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P*ssy

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He could still hear the audience shouting and whistling in the auditorium, hoping for another encore despite the house lights having been turned on. He’d been the last to leave the stage, eager to soak up the adulation from the crowd, not looking forward to the inevitable emotional crash that came when the adrenaline rush died down. A few years ago, not long after the band started to gain a small measure of success, he’d been offered some cocaine to try - with the promise that it would prolong the emotional high and allow him to come down at a more gradual pace.

It did, at first. He and his band mates could only afford a little coke each at the start of their career, but as their fame and success started to grow, the little became a little bit more…then a lot more…. He refused to admit it, to himself - or anyone else for that matter - that he was now hopelessly addicted, unable to go for long periods of time between hits. He’d taken his last fix in the dressing room just before going on stage, and now he needed some more. He’d brought enough to the venue to put him on until he got back to the hotel room, plus a little extra just in case one or more of his friends wanted to do a line.

Perhaps he should ask them if they wanted to come to his dressing room for a pre-party party. Once they’d had their showers, they’d be bundled into cars to take them to the hotel where they’d get changed for the end of tour party, held in one of the large rooms for hire in the sprawling building. Most of their guests would be more than a little tipsy by the time the band turned up, so it wouldn’t hurt to get into the party spirit on the way there.

Several roadies and security passed him as he made his way towards the dressing rooms set aside for them in the backstage area. Knowing that he could be moody in the aftermath of their shows, they nodded at him in acknowledgment, without stopping from their various duties, leaving him to his own thoughts. As he drew closer to the room that Till and Flake were sharing he could hear them talking, apparently discussing his favourite subject, namely himself.

Richard slowed his pace, curious to hear what they were saying about him. He lit up a cigarette as a cover, just in case one of the staff noted where he’d stopped, not that he had to explain himself to them. As he bent his head forward so that the lighter could catch the tip of his cigarette Flake’s voice floated through the door.

“…he’s getting more and more out of control - I can’t recall a single day on the tour where he hasn’t been high as a kite. It’s affecting his performance, we’ve all noticed him missing his cues, playing off-key, even just staring out into space instead of playing… I know you’ve noticed too. Something needs to be done….”

There was a loud sigh, then footsteps, followed by the sound of someone, presumably Till, taking a swig from a bottle before replying.

“I know… Believe me, it pisses me off just as much as it does the rest of you. There have been more than a few times this tour that I would have quite cheerfully strangled him, myself. Look, let’s get tonight out of the way, then we can confront him on the bus home. Agreed?”

Richard realised from the number of voices answering Till that all of his bandmates were in this meeting to which he’d not been invited, for obvious reasons. He’d had arguments with all of them on the tour, all of them seemingly continuing on from the ones they’d had during the recording of the album. He thought that they’d resolved all their issues, but from what he’d just heard, they all considered him to be a problem.

Not wanting to be found loitering outside, he quickly strode off to his dressing room, head down so as not to make eye contact should he pass any crew. He stalked across to where his ‘civilian’ clothes were waiting for him, piled neatly in front of the large mirror.

Deciding he wanted to be anywhere but here, he stripped out of his stage gear and dressed himself again in the tracksuit and trainers. Stubbing out his cigarette in the ashtray provided, he checked his pockets for the cocaine, and on finding it started to retrieve the card he used to cut it. Catching sight of himself in the mirror, he paused, knowing that he was about to do the very thing that the others were complaining about. In an act of defiance, he cut a generous line, snorting it in record time, then grabbed his belongings and threw the door open, looking for a crew member.

There was a time, not too long ago, when he knew the names of everyone working for the band. More recently though, he hadn’t bothered making the effort of learning the names of the new staff. It was one of these new people that he found in the corridor as he exited his room.

“You - car, hotel, now…”

He decided he might as well act out as his friends were apparently expecting him to. The crew member hesitated before replying.

“Of course, Richard, but uh… wouldn’t you prefer to have your shower here first, and leave with the others?”

Richard fixed him with an Icy glare. “That’s Herr Kruspe to you, and no - if I wanted to do that, I’d have done it. I don’t expect to have to repeat myself. Car… NOW!”

“Of course, Ri…Herr Kruspe, my apologies… this way, sir.”

The roadie led Richard through the labyrinthine corridors to the rear of the arena, where his colleagues were in the process of loading out. The crew supervisor was about to challenge the man Richard had intercepted, wanting to know why he wasn’t doing his assigned job, but when he realised who was following him and the mood Richard was in, he backed away.

The hapless crew member located one of the drivers, and informed him of Richard’s intention to leave immediately. Nodding in silent understanding, the driver led the lead guitarist to a nearby sedan, holding the door open for him, then moving swiftly to the driver’s door. Turning the key in the ignition, the engine roared to life, and they set off, with just a brief pause as they waited for security to clear the gate area for the car to pass through. The crew member, meanwhile, had hurried back to his supervisor to apprise him of the situation, so that the relevant people knew where Richard was when they inevitably started looking for him.

One of the band’s PA team was waiting in the hotel lobby for Richard, just in case the guitarist had any other demands when he arrived, and to steer him away from any guests or fans that might have got wind of his early appearance. They breathed a sigh of relief after escorting him to his room, thankful that they didn’t encounter anyone who might have requested an autograph or photo, the majority of the party attendees safely on the other side of a tight security cordon. He hoped that when Richard was ready to join the party that he’d be in a more jovial frame of mind, or that someone else might be on hand to deal with the diva. They contacted security to update them with Richard’s location, then returned to the lobby in preparation for the arrival of the others.

In his room, Richard removed the baggie with the remaining cocaine, putting it on the nightstand, then started to rummage through his luggage for the rest of his stash. Next, he located the mirror and card he needed, and looked for something suitable to roll up into a makeshift straw. That done, he opened up the minibar, conveniently stocked with his preferred drinks, arranged by the band’s management with the hotel. This was going to be a party everyone present would remember, he thought to himself as he poured a generous measure of vodka for himself, knocking it back in two mouths-full.

*

“Well, that’s bloody typical… he obviously can’t wait to get wasted tonight. But if he wants to take on the party all by himself, he’s welcome to all the harassment. He’ll probably be begging to leave by the time we get there…”

“Oh, come on, you know he’ll be in his element. He’ll have a gaggle of groupies hanging on to his every word, each hoping that they’ll be the one he takes back to his room.”

Schneider and Paul were in the elevator, taking them from the fourteenth floor where the band had their rooms down to the first floor where the room containing the party was situated. The five musicians left behind at the venue were annoyed, but not entirely surprised, that Richard had decided to do his own thing without letting any of them know. Unlike their colleague, they had all taken the time to shower first, removing all the greasepaint and costumes leaving them looking rather more human. They’d been driven back in a minibus together, and ushered to their rooms by their security detail.

Once they’d changed from their comfy post-show attire into clothing more suited to a glitzy party, they’d left their rooms in search of a good time. Oliver had headed down first, taking it upon himself to be Richard’s backup if needed, followed soon after by Till and Flake. Paul had waited in Schneider’s room while the drummer struggled to tame his hair, which he’d been growing longer. While he was performing, it was held back by an Alice band so that it didn’t impede his vision, but the combination of the residue from the pyrotechnics and smoke machines, and the humidity that the city was currently experiencing, had left his hair in tangled knots which took forever to sort out.

“Have you decided whether or not to bring someone back from the party?”

“Not really. I’ll probably just wait and see who’s there, assuming Till and Richard don’t wind up taking all the good-looking groupies for themselves. I’ll be happy enough having a quiet night to be honest, especially If we’re going to be ‘staging an intervention’ as the Americans call it. I’m not looking forward to that tomorrow, that’s going to be a very awkward bus journey home.”

Paul grimaced. “I know, I’m feeling a little anxious about it myself. I hate that things have got to this state.”

Schneider gave Paul a hug and a peck on the forehead in reassurance. “Hopefully Richard will understand that we’re doing it out of love and concern for him. He’s been getting more and more self-destructive as the tour’s gone on. Maybe we’ll find out what, if anything, has prompted his increased usage, other than a simple case of addiction. I’m pretty sure something’s been eating at him, but Till says he hasn’t said anything to him.”

The shorter man ran his hand through his own hair, as the elevator continued descending, and checked his appearance in the mirrored surface. In the few months they’d been on tour he’d lost a bit of weight, his face looked thinner, and he had dark circles around his eyes. He was ready for their break, the tours were getting longer and more tiring, and there had been tension between them all on this one in particular, promoting their most taxing album to date - “Mutter” - it had been the making of this record that had nearly finished the band, as Richard had become more power-hungry in tandem with his noticeable increase in cocaine consumption.

They’d all taken coke, amongst other illegal drugs, as a means to unwind, but none of them had taken it to the same extreme as Richard had. He wondered briefly if Richard snorted similar quantities at home, or if he kept it to a minimum when his wife was around. That had certainly come as a surprise - he’d assumed that Richard would grow bored of Caron and move on as he normally did, but he’d gone ahead and married her, and had even added her surname to his own legally. Getting married hadn’t stopped the younger man from hooking up with a different girl after each show, though, perhaps they’d agreed on having an open marriage - at least, it looked like Richard certainly seemed to believe that they had.

The elevator reached the first floor, there was a ‘ding’ to announce its arrival before the doors opened automatically, letting them out. Even without their security team and crew to point out the way, they would have been able to find their party. They had a tendency to be somewhat…raucous. As the pair drew closer to the packed room, they were greeted by Flake who’d stepped out for a quiet smoke.

“There you are! We thought you’d got lost!” He looked past them, “It’s just the two of you?”

“Yeah, why - are we missing someone?”

Flake frowned. “You’ve not seen Richard on your way down, then?”

“No. Has he not been partying without us?”

“If he has, it hasn’t been in here. No-one’s seen him since he was escorted to his hotel room.”

“No-one?” Schneider grew concerned. “Has anyone tried phoning him?”

“Yes, but he’s not picking up. It’s just going straight to the answerphone.”

“I’ll go back upstairs and try knocking on his door. He might have a girl in there with him. Give me a call if he turns up here while I’m gone, would you?”

“Sure. I’ll go back in and tell Till and Ollie what the current situation is. Are you coming in, Paul?”

Paul looked from Flake to Schneider and back. “Of course, no point in more than one of us missing out on the party, like Schneider says, Richard’s probably busy shagging someone.”

That apparently decided, Paul followed Flake into the heaving room, having first checked that his phone was set on vibrate, just in case Schneider tried calling him, as he wouldn’t be able to hear the ringtone with the music being played so loud. Schneider turned on his heel, making his way back to the elevators.

Back on the fourteenth floor he padded quietly down the corridors to where the rooms booked by the band’s management for them were situated. While they and the crew were partying, there were people in the other rooms on the floor who would likely be fast asleep given the late hour.

He reached Richard’s room and knocked on the door.

“Richard, are you in there?”

There was no reply. Schneider put his head against the door, straining to hear if anyone was inside, but there was no sound coming from within. He knocked again, a little more forcefully. He put his ear to the door again. He was just about to move away when he heard a muffled thud, as though something had been knocked onto the carpet.

“Richard…come on, open the door - you’re missing the party!”

He was met only by silence. Frowning, he pulled his mobile out of his pocket and scrolled down his contacts until he got to Richard’s number. He hit the dial button and put the phone to his ear while the other was pressed against the door. After a couple of seconds he could hear Richard’s mobile ringtone inside the room. Schneider waited for Richard to pick up, but it switched to the answerphone after several rings on Schneider’s end.

Schneider was starting to get worried now, all the signs pointed to Richard being in the room, but even when he’s in a stroppy mood he’d still answer his friends - if only to tell them to ‘fuck off!’ Remembering that Paul had the adjoining room, he decided to ring him for help. It took a while for the other man to answer.

“Hey, Doomie - any joy finding Richard?”

Schneider could hear the sounds of the party on the other end gradually fading as Paul evidently moved to a quieter area to take the call.

“Hey, Paul. I’m pretty sure Richard’s in his room - I could hear his phone ring inside, and I think I heard something move, but he’s not replying to either his phone or the door. Can you come up, so we can go in through the connecting door between yours and his?”

“On my way. I’ll see you in a minute.”

They disconnected, and Schneider waited for the shorter man to arrive, keeping his ear against the door for any more sounds. He was relieved when Paul turned the corner and walked quickly towards him. Schneider stood upright again and followed the guitarist to his room, waiting impatiently while Paul unlocked his door and switched on the lights.

Shutting the door behind them they headed for the connecting door, Paul leading the way. He knocked on the door to announce their presence before pulling on the handle and stepping through into the room beyond. At first glance the room appeared to be empty.

The bed covers were mussed up, a sign that someone had been there previously. They could see Richard’s phone on the nightstand, resting on top of the complimentary notepad, light winking on and off to let Richard know he’d missed messages and calls. Next to the phone was a small mirror and a bank card, and the remains of a few lines of cocaine.

Paul walked towards the front of the room, where the door to the en-suite bathroom was situated. As he passed the far corner of the bed he swore.

“Fuck! Richard, wake up - you’re spilling vodka all over the floor!”

The younger man didn’t stir from his position, slumped on the carpet, resting at the point where the nightstand stood next to the double bed. Paul knelt down next to Richard, righting the bottle of vodka which had been drained of most of its contents, then shaking Richard’s nearest shoulder in an effort to wake him.

Meanwhile Schneider had moved up behind him after hearing Paul’s exclamation. When Richard still didn’t wake after Paul shook him he swiftly dropped down in front of the younger man. He grabbed Richard’s wrist, checking for a pulse with one hand whilst simultaneously holding the back of his other hand in front of Richard’s face, to see if he was breathing.

Fortunately, Richard was breathing, but his pulse was weak and thready.

“Help me get him into the bathroom - I think he’s overdosed - then get one of the others on the phone, tell them it’s a code red emergency.”

Paul nodded, and shifted position to help Schneider move Richard. “Do you think he’s done it accidentally?” He asked as they picked the unconscious guitarist from the floor.

Schneider was about to say that it was probably just an accident, that he’d maybe done more coke than he realised, but when they pulled their friend up he noticed a pill bottle that had rolled under the nightstand and been hidden from view until Richard had been shifted from in front of it. A few loose pills were scattered in front of the bottle, having apparently fallen out when the container had fallen from Richard’s hand.

“Shit! Where did he get those!?”

The drummer recognised the brightly coloured pills as Fluoxetine - a powerful antidepressant. Definitely not something that should be mixed with cocaine or alcohol, never mind both. They hauled him the last few feet into the bathroom and laid him on the tiled floor.

“Make that call quickly, then come back here. I’m going to get him under the shower to try waking him. Could you start boiling some water - just until it’s tepid - and locate some sachets of salt for me?”

Paul nodded and quickly got on with his tasks, while Schneider set the shower going, testing the temperature of the water to make sure it wasn’t scalding. He removed his phone from his pocket, then hooked his arms under Richard’s shoulders, dragging the unconscious man under the flow of water.

“Come on, Richard, wake up… don’t do this to us…” he pleaded.

The water streaming down his face started to bring Richard round a little, and Schneider had never been so happy to hear the younger man moaning. Paul joined them in the bathroom having finished calling the others.

“They’re on their way up. What do you want me to do with this salt?”

“Get a cup of the water and pour the sachet into it, give it a good stir and bring it here please.”

Paul dashed off, and soon returned. He passed the mug to Schneider, who had manoeuvred Richard into a position where he could pour the water down his throat. He held the mug up to Richard’s lips, and started pouring the drink into his mouth, a small amount at a time.

While he was administering the water to Richard, the rest of the band arrived at the door. Paul let them in, and when the door was locked behind them, told them the situation. Their eyes widened in horror, and Till ran Into the bathroom hoping that his best friend was still alive.

Schneider was pouring more of the water into Richard’s mouth, the guitarist showing more signs of coming round. He groaned, then bent forward, doubling over and throwing up violently. When he eventually finished retching Schneider helped him sit back up, the shower water rinsing the undigested pills and vodka down the drain.

Schneider gave Richard some more of the salt water, prompting another bout of vomiting. The younger man tried to push the mug away, but he was too weak to fend off the muscular drummer, who forced the rest of the water down Richard’s throat, determined to flush out as many of the pills as possible.

Till took the mug from Schneider so that it could be refilled. Only when Richard had drunk all of the second mug of salt water, and thrown up a few times without any more signs of pills, did they stop forcing it down him. He was more responsive, the shower water continuing to help with his revival, but he was less than happy about being ‘saved’.

“Why couldn’t you just leave me alone? I don’t want to be here anymore…”

While the drama had been unfolding in the bathroom, the others had been tidying up - putting the lid back on the vodka bottle, picking up the pills, removing all evidence of the cocaine. As Ollie put the bottle of vodka down on the nightstand, he realised that there was a note written on the pad underneath Richard’s phone. He showed it to Paul and Flake.

“I can’t go on any more - everything I touch has fallen apart.
My marriage is over, I’m going to lose my home, my bandmates hate me, and my best friend wants to kill me… my life has no meaning. You’re all better off without me.”

“Well, that explains why he’s been pissy all tour - has he told anyone about his marriage failing?” Flake enquired.

“I would’ve thought he would tell Till, if no-one else…” Paul replied.

“Tell me what?” Till asked as he left the bathroom, looking for Paul at Schneider’s request. “Paul, Schneider wants you for something…”

They passed the note to Till, who sank onto the bed as he read it. “Richard hasn’t said anything to me…about any of this…. Why does he think we hate him, or that I want him dead? None of that makes any sense!”

“We’ve all had arguments with him during the tour - more than normal - but that’s only because of his coke habit.” Flake said, moving out of the way so Paul could get past.

“You did say you’ve felt like strangling Richard, earlier on, in the dressing room…” Ollie pointed out.

“Shiiiiit…” Till drew the word out, as he came to a realisation, “Richard must have heard us talking after the show, and fuelled up on coke, with the paranoia that can sometimes cause….”

The vocalist looked decidedly pale, knowing that their conversation was probably the catalyst for Richard’s apparent suicide attempt, and that his friend - who used to confide in him about anything and everything - no longer felt able to do so.

Despite his often menacing demeanour, at least when in the public eye, Till was actually a gentle soul, whose emotions often ran just below the surface. His friends were not surprised therefore to see this great bear of a man shedding tears of sadness for his best friend and his predicament.

Flake sat down next to him, and hugged him silently while he cried, the personal bond between them having grown stronger during the recent tour of America, and the experiences they’d shared in that alien country.

Paul reappeared from the bathroom, and pulled the complimentary towelling bathrobe from Richard’s hotel room cabinet, before disappearing through the interconnecting door only to re-emerge moments later with the identical robe from his room as well as the towels from his bathroom. He returned to the bathroom with his loot.

Placing the robes on the door hooks, Paul turned to help Schneider take Richard out of the shower. While Schneider helped supporting Richard to stand, Paul worked to remove the soiled, wet clothing from him, and wrapped towels around him. The two of them eased Richard back down so that he was sitting on the floor. Paul kept his arms around the younger man, while Schneider stripped himself off, dried himself quickly and grabbed a robe.

Once he’d sorted himself out, he crouched down next to Richard, and with Paul’s help, got him dried and into the other robe. The younger guitarist had stopped trying to fight the others off, and was now resigned to whatever fate his friends deemed suitable. He just sat passively and stared blankly ahead while Paul and Schneider tended to him.

They lifted him up off the floor, and held him upright between them as they exited the bathroom, carrying Richard over to his bed. Till and Flake rose up and moved out of the way, enabling Paul and Schneider to carefully deposit Richard on the bed. The younger guitarist had kept his head down all the way, avoiding making eye contact with anyone.

He buried his face in the pillow, eyes shut, and curled up into the foetal position.

“Scholle…” Till started, but found himself in the unusual position of not being able to find the words he needed to convey his thoughts. Instead, he sat down on the bed next to him, and pulled him into a tight hug, Richard’s head resting on his chest, eyes still shut tight.

“Where do we go from here?” Oliver asked, not unkindly.

“Well, we were due to take the bus home tomorrow afternoon… this afternoon…” Flake corrected himself, remembering it was now some time after midnight, “…after we’d slept off the party. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I certainly couldn’t make polite conversation with strangers right now. There’s no way I’m returning to the party.”

That seemed to be the general consensus. The next thing to decide was what exactly they should do.

“Well, do we still leave at the planned time, bearing in mind there may be fans around? How much do we tell the crew and management?”

“The crew don’t need to know anything. If we alter any plans, then the tour manager will have to be informed, of course, but it doesn’t need to go beyond him. To be honest, if we can slip away now while everyone is still partying, that would be the best time.”

“Okay, but we’ll need a driver….”

“One of us could drive…”

“Have any of us actually driven anything that large before?”

There was a collective shaking of heads.

“None of us are insured for that anyway. We’ll have to wake one of them up, then.”

“Do I take it we are all prepared to leave as soon as possible, then?” Schneider asked.

Getting a positive response, Schneider phoned the tour manager, and arranged for a driver to be out front with the tourbus in an hour’s time. All he said by way of explanation was that Richard had fallen ill, and that the band had decided that they should get him home as soon as possible.

Once he’d finished his call, he told them that they were on the clock, and should go back to their rooms, pack their bags and return to Richard’s room when they were ready to go. Obviously, they weren’t about to leave Richard on his own, in case he got it into his head to make another attempt, so Schneider said he’d get his things, then take Till’s place.

They dispersed, each deep in their own thoughts. Paul managed to get sorted quickly, and hauled his case into Richard’s room. He found the other guitarist’s bag, and pulled out the change of clothing already packed inside. Placing them on the end of the bed, he then set about locating Richard’s other possessions - minus the drugs, obviously - and packing his bag for him.

Schneider returned while Paul was busying himself with his errands, letting himself into Paul’s room using the shorter man’s keycard. He wheeled his bag through the connecting door, then gently pried Richard out of Till’s embrace, freeing the singer so that he could do his own packing.

He realised, as he took Till’s place on the bed, that Richard had fallen asleep, the emotional exhaustion finally getting the better of him. Deciding that dressing the younger man without the whole group surrounding him would help preserve some of his dignity, he moved Richard into a prone position on the bed, and recruited Paul into helping clothe the sleeping man.

They’d just finished dressing him when there was a soft knocking at the door. Schneider looked through the spyhole, then opened the door to allow Oliver and Flake entrance. Once he’d let them in, he returned to Richard’s bed to continue watching over him while Paul finished rounding up the last few belongings to pack in Richard’s bag.

“Um… there’s still some coke left - what should we do with it?”

“Place it with the pills in my bag, we can decide later.”

Surprised that he’d not suggested flushing it all away, the others questioned his reasoning for hanging on to it.

“Look, with the large quantities he’s been snorting, allowing him to go ‘cold turkey’, especially while we’re travelling, would be potentially dangerous. We may have to give him a little bit every few hours or so to prevent him going into withdrawal. That way, we can control his intake and hopefully start to wean him off it at a safe pace. I’m sure Till will agree if you ask him.”

The band didn’t have to wait long to get Till’s opinion, which mirrored that of Schneider. That settled, Till and Schneider hoisted Richard up between them and followed the other three out into the corridor. Flake, Paul, and Ollie each had their own bag plus one of the others, as Till and Schneider couldn’t easily carry Richard and manoeuvre their bags at the same time, and Richard was in no fit state to wheel his.

They crowded into one of the large elevators, and were thankful that no-one called for it on their journey down to the lobby. The tour manager was waiting for them, relieving them of their room keys so that he could check them all out without them having to wait around. He, and the hotel reception staff, glanced curiously over at the group, but all were professional enough not to make comment.

The tour manager knew that the staff were discreet, and would not release any unauthorised information about their guests, as this hotel was often used by touring bands. While he was handing in the room keys and authorising the settlement of the band’s portion of the bill, the six men concerned were loading the bags and themselves onto the bus.

When they were ready to go, Schneider hopped off and went to thank the tour manager for his assistance, and apologised for the extra hassle caused. He promised to keep him appraised of any developments, and to confirm their hopefully safe arrival back in Berlin.

As soon as he was back on the bus, the engine roared to life and pulled away from the kerb, accelerating slowly until it left the hotel compound and joined the light traffic on the city’s roads. Meanwhile, the band had deposited Richard onto one of the bunks. The fresh air had woken him briefly, but once they’d taken off his trainers and pulled the blanket over him, he’d drifted back off.

They’d decided to put him in one of the bunks at the rear, next to the small bathroom, just in case he needed to throw up again. They’d made sure that there wasn’t anything that Richard could use for another attempt, removing razors and other sharp objects, and checking there were no drugs of any kind in the cabinet, or within reach of his bunk.

They debated whether or not to remove the bathroom cabinet mirror, but in the end left it in place, as they were likely to break it during its removal, creating sharp edged shards. They resolved not to leave Richard on his own in the bathroom, or anywhere else for that matter. The five of them still awake started sorting themselves out into bunks, with Schneider and Till taking the two on the opposite side from Richard, so they could both keep a close eye on him, the other three taking up bunks in the next section down the bus.

They were relieved that the tour had been arranged so that their final few gigs were back in Germany, so that they wouldn’t have too far to travel to get home, nor would they need to get off the bus to have their passports checked at border control. If that had been the case, and had an officer been required to enter the bus because of Richard not being fit to stand, they would no doubt cottoned on to the fact that he was under the influence, and would have sparked a search for drugs, followed inevitably by their arrest for illegal possession.

The driver was able to make good progress while they slept, before eventually pulling in to a service station along one of the autobahns to take his legally required break. The engine shuddering to a stop roused Richard from his fitful sleep, and he groaned in pain as the first signs of withdrawal started to kick in. Till got out from under his covers and leant over Richard to assess his condition. Richard still refused to look at him, but responded to Till’s whispered questions about how he was feeling with nods and shakes of his head. Having got the information he wanted, Till stood up and turned around to wake Schneider.

“Doom… wake up…”

The drummer opened his eyes and regarded Till sleepily. Suddenly remembering everything that had occurred overnight and propped himself up quickly, concern etched on his face.

“What’s happened? Is Richard alright?”

“There’s no need to panic - he’s started going into withdrawal as we knew he would, so we should give him a little coke to tide him over for a few more hours. I take it that you have what’s left of his stash?”

“Yeah, it’s in my bag - in the locked compartment. If you can pass it to me, I’ll get some out.”

Till retrieved the drummer’s bag from the pile in the common area at the front of the bus. He took a moment to survey their surroundings in the encroaching dawn light, and from his elevated position above where the driver would normally be seated, could make out the outline of a castle on the distant horizon. He could see the driver starting to make his way back to the bus, having used the facilities and grabbing a hot breakfast for himself that he would eat in the driver’s cab.

Taking the bag to the rear of the bus, Till handed it up to Schneider who was looking a little more awake up on the top bunk.

“Here you are. We’ve stopped at a service station, I’m going to go and check with our driver how long he needs to be on break for before continuing. If we have enough time, it might be a good idea for us all to get something to eat. Can you take charge of giving Richard his fix? I’m not sure I can stomach doing it considering the state it left him in.”

“Sure. Leave it to me. Could you get me a cup of coffee while you’re up and about, please?”

Till nodded and disappeared down the length of the bus to the small set of steps leading to the lower deck, where the driver’s cab and the galley kitchen were located. Schneider climbed down from his bunk and put in the combination on the locked section of his bag, where he’d placed the cocaine and the pills. He took out the bag of cocaine, then set about looking for something to put the ‘dose’ on. Finding a fresh beer mat in one of the cupboards in the living area at the front of the bus, he returned to the sleeping area.

“Reesh… I’m going to give you some coke to stop the withdrawal… can you try sitting up for me?”

Richard turned over and opened his eyes to look at Schneider, not sure if the older man was having him on or not. Noting the baggie in Schneider’s hand, his eyebrows raised in surprise, but he said nothing and started to push himself into a seated position, grunting with the effort. When he’d settled in a relatively comfortable position, Schneider tapped a small amount of the white powder onto the beermat, then used a bank card to make it into a thin line. He held it steady in front of Richard while the guitarist rolled a cigarette paper into a small tube which he used to inhale the drug.

Letting out a sigh of relief, he leant back against the wall of his bunk, eyes closed, as the cocaine quickly got to work. After the initial rush died off, he opened his eyes again and regarded Schneider.

“Thank you,” he whispered, as he felt the cocaine starting to stabilise him, the shakes that had begun with his withdrawal receding.

Schneider nodded. “We’re only giving you the coke so that you don’t go cold turkey on the journey home. We need you to be at least partially functional in case the bus is stopped for any reason, it’s more for our convenience not for your pleasure.”

“I understand, but I’m still grateful.”

“Do you feel up to coming up front for some breakfast?”

“I don’t think I can face the others just yet. I’m not hungry anyway.”

“What about a drink then?” Seeing Richard’s hesitation he added, “You don’t have to leave here, I’ll bring it to you.”

“Tea, then, please.”

Schneider stood back up and took the few paces to the partitioning curtain between the two sleeping areas. He pulled it slightly to one side and stood his head round the edge. Seeing that Paul had woken up he beckoned him over, and gave him whispered instructions, which the shorter man set about following straight away.

A few minutes later Paul called Schneider from the other side of the curtain. He handed him two mugs, the tea for Richard and the coffee that Till had promised Schneider earlier. Schneider handed the tea over to Richard, then perched himself on Till’s bunk so that he could drink his coffee comfortably. The sounds of the rest of the band getting up and moving around drifted down the bus.

Noting the look of anxiety on Richard’s face, as the younger man realised that they would have to pass him to use the bathroom, Schneider got up again and headed through the partition. Explaining Richard’s current mental and emotional state, he suggested the others use the service station’s facilities while they could, at least until Richard was either asleep again or feeling more approachable. That done, he quickly returned to the rear compartment.

“You can relax, Reesh. The others are going to use the service station bathrooms. I think they’ll be having their breakfasts over there too. Are you sure you don’t want anything? I can ask them to get something for you…”

Richard shook his head. “No…just drinking that tea has left me feeling queasy. I don’t know if it’s because of…of last night…or something else. I think if I swallowed anything else right now I’d definitely throw up.”

Schneider frowned. He hoped that they’d not made the wrong decision by letting Richard have some coke. They had been certain that most, if not all, of the pills and vodka had been purged from his stomach, so Richard shouldn’t really be feeling too different from when he normally got high. Perhaps it was the anxiety that was making Richard feel unwell. He suggested as much to him.

“You might be right, but I don’t want to risk it. Thank you for the cuppa though.”

He handed his empty mug back to Schneider, who placed it on the floor next to Till’s bunk, putting his own next to it. As Richard tried to lie back down, another bout of nausea washed over him making him groan.

“Fuck…I want to go back to sleep, but I feel like I’m gonna puke if I don’t stay upright…”

“How about I get on there with you, and you just rest against me? Use me as an oversized pillow…” Schneider suggested.

“It’s worth a try, I guess.”

“Just give me a moment while I take a leak, then I’m all yours. You should probably go too. It’ll be easier for you while the bus is stationary.”

Schneider got up and slipped inside the small bathroom at the back of the bus, re-emerging a minute or so later. He helped Richard up off his bunk, and stood by in case Richard’s footing was unsteady.

“Don’t shut the door…” Schneider warned, “If you’re sick I need to be able to get to you quickly…” he explained, hoping that Richard wouldn’t realise that he was still under ‘suicide watch.’

Richard didn’t argue, and soon rejoined Schneider, wiping a bit of tap water that he’d missed on his jogging bottoms. He waited while Schneider got comfortable on his bunk, propping himself up with both his and Richard’s pillows, trainers kicked off onto the floor. At Schneider’s nod, Richard sat down on the bunk, then swivelled himself into a position so that he was leaning against the tall drummer’s chest, feeling Schneider’s rib cage beneath him expand and contract with every breath.

He closed his eyes, and draped an arm across Schneider’s waist, hidden from view under the covers he’d drawn up to cover himself. The steady drumbeat from Schneider’s heart soon lulled him back to sleep and before long was snoring softly. Schneider smiled fondly, and rested his own eyelids for a moment.

Chapter Text

Several hours later, the tourbus pulled onto Hertzstraße where the band’s management offices were located. In the large warehouse adjacent to the office the musicians’ cars were in secure storage while they were away on tour, ready for them to drive away separately. They filed off the bus, with Schneider helping Richard stay upright, the others carrying their bags for them. After thanking the driver for leaving ahead of schedule, they headed to their respective vehicles.

They’d already decided that Richard’s home would be the first port of call. Till had suggested he go in ahead of Richard, just in case Caron happened to be in. If she was, he’d try to uncover what the situation was exactly, before Richard set foot inside. As Richard was in no fit state to drive, Schneider suggested that he give the guitarist a lift - he’d already got a passenger anyway, having brought Paul to the warehouse at the start of the tour, so that fewer cars needed to be stored. Ollie had travelled in on his own, while Till and Flake had also shared a car. So that Richard’s car didn’t remain at the warehouse Till got his keys and offered to follow the three of them to the guitarist’s home. Flake could pick him up from there and drop him off at home afterwards.

Till drove Richard’s car up his drive, and used the button on the key-fob to open the automatic garage doors, where he parked the vehicle. Schneider had driven his own car part way up the drive, where he and the two guitarists waited while Till knocked on the door. When it was obvious that no-one was answering, he used Richard’s keys to let himself in. He called out Caron’s name, just in case she was at home but couldn’t come to the door for whatever reason. Again, he was only greeted by silence.

There was an A4 envelope lying unopened on the telephone table in the hallway, with a handwritten note on top of it.

“As per my text message at the start of your tour, these are the divorce papers you need to sign. Don’t try contesting it, or I’ll take you for every last penny you own - and you know I’ll win…”

Leaving the packet alone, he started a quick search for Caron. In the lounge he found photo frames broken, the glass shattered, and the photos destroyed. The word ‘LIAR’ was spray-painted across one wall in large letters. Leaving that room and moving on, he found the dining room similarly ‘decorated’ - this time with the word ‘BASTARD.’ He checked the kitchen - a large quantity of mugs and plates had evidently been thrown about, and lay smashed to pieces on the spots they’d landed.

With no sign of Caron downstairs, the singer worked his way up the stairs. The bathroom had got off lightly, with just the mirror smashed. The guest bedroom was remarkably untouched, Till didn’t know if this was because Caron - he assumed she was the culprit responsible for the vandalism - had run out of steam, or maybe there was nothing that reminded her of her husband in that room. That left the master bedroom.

It was obvious that this room had borne the brunt of Caron’s fury. Above the bed the word ‘CHEAT’ was emblazoned in the same manner as downstairs. Again, there were smashed pictures. A number of Richard’s favourite shirts had been cut to ribbons (which Till was secretly grateful for - some of them were hideous monstrosities), and to top it all off, it appeared that Caron had set fire to the bed, but had extinguished it before it got out of control. There was a significant portion of the bedding and mattress that had been burnt away and had left black and brown scorch marks around it, what remained of the fabric smelled damp and musty, presumably from where the extinguisher had left it sopping wet.

Till shook his head and sighed out loud. He turned on his heel and headed back for the entrance door. While it was abundantly clear that Caron wasn’t to be found in the house, he wasn’t sure that Richard should stay there either, given the current state of his mental health.

Outside, the others were waiting for him and any developments. He headed towards Schneider’s car and beckoned the drummer over. He gave a brief outline of what he’d discovered, and asked for Schneider’s opinion, considering that the drummer was the only person Richard seemed willing to look at, let alone talk to.

“Do you think that, with everyone pulling together, that the house can be cleaned and tidied up before you and the others go on your respective holidays?”

“Probably… I’m not sure how willing everyone would be to chip in, though.”

“If we can at least make a start on it, that would help. Obviously we don’t want to leave Richard on his own right now, and we need to manage his reduction in cocaine usage. Paul and I haven’t booked any holidays, I’m sure I can get him to help me look after Richard until you and the others get back from yours. We better get everyone inside before more curtains start twitching like the one over the road.”

Till glanced across the road, in time to see someone hastily disappearing from their window as they realised that they’d been spotted. Schneider returned to his car and opened the rear passenger door where Richard was seated. He’d been given another ‘dose’ of cocaine during the journey back to Berlin, but he’d started going into withdrawal again, and was hunched up on the seat, groaning. Schneider coaxed him out of the car with the promise of more coke once he was inside the house, lending him a steadying arm as he stood up.

Till had beckoned the others over to join them, then led the way back inside. He made sure to shut the doors to the rooms that had been damaged so that Richard wouldn’t see them. The younger man, being held upright by Schneider as he walked into his home, looked like the walking dead under the artificial light in the entrance hallway. Following Till’s suggestion, Schneider assisted the guitarist up the stairs and into the guest bedroom, where he helped him strip to his underwear and under the covers of the king size bed.

“Just hold on a little longer, Reesh, I’ll sort out another line for you in a few minutes.”

Richard groaned again, eyes squeezed shut, face contorted with pain. Schneider hated seeing his friend like this, but he knew that when they started trying to wean him off the cocaine, it would get worse before it got better. While he’d been getting Richard get settled, Till had shown the others the state of Richard’s house, and asked if anyone could help set it right before they left for their vacations. He also mentioned that Schneider had volunteered to stay with Richard while they still considered him to be at risk of self-harming, and that he hoped to get the guitarist clear of drugs, but as Richard would need to be monitored twenty-four hours a day, Schneider would need someone else to help him. Paul didn’t hesitate to put himself forward for that role, which came as a relief to the others - they didn’t relish the idea of telling their loved ones that their holidays were to be delayed or cancelled, or the reasons why.

Till suggested that he, and the other two who weren’t staying with Richard, should go home straight away, then return the following day to help clean and tidy up the mess. As Richard wouldn’t respond to anyone but Schneider, they said goodbye to Paul and Schneider, then departed for home. Till would phone them in the morning to arrange for their return. Paul locked the front door behind them, then climbed the stairs in search of Schneider.

