"Welcome to our first band meeting," Charles said, standing in their thoroughly trashed hotel room. Nathan and Skwisgaar sat on the beds, waiting semi-patiently; Magnus was, predictably, already off chasing subs that he would probably harangue all night long and eventually run off. "We've got a couple of things to discuss. First off, great show last night."
"It was nice of thems to pay us afters the bar caughts on fire," Skwisgaar remarked, fiddling with his Explorer as usual.
"That's why we make contracts," Charles said placidly. "Speaking of the concert, we need to address about our drummer situation. The drum machine will get us through the tour, but we, ah, need to talk about a more permanent solution before we start working on the album. Now, it's been a week since we've interviewed replacements, and I'm going to need an answer today."
"Pfft," Skwisgaar said. "Most of them ams dildos."
"Yeah, that did not go well," Nathan said. "How fuckin' hard is it to play the fuckin' drums?"
"You just hits them with sticks!" Skwisgaar agreed. "It ain't got no strings to makes it hard!"
"What about Pickles?" Charles prompted. "I heard some objections, seeing as how he's not a top, but you seemed to, ah, get along, musically speaking."
"We all know having a sub in the band is totally lame and not metal, because subs aren't brutal," Nathan said firmly. "But he is a good drummer."
"Yah, and he ams a little bits of the eyes candy for the fans, you know?"
"Are you, ah, interested in having Magnus weigh in on this?" Charles offered, already knowing what the answer would be- Magnus would hate whatever decision they came to, bitch about it for a few hours, then find something else to direct his ire at. "We're talking about some pretty important stuff."
"He's busy," Nathan said dismissively.
Charles shrugged. "Final decision, guys: yes to Pickles, or do we keep looking?"
"Yes," Skwisgaar said.
"Yeah," Nathan agreed.
"It's agreed, then. I'll let him know immediately." He pulled his cell phone from his pocket, walking out into the hallway.
Nathan looked at Skwisgaar. "Are you gonna fuck our drummer?"
"Shoulds I?" he responded, giving Nathan a look.
"No," Nathan said. "It's bad for the band. I mean, unless you were totally wasted or high or something. Then it would probably be okay."
Skwisgaar shrugged, fingering his guitar. "He ams too young for me anyway."
Nathan huffed a laugh. "Fifty years too young."
"You does not know what you is missing," Skwisgaar replied.
"I'm pretty sure I don't want to know."
"Mores for me."
Charles walked back in. "It's settled," he said, closing his phone and putting it back in his pocket. "Get yourselves cleaned up. Rehearsal in two hours."
"You ams a slavedriver," Skwisgaar said, yawning lazily.
"Yes, yes," Charles said, pursing his lips.
"Should we get Magnus?" Nathan asked.
"How longs do you wants the rekerscals to last?" Skwisgaar asked. "We cans practice the songs or we cans listen to the yellings."
"Good point," Nathan said. "There's not enough booze in the world to make me deal with his fuckin' ass today."
Charles took his leave, silently wording ads for a new guitarist.
"Hows many times does we gots to go through this?" Skwisgaar asked, watching as Pickles pulled Murderface's shirt over his head, yanking him forward so he could knee him repeatedly in the face.
Nathan grabbed another handful of chips, crunching on them before speaking. "As many as it takes."
"Until Pickle kills our bassist?"
Nathan grunted. "We'll get another one."
"We don't need to," Skwisgaar pointed out. "Save us the troubles of mixing him out of every song."
Nathan considered this for a moment. "It wouldn't look good on stage."
"We shoulds find Pickle a top."
"For what? So we can watch somebody else beat the shit out of Murderface?"
"It would be more inksterestings."
"That's a good point," Nathan allowed. "Kick him in the balls," he called to Pickles, eating more chips.
"Fuck you, Na- aagh!" Murderface yelled.
The very first thing that Pickles did when he got offstage, before he'd even taken off his makeup, was pick up a bottle of water and pour it directly over his head.
