking, clawing, stroking; their rhythm was surging, overpowering. Grasping at the nape of his neck, she matched his every thrust with a tenacity she had not previously thought possible. Lilting sighs and heavy groans, restless fervor and aching want; it was all-consuming.
In a low voice, Daniel muttered endearments into her skin in every language he knew, but none of them proved sufficient for him, for all he wanted to express. Actions speaking louder than words, he drove into her as hard and as deeply as he could. Their movements intensified, becoming more urgent. Mélanie wrapped herself around Daniel; the two engulfing each other in the feel and the scent of their twining bodies. With fervency he held on to her, for she was his anchor, his comfort, his catalyst.
As Mélanie climaxed, she screamed and clung to Daniel, her trembling body sinking into his. He followed immediately after her release, coming with a shuddering groan. Burying her face into the crook of his neck, Mélanie then sunk her teeth into Daniel's shoulder, leaving a mark.
Her heartbreak was genuine and without hesitation, Shosanna went to Fredrick. Rolling him over, Mélanie held her breath and braced her body.
Viciously, yet lovingly, Daniel returned the favor.
They rested against the wall in a contented heap; Daniel held Mélanie in his arms, her body curled into his. Bruises were already forming on her hips, and the bite mark on Daniel's shoulder was a vibrant, purple-red. Once she was to wear the red dress as Shosanna, and he in his Oberschütze uniform as Fredrick, only they would know what lay beneath their costumes, their characters. Opening her eyes and raising her head up, Mélanie's gaze fell upon Daniel's dark eyes boring into her. With exquisite tenderness, he brushed unruly strands of hair out of her face and placed a kiss upon her forehead.
Words were not necessary.
Stage blood pooled around their bodies, Mélanie and Daniel lay on the floor of the projection booth, where they died divinely, as many times as necessary. Daniel's heart broke many times over as he struggled to pull the trigger one last time; Mélanie cried out until she was hoarse and turned her face away from Daniel until her neck ached.
Awed by their performances, Tarantino mercifully ended their misery, and Shosanna and Fredrick were laid to rest.
Both struggled to get up off the floor due to the sticky consistency of the karo syrup; Daniel freed himself first, and then offered his hand to Mélanie. At first, she refused, wanting to stand on her own, but his kind face eventually won out over her pride. Looking each other over, neither said a word.
Assistants and the costume department took over the rest and separately, all of the blood, make-up, and traces of Shosanna and Fredrick were washed away from Mélanie and Daniel.
Later, they would meet in his trailer. Wearing jeans, a simple v-neck t-shirt, and slip-on flats with her hair messily pulled back and face bare, Mélanie was resplendent. Daniel, strikingly handsome as ever, stood the doorway, dressed in slacks and a t-shirt; his unruly hair was all that remained of the German War Hero. Silently, he gave her a nod of his head, and she entered, giving him a small smile in return. Right as the door closed behind them, Daniel and Mélanie embraced. Holding one another tightly, they wept for the loss of Tarantino's tragic lovers.
Neither was able to see much of the other after that summer, as both were busy with new projects, which placed a considerable amount of distance between them. The night of the Golden Globes, Mélanie managed to sneak away during the after party and call Daniel, who was keeping track of that night's events through his iPhone.
"You will have to congratulate Christoph on my behalf," he informed her.
"Oui, of course I will."
"And tell Quentin I said hello."
"Oh, and Eli, too."
"Let Diane know that she looked lovely."
"I will, Daniel," a note of exasperation in her voice.
"Also," his voice taking an intimate tone, "you're stunning tonight and I regret that I will not be there to assist you out of that dress."
"You're so French."
"Was your Christmas pleasant?" she inquired, pouring them both glasses of champagne.
He stood behind her, his hands on her hips.
"Oui," he replied, "however, Christmas last year was far more preferable, as I was able to spend it in Paris, between your thighs."
Turning around to face Daniel, Mélanie exaggeratedly rolled her eyes. He just smiled, and bending forward, he planted a kiss on top of her head.
The two had at first decided to attend the SAG Awards with the rest of the cast that night, but opted instead to check into a hotel room - it would be the first time in months. There was still much left between them to discuss, and that night would provide them with their much needed reunion: they soon found themselves falling back into their once-familiar and sorely missed routine. Their reverie, however, was soon interrupted; Daniel, nuzzling Mélanie's neck, and Mélanie, who was very much enjoying it, were left wanting as both their cell phones rang. Thinking on his feet, Daniel headed to the bathroom to answer his, leaving Mélanie alone with hers and two glasses of champagne. Annoyed, she took the call; as she did so, Daniel re-entered the room and wrapped his arms around her waist and carried on with his attention to her neck.
Finishing the call, Mélanie put her phone back in the pocket of her skirt, and eased herself against him.
"So," Mélanie beamed, "we won."
"Indeed," Daniel said, distracted by the woman in his arms, "Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture."
"However shall we celebrate?" she queried.
Before she could finish her thought, Mélanie was taken by surprise (though not entirely) by Daniel sprawling out on the bed, with her in tow. Stretched out top of him, she looked down at his grinning face.
"You're so German," Mélanie quipped.
Then, with a sigh he asked of her, with a bit of seriousness, and a degree of uncertainty,
"Are we - you and I - are we…?"
Daniel was as heartbreaking as Fredrick was.
Smiling sweetly at him, Mélanie rubbed her nose against his, her voice above a whisper and in French-accented English,
"Two against the world, baby. Two against the world."
She then closed her mouth over his and kissed him with all of the longing, hunger, and fondness of a heart suffering from the absence of another. Wrapping themselves around each other, they took of each other all that they wanted, all that they needed, like so many times before; like so many times to come.