The drummer had taken his bags up to the bedroom and was in the process of preparing the cocaine for Richard. Paul waited patiently at the doorway while Richard got his fix, and entered once Schneider beckoned him in.

“The others have left for the night. Do you want me to help with anything?”

“There are a couple of things I want to do before I turn in, so if you could keep Richard company that would help.”

Paul nodded and walked round to the far side of the bed, sitting himself down on top of the duvet. Schneider gave Richard an affectionate kiss on his forehead and set to work. His first task was in the bathroom - clearing up the glass shards and disposing of them in a bin downstairs, then checking the cabinet for any pills or razors, and hiding them away so that Richard couldn’t find them easily.

Next he prepared a wash load for morning. It was too late to set it going now, he was too tired to stay up waiting for it to finish. That done he did a quick check to see if there were any mugs or dishes left intact, and if there was any food or drink for morning. He found a bottle of milk in the fridge, but he didn’t need to take a sniff to know that it had gone off. He poured the sour liquid down the sink, trying not to retch from the smell.

A trip to the grocery store would be necessary in the morning if they didn’t want their tea or coffee black. Something to eat for breakfast would need to be brought too. He’d ask the guitarists what they wanted before he went shopping, although he felt certain that Richard would try refusing food again.

He decided he’d done enough for one night, he’d be better off getting some sleep and dealing with everything else when he got up. Ascending the stairs felt like climbing a mountain, he was so tired, but he made it putting one foot in front of the other. Paul was sitting up on the bed, propped up by a pillow, reading the novel he’d not managed to finish during the tour by the light of the bedside lamp. Richard was fast asleep beside him in the centre of the bed.

Schneider crossed the carpet as quietly as possible, sitting on the edge of the bed to take off his trainers and jeans. Dressed in just his t-shirt and boxers, he moved to perch next to Paul, who raised an eyebrow at Schneider’s approach, setting his book aside on the nightstand.
The drummer put one and round the nape of Paul’s neck, pulling him forward slightly as he pressed their lips together in a languid kiss.

“I’ve waited all day for that, it’s been torture not being able to touch you…” Paul whispered, when they eventually paused to catch their breath.

“I know, love, it’s been difficult for me too, but we’ve got more pressing concerns. Once the others have helped out with putting the house into a presentable state its going to be down to the two of us to look after Richard. Obviously he’s in no fit state to deal with the divorce papers, so we need to get him to give me legal authority to take over. I assume that I can count on you to help persuade him?”

“Your wish is my command, master.” Paul replied, with a grin.

“That’s true, even though we’re not in our normal environment that still stands.”

“What should we do if Richard discovers us? Do we try and blame it on the drugs?”

“I’ve been thinking about that. I think we should take the honest approach, let him find out that we’re together, and then see how he reacts. You never know, he might be open to suggestions… we could tell him when and why we got together… that might make him think…”

“If you think it’s worth a shot, then I’m all in. What about sleeping arrangements - Is one of us going to sleep on the sofa?”

“As you-know-who has pretty much destroyed it, no. Obviously Richard’s bed is also too damaged, so as there’s enough room here, we may as well share the bed. It will make it easier for us to monitor Richard, he won’t be able to leave the bed without waking one or both of us.”

“Okay, that makes sense. Hopefully the others will come to the same conclusion when they realise the three of us slept together.”

“I’ll make a point of it, if anyone says anything. We best try to get some sleep, I doubt we’ll get much rest for the next few weeks.” Schneider gave Paul a more gentle kiss this time. “I love you, Paulchen.”

“I love you too, Doomie.”

Schneider stood back up, and padded round to the other side of the bed. When Paul realised that his lover was going to sleep under the duvet, instead of on top of it, he followed suit, pulling the edge of the duvet up so that he could slip his legs underneath. He reached out and turned off the bedside lamp, plunging the bedroom into darkness.

*

Till let himself in to Richard’s house the following morning, using the spare key that his friend had given him ‘in case of emergencies’, wanting to make an early start on clearing up the mess. It appeared that none of the three men staying in the house overnight were up yet, or even awake for that matter, judging from the chorus of snores from somewhere on the first floor.

Having seen the state of each room the previous day, he’d brought a selection of cleaning products, and had picked up a few grocery items on his way in. He put everything down on the kitchen table, then picked up the kettle, checking its condition before filling it and switching it on. He decided to see if anyone was awake and in need of a drink while he waited for the water to boil.

He climbed the stairs quietly, not wanting to disturb anyone who was still sleeping, knowing how tired they would be from their journey home following the tour. He was tired himself, but he had difficulty sleeping due to worrying about Richard. When Till reached the landing he realised that the snoring was coming from just one room. He walked over to the guest bedroom and trod softly through the doorway.

He was greeted with an image that he knew would send the band’s fans into a frenzy if they either saw or found out about it - Richard was in the middle of the bed, with Paul and Schneider on either side of him, all three apparently fast asleep. Paul was spooning Richard, an arm around the younger man’s waist. Richard had replicated the other guitarist’s pose, the only difference being that Schneider was facing him.

It reminded Till of the days when they were just starting out, sharing a house, sleeping on mattresses on the floor. They couldn’t afford heating back then, so they often slept snuggled up close to each other In order to keep warm. Sometimes Till found himself longing for those days - everything was so much simpler then. Fame and money - and all the trappings that came with them - had changed things. Not themselves, necessarily, but how people acted around them, and the opportunities offered to them, had a knock-on effect on the six friends.

One of the most obvious things was the availability of drugs and other temptations, whose trap Richard had fallen into until he was no longer able to escape without help. It fell to his friends to dig him out of that hole, as his wife had obviously given up on him and their marriage for whatever reason. With that thought, he made his way back down the stairs, and picked up the packet of legal papers. He set them down on the kitchen table while he finished making a coffee for himself, then sat down and began to leaf through the pages.

He’d maybe been reading for only ten minutes or so when Schneider appeared, dressed in just a t-shirt and boxers.

“Morning Till, when did you get here?”

“No more than twenty minutes ago I think, you’d have known straight away if you’d set the intruder alarm last night.” He scolded, gently.

“I completely forgot, but I don’t know the code anyway. Do I take it that you do? I don’t recall hearing it go off when you entered last night…”

Till realised that he hadn’t had to key in the alarm cancellation code the previous evening, which meant that Caron obviously didn’t care whether or not someone broke in and took any valuables, including Richard’s guitars and the other things in his fledgling home studio.

“Shit… I don’t suppose you’ve checked his studio, have you?”

“No. We’ve not left Richard’s side all night.”

Till smirked, knowingly. “Yes, I noticed how cosy you all were. So cute.”

Schneider rolled his eyes. “It was the most practical solution, given the circumstances. Now, Richard’s studio - I’ve not been here since she moved in, where did he end up putting it?”

“Follow me…”

Till led Schneider out of the kitchen and into the hallway. What looked at first glance to be a cupboard under the stairs, was in fact the top of a set of stairs leading down into the basement. At the bottom of the stairs was a short passageway that ended in a door with an alphanumeric keypad. A door that had an axe, which Richard used for chopping firewood, embedded in it. There were several other indentations in the door from other attempts to break through, all equally unsuccessful.

“Well, at least we know his ‘babies’ are safe. I’ll just do a quick check just to be sure, though.”

“You know the code for this door, too?” Schneider asked, surprised, as Till punched in the access code and opened the door.

“Yes, he told me in case of emergencies, in case he fell ill when inside and we need to gain access. Purely practical purposes. I guess you better have this one too, while I’m away.”

“You realise from the new door decoration that he hadn’t trusted Caron with the code?”

Till grunted in acknowledgement. “I’m guessing he had this type of scenario in mind when he chose not to tell her. That’s one good decision he’s made recently.”

He flicked the light switch just inside the doorway. The room they were standing in contained a relatively small mixing desk, hooked up to a few speakers and various effects racks. Above the mixing desk was a window showing the contents of the soundproof room beyond, where various instruments were wired and miked up. A rack on the far wall contained all of the guitars that Richard had chosen not to use on the tour.

“Everything looks okay in here. We can lock it back up for now. I suggest we find somewhere else to put the axe, where it will be secure.”

He pulled the axe out and shut the door, checking it was locked properly before they returned upstairs. Back in the kitchen he gave Schneider a brief summary of the legal papers while he made a drink for the drummer. While he talked, Schneider set about making an omelette for his breakfast. He offered to make one for Till, but the singer declined already having had breakfast before he left home that morning.

“The divorce papers need dealing with as soon as possible, especially if Richard intends to fight her claim to fifty per cent of everything. He needs a really good divorce lawyer, and to sober up as quickly as possible in case it goes to a court for a settlement decision. I’m not sure how he’s going to achieve that in his current state. I’d try to get power of attorney to act on his behalf, but I probably won’t be able to get that in place before I go on holiday.”

“In that case, if you and the others have no objection, I can try to do that myself. Both Paul and myself have been through a divorce each, so between us we know what a lawyer will want from Richard to help fight his case, and what we can reasonably hope to get by way of a deal.”

“Are you sure you’re not taking on too much? We’ve just finished a gruelling tour, you must be exhausted. Then dealing with Richard and his problems on top of that…”

“I’ll be fine, especially as I’ve got Paul as backup. Don’t worry about me.”

“Well, if you’re sure, I’ve no objections. I doubt the others will either, I’ll phone them later to tell them. Not sure If you’ll be able to convince Richard or his lawyer, though. Let me know how you get on, will you?”

“Of course. Right, I better turf Paul out of bed, and try to get Richard to eat something. Are you sure you don’t want an omelette, while I’m making one for the spiky-haired one?”

Till put the papers back in the packet and pushed them towards Schneider. “No, thank you. I’m going to make a start on the clean-up job. First things first - I better arrange for a skip hire. The sofa and bed definitely need chucking, there’s no way they’re repairable.”

*

During the course of the day they were joined by Ollie and Flake, The skip was delivered around lunchtime, placed on the driveway as close to the house as possible. Richard’s car had been left in the garage out of the way, but Schneider had to move his car to prevent it from being blocked in for a few days. The friends all took turns with the cleaning and tidying, and taking out the unrecoverable furniture and décor. They also rotated having someone sitting in with Richard, so that he wasn’t left alone at any point.

The friends started with the lounge - throwing out the sofa and chairs, the smashed television and the various other broken items in the room. Anything that was either intact, or could be rescued - such as pictures that just needed a new frame - were packed carefully into boxes until Richard made a decision on what to do with the house. From past experience, however, his friends were of the opinion that he would have to sell the house to pay the alimony and legal fees, particularly if he was to fight off the claim over his current and future earnings.

They were glad that the walls were painted rather than covered with wallpaper. They had attempted to remove the words daubed on the walls, but in trying to clean them off, they also removed the main wall colour too. This would be easy to remedy by painting over the affected areas by using the original colour. If they discovered that the colour was no longer available they would just have to paint the room in a totally new colour.

The other rooms received the same treatment over the next few days, with the damaged furniture being thrown in the skip before they got to work on the recovery and redecoration needed. There was still a little bit left to complete once Till, Flake, and Ollie had done their last ‘shift’ before their respective vacations. Schneider thanked them for their assistance, and reassured them that the rest would be relatively easy for himself and Paul to finish off.

“Let us know how Richard’s doing, won’t you? I’m sorry I can’t stay and help more, but I promised Nele this holiday, and Reesh still won’t talk to me, so I’m probably better off leaving him be for a while.”

“He’ll get over it. He just needs time. Go and have a good time with Nele, I’ll keep you updated with any significant developments.”

Till nodded, exchanged a hug with Schneider, then left. Schneider locked the door behind him and made his way up the stairs to the bedroom. Paul was speaking softly to Richard, trying to keep him calm as he entered withdrawal again. They’d been gradually increasing the length of time between doses, in an effort to break his dependence on the drugs. It was proving more difficult than they imagined.

“It’s okay Reesh, just hold on a little longer, I know it hurts, but you can do it…”

Schneider crossed to the bed, concerned. “Paul’s right, you’re strong enough to get through this. All of this. And you don’t have to go through it alone, we’re here to help you. I’ve been thinking - If I could give you something that triggers the dopamine in your brain the same way that cocaine does, but without the side effects, would you be willing to try it?”

Richard squeezed his eyes shut and groaned as another wave of pain washed over him. When the spasm passed, he opened them and looked directly at Schneider.

“I’m willing to try anything to make this stop…”

“Okay, keep an open mind, while we try this…” Schneider said, before pressing his lips to Richard’s in a kiss, one hand caressing the younger man’s cheek as he did so. The move caught the guitarist completely off guard, and at first he resisted, attempting to push Schneider off him. Once the immediate shock had dissipated, however, he started to respond to the older man’s advances, kissing back, and pulling him closer.

They’d all exchanged kisses before, even on stage, but it was usually on special occasions - such as birthdays - or to mess with their fans’ heads. They’d always been of a playful nature, but this… was definitely much more intimate. Schneider’s tongue sought access to Richard’s mouth, which the younger man granted without hesitation. He felt heat building inside him, as his arousal grew, a moan escaping his lips as Schneider drew back for air.

“Okay, I’m incredibly turned on right now…” Paul admitted, unashamedly.

Richard’s face flushed crimson as he remembered that he and Schneider weren’t alone in the room. His eyes widened as he watched Schneider turn to the side in order to kiss Paul.

“Control yourself, love, or I may have to punish you later.”

Schneider smiled as he watched the realisation cross Richard’s face about the true nature of his two friends’ relationship. Cutting off any immediate questions he might have, Schneider asked Richard a question instead.

“How are your pain levels right now?”

“Huh?”

“Your withdrawal symptoms… are they more manageable now?”

Richard realised that the dopamine flooding his brain, released by the passionate kiss, had drowned out the pain, temporarily at least.

“I…uh… yes… I feel… confused, actually. But the pain’s receded for now, thank you.”

“You’re welcome. Any time you want another dose of that, just let Paul or myself know. Either one of us can administer the treatment to you,” he grinned.

“But are you two…” Richard trailed off, dozens of questions forming, not knowing which to ask first.

“We’re a couple, yes, and have been for a while now. As you’re probably wondering, we’re in a semi-open relationship…I’ll explain another time, it’s slightly complicated… and no, the others don’t know, nor do our families or other friends.”

“When… how long…”

“We first got together at your wedding - I’m sorry for bringing that subject up - after we recognised that we had something in common. We both wanted to be with you, but that day we realised that it would likely never happen for either of us, so we got drunk together, one thing led to another, and we’ve been together since then.”

“But that means you’ve been together, what… two, three years?”

“You don’t know how long you’ve been married?” Paul asked, incredulous.

“The last few years have been a bit of a blur, for various reasons.”

“Most of those reasons being white and powdery in nature.” Schneider commented matter-of-factly.

Richard shrugged, choosing not to either confirm or deny.

“I know you don’t want to talk about it, but we need to sort things out regarding the divorce. If you’ve no objections, I’m willing to act on your behalf, sorting things out with your lawyer. One of the first things I’d suggest is that we move you into my home in the short term. I don’t think you staying in this house is good for your mental health. You’d be better off selling it, and using the money in the settlement, and getting somewhere new when things have calmed down again. What do you think?”

“This is really happening, isn’t it? I’m not stuck in a nightmare or bad trip?”

Schneider gave Richard’s shoulder a gentle squeeze.

“It’s real, yes, but you can and will get through this. Till would have liked to have been the one to help you through this, but between his promise to take Nele on holiday and your current refusal to speak to him, it’s fallen to myself and Paul to help fight your corner. If you’ll have us, that is?”

“I guess I don’t have much of an option, do I? I get the feeling you’re not about to leave me alone, the way that there’s always been someone with me every minute of every day since we got back. If you think you can help me, then I’m willing to put my life in your hands. I suppose I should call my lawyer to arrange things.”

“I’ll call him in the morning and get him to come over with the necessary papers. I don’t think you should be out in public just yet, you should be okay for the quick transfer from house to car and vice versa, moving to mine if you’re happy with that suggestion?”

Richard nodded, eyes squeezed shut as the dopamine dissipated and withdrawal set in again. Schneider checked his watch.

“Okay, you’ve waited long enough, I’ll get the coke. I’ll be back in a minute.”

Paul put his arms around the younger guitarist, holding him tight, lending reassurance to Richard that relief would be on the way soon.

“You won’t regret accepting Schneider’s help, whether or not you let me help out too. He was brilliant at helping me through my divorce, both with the legal side of things and the emotional aspects. If you don’t want to have to worry about anything again, you could give yourself to him completely. He’ll take great care of you.”

“Give myself?” Richard asked, confusion in his voice.

Schneider returned at that point, and had caught the tail end of Paul’s comments.

“Paul’s referring to part of our ‘complicated’ relationship. He’s my sub. At the moment, it’s mainly confined to the bedroom, but we’ve slowly been expanding that aspect into more of our lifestyle. If you’re happy to be submissive to me, then I can look after all your needs. You don’t have to decide right now, and we can discuss just how much or how little you’re willing to do. But if you’re not interested in having a sexual relationship with me, or us, that’s fine. We’ll still do everything we can to get you through the divorce and your recovery. But before anything else, let’s get your dose sorted, I’m sure you can’t think straight while you’re in withdrawal.”

Paul helped Richard sit up straight while he took the small amount of cocaine that Schneider had brought him, the younger man leaned back into his embrace afterwards, as he waited for the drug to take effect. He had his eyes shut, as he considered everything the two had said, waiting for his breathing and heart rate to stabilise as withdrawal was fended off again. When he felt more in control of himself he opened his eyes to regard Schneider, seated on the edge of the bed.

“I’m not sure I can give you an answer about a relationship right now, but I definitely enjoyed that kiss you gave me, I won’t object to doing that again! As long as you’re both sure it won’t interfere with your relationship, I don’t want to be the cause of a breakup.”

“Although I have to follow Schneider’s instructions on most things, and have no say on who he gets to kiss or fuck, I’m happy for him to be with you even if you choose not to be with me too…”

Richard turned his head to look at Paul, a frown creasing his forehead.

“That’s the second time in the last fifteen minutes or so that you’ve suggested that I might not want you, why would you think that?”

“Oh, come on Reesh, look at me! I’m not what anyone would consider handsome, especially when compared to you and Schneider, I’m under no illusion that if you decided to be with just one of us that you’d choose Schneider. He’s gorgeous, like you are.”

“While that last statement is true, I don’t go with someone just based on looks. And I happen to think you’re cute, and funny…you always find a way to make me laugh. That makes you attractive in my eyes.”

Schneider smiled to himself behind Richard’s back, secretly pleased that the younger guitarist had sought to make Paul feel better about himself, he’d had to do the same himself whenever Paul was feeling insecure about his appearance or questioning his attractiveness to the tall drummer.

“You’re just saying that…” Paul started.

Richard sat up straight again, turning to face Paul more fully, then leaned towards him. Hesitating for just a moment, he closed the gap between them, kissing Paul on the lips softly, almost shyly, but gradually increasing in intensity. He pulled Paul closer to him, running one hand up the shorter man’s back, underneath his t-shirt. Paul moaned, his own hands starting to wander.

“Slow down, boys, you’re only allowed to kiss and cuddle at the moment. Going beyond that without permission…” Schneider’s tone, while light, had a definite edge to it.

Paul broke away from Richard straight away. “I’m sorry, master, that was my fault. I should know better, please don’t punish Richard for my mistake.”

“There’s no need for punishment today, that was just a warning. And as we’ve not made any agreement with Richard, I can’t punish him anyway.”

Richard was wide-eyed following their exchange. “You do the whole BDSM thing, then? Are you wanting me to do that too?”

“It’s safe to say we don’t engage in every aspect of BDSM, there are some things that are far too extreme for us to consider. As for you, if you decide you want to be with us, it’s up to you what you want to do. It doesn’t have to be anything other than a normal relationship, but you don’t have to worry about that now. All I want you to concentrate on is getting better, and talking to your lawyer about letting me negotiate on your behalf.”

“You don’t need to be afraid of Schneider hurting you, even if you choose to be his sub like me. You can discuss what you are prepared to accept by way of punishment, it doesn’t have to be physical pain. Schneider is a good master, he tends to give out more rewards than punishments, and he always does things with my best interests at heart.”

“Like I said, you don’t need to concern yourself with that right now. It’s getting late, we should all be thinking about getting some sleep. There’s a fair bit to be done tomorrow.”

Schneider stood back up and went to the bathroom to clean his teeth and to take a piss before getting into bed. Paul had been stripping off meanwhile, watched by an appreciative Richard.

“So, er… have you always been… gay?”

Paul smiled, amused at the awkwardness coming from Richard, whom he’d always considered to be well-versed in all matters of a sexual nature.

“I’m bisexual, not just gay. I still find women attractive. I just happen to be in a relationship with a man at the moment. Should Schneider and I ever split up, there’s a good chance that the next person I choose to date will be a woman. There’s actually very few men I’ve been drawn to romantically. I suspect the same is true for you?”

“I guess. Yeah. How did you and Schneider know that I’m not straight? I’ve never told anyone - and that includes Till.”

“Despite what you may have thought at the time, you weren’t completely discreet when you were hooking up with male lovers. I don’t know if you’ve got better at hiding your sexual exploits, or if you’ve just not had many male partners since we started being noticed, but I’ve not seen you with a guy in a while now.”

“Are you and Schneider the only ones who know I’m bi?” Richard asked, anxiously.

“None of the others have said anything to me, so I honestly don’t know. What does it matter anyway? Times have changed, I’m sure that they wouldn’t care one way or another, just as long as you’re happy.”

“I suppose not, although I would prefer for them to find out from me personally, rather than spotting something or from gossip.”

“You could do that as part of your recovery, when you feel comfortable enough to talk to them. Which means that you’re going to have to speak to Till again at some point. You know he only said those things out of frustration- he cares deeply about you.”

Richard sighed. “I know. It just hurt to hear him say it. I’ll talk to him when he gets back from his trip.”

Paul sat on the edge of the bed and leaned over to give Richard a quick kiss on his forehead. “You’ll feel better once you do, you’ll see.”

He peeled back the covers on his side of the bed and slipped under them. Once he was comfortable Richard edged closer so they could snuggle up. Schneider returned and smiled at the sight of the two guitarists spooning.

“You two make a cute pair. I’d love to have a picture of you like that to keep with me, you’re just adorable!”

“Well, I don’t mind if you do, how about you Reeshy?”

“As long as it doesn’t get out in public, I’m okay with that.”

Schneider took his phone out of his pocket, it was the latest model and had the best camera on a mobile to date. He took the photo quickly and showed it to them.

“Could you send that to both our phones so we can have a copy too, please?”

“Of course, Paulchen,” Schneider replied, already working on his request.

Once he’d sent the image file he put his phone down on the bedside table, and switched on the bedside lamp to light the way back to the bed once he’d crossed the room to turn off the main light. He got into bed on the other side of Richard, gave his two friends a goodnight kiss before turning out the light and settling down to sleep.

*

The following morning Schneider was up early. He managed to find the details for Richard’s lawyer amongst all the divorce papers, and called him as soon as the office was due to open to arrange a meeting. He was able to convince him to come out to Richard’s house that morning, giving a brief outline of their intentions. Deciding that it would help the case for Schneider to have Power of Attorney over Richard’s affairs (Schneider gave a wry smile at that rather accurate turn of phrase), he thought it best to withhold that morning’s ‘dose’ so that the lawyer could see just how unwell Richard was, and why he shouldn’t be left to handle things by himself.

He’d also been given permission by Richard to inform the lawyer of Richard’s suicide attempt, so that he would be under no illusion about Richard’s state of mind.

The lawyer had arrived promptly, briefcase in tow. Schneider let him in and guided him upstairs to the bedroom, where Richard was in bed going through withdrawal again. Regaining his composure quickly after seeing the terrible state of his client, he began discussing the legal ramifications of transferring power to Schneider, making sure both of them were aware of all possible outcomes. When he was confident that they were making an informed decision, he completed the necessary documents in triplicate, getting Richard and Schneider to sign all the copies, with Paul signing as an independent witness. Richard and Schneider were each given a copy, with the third retained by the lawyer.

Schneider saw the lawyer to the door, and promised to be in touch to start sorting out Richard’s side of the divorce, just as soon as Schneider had Richard settled in his house. They shook hands and Schneider closed the front door.

“Now we’ve got that sorted, we can concentrate on getting you straightened out. Paul, can you sort out some coffee for us all, please? Once Richard’s on a more even keel we’ll have some lunch, then get started on boxing up what’s left ready for moving Richard to mine.”

Paul nodded, and headed downstairs. Schneider sat Richard upright and held him steady while he took the coke.

“You’re doing great Reesh. You are going far longer without withdrawal, even on the smaller amounts I’ve been giving you. It shouldn’t be too much longer before you break through your addiction. I think we can look at doing the move to my house tomorrow if you’re feeling up to it.”

“I don’t want to stay here any longer than necessary, it’s not home anymore. Can’t we go today?”

“Let’s wait and see how you feel after lunch and take it from there. I suppose we can come back for things after we’ve moved you. Rest up for now, love. I know the effects of withdrawal leave you exhausted each time you go through it.”

Schneider squeezed Richard’s hand gently, as the younger man sank back into the pillows, face still ashen while waiting on the cocaine to take effect. Schneider stayed with him until Paul arrived with the mugs of coffee. The older guitarist ended up having Richard’s coffee as Richard had fallen asleep before he’d returned.

Whispering quietly, Schneider told Paul about Richard’s request to leave earlier than planned, and discussed what they would need to pack up for that to happen. As Richard was in a deep slumber they felt safe leaving him alone for a few minutes while they took stock of everything ready to go and yet to be packed. They agreed two different courses of action based on whether they moved that day or the next.

Both happy with their plans, Paul returned to keep watch over Richard, while Schneider set to work boxing up items in case they left that day, and putting piles of other boxes ready for removal over the course of the next few days. He’d already made a mental note of where Richard’s belongings would be stored in his house.

Chapter Text

“Here we are, Reesh - this is the main bedroom where we’ll be sleeping. There’s an adjoining bathroom, and a walk-in wardrobe. We’ll be able to put most if not all of your clothes in there, it’s very spacious. Do you want to try the pillows to see which ones you’ll prefer to sleep on?”

“No, I’m sure they’re all fine. Honestly, you don’t need to fuss around me. I already feel better for having left that place behind. Thank you for taking me in, Schneider.”

Schneider pulled Richard into a hug, holding him close, breathing his scent in. Richard responded by putting his arms around Schneider’s waist, resting his head against the other man’s shoulder, enjoying the comfort it lent him. After a couple of minutes Schneider loosened his grip, and used one hand to tilt Richard’s head up to face him. Tilting his own head down, his lips met those of the younger man’s in a tender kiss, which Richard was happy to reciprocate.

“Make yourself at home, love, we’ll finish bringing everything in from the car. We won’t be long, okay?”

Richard nodded and moved towards the bed, one hand feeling the soft cover on the duvet as he walked around it to the bedroom window. The view was of the large garden at the rear of the property beyond which was a small parkland. As well as the high stone wall that surrounded the property, there were a few tall trees that provided privacy from any would-be prying eyes. It felt a lot more calm and peaceful than his house close to the city centre.

He turned around to look at the bedroom itself, absently wondering why he couldn’t recall seeing it before. Schneider had moved here fairly recently, he recalled him having a low-key housewarming party, but couldn’t remember ever being upstairs or having returned since. The bedroom was furnished simply, with a solid oak bedstead, and matching bedside cabinets. There was an ottoman at the foot of the bed, presumably containing a change of bedsheets and maybe blankets. Behind one internal door he found the wardrobe that Schneider had mentioned. It was bigger than the bathroom back at his house, soon to be former house, he thought.

Crossing the bedroom to the other internal door, he opened it and looked inside. The bathroom was tiled floor to ceiling and he could tell there was underfloor heating. He took a quick look inside the mirrored cabinet above the washbasin. Unsurprisingly, it there had been any medicines or razors in there previously, there wasn’t now. He closed the cabinet door and returned to the bedroom just as Schneider returned with a couple of suitcases filled with Richard’s clothes.

“Do you want me to put these away for you, or do you want to take care of it yourself? That might help you settle in more easily.”

Richard shrugged, not sure what to think or how to behave. He was going longer between what Schneider referred to as his ‘doses’, which meant that reality was starting to make its unwelcome presence felt in between them. Schneider put the cases down next to the wardrobe door on seeing Richard’s apparent indifference.

“It’s okay, you don’t have to decide now, it’s not important. Paul’s brought the last items in from the car, he’s going to spend the night at his house to make sure everything’s okay there. He’ll be going back to yours in the morning to pick up the next batch of boxes and make his way here. We’ll be taking it in turns to fetch everything here tomorrow.”

Richard nodded in understanding, not looking at Schneider, not wanting him to see the anxiety that the information was causing him. He found a strong pair of arms wrapping themselves around him as Schneider stepped forward to hold him close.

“I’m sorry Reesh, I didn’t mean for that to upset you, I know you’re struggling right now. Can you forgive me?”

Richard nodded again, still avoiding eye contact or speaking, afraid that he might fall apart if he did. Schneider turned him around gently so that he could hug him properly, one arm around the younger man’s waist, the other hand moving to rub soothing circles on Richard’s back. Richard put his own arms around Schneider’s waist in response, finding that he felt safe and protected whenever Schneider was close. Neither of them knew exactly how long they stood like that, but as darkness began to fall outside Schneider dropped his hold and stepped away slightly.

“Come on liebchen, you’ve had a long day what with meeting your lawyer this morning, and moving here this afternoon. How about we get an early night tonight? There’s a new toothbrush in the bathroom cabinet for you, go freshen up and get into bed. I’ll find something for you to change into, okay?”

With that he gently nudged Richard in the direction of the bathroom, pleased to note that Richard was at least following instructions if not making decisions for himself yet. He opened up one of the suitcases he’d brought up, and after a quick search found a pair of light grey sweatpants which he draped on the end of the bed, so that Richard would see them when he returned.

He crossed to the window and closed the curtains, then switched on both bedside lamps. Next he went to the large wardrobe and brought out a pair of bermuda shorts that he’d wear to bed. He didn’t have any pyjamas as he normally went to bed naked, even in winter, but he didn’t want Richard to feel like he might be being pressured into anything, he wanted Richard to decide whether or not they would take things any further than the kisses and cuddles they’d been sharing over the past few days. He sat on one side of the bed and got changed, throwing his worn clothes into a laundry hamper near the bedroom door.

Richard emerged from the bathroom and moved to the opposite side of the bed. He began undressing, a little self-consciously, so Schneider took that as the cue for him to use the bathroom before bed. When he returned to the bedroom Richard was already in bed, his clothes in a messy pile on the floor. Schneider picked them up, checking the jeans pockets for items before putting them in the hamper. He pulled out a half-empty cigarette packet with a disposable lighter inside, some loose change, Richard’s phone, and a couple of guitar picks. Schneider put them all on the cabinet next to Richard, opening the top drawer and retrieving an ashtray which he stuck next to the lamp.

“While I’d prefer you not to smoke in the bedroom, if you feel you absolutely need to, I won’t forbid it, at least not while you’re getting better.”

“Thank you.”

Richard was glad that it was only one of his addictions that his friends were trying to break. If they’d tried to get him to quit smoking or give up alcohol or caffeine then he’d definitely not want to live any more. He settled down under the thick duvet, facing Schneider as he had been doing since they’d returned from the tour. Schneider turned off the lamps and pulled the duvet over himself.

“Good night Reesh.”

“’Night Schneider.”

After a couple of minutes, Richard turned over to face the other direction. A few minutes later and he returned to his original position. Another few minutes and he gave an irritated huff and was about to change position again when Schneider spoke.

“Having difficultly sleeping?”

“Yeah. It feels weird without Paul tucked up behind me.”

Schneider smiled in the darkness.

“I miss him too when we’re apart. It’s just for tonight, he’ll be with us again tomorrow. How about we do something to help you relax?”

Richard was quiet for a moment, mulling that suggestion over.

“What do you have in mind?”

Schneider moved closer to him, reaching out a hand which found Richard’s face. He leaned down and initiated a kiss, Richard responding instantly, kissing back eagerly. Schneider’s hand moved lower, first to Richard’s pec, thumb brushing against the nipple which hardened at his touch, then down to his waist. Richard moved his free arm around Schneider pulling him closer.

Schneider shifted his attention to Richard’s neck, mouthing at it hungrily, making the younger man moan beneath him. His hand moved from Richard’s waist, slipping under the fabric of his sweatpants, fingers combing through the hair around his crotch as they searched for Richard’s cock. When he found it he grasped it firmly, rubbing his hand up and down, feeling it harden with every stroke. Richard moaned louder and pressed upwards against Schneider’s hand.

“Does that feel good, baby? Do you want more?” Schneider’s voice was full of dark promise.

“Yes…fuck, yes Schneider…”

The drummer grabbed hold of Richard’s waistband and pulled the sweatpants clean off him, dropping them on the floor before ridding himself of his own shorts. He kissed Richard again on the lips, his neck, and licking both his nipples, before reaching into the top drawer of his bedside cabinet.

“Lie on your side for me, facing the window…”

While Richard did as requested, Schneider slipped a condom on his own erection before squeezing some lube from a bottle onto the tips of his fingers. He rubbed his fingers together in order to warm the gel, then used his dry hand to pull Richard’s upper leg towards his chest to give him better access to his entrance. He circled Richard’s anus with the lube-slicked fingers, the younger man flinching slightly when Schneider first touched him there.

“Sorry love, I tried to warm it up a bit for you…”

Richard felt very tense to the touch, as if he might run at any moment.

“I take it it’s been a while since you were last with another man?” Richard nodded against the pillow. “Just relax Reesh, and if you want me to stop, just tell me, no matter how far we’ve gone. You’re in control here.”

Richard took a few deep breaths, as Schneider started pushing his fingers in one by one, rubbing slowly against Richard’s insides. As Schneider felt him relaxing he started to scissor his fingers, and pushed deeper quickly locating Richard’s prostate, giving it a few experimental strokes, eliciting shudders and groaning from the young guitarist.

Satisfied that Richard was adequately prepared for him Schneider retracted his fingers, wiping them on a cloth he kept in the drawer for that purpose. He rolled Richard so that he was lying on his back, knelt between his legs which he pulled up so that Richard’s feet were flat on the mattress, his knees pointed upwards. Schneider leaned forward on one arm while he used his other hand to line himself up with Richard’s hole, pushing inside him slowly but firmly, feeling Richard clenching around him once the tip was clear of the ring of muscle.

Schneider wasted no time, alternating his thrusting between slow and deep, and quick and shallow, arms encircling Richard’s shoulders to anchor himself in position. Richard wrapped his legs around Schneider, moaning loudly as Schneider punished his prostate, his hands gripping the drummer’s biceps, feeling the muscles working with every thrust. Every so often Schneider would pause to kiss Richard before resuming.

It didn’t take Richard long to realise that this wasn’t just a quick, convenient fuck - Schneider was making love to him. This revelation made him want to respond in kind, he called Schneider’s name out, arching his back to deepen the contact between them, one arm reaching up so he could put his hand on the back of Schneider’s neck, pulling him in for more kisses. Soon he found the heat that had been pooling in his belly was intensifying, as he grew nearer to orgasm.

“Please, Schneider…” he breathed, not entirely sure what it was he was asking for, but Schneider seemed to know what was needed.

He changed his angle and started slamming harder into Richard, hitting the sweet spot over and over.

“Are you ready for me, baby?” he asked, voice gruff.

Richard nodded, feeling light-headed. Schneider pumped hard and fast until Richard yelled out his name, semen covering his stomach and abdomen as he came, squeezing hard around Schneider’s cock, bringing the drummer to his own climax. Schneider gradually reduced the speed and depth of his thrusts until he reached a complete stop, waiting for his penis to soften before pulling out.

“I’m sorry…” Richard’s voice had an anxious edge to it.

“What are you apologising for, baby? That was amazing…”

“I’ve made a mess on your bedsheets, I couldn’t stop myself…”

“You’ve…” Schneider turned on his lamp, and pushed the duvet off himself. Removing the condom and disposing of It, he lifted the duvet up. Aside from the expected wet patch, there was nothing on the bed sheets, aside from the hot mess that was currently not making eye contact again. Realisation hit Schneider like a brick to the head. Climbing back into bed, he slid his arms around Richard.

“You’ve only ever topped before, haven’t you?”

“Yes…how did you know?”

“Because of what you thought you’d done. You don’t need to worry, you’ve not soiled the bed. What you felt was just me pulling out, but as your brain has only processed one thing leaving that sexy bum of yours before, that’s what it told you had happened. It’ll soon learn the difference.”

Richard turned his head to look at him. “You’re not just saying that to make me feel better?”

Schneider laughed and peeled the duvet back, down to their knees.

“See for yourself! Why didn’t you tell me you’ve not bottomed before now?”

“You didn’t ask! But I didn’t want you to stop, it felt so good….”

Schneider kissed him, smiling.

“In future, any time we start something you’ve not done before, let me know, okay?”

“What kind of things?”

“Well, if I suggest we try some BDSM, you need to tell me what, if anything, you’ve tried and are comfortable with, and what you absolutely won’t do. I need to know your limits, and what you might want to explore. Have you done any, while we’re on the subject?”

“Um, only a bit of bondage, tying someone to the bed, blindfolding their eyes, that kind of thing, you know?”

“Has anyone done that to you?”

“No. I don’t like feeling vulnerable, there wasn’t anyone I trusted enough. I didn’t want it to get out in the papers, or for Mutti to find out.”