It wasn't unusual. Everyone came back sweating, but Pickles was not only closer to the lights but also subject to the physical exertion involved in drumming, a different level from singing or playing bass or guitar. It was perfectly logical, but Charles had to look away when he did it. Pickles was especially attractive like that, his clothes clinging to him, makeup running down his face and onto the pale skin of his neck.
Charles was doing a lot of looking away from Pickles lately.
"That concert was so good it made me fuckin' horny," Pickles said, almost a moan. Charles knew it was entirely for his benefit; even if there had been anyone else around but a few Klokateers, Charles still would have known.
"You, ah-" Charles carefully selected his words, aware that he was going to sound like he was dangerously close to caring, something the band members emphatically disliked. "If you'd like, we can always arrange for, ah, groupies."
"Dude," Pickles said, sounding affronted. "Would you let our fans top you?"
"You may have a point." Charles looked away, not sure if he should say what he was about to, take the step he'd never taken but knew he was eventually going to. He and Pickles had been playing at this for some time, Pickles pushing his agenda and Charles stepping back, only to end up where they started. "I have a bottle of whiskey no one's stolen yet, if you're interested."
Pickles grinned. "You're on."
Charles looked up. Nathan was standing in his doorway; Toki was hiding behind him, poking his head in. "Yes?"
"Haves you seen the Dethklok Minute?" Toki asked.
Charles resisted the urge to pinch the bridge of his nose in annoyance; who knows what kind of damage control he'd have to spend his afternoon on. "Not yet."
"Yeah, you should watch it," Nathan said.
"Am I going to be unhappy about what I see?" Charles asked, fairly sure he already knew the answer.
"You shoulds just watch it," Toki said. "You ams in it."
Charles frowned. It wasn't unusual for him to make the Dethklok Minute from time to time, but he hadn't even left Mordhaus yesterday, much less done anything newsworthy. "I see."
"Come on," Nathan said, dragging Toki away; no doubt he wanted to get away before Charles reacted to whatever had happened.
Charles clicked through his list of reliable fansites, finding one that already had the video up, and clicked play.
"Big news tonight in the Dethklok Minute," the overly chipper host said; he was looking better, the latest round of Dethklok-funded plastic surgery making a definite difference. "Pickles the drummer, the most brutal sub in all of death metal, has been spotted wearing a collar!"
Charles wondered if that was it; he'd been prepared for this, seeing as how the media had reacted every time Pickles went out wearing so much as a necklace. He had a sinking feeling, though, that more was coming.
"Dethklok brought their usual devastation to the world premiere of Brain Smasher 2, but the most surprising moment was before the show ever started! Our reporter caught this exclusive footage on the red carpet."
The location shot came up, showing a predictable scene- Toki smiling and waving, Nathan looking vaguely constipated, Skwisgaar occupied by several subs, Murderface with his back to the camera, busy flashing the other side of the aisle, Pickles swigging from a bottle of Jack Daniel's.
"Pickles!" the reporter called from the fray, thrusting her microphone towards the band. "Can you tell us who your new top is?"
"F~♫ yeah I can," Pickles slurred, snatching the microphone from her. "His name is Charles F~♫~n' Offdensen!" He tossed it back to her, yelling something indistinct before stumbling on.
"You heard it here first, folks: Pickles has been collared by Dethklok's own manager, Charles Offdensen. Hey, Pickles, good luck! And that's the Dethklok Minute!"
Charles closed the page before he could accidentally read any of the comments. He'd have his assistant read them and give him the gist; he didn't need to read a thousand poorly spelled and badly punctuated judgements on his virtue, his topping style, and his choice in sub.
He sighed. At least it hadn't happened sooner; it was always going to happen, and all things considered, this wasn't a bad time for it. And thank god it was nothing like Skwisgaar's sex tape.
Sex tapes, rather.
Charles ducked backstage, checking on the roadies before heading towards the dressing rooms. Skwisgaar, Murderface, and Nathan were already mid-party, while Toki used the DDR machine that he insisted on adding to the rider.