Schneider nodded. “That’s understandable. Maybe it’s something we could explore at some point. Okay, I’ll give it some thought. Right now though, we ought to get some sleep. Let me clean you up, then we can snuggle.”

Schneider used the cloth to wipe away the excess lube from Richard and the bed, then lay down next to him, making sure he was on the wet patch so that Richard wouldn’t feel uncomfortable. He could tell the younger man was already starting to drift off to sleep, so he draped one arm around Richard’s waist, spooning him as he too fell asleep.

*

When Richard woke several hours later it took him a moment to remember where he was. He became aware of a couple of things as he came around, firstly - that he could feel withdrawal making its unpleasant presence known, secondly - that Schneider, like himself, was nursing a morning erection which was pressed up against his buttocks. Richard could tell that Schneider was still asleep judging by the regular breathing behind him. He wondered if he should wake him up.

He turned over so that he could face Schneider, the older man looked a few years younger without the stress of touring or looking after Richard weighing him down. Richard felt a stab of guilt at that thought. He decided to try and make it up to him. Reaching down under the duvet he found Schneider’s cock and wrapped his hand around it. He started rubbing him up and down, slowly and a little nervously at first, unsure of his technique when it came to jerking off someone other than himself.

Schneider stirred and hummed appreciatively, opening his eyes he fixed his gaze on Richard.

“Good morning, Reesh. You seem to be feeling a little better…” he remarked, with a lopsided smile on his face.

Richard gave a small smile in response. “Actually, I can feel myself going into withdrawal. I just wanted to thank you for looking after me, and a way of doing that kinda presented Itself…”

Schneider laughed at that. “Did it, now? Well, let’s see what we can do about those pesky withdrawal symptoms.”

He grabbed the lube and a fresh condom from the top of the bedside cabinet where he’d left them the previous night. He made Richard roll back over so that he could prepare him again, planting gentle kisses on his hip and upper thigh as he worked the lube inside him, making Richard moan again. When he’d made Richard a writhing mess, he opened the small packet and rolled the condom onto his own cock. Once again he made Richard lie on his back while he penetrated him, Richard arching his back and moaning as Schneider pushed in as deep as possible, before pausing, the lack of movement driving Richard crazy.

“Ready, baby?”

“Oh god, yes, Schneider. Please, don’t make me wait…” It was almost a whine.

Granting Richard’s wish, Schneider started fucking him, Richard’s fingers clawing his back as he pounded him hard and fast. Not wanting his flesh gouged out by those perfectly manicured fingers, Schneider caught hold of Richard’s arms and pinned them by the wrists above his head. He kept eye contact with the guitarist, using his facial expressions and moans to guide himself to the angles and sensitive areas that gave Richard the most pleasure. Their love making lasted longer than the previous night, both their bodies glistening in the morning light with a sheen of sweat as they climaxed together. Sated, they lay waiting for their breathing to return to normal, occasionally exchanging languid kisses.

Schneider recovered first and repeated his actions of the previous night, ridding his lover of any remaining lube. When he had finished he laid back against the pillows, reaching one arm out inviting Richard to snuggle up against him. The younger man rested his head on Schneider’s shoulder, draping one arm across his flat stomach.

“Feeling any better, love?”

“Much better, thank you. I definitely like this course of treatment,” he added.

“Happy to help out. We can have a lie-in for a little while, but I’ll need to sort breakfast for us both fairly soon.”

Richard pouted, feeling extremely comfortable where he was, not wanting to move.

“Paul will be here shortly too.”

Richard smirked. “Paul does everything shortly.”

Schneider laughed. Richard making jokes was a sign that he was feeling better, even though he had a way to go on his road to recovery.

“That he does. Just remember you’re not much taller than him. If I find you teasing him too much I may have to spank you…or worse!”

“Was that meant as a deterrent?” Richard asked, with a grin.

“Oh, I can see you’re going to need some disciplining. Naughty boy.”

Richard stuck his tongue out defiantly. Schneider’s eyebrows arched in reaction to the younger man’s cheekiness. Without warning he flipped Richard over onto his back and pinned him down with his body, holding his arms down by his head, Richard’s eyes wide in surprise.

“You’re treading on thin ice, pretty one. Fortunately for you we’ve not agreed terms yet, but I’ll remember that insubordination!”

He bent his head down and kissed Richard deeply, to the point where he could feel Richard beginning to harden. Knowing it would leave him frustrated, Schneider pulled back and got off him, getting out of bed completely. He slipped on his t-shirt from the previous day and picked up his shorts from where he’d dropped them on the floor.

“Any thoughts on what you want for breakfast, love?”

Richard was scowling, not happy about being turned on and then abandoned.

“Not bothered…” he replied, petulantly.

“We’re all out of ‘not bothered’, I’ll fix you something else up instead.”

Richard huffed, unamused. Realising that Richard’s mood could sour very quickly, Schneider crossed the room to sit down next to Richard.

“Don’t scowl, you’ll give yourself wrinkles if you keep doing that!”

He leant back down and gave Richard a gentle kiss, whispering in his ear before standing back up, “I love you, Reesh, always remember that.”

He left the bedroom then, and made his way down the stairs and into the kitchen. As part of the preparations to ‘Richard-proof’ the house before his arrival, all sharp knives and other food preparation equipment with sharp blades had been removed from their normal locations and placed in a locked cupboard, with the key stashed out of Richard’s sight and reach.

Deciding that Richard needed a bit of sweetening up, he retrieved a packet containing several pains-au-chocolat, pulled a few out and placed them on a non-stick baking tray. He turned the electric oven on at the wall, set the heat and popped the tray on the middle oven shelf and closed it up. Next he took the kettle off the charging base and filled It with enough water for them both. As the water was being heated up he opened a wall-mounted cupboard, getting plates out for the pastries, followed by mugs for the coffee.

While he busied himself, he heard a key turning in the front door, followed by a slight creak as it opened. He made a mental note to get some oil for the door hinges. Paul entered the kitchen drawn by the smell of breakfast being made. He walked straight over to Schneider where he was pouring the boiled water into the mugs. He waited until Schneider had set the kettle back on its base, then stood on tiptoes to give him a kiss.

“Good morning, Paulchen. You’re earlier than expected.”

“I woke up early, so I thought I’d get started as soon as possible. I think the sooner Richard’s house is cleared and sold, the sooner he can begin to move on.”

“I certainly hope so. Why don’t you go upstairs and say hello to him? He’ll be happy to see you.”

Paul gave a mock salute and disappeared out of the room. He bounded up the stairs two at a time, eager to see the other guitarist. He pushed open the bedroom door and made his way to the far side of the bed where he could see tufts of black hair sticking up from under the duvet, Richard having decided he didn’t fancy getting up yet.

“Good morning, Reeshy!”

Richard sat up quickly on hearing Paul’s voice.

“Paulie! You’re back! I missed you - I had trouble sleeping without you next to me!”

He put his arms out, inviting Paul to a hug, which the shorter man accepted. As they embraced Paul faced Schneider’s bedside cabinet, and the things still on it from the night before.

“Are you sure there wasn’t another reason why you were kept awake?” Paul asked, with a smirk on his face.

Richard’s expression was one of puzzlement until Paul gestured at the nightstand, then his expression turned to embarrassment, his cheeks and the tips of his ears flushing red.

“Schneider thought it would help distract me from missing you, and get rid of my withdrawal symptoms.”

Paul laughed. “Yes, I’m sure he did it as a purely selfless act.”

Richard gave a small smile, not sure if he should apologise to Paul for having had sex with his boyfriend, even though they had both told him about the nature of their ‘semi-open’ relationship, and that they’d made an agreement about what was acceptable to them both should Richard choose to join them. Guessing what Richard was probably thinking Paul grabbed Richard’s face with one hand either side, and planted a big kiss on his lips.

“Well, if you’re still capable of walking, it looked like Schneider is about to serve breakfast, we should probably go downstairs.”

“I need to use the bathroom first, I’ll be down in a few minutes.”

Paul gave him a peck on the cheek and stood up.

“See you downstairs, love.”

Back in the kitchen, Paul wasted no time getting straight to the point.

“So, you fucked him, then…”

It was said as a statement rather than a question. Schneider set pre-warmed dishes out on placemats prior to taking the pastries out of the oven.

“That’s a crude way of putting it, but yes. He was missing you and had difficulty sleeping, so I thought it would help relax him, and I was right. We discussed this days ago, you’re not having a change of heart are you?”

“Of course not, just making an observation. So?”

“So…what?”

“How was it?”

“You’ll find out yourself soon enough, I’m sure. Now, are you going to start bringing in the stuff from the van or are you joining us for breakfast?”

“Breakfast, definitely.”

“Thought so!” Schneider said, smiling.

Paul plonked himself down on a chair eagerly, while Schneider served out the pains-au-chocolat and coffee. Richard sauntered in and sat on the chair to Paul’s left, his stomach growling, making Paul laugh.

“Haven’t you been feeding Richard while I was away?”

“You make it sound like you’ve been away for days, it was just one night!” Schneider replied as he took his own seat.

“It felt like forever though.” Paul countered. “I couldn’t wait to get back here.”

“When we’ve finished breakfast I’ll help you bring the contents of the van in. Then you two can get to work putting things away while I go back to Richard’s for more. Paul, you know where I’ve set aside space for everything, Richard, you can put your clothes away in the wardrobe seeing as you didn’t feel up to it last night. And that’s not a suggestion by the way, I expect you to have that done by the time I return.”

Richard was about to object, until Paul, reading him correctly, nudged him under the table with one foot and shook his head at him. Richard frowned but kept silent, assuming Paul would let him know what that was all about later.

*

“Why wouldn’t you let me say anything to Schneider earlier?”

Richard and Paul were hauling several flight cases containing some of his guitars into the basement that Schneider had set up as a practice room, a full drum kit taking up a significant portion of the space. Paul set down his load before answering.

“As you’ve evidently begun a relationship with Schneider, if not myself yet, you should know exactly what you’re potentially getting yourself into. Schneider is a Dom, and seriously hates it when his subs disobey him.”

“‘Subs’ as in he has more than one?”

“I maybe didn’t phrase that as well as I could have… he’s only ever had one sub at a time, but he’s very strict on some things, and absolutely hates subs disagreeing or disobeying him. Punishments can be very harsh. I’m guessing that at this point he’s not asked whether or not you want to go down that route, despite the fact that you’ve allowed him to take legal control over your life?”

“No, he’s asked what BDSM I’ve already tried, but he’s not said anything about Dom/Sub play.”

“Oh, don’t refer to it as ‘play’ - for Schneider it’s a lifestyle, not just sexual kink. If, like me, you do agree to be his sub, he will take control of almost every aspect of your life. When and what you eat, where you go and who with, how you dress and so on. The only area where I have total control over what I do is when it’s band stuff. Obviously out in public we are careful not to do anything that could tip anyone off about the true nature of our relationship, but there are set guidelines I have to follow. If a situation occurs that hasn’t been previously anticipated, I let Schneider take the lead if he’s there, otherwise I phone him for instructions. If the situation prevents me from doing that, then I make my best guess as to what I think Schneider would suggest, then at the first available opportunity contact him, tell him what’s happened and how I dealt with it, and he’ll decide if I behaved appropriately. Fortunately, I’ve only got it wrong a few times.”

“What if I don’t want to ‘go down that route’ as you put it? Surely he won’t punish me if I’m not a sub?”

“Not in the same way as he does me, but I wouldn’t recommend disappointing him anyway. Which reminds me, he gave you a specific task, didn’t he?”

“Yeah, putting my clothes away in the wardrobe.”

“You better do that first, instead of helping me move your guitars. It probably won’t be long before he gets back - he can move heavy objects faster than I can.”

Richard stowed the two flight cases where Paul had pointed out, then started towards the steps back up to the ground floor. He paused at the bottom step when Paul called his name.

“I realise that I’ve made Schneider sound like some kind of tyrant, but he really is a caring Dom, I’ve been very happy as his sub, he’s looked after me incredibly well. I know he’d do the same for you if you let him. He’s also aware that you may not want to become a sub, He’ll get all three of us together to discuss the dynamics when he feels you’re ready to make that decision, mentally and emotionally.”

Richard looked a bit like a deer in the headlights following Paul’s revelations. Paul smiled and gave Richard a peck on the cheek.

“You don’t have to worry, he’ll do his best to look after you, no matter what you decide… we both will. Now, get up those stairs Reeshy, I’ll come give you a hand if I’m done before you are.”

“Thanks, Paulchen. I’m glad you’re here to help me too.”

He kissed Paul on the forehead in return and carried on up out of the basement and then up the stairs to the main bedroom. Once there, he walked over to the wardrobe door and opened it, flicking the light switch so he could see better. Schneider had cleared space on several shelves, and on the long horizontal pole, which ran the length of the small room, there was a divider to separate his and Schneider’s clothes. There were more than enough hangers for his shirts and jackets, considering that Richard only had a few of each, determined to get his money’s worth out of them.

He turned his attention to the two suitcases, still where Schneider had left them the previous evening. He picked up the first one by the handle on the side, inadvertently spilling all its contents onto the floor, not spotting that the zip had been left in the fully open position after Schneider had been searching through it.

Sighing, Richard picked everything back up, stuffing them haphazardly back into the case
before picking it up more carefully and carrying it into the wardrobe. He opened it back up, folding them and placing them on one of the shelves. He worked his way gradually through the contents of both cases until they were empty, a lot of space still available for the rest of his clothes when they arrived.

Closing the wardrobe door, he made his way back downstairs, hearing the sound of the van that Schneider used for moving his drum kit around pulling up outside, when he was only a few steps down. He ran the rest of the way down the stairs and flung the door open, eager to greet Schneider again. Getting out of the driver’s seat, Schneider took one look at Richard and laughed quietly, shaking his head.

“You look like a puppy that’s overexcited at its master’s return. Come here and give me a hand carrying your guitars and other bits and bobs in.”

Richard bounced Tigger-like out of the front door and over to the rear doors of the van which Schneider was unlocking and opening. He could see that the majority of the contents were band related, his instruments and amplifiers taking up most of the space. Schneider continued talking as they lifted out the first few guitar flight cases and carried them inside.

“Stack everything in the entrance hall, Paul will tell you where they should be moved to. One more trip should have the rest of your equipment shifted here, then there will be your personal items. I think you should come with me for that trip just to make sure we’ve got everything you want out of the house before the estate agents come round to do the assessments for when it goes on the market.”

Richard’s enthusiastic approach wavered at that, as he was reminded of the reason why his stuff was cluttering Schneider’s hallway.

“You’ve arranged for someone to do that already?”

“I know it’s probably feeling like everything is moving quickly, but believe me, it’s better this way - there’s less chance of the press catching wind of things before it’s all settled. Up to now, your neighbours probably just think that you’re preparing to record a new album, or that you’re renovating or redecorating, which is why you’re moving stuff out of the house, for safekeeping. As we’ve had to do a bit of redecorating already, that explanation should keep their curiosity satisfied for a while at least.”

“I’m not sure I can face going back there. I’m confident that you’ll have got everything.”

Schneider put his current load down on the growing pile and turned to the shorter man, placing his hands on Richard’s shoulders.

“It’s just a house, there’s nothing to be afraid of, and you won’t be going alone, I’ll be right there with you. It’s important that you take a final look around so that nothing gets left behind accidentally, and winds up in the hands of complete strangers. I don’t want to leave any of your family heirlooms there, you’ll need to check every room. This isn’t something you can choose to not do.”

Richard was staring at his shoes while Schneider gently berated him. He knew that he was acting childishly, but he couldn’t help how he felt. Realising that Schneider was waiting for a response he looked up.

“I guess, if we don’t spend too long there, it’ll be alright. I don’t want to face any awkward questions from anyone.”

“Well, if anyone does ask anything, I can tell them you’ve lost your voice at the end of the tour, and can’t talk. I’ll answer them for you, okay?”

Richard nodded. “That sounds like a good plan.”

Schneider gave him a quick hug, then released him so they could get on with emptying the van, the pair of them making light work of it. As the drummer returned to Richard’s house for the next load the two guitarists worked on shifting Richard’s belongings to their new home. A couple of guitars were allowed in one of the bedrooms upstairs, it having been allocated to Richard for when he was sufficiently recovered. The rest of his guitars and equipment were to go in the practice room, temporarily at least.

As well as Richard’s ‘work gear’ Schneider had managed to squeeze in a couple of crates containing the presentation gold discs they’d been awarded, and framed photographs of Richard with the rest of them in different locations and situations. These items were to be placed in Richard’s room, on the opposite side of the upper hallway from the main bedroom.

“Am I expected to hang these up in here, do you know?”

Paul followed him into the bedroom and put the box he was carrying on the floor, groaning at the aches his limbs seemed to be developing.

“Schneider didn’t say. I think it would be alright just so store the discs in one of the drawers or the wardrobe, he might like you to pop some of the photos around the house. We can ask him when he gets back with the next van load.”

He checked his watch. “It’s almost time for lunch. I’m going to get cleaned up and make a start on cooking something for all of us. Why don’t you have a look through the photos and choose two or three that you’d like to display downstairs while you wait for Schneider?”

Richard sat down on the bed, one of the boxes open next to him, and started to look through the framed photographs, each one bringing back memories of the not-too-distant past. He smiled, thumb idly tracing the curves on a decorative frame as he reminisced. Putting that one aside, he picked up the next one, a photo of Till and himself on the Staten Island ferry from their first trip to America. He was quite thin at the time, and had ludicrous blond dreadlocks which he’d thought looked cool, but with hindsight he realised was anything but. His current look - short black spikes - seemed to be very popular, at least as far as the reaction from the fans went, anyway.

‘Blond dreadlocks’ would not be going on display downstairs. There were some candid shots taken during the filming of the videos for ‘Engel’ and ‘Du Hast’, he still had his ears pierced back then, with a simple gold hoop in each ear. His ears had healed over now, he doubted that he’d get them pierced again, unlike Till who was getting his nose pierced soon, and his eyebrow, and who-knew where else! He grimaced as he contemplated just how far his best friend might take his fascination with body modification.

The next photos were from when they visited some step-pyramid ruins somewhere in Central America, at least that’s where he thought they were, his memories from that time were a little sketchy, but one thing he could recall was missing a step and falling down the pyramid they’d been on. Fortunately he’d been near the bottom, so he’d only injured his leg rather than something more serious. A local doctor had injected him with something to numb the pain sufficiently for him to be able to finish the rest of the tour. He rubbed his ankle absentmindedly as he started to place the photo back In the box.

“Oh, don’t pack that one away - I like that one! Wasn’t there another one of just the two of us?”

Schneider’s sudden appearance made Richard jump. The drummer crossed to the bed and sat down next to him, one arm reaching out for the photo in Richard’s hand, the other he placed behind Richard’s back, stroking it in a soothing manner. He bent his head and kissed the base of Richard’s neck affectionately.

“Sorry love, I didn’t mean to startle you. I thought you’d heard me coming up the stairs.”

“It’s okay, I was just lost in thought, trying to piece together times and places…”

Schneider smiled. “Paul and I can help fill in the blanks for you later, if you like. But right now it’s time for lunch, then you and I are going to check we’ve got everything you want from your old address. Come on, on your feet young man…”

The older man stood up and offered an arm to pull Richard into an upright position.

“I don’t know what Paul’s been cooking while we’ve both been otherwise occupied, but it smells delicious…. Bring that last photo downstairs, let’s put it on the mantelpiece in the living room.”

Chapter Text

Following what was to be Richard’s final visit to his marital home, he and Schneider packed the rest of his belongings that he wanted to keep into the van, the remaining items sorted into piles of what could be sold as part of the house fixtures and furnishings, items that were to be donated to charity or sold to help pay for his divorce lawyer, and a final pile of Items to be thrown away in the skip.

Schneider and Paul would return the following day to take care of the final clearance ready for the estate agent’s surveyor to do the valuation ahead of putting the property on the market. Richard was grateful that, while he noticed curtains twitching at a couple of his neighbours’ houses, no-one actually approached either of them to ask awkward questions. He didn’t look back at his home of the past few years as they drove away.

Richard was quiet during the drive to Schneider’s house, the drummer decided to leave him be while he concentrated on his driving. When they had stowed his belongings in his new home there would be time to get him to open up about what was going on in that pretty head of his. He hoped that by the time the others returned from their various holidays, a matter of a few days now, Richard would be feeling more settled. He was bound to be feeling jittery, it had been over twenty four hours since he’d taken cocaine, and the hardest part of his impending divorce was yet to come. He hoped that he and Paul would be up to the task of seeing him all the way through it.

Deciding that sorting out his belongings might only deepen Richard’s depression, Schneider asked Paul to take Richard into the practice room for an impromptu jam session, or if he preferred, to take him on in a computer game. Whatever would work to distract Richard from his thoughts. Paul nodded, and when Richard had put his load down in the hallway, grabbed hold of him and dragged him away. Schneider resumed emptying the van, content that Paul would be able to brighten Richard’s mood.

When he’d put the last box in its intended room, some two hours later, he realised he’d not seen hide nor hair of either guitarist since he’d dispatched Paul on his mission. Checking that he’d locked the front door, he went in search of them. As he’d spent a significant portion of the last couple of hours carrying boxes upstairs to the bedrooms, he surmised that the others were probably in the basement practice room. The soundproofing that he’d had installed would explain why he’d not heard a peep out of them if they’d not emerged for refreshments. He opened the door and descended the steps.

He pushed the lower door open and found the two missing men together on the old sofa that he’d put down there. Richard was seated upright with Paul’s head on his lap, the shorter man sound asleep, legs bent to fit on the sofa. An acoustic guitar was propped up next to the arm of the sofa. Richard smiled as Schneider entered the room and put a finger to his lips, gesturing for the drummer to be quiet. Schneider knelt down next to the guitar and whispered to Richard.

“How long’s he been asleep?”

“About an hour, he must be worn out from moving my stuff. I’m glad you’re here, I could do with taking a piss.”

“Happy to be of service. Can you open the doors if I carry him upstairs?”

“Hmmm, dunno. Bit beyond my capabilities, that….” Richard grinned.

“Sarcasm is a punishable offence, sweetie…” Schneider chided softy.

He moved to the front of the sofa and positioned himself so that he could pick Paul up without straining his back. Paul didn’t stir as he was lifted up off Richard and the sofa. Schneider stood to one side so that Richard could get up. The guitarist gave a muted curse as he pushed up from his seat.

“Problem?”

“Dead leg - gonna need a moment while I get the feeling back…”

“You sure holding the doors won’t be too much trouble?”

Richard gave Schneider a black look in response to his snark as he hobbled over to the door, opening it with a flourish and a mocking bow, before leading the way up the steps to the ground floor so he could hold that door open too. Schneider followed him, their friend laying supine in his arms the entire way to the bedroom. Richard pulled back the covers on his side of the bed so that Schneider could put Paul down on the bed without difficulty. The pair of them made light work of stripping him down to his underwear and pulling the covers back up over him.

Richard undressed himself, knowing now to fold things carefully if he planned on wearing them again, and to put everything else in the clothes hamper. Not wanting to risk waking Paul up by clambering over him to get into bed, he crossed to the other side and slipped under the covers, shuffling himself across the mattress to get to the centre of the bed allowing enough space for Schneider to get in beside him.

When Schneider turned out the light, Richard moved closer to him, peppering him with kisses and pawing at his chest hoping for more of the intimacy they had shared the previous night. While Schneider returned the kisses, he gently pushed Richard off him.

“Not tonight, love, I’m too tired. Get some rest.”

Richard pouted in the dark, then slipped one hand under the duvet, reaching for Schneider’s cock, while starting to shift to a kneeling position.

“If you’re tired you could just lay there, and I’ll ride you, I’ll do all the…”

He didn’t get to finish his suggestion as Schneider grabbed hold of his wandering hand by the wrist, yanking it back up above the edge of the covers. There was a hard edge to his voice as he continued to maintain a firm grasp on Richard’s arm.

“I said no, Richard. You obviously need a reminder about permission and the importance of consent. You’ve just broken a fundamental rule of sexual relationships. We’ll discuss it in the morning. Keep your hands to yourself and go to sleep, and don’t even think about forcing yourself on Paul either.”

Schneider turned over onto his side so that he was facing away from the younger man, leaving Richard reeling, a range of emotions fighting for dominance - fear, anger, confusion, hurt, and shame. He felt like storming off out of the room, but he didn’t want to disturb Paul and was afraid of further angering Schneider. In the end he too laid on his side, back towards Schneider, clutching his pillow with both arms, hot tears sliding down his nose and cheeks to drop onto the cotton pillowcase, slowly dampening it beneath his head. He tried to keep his breathing as quiet and regular as possible, trying to hide the fact that he was crying, not wanting to give Schneider the satisfaction of knowing how upset he was at the rejection.

After a couple of minutes he felt Schneider turning back over. He heard the other man sigh, before wrapping one arm around Richard’s waist and pulling him closer to him, Richard obstinately resisting at first, until Schneider kissed his shoulder, lips lightly brushing his bare skin.

“Come here, Reesh, turn over…”

The guitarist hesitated, his still-warring emotions leaving him uncertain as to how to behave.

“I know you’re struggling to adjust to all the changes to your personal circumstances, so I’m trying to be lenient with you, but there are certain lines that can’t be crossed. So, yes, I’m angry at what you tried to do, but that doesn’t mean I love you any less. I want you to be happy here with Paul and myself, you’ve got to give yourself time, don’t try to rush things. Now, come here for a cuddle, sweetheart…”

Richard rolled over, slipping his free arm under Schneider’s, across the drummer’s chest, head bowed down. Schneider wiped the younger man’s tears away with his thumb, then tilted Richard’s head up so he could deliver a kiss to his lips.

“I’m sorry, Schneider… I…”

“I forgive you. We’ll talk tomorrow, try to sleep.”

Richard sniffed, his breathing slowing gradually as he drifted off to sleep.

*

The next few days passed uneventfully, following ‘the talk’. Schneider laid down a set of rules that Richard had to follow while staying at the drummer’s house, in respect to both their personal relationship and how that extended to Paul, as well as with regards to behaviours in and around the house. So that Richard would be in no doubt, a copy was taped to the inside of the wardrobe door for him to refer to if needed.

During their discussion, Paul and Schneider divulged the full nature of their relationship, explaining the dynamics of their Dom/Sub lifestyle, and why they had temporarily ‘suspended’ it so as not to cause Richard any inadvertent mental or emotional discomfort, should he witness something that might shock him.

Aware that he’d been neglecting Paul’s physical and emotional needs while they looked after Richard, he made a promise that when the other band members returned from their various trips he would ask them to stay with Richard for a few days so that the two of them could have some time to themselves. The younger guitarist wasn’t thrilled at the prospect, and felt guilty that he’d been getting in the way of their relationship, but he accepted that it would be necessary if they all wanted to stay together going forward. Schneider reassured him that they wouldn’t go if there was progress with regards to Richard’s divorce hearing or the sale of his house.

It was agreed, for the time being at least, that only Schneider would have sex with Richard, but Paul was allowed to kiss and cuddle him as much as he wanted, unless expressly told otherwise by Schneider. It was suggested that while Richard was in this transitional phase - getting divorced, losing his home, getting clean from cocaine - he had more than enough to deal with emotionally without trying to work out the dynamics of their polygamous relationship. Once things had settled down a bit, they would review everything and decide how, or indeed if, they would continue forward.

Out of consideration for Paul, Schneider made sure that he and Richard only made love when the other guitarist was out of the house, or was safely ensconced In the soundproof practice room. While they waited for all their STD test results to come back from their various doctors, they continued using condoms, so Schneider made sure that the ‘evidence’ was cleared out of sight before Paul returned.

*

“Hello Schneider, I wanted to let you know that Nele and I are back home. How’s Richard doing?”

“I’m glad you called, I need to ask you something. But in answer to your question, Richard’s doing okay. We’ve managed to get him off the cocaine, and completed moving him here. Obviously he has some good days and some bad ones, but he’s generally going in the right direction. He had a bit of a wobble yesterday when we got confirmation that his house has gone on the market, but he’s calmed down again today.”

“It sounds like you and Paul have been doing a great job, I bet it’s been tough though, especially on the back of the tour.”

“I’m not going to lie, it has been a struggle at times. Actually, your comment brings me to what I wanted to ask you - would it be possible for you and either Flake or Ollie to stay here with Richard for a few days so that Paul and I could take a short break? We’ve already told Richard that we might be having a few days away, so he’s had time to prepare himself mentally for it. He shouldn’t be too much trouble.”

“Of course! I’ll call Flake now and see if he’s available. Let me get back to you later. Are you happy to go at any time?”

“As long as it’s not today, we can pretty much go at the drop of a hat. We’re both packed in readiness. We just need to give Richard sufficient notice so it’s not too disruptive for him. We’ve got him into a daily routine to give him some structure.”

“You’ll need to let me know what that routine is so that we can maintain it while you’re away. I’ll speak to you again shortly.”

They said their goodbyes, then Schneider hung up. He decided not to say anything to either guitarist until he knew for definite that Till was able to get an ‘assistant’. He made his way to the kitchen, the scent of freshly poured coffee wafting down the hallway. There he found Richard sitting at the kitchen table, a serene expression on his face after his first mouthful of the hot drink. Schneider approached him and popped a kiss on his forehead.

“You have that same look on your face after sex,” he remarked, smiling.

Richard blushed, cheeks turning a pink hue. “Do you want me to make one for you?”

“It’s okay, I’ll make a drink for myself. You enjoy your coffee. Have you finished your morning chores?”

“Yes. I wanted to get them done as quickly as possible so the afternoon was free for…well…whatever takes my fancy, or If you have plans…”

Richard paused, noticing that Schneider’s attention was elsewhere.

“Schneider…?”

“Sorry, love, I didn’t mean to ignore you. I just thought I saw someone trying to peer above the wall. I’m just going to check the perimeter and come straight back.”

Schneider made his way outside, walking around the edges of his property, paying particular attention to where he’d seen the person’s head from the kitchen window. The walls were in good repair, and the barbed wire fencing on the top was still intact. It looked like the would-be intruder had been climbing one of the trees in the park beyond, but had either been put off at the thought of attempting to negotiate the fencing, or had been spotted by a park warden and made to get down. He continued walking, checking that the gates at the end of the driveway were secured, and that nobody had made their way onto the property. Satisfied that all was well, he returned inside.

“Looks like it was just a kid climbing trees in the park, but just to be on the safe side we’ll keep the doors locked even when we’re inside, and keep the blinds and curtains drawn to maintain privacy.”

“But I like looking out at the garden, it’s peaceful…”

“How about we keep one curtain slightly open in the rear lounge with a chair just for you to sit in when you want to look out, but keep the others closed? It’s just a temporary situation, until we’re certain we don’t have anyone trying to pry. Would that suit you?”

Richard nodded, happy with that solution. Hearing the phone ring in the hallway, Schneider took his drink with him while he went to answer it.

“Oh, hello Till, that was quick…”

There were pauses as Schneider listened to Till on the other end of the line.

“Uh huh…right…and Flake’s okay with that? … That’s great… so, what time are you likely to get here? … Yeah… that’s fine. See you tomorrow then, bye.”

He hung up and returned to the kitchen where Richard was waiting to hear the outcome of the call. He’d finished his drink and washed the mug, placing it on the draining rack to dry. He turned away from the sink when he heard Schneider coming back down the hall. Schneider set his own mug down on the counter and pulled Richard towards him, encircling the younger man’s waist with his arms.

“Do you remember me telling you that Paul and I will probably be going away for a few days when the others got back from holiday?”

Richard nodded, chewing on his bottom lip anxiously.

“Well, Till and Flake have agreed to come here to stay with you from tomorrow. As your solicitor said it will be a couple of weeks before a date for the hearing is set, and your cocaine addiction has been broken, it’s probably the most ideal time for us to go. We’re not going to be far away, so we can come back quickly in the event of an emergency. When they get here in the morning I will be giving them the details of your daily routine, that should make things easier for you, so there are no surprises, okay?”

“I guess so. I don’t want you to go, but I understand why you need to. I’m sorry I’m such a burden on everyone…”

“You’re not a burden, baby. I like looking after you, but Paul needs a break, and I need to show him that I still love him too. It’s just a few days, then we’ll be back and we can continue caring for you. But before all that, I seem to recall you saying that you’ve done all your duties and have the afternoon free, right?”

“Yes…”

“In which case, get your pretty backside upstairs and strip off. I’ve got plans for you…”

He squeezed Richard’s buttocks before releasing him.

“I’ll be up in a couple of minutes, I’m just going to see to the curtains down here, make sure you close the ones in the bedroom…”

Richard nodded again, then practically ran out of the kitchen in his haste to obey. Schneider grinned. Richard was definitely feeling more comfortable about their changed relationship, and evidently enjoyed having sex with Schneider. He was also proving himself to be an enthusiastic lover, willing to try new things. Hopefully, when he and Paul returned home, Schneider could get him to take the next steps towards becoming a submissive.

While he considered how he would approach that he went in every ground floor room, drawing blinds, closing curtains, checking the locks on every window and door. While he’d told Richard that it was probably just a random person being curious about what lay behind the high walls, he thought it more likely that it was either a fan who had discovered where he lived, or possibly a member of the paparazzi on the hunt for a story, particularly if word had got out that Richard’s house was up for sale. Whatever it was, he was determined not to give the would-be intruder the chance to see anything that they wouldn’t want becoming common knowledge.

His checks completed, he ascended the stairs. Richard was stripped naked and in the process of folding his clothes as he knew was expected of him. Schneider whistled appreciatively at the sight of Richard’s lean, well-toned body.

“I will never grow tired of that view. You’re a work of art, you know that?”

He stepped forward until he was standing directly behind the younger man. He put one muscular arm around Richard, the hand resting on his chest just over Richard’s heart, the other hand sliding from Richard’s stomach down to his groin, taking firm hold of the guitarist’s growing erection. All the while, Schneider nibbled and kissed Richard’s neck and shoulders, his warm breath tickling the minute hairs there, eliciting shivers of anticipation.

“Kneel on the bed, while I get undressed, and prepare yourself for me, baby…”

Richard had never been asked to do that before, and felt self-conscious with Schneider’s eyes on him as he carefully pushed inside himself, coating his entrance with lube. When Schneider was free of his own clothes he grabbed a condom packet, holding it out to Richard.

“Put it on me….”

Schneider’s cock was standing at full attention, making it easier for Richard to roll the condom down its length, Schneider running his fingers through Richard’s hair while he was being attended to.

“Now, kneel facing the mirror, I want you to watch yourself while I’m inside you, so you can see how beautiful you are when I’m fucking you.”

Richard was definitely feeling embarrassed now, cheeks flushed red, the tips of his ears turning pink as he crawled on hands and knees to his new position, He felt the mattress dip as Schneider got onto the bed behind him, shuffling forward to kneel between Richard’s legs. Schneider ran his fingers down the length of Richard’s spine, then used his hands to stroke lightly down the younger man’s sides, finding that he was ticklish where his waist curved in slightly. As he drew his hands towards himself he traced the curves of Richard’s soft but firm buttocks, feeling Richard tense and relax at his touch.

Using one hand to separate them, Schneider used his other to place his cock at Richard’s entrance. He paused, looking in the mirror to make sure that Richard was still following his instructions. The younger man was having difficulty maintaining a constant gaze, and looked away every so often, but he kept returning so Schneider was satisfied with that for now. He could feel the guitarist trembling, so decided not to keep him waiting any longer.

The moment they looked at each other’s reflections he pushed inside him, burying himself right down to the root, making Richard gasp. He took a firm grip on Richard’s hips, to hold him in place as he slid himself slowly out until the head of his cock tugged at the ring of muscle, then back in again just as slowly, gradually building up speed. Richard’s mouth fell slightly open as he tried to keep his breathing regular, but he soon discovered that he was only capable of making involuntary noises as Schneider thrust into him.

“You sound as pretty as you look, baby, I’m so hard right now. You’re so hot and wet for me, and so tight! Just look how gorgeous you are…”

He reached one hand forward and grabbed a fistful of Richard’s hair, pulling the guitarist’s head up to force him to look at himself in the mirror, Richard wincing slightly as his hair was tugged at the roots. Schneider’s face was full of dark desire, which Richard found both a turn-on and just a little bit frightening. Watching Richard’s expressions Schneider smiled.

“Tell me how you feel, baby. How does it feel to have my cock in your pretty arse?”

Richard swallowed, a nervous response.

“I feel…you’re so big, you’re so…so strong… I feel like you could break me, split me in two….”

He moaned as Schneider started to hit his prostate, squeezing tight in response making Schneider jolt in turn. Realising that Richard might be getting close to climaxing Schneider let go of Richard’s hair, and took back his hold of his hips, pumping harder and faster, the only sounds in the room the smacking of skin on skin, and Richard’s panting as Schneider fucked him mercilessly.

“God, I’m gonna miss your sexy body while I’m away - I’m going to fuck you so long and hard when I get back you’re going to be unable to walk for days.”

He felt a fire in his belly, as his own orgasm built. He tried reaching for Richard’s penis, but had trouble maintaining his rhythm while he pounded into him. He gave up and tried another approach.

“I want you to jerk yourself off, keep watching yourself while you do it…”

“I can’t hold myself up like that with you fucking me…”

“Don’t worry about that, I’ll not let you fall on your face. Let me see you pleasuring yourself…”

Changing his hold to better support Richard’s weight, Schneider changed his rhythm to match the pace of Richard’s masturbating, albeit as a counter-rhythm so that there was no second of relief for the younger man. The combined stimulation proved to be Richard’s undoing, ejaculating over the bedsheets with a yell of Schneider’s name, breathing ragged as he struggled to stay in position while Schneider finished. Feeling himself starting to tire Schneider slammed hard and fast against Richard’s prostate making the younger man shudder again. That was enough to make him come. He pulled out immediately after and flipped Richard onto his back, smothering him with kisses while waiting for his heart rate to normalise. He disposed of the condom and continued kissing and nibbling Richard’s face and neck from his position to one side.

“You’re my perfect boy toy, you were made for me. I’m not going to let you go…”

Richard looked at him through half-lidded eyes, and answered him drowsily.

“That was incredible! Do you really have to go away? I’ll do whatever you want me to…”

“That’s a tempting offer, but I made a promise to Paul and I’m not about to break it. You need to know that if I promise you something that you can rely on me to not go back on my word. Right now, what I want you to do is to continue working on getting better, stick to your daily list and help Till and Flake around the house. I’ll phone here to check on how you’re doing, hopefully you’ll have a quiet few days, nothing’s scheduled on the legal front until after we get back. Try and have a chat with Till - tell him how you’ve been feeling since the wedding - maybe figure out between you why you’ve no been talking to each other like you used to do, and think of a way to change that.”

Richard looked downcast. He had hoped that after that amazing fucking he’d been given that Schneider might reconsider taking the trip. He gave a little sigh.

“Don’t be sad, baby. We’ll be back home before you know it. Come here and give me some sugar…”

Languid kisses and gentle caresses soon reignited their passion, hands starting to grope and squeeze until the lovers were unable to hold themselves back anymore. Schneider hastily grabbed a fresh condom and penetrated Richard without any extra lube, having discovered through this latest round of foreplay that Richard was still wet and stretched enough to take his cock without too much discomfort.

Schneider fucked Richard slowly, taking his time to make sure he noticed what made the younger man moan wantonly and what made him flinch, filing the information away mentally for future reference. He made sure that he didn’t mark Richard, as explaining to Till and the others how Richard had a love bite when he’d not had any female company was almost certainly going to tip them off about their affair.

They cuddled afterwards, both exhausted but content. Schneider had cleaned them both up before settling down with Richard’s head resting on his chest, aware that Paul was due back from the trip he’d taken to visit family earlier that morning. The sun that had been bright while he checked the perimeter had disappeared behind grey clouds, making the bedroom dim. Schneider decided to give themselves five minutes of snuggles before getting up and finishing preparations for the trip the following day.

*

The room was dark when Schneider woke, some movement or noise having disturbed him. A shadow moved nearby, Paul had realised that Schneider was no longer asleep and knelt down next to the bed so he could whisper to him without waking Richard.

“I’m sorry if I woke you, I tried to be quiet.”

“It’s okay, I only meant to close my eyes for five minutes, I need to finish getting ready for tomorrow…”

“I took care of that for you. When I got back and found the two of you looking so relaxed and cosy together I couldn’t bear to wake you so, knowing the jobs you planned to do, I finished them all.”

“Thank you Paulchen. I don’t deserve you, you’ve been so patient through everything.”

Paul smiled. “Oh, you’re going to make it up to me while we’re away, don’t you worry!”

“And who made you Master, hmm?”

“Wouldn’t that be fun, flipping roles?”

“Not gonna happen babe. Now, get in bed, we’ve got to get up early…”

“Yes, Master…” Paul leaned forward so that he could kiss Schneider goodnight, then padded softly round to his side of the bed to undress. Richard stirred slightly in his sleep as the mattress dipped when Paul got into bed behind him, cool air brushing his skin with the movement of the covers, but he settled again when Paul lay still.

Chapter Text

“Come in, Till. Hi Flake!” Paul greeted their ‘relief shift’ as he let them in, a beaming smile on his face.

“Good morning Paul. How are you?”

“Not too bad, how about you?”

“Better for having had my holiday, I’m guessing you’re ready for yours?”

“Oh, you know me, Flake. I’m happy just having a quiet time at home. After living out of a suitcase the last few months a few days doing nothing and going nowhere sounds very appealing.”

“I’m guessing it’s not been easy looking after our own little train wreck?”

“Hey, don’t call him that! It’s been difficult, but he’s been doing great, he’s getting better. He just needs time and for us to be patient with him. I know he can get through this.”

Flake held his hands up in surrender, taken aback by Paul’s vehement defense of Richard.

“Flake, can you join us for a minute, Schneider wants to go over a few things with us before they leave…”

“Sure…”

As Flake followed Till into the kitchen for their briefing, Paul turned and wandered into the rear lounge where Richard was sitting in a curled up position looking out at the garden beyond the window.

“Hey Reeshy, there you are! Till and Flake are here.”

Richard turned his head to look at Paul. “Yeah, I heard the doorbell.”

“Aren’t you going to go and say hello?”

Richard shrugged. “They’re going to be here a few days, I don’t see any need to hurry.”

“I suppose you have a point there, but it would be the polite thing to do. Come on, let’s go see them together…”

He held out his hand in invitation, waiting for Richard to take it. The younger man sighed, and begrudgingly unfolded himself from the comfy chair, accepting Paul’s help up onto his feet. Before they moved to join the others Paul stood on tiptoes and planted a kiss on Richard’s lips.

“I know you’d prefer for us not to go away, but it’s just for a few days while we recharge our batteries. We won’t be leaving the country, so we can be back quickly if needed, but you’re doing great, Reesh. If you continue following Schneider’s instructions you’ll be better in no time. I’m going to text you every morning to see how you’re doing, and to remind you how much I love you. Okay?”

Richard nodded, face still downcast.

“I’ll also be reminding you not to shag Till or Flake…”

That got a small laugh out of Richard. “Pretty sure I won’t need reminding about that…”

“Come on, put your brave face on, for Schneider’s sake if nothing else.”

Paul gently led Richard from the lounge and round into the kitchen where Schneider had just finished going through the ‘dos and don’ts’ of looking after Richard, showing them where the various things they may need were that had to be kept out of Richard’s sight and reach until they were certain he was no longer a danger to himself. Till smiled at his best friend and gestured for him to come for a hug.

“It’s good to see you up and about Scholle, I’ve been worried about you, but Schneider assured me he and Paul have been taking good care of you. I can see he was right. How are you feeling?”

“It’s difficult to say - some days are better than others - I’m trying to take things one day at a time. I’m happy to see you too, Till. I’m sorry for putting everyone to so much trouble…”

Richard pulled back out of the hug, still feeling awkward around Till. Fortunately Schneider had told Till and Flake to be aware of Richard’s quick mood changes, and to not force anything, he’d come around in his own time, so Till let go his hold on him quickly so as not to stress him out. Schneider caught Till’s eye and nodded his approval.

“Hello, Richard. I’m happy to see you too.”

“Thanks, Flake.”

“Richard, why don’t you make drinks for everyone while I show these two where they can put their things?”

Schneider led Till and Flake upstairs, knowing that Richard would carry out the task without further prompting.

“Richard doesn’t need two people staying with him at night anymore, so you could maybe take it in turns sleeping next to him, I’ll leave that up to the two of you to decide. If one of you sleeps in another room, you’d be best off in this one opposite mine. I’ve set it aside for Richard’s use when he’s recovered until he gets a new place for himself. During the day he has a list of things to do to give him a structured routine, which helps to prevent him dwelling on the things that are causing his stress and depression. He can be left on his own for short periods of time while he’s doing them, just make sure that everything I’ve mentioned are locked up and out of sight. You’ll need to find something to keep him entertained in the afternoons and evenings, but it has to be something you can do inside the house - he’s not ready to go out into public yet, and we’ve had what may have been a reporter trying to look over the perimeter wall, so Richard doesn’t want to go into the garden either until everything’s blown over. Right, I think that’s everything… once we’ve finished our drinks Paul and I will set off and leave you to it. If you want to put your things away, I’ll see you downstairs in a few minutes.”

Schneider disappeared downstairs as he headed for the kitchen. Flake looked at Till with an amused expression.

“Is it just me, or did that feel like a drill sergeant laying down orders to new recruits?”

“A little, but everything he’s said has made sense. Keeping things structured is probably a good way of helping Richard recover, he knows what to expect and when, so there are no unpleasant surprises.”

“So, what are we doing regarding sleeping arrangements?”

“I suppose, as his best friend, I should take the first shift sleeping next to him. We can see how things go from there. Schneider warned that Richard might not be able to settle with the change of circumstances, so he’s given me a bottle with some tablets that should help calm him. I’ll have to find somewhere to hide them…”

Till put down his hold-all packed with the things he might need for the next few days on the ottoman at the end of the bed, and waited while Flake put his bag in Richard’s room. The pair descended the stairs in search of the others before they departed. Paul entered the hallway from the rear lounge and picked his jacket off one of the clothes hooks on the wall.

“Wait a minute before you go into the lounge, Schneider’s giving Richard one last pep talk before we set off. Richard’s made drinks for you - they’re in the kitchen on the counter.”

“Thanks Paul.”

The short guitarist opened the front door so he could carry his and Schneider’s bags out to the van, a cool breeze blowing through the hallway as he left the door open. Flake was a few steps ahead of Till, and as a result missed something that made Till do a double take - he had casually glanced through the door of the rear lounge as he passed only to see Schneider and Richard engaged in what appeared to be a passionate kiss. When he looked again the two were standing slightly apart, with Richard looking miserable. Till decided that he was obviously seeing things, he knew Schneider and Richard were good friends
generally, but not that level of close. Shaking his head he continued into the kitchen, deciding that he was definitely in need of caffeine.

*

“It’s only for a few days, love. It’ll be over before you know it. Keep busy doing your daily chores, and take part in whatever activity Till and Flake suggest for the evenings, and you won’t have time to miss us…”

Richard sighed as he replayed Schneider’s words in his head. He knew he was behaving like a spoiled brat, but that didn’t stop him from feeling abandoned by his new secret lover. Lovers, he corrected himself, although he and Paul hadn’t yet been allowed to have sex. Just as soon as the thought popped into his head he glanced up, feeling like his inner thoughts might be writ large on his face for all to see, but Till and Flake were still busy discussing what they should cook for the evening meal and were apparently oblivious to Richard’s emotional turmoil.

He didn’t want to disappoint Schneider - who had offered him a home and the care and attention he needed to get clean, or Paul for that matter, who had done everything he could to keep Richard’s bad moods at bay - so he consulted his list and got to work on his tasks.

That evening they watched a couple of films which he found quite entertaining, but when the time came for them to turn in for the night, he felt a heaviness descend on his mood. Till had already checked where he should sleep on the bed - he wouldn’t be under all the covers alongside Richard, there would be at least one layer separating them and Till was generally hotter anyway and needed less cover - Richard had pointed to the side Paul normally occupied, as he didn’t like the idea of someone else in Schneider’s space, although he left that bit unsaid.

Till realised that Richard felt uncomfortable undressing in front of him, despite the fact that they had stripped off together hundreds of times previously, and offered to change in the bathroom in order to give him his privacy. When he returned to the bedroom he found Richard in bed, occupying the area to the right of centre, although he had his head on his own middle pillow. Till crossed to ‘his side’ of the bed, his footsteps silent on the carpet, and lifted the top cover, sliding himself underneath.

“Goodnight Scholle.”

“‘Night Tillchen.”

Turning off the bedside lamp, Till settled himself into a comfortable position. Following years of touring he had found he cut fall asleep pretty much anywhere at the drop of a hat, but with Richard fidgeting restlessly next to him he found sleep elusive. He switched the lamp back on.

“Having difficultly getting to sleep, Scholle?”

“Yeah, I can’t seem to relax, I’ve got too much going on in my head…”

“Give me a moment, I’ve got something that should help…”

“Oh, no, I can’t take anything! Schneider has tight control over my medication…”

“It’s okay - it was Schneider who gave me these for you just in case you couldn’t sleep. If you want to be sure we can phone him for confirmation.”

“He really approved it?”

“Yes. I’ve been told what your doses should be if you have any. You don’t need to worry, I’m not about to give you anything that could send you back down that rabbit hole.”

Richard worried at his bottom lip while he considered Till’s statement. Eventually he nodded, satisfied with Till’s explanation. Till went into the bathroom and poured out a glass of fresh water, then unlocked the small padlock on his hold-all, removing a tablet from a small pill bottle before locking it up again. He dropped the small white pill into the water and handed the glass to Richard.

“Get that down you, you should be asleep in no time.”

Richard put the glass to his lips and tilted it, swallowing a mouthful of water, handing the glass back to Till and opening his mouth wide, moving his tongue about so that Till could see that the tablet wasn’t being hidden. Till checked, slightly amused as hadn’t asked to inspect Richard’s mouth, and also made sure the pill wasn’t still in the glass.

“Erm, am I supposed to say ‘good boy’ or something when you’ve taken your meds properly?”

Richard shut his mouth, forehead creased in a slight frown.

“No, but with you saying that Schneider had authorised the tablets, I assumed he’d have asked you to check that I’d swallowed them and not tried to hide them.”

“He did - I just didn’t expect you to do it voluntarily, it caught me a little off guard. I suggest you get your head back down on the pillow, these things are known to work fast.”

Till put the glass on the bedside table and returned to the other side of the bed. Getting back under the cover he turned the lamp off again.

“Night, Scholle…”

He was met with silence. Leaning over to look at Richard, he found the younger man fast asleep already. Till smiled and laid back down.

When he awoke, hours later, Richard was still unconscious but had shifted during the night. His arms were hugging Schneider’s pillow, his face resting against it. It reminded Till of what he thought he’d observed the previous morning, but he dismissed it again, reasoning that if Richard had fallen asleep facing the other way he could have woken to Richard hugging him instead.

*

“It’s nice just being the two of us together, don’t get me wrong… I adore Richard, but I’ve missed having you all to myself.”

Paul and Schneider were laid in bed at Paul’s house, and had spent much of the evening engaged in foreplay followed by energetic sex. They were taking the first day as just ‘normal’ boyfriends, taking the time to get to re-learn their relationship. They would switch things up a gear the following morning, when they were more in the right mindset.

“I must admit it has been nice, not having to keep an eye on him, so I can give you my full attention. I’m looking forward to putting you through your paces tomorrow,” Schneider replied with an evil grin.

Paul gulped in mock-fear, knowing that Schneider would never put him through anything he couldn’t handle.

“Don’t worry, Master, I have my alarm set so that I can fetch you a newspaper and bring you your breakfast on time.”

“Good. I wouldn’t expect anything less. Are all the curtains and blinds shut, and the blackout sheet in place behind the front door?”

Paul didn’t have as much security as Schneider in place around his home, as most of the time he was at the drummer’s house, so keeping out prying eyes was less of an issue. They rarely indulged in their lifestyle at Paul’s house, it was easier to keep it hidden from view by only practicing it at one location rather than two, and as Schneider had a larger house and better security in place they had decided that would be the better property.

For the purposes of these few days away however, Schneider had bought a long blackout curtain that would hang behind the front door so that should anyone try peering through the letter box or the small glass pane in the door, the only thing they would see would be blackness. The rest of the rooms with exterior windows had their curtains or blinds shut, all the locks double checked, so that the couple could move around freely in whatever state of dress - or, more to the point, state of undress- they were in without fear of being seen, or photographed.

All the items they used as part of their relationship - bondage wear, sex toys, and ‘furniture’ - were kept under lock and key at Schneider’s, but they had packed a few of the smaller, less conspicuous items in the bags they had brought over, having previously discussed what elements they wanted to engage in while away.

“I’ve taken care of everything other than the blackout drape at the front door, which I’ll put in place when I get back from buying the paper.”

Schneider nodded, pleased. He had trained Paul to be a conscientious submissive, he liked him to do certain tasks without having to be given instructions first, and to listen and respond to any new commands without question. Occasionally, Paul’s mouth would get him into trouble - he would forget his station and say something snarky, a little bit of cheekiness was acceptable, it was after all a major part of Paul’s natural personality, but if Schneider deemed he’d overstepped his bounds he would be punished.

Sometimes Schneider thought that Paul would push his luck deliberately, so that he would get punished, the smaller man seemed to enjoy certain types of pain. When Schneider suspected that that was the case, he would formulate a punishment such as depriving Paul of something he liked, in addition to the corporal punishment, so that the guitarist didn’t get things all his own way. Schneider often fantasised about there being a day when he could punish Paul in public. He’d had the urge to strap a ball gag to his mouth on many an occasion and had considered suggesting to Till that instead of fake-sodomising Flake on stage - who did have a ball gag on in public, at least for that part of the set - he might do that performance with Paul. He knew that Paul would be horrified at the thought of being what he would see as humiliated in front of thousands of people. Flake didn’t give a fuck about his role, and took it all in his stride, feeling very secure in his own sexuality. Paul was out to his close friends and family, but he hadn’t told them who his partner was, otherwise as far as the rest of the world was concerned he was straight, and would have a female groupie or two each tour come to his hotel room in order to maintain the fiction. As a result, being fucked from behind by Till, albeit simulated, in front of an audience was Paul’s idea of hell.

“Have you thought any more about whether or not you’d be interested in taking things to the next level? You mentioned a while ago that you were curious about what it would be like to be a pet, rather than just a sub…”

“To be honest, with everything going on around Richard, I’d kinda pushed it to the back of my mind. I’ve been more concerned with rekindling our connection, and also wondering if and when you would let me and Richard fuck each other.”

“Well, use these next few days to think about it, and if you have any questions you’d like to ask me I’ll do my best to answer them plainly and honestly. Just like when we started our Dom/Sub roles, we can set aside some time for ‘trying it out’. If we do go ahead with it, remember that at any point in the future if you decide you no longer want to be a pet, then we can cease that aspect. With regards to Richard, I’ve been waiting for his blood test results to come back. When we know he’s clean, then we can discuss with him about whether or not he would consent to having sex with you as well. If he consents, we need to make sure he knows that everything regarding having sex with you has to be done with my permission as your Master. He also needs to know that there can’t be two masters in this relationship, so ideally he needs to be submissive too, and may need time to imprint on me properly, although he has shown promising early signs of that already. Be patient, Paul, it will happen when the time is right, maybe sooner than you think.”

*

Just after lunch on the fifth day all hell broke loose. Schneider was in the lounge sitting in an easy chair, watching a rerun of an old episode of Star Trek. He had a cup of tea on a small table next to the chair, and had his feet up, resting them on Paul’s naked back as the shorter man was filling the role of footstool at that particular moment. Schneider’s phone rang, the caller ID was Flake’s.

“Hey Flake! What’s….”

Flake’s voice was frantic on the other end, cutting him off from finishing his question.

“Schneider, please listen… You need to come to the hospital emergency department right away - Till’s on his way there in an ambulance with Richard. We think he’s tried killing himself again…”

Schneider sat bolt upright and motioned for Paul to get up.

“What do you mean ‘you think he’s tried’?”

“We’re not a hundred percent certain. Till was giving one of those pills to Richard to calm him down because he’d freaked out after watching the local news, and moments later Richard was having convulsions on the bed. Look, I can tell you more in a bit, but the pair of you should get to the hospital quickly in case…”

Schneider didn’t need Flake to finish that sentence. While he’d been listening to Flake, he’d stood up and headed for the desk where he kept the important papers.

“We’ll set off straight away, if they move him somewhere else you’ll let me know immediately, won’t you?”

“Of course. Hurry…”

Schneider disconnected and turned to Paul, patiently waiting for permission to speak despite being extremely worried, picking up on Schneider’s mood instantly.

“Get dressed. Richard’s in hospital, and we’re going there now. You’re free to move and talk as you wish.”

“What’s happened?”

“Flake says that he may have tried to commit suicide again.”

All the colour drained from Paul’s face. “Oh no….”

He ran upstairs to grab some clothes, dressing as quickly as he could, then racing back downstairs. The pair of them exited, locking up behind them, then jumped into Schneider’s van. The drummer was gripping the steering wheel so hard as he drove that his knuckles were white. Going as fast as he could without breaking the speed limit, he wove through the downtown traffic, impatient to get to their destination. He managed to find a parking space in the hospital car park fairly close to the Emergency Department, slamming the door shut as he jumped out, hardly waiting for Paul to keep up.

Flake was waiting for them inside, and led them down a corridor to a waiting room, passing several people who recognised them as local celebrities, stopping to stare out of curiosity as the trio passed them by. Till and Ollie were both in the waiting room, Ollie looking sombre, Till’s face streaked with tears. A lot of people had the impression that Till was a fearsome character, given his build and demeanour on stage, but the fans to some degree, and those closest to him, knew that he was a gentle soul, his emotions running just below the surface. This show of emotion given the circumstances came as no surprise to Schneider or Paul, both moving to hug the singer.

“What’s happened, exactly? Where is Richard right now?”

“He’s in one of the treatment rooms, they took an x-ray and discovered he’d swallowed several tablets, so they’re in the process of pumping his stomach,” Flake responded before continuing, a quick glance at Till to see if the singer wanted to give the explanation, “As for what happened - I don’t know if you saw the local lunchtime news on tv?”

Schneider and Paul both shook their heads.

“Well, Richard did….one of the headlines was the news about his divorce, and that the main reasons for Caron’s filing for it were his numerous infidelities and his cocaine addiction. He flipped out, shouting and screaming, he smashed a few things… Till managed to get him to stop, and said he’d get him a tablet to help calm him down. He’d got Richard to sit on the bed, opened the pill bottle and got a tablet out. As Richard reached out to take it from him, he knocked over the glass of water. Till went to get some fresh water in the en-suite and handed it to Richard who used it to swallow the tablet. What Till didn’t realise at the time, was that during those few seconds he was out of sight, Richard had helped himself to several more tablets, swallowing all of them with the fresh water. Till was just putting the pill bottle away again when Richard started thrashing around on the bed, as he started convulsing. That’s when Till realised what had probably happened, although we couldn’t know for sure until they’d taken the x-ray. As we’re not family, they won’t tell us any more, but Till mentioned that you have power of attorney over Richard, so they said If you brought that proof, then they could talk to you, and you could make any decisions that may be necessary…”

Till had the expression of a kicked puppy.

“I’m sorry Schneider, it’s my fault. I was only away a few seconds, so I thought…”

“It’s okay Till, don’t blame yourself. If it wasn’t the tablets I’m sure he’d have found some other way to do It. Let’s hope the doctors got to him in time…”

Schneider’s face was a mask of calm, but he was raging inside. It was an unfortunate slip up on Till’s part, but the only one to blame for Richard’s current predicament was Richard himself. Paul, however, on hearing the explanation was now openly crying himself. He sat in a corner, fishing in his pockets for a tissue, unable to find one. Ollie sat down next to him, and offered him a pack of tissues, having come prepared on receiving a similar call from Flake. Paul opened the packet, took a couple out, and handed the rest back to Ollie who looked to be on the verge of tears too. The waiting room door opened with a slight creak behind them all.

“Has Herr Schneider arrived yet?” the nurse enquired as she entered.

Schneider turned to face her. “I’m Herr Schneider. Do you need to see my identity and the legal papers?”

“I’m taking you to the doctor who’s been treating your friend, he’ll check your documents. If you’d like to come this way, sir?”

Schneider followed the nurse out of the room and along a few corridors, with several twists and turns. The nurse pointed out coloured lines on the floor he could follow in order to get back to the others without losing his way. They eventually stopped at a door where they had to be buzzed through in order to continue. There was a nurses’ station just beyond the door, an office behind it. Further down Schneider could see that they were in a ward, but all the patients were screened from view by large blue curtains on overhead tracks suspended from the ceiling. The nurse ushered him into the office.

“Ah, Herr Schneider, please come In. Could I see your ID and legal papers before we continue?…… They all seem to be in good order, thank you. Please, have a seat for a moment.”

Once Schneider was settled opposite him, the doctor got straight down to business.

“I’m not sure how much you’ve already been told, but I’ll go over everything as quickly as possible. Earlier this afternoon Herr Kruspe started having convulsions. On arrival in our emergency department, the attending nurse took a statement from a Herr Lindemann about what he suspected had caused Herr Kruspe’s condition. We took an x-ray of Herr Kruspe’s torso and discovered numerous tablets. We immediately took him to a trauma team who pumped his stomach. We were able to retrieve all the partially digested pills. Had we not got to him when we did he would almost certainly have died as he had roughly ten times the maximum recommended dosage in his stomach. We’ve been flushing his system with fluid in order to dilute the medication already in his bloodstream which had been the cause of Herr Kruspe’s convulsions. Obviously, with the quantity of tablets ingested, this was not an accidental overdose but a deliberate attempt to take his own life. I understand from his medical records that Herr Kruspe has a history of mental illness, and that he is also a drug addict, correct?”

“Richard does struggle with depression based on a traumatic experience from his past, and until recently was hooked on cocaine. However, my friend and I were able to break his addiction, and he had been coping quite well, we had things under control.”

“Do you know what may have triggered the attempt? Perhaps things weren’t as under control as you believed?”

“A couple of friends of ours have been looking after Richard while my friend and I took a short break, after caring for him for several weeks while he was in recovery. Apparently the details of Richard’s impending divorce have been leaked to the media, and it made the local lunchtime television news, which Richard happened to be watching. It was this that made him react so badly.”

“Hmm, I see. Let me take you to his bed so you can see him, then we can discuss options. After you…”

The doctor gestured to the doorway, tailing Schneider out into the ward, then leading him to one of the screened-off beds. Drawing the corner of one curtain back he ushered Schneider inside. Richard lay on the bed with eyes closed, an intravenous saline drip attached to one arm, and a blood pressure monitor to one finger. These were things that Schneider had expected to see. What he hadn’t expected, however, were the leather straps around Richard’s wrists and ankles, fastened with heavy duty buckles, and attached to the bed frame, rendering Richard incapable of moving his limbs.

“Are those entirely necessary?”

“After we finished pumping Herr Kruspe’s stomach he started to regain consciousness. He became highly agitated and tried to attack a member of staff, so we had to restrain him. We were then able to administer a sedative. It is our opinion he should remain in the cuffs during his treatment here in order to avoid a repeat attempt.”

“Are you sure Richard’s intention was to attack? It’s not in his nature. Isn’t it more likely he was just trying to escape?”

“I suppose it could be interpreted that way, yes. But given that he tried to take his own life, it would be in the interest of his own personal safety that he is restrained.”

“I’m not happy about this. If he wakes up and finds himself strapped down like this, it will probably trigger a flashback, leaving him worse off mentally.”

“Perhaps, then, we should consider having him transferred to the psychiatric ward…”

“Absolutely not! If you don’t mind, I’d like our friends to join us, and we can discuss the way forward.”

“I’m not sure that’s wise, if the patient wakes and finds himself surrounded, it could cause stress…”

“Not as much stress as discovering he’s restrained. While I have the legal power to decide what happens to Richard, we are a group, and make decisions as a group, especially when the outcome will affect all of us.”

“I’ll ask the nurse to bring them here. If you need to speak to me, I’ll be in my office.”

“Thank you.”

While the doctor went to speak with the nurse, Schneider took hold of one of Richard’s hands and gave it a gentle squeeze. Richard’s fingers twitched in response but he remained unconscious. Schneider let go of the hand and bent forward to kiss Richard lightly on the lips.

“What have you done, baby? Why didn’t you call me, or ask Till to? I would’ve come home straight away,” he whispered in his ear. “Don’t you give up, Richard, we can win this fight together. Come back to me, my love…”

There was no response from the younger man, nothing to indicate he’d heard Schneider’s words. Schneider sighed and sat in the moulded plastic chair next to the bed, taking hold of Richard’s hand again. The nurse appeared at the gap in the screen curtains and showed the other band members in, requesting they keep their voices low so as not to disturb the other patients in the ward.

“Fuck…” Till let out a whispered curse on seeing the restraints.

“Why have they done that to him?” Paul asked, shocked.

Schneider relayed what the doctor had said about the perceived attack, and how he thought it was in Richard’s best interests.

“What a load of bollocks, even shitfaced on coke and whatever else he’s taken, he never got aggressive with anyone. He was probably scared shitless and trying to make a run for it…”

Schneider told Till that he agreed with his assessment. Reminding them of Richard’s troubled past he pointed out how damaging keeping Richard restrained could be on his psyche, and what the doctor had suggested.

“No fucking way are we letting them put him in the loony bin! If they refuse to treat him without him being strapped to the bed, then I suggest we take him out of here. We can take turns looking after him again, but I’ll not fall for his tricks a second time!”

“Do you all agree we should get him released? If you don’t think we’re capable of looking after him, now’s the time to speak up.”

Schneider looked at each of them in turn, all four nodded their agreement.

“So, we get him back to the house, and Paul and I will pick up where we left off.”

“Don’t you want to take the rest of your break?”

Paul answered Flake’s question. “I don’t think there’s any way either of us could relax knowing what state Richard is in. No, we need to be at his side right now.”

“I feel like this is all my fault, I’m the one who let him get his hands on the tablets. I should be the one to look after his recovery.”

“Don’t beat yourself up about it, Till. Trust me, if he hadn’t got those and was determined enough, I’m sure he would’ve found another way. Paul and I will be able to cope, we’ve got looking after Richard down to a fine art. I’m going to see the doctor to get him released, and then we’ll have to decide how best to get him home, hopefully avoiding any reporters.”

*

The doctor had tried to dissuade them from getting Richard released, but eventually gave in under Schneider and Till’s insistence. Fortunately, word of Richard’s hospitalisation hadn’t reached the news media, so they were able to get back to Schneider’s house unimpeded. Till had insisted on carrying the still-unconscious Richard into the house and up to the main bedroom.

While he and Flake gathered their belongings together Richard started waking up. Till stopped his packing and rushed to the bed, pulling Richard upright to give him a bear hug.

“I’m so glad you’re alright, Scholle. I thought I’d lost you, it broke my heart seeing you like that…”

When he pulled back a bit he realised that Richard hadn’t responded. His arms hung limply at his sides and his eyes seemed to be fixed on a point somewhere behind Till. Worried, he checked for a pulse, breathing a sigh of relief when he found a strong steady rhythm. Hearing Till talking to Richard the others had crowded into the room. Seeing Richard’s apparently fixed gaze Flake waved his hand in front of the younger man’s face, getting no reaction.

“The lights are on but nobody’s home,” he pronounced.

“Do you think that’s as a result of the drugs and the convulsions, or perhaps the sedative still having some effect?” Oliver asked, frowning.

“Possibly either one of those, or it could be that he’s had a complete psychotic break and has retreated into his own mind,” Flake opined.

“I don’t think they call it a ‘psychotic break’ any more, Flake…” Paul said, not liking that implication, moving to his side of the bed and taking hold of Richard’s nearest hand, the other guitarist not seeming to notice and offering no resistance.

“Well, whatever you want to call it, it looks like he’s going to be out of it for quite a while,” Flake responded, as he left the room to get the rest of his belongings.

Till got off the bed, allowing Schneider to sit next to Richard, the drummer rearranging the pillows so that Richard could sit up with his back supported. Ollie sat a little further down the bed, knowing that Richard probably wasn’t listening he spoke anyway.

“I’m sorry you’re going through such a rough time, Richard, and I hope you start to feel better soon. If there’s anything I can do to help, just ask. I have to go now as I’ve got family duties requiring my attention, but I’m just a phone call away.”

He got up, placed a kiss on Richard’s forehead, again with no reaction from the guitarist, and gave hugs to Schneider and Paul before he left the room. Flake said his goodbyes too and took Oliver up on his offer of a lift home. Till carried on packing the rest of his things into his hold-all while Schneider tried to get a response from Richard. As he spoke he gently put one hand on Richard’s cheek, stroking it softly with his thumb.

“Hey Richard, It’s me, love. You’re home again, you’re safe. Come back to us, sweetheart…”

Till’s jaw dropped as Richard blinked, his eyes refocusing to take in his surroundings, then on noticing Schneider next to him the younger man flung his arms around Schneider’s neck, head buried against the drummer’s shoulder, and started sobbing.

“How did you do that?” Till asked, in awe.

Schneider turned his head so he could look at Till.

“I don’t know. It could be that he was already snapping out of it, and it just coincided with me talking to him.”

“Maybe, but I doubt it. It looks to me as though he’s formed a strong bond with you during the past few weeks, and that’s how you were able to reach his mind…”

“I suppose that’s possible. Whatever it was, I’m just glad he’s responding, even if my shirt is getting a soaking right now,” Schneider remarked, with a rueful smile.

“If you ask me, we made the right choice getting him out. You and Paul are quite evidently the right people to take care of him. I better get on my way, and leave you to it. Is there anything you need before I leave?”

“As long as there’s enough milk in the fridge for a round of drinks we’ll be fine. Anything else we can sort later. But thank you for offering, Till.”

The singer nodded in acknowledgment and went first to hug Paul, then Schneider and Richard together, as Richard was stuck fast to the drummer.

“I hope you’re feeling better soon, Scholle, I’m sorry I let you down. I’ll always be here for you if you need me, don’t be afraid to ask. Be good for Schneider and Paul, okay? They’re definitely the best people to help you.” He turned to face the other two. “Don’t feel you have to do this all by yourselves, if there’s anything I can do to help, please let me know.”

He picked up his bag, and made his way to the front door, Paul trailing behind him, ready to lock the door once Till had left. Till handed the house keys they had lent him back to Paul, pausing as he put his hand on the door handle.

“I get the impression that Schneider and Richard have a much deeper bond than I thought, is it something you’ve noticed too while you’ve been with them?”

“Yes, this whole situation has definitely brought them closer together. I think Schneider has had a positive influence on Reesh, so I’m certain that with time Schneider will be able to help Richard recover properly.”

“I hope so. Knowing how difficult a task you have ahead of you, I’ll try to keep calls to an absolute minimum. I trust one of you will call if there are any significant changes, for better or worse?”

“Of course. Even if there aren’t any changes I can make sure we update you all weekly.”

Till gave a tight smile. “Thank you. Don’t forget you can call me if you need anything. Bye, Paul.”

“See you later…”

Paul closed and locked the door, then did a quick check of all the ground floor doors and windows, making sure they were locked, and the curtains closed. Once he was satisfied he returned to the main bedroom. Richard’s sobbing had slowed and he was wrapped in Schneider’s arms, the drummer speaking to him in soothing tones.

“It’s okay, Reesh, we’re home again. You want to tell me why you took those tablets instead of calling me?”

Richard sniffed and shook his head.

“I’m not going to be angry with you, baby, I just want to know what was going through your head. Telling me will help me to help you. Till told me you saw something on the news, is that right?”

Richard nodded, answering quietly, “Yes…”

“Tell me about it, sweetheart.”

“They had a…a report about my divorce, and that Caron had filed on the grounds of ‘numerous instances’ of adultery, and my addiction to coke. They showed my house, and mentioned it was for sale, and that I probably wouldn’t have any money from the sale because she’d get it all. They made me sound like a horrible person…” he trailed off, fresh tears tumbling down his cheeks.

Schneider wiped them away with his thumbs, and kissed Richard’s temple. “So, what happened afterwards? Why didn’t you call me?”

“I just couldn’t think straight. I was angry and scared and upset all at once, it felt like I was being crushed by an invisible force…I lost control, and you weren’t there to tell me what to do, and to tell me everything will be alright… I think Till managed to get me to the bedroom, but it didn’t feel like I was in my own body, I just felt like a puppet. I don’t really remember anything after that, except that I just wanted everything to stop…”

“Do you want me to tell you what to do from now on - would that make it easier for you, not having to make any decisions?”

“I’ll do anything you want me to, if you promise not to leave me behind again. I hated not being with you and Paul, even before I saw the news…”

“You understand what you’re asking me to do - taking control over everything you do?”

“Yes. Paul has told me that you’re a caring master, that you’ve made him happy and looked after him. I want that for myself too, if you’ll have me, I don’t want to let you down again.”

“Paul, are you happy for me to take on Richard as a second submissive?”

“Yes, Master, I am.”

“Would you be willing to help him with his training?”

“Yes Master. Are we to start straight away?”

“I think Richard’s been through enough for today, we can start in the morning. Could you drive back to your house tonight and grab my belongings, and some fresh clothes for yourself and come back?”

“I can leave right now if you wish?”

“That would be good. Could you bring me my mail before you set off? I think I’m going to be cuddling this one for the rest of the day.”

“Of course, Master. Would you like drinks bringing too?”

“Would you like a coffee, Richard?”

The younger guitarist nodded, and Schneider motioned for Paul to take care of it. Paul reappeared a few minutes later carrying two mugs and a small pile of envelopes.

“Thank you, Paulchen. If you need an hour or two to sort things at your house before returning you have my permission to do so. Any problems, call me on my mobile.”

“Yes Master, thank you. I’ll try not to be too long.”

Schneider managed to get Richard to sit up on his own again so that he could drink his coffee. While he sipped at his own he started going through the mail which had accumulated while he’d been away. Amongst the letters were the results of Richard’s blood tests, all showing negative for infection. The rest were utility bills and bank statements, nothing that needed his immediate attention. He put the papers on the bedside table and drank the last of his coffee. He turned to Richard and took the empty mug from his hand, setting it down next to his own.

Turning back to Richard he caressed his cheek then leant in for a kiss. Richard responded eagerly, desperate for the attention. Schneider moved his hand down to Richard’s crotch, squeezing gently making Richard moan. Quickly removing his own clothes, discarding them carelessly, Schneider unfastened Richard’s clothes and threw them on the floor next to his own. His gaze swept over every inch of Richard’s body, savouring the view. He opened the drawer of his bedside cabinet and took out the lube.

He crawled back on the bed and straddled Richard, mouthing at his neck and jawline while his hand played with Richard’s cock, stroking him to full hardness. Schneider moved to kneel between Richard’s legs, the younger man bending them towards himself so that Schneider could prepare him. Secretly pleased that Richard was already showing submissive tendencies, Schneider worked his fingers, stretching Richard open, the guitarist shuddering and moaning with each contact. When Schneider was happy that Richard was ready he coated his own cock with the lube and penetrated him.