He found Pickles still in the makeup chair in his dressing room, intently playing the air drums while blasting something in his headphones. The makeup tech was having some trouble getting his corpse paint off, what with the way Pickles kept tilting his head back to chug from his bottle of Sailor Jerry's.
"Pickles," Charles said, pulling one of the cans away from his ear. "Take that out of your mouth and hold still."
Pickles snorted, pulling his headphones off. "Just like on prom night," he said, but he let the tech put the bottle on the vanity and wipe away the last hints of paint. That being done, the tech nodded to Charles and got out of there.
Now that they were alone, Pickles turned and rubbed his face against Charles's stomach; Charles laughed in surprise. "I take it you enjoyed the concert."
"Fuckin' awesome," Pickles said, standing up so that he could get his hands onto Charles, thoroughly feeling him up. He stopped suddenly, looking up at Charles's face. "But I gotta talk to you about somethin' before I get distracted."
Charles looked at him suspiciously. "And what's that?"
Pickles rubbed at the back of his neck. "Dude, y'know, I appreciate it and everything, but I can't wear this anymore," he said, indicating his collar.
Charles's heart leapt into his throat. He was utterly unable to speak, his brain pulling up contingency plan after contingency plan. He should have been expecting this; on some level he had been, but only in the sense that he knew what he was going to do when it happened.
Pickles was oblivious to Charles's inner turmoil. "I windmilled during the show, and the lock pulled this big ass chunk out of my dreads, see?" He lifted his hair, showing off the damage. "I almost missed a time change. I know you went to a lot of trouble picking it out, but I can't play in it. I gotta have something with a smaller lock."
Charles sighed in relief. "If you ever scare me like that again, I am going to kill you, and it will all become a moot point."
Pickles looked at him in confusion. "What did you-" Charles watched as it dawned on him. "Shit, no, man," he said, his hand coming up to clutch protectively at the collar. "They'd have to cut that shit off me."
"Good," Charles said, brushing a stray dreadlock away from his face.
Pickles grinned, dropping to his knees in front of him. "Can I? You have no idea how much I want your cock right now."
Charles frowned at him. "Pickles. I thought we agreed-"
"I don't remember any agreeing," Pickles pointed out.
"Then I thought I told you-"
"Yeah, yeah," Pickles said, starting to get to his feet.
"I don't think I told you to move," Charles said firmly. Pickles gave him an inquiring look, but he stopped moving immediately, staying down. Charles sighed, walking over and locking the door to the dressing room. "You will be absolutely silent, you will make it fast, and you will not, under any circumstances, come."
"Thanks for putting that in my head," Pickles said, unzipping Charles's pants and leaning forward. Pickles wasn't actually any good at keep silent, but it probably didn't matter, not as much as it felt like it did to Charles. Charles didn't pay the Klokateers to pass judgment on whether or not he wanted to get head from his sub backstage, and the rest of the band was definitely up to worse- except perhaps Toki, but that was fairly normal.
Pickles was, however, expert at sucking cock, and it wasn't much time at all before he was swallowing, every drop of Charles's come disappearing into his hot mouth. Charles finally had to push him away, tucking himself back into his pants and zipping his fly. "You're good," he said, squeezing Pickles's shoulder, and Pickles winked at him. "No," Charles said firmly. "You're good. Do you understand me?"
"Yes, sir," Pickles said, sounding skeptical.
Charles took him by the dreadlocks, shaking him. "I won't have any disagreement. You will listen to me. If I say you're good, you're good, because I'm the one who decides that."
"Yes, sir," Pickles repeated.
"Good boy," Charles told him, letting him go. "Now get up. We're late for the afterparty."
Pickles let Charles give him a hand up, taking the opportunity to lean in and kiss him. "Let's go, dude."
"Pickles, I don't care if everyone else is doing it. You're not allowed to be naked on the album cover."