“I’ve missed your perfect ass and your hot tight hole. I’m gonna cum so hard inside you, baby.”

Richard flushed red, every thrust of Schneider’s hips forcing moans and soft whines from his mouth. He clawed at Schneider’s back when he increased the intensity of his thrusts, his legs around Schneider’s waist, his heels at the small of his back. He tilted his head back, exposing more of his throat to his lover. Schneider accepted the invitation, starting with covering his neck with kisses before biting down on him, making Richard jerk and groan in pain.

“That’s it, baby, moan for me. Let me know how it feels to have me inside you…”

Richard was only too happy to comply, emitting sounds that only served to turn Schneider on more. He grabbed Richard’s wrists pinning them either side of his head, changing the angle and speed of his thrusts eliciting more moaning. He slowed his pace, prolonging the contact, the head of his cock rubbing against Richard’s prostate agonisingly slowly, making Richard shudder repeatedly.

“Are you ready, baby? I’m coming any moment now…”

Richard nodded, unable to speak as waves of ecstasy continued to wash over him. Schneider smiled and kissed him on the lips, upping his pace again. He could feel Richard starting to squeeze tight around his cock as the younger man felt his own orgasm building, until he shuddered one more, his cum covering his abdomen. With a grunt of effort Schneider came inside Richard, his seed spilling out to fill him. Schneider continued to thrust until he was spent, then withdrew, panting hard.

He flopped onto his side, peppering Richard’s chest with kisses.

“You were incredible baby. You made such pretty noises for me.” He traced a finger around the edge of the bruise already blossoming on Richard’s neck, making the younger man wince. “This is my mark, you belong to me now, baby, and only me. I’ll let you and Paul play together on occasion, as a reward for good behaviour. From now on, whenever we have sex I won’t be using a condom, I’m going to want to see my cum dripping from you.”

As he spoke he shifted his hand down, his finger now circling Richard’s entrance making him shiver, gathering some of his seed onto his finger which he held up to Richard’s lips. Richard looked at the finger then up at Schneider, waiting patiently for him to realise what was expected of him. Following a moment’s hesitation he opened his mouth so Schneider could insert his finger. Closing his lips around the finger he sucked at it, learning his lover’s taste, swallowing the bitter fluid as Schneider removed his finger.

“Good boy, you’re a quick learner. Tomorrow morning we start your proper training, Paul’s going to help you. As for tonight, we can do whatever you feel like.”

Richard was clearly nervous as he sat up, giving Schneider a chaste kiss, then switched to a kneeling position. Schneider hadn’t yet reached for the cloth he would normally use to wipe him down, and as he’d ridden Richard bareback instead of using a condom, his cock was still coated with the mixture of lube and his own semen. Richard gingerly took hold of Schneider’s cock with one hand, and bent down, his tongue flicking over the whole length repeatedly until Schneider was clean. The sight of the beautiful young man tending to him in that way got Schneider semi-hard again and he let out some moans of his own.

“That’s enough now, baby… come here and let me clean you up.”

He patted the mattress next to him, and grabbed the cloth ready to wipe Richard down. Richard looked up at him with his blue-grey eyes, wondering if Schneider really wanted him to stop, the arch of one eyebrow was enough to convince him. Obediently, he made his way back up towards the pillows, laying down on his side so that Schneider could clean him properly.

“Good boy…”

Schneider wiped him off with firm strokes around the curves of his buttocks and his inner thighs. When he was done he kissed Richard’s hip, his waist, and his shoulder, gently turning him until he was laid on his back.

“You should get some sleep, sweetheart, tomorrow’s going to be a busy day for you.”

He kissed Richard softly on the lips, and pulled the covers up over them both. Richard rolled onto his other side so that he was tucked up next to Schneider and slid his arm around the drummer, head nestled on his shoulder. They were both asleep, still in that same position, when Paul returned to the house. Diligently, he quietly picked up the clothes from the floor, either putting them in the laundry hamper or folding them ready to be worn again. As he moved near the bed to pick up the cloth Schneider stirred.

“Hey, how long have you been back, love?” he whispered.

“Only a few minutes, Master. I thought I had better tidy up before getting into bed so there’s less to do in the morning. I’m sorry if I disturbed you…”

“No need to apologise. Speaking of the morning, we should go over how we start Richard’s training.”

“‘We’ Master?”

“Yes, ‘we’ -as I said earlier I want you to have an active role, you’ve been my sub for a few years now, so you have a different perspective from me. You can help Richard understand what I want from him, and maybe explain his mindset to me and what he may be feeling as he learns his role. I’d also be interested in your assessment of him after his first day, see how it compares to my observations.”

“Thank you for the extra responsibility, Master.”

Schneider snorted quietly, amused. “Don’t be so quick to thank me, you may regret it before the week’s out. Now, kiss me goodnight and get into bed…”

Chapter Text

“Okay Reesh, I guess the first commands you should learn are the ones Master uses most often. These are: one - ‘wait for me’, where you are expected to kneel in readiness wherever you happen to be at the time. You can kneel with a straight back, or if you feel the need to, you can lean forward and rest your upper body on your arms. Master may say ‘wait for me’ and specify a different room, you’ll eventually discover the best places to wait in each room.

Secondly, If Master tells you to be ‘ready and waiting’ for him, that means you should prepare yourself with lube and wait for him, usually in the bedroom, but he may specify somewhere else, depending on his mood. In both these instances you’re to wait quietly without fidgeting. The only time it’s acceptable to break from position is if you are likely to come to harm if you don’t. By that, I don’t mean if you need the bathroom, you should either hold it in, or better yet, make sure you go if you have to before Master gives any commands.

I assume Master has assured you that even though you’re in a submissive role, you do have control over everything that happens to you?”

Richard nodded, listening intently.

“So, just to recap those points then, if Master introduces something new, such as a different position or toy, and you’re uncomfortable with it, you tell him immediately. If you’re gagged or unable to say your safe words for some other reason, you will have a physical signal you can use to make Master aware. Don’t worry about him not noticing the signal, he’s very attentive, you’re safe with him.

I think he’s going to start you off slowly, letting you get used to the basics. He’s also allowing you to wear minimal clothing instead of being totally naked to begin with, until you’re more comfortable. Any questions so far?”

Richard shook his head.

“Master gave me instructions to have you wait for him in the kitchen while he has his shower. He’ll be sorting out your breakfast for you. I’ve been given instructions to get his and my breakfasts ready, just in case you are wondering why I won’t be waiting for him alongside you. So if you’re ready, let’s go downstairs…”

Richard had been sitting on the edge of the bed, putting on a vest top and briefs while Paul had been explaining things, he stood up to follow Paul out of the bedroom. As he was expected to walk about barefoot he had a new appreciation for how clean and tidy he’d been asked to keep the floors as part of his daily routine. There wasn’t much chance of his standing on anything sharp or otherwise and hurting his feet, he’d vacuumed every square inch of each room and moved larger objects off the floor to safer and tidier locations as directed by Schneider.

When they reached the kitchen Paul pointed to a spot to the side of a chair at the table.

“You’re to wait there, next to Master’s chair, no speaking. If you need to attract my attention, tap the table leg three times and wait for permission to speak, okay?”

Richard nodded, and knelt down on the floor, resting his bum on his heels so he could watch Paul at work. The kitchen was soon filled with delicious smells as bacon sizzled in a frying pan, and freshly filtered ground coffee was poured out into mugs. Schneider wandered in, a fresh clean scent clinging to him from his shower. Ignoring Richard completely he crossed straight over to where Paul was finishing his cooking, and picked up the drinks, setting them on the table before sitting down to wait for Paul to serve out the dishes.

As he chatted with Paul he motioned to Richard to move closer to his chair. The guitarist shuffled sideways and resumed his position. Schneider reached out with one hand and started petting Richard, running his long fingers through Richard’s hair, stroking his cheeks and jawline absently while discussing the day’s plans with Paul. Realising that he wasn’t expected to contribute to the conversation Richard started to tune it out, choosing instead to go over in his head everything he’d been told since waking up that morning, wanting to make sure he didn’t forget any instructions. He relaxed as Schneider continued caressing him, resting the side of his head against Schneider’s thigh, eyes closed.

He was starting to drift off when he realised that Schneider was no longer petting him. He opened his eyes and lifted his head up, wondering why the attention had stopped. Schneider was busy tucking into his breakfast, needing both hands for the cutlery. Richard’s stomach growled, making Schneider laugh.

“Hungry, little one?”

Richard nodded. Breaking off a bit of bacon, Schneider held the meat out between thumb and forefinger.

“Here you are, this will put you on until I get yours ready. Careful - it’s hot!”

Richard craned his neck closer to Schneider’s hand and opened his mouth, but he didn’t grab the meat. Schneider smiled and placed the bacon on Richard’s tongue, waited for Richard to secure it between his teeth before releasing his hold. Richard chewed the bacon slowly, enjoying the taste.

“After breakfast I want you to take Richard downstairs to the playroom, show him everything down there. Let him ask questions about anything he might not be familiar with, but you’re not to demonstrate any of them, I’ll do that myself. After that, see he gets on with his chores. If he finishes them before lunchtime he can have a coffee and a smoke, then he’s to wait here again.

I’ve got some paperwork to get through this morning and calls to make, so keep the noise to a minimum please. You have your own tasks to do, but I’ll need you to keep checking in on Richard to make sure he’s alright. Have lunch ready for one o’clock.”

He pushed his plate aside, having finished his meal. Standing up he made his way to the counter where the cooker was, and set to work making Richard’s breakfast. He’d decided that, for the first week at least, Richard would be given the same meals as Paul and himself, albeit after they’d both eaten so that he understood his place in the pecking order. After the first week’s assessment he would review that and start altering his meals, as well as adding to or changing Richard’s tasks.

Schneider placed the bacon, sausage and scrambled egg on a plate, cutting them into bite-size pieces. Setting the plate down on the table while he sat back down, he stabbed a bit of sausage with a fork and held it out in front of Richard. When the guitarist opened his mouth Schneider popped the food-laden fork in his mouth, withdrawing it when Richard closed his lips around the sausage. Schneider continued feeding Richard his breakfast until the plate was empty. He picked up his mug which still had some coffee left over, and held it up to Richard’s mouth so that he could sip at it.

“Go and clean your teeth, and use the toilet if you need to, then wait for Paul at the door to the practice room. You may walk upright between now and lunchtime, but I want you waiting here for me before one o’clock. Any questions?”

Richard shook his head. Glancing over at Paul, Schneider received the same response. Satisfied, Schneider stood back up and headed out of the kitchen towards the small office he’d set up on the upper floor. Paul cleared the kitchen table, putting the mugs and plates down on the counter next to the sink, and turned to Richard, still sitting on his haunches next to Schneider’s chair.

“You’re allowed to stand up now, you know…”

Richard gave a pained expression, but didn’t say anything.

“You’re also allowed to speak…” Paul added with a grin.

“Thank goodness… I don’t suppose you can help me up, could you? My legs seem to have gone to sleep.”

Paul chuckled. “I probably should have told you to keep shifting position slightly to stop that from happening, so I’m sorry for that. Come on, shift on to one side, you should be able to move your legs out from underneath you now…here, I’ll help… have you got pins and needles in your legs?”

“Only all the way up on both of them!”

The shorter guitarist squatted down next to Richard and helped to steady him as he moved.

“Shift yourself onto one side like I said, now you should be able to move your legs out from under you, that’s right, bring then round in front of you….”

Paul helped to massage the feeling back into Richard’s legs, then pulled him to his feet once the tingling had gone.

“You better get to the bathroom and back downstairs as quickly as possible, if I’m to show you the playroom and have both our chores done by lunchtime.”

“What is this playroom, anyway? Is it just another name for the practice room in the basement, because if it is, I’ve already seen it!”

Paul smiled, knowingly. “Oh, trust me - you definitely haven’t seen it! You’ll find out soon enough!”

Confused, Richard made his way to the bathroom to do as he was told. He looked at himself in the mirror, taking in how he appeared now that he was clean of the drugs. His skin had a better complexion and his eyes were brighter. He pondered on the fact that not one, but two, of his friends were apparently in love with him, and that he was in a relationship with both of them with both their knowledge and consent. He realised that as he thought about them a smile had crept up on his face.

The situation was a far cry from how he’d envisioned his life going, and was poles apart from the relationship with his soon-to-be ex-wife who would have a screaming fit at him if he so much as glanced at a pretty woman. Deciding that he didn’t want to dwell on that he finished up and returned to the ground floor, waiting quietly for Paul to show him this mystery room Schneider had mentioned. As if the act of just thinking about him had served to summon him Paul appeared.

“Ready, Reesh?”

“As I don’t know what to expect, I’m not sure, but I’ve finished with the bathroom, so I’m in your hands…”

“Ooh, I wish you were! But Master hasn’t given us permission, so I’m going to have to wait. Come on, I better show you around….”

Despite everything, Richard grinned at Paul’s comment, further confirmation about the other man’s feelings towards him. He followed Paul down the stairs that led to the basement practice room, and through the door. Everything was as it had been the last time he’d been down there with Paul, with the guitar still resting at the side of the sofa, and Schneider’s practice drum kit taking up most of the space. There was a door at the other end which he’d not been through, but he’d assumed that it might be a basic studio setup like the one at his house.

His assumption turned out to be correct, but the studio appeared incomplete. He was about to ask Paul if this is what Schneider had been referring to as his playroom when Paul pushed aside a life sized cardboard cutout of Schneider and his kit, a promotional item for Schneider’s preferred make of drums. The cutout had been hiding another door, much to Richard’s surprise. Paul produced a key from his pocket and unlocked the door. Pushing it open, he beckoned Richard forward as he switched the lights on.

Curious about a room that Schneider kept hidden from the casual observer, Richard strode forward through the doorway, coming to a complete standstill a few paces in, eyes wide. Paul grinned, remembering the first time Schneider had shown him the playroom. Along one wall there were hooks and shelves with all manner of bdsm equipment - handcuffs, whips, paddles, floggers, spreader/keeper bars - and more mundane sex toys such as anal plugs and vibrators. There was a bed at the far end, with a frame that was suitable for using the equipment on.

A sex-swing hung from the ceiling, and there were other items of ‘furniture’ which Richard was unfamiliar with. Paul nudged him forward gently, encouraging him to have a closer look. He wandered over to the wall of equipment, noticing more items than he had at first glance - various gags and harnesses, some rather disturbing items that looked like medieval torture devices, and assorted feathers and fluffy things that appeared decidedly out of place.

He ran his fingertips over various items as he looked at them, subconsciously registering their feel as he did so. Turning away from the wall he saw there were other things in the room he hadn’t previously noticed, notably some collapsible metal structures whose use Richard couldn’t begin to fathom, a sink unit and washing machine in one corner presumably for cleaning toys and equipment, and a cage big enough to contain a large dog… or a human.

“Master said I should answer any questions you might have about anything in here. Do you have anything you want to ask?”

Richard gave a short laugh. “Where do I start? I…this place…” He stopped, at a loss for words.

“Yeah, I kinda had the same reaction. Mind you, there was a lot less in here back then. Master’s been adding to his collection gradually over the last few years. I don’t think we’ve used everything yet. Certainly not the cage, that’s his latest acquisition. We’d discussed the possibility of me progressing to the next level.”

“What do you mean, ‘the next level’?”

“I think that’s something best explained by Master, he’s the expert in these matters.”

“I’m not sure I’m ready to try most of the things in here, some of them look pretty scary!”

“Master won’t do anything you’re not comfortable with, he’ll start you with the basics, assuming you’re interested in giving it a try, blindfolds and handcuffs, that kind of thing. He’s not going to put you in a stockade straight away, it took months for me to get to that stage. Well, if you’ve had enough of a look around for now, I better lock it back up. We still have our chores to do before lunch.”

Richard had another quick glance around the room then led the way back out, waiting in the studio as Paul secured the door and replaced the cutout. He was quiet as they returned to the ground floor, pondering everything he’d been shown as he started his duties.

*

“Reesh… Reesh… Hey, Richard!!”

Richard jumped, startled, as Paul laid a hand on his arm when he hadn’t responded to his first couple of calls.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. Are you okay, Reesh?”

“Uh, yeah… I think so. I was just thinking things through.”

“I guessed that, you’ve been polishing that same spot on the table for five minutes now. I think it’s done!” Paul grinned. “If you’re finished, I’ll get you a coffee and a cigarette. You can have them in the lounge, then come through to the kitchen and wait for Master while I cook lunch.”

Richard looked around, checking he’d not missed anything he needed to clean. He put the lid back on the can of furniture polish and put it back in the box of cleaning items. Picking up the box, he carried it into the utility room just off the kitchen, placing it on its shelf. Turning on his heel he went to look for Paul, the thought of coffee and cigarettes very appealing. There was a steaming hot cup of coffee on the kitchen table next to his cigarette packet and lighter.

“Just one…” Paul instructed him as he reached for the cigarettes. “Then straight back here when you’re done, okay?”

Richard nodded, showing Paul he’d only taken the one, then took his drink into the lounge, only lighting his cigarette when he sat down. He took his time, savouring the taste of both, not knowing when he might be ‘allowed’ to have either again. Part of him thought that he ought to be angry at being told what he could and could not do, but he found that he wasn’t, and in fact, actually enjoyed having his activities for the day planned out for him. It was liberating not having to make any decisions. He glanced at the clock on the mantelpiece, which showed the time as five to one. He frowned, trying to recall what it was that was to happen at one. Suddenly remembering he stifled a curse, stubbed his cigarette out in the ashtray, which he picked up and took with the now empty mug into the kitchen, moving as quickly as possible.

Paul smirked knowingly, taking the mug and ashtray from him so that he could assume his position next to Schneider’s chair. Paul quickly rinsed the mug and put it on the draining rack, then brushed the cold cigarette ash into the bin outside the external kitchen door, then rinsing the ashtray and putting it aside. Washing his hands clean, he started serving lunch out onto three plates, placing two of them onto placemats, the third he placed in the centre of the table so Master could decide what he wanted to do with it.

Schneider appeared on the stroke of one and took his seat at the table, stroking the back of Richard’s head and neck as he did so, acknowledging the guitarist’s presence as requested. As at breakfast, Richard tuned out the conversation between Paul and Schneider, retreating into his own thoughts until he was addressed directly. Lunch was a selection of cold meats and salad, which the two seated at the table polished off quickly. Once he’d completed his meal, Schneider reached for the third plate, and set it down in front of him.

He turned his attention to Richard, who’d shifted position so that his weight was on his forearms as well as his legs, determined not to have dead legs again. Schneider clicked his fingers a couple of times near Richard’s ear to get his attention. The guitarist blinked and sat back up on his haunches and turned his head to look up at Schneider. The drummer grabbed a piece of meat from the plate and held it out in front of Richard, popping it into his mouth when Richard opened it obediently. They continued in this fashion until the plate was empty. Schneider delighted in the expression on Richard’s face when he bit down on a cherry tomato dipped in garlic mayonnaise, the dilation of his irises indicating the level of pleasure the taste gave him.

“I think we can mark that down as a treat for you in future…” Schneider turned to Paul, “Can you pass me a sheet of kitchen roll, please?”

Schneider turned back to Richard and wiped at the guitarist’s mouth and chin. “You’ve got a bit of tomato juice making a run for it, there…” he explained, a lopsided smile on his face. “That’s better… I’ve finished all the calls and paperwork I needed to catch up on, so I can spend some time with the pair of you. Paul, once you’ve loaded the dishwasher, join us in the lounge. I’ll let you choose something for us to watch on tv, and you can sit on the sofa - I don’t need a footrest today.”

“Thank you, Master.”

“Come on, Richard, let’s see how good a job you’ve made of cleaning the lounge…”

He got up and strode out of the kitchen, Richard following on hands and knees, aware that he’d not been given permission to stand up. The guitarist waited just inside the doorway as Schneider inspected his work, hoping he’d not missed any spots while his thoughts had been wandering earlier. After a moment Schneider walked over to the large corner sofa, picking up the television remote control from the coffee table, and sat down in the centre. He patted the cushion to one side of him inviting Richard to take his place next to him. Richard crawled over to the sofa and climbed on, curling up on his side, his head resting on Schneider’s thigh.

Schneider smiled, and ran his fingers through Richard’s hair, as he flicked through the channels while they waited for Paul to join them. It wasn’t long before he heard the sound of the dishwasher powering up for the first stage of the preset wash cycle, followed shortly after by Paul’s footsteps approaching down the hallway. The shorter guitarist appeared, and on seeing Richard curled up mouthed ‘aww, so cute!’ at Schneider, just in case Richard was asleep. As he sat down on the other side of Schneider the drummer handed him the remote as promised.

“Don’t make me regret letting you choose,” Schneider remarked as he relinquished his hold.

Paul grinned mischievously as he started flicking through the channels.

Chapter Text

Schneider groaned as Paul chose another programme that he knew he’d find boring. The first one had succeeded in sending Richard to sleep, Schneider had grabbed one of the throw cushions and gently slipped it underneath the slumbering guitarist’s head while simultaneously manoeuvring himself out from beneath him, shifting a few inches closer to Paul. He’d managed not to fall asleep himself by finding other means of entertainment, making Paul do press-ups whenever the programme’s commentator said certain words and phrases they were known for. Determined not to sit through another boring show, he decided to give Paul a choice.

“If you’re going to make me sit through another episode of whatever the hell that was, you’re going to have to compensate me for it. Either that, or choose something more enjoyable, there’s that new Star Trek series that I’ve not seen yet…’Deep Space 9’ I think it’s called….”

Paul had a quick flick through the channels again. “Sorry Master, that doesn’t appear to be on right now. What compensation are you thinking of?”

In response Schneider unbuttoned his jeans, sliding them and his underwear down to his knees. Paul cast a glance towards Richard before returning his gaze to Schneider, with a raised eyebrow.

“He’s going to have to get used to us having sex in front of him, and you’re going to have to get used to having sex with someone watching. For now though a blowjob will be sufficient.”

Paul licked his lips, dropping to his knees between Schneider’s legs, happy to provide the ‘compensation’ requested. A short while later Schneider was emitting groans of a different kind, as Paul bobbed his head up and down, alternating between licking and sucking Schneider’s engorged cock. The shorter man brought his Master to completion with practiced ease, swallowing the sticky fluid that spurted into his mouth.

“Will there be anything else, Master?”

“No, that will be all. I’m going to sort dinner, before I hear the word ‘veneer’ one more time. Come through when the show’s finished, if I haven’t already called you, don’t forget to bring Richard with you.”

“Yes, Master, thank you.”

Schneider fastened himself back up, kissed Paul on the lips then got up. Paul sat back down on the sofa to watch the rest of the programme. The shifting of the sofa cushions as the two men moved was enough to wake Richard, who yawned and stretched, rubbing his eyes as he sat upright.

“Have I missed anything?” he asked, sleepily.

“Not much, no. Do you want to choose something to watch?” Paul asked, cheeks reddening slightly as a result of almost being ‘caught.’

“Nah, I’m not really fussed. Watch whatever you want. Where’s Schneider?”

“Master has gone to fix dinner,” Paul emphasised the first word to remind Richard of the deference he needed to show Schneider as his sub.

“He doesn’t make you do all the cooking, then?”

“I’m a sub, not a slave, he doesn’t make me do all the housework.”

“No, he has me for that!”

“You’re not his slave either, the only reason he’s been getting you to do household chores every day is to give you structure to your days, and as a means to distract you from your darker thoughts. If I’m not mistaken, it seems to have been working.”

“You’re right. I’m too busy making sure there isn’t a speck of dust anywhere to worry about anything else. It definitely helps that Master has taken over all my legal affairs.”

“He’s taken over your personal affairs too!” Paul replied with a grin, poking the bruise on Richard’s neck with one finger to emphasise his point.

“Ow! Stop it Paul!” Richard tried his best to be grumpy with his friend, but Paul’s grin was infectious, and he found himself unable to hold back a laugh at Paul’s joke. “It was my ‘personal affairs’ that got me into this mess in the first place. I wish I knew why I find it so difficult to be faithful to one person, but I can’t seem to be able to resist temptation, then I feel guilty afterwards and hate myself, so I’d take some coke which lowers my inhibitions, then I’d cheat again…” he sighed.

“Well, now you have Master to take care of you, he’s got you off the coke, which will help break that cycle you just mentioned. If you agree to continue submitting to Master he will make sure all your needs are met, including having sex with another person, just under his conditions though.”

“You sound certain of that.”

“I am. Trust me…or rather, trust Master. He knows what you need in order to get through this, let him help you, Reesh.”

“I’m trying. I know it’s been difficult for everyone dealing with me and my problems, and I hate that I’ve disappointed all of you, I want to get better, so I’m thankful that Master, with your help, has given me the opportunity.”

“I’m glad you’re here with us both, I don’t know what I would’ve done if we’d lost you, I love you so much…”

Richard saw tears gathering at the corners of Paul’s eyes, and was struck by the depth of feelings this man had for him, and was surprised to realise that he reciprocated them in equal measure. He pulled Paul into a hug, holding him close, enjoying the warmth it gave him. After a minute or so he loosened his hold so that he could give him a deep, loving kiss.

Unbeknownst to either guitarist, Schneider had been just outside the lounge door, and had heard the second half of their conversation. He smiled to himself, the comments from both of them reaffirmed his conviction that he was going the right way about helping Richard. He decided in that moment that he’d reward them both after dinner. Walking back towards the kitchen he paused outside its door and called out to them to come eat, not wanting to let them know what he’d overheard.

*

Schneider gave them time to digest their meals before letting them know about their reward, knowing what effect strenuous physical activity can have on the digestive system. While supping on a cold beer from the fridge, he made a nonchalant proclamation.

“As you two have been very well behaved today, I’ve decided that you can have a bit of fun this evening…” he made sure they were both attentive before continuing, “so, with that in mind, you have my permission to have sex with each other, that is, if you both want to…”

The guitarists looked at each other, each wondering if the other might refuse. Schneider rolled his eyes.

“This offer won’t stand forever, so if you want to take advantage of it, I suggest you scoot upstairs now…”

They both jumped up from where they were sitting, making Schneider laugh. Richard gave his Master a kiss, followed by a ‘thank you’ before he ran upstairs. Paul moved more slowly, offering similar thanks. Schneider caught his wrist before he left the room.

“You need to be the one in control, Richard is still learning where he fits in with our relationship. Make sure you prepare him properly and use a condom. Only I get to fuck Richard ‘bareback’, understood?”

“Yes, Master.”

“Good. One other thing, make sure you clean up after yourself, before you go to sleep. He’s your responsibility.”

Paul nodded, then left the lounge, trying not to look too eager, but failing miserably. Schneider shook his head, a wry smile on his face. Conscious of the fact that the two men upstairs might be feeling awkward knowing their Master would hear them, he got up and called up the stairs after them.

“I’m going to be in the practice room for an hour or so, if you need me for anything. Have fun, boys…”

“Okay, thank you, Master.” Paul shouted back in response.

*

They’d both been quick to run up to the bedroom, but once there their pace slowed, both of them nervous ahead of their first time together. They undressed themselves, each casting furtive glances at each other, suddenly shy despite having been naked in front of both each other and the other band members on numerous occasions. They climbed under the covers, and wriggled close to each other.

Richard decided he didn’t want to wait for Paul to make the first move, so he leaned forward and pulled Paul’s head closer so he could kiss him, gently at first, but becoming more passionate by the minute. Their caresses were clumsy as they explored each other’s bodies, arms getting entangled as they both tried to take the dominant role. Remembering what Schneider had said about him needing to be the one in control Paul took hold of Richard’s wrists, then pushed the younger man backwards until he was laying on the mattress with Paul pressing down on top of him.

“Oh god, Reesh, I’ve wanted you for years… I can’t believe this is finally happening…” he whispered huskily, his lust fully awakened.

Richard lifted both hands up after Paul loosened his hold, placing them on either side of Paul’s face, forcing him to look into his eyes, wanting Paul to see the desire mirrored there. When Paul hesitated, Richard lifted his head from the pillow to initiate another kiss, while moving a hand down Paul’s back until it was over his buttocks, squeezing one of them. Paul moaned into his mouth, his erect penis pressing against Richard’s abdomen, precum already leaking from its tip.

“Just a moment Reesh, we need lube…” he pushed up from the bed, and opened Schneider’s drawer. He found the box of condoms and the bottle of lube straight away. He tore open one of the foil packets and slipped the condom on, then turned his attention to Richard. Realising that Paul was going to be the one on top he had rolled onto his side, pulling the upper leg towards his torso so that Paul could apply the lube easily. He let out a small squeak when Paul put his hand on his entrance, the lube cold against his warm skin.

“That’s colder than normal!”

“Oops, sorry… I forgot to work it a bit first. I’ll remember next time, I promise.” Paul answered apologetically, dotting a kiss on Richard’s shoulder. “It should be warm enough now for me to…well, you know…”

Paul gingerly inserted his forefinger into Richard, moving it in circles in an effort to stretch the younger man’s entrance, adding a second and third finger soon after. After plunging all three digits in and out a dozen times or so he removed his hand. He squirted more lube onto his hand which he used to coat his condom.

“Um…do you have a preference for position, missionary or doggy style, or something else?”

“How about you fuck me in whatever position you’ve fantasised about most when thinking about me?”

“Okay… um… can you get up onto your knees for me? Face the headboard, oh… we better put a couple of pillows underneath you for support…”

Richard grabbed Paul’s pillows and passed them backwards so that Paul could help position them. When Richard was comfortable, with his backside pointing skyward, Paul lined himself up behind him and pushed his cock right in, making Richard hiss behind gritted teeth. Paul appeared not to notice, gripping Richard’s hips with both hands and starting to thrust into him, the sound of skin slapping against skin filling the room.

As Richard adjusted to Paul’s cock inside him, he began to relax more, moaning with pleasure each time Paul hit his prostate. With every thrust, his own cock rubbed against the pillows under him, providing extra stimulation, driving him to distraction. Paul was pumping hard and fast behind him, grunting with the effort he was putting in, enjoying the view he had of Richard’s well-toned body. Paul was soon finished, the anticipation of fucking Richard serving to speed up his orgasm. He thrust a few more times then pulled out, exhausted. Binning the used condom, he laid down next to Richard on Schneider’s area of the bed, breathing heavily.

“Give me a moment to catch my breath, and I’ll clean you up…I won’t be a minute…”

Paul rested his head on Schneider’s pillows and closed his eyes, leaving Richard with his ass still pointing up at the ceiling, the edge of the covers down by his ankles. Richard laid there waiting as was normally expected of him, so he was surprised to hear snores emanating from Paul’s mouth.

“Paul…Paulie…Paulchen…” Richard called out softly, but receiving no reply.

He wasn’t sure what he was expected to do in this situation - whether to wait for Paul to wake up again, or to clean himself up - Master hadn’t given him instructions for this eventuality. While he was still going over the options in his mind Master opened the bedroom door and entered. He frowned when he realised the situation before him. Noticing Richard was still awake he moved to the far side of the bed so he wasn’t leaning over Paul.

“Are you able to get up from there? Your legs haven’t gone to sleep again have they?”

“No Master, I’m sure they’re fine, do you want me to get up?”

“Yes, come here to me, sweetheart.”

Doing as instructed, Richard crawled over to Schneider, stopping at the edge of the bed.
Schneider ran a hand over Richard’s back, making the guitarist shudder.

“Poor baby, you didn’t get the chance to come, did you?” Schneider inspected Richard from top to toe, noting the condition Paul had left him in when he fell asleep.

Richard shook his head, mournfully. Schneider moved towards Richard’s lower half, and slowly inserted a finger in the younger man’s rectum, exploring it gently.

“You’re still lovely and wet, baby, and stretched nicely. Go and wait for me in Paul’s room - I’ll join you there in a minute.”

The guitarist stood up, and walked obediently out of the main bedroom, and along the carpeted landing to the room that was designated as Paul’s personal space, just as Richard had his own room. As there wasn’t a spot marked out for him to kneel on, he assumed his ready position near the foot of the bed. He’d only just settled when Schneider appeared in the doorway, carrying the bottle of lube in one hand.

“Lie on the bed for me, on your back, baby.” Schneider commanded as he stripped off.

Squeezing a small amount of lube into the palm of one hand, he worked it until it was no longer cold, and coated his erection. He got onto the bed, kneeling between Richard’s legs, fingering the younger man again to make sure he was ready for him, then penetrated him slowly.

“Does that feel okay love? I’m not hurting you, am I?”

“No, Master, that feels really good…”

“Let’s make you feel even better - if you feel yourself coming, don’t try to hold it back, let yourself go, baby.”

Schneider made love to Richard slowly and sensuously, responding to the younger man’s moans and movements, making sure he gave him maximum pleasure. Richard looked up at him adoringly, wanting to give his all to his Master, needing the release he knew his Master could give him. He wrapped his legs around Schneider’s waist, holding him closer, desperately needing to come. Schneider ground his hips against him, and slid one arm between their bodies, quickly finding Richard’s erect cock, jerking him off in perfect rhythm with his thrusts.

Richard’s breathing became faster and shallower, his moans turning to whines as Master worked him hard. He closed his eyes, tilting his head back as his orgasm hit, fingers clawing into Schneider’s skin, stars exploding behind his eyelids. Master continued fucking him throughout, until he climaxed too, filling the guitarist with his semen. When he was spent Schneider withdrew, laying on top of Richard while he covered him in kisses and caresses.

“Are you okay, baby? Do you need anything?”

“I’m fine, Master. You’re the only thing I need.”

“Aww, that’s so sweet, baby! Thank you!” Schneider kissed Richard on the tip of his nose, making the guitarist smile happily. “I better get us both cleaned up before we get stuck together.”

Schneider got off Richard reluctantly, pulling a t-shirt from one of Paul’s drawers which he used to wipe them both dry. Discarding the soiled clothing on the floor, he pulled Richard to his feet, leading him out of the room. When Richard cast a curious glance at the shirt and the messed up bed, Schneider explained.

“Paul disobeyed a direct command, which I realise was probably unintentional, but he needs to be punished to avoid a repeat. He’ll realise his error when he wakes up, and will take his punishment without it having to be explained. He’s got two beds to change, now, and his favourite t-shirt will need to be washed too. I could have made his punishment far worse, there are things in the playroom that he really doesn’t like, he’ll be glad he’s getting off so lightly.”

Instead of returning to the main bedroom, Schneider guided Richard into his room, no longer filled with boxes of Richard’s belongings, the guitarist having tidied them away. Schneider peeled back the duvet so they could get in. While they lay cuddled together enjoying the feel of the fresh bedding against their naked bodies, Schneider returned to the subject of the playroom.

“What did you think of what you saw today? Do you have any questions you want to ask me?”

“I’ve heard of rooms like that before, but never seen one. I’m not sure exactly how I feel about it - some things look like they could be fun to try, but there were things in there that look quite scary. Paul mentioned something about him going ‘to the next level’ as he put it, when I saw the cage, but he didn’t say what that meant. He said you could explain it to me.”

“Hmm. Did he now? Let’s see… obviously you’re aware that Paul is my submissive, and have seen some of what that entails as far as our relationship goes…” Richard nodded as Schneider paused, “Well, there are differing levels of submission, Paul is currently at the first level, where he is required to do what I ask, with rewards or punishments available, depending on his behaviour. We have an agreed set of rules about what is not permitted within the relationship, and not all of that is of a sexual nature. A person can be a Dom or Sub and not have sex of any kind with their partner, for some the role is more a state of mind, with nothing sexual attached to their behaviour. For the majority though, there is a sexual element involved, with certain pleasures derived from rewards and punishments which don’t always include the use of any of the BDSM toys and equipment you saw in the playroom. People frequently use some BDSM items in their relationships without being in Dom/Sub roles. It’s important to know that the two elements aren’t automatically intertwined, even at deeper levels.

So, at the moment, Paul is at the basic level of submission. The others are that of ‘pet’ or ‘slave’. Again, there isn’t always a sexual element involved in either of these, they are more about the amount of control the submissive gives to the dominant. It’s the submissive that determines just how much power over them that is given, a pet will have some freedom over their actions and what happens to them, whereas a slave basically gives the Dom ‘carte blanche’ to do whatever they want with them. You don’t have to be a pet before becoming a slave, and being a pet doesn’t mean you will eventually become a slave.

Whatever level the submissive is at, the Dom is responsible for their health and wellbeing, mentally and physically. Paul failed in one of his care-taking duties he’d been given when I permitted the two of you to have sex. I think that this serves to show Paul that currently he’s not suitable to be a Dom. We had discussed that previously, along with the possibility that he might choose to become a pet, so I bought the cage in readiness, letting him get used to the idea.

What do you think about what way Paul should go?”

“I’m only just starting out as a sub, so I’m not sure I have enough experience to make a judgment, but…” he paused, thinking how best to put his thoughts, “…when we were together earlier he seemed a little unsure what to do with me, and asked what I wanted. It didn’t feel like he was in control, that didn’t feel right to me, so I think you’re right about him not being a Dom. I think you’d have to tell me more about what being a pet or slave entails before I could form an opinion about those.”

“Thank you, I’ll use that information to help Paul with his training, if nothing else it might help him take better care of you when I allow you to be together again. After breakfast tomorrow we’ll all go down to the playroom, where you can try out a few things, and Paul can assist in demonstrating anything you’re unsure of. Before that though, I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for sleep, good night Reesh.”

He kissed Richard’s lips softly, then reached out to turn out the bedside lamp.

“Good night, Master.”

Chapter Text

When Paul woke the following morning he was immediately aware that he’d made a mistake, as he was alone in bed. He went over his memories of the previous evening to work out what he’d done wrong, and upon realisation groaned, wanting to kick himself. He’d waited so long to be with Richard, but on the first opportunity had made a fundamental error, his eagerness leading not only to a swift ending but failure to carry out his duties before falling asleep. He didn’t know if Richard would be quite so keen to have sex with him again, or indeed if he could bring himself to look Richard in the eye again. One thing that was certain, however, is that Master already knew of his failings and would be punishing him for it.

Getting up from the bed, he yawned and stretched, and went to the bathroom to relieve himself. He knew he’d have to change the bed after breakfast, so he made a start by stripping the soiled sheets off, ready to load in the washing machine later. Leaving the master bedroom he noticed the door to his room was ajar. It was usually left shut when he wasn’t using it. Curious, he padded down the landing and pushed the door wider.

He was surprised to see that his bed had been used, the sheets in disarray and an obvious patch where lube had dried overnight. No prizes for guessing what had happened here. Then he noticed his favourite shirt laying crumpled on the floor. Frowning, Paul picked it up, grimacing when he saw parts sticking together and quickly deducing what the sticky substance was. Well, now he knew what his punishment was, or part of it at the very least.

Sighing, he put the shirt in the laundry hamper before getting to work stripping his own bed. Again, he left the soiled sheets ready for collection after breakfast, then padded down the stairs to the kitchen. Washing his hands he set to work making breakfast for all of them.

Back upstairs in Richard’s room, the two men in the bed were waking up. They exchanged sleepy smiles and kisses, hands slowly wandering.

“Good morning, baby, how are you feeling?”

“Hungry… and a little bit horny too, Master.”

Schneider laughed softly, pulling up the covers to peer underneath.

“I’d say that you’re more than just a ‘little bit’ horny, judging by the stiffness of your cock! Let’s see what we can do about that, shall we?”

Throwing the covers back off them both he grabbed the lube from the nightstand and quickly prepared them both. He soon had Richard panting and moaning, jerking the younger man off as he fucked him hard. Richard came quickly, unable to hold back, his Master continued thrusting into him while he rode the wave of ecstasy that washed over him, not stopping when Richard’s body stopped shuddering other than to flip Richard over onto his front, pulling his ass towards himself before continuing to grind his hips, until he eventually came inside him, making Richard come a second time.

Schneider withdrew and turned Richard onto his back, giving him a tender kiss.

“Still feeling horny?”

“I think I’m good for now, thank you, Master, but I’m still hungry…” Richard replied with a smile.

Schneider rolled his eyes. “Come on then, let’s get cleaned up, and we can fill your stomach.”

He held out a hand to help Richard up, and led him across the landing into the main bedroom, and on into the en suite. He could tell Paul was already up before they entered the bedroom, delicious smells wafting up the stairs from the kitchen. Schneider turned the taps on in the shower cubicle, testing the temperature before nudging Richard under the water.

“Brace yourself against the back wall, and close your eyes, I don’t want to get any shampoo in them.”

Richard complied, standing still while Schneider washed his hair for him, then moved on to sponge down the guitarist’s body, foamy bubbles sliding over all his curves. When he was certain Richard was clean all over he washed himself down. Checking that Richard hadn’t got any shampoo or conditioner near his eyes he told him to reopen them then join him out of the cubicle.

He grabbed a larger bath towel off the heated rails and wrapped it around the guitarist, then reached for a second one for himself. Drying himself off quickly he dropped his towel to the floor and turned to rub Richard down, enjoying the view as he did so.

“Hmm, I may need to consider whether or not you should move about clothed or naked from now on, as I suspect if I do the latter I’ll end up with a permanent hard on, which wouldn’t be practical. I’ll ponder that over breakfast, and we can go over the options later. There are things in the playroom we could consider. For the time being we’ll stick with a vest top and briefs.”

Schneider took one of each out of a drawer and walked back to Richard, kneeling down he held the briefs so that Richard could step into them, then pulled them up into place. Next he got the top ready, directing Richard to put his arms forward so that Schneider could slip the top along them then over his head. He indicated that Richard should wait for him in position while he dressed himself, then gave the younger man the instruction to walk upright until he got downstairs, then to continue into the kitchen on hands and knees, to again wait for him next to his chair.

While Richard went ahead of him Schneider looked over the room, taking note of the stripped bed. He decided to check on Paul’s room before going downstairs to see if the guitarist had discovered the rest of his punishment. Pushing the door open he could see that the other bed had also been stripped, and that the shirt was no longer on the floor. Satisfied that Paul knew that he was being punished Schneider finally headed for the kitchen.

When he arrived Richard was kneeling quietly in his designated spot, head bowed so as not to distract, or be distracted by Paul. Schneider smiled and ruffled the guitarist’s hair as he passed him to get some coffee. He set his drink down on the table and took his seat, reaching for a couple of the pastries which Paul had placed on a serving plate in the centre. He selected a few for Richard, placing them on a separate dish, ready to feed him when he’d finished his own breakfast. He turned his attention to Paul.

“I see you’ve found your punishment.”

“Yes, Master.”

“Do you know why you’re being punished?”

“Because I didn’t finish taking care of Richard before I fell asleep.”

“Do you have anything to say about it?”

“The punishment is lenient, so thank you Master, and I’m sorry. I won’t do it again.”

“I’m not the one you should be apologising to. Perhaps you should try that again…”

Paul nodded, getting off his chair he knelt in front of Richard. Schneider nudged the younger guitarist so that he was paying attention. Richard looked first at his Master and then at his friend crouched in front of him, blinking in the bright morning sunlight.

“I’m sorry I didn’t take proper care of you last night, Reesh. I have no excuse. I’ll do my best not to let it happen again.”

Richard nodded and smiled, stroking Paul’s cheek as a gesture of forgiveness, knowing he hadn’t been given permission to speak yet, and wanting to avoid getting a punishment of his own. Paul gave a small smile in return, then stood up in order to retake his seat at the table.

“That’s better. Once you’ve finished dealing with your punishment I want you to go upstairs, clean yourself thoroughly, then wait for us in the playroom. I expect to join you around ten o’clock.”

“Yes, Master.”

Schneider had finished his breakfast by this time. He clicked his fingers to get Richard’s attention again, then told him to kneel with his back straight. He tore off a bit from one of the pastries he’d saved for Richard and held it out in front of the younger man. Richard opened his mouth in readiness, and as he chewed the delicious food he made contented noises, making Schneider laugh and shake his head.

“I’ve no need to ask if you’d like more, I think it’s pretty obvious that you’re enjoying that.”

Richard smiled at his Master with mouth closed, while he finished his current portion. He opened it again in anticipation of the next morsel, eyes fixed on Schneider. The drummer continued feeding him until the plate was empty, getting some of the sticky centre of an apple strudel all over his fingers when he tore it apart. He held his fingers out in front of Richard who eagerly licked them clean.

“Right, let’s go get your teeth clean while Paul carries out his punishment. Then we’ll go into your room, there are some things I need to discuss with you.”

Schneider stood up, showing that Paul was forgiven by him for his lapse he rounded the table and gave him a prolonged kiss. He retraced his steps and tapped the side of his leg as he passed Richard, the guitarist taking the cue to follow his Master on hands and knees out of the room.

When they entered Richard’s room a short while later Schneider told him to sit down on the bed. He took the guitarist’s hands in his own and looked him in the eye.

“Do you remember yesterday morning when I said I had paperwork to do and calls to make?”

Richard nodded yes.

“Well, some of those were to do with the sale of the house, there are a few interested potential buyers, who are currently in something of a bidding war, so I am confident it will sell fairly quickly and for a decent price. When it does, once the estate agent and solicitors have taken their cut, the remaining monies will be placed in a holding account pending the result of your divorce.

Which brings me to the next thing, the hearing is later this week. I’ve arranged it so that you don’t have to attend on medical grounds, but I will probably be away some if not all of that day as I will be going in your place so that your lawyer has someone to consult with during any negotiations. Caron’s lawyer has put forward what her demands are, and your lawyer has put forward our initial offer, so there will possibly be a bit of back and forth until both sides reach an agreement.

Bearing in mind how you reacted to the story on the news, you are not allowed to watch any news on tv, listen to it on the radio, or read any newspapers from now on, until I say otherwise. Is that understood?”

“Yes, Master.”

“Good. I will update you when I have any significant details to report, but only if I think you are in the right frame of mind.”

“Thank you, Master.”

Richard had started to hang his head as Schneider told him the current situation, feeling tears pricking at the corner of his eyes. Knowing that his new sub was still in a vulnerable state of mind, he pulled Richard close and hugged him, rubbing his back soothingly.

“I’m sorry for upsetting you by telling you these things, but it’s important that you know what’s going on as it affects you directly. I don’t want you to worry about any of it, that’s for me to do, and if you feel anxious or scared about anything I want you to tell me, or Paul if I’m not close by. We’ll do our best to help you through it, okay? I don’t want any repeats of your bad behaviour when we were away.”

Richard nodded, his head still bowed down. Schneider lifted Richard’s chin up with his forefinger and gave the younger man a tender kiss. He hugged him tightly again, the guitarist enjoying the comfort given him by his Master.

“It’s almost ten, let’s go and find Paul, and we’ll see what toys you’re interested in trying.”

*

Knowing what lay beyond the hidden doorway, Richard was equal parts nervous, excited, and scared. While Master had said that he wouldn’t use anything on Richard without his consent, Richard didn’t want to disappoint Master by not trying things beyond his comfort zone. Sensing his new sub’s nervousness, Schneider decided he wouldn’t keep him waiting for his first experience.

“Paul, wait for me by the bed until I summon you.”

Paul obeyed quickly, rightly guessing that Schneider wanted to let Richard try a few things without him as an audience, so he made sure to face away from the room’s centre. Turning his attention to Richard he knelt down in front of the younger man.

“As I’ve already said, this morning we’re going to introduce you to a few of the basic items in here. If at anytime you want me to pause, or completely stop, use your safe-words. We’ll not use any gags today, as I want you to be certain that you are in control. Before we start, I want you to decide on a part of the room that you consider as being ‘your spot.’ You should go there when I’m working on Paul and wait for your next set of instructions. Any questions?”

“No, Master.”

“Have you chosen a place?”

“Yes, Master.”

“Good. Once again, use your safe-words if you need me to stop. Now, let’s see what we can start you with. You mentioned that you’d used cuffs and blindfolds on previous partners but hadn’t felt comfortable being put in that vulnerable position yourself for various reasons. I think maybe we should start with those, so you can feel what you did to others. You know that I’m not going to run off and tell people what I’ve done to you, as I am in the same position as you on a social level. Are you happy to give them a try?”

“Yes, Master.”

Schneider crossed to the side wall and picked up a pair of handcuffs and a blindfold. This first bit was just to desensitise Richard to the items that Schneider hoped to use with him on a regular basis.

“Hold your hands out towards me. I’ve brought this pair of fur-covered handcuffs so that they don’t chafe on your skin, and because they have an easy-release mechanism. I’ll show you how it works…so, you can see that you can easily remove them if you need to, even when blindfolded. Are you okay if I put them on you now?”

Richard nodded.

“I want you to speak to me during your first few sessions so I know exactly how you’re feeling. It will help me decide how best to look after you. Now, show me how to release the cuffs…good…let’s put them on you…try to release them again for me…good, now try it with your eyes closed. Good…are you okay to try that again, but with a blindfold?”

“Yes, Master.”

“Again, this is a basic one, with an elasticated band, so you can easily push it off while still cuffed.”

Schneider put the blindfold on Richard, and got the guitarist to push it off, then replaced it and got him to remove the cuffs with it on. That done, he was satisfied that Richard would feel comfortable with them both from now on. He cupped Richard’s chin with one hand and kissed him as a reward.

“You’re doing great, Richard. Now, one more thing before I let you go to your spot for a rest. Bend down so you’re resting on your arms as well as your knees.”

While Richard carried out his instructions Schneider returned to the wall of toys, picked up the items he had in mind, and knelt down next to him a few inches back from his raised behind. He unscrewed the cap from a tube of lube, and warmed it between his fingers while he explained to Richard what he was doing. Receiving permission to continue he worked Richard open again with his fingers before carefully inserting a relatively small anal plug.

“How does that feel?”

“A bit strange, Master.”

“But it’s not painful or uncomfortable?”

“No, Master.”

“Good, you may push the blindfold up a little so that you can find your way to your spot, then put it back in place while I take care of Paul.”

“Thank you, Master.”

Schneider watched Richard carefully as his sub shifted his position, smirking slightly at the expression on Richard’s face as he felt the plug move inside him as he crawled to his chosen area, which Schneider noted with some surprise was just in front of the cage. The sub replaced the blindfold as instructed then settled down to wait.

Nodding with satisfaction at Richard’s behaviour so far, he made his way over to Paul.

“Now, what shall I do with you, hmmm? You’ve already been given your punishment for failing to complete your duties last night, but I’m wondering if I’ve maybe been too lenient. Under normal circumstances I would flog or spank you, but you seem to enjoy both of those lately, so I think something else is in order. Stand up…”

He led Paul to a piece of BDSM furniture that was shaped as a cross. Paul automatically held his arms outstretched to either side so that Schneider could fasten him in place with padded cuffs at his wrists and ankles, facing forward. Next he retrieved a pair of nipple clamps, Paul hissing softly as they were attached to his body, but not complaining. A ball gag followed, this was something that Schneider particularly liked to do to Paul, especially as part of a punishment, knowing how much Paul loved to run his mouth off. Paul’s eyes looked out at him defiantly as Schneider fastened it behind his head. That defiance needed to be beaten out of him, Schneider thought to himself, but probably not during Richard’s first playroom session. He needed to be broken in carefully.

But back to Paul. He ruled out using some of the more extreme items in his collection, they would probably scare Richard more than a flogging demonstration. He decided that he would do to Paul what the short guitarist had done to Richard, bringing him to the edge of orgasm a few times, and just at the crucial moment squeezing Paul’s cock at the base in order to stop the blood flow and prevent climax. This would serve as another reminder to Paul to take proper care of the other sub.

After he had ‘edged’ Paul for a fourth time, he left him for a few moments, walking back towards Richard and unfastening the cage. He opened the door and fastened it in place so it wouldn’t swing shut again. When this was done he knelt down next to Richard to check that he was still feeling okay.

Pulling the blindfold up so that he could see Richard’s eyes he asked him, “How do you feel, is the plug causing you any discomfort? You may speak…”

As the blindfold was moved, Richard had glanced over to where Paul was fastened in place, eyes widening at the sight. Once Schneider started speaking to him his attention snapped back to his Master. Shifting position slightly he tested how the plug felt as he moved.

“It’s not painful at the moment, but I’m starting to feel a little bit sore, Master.”

“The lube is probably starting to dry out a little. As it’s your first time I’ll remove the plug, but with time I will expect you to keep one in for longer. Get up on your hands and knees for me… try to stay relaxed…that’s it…”

Richard complied, and Schneider gently extracted the plug, placing it in the sink ready for cleaning. He wiped Richard down until he was dry before applying a salve to his behind to help reduce the soreness. While washing his hands clean Schneider regarded Richard. The guitarist hadn’t moved from his spot, but he was looking at Paul with undisguised interest. The other guitarist had his head bowed obediently, so was unaware of his current audience.

“Because of your history, I won’t be looking at restraining you like that for some time yet, that’s something we can build up to if you think you might be interested in giving it a try. We’ll need to have a discussion about it, because of the possibility of it triggering one of your flashbacks. As you seem to be happy enough with the handcuffs, we can try spreaders and keepers during our next session. For now though, I want to try some sensory things with you, so I’m going to replace the blindfold in a minute. I’ll be touching your body with different things and I want you to vocalise how they make you feel, you can use sounds or words. Are you happy for me to continue?”

“Yes, Master.”

“And your safe word if you want me to stop is…?”

“Peaches, Master…”

Schneider had chosen that word for Richard, as he knew the guitarist hated the nickname the band had given him, so it wasn’t a word he was likely to forget under stress.

“Good boy.”

For the next few minutes Schneider subjected Richard to a variety of items, including running a feather up and down his torso to discover the guitarist’s sensitive and ticklish spots. An ice cube elicited a squeak from the younger man as the freezing cold made contact with his skin, making Schneider grin sadistically. He also ran the tassels of one of the floggers all over him, letting Richard get used to their feel. Schneider was pleased that none of the other items had prompted Richard to use his safe word, including the melted candle wax, although that had made Richard jump a little, hissing in response to the momentary pain which quickly dissipated. Satisfied with his new submissive’s performance, he removed the handcuffs and blindfold, instructing Richard to make himself comfortable somewhere until he was summoned.

As Schneider crossed the room to get back to Paul, Richard - who had heard the cage being opened while he had been kneeling quietly – crawled into the cage and curled up on the large dog bed that had been placed inside. When Paul raised his head as Schneider approached him he saw where Richard had gone, eyebrows raised in surprise. The drummer had seen Paul’s reaction when his gaze had shifted to a place behind him, and turned to see what had happened. It was his turn to be surprised yet again.

He returned his attention to Paul, removing the gag while warning him that he was still expected to remain silent. He grabbed hold of the chain linking the nipple clamps, giving it a sharp tug in order to remove them. To Paul’s credit he didn’t make a sound, but Schneider could see the shorter man was biting his tongue so he didn’t swear out loud. Next Schneider unfastened the ankle restraints, pulling each leg towards him in order to rub Paul’s ankles aiding the return of his blood circulation. After that, Paul’s wrists were also released and similarly rubbed.

Schneider knew that Paul would be feeling somewhat frustrated having been denied his orgasm earlier, so Schneider ordered him to stand at the end of the bed and bend over, arms holding on to the frame for stability. Schneider quickly prepared him, not needing to use as much lube with Paul as he did with Richard, the older guitarist’s ass being used to taking Schneider’s cock on a regular basis for a few years now.

He unfastened the belt on his jeans, unzipped them and let them drop to his ankles. He put a thin coat of lube on himself then grabbed Paul’s hips to align himself before plunging his cock inside his lover. He rammed into him hard and fast, knowing Paul loved it that way, and that with being edged a few times it probably wouldn’t take the guitarist long before he came, which proved true. As he’d already had an orgasm earlier that morning when he fucked Richard, Schneider was content enough to withdraw from Paul without reaching his own climax. He cleaned both of them up, pulling his jeans back on, then instructed Paul to retrieve Richard from the cage, redress him and to fix something for them both to eat.

As he was responsible for both his subs’ well-being, he always took care of the cleaning of the sex toys and equipment used, aware that any infection could be potentially dangerous considering where the toys were used on their anatomy. When he was done cleaning, he returned everything to their rightful places, locking up behind himself as he left and replacing the cutout before heading back through the practice room and up the steps to the ground floor.

*

Over the course of the following two days Schneider introduced Richard to more items in the playroom, giving him a light spanking with a paddle, and using the flogger and a riding crop on him. He didn’t put his full force behind the strokes as he wanted Richard to get used to the sensations first and foremost. Richard discovered that he actually enjoyed the rush of chemicals to his brain that followed the stinging pain, but was aware that if Schneider chose to, he could make it much less enjoyable.

On the evening before he was due to go to the court for Richard’s divorce proceedings, Schneider discussed Richard’s progress with Paul, asking for his observations. He was going to combine his and Paul’s observations to help illustrate some of the psychology behind Richard’s actions and reactions, and how they should be responded to. Even if Paul was not aiming to be a Dom – at least, not in the near future – it would serve to explain why he, Schneider, was doing certain things with Richard, and why others were being avoided. In the short term it would give Paul a better idea of how to ‘handle’ Richard if he was allowed to look after him or play with him unsupervised.

“If I hadn’t witnessed it with my own eyes, I would never have believed that Richard would be a natural submissive. Even before you started his training properly he was responding to your non-verbal signals. And when he voluntarily crawled into the cage and curled up there…as soon as I saw that I realised I wouldn’t be able to be your pet, Richard just took to it straight away without realising he was going to the next level.”

“That’s pretty much what I thought too. Obviously I’m not going to dive straight in with the more advanced techniques and behaviours, I’ll gradually build him up to that, but while ever he’s happy using the cage and following basic pet behaviours, I’m certainly not going to hold him back. Have you given any thought as to why Richard is so submissive now, where he wasn’t before?”

Paul was quiet while he gave that some thought, his gaze wandering over to the walk-in wardrobe where Richard was curled up asleep on a large dog bed that Schneider had placed in there for his use while Schneider and Paul were making love in the main bedroom.

“I’m not entirely certain. We know he’s struggled with very low self-esteem for years, but he would normally counter that with… not boasting exactly… but making sure that everyone knows he could have any woman he wants, at least any woman at our shows and parties. After he got married I think he wanted people to know he could still have any woman of his choice, but that obviously caused friction at home, and his self esteem became even lower – he often stayed fully clothed on stage instead of stripping off like he used to, because he thought he looked fat even when I thought he’d actually lost weight.

With the breakdown of his marriage, combined with the stress of the tour, we know that he ultimately became suicidal, which would suggest he no longer felt any sense of self-worth. Because of that, he perhaps no longer cares what happens to him, and so will do anything asked of him, even if that means being treated like a pet animal.”

Schneider was suitably impressed with Paul’s assessment, he’d obviously put some thought into it. He did, however, need to give Paul some more information in order to help him fully understand Richard’s current mental and emotional state.

“Very good, Paul. You’ve made a very good explanation based on the information that you’ve been given. But in order for you to understand why I’ve used certain toys and equipment and avoided others that I’d used on you at a similar stage of training, I need to tell you something. I have Richard’s permission to tell you what I’m about to, but this goes no further than us.

You’re absolutely correct about his low self-esteem. Now, you mentioned about him staying covered up on stage, but his explanation about thinking he looked fat was only partially true. Do you recall seeing him having any bruises around that time? Maybe you saw them when sharing a dressing room….”

Paul frowned and wracked his memory. “Yeah, apparently he had a shelf collapse and its contents fall on him while he was doing some DIY… oh, and he accidentally recreated the time he fell off that pyramid, taking a tumble down the stairs when he was drunk one night…”

Paul grinned at that thought, they still gave Richard stick for that trip in Central America. Schneider’s face remained solemn however.

“While he probably was drunk or high at the time, and did take a tumble down the stairs, Richard informed me only yesterday that it wasn’t an accident. He and Caron were having a blazing row and she pushed him hard. The fact that he was under the influence at the time, and his muscles being relaxed as a result, is what probably prevented him from having worse injuries than a few bruises.

The other times he kept covered up is from the other occasions when she hit him. Richard refuses to hit women, even when taking a beating from them, so she was able to physically abuse him on several occasions. Obviously he felt ashamed about the abuse he was receiving, and didn’t feel able to tell anyone about it until now, as he was certain he would be laughed at. This lowered his feelings of self-worth even more.

As you know, things came to a climax on that last night of the tour, when he no longer thought his life worth continuing. Then later, seeing the television news report dragging his name through the mud, making Caron out to be a victim, just triggered that same reaction.

So, with Richard receiving beatings at her hands, I had to find out what she used and where she used it. He’s fine with the paddle on his rump, and light use of the flogger on his torso, but belts are a no-no, the same goes for metal rods. She actually used a poker on him, which she’d been using to stoke a fire with. It’s healed well, but you can still see a line of scar tissue from where it burnt him.”

Paul’s facial expression had turned to one of dismay, then anger, then sorrow as Schneider detailed Richard’s secret. Tears slid freely down his cheeks as he listened, heart heavy with the knowledge that Richard had been suffering in silence for years. Schneider continued.

“In the short time that Richard’s been with us he says he has felt more love and affection than he’s had in years. He’s worked out for himself that he’s adopted the mannerisms of a pet, and said to me that he feels a greater sense of worth being treated that way than he’s had throughout his marriage. He knows that as a pet he will be well looked after, and that he needn’t worry about making difficult decisions, as he’s handed all that power over to me.

What we have with Richard is basically a blank slate. Having been stripped of every shred of self-worth to the point of seeking self-destruction, it is up to us to build him back up, brick by brick, stone by stone, until he learns to love himself again, and to accept that there are others who love him too. It’s going to take a long time, and we’ll no doubt hit obstacles along the way, but I believe we can nurture him back to a state of good mental health.”

“Poor Richard! I can’t believe the nerve of that bitch to make herself out to be the victim in all this!”

“Trust me when I say that it’s going to take every ounce of self-restraint I’ve got not to lay in to her tomorrow. Speaking of which, Richard is aware that I’m going to his hearing, and will understandably be anxious all day until I get home. I’ve asked Till to spend the day with both of you, and to find some way to keep Richard distracted. I’ve suggested that the three of you might want to try writing a new song or two. I’ll remind him again before I leave, but Richard knows he’s to walk upright and not crawl while Till is here, and to sit at the table when eating.

He also knows to follow your instructions as if they had come from me directly. I’ll give you a key for the cupboard where the sedatives are, just in case Richard has another meltdown that the pair of you can’t calm down any other way. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you to take out the dose and lock the rest away before giving them to Richard. We don’t want a repeat performance.”

Paul shook his head. “No, I’ll be very careful if it comes to that. I don’t think Till will want to be responsible for them after his slip up, which I can understand.”

“Good. I’m not sure how long this thing is going to take, I’ll try to keep you updated when I have a better idea. Hopefully I’ll be back before dark.”

He glanced over at the open wardrobe door, where Richard continued to slumber peacefully.

“It’ll be a shame to wake him when he’s so relaxed, but we better get him into bed, or he’ll wake up with backache and quite possibly a chill, and that won’t be fun for any of us!”

Schneider pushed the bedcovers back and got off the bed, crossing the bedroom in just a few strides. He knelt down in front of the dog bed and gently shook Richard’s shoulder. The guitarist didn’t stir, so he slid one arm under Richard’s upper body and the other under his legs where they bent at the knees, and carefully stood up. He turned his body sideways on so that Richard’s head was nearer the doorway and sidestepped out of the wardrobe until they were both clear of the door. He carried Richard the few feet to the bed and placed him in the centre as gently as possible.

As he made contact with the bed Richard mumbled quietly in his sleep, but didn’t wake even when Paul wrapped his arm around him as he spooned him from behind. The older guitarist placed a gentle kiss on Richard’s cheek as he was settling down onto his own pillow. Before he returned to bed Schneider set his alarm, turning the volume down to a setting that he knew would be loud enough to wake him without necessarily disturbing the other two men.

Copying Paul’s actions, Schneider kissed Richard softly, then pulled the covers up over them both. He turned off the bedside lamp before lying down on his side facing his submissives.

“Goodnight Paulchen. I love you.”

“Goodnight Master, I love you more.”

Schneider smiled in the darkness. Paul always seemed to feel the need to do more, to go one better than everyone else, which Schneider put down to Paul’s perceived need to compensate for his comparative shortness. He’d tried to break Paul out of the habit in case he wound up taking things just that little bit too far, but to no avail. He left him to it now unless that ‘extra step’ might result in injury to Paul or someone else. Most of the time it was quite harmless and occasionally endearing such as now. He took hold of one of Richard’s hands in his own, then laid his head down.

Chapter Text

Groaning quietly, Schneider reached out his hand to silence his alarm. He rubbed his hand over his eyes, yawning, then turned over. Richard was curled up next to him still fast asleep. He was surprised to realise that Paul was already up and out of bed before him. While he was still coming around Paul emerged from the bathroom, fully dressed. Seeing Schneider awake he approached the bed and knelt down next to it, bowing his head obediently.

“Good morning, Paulchen, what are you doing up so early?”

“Aside from me needing the toilet, I thought you might like a cooked breakfast before you left, so I was going to go to the supermarket to get a few things.”

Schneider smiled and beckoned Paul closer with a crooked finger. Paul leaned forward to receive the kiss his Master was waiting to give him.

“Thank you Paul, that’s really thoughtful of you. Take some money from my wallet, be sure to get some pastries for you and Richard, and perhaps some doughnuts for Till too.”

“Thank you, Master.”

“Oh, and we better switch to public mode right away, I’m not sure what time Till is planning on arriving, so assume he is probably here when you return.”

“Yes, Mast… er, Doomie.”

“Maybe grab a bottle of vodka while you’re at it, I have a feeling that a few drinks maybe in order tonight.”

Paul stood up, picking Schneider’s wallet up off the nightstand and retrieving some Euro notes from it. It still felt like Monopoly money compared to the Deutschmarks that became obsolete a few years previously. He showed Schneider how much he’d taken, and received a nod to say that it was an acceptable amount. He popped a quick kiss on Schneider’s lips then headed out of the house, shutting the front door as quietly as possible.

Upstairs, inside the house, Schneider was marvelling at Richard’s ability to sleep deeply for numerous hours at a stretch, no matter where he was. He knew that a lot of the sleeping Richard had been doing since moving in was symptomatic of his chronic depression, but he’d always had the ability to fall asleep within minutes, regardless. Schneider ran his fingers through the younger man’s hair affectionately, then caressed his face, eyes drinking in every detail from the dyed-black hair, the fans of long eyelashes, down to the stubble that was just starting to form on Richard’s jawline and cheeks. He made a mental note to give Richard a shave before he left for the court.

As if realising he was being observed, Richard’s eyes fluttered open, his gaze fixing immediately on Schneider. He offered a sleepy smile as he stretched his muscles. Schneider decided then that between Richard’s current penchant for sleeping through much of the day, coupled with his normal obsession with his appearance, that his pet was almost certainly the embodiment of a cat. He smiled and continued caressing Richard.

“Good morning, gorgeous… how are you feeling?”

“Morning, Master…” he yawned, “I’m still a little sleepy, what time is it?”

“Half past six, I wanted to get up early to make sure you’re okay before I go out…and that you’re in a presentable state when Till arrives.”

“Is that today? Oh…”

Richard’s face fell as the implication hit home. When he spoke again, it was with a far more subdued tone.

“What time do you leave, Master?”

“I need to be out of here by nine, Till could turn up anytime between seven thirty and nine. Paul’s going to be here all day too, he’s just gone to get some things from the supermarket, he’ll be home soon. Right now, though, it’s just you and me, sweetheart.”

Richard shuffled closer to Schneider and waited for permission to get a cuddle, tucking his head below Schneider’s chin and wrapping his arms around his master’s waist. Schneider could tell that his pet needed comfort and reassurance, Richard was trembling from the tension running throughout his body. As much as Schneider wanted to jump his bones right now, he had to put Richard first. He pulled the younger man closer and just held him while he waited for him to relax again, feeling the heat radiating off him they were so close.

“When will you be home again?”

“I don’t know for sure, baby. It all depends on how quickly an agreement can be reached. I doubt it will be before lunchtime, but I’m hoping I’ll be back before it gets dark. I’ll let Paul know when I’ve got a better idea.”

“Who’s in charge of me while you’re out?”

“Paul is. I’ve already given him instructions on what you should do today. Till is only here in case there are any unforeseen circumstances, and because he wants to spend a bit of time with you. Don’t forget that you promised to apologise to him for tricking him with the pills and for what followed, as well as not trusting him enough to tell him when things were going wrong. I don’t expect you to tell him the reason why, not today at least, but I think it will help your recovery if you tell him sometime in the future.”

“What if he asks or tells me to do something I don’t want to do?”

“Tell him you don’t want to do it, explain why if you feel comfortable enough to. He’s not going to force you to do anything you’re not ready to do. He understands that your recovery will take time. Fortunately we’ve got these few months’ break over winter to give you that opportunity.”

“What if I’m not ready to go back on tour after the break?”

“That’s enough ‘what ifs’ from you. We’ll deal with any situations as they arise, together. The only thing you need to think about today is following the plan we discussed yesterday. Once breakfast is over I want you to go down to the practice room and set up whichever guitar you’re going to be using. Don’t forget you’re to walk upright, sit at the table for lunch, and you don’t need to ask permission for a cigarette or coffee. While Till is here you can have those whenever you want, just make sure you clean up afterwards, okay?”

“Yes, Master, thank you.”

“And refer to me by name, not Master, obviously. You should probably start that before Till gets here so that your used to it before he arrives.”

“Of course, Doomie.”

Schneider laughed softly, “That’s what Paul prefers to call me, too. Come on, time’s marching on, let’s get you showered and shaved. Can’t have you looking like a hobo when Till gets here.”

He dotted a kiss on Richard’s forehead and sat up, forcing Richard to sit up too. Throwing the covers back he swung his legs over the side and stood up, walking across to the bathroom. It was Richard’s turn to admire the view, Schneider kept himself in shape by practicing yoga, and his muscles were well-toned. He jumped out of bed quickly, looking forward to sharing the shower with Schneider as had become their custom.

Schneider smiled, “Ready for things to get steamy?”

“Always, especially with you…” Richard replied, grinning.

“You’re incorrigible, young man, and it should be ‘only’ with me. I think you might need a spanking when I get home to remind you of that! Now, get in that shower and make sure you get wet all over. I’ll join you in a moment…”

*

Richard got dressed in the clothes that Schneider had picked out for him following their shared shower. He fastened the button at the waistband of his jeans, then picked up the Ramones t-shirt, pulling it over his head and smoothing it down. He returned to the bathroom and opened the tub of gel to fix his hair in his signature spikes. Schneider had already gone downstairs to put the kettle on for their coffees, expecting Paul to return at any moment.

After a few minutes of styling and restyling his hair until he was satisfied, Richard rinsed off his hands, and headed for the stairs. On entering the kitchen he found himself fighting the urge to kneel next to Schneider’s chair. He stood next to the table feeling a little bit awkward. Schneider finished making their drinks and set them down on the table. Turning to Richard he pulled him towards him and gave him a deep kiss.

“You smell so good, baby, I could eat you up! Sit down on your chair and drink your coffee while we wait for Paul.”

Richard plonked himself down as instructed, picking up the mug and blowing across the surface to cool the coffee down a bit so that he wouldn’t burn his mouth. Schneider disappeared upstairs as he retrieved the folder he had compiled ready for the hearing, slipping it into a bag which he placed in the hallway next to the phone table. The front door opened as Paul returned with a couple of carrier bags full of groceries.

Being chivalrous by nature, Schneider took the bags from him so that he could take off his coat and shoes. The weather was evidently starting to turn as Paul had a hat and scarf on too. Schneider carried the bags into the kitchen and set them down on the counter, the one with the bottle of vodka making a clinking sound as it settled. The drummer put the breakfast items down next to the cooker, then laughed when he realised Richard was watching carefully where he put the pastries and doughnuts.

“Those are for after lunch, so you can stop that drooling right now! Do you want a refill or have you had enough coffee?”

Richard’s face had taken on a petulant look when he realised the delicious treats wouldn’t be in his stomach anytime soon. He tipped the mug towards him to see how much he had left, and knocked it back with a couple of gulps. Holding the mug out towards Schneider he asked for more. A snorted laugh from behind him announced Paul’s arrival in the kitchen.

“That just looked like a scene from that film… what’s it called now?....oh, yes – ‘Oliver!’ Go on, say the line for me…”

“What line?”

“Please, sir, I want some more…”

Richard scowled and stuck his tongue out at Paul, choosing not to humour him. Schneider rolled his eyes at the pair of them as he passed the mug back to Richard, speaking to Paul as the guitarist went to put the vodka bottle in the lounge for that evening.

“When you’ve done that you can make your own drink, I’ll sort out the breakfast for us all. Keep your ears peeled for Till arriving, and let him in.”

Paul nodded as he left, re-emerging a minute later and making a beeline for the kettle. Schneider had put the oven on to warm their plates as he set to work lighting the gas rings ready to fry the bacon, eggs and sausage. There were tinned tomatoes too, which he emptied into a saucepan to heat up. He was just serving out the food onto the plates when there was a knock at the front door.

All the band members had the security code for the large gates at the end of Schneider’s driveway so that they can get in quickly, avoiding the risk of being spotted by fans or the paparazzi. Till had driven up to the area in front of the house set aside as a guest area, parking next to Paul’s car. Making sure his vehicle was securely locked he had then approached the front door where he now waited.

As Schneider still had his hands full Paul hurried to let Till in. The singer stepped inside quickly, bemoaning the cold temperature. Removing his heavy coat and woolly hat, he hung them up and kicked off his shoes, following Paul into the kitchen. He made appreciative noises on smelling the cooked breakfast.

“There’s plenty available if you want to join us, Till.” Schneider offered, setting plates on the placemats.

Till considered it briefly and gratefully accepted, despite already having eaten that morning. Paul put his plate on the mat in front of the free chair, standing back up.

“You have this one, I can cook another for myself.” As Schneider was about to insist that he cook instead the guitarist cut him off, “You need to leave soon, so it makes more sense for you to eat and me to cook.”

Schneider couldn’t argue with Paul’s logic, so he decided to let the interruption slide on this occasion.

“Thank you, Paul.”

“How are you today, Scholle?” Till asked Richard, who’d been keeping his attention firmly on the food in front of him up to that point.

He finished his mouthful before replying. “I’m not quite sure, physically I’m fine, mentally and emotionally… not so much. I should be okay if I keep busy. How are you?”

Schneider was pleased with Richard’s response, he’d instructed Richard to be honest with Till about how he was feeling if asked, but to also show interest in Till’s wellbeing, if only to be polite if nothing else.

“I’m good, thanks. I definitely feel better for having had my holiday.”

The small talk continued while they ate, with Paul’s enthusiasm making up for Richard’s reticence. As soon as he’d finished his meal, Richard excused himself to go and set up the guitar rig he wanted to use that morning. He’d felt awkward sitting on the chair, more so when Till arrived, so he was apprehensive about how things would go that day. Sorting his equipment out had helped calm his nerves, tuning his guitar, plugging it into a practice amp and choosing which effects pedals to hook up.

Knowing that Schneider would be leaving soon, once he was satisfied with his rig he climbed the steps back up to the ground floor. Paul and Till were chatting away in the kitchen, but Schneider didn’t appear to be with them. Paul caught Richard’s eye and indicated that Schneider was upstairs, knowing that his fellow guitarist would be wanting to see their master before he left.

Nodding gratefully, Richard turned and headed upstairs. He found Schneider in the en-suite, making the finishing touches to his appearance, wanting to present a businesslike manner instead of ‘rebellious rock star.’ Noticing Richard’s approach he smiled and beckoned him in.

“Hello sweetheart, have you finished getting your guitar ready?”

“Yes, mas…Doomie”

Schneider reached a hand out, cradling the back of Richard’s head as he kissed him.

“Mmm, you taste of bacon and coffee…”

He broke off, taking Richard’s toothbrush out of the cabinet and loading it with toothpaste. He handed it to Richard and made room for him at the washbasin so the guitarist could clean his teeth unhindered, measuring some mouthwash into a glass for after. Once Richard had finished, Schneider led him out into the bedroom.

“I know today will be difficult for you, and I’m sorry I can’t be here to help you through it, but in order to get the best deal for you, I need to be in the room with the lawyers. Paul and Till will do their best to keep you occupied until I return, so follow their suggestions, and remember that you can tell them if you don’t want to do something, they can think of alternatives, or you could suggest one yourself. Okay?”

Richard nodded, anxiety still gnawing at him, but knowing that if he wanted a relatively quick and painless divorce he had to cope without Schneider for a few hours. Once again Schneider pulled him into his arms, giving him a more prolonged kiss before releasing him.

“Come on, baby, let’s get the day started. I’m sure Till will be ready to kill Paul by now…”

*

The three of them spent all morning in the practice room, Paul and Richard jamming on their guitars and coming up with a few possible ideas for future songs, Till joining them on drums while trying to think of suitable lyrics. They paused every hour or so in order to have drinks and smokes, providing the opportunity for Till and Richard to try and remove some of the awkwardness between them.

In the end it took for Paul to roll his eyes, telling both of them what the other felt and ordering them to ‘hug it out’. Richard still felt anxious around Till, but as soon as the big bear of a man had gripped him in a tight hug, he felt all the anxiety melting away. He hugged Till back, glad that they could begin to move forward. He realised how much he missed his best friend, and how stupid he was to have thought that Till actually wanted to kill him.

Their conversation over lunch was a lot more animated, with Till filling them in on the details of his recent holiday, and his plans for another vacation before the year ended.

“…I’ll be back in time to spend Christmas and the New Year with everyone, though, no point in breaking with tradition.”

Both Till and Richard hated all the fuss around New Year’s Eve and the expectation to get all dressed up in finery at overcrowded parties. Instead they and the other members of the band had started having a gathering of just the six of them, happy to lounge around in just jeans and t-shirts drinking beer and whatever else was to hand at whoever’s house they were holding it in that year. As it was Paul’s turn this time around they knew they could expect a lot of vodka.

“Aren’t you going to take a holiday this year, Scholle? The change of scenery might do you some good.”

“No, I’ve had enough of living out of a suitcase for one year, I’m happy enough staying put. I don’t think that Ma…Schneider will let me out of his sight anyway.”

“You could ask him to go with you, or someone else for that matter.”

Till didn’t appear to notice Richard’s near slip-up, thankfully, but Paul had and was shaking his head behind Till’s back.

“No, it’s okay. I’m happy enough staying here for now, I’ve been out in the back garden a few times, so I’m getting some fresh air.”

Till shrugged. He wasn’t going to force the issue, especially when he could see Richard was determined to stay at home. Their lunch over, they decided to have another hour in the practice room just to polish up their new riffs and get them on tape before watching some television. On returning to the ground floor they made another round of hot drinks, to combat the increasingly frigid air outside. The first snows hadn’t yet fallen, but it wouldn’t be too long before they arrived.

The three of them were standing just outside the kitchen door while they smoked their cigarettes, their breath showing in white clouds each time they exhaled, interspersed with the smoke. A glint of light coming from the direction of the trees caught Richard’s attention. He looked up just in time to see a man laying flat on an overhanging tree limb, a camera held between his hands, apparently attempting to take photographs of them. He gave a startled yelp, throwing his cigarette to the ground, and boltied back inside the house as quickly as his legs would carry him.

While he disappeared indoors, Till and Paul sprinted towards the trees. Seeing the look of fury on Till’s face, the paparazzi photographer tried to retreat back towards the tree trunk and the relative safety of the park beyond. As he scrambled backwards, clutching his camera tightly, he lost his grip on the branch and tumbled to the ground a few feet from the two approaching musicians.

He lay winded, the breath knocked out of him, giving Till the time to reach him and haul him to his feet. His camera, which he’d dropped as he fell, was snatched up by Paul. While Till dragged the man towards the house, Paul examined the camera. Realising it was a normal SLR camera and not one of the new digital cameras that were starting to flood the market, he opened the hatch at the back exposing the film to the winter sunlight and thereby destroying all the images taken. He quickly closed the hatch again before running to catch up with Till.

“Call the police, Paul, this man is guilty of trespassing.”

Paul nodded, placing the camera on the window ledge before ducking inside the house while Till guarded the intruder. He returned minutes later.

“The cops are on the way. Has he said anything? Who he is, which rag he works for?”

“Not yet, I’m sure the police can get that information for us, though, should we wish to take matters further.”

The chime that alerted the house occupants of arrivals at the front gate sounded, notifying them that the police had arrived. Paul ran to the gate to let them in, guiding them to the rear of the property where Till and the intruder were waiting. Giving them a summary of events, Till handed the man over to their custody, while Paul gave them the camera. Till started to reach for the camera, ready to object to the pap getting away with his ‘stolen’ images, but Paul pulled him back, suggesting they would be better off checking on Richard’s whereabouts.

Deciding that Paul was right, he headed indoors while Paul followed the police to the gate, securing it again once they had passed through to their squad car outside. Back inside the house he was almost knocked flying by a frantic Till as he ran up from the practice room.

“I can’t find him! I’ve looked in all these rooms, down in the practice room…”

“Have you checked upstairs yet?”

“I poked my head round the doors but didn’t see him in any of them.”

“I wouldn’t panic just yet, not without a thorough search first. I’ve got an idea where he might be…”

He led the way up the stairs and into the main bedroom.

“I looked in the bathroom…” Till started, but fell silent when Paul walked past the en-suite and instead made his way to the wardrobe.

The shorter man opened the door and immediately crouched down on the floor.

“There you are, Reesh, you’ve got Till in a right state, hiding in here! It’s a good thing I know where your ‘safe place’ is, or I think he would’ve called for a search party.”

Till moved to stand behind Paul at the doorway and was amazed to see Richard curled up on what looked for all the world like a large dog bed, shivering under a thin blanket.

“Come on, Reesh – the intruder’s been taken away by the police, it’s safe to come out now.”

Richard shook his head, refusing to move. Till touched Paul on the shoulder, asking him to move aside so he could get in. Paul gave way, stepping back to give the larger man access.

“Scholle, Paul’s correct, you can come out now.”

Again, Richard shook his head, refusing. Deciding to be more proactive, Till started to put his arms around the young man, ready to haul him bodily out of his bolt hole, but Richard grew frantic trying to brush him off.

“No! I mustn’t leave! Master says if I need to use my safe place I must stay here until he tells me it’s safe to come out!”

“It is safe, Reesh, you can come out…” Paul said, hoping that by interrupting, Till wouldn’t register what Richard had said.

He was mistaken, Till turned to look at him, eyebrows raised enquiringly. “Master? He’s calling Schneider ‘Master’ and lays on a dog bed? What the fu…”

“Not a dog’s bed. I’m a kitty, not a doggy….” Richard responded timidly.

“You’re a …?” Till faltered, momentarily speechless. His gaze shifted between the two guitarists, like a spectator at a tennis match.

“Umm, I can explain…” Paul began, furiously trying to come up with a response that wouldn’t result in their lead singer going ballistic.

“Save it, Paul. Let Schneider answer my questions. It’s obvious by Richard’s continued resistance to leave his ‘safe spot’…” he made air quotes with his hands, “…that you’re not the one he refers to as ‘Master’. It’s also obvious that Richard’s not going to move anytime soon, so what do you suggest we do? It could be hours before Schneider returns.”

Paul thought for a moment.

“I guess I can try contacting him, see if I can get him talking to Richard on the phone to convince him to move…”

“And what do we do with Richard in the meantime?”

“Try to keep him as calm as possible.”

“Do you have access to those sedatives if need be?”

“Yes, but Schneider said to only use them as a last resort.”

“So, what does Schneider do to keep him calm without meds?”

“Erm…”

“Besides screwing him, I mean?”

“Well, you could pet him, I suppose…”

Till fixed Paul with an intense gaze, which the shorter man avoided by staring intently at his phone, busying himself by writing a text message to Schneider so it didn’t cause as much disruption in the court as a phone call. He pressed send, then dared to face Till’s scrutiny.

“Just how do you suggest I ‘pet him’?”

“You know, stroke him how you would a dog or a cat…it does seem to soothe him when his anxiety flares up. Here, let me show you…”

He edged past Till and knelt on the floor next to Richard, reaching one arm out to run his hand down the younger man’s back, lifting his hand back up and repeating the action several times. His phone buzzed in his back pocket as a message landed. He took it out and looked at the caller ID on the external screen.

“Can you take over for a minute? Schneider wants me to call him…”

They exchanged places, Till sitting cross-legged next to the younger guitarist while Paul left the bedroom to make his call, not wanting to give away any more than Richard already had. He was only gone a couple of minutes.

“Schneider says that he’s on his way home now. They’ve managed to sort everything out at the hearing, which he’ll fill us in on when he returns. He says we should try to keep Richard as calm as possible and not try to force him out of there.”

Till nodded, continuing with stroking Richard’s back, singing softly to him. Richard was no longer shaking, Till realised that it had been fear and not the cold made him shiver, once again he was struck by how low Richard’s mental health had deteriorated to, and determined to only behave positively around him, no matter how much he might disapprove of certain aspects of Schneider’s treatment of him.

Paul smiled gratefully, still apprehensive of the impending conversation between Till and Schneider. To give himself something to do he returned to the kitchen to wash the mugs and dishes from lunchtime, then made a fresh round of drinks, carrying them carefully up the stairs so as not to spill any on the carpet.

Till ended up drinking the coffee made for Richard – he’d done such a good job of soothing the younger man that he’d lulled Richard to sleep. He found himself needing to use the bathroom rather urgently after the large amount of caffeine he’d downed. As a result he was in the bathroom when Schneider arrived home giving Paul the opportunity to fill the drummer in on the current situation without revealing more to Till about the full nature of the trio’s relationship.

Schneider sighed heavily, placing his bag on the bed while he removed his suit jacket and tie, having already removed his outer coat and woolly hat downstairs.

“Could you start preparing dinner for us, liebchen? We’ll probably all need a few drinks tonight, and it’ll be better for us to have eaten beforehand. Not to mention the fact that we didn’t get long for lunch at the courthouse so I’m pretty hungry. Hopefully I’ll have got Richard out of the wardrobe by the time it’s ready.”

“Of course, do you want me to fix you a drink too?”

“Please. Right, let’s see what I can do about the fluffy one…”

Paul headed towards the stairs while Schneider approached the dozing guitarist. Till emerged from the en-suite and greeted Schneider brusquely, biting back his thoughts on the situation he’d discovered as the drummer knelt down to wake the sleeper.

“Reesh…wake up, love…” He reached out, gently caressing Richard’s cheek as he spoke. “Come on sweetheart, time to get up…”

Richard stirred, his eyes fluttering open slowly. Seeing his Master kneeling next to him he lifted his head and pushed himself upright.

“Master, you’re home! Is it over? Am I safe?”

“Yes, you’re safe. The intruder has been dealt with, you can come out now…”

“What about that other thing?”

That was a rather understated way of referring to his divorce, Schneider thought to himself. Till watched on quietly, interested in hearing the answer to that question.

“Yes, love. That’s finished now, I’ll give you the details later, when you’re feeling a bit better, but you don’t have to worry about anything, it’s a clean break. You’re free now.”

“She can’t hurt me anymore?”

Till assumed Richard meant that his now ex-wife wouldn’t be able to get more money out of him other than what had been agreed during that day’s negotiations, or perhaps had agreed not to talk to the press about him or their relationship in future.

“No, baby, you’re safe. She won’t be able to lay a finger on you ever again, I made sure of that.”

Richard flung himself into Schneider’s arms, sobbing with relief. “Thank you, Master, thank you!”

Schneider held Richard tightly, whispering softly into his ear, reassuring him. Till had come closer to them, confused by their exchange, wanting an explanation but at the same time not wanting to upset Richard further. After a while Richard began to calm again, Schneider’s calming presence working on his frayed nerves.

“Till knows about us, Master. It’s my fault, I’m sorry. I was frightened, seeing that man…taking pictures…and you said I should only leave my safe spot when you told me it was safe. I didn’t want to break the rules…”

Richard’s apology and explanation tumbled out quickly, as though he needed to get the words out before his nerves gave way.

“I know, love. It’s okay, Don’t you worry about it, Till and I are going to have a chat in a bit. But first we’re going to eat.”

“Doughnuts?” Richard asked, hopefully, making Schneider laugh.

“Do you mean to tell me there are still some left? Eat up all your dinner first, and if you’ve still got room left, then yes, you can have a doughnut. Come on, love, let’s get you up and wipe your face – your eyeliner’s run.”

Schneider gently pulled Richard to his feet, and led him past Till into the bathroom so he could clean him up. Till decided that there was no point in lingering in the bedroom, especially as Schneider had made the comment about eating before their talk more for his benefit than for Richard, so he headed for the kitchen to see if he could be of any help to Paul.

Chapter Text

Richard was still subdued during dinner, picking at his food disinterestedly, only taking the occasional mouthful. Schneider asked the others about how they’d spent the morning, Paul answering enthusiastically, telling him about some of the new song ideas they’d been working on, with Till adding his lyrical ideas. The three of them finished their meals before Richard had got through even half of his, so Schneider suggested that Paul and Till might want to take the pastries and doughnuts through to the lounge and wait for them there.

Once Till was out of the kitchen, Schneider pulled Richard’s plate towards himself and pointed Richard to take his normal place on the floor beside him. He proceeded to feed Richard a forkful at a time until the plate was empty, determined that he should have a decent meal rather than filling himself up with sugary treats.

He stacked the dirty dishes next to the sink ready for washing later, then made Richard get up on his feet again. He cupped Richard’s chin with one hand, kissing him tenderly on the lips.

“Time to face the music, sweetheart. Just remember that if Till gets angry or upset it’s because of me, not you. You have nothing to apologise for. If it gets too much for you, I’ll get Paul to accompany you upstairs, okay?”

“Yes, Master.” Richard responded quietly.

Schneider wrapped an arm around Richard’s waist and guided him through to the lounge. Paul and Till had occupied an armchair each and were tucking in to the pastries while chatting. They looked up when the other two entered, Till’s expression hardening slightly. Schneider settled himself on the sofa, Richard sitting next to him, eyes glued on the plate of pastries. Noticing, Schneider grabbed a small dish and placed a couple of them onto it.

“Here you go, Reesh, as promised.”

Richard sat munching away happily while Till quizzed Schneider on how and when things had gone beyond friendship between him and Richard. He questioned whether having Richard as a submissive was the best idea considering his mental and emotional state.

“I don’t know if it’s necessarily the best thing for him, but it seems to work for us and he seems happy enough with the situation. Ask him yourself…and if you want to be sure he’s not being coerced, I can leave the room while you ask him, you can fetch me back when you’re satisfied.”

Schneider stood up, his movement drawing Richard’s attention.

“I’m going into the kitchen so that Till can ask you a few questions. I want you to answer him honestly, okay?”

Richard nodded. Schneider beckoned Paul to follow him so that the others could have complete privacy, knowing that Till might suspect Paul of being his eyes and ears and reporting back to him. They closed the door behind themselves, their footsteps could be heard walking away down the hall. Richard had finished his current mouthful and was licking sugar granules off his fingers and thumb, watching Till intently. The singer shifted in his chair, uncertain where to start.

“So…you and Schneider are a couple now…”

Richard nodded, acknowledging the statement, waiting for a question.

“And you have a Dom/Sub relationship…”

Another nod. Till scratched his head, wondering how to proceed.

“And you chose that freely, Schneider didn’t force you or try to persuade you in any way, made you change your mind if you didn’t want it at first…?”

Richard frowned, he couldn’t answer that with a nod or a shake of his head as they could be misinterpreted.

“Master…Schneider… told me that he was a Dom and that it wasn’t just to spice up his sex life. He asked if I’d tried it before and if I’d be willing to give it a try, but he also said that if I wasn’t into it that he would be just as happy having a ‘normal’ relationship with me. We agreed to give it a try and see how things went, I can stop it any time I want if I change my mind.”

That was a longer answer than Till was expecting.

“Are you sure that being a sub – in fact not just a sub, a pet, at that – makes you happy? I find it hard to believe that you, of all people, would be willing to have someone boss you around and treat you like an animal…”

Richard’s face flushed pink, not really comfortable with Till’s line of questioning.

“Things haven’t run smoothly when I’ve tried controlling everything, and with me hitting rock bottom I figured it couldn’t hurt to have someone else taking over. I’ve come to realise that it’s very liberating not having to make any decisions, Schneider’s been taking great care of me. As to whether or not it makes me happy… obviously at the moment I’m struggling with my depression, but Schneider makes me feel safe, makes me feel loved, and I know he loves me for what’s in here…” he pointed to his heart, “and not just my looks or for what I do for a living. Knowing that makes me happy… that and the great sex, of course…”

Till held up his hand to indicate that Richard should stop.

“I’d prefer it if you kept that to yourself, I’m still trying to wrap my head round the fact that you swing both ways and I didn’t know it! You mentioned earlier on that you needed Schneider to tell you that you were safe, which I thought was because of the intruder, but when he got back you asked ‘She can’t hurt me anymore?’ – I think it’s safe to assume you were referring to Caron…”

“Yes…”

“… What did you mean by that – hurt you how? Financially? Emotionally? Damaging your reputation in the press?”

Richard hung his head as he replied, speaking just above a whisper, feeling ashamed about what he was about to admit.

“No… she would…she…” he took a calming breath, “…she would beat me… she knew I wouldn’t hit her back…so she hit me, sometimes with her hands, sometimes with other things…”

Till was horrified, he had had no idea of the abuse Richard had been suffering.

“Oh, Scholle…why didn’t you tell me? I could’ve helped you…”

“I was too ashamed to admit to anyone what was going on. I tried hiding my injuries, but as it turned out, I didn’t manage that as well as I thought.”

Till got up from his chair and sat down next to Richard, wrapping him in a hug, kissing him on the forehead.

“I know things have been strained between us – all of us – recently, but I hope that that’s behind us now. I want you to know I’m here for you, no matter what, and while I may not understand your current, er… life choices, I realise that I’m probably the last person to cast judgement on what you get up to behind closed doors. You and me, we’re family.”

Richard offered up a small smile.

“Thanks, Till. I appreciate it.”

“So, while you’re under orders to tell me the truth, do you know who Paul’s secret lover is?”

“Yes.”

Till waited…

“Are you going to tell me who it is, then?”

“No, I definitely don’t have permission to tell you that, sorry!”

“Hmmph!”

“I think I better get the others back in, before you try getting me into trouble…” Richard said, with a slightly bigger smile than previously, knowing that Till had been trying to find out the answer to that question for some time now.

He got up from the sofa and left the room in search of his master and friend. He found them in the kitchen, drying the pots and putting them away.

“Hey, gorgeous, are you ready for us to come back now?”

“Yes, Master. Could I have some vodka now, please? I feel like I need it…”

“I think that can be arranged, come on, we better not leave our guest alone for too long…”

*

As the evening turned to night, the four friends downed numerous drinks between them, while they chatted away and watched television shows. Not used to having much alcohol any more, Richard grew tipsy faster than the others and felt the need to lie down as the room started spinning. Till was still on the sofa from when he’d moved onto it earlier, and offered up his lap as a pillow for the younger guitarist, resuming the petting motions absentmindedly helping Richard nod off to sleep.

The room was lit only by one lamp and the glow from the tv, the latter being mostly ignored in favour of conversation.

“Come on, Paul – now that I know about Richard and Schneider’s secret, isn’t it about time you told me who it is you’ve been dating all this time? Apparently Richard knows, but he wouldn’t tell me, saying he doesn’t have permission…”

“He’s right, I’ll make sure he’s rewarded by Schneider for that.”

“Does that mean you know who it is, too?” Till asked Schneider.

“Yes, of course!. I’m sure Paul will tell you when he’s ready to. His partner is happy to follow his lead, and will stay quiet until Paul decides it’s time.”

“So, you know this person, then?”

“In a manner of speaking, yes. Now, stop fishing – I’m not going to tell you any more!”

Paul had been sitting in one of the armchairs, smirking at the exchange knowing that Schneider’s comments were as much for his benefit as they were Till’s. He reached for the vodka bottle and topped up their glasses, waiting for Till to drain his glass so that he could refill it for him, observing the singer’s level of inebriation carefully. When Till got to the point where he had fallen silent, gaze seemingly fixed on the tv screen while still petting Richard, Paul got up from his chair and stepped over to the sofa. He sat as close as he could to Schneider without actually sitting in his lap.

Till appeared oblivious to the change in seating arrangements, and was trying to follow the plot of the show. Emboldened by the lack of attention on them coupled with the copious amounts of alcohol he’d drunk, Paul moved to straddle Schneider’s legs, getting an amused quirk of an eyebrow from the drummer. He leaned forward and placed a kiss on his Master’s lips, which Schneider reciprocated.

After a minute or so of light kisses Paul moaned softly, but not so quietly that Till didn’t hear. The singer thought at first that the sound had come from Richard, and checked to see if the guitarist was about to be sick, waking him up in the process. When he realised it wasn’t Richard he turned to look at the others, only at that moment noticing what had been going on next to him in, so engrossed in the programme on the tv and senses dulled by alcohol that he hadn’t realised that Paul had even moved.

“What the… ? What are you doing?”

“I would’ve thought that was obvious…” Schneider remarked.

“But right next to Richard… how could you? And what about Paul’s partner? Does he know about this?”

Till was getting incensed, making Richard nervous. Schneider beckoned him to come to his side while he addressed Till.

“Richard is perfectly aware of the nature of mine and Paul’s relationship, and Paul’s partner knows everything we do together, at the exact moment it happens…”

It took a moment for the penny to drop.

“Fuck me, Schneider!” Till exclaimed, incredulous. “You’re fucking both of them, at the same time!?”

“Thank you for the offer, Till, but I’ve got enough on with these two without adding you as a third sub…”

That response had both Paul and Richard giggling, the former having moved from Schneider’s lap so that Richard could get closer to him.

“…In answer to your question, as I’ve only got one dick I’m physically incapable of fucking them at the same time, so they take turns.” Schneider replied, matter-of-factly.

“And what happens if you have a falling out? Have you given that any thought? And here was me thinking it was bad enough you were screwing Richard…”

“Of course I’ve thought about it, we all have. But right now, this works for us. If that changes down the line then we’ll deal with it then, just as we would’ve had to deal with the fallout if we hadn’t got to Richard on time at the hotel.”

“I’m definitely not drunk enough for this…”

“Well, you’re too drunk to drive home, so you’re more than welcome to stay the night. There are fresh sheets on the bed in Richard’s room, feel free to use it or stay on the couch, it’s up to you. I think it’s time I got Richard to bed, he’s not used to drinking much anymore, and he looks a little queasy.”

He stood up, while Paul helped Richard off the sofa and out of the lounge.

“We can talk again in the morning, good night Till.”

Till nodded, still trying to process everything he’d just learned, and decided another glass of vodka was in order. Schneider closed the door behind himself and followed the guitarists upstairs to their bedroom.

“I’ll go and sleep in my room tonight, that way I can be on hand if Till needs anything, and so he won’t disturb you.”

“Are you sure, Paulchen? It’s not as if he hasn’t seen the three of us sharing a bed before…”

“I know, but that was before he found out the three of us are in a relationship. Not to mention someone might be up half the night puking his guts up, and I really could use the sleep.”

Schneider laughed softly.

“Okay, love. If you’re sure that’s what you want. You could always join us later if you change your mind.”

He kissed Paul tenderly, then Paul kissed Richard in turn, and headed for his room further along the landing. Schneider gently herded Richard into the master bedroom, shutting the door firmly before setting the guitarist down so that he could start stripping him off for bed. He left Richard’s t-shirt and underwear on as the room still had a slight chill despite the central heating having clicked on. He needed to change the level on the thermostat now that winter was drawing closer, but that could wait until morning.

The next thing he needed to take care of was to clean Richard’s teeth, and give him a quick wash with a damp cloth before putting him to bed. Then he needed to do the same for himself.

“Do you need the toilet, sweetheart?”

“Yes, Master.” Richard responded through a yawn.

Schneider pushed his sleepy pet over to the toilet, lifting the seat up ready. Richard just stood there, swaying ever so slightly, seemingly forgetting what he was supposed to be doing.

“My pretty pet’s a little drunk, aren’t you? Here, let me help you…”

He pulled down Richard’s boxer shorts and wrapped an arm round him to hold him steady while he took hold of Richard’s cock with his other hand to aim at the toilet bowl. When Richard was done he shook him off, and pulled his boxers back up, washing his hands thoroughly afterwards.

“Come on, my love, let’s get you into bed. You look like you’re asleep already!”

*

Till had eventually switched the tv off and climbed the stairs to Richard’s room where he and Flake had taken turns sleeping in when they were looking after him. He kicked off his boots and sat on the edge of the bed to remove his socks. He grunted with the effort, being inebriated not helping matters. Swinging his legs up onto the bed he was asleep before his head hit the pillow.

When he woke up just after dawn it took him a minute to remember where he was. Then the revelations of the previous evening returned to him, which Till half-wondered if he’d dreamt them up. He realised he reeked of alcohol, and rubbing a hand over his face, got up off the bed and headed to the bathroom to freshen up.

As he was leaving the bathroom he bumped into Paul who’d been sleeping in his own room until the sound of the toilet flushing had woken him up.

“Good morning, Till, did you sleep well?” Paul asked, whispering.

“Yes, thanks. Although I’m struggling to work out if everything I think I saw and heard last night actually happened.”

Paul smiled. “I know, the situation is…weird…unconventional…even by our standards, but yes, in answer to your question, it all happened.”

Till grunted quietly in acknowledgement.

“I’m going to go downstairs in a minute to start sorting breakfast out for everyone, is there anything in particular you’d like me to make for you?”

“Not really, I’ll have whatever the rest of you are having.”

Paul reached for the door handle of the master bedroom, pausing when Till asked him a question.

“I know it will be some time before Richard recovers from his depression, but tell me, Paul, does Richard seem happier now that he’s with the two of you?”

The guitarist held up his finger in a silent gesture for Till to wait a moment. He pushed the bedroom door open noiselessly and looked over at the bed. Beckoning Till to approach he pointed over at the bed.

“Tell me what you see…”

Till looked over at the two men in the bed, Schneider snoring softly, Richard asleep on his side, arm draped over Schneider’s flat stomach.

“Well, he looks comfortable with being so close to Schneider…”

“Look closer, at his face…”

Till looked again and saw what Paul was wanting him to notice – Richard was smiling in his sleep, that was something that couldn’t be faked. Till nodded, and turned back to Paul.

“Thank you, that tells me everything I need to know.”

Paul smiled, and headed into the bedroom, closing the door behind himself. Till turned around and went back into Richard’s room in order to get dressed for breakfast. He heard the sound of voices in the room across from him, he assumed Paul must’ve woken them to see about breakfast. A moment later the other bedroom door was opened and shut, Till caught sight of Paul heading for the stairs through the partially open doorway.

He sat on the bed while he finished dressing himself, wondering if he should offer to help Paul in the kitchen. His mind was made up for him when he heard the unmistakable sounds of Schneider and Richard engaging in morning sex. He got up hurriedly and disappeared down the stairs, trying to mentally block out the sounds from the other bedroom, but failing miserably. When Paul saw Till’s expression he smirked, guessing what had prompted it, and carried on with his preparations.

“Are they usually that loud?”

“Not always, they probably wanted to put on a special performance for you!” Paul replied with a mischievous grin.

“I’ll be quite happy if I never get to hear that again. Hearing them shagging groupies is one thing, but shagging each other…” he trailed off, shaking his head.

“What would you like to drink?”

“Honestly – a vodka. But as I’m driving home shortly I better have a coffee, please.”

“Coming right up…”

“Are you okay with this situation, Paul? Doesn’t it get awkward with Richard added to the mix?”

“I’ll admit, it was difficult at first when we were helping him recover, all our time and energy centred on him, our relationship was basically put on hold. Schneider tried his best to make sure he paid me enough attention, and those few days we had alone helped. We talked things through, laying out what we were both prepared to do, and more importantly what we weren’t prepared to accept. Anything else that crops up that we haven’t discussed before now, we’ll negotiate as it happens. But now things have calmed down a bit…it’s definitely made things more… interesting. I’m happy with the current status quo.”

“Have you given thought to what happens if you have a falling out?”

“With regards to the band, do you mean, or in general?”

“Either…both…”

“Well, if Richard had succeeded in killing himself there wouldn’t be any band. We all agreed that when we signed the contract – it’s the six of us, or nothing. The way I see it, every day we’ve had, and are yet to have, since his attempts are a bonus. I’ll take each day as it comes. In general – well, if there is a break up, and the band suffers as a result…” he paused, shrugging his shoulders, “ …that can happen between friends anyway, lovers or not.”

Till nodded. Although Paul was often the prankster in the band, on occasion he could surprise them with some deep insights about life. He was pleased that this was one such time.

“I’m still not sure that it’s a good idea, but I have been wrong about things in the past. Have you discussed letting Flake and Ollie know about…” he gestured vaguely while he searched for the right word, eventually settling on, “…this?”

Schneider walked in at that moment, and stooped to give Paul a peck on the cheek. He answered Till in Paul’s place.

“We hadn’t planned on telling anyone anything for a while, until we’d got used to it ourselves. You only found out because of Richard’s unfortunate slip up. Who’d’ve thought it – Paul managed to keep my identity as his partner a secret for years, a few relatively short weeks with Richard and all the cats are out of the proverbial bag!”

Till snorted with amusement.

“Well, apparently he is a pussycat after all!”

Paul grinned, his back turned to the other two while he carried out his duties, knowing that if his master saw his being amused at Richard’s expense he’d no doubt get a scolding if not more. He could actually sense Schneider taking a calming breath before responding to Till’s jibe.

“Yes, he is, but I’ll thank you not to refer to him as such outside of these four walls. As for letting Flake and Ollie in on our secret, I’ll need to find out if Richard feels comfortable with them knowing, so please don’t say anything to them or anyone else for that matter. I think Richard is comfortable with you knowing, because you’re his closest friend and have a broad perspective on relationships, but it might be a while before he’s ready to let his defences down.

“I hope you’re not going to make a habit of poking…,” Till’s mouth wobbled as he tried desperately to not smirk at Schneider’s choice of words, “…fun at Richard for his current choice of lifestyle, especially when it’s helping him cope with his anxiety and depression.”

“I’m sorry – you’re right, I shouldn’t make fun of him, it’s just taking time for me to see Richard under these circumstances after dealing with his diva mentality for so long. I’ll get over it, I promise.”

Till held out his hand so that Schneider could shake it, sealing the peace between them and avoiding further tensions. Schneider searched Till’s face, and seeing the sincerity there grasped the singer’s hand. Paul decided he had sufficient control over his facial expressions to be able to turn round to the others. He placed Till’s coffee on the table in front of him, and a cup of tea on Schneider’s placemat. Next he served them their food, and waited patiently in case his Master or their guest required anything else before he saw to his own breakfast.

“Thank you, Paulchen. Would you mind seeing what’s holding Richard up, please?”

Paul nodded and quickly left the kitchen, heading for the stairs. He could hear Schneider and Till resuming their conversation as he ascended, interspersed with the sound of cutlery on plates. He found Richard in the main bedroom, an uncertain look on his face, holding some clothes in his hands but making no attempt to put them on. His expression changed to one of relief when Paul arrived.

“Hey Reeshy, Master sent me to find out what’s taking you so long…”

“Thank goodness you’re here! I don’t know what I should do. I know that when we have guests that don’t know we’re together that I should be dressed and behave like a normal person, but Till knows about us AND that I’m a pet, so does that mean I should behave as a pet, and if so, do I wear anything? Master never gave me instructions for this…”

“Well, obviously Master wasn’t expecting this situation to arise so soon. I think he’d want you to do whatever feels most comfortable to you, for now at least, I’m sure he’ll discuss it with you later. As far as I know he hasn’t asked Till if he’d be comfortable with you parading around naked all the time and behaving as a pet, so if you ask me, for today at least, put on some clothes and sit at the table. I’ll explain to Master what your issue was and let him take things from there. Do you need any help with anything?”

“Um, no… I should be okay. I’ll just be a couple of minutes getting ready.”

Paul nodded and turned to leave, halting when Richard spoke his name.

“Yes, Reesh?”

“Thank you.”

Paul flashed him one of his biggest smiles. “You’re welcome, now get a move on!”l

Chapter Text

The next few weeks passed slowly, with Richard staying indoors as much as possible while they waited for the media interest in his divorce to die down as some other scandals grabbed the attention of the paparazzi. Till had given his promise not to disclose any details of the threesome to anyone, including their other two colleagues, without their express permission. Almost immediately after his overnight stay he had flown off on holiday, and wasn’t likely to return home until early November, having other projects planned following his vacation.

The longer Richard stayed with Schneider and Paul, the more his self-confidence began to return and his anxiety levels dropped. He even started talking about starting work on some new songs as a way to keep himself occupied until he felt ready to go beyond the boundaries of Schneider’s property.

“That’s an excellent idea, love. In fact, I’ve been invited to go over to check out a new drum kit which I was contemplating doing this weekend considering that Till is back in town for a couple of weeks, so he’ll be available as backup if needed. Do you think you’ll be alright if I’m away for a couple of days?”

“Paul will be here, won’t he, Master?”

Schneider smiled. “Of course, you don’t think I’d leave you unsupervised, do you? I can just imagine the state of the house when I get back – clothes strewn everywhere, globs of hair gel in the sink and on the bathroom floor, pots left unwashed…”

Richard pouted. “I’m not that bad, Master! I keep everything clean and tidy now…” he protested.

“Only because they’re part of your duties, and you know it!” Schneider retorted, ceasing his stroking of Richard’s torso which was draped over his lap, and instead started tickling the younger man around his waistline making him squeal in surprise while simultaneously try to wriggle away from his tormentor.

“Peaches! Peaches!” he called out, knowing Schneider would have to stop on hearing the safe word.

“You sneaky little kitty!” Schneider laughed as he let Richard go, enabling the guitarist to catch his breath again, before sticking his tongue out at his master defiantly.

“You’re going to get a good spanking for being cheeky, you naughty kitty!”

Richard, who was on all-fours on the carpet, turned and shook his rear end at Schneider, taunting him. Schneider launched himself off the sofa making Richard squeak and bolt out the door, chased all the way upstairs into the master bedroom.

“Gotcha!” Schneider caught hold of Richard and gave the guitarist’s backside a few playful slaps before throwing him bodily on to the bed, his arousal stirring.

Richard backed up until he was resting against the pillows, watching his Master carefully, wondering if he was going to get a proper spanking – which he was starting to enjoy, not that he’d let Master know…yet – or something else entirely. Schneider climbed onto the bed and knelt forward over Richard, moving to pin the guitarist down by his wrists.

“You shouldn’t shake that cute bum of yours at me, unless you’re prepared to face the consequences…”

Schneider released one of Richard’s wrists and used his free hand to pull the guitarist’s sweatpants down. Richard obliged by raising his hips so that the clothing could be pulled from underneath him, then drawing his legs towards himself enabling Schneider to remove it completely. The drummer smiled.

“You’re such a good, obedient pussycat when you know it’ll get you something you want, aren’t you?”

“Yes, Master…” Richard raised his arms, the other having been freed when Schneider removed his pants, so that Master could remove his t-shirt if he wanted.

“Your training is coming along nicely, you’re learning quickly how to be a good submissive. Continue making progress and I’ll think of a way to reward you properly.” Schneider observed, as he pulled the colourful shirt from over Richard’s head, leaving the younger man lying completely naked beneath him, save for the collar that now adorned his neck.

The guitarist waited impatiently while his Master drank in the sight of his pet’s toned body as he undressed himself. Schneider ran his hands over Richard’s torso, one hand sliding lower to grip Richard’s cock firmly, giving it a few experimental strokes. He smiled again as Richard hardened immediately in response to his touch, pushing his hips upwards and moaning softly. Schneider retrieved the tube of lube from the nightstand and quickly worked Richard open with deft movements of his fingers, the guitarist pushing himself onto his Master’s hand in his impatience.

Schneider gave Richard a quick slap on his buttocks in mild rebuke before penetrating him slowly, drawing out the sensation as he knew it would drive his pet crazy with anticipation. Once he was fully sheathed inside him he paused again, smirking as he watched Richard’s expression of frustration warring with his wanting to be a good submissive.

“Does my pet want me to fuck him?” he asked, with a quirked eyebrow.

“If it pleases you, Master, yes…”

“Hmmmm… if it pleases me, eh? Let me think…”

Richard whined quietly, knowing his Master could prolong the teasing for several minutes, if he chose to. Schneider decided that he was too impatient himself to make his pet suffer any longer and started thrusting.

“…yes, it definitely pleases me…let me hear you call my name…”

“Master, I…”

“My name, baby, not my title!”

“Schneider…oh god, that feels so good…”

Richard’s moans increased in volume and intensity as his Master pounded him harder and faster, Schneider’s name spilling from his lips like a litany of prayers to some faceless deity. His eyes remained focused on his lover, not wanting to miss a single moment with the man he had grown to adore over the past few months. He cried out as he reached orgasm.

“Oh…oh…yes yes yes! I love you, Schneider!”

Schneider came hard on hearing that surprise proclamation, it took him a few moments to gather his wits together enough to reply. He was pretty sure that was the first time Richard had said those words to him since they’d been together.

“I love you, too, Richard… I’m so happy to hear you say that… you’re the love of my life, baby…”

“I am?”

Schneider smiled down at him, gently tracing Richard’s strong jawline with his finger.

“Yes, Reesh, you are…. How does that make you feel, knowing that?”

“Happy… excited… scared…”

“Why scared, baby?”

“Because last time someone said they loved me that much….”

“I’m not her, sweetheart, You know that. I promise I will never do anything to hurt you, well… nothing that you don’t enjoy at any rate….” he responded with a wink.

“I know, Master. I’m trying to get better….”

“Don’t try to force it, these things take time. You’re doing great baby, you’ve come such a long way already. I’m proud of you. I’ll think of something nice for us to do when I get back from my trip.”

“Can’t I come with you? I can stay hidden in the car and hotel room…”

“You think you’re ready to go out in public? Maybe another time love, I’m going to be flying into Prague this time around, on a regular flight, so I’m not sure this is the night time. Unless you think differently?”

Schneider didn’t want to discourage Richard from going outdoors again, but he also didn’t want to put him in a situation where he might react badly, and being cooped up in a flying tin can full of strangers was probably one of those situations.

“No, you’re right Master. You know what’s best for me. I just don’t want to be separated from you. I’ll miss you.”

Schneider rested his forehead against Richard’s and gave him an Eskimo kiss. “I’ll miss you more, my love, I can promise you that. But it’ll be over before you know it, and you’ll have Paul to keep you company. Speaking of whom, he should be home soon, it’s getting late.”

“Should we try calling him?”

“No, he’s probably driving and got stuck in traffic. Come on, let’s go and make dinner, I’m sure he’ll be cold and fed up by the time he arrives, and will be glad of a hot meal.”

He got out of bed and, after cleaning Richard up, dressed them both, not wanting to get any hot food splashing on either of them accidentally.

*

“Reesh? Have you finished yet?”

After Schneider had left for Prague in the small hours of that morning, the two guitarists had woken from their slumber to a list of things that their Master wanted them to do while he was away for the weekend. Paul had divided up the tasks between them as he had the higher status, and therefore greater responsibility. He made sure that he didn’t give Richard anything that he’d not done before, as Master had a strict set of rules as to what a pet should and shouldn’t do, and any deviation from that might confuse Richard if he received conflicting instructions.

After their tasks were over they were free to do what they wanted in the evening, whether it was jamming on their guitars or watching a film. Paul had been finishing washing the dishes from their evening meal and putting them away. He was looking forward to playing on his guitar, it had been a few days since he’d picked it up, and he felt the need to play as a kind of mental itch.

Getting no immediate reply from Richard he went to investigate. He found the younger guitarist in his room, his upper-half hidden from view on account of him being inside the cover he was attempting to put on the duvet, leaving his legs dangling out of the opening at the edge of the bed. Paul laughed at the sight and quickly took a picture with his phone so he could send it as a multimedia message to Schneider later.

“What are you doing under there?” he asked, his grin making the corners of his eyes crinkle.

“I’m changing the duvet cover - what does it look like?” Richard’s voice was slightly muffled due to the cotton barrier.

“It looks like the duvet’s trying to swallow you whole! Haven’t you ever changed a cover before?”

Richard backed out from the cover, an annoyed expression on his face.

“Of course I have! I’ve just not done it on my own before. I don’t remember it being this difficult!”

“Come on, I’ll help you finish this off and will show you the single-person technique another time. I want to get some playing done tonight!”

A short while later the pair of them were in the practice room, tuning their strings, connecting pedal boards to both their guitars and amps, and checking they had a simple recording setup in case they wanted to save anything that they composed or improvised that they thought might serve as the building blocks for new songs without the hassle of routing it through the mixing desk.

*

“Ugh, I don’t know about you but my shoulders are aching, I should probably have saved a few jobs for tomorrow instead of trying to get them all done today…”

Richard dragged his attention from the tv show he was watching and looked up at Paul, who was standing in the doorway attempting to stretch his arms and shoulders to relieve some of the tension.

“Would you like me to give you a massage, I’m told I’m pretty good at them…”

“Ooh, that would be nice, but where can we do it? We’ve changed the bed covers in our rooms, and I wouldn’t want to get the oils on the sofa or carpets…”

“There’s always the master bedroom - we’ve not changed the bed in there yet, so it won’t matter about getting oil on the sheets…”

“I forgot about that… I guess we’d be alright to sleep in there too, Master did say we can cuddle up for company while he’s away, as long as we obey the rules. I can’t see a massage being a problem. I’ll get some towels to lay on the sheets to help protect them, so it’s not too sticky for us to sleep on afterwards.”

“Do you mind if I finish watching this before I come upstairs? There’s only a few minutes left…”

“Sure, I’ll be getting everything ready for when you arrive, thanks Reeshy!”

Richard smiled and waved his hand dismissively, his attention already back on the tv. When he arrived in the master bedroom a short while later he discovered Paul had already pushed the duvet to one side and placed a couple of bathroom towels on the exposed sheets. He’d placed a bottle of massage oil on the nightstand at his side of the bed.

“I’m all ready for you. Are you just going to do my neck and shoulders?”

“I can do all your upper body if you want, it’s up to you.” Richard shrugged nonchalantly.

“That sounds good, back or front first?”

“I’ll start with your back and then flip you over. If you get settled down I’ll strip off…” At Paul’s quirked eyebrows he explained, “I’m planning on wearing these clothes tomorrow so I don’t want to get oil all over them.”

Paul had already undressed until he was only in his boxers. He knelt on the edge of the bed and carefully crawled into position to lay down flat on his stomach. Richard was quick to follow, bottle of oil in hand, wearing just his black briefs. He straddled Paul’s prone form and perched himself at the small of the older man’s back.

“I’m not hurting you by sitting here, am I?”

“No, you’re okay there.” Paul responded.

The massage started innocently enough, with Richard’s sole aim to ease the tension in Paul’s shoulders and help him relax. The younger man had spent several minutes applying the oil all over Paul’s back, working it into his skin with practiced movements. He had kneaded Paul’s muscles, working them until he could feel the knots loosening,l and Paul’s shoulders dropped as he became more relaxed, noises of appreciation escaping his lips at irregular intervals, making Richard smile.

When he’d finished with Paul’s back, he rose off him to help him turn over without disturbing the towels underneath. As Paul straightened out to lie on his back his arousal was immediately evident to Richard. He smirked but said nothing, and sat on the edge of the bed to start working on Paul’s chest and stomach. As he moved onto Paul’s shoulders and biceps he leant forward and placed a light kiss on his lips. As he pulled away he saw Paul’s pupils had dilated, and his cheeks had taken on a rosy hue.

Richard shifted his position on the bed so that he was laid out next to Paul, propping himself up on his side with one arm, while he continued to work the oil into Paul’s pectoral muscles. He leaned forward again and kissed Paul a second time, the older man reciprocating, his eyes half-closed. He broke the contact when Richard’s hand slipped under the waistband of his shorts to take hold of his cock.

“We shouldn’t…we’re not allowed…what if Master found out…?” he whispered huskily, but made no movement to stop Richard.

“He’s not due back until tomorrow night, and we’ll have changed the bed and cleaned the room by then…he’ll never know…and we’re in a relationship already, so why shouldn’t we…?”

He nuzzled at Paul’s neck while continuing to stroke his cock up and down, making Paul moan softly. Richard stopped for a moment to free himself from his briefs, giving Paul a good view of his own erection as he stood up. Seeing his friend’s eyes widen and his head turn to watch his movements, Richard knew that he wanted the same thing. Knowing that there was a packet of condoms in the nightstand drawer, he retrieved one before returning his attention back to Paul. He helped Paul out of his boxers, then squirted some more oil onto one hand, using it to help Paul loosen up ready for him, the shorter man’s moans becoming louder with each touch of his fingers inside him. Confident he’d prepared him adequately Richard quickly slipped the condom on himself and knelt between Paul’s raised legs.

He entered him slowly, gauging the other man’s reactions to make sure he wasn’t hurting him. Once he was buried inside him completely he bent his head down and kissed Paul again, his tongue seeking access to his mouth, which Paul granted willingly, deepening the kiss. Richard started to grind his hips against Paul’s ass in rhythmic circles, one arm reaching back to lift one of Paul’s thighs in order to penetrate him even further. Their lovemaking was quiet but for the involuntary moans they made with each wave of pleasure, both aware that they were breaking the rules, their shared guilt making them quiet, as though being too vocal would give them away.

They lost all sense of time as they explored each other’s bodies, as Richard started to tire they switched positions so that Paul was riding him, head thrown back and eyes closed, trying hard to stay upright, his body still glistening from the massage oil. As Richard found himself drawing close to completion he flipped them both back over, lifting Paul’s legs up over his shoulders and pumping as deep and fast as possible, grunting with the effort until he came, his body shuddering with the release, his eyes screwed tight shut until he was spent. Realising that Paul wasn’t done he took up the rhythm again, his eyes focused on his lover’s face, watching for the signs that Paul was on the cusp. When Paul grabbed him by the upper arms and arched his back, Richard knew he was ready. He started stroking Paul’s cock again, holding him firmly when Paul squeezed tight around his own cock, as he came over himself, coating Richard’s fingers in the process.

“Fuck…that was incredible….” Paul was able to breathe, eventually.

Richard smiled and kissed him on the tip of his nose.

“You were great too, Paulchen…you’ve got a perfect little ass…” he pulled out and removed the condom, throwing it in the trash can along with the packet.

He grabbed another towel from the bathroom and wiped away the excess oil and semen from Paul, as well as some that had transferred onto himself during their intercourse. He took the other towels from the bed and threw them onto the floor, ready for going in the laundry in the morning. He clambered back onto the bed, pulling the duvet over them both as he settled down in his usual spot in the centre. He opened his arms so that Paul could get close to him, the two of them falling asleep in each other’s arms.

It was mid-morning when they woke up, still snuggled together.

“Morning, Reeshy…”

“Morning, Paulie… how are you feeling?”

Paul gave his arms and shoulders an experimental wiggle.

“Much better than last night, thank you. You definitely give great… massages…” he added with a grin, making Richard laugh.

“You’re very welcome. I give great…aftercare too, just in case you’re interested in a follow-up session?”

“I think I might be persuaded to check the validity of your statement, purely for research purposes you understand…”

Richard grinned. “Naturally… I wouldn’t assume anything else…”

Opening up the drawer next to him, Paul tossed a condom packet to Richard, then turned back to get some regular lube, not wanting to waste any time messing about getting towels to protect the sheets, especially as they would be changing the bed that day anyway. While Richard was putting on the condom Paul started to prepare himself, which he’d learnt how to do during his time with Schneider.

They were soon intertwined, hands groping each other, moans rising up to the ceiling as they continued where they left off the night before. Their bodies were soon glistening with sweat despite the cool autumn temperature in the room. They were so engrossed in each other that they didn’t realise they weren’t alone anymore, until a strong pair of hands gripped Richard first by his hair, and then throat, as Schneider lifted him off Paul with a face full of fury.

“You ungrateful little shit! I can’t leave you alone for even one night without you fucking anything that moves! I ought to treat you like a real tomcat and have your balls chopped off – that would put a stop to your straying!

He dragged Richard bodily out the bed and across to his room opposite, shoving him roughly towards the bed.

“Stay here until I get back. I’ll be deciding how to deal with you while I see to Paul…”

With that Schneider turned on his heel, slamming the door shut behind him. Re-entering the main bedroom he turned his anger towards Paul who had scrambled out of bed following their discovery.

“Master, I can expl…”

“Not another fucking word from you – you should know better. Get down to the playroom now to receive your punishment…”

Paul moved quickly past Schneider and down the stairs, the drummer following hot on his heels. Richard had been listening to the exchange from behind the closed door, growing increasingly scared of what Schneider would have in store, not just for himself, but for Paul as well. He’d discarded the condom, and was now contemplating his best course of action. Coming to a decision, guessing that it might be a few minutes before Schneider returned from the basement level, he threw on some clothes and slipped on some trainers.

He opened the door a crack and, hearing no sounds of movement in the vicinity, slipped out of the bedroom and trod quickly and quietly down the stairs to the hallway. He could just about hear Schneider’s raised voice drifting up from the lower level, which meant he had maybe a minute before his master reappeared if Schneider set off now. Heart pounding so hard it felt as though it was trying to burst out of his rib cage, Richard reached up to remove one of his coats from where it was hanging on a peg, along with a woolly hat. To save time he opened the front door while carrying the jacket, which he pulled on once he’d closed the door behind him quietly, pulling the hat on down to his ears and fastening the jacket as he strode quickly down the driveway and slipped through the gate out onto the street beyond.

Normally he would either drive around Berlin or ride a bike along the ubiquitous cycle tracks that the city was famous for, but today he had neither. So he decided he would try to find a platform for either the s- or u-bahn. It took him a few minutes to find the nearest platform and was relieved to see that one was due in a couple of minutes that would take him in the direction of Prenzlauerberg where Till lived, especially considering it was now starting to pour down.

As the yellow tram drew close, Richard started looking in his pockets for his wallet to pay for a ticket. There wasn’t a machine on the platform so he would get one from the dispenser on the tram itself. He got on at the end of one of the tramcars, still searching for some money. Swearing under his breath as he realised that in his haste to get away from getting a possible beating he’d not only neglected to pick up his wallet, but he’d also left his phone and cigarettes behind. There was nothing he could do about that now, he just hoped that today wasn’t the day that an inspector would be making the rounds to check everyone had a properly validated ticket. He could just imagine the headlines if he got busted for fare-dodging on top of everything else.

He gradually became conscious of the fact that someone was staring intently at him from further down the semi-crowded carriage. Suspecting that it was probably a fan who had recognised him, he pulled the hood of his jacket lower and turned to face out of the doorway. He spotted the person starting to pick their way past the other passengers between them, so he was grateful when the tram pulled up at the Alexanderplatz stop seconds later, jumping off the moment the doors opened and weaving his way through the crowds, round the fountain, and hoping to lose any pursuit.

He knew he could get another tram or a bus to get to the road that Till lived on, but he didn’t want to run the risk of being recognised by somebody else and not being able to get away as easily as he’d managed on the first tram. With that in mind he headed off up Karl-Liebnecht Straße before turning right onto the wide avenue of Mollstraße then left onto Greifswalder Straße, where he figured he could at least grab a free beer and a smoke at their friend Freddy’s bar if Till wasn’t home.

*

Back at the house, Schneider had just discovered that Richard was missing. He’d spent several minutes putting Paul into complete sensory deprivation as part of his punishment, which involved a full gimp-suit and mask, and being strapped to a tilt-table, so by the time he returned to Richard’s bedroom the guitarist was already well on the way to Alexanderplatz. After spending a few frantic minutes running in and out of every room in the house, calling out Richard’s name but getting no response, Schneider ran back to the playroom and quickly unfastened Paul’s restraints.

“Richard’s missing…” was all he said by way of explanation as he undid all his work of a short while ago.

“Shit…how long?”

“I don’t know, he must’ve split when we came down here, I’ve looked all over for him…”

“Have you checked outside in the garden and the garage?”

“Not yet, I thought it best to get an extra pair of eyes to search. Don’t think for a minute that this gets you off the hook, it’s just a reprieve until we find him.”

“I’ll check the house again then while you check outside, it could be that he’s hidden somewhere you’ve not spotted, and was too afraid to make his presence known with you being so angry with him…with us…”

Schneider nodded, running his fingers through his wavy locks, which Paul knew was a sign that the drummer was stressed or worried. Probably both in this particular instance. He tried to reassure his Master.

“I’m sure he can’t have gone far, it’s cold and raining, and he’s still not keen on going outside into the garden, so I’m sure we’ll find him holed up somewhere close by.”

“I hope you’re right, I dread to think what kind of state he might be in…”

They took off in opposite directions in order to do a more thorough search, checking in places that might have been overlooked during Schneider’s initial search. Half an hour later they had come up with nothing, and were both now getting extremely concerned for Richard’s well-being.

“I was too harsh with him, yelling at him like that, and almost throttling him….I just…”

Schneider’s phone buzzed in his back pocket, the caller display showing Till’s name. He pressed the answer button.

“Hey Schneider, have you lost your cat by any chance? I ask because I’ve found a rather pitiful-looking stray at my back door…”

“He’s there with you? Is he okay?”

“Well, what with the rain he looks more like a drowned rat, but yes, he’s in one piece. For now at least - I gather you’ve threatened to chop his balls off?”

Schneider heaved a sigh of relief. “Thank fuck for that, we’ve searched every square inch here looking for him, I was about to jump in the car and scour the neighbourhood. As for my threat, I was absolutely livid when I got home, and possibly over-reacted. I can come round and fetch him home…”

“It’s none of my business, but might I suggest you leave him with me for a few hours, give you both chance to calm down a bit, he’s still shaking with fright, or possibly the cold weather – he got soaking wet on his way here. I can give him something warm to eat and bring him round later, once his coat’s had a chance to dry out.”

“Thank you Till, I’d appreciate that. Please can you tell him that I love him, and that it’s safe for him to come home? And please, don’t leave him on his own, he hasn’t shown any suicidal tendencies lately, but I can’t be sure that he’s not been triggered again after this morning.”

“Don’t worry, I won’t let him out of my sight. I’ll bring him back this evening for you. Speak to you later, Schneider.”

“Bye, Till, and thank you again. I’m so relieved to hear he’s at yours.”

He disconnected the call and turned to Paul.

“As you’ve probably gathered, Richard has somehow managed to make his way to Till’s place. He’s staying there for a few hours so he’s got time to calm down. So, while we wait you’re going to tell me everything that happened while I was away, and then you’re going back down to the playroom - I’m nowhere near finished with you yet….”

Paul swallowed nervously but nodded, and started his tale with the two guitarists waking up the previous morning.

Chapter Text

“Schneider’s happy you’re safe, and asked me to tell you that he loves you and it’s safe for you to go home… I suggested that you have some time here to calm down first, which he agreed to. So, while your clothes are drying out, why don’t you tell me just what the fuck has been going on?”

Richard chewed his bottom lip nervously, as he knew that Till would point out that it was his own fault that he was in this mess to begin with. Much like Paul was doing at that same moment, he started with when they woke up the day before. Till listened quietly through it all, rolling his eyes when Richard told him how he and Paul had ended up having sex, and how Schneider’s early return from his trip had wound up with him discovering them ‘in flagrante delicto.’ Till sighed heavily in response.

“Honestly, Richard… when are you going to learn to control your impulses? This is exactly the sort of thing that I was worried would happen, you should count yourself lucky that you’re still breathing – you know Schneider is dangerous when he loses his temper, thank heaven that he has far greater control over his basic instincts than you.”

He got up and headed for the drinks cabinet, pouring a brandy for Richard, while he thought what he should say next. Handing the guitarist the glass, he explained the choice of drink in response to Richard’s questioning expression.

“You were soaked to your skin when you got here, the brandy will help ward off the chill, it’s been used for centuries in the mountains as a medicinal aide for avalanche survivors.”

Richard took an experimental sip, savouring the taste before swallowing the amber liquid, immediately experiencing a warming effect.

“Aren’t you having any?”

“No. Assuming you decide to go home tonight, I’ll be driving you there. I’ll probably have one later, after you’re settled wherever you choose to spend the night. I know you’re worried about the type of punishment you might receive when you do go back, but the longer you wait the greater your anxiety will be. Schneider’s assured me he’s not going to do anything that would cause you physical harm, and I believe him. The man’s besotted with you, god help him, I’m certain he’s not going to do anything to hurt you. He’s willing to give you another chance and – I can’t believe I’m actually saying this - I think you should take the opportunity to patch things up between you, all three of you. You are, of course, welcome to stay here but I think you’d be making a big mistake. Not to mention it’s rather cowardly to leave Paul on his own to answer to Schneider…”

“I didn’t think of that…”

“No, Scholle, you never do. I say this as your best friend, and with love, but you can be extremely selfish at times. You should really work on putting others happiness ahead of your own. You may find that by doing so you will start to feel happier in yourself.”

“I’ll try. Will you help me by giving me a nudge if you see me behaving that way? I don’t always realise when I’m doing it.”

“You might get bruises from all the nudging, but okay. Does that mean that you’re going back today, then?”

“I guess it does, yeah. I know Schneider only wants to do what’s best for me, and he has every right to be angry with me because of what I did. It was stupid of me to run, I’m not really ready to be out in public…”

Till smirked, “Do you mean ‘out in public’ or ‘out’ in public?”

It took a moment for Richard to realise the distinction between the two ways that Till intoned the three words.

“Both. I’m not exactly ‘out’ in private, either. The only people who know the truth about me are you, and Paul, and Schneider.”

“Don’t forget the partners you had when you were younger…” Richard looked up, surprised Till knew about that.

Guessing what Richard was thinking, Till explained. “Schneider filled me in on a few things. He thought it might help me understand you a little more. Obviously I would’ve preferred to hear it from you, but what’s past is past. Promise me you’ll tell me if anything is bothering you, even if it’s something I’ve said or done, keeping things bottled up is toxic, especially to someone like you.”

“Someone like me?”

“You’re a highly emotional being, which is great when you’re experiencing positive thoughts and emotions, but the negative emotions tend to eat you alive, driving you to self-destructive actions. You need to find a way of releasing the negativity, talking is one method, and I’m willing to listen any time you want or need to talk. I won’t judge you.”

“Thank you, Tillchen.”

Till crossed to where Richard was sitting and stood with his arms open, inviting Richard into a hug. The guitarist set aside his now-empty glass and stood, wrapping his arms around his friend’s waist, accepting the invitation. Till hugged him close, all the emotions that the singer had himself suppressed following the previous few months’ events surfaced suddenly, bringing him to tears. Richard’s head was resting against Till’s broad chest, the guitarist finding reassurance in Till’s warm embrace. Hearing the larger man sniff above his head, and feeling a warm teardrop as it slid from Till’s cheek to fall on his shoulder, Richard squeezed him tighter for a moment before looking up.

“Who’s the emotional being, now?”

Till gave a small laugh. “We came so close to losing you…twice… I don’t know what I would’ve done if you had…if you…,” he faltered, sadness overwhelming him.

“Hey, don’t think like that! I’m still here!”

“Yes, you are, and I have Schneider to thank for that. Come on, let’s get something to eat and then we can watch tv or something until you feel ready to return home.”

*

“Come on in, Till, make yourself at home…”

“Thanks, but I’m not stopping, I just wanted to make sure this one got home safely.”

He nudged Richard forward. The guitarist had been standing behind him nervously, not sure what kind of mood Schneider would be in. As he slowly stepped forward he kept his head bowed and eyes downcast, as an obedient submissive should. Schneider could feel the fear radiating off him, but was proud of him for pushing past that fear in order to approach him. At the same time he felt guilty for being the reason why Richard was afraid.

“It’s okay, love, Come here…” he spoke as softly as possible to avoid spooking his pet, holding out one arm, with the palm of his hand upturned so that Richard could see he wasn’t holding anything that might hurt him.

Richard shuffled closer until Schneider could pull him into his embrace, locking his hands behind Richard’s back to hold him in place. The shorter man tentatively lifted his arms to encircle Schneider’s waist, turning his head sideways to rest against the drummer’s muscular chest, eyes closed. Schneider kissed him lightly on the forehead before continuing his conversation with Till.

“Thank you for looking after Richard for me, I can’t tell you how worried I was when I realised he’d bolted. I’m glad he felt that he could go to you for safety, but this has made me realise that he should probably have a larger group of people he can rely on, so I’ll be discussing with him the possibility of letting Oli and Flake in on our secret.”

“I think that’s a very good idea. I’m not going away again now until next year, so if you need backup for any reason, I’m just a phone call away. Just a suggestion – you may want to get the other two seriously drunk before you tell them, our gathering at New Year might be an ideal time…is it still going to be at Paul’s, or has that changed with him spending most of his time here?”

“No, it’s still at Paul’s. And as far as him spending most of his time here, that’s going to change in the short term at least – as part of his punishment for breaking one of the main rules I’m banishing from here for at least a week, subject to review. He’s not allowed to contact Richard either directly or indirectly. If he needs anything when I’m not available could he call on you?”

“Of course. Does he need a lift to his house today?”

“No, he’s got his car here, he’s finishing up gathering the things he needs to take with him, and will leave later tonight. I thought it best that Richard could see that I’ve not hurt Paul, and that he needn’t worry that I’ll hurt him either. And if you want to make sure I’ve not given Richard a pasting, feel free to drop by without notice any time.”

“I might just take you up on that… right, I’m going to get off, I’ll talk to you later. Richard – you know where to find me if you need me, remember what I said earlier, and be good for Schneider, okay?”

Richard cracked open his eyes just enough to look at Till, and nodded silently. Till turned and headed back out to his car, parked on the driveway close to Schneider’s front door, shutting the door behind him. Schneider looked down at his pet, still trembling from head to toe, and sighed.

“Don’t be afraid, sweetheart, I promise not to hurt you. I’m sorry I lost my temper this morning, I was very tired and that makes me cranky. You did disobey one of my main rules, so there will be a punishment, but I’ve told you numerous times I’ll not hit you. I love you, Reesh, I only want to help you get better, if you’ll let me. So, will you?”

“Yes, Master…I’m sorry…please don’t punish Paul, I made him break the rules…”

Schneider was surprised to hear Richard admit to being the one at fault, but was encouraged by it. It showed that he could change his behaviours given the right conditions. There was still hope for saving him from his constantly self-destructive choices.

“Thank you for telling me the truth, I’m proud of you for doing that, and for putting Paul’s well-being ahead of your own. But you are incorrect about one thing – you wouldn’t have been able to make Paul break the rules if he didn’t want to. The way he told it to me, he never said ‘no’ or ‘stop’ or use his safe word, any of which I know would have stopped you, so for that reason he has to be punished. Do you understand that?”

Richard nodded, the tips of his gel-spiked hair tickling Schneider under his chin.

“I’m going to take you to see Paul now, before he goes home, then we’re going to bed. I’ve had a very long day what with catching an early flight home, and then worrying about you when you disappeared, I could use a good sleep.”

He gently disentangled himself from Richard, then took his hand to lead him upstairs. They walked along the landing and into Paul’s room, where the short guitarist was busy checking he’d emptied his drawers of everything he’d need for the coming week or more. His face lit up when he saw Richard and started towards him in order to greet him, then checked himself, remembering that his punishment included not having contact with him.

“It’s okay Paul, you can give him a hug and a kiss, but that’s it.”

Paul resumed walking around the bed and approached the two men standing just inside the doorway. Schneider released Richard’s hand so that he could go to Paul, but the younger guitarist didn’t move from his spot, maintaining his submissive stance. Paul looked at Schneider, questioningly.

“You should know that Richard has claimed responsibility for your collective rule-breaking, and requested that I not punish you. I’ve pointed out to him that you wouldn’t have let him coerce you if it wasn’t something you didn’t want to do, and that is why you’re being punished. Is that fair, Paul?”

“Yes, Master. I know better than to break the rules. I could have stopped everything, I’m sorry I let you and Richard down…”

Paul stepped up so he was directly in front of Richard. “Can I have a hug, Reeshy?”

The younger man looked up, and glanced over to Schneider, who smiled encouragingly. Turning his attention back to Paul he could see that the other sub didn’t have any marks on his bare skin that suggested he’d received any physical punishment. Realising what Richard was thinking, Paul held his arms out and turned a full circle so that Richard could see he was unharmed. When he was facing them again Paul smiled.

“I’m fine, Reesh, honestly. Master isn’t vicious like some other doms, he knows of other methods of punishment that don’t resort to violence, you don’t have to worry about me, or yourself… any chance I can get that hug now?”

Richard gave a small smile and a nod, taking the step forward needed to be wrapped in Paul’s embrace. They held on to each other for a minute before Paul pulled away, giving Richard a tender kiss as he did so. As he got dressed for his journey he continued talking.

“I’ve got to go home now Reesh, but the week will be over before we know it. Do as Master says and everything will be alright. I’ll see you soon…”

Paul grabbed the small bag containing his belongings off the bed and turned towards the door. Schneider stepped aside so that Paul could pass him, then took hold of Richard’s hand again, guiding him into the main bedroom.

“Wait here for me, love, while I see Paul out. I won’t be long.”

He pulled the door shut behind him as he followed Paul down the stairs to the entrance hallway where the guitarist was waiting for him, a sad expression adorning his usually cheerful face.

“Don’t be too hard on Richard, you are right about me having equal responsibility for what we did, and I’m willing to take my punishment for it. But Richard…”

“You needn’t worry, as I’ve said to Till, Richard and yourself numerous times, I won’t do anything that would cause him any harm. Why you and Till seem to think I’m some kind of ogre hellbent on revenge, I don’t know…or why you seem to believe that Richard is some kind of fragile flower that will disintegrate with the slightest breeze. He’s stronger than you, and he, think.”

“Uhhh…we’ve both seen the playroom, and seen you when you’re angry. Honestly, the Incredible Hulk has nothing on you when you lose it! As for Richard, well, just be careful, please?”

“I will. Make sure you have your laptop set up in your bedroom, and that the camera and microphone are working. I’ll be requiring to perform some of your punishments where I can observe you. Check that out as soon as you get home, and let me know if it’s faulty so we can make alternative arrangements.”

“Yes, Master. Um, am I allowed to move around freely while I’m away. Maybe visit the others? I’ll need to do food shopping too…”

“Of course, any platonic activity is permitted. I would ask that you text me to let me know any time you leave home, and when you return, so that I know not to demand an on-camera activity during that time. Other than that, your time’s your own. One other thing before you go,..” Schneider cupped Paul’s chin in his hand and bent down to kiss him on the lips, “…I love you, Paulchen. Hopefully, if all goes well with Richard’s corrective training, you can rejoin us in a matter of days.”

“And if it doesn’t work?”

“Then, we’ll have to sit down together, all three of us, and discuss where we go from there.”

“I guess you can’t say fairer than that. I know that I was the consolation prize when we got together, so I’m well aware that if you have to make a choice between me and Richard that you’re most likely to pick Richard, and I’ve made my peace with that.”

“Oh, Paul, I’ve never thought of you as a ‘consolation prize’, I really do love you, and I want this to work – for all of us – I want to be able to have you back in my bed as soon as possible.”

“You can have me wherever and whenever you want, you know…” Paul replied, a hint of his mischievousness returning.

“I might test the truth of that sometime, I could just imagine taking you on stage in front of thousands of fans…”

Paul’s eyes were wide with shock at that suggestion, his mouth opening and closing soundlessly, making him look like an oversized goldfish. Schneider laughed.

“I think that’s the first time I’ve seen you genuinely speechless! Hmm, thinking of places to fuck you where we could be discovered at any moment is going to be one of my new pastimes. Now, scoot…”

He gave Paul another kiss, then a smack on his rump to get him moving along. Paul’s smile reached his eyes this time, and he departed feeling more optimistic than five minutes earlier. Once the guitarist had left, Schneider made sure the house was secure before climbing the stairs to the bedroom, and Richard. He found him in exactly the same spot that he’d left him in, having taken Schneider’s comments literally.

“Come on, Reesh, let’s get you ready for bed. Do you need anything before we turn in for the night?”

“No, Master…” Richard’s teeth were chattering despite the room being warm.

“Did you get drenched on your way to Till’s, Reesh?”

“Yes… Till dried my coat, but my other clothes got wet too, Master.”

“And you’ve been wearing them all this time? Change of plans, then, baby – into the bathroom…”

Richard shuffled the few feet from the bed to the bathroom. He stopped in the centre of the tiled flooring, waiting for his next instructions. Schneider moved past him to turn the shower on, checking the temperature before turning his attention back to his pet.

“Let’s get you out of these clothes, arms up for me…”

Schneider helped Richard undress, discarding the clothing on the floor, then removed his own clothes. With one hand at the small of Richard’s back he pushed the younger man into the shower cubicle and under the flow of water, sliding the glass door shut so that the water didn’t splash all over the floor. He grabbed a sponge from the rack mounted in the back corner of the cubicle, and daubed some shower gel into it, squeezing the sponge to create a foam.

Richard was standing with his back to him, so Schneider started with the back of Richard’s neck and broad shoulders, moving the sponge in circles, the resulting lather running rivulets down the guitarist’s back and over his pert buttocks. After pausing a few moments to admire the view Schneider carefully turned Richard to face forward so that he could work on his front. Adding another squirt of gel to the sponge he started to bathe Richard’s chest and abdomen, his hand lingering on the younger man’s pectoral muscles, admiring their firmness.

Swapping the sponge for a bottle of Richard’s favourite shampoo, Schneider worked the liquid into the guitarist’s hair, massaging his scalp with his fingertips as he did so. He tilted Richard’s chin up slightly so that the water could rinse the shampoo out without getting any in his eyes, then repeated the process with the matching conditioner. Richard stood passively through it all, allowing Schneider to do whatever he wanted to him.

Satisfied with his work, Schneider turned the shower off and stepped back out from the cubicle onto the non-slip mat on the floor, beckoning for Richard to follow him. While Richard was getting out of the shower Schneider grabbed a large fluffy towel off the heated rails and draped it around Richard.

“Hold this in place while I dry your hair, love.”

Richard grabbed the edges of the towel and held it bunched up in one fist, while Schneider worked round him with the hairdryer, making sure the younger man’s hair was dry all the way down to the roots.

“Your natural colour’s is starting to show again, do you want to let it grow through or do you want me to pick up some dye?”

“Dye please, Master.”

“Okay, I’ll get some next time I go shopping. Do you need me to pick up anything else for you, that I might not have noticed?”

“No, thank you, Master.”

Schneider finished drying Richard’s hair and set the dryer back in its holder next to the large bathroom mirror. Glancing at the younger man through the mirror he saw that Richard was still looking forlorn. It might be necessary to hold off on the punishment for an extra day or two until Richard was less anxious, he’d judge it again in the morning.

“Let’s get the rest of you dried off and put you to bed. You’ve had a stressful day too.”

Taking hold of the towel he gave Richard a thorough rub-down, getting to raise his arms and legs in turn ensuring every every square inch was dry.

“Go and get into bed while I dry myself off. I’ll join you in a few minutes, okay?”

Richard nodded, meekly, and padded quietly out to the bedroom and over to the bed, pulling back the duvet to slide underneath. He watched Schneider intently, he could see the drummer’s muscular physique through the open doorway, admiring them as they flexed with certain movements as Schneider towelled himself dry. He looked away quickly when Schneider glanced up and caught him watching. Schneider smiled, placing the towels back on the rails. He strode across to the bed and hopped in next to Richard.

“Did you enjoy the show, darling? Hmm?”

The guitarist’s cheeks flushed a subtle shade of pink with embarrassment as he nodded in response. Schneider thought it adorable that Richard could still get flustered even though they’d been together for months now.

“It’s okay, you’re allowed to look at me. You can touch me, too. Here give me your hand…”

Richard held out one arm tentatively, which Schneider took hold of by the wrist as he turned sideways to face Richard. He placed the younger man’s hand over his right pectoral muscles, flexing slightly so that Richard could feel the movement under his fingers.

“I belong to you, just as you belong to me…. I want you to touch me whatever way you want tonight, so you remember that I’m still the same person you’ve known for years, worked with… partied with… laughed with…. shared your fears with… that you’ve no reason to be afraid of me… do you think you can do that, sweetheart?”

“I’ll try, Master…”

“Tonight I’m just Schneider… and you’re whoever and whatever you want to be. You’re in control, okay?”

For the first time since Till had brought him home Richard felt able to look directly at Schneider’s face and hold his gaze. While he was still nervous, Schneider’s assurances helped calm him, and the expression on his face was soft – a world away from the angry visage that had confronted him hours earlier.

The idea that he should be the one in control that evening was intriguing and just a little frightening. As he kept his focus on Schneider’s face, and those blue eyes he thought all too beautiful, he let his hands start to wander. Schneider had released his grip on him to allow him freedom of movement, but Richard kept his left hand where Schneider placed it as an anchor until he felt more comfortable. His right hand mirrored his left, coming to rest over Schneider’s heart which the guitarist could feel beating a strong, steady rhythm. He moved it down to Schneider’s soft belly, and the thin line of hair that trailed down from his navel. Moving both hands now, his fingers splayed around Schneider’s sides tracing the lines of his ribcage, moving up one by one, then up to Schneider’s shoulders.

Emboldened, he knelt upwards so that he could shift to straddle his master. He placed himself so he was seated over Schneider’s groin, his knees pushing against the pillows Schneider was resting against, in an upright position. He leaned forward, angling his head slightly so that he could kiss Schneider on the lips, eyes closed at the last moment, his hands betraying his nervousness as his fingers fluttered against Schneider’s warm skin.

He could feel Schneider stirring slightly beneath him as they kissed, lighting a fire in his own belly, little more than a spark at first, but, as he deepened the kiss, Schneider finally moved to rest his hands on Richard’s hips, stroking them gently as the younger man started to roll them against his groin. He hardened quickly, his penis rising to brush against Richard’s perineum and between his buttocks. Richard moaned softly into Schneider’s mouth, desire building, stoking the fire inside and chasing away the last tendrils of fear.

Richard reached down between them with one hand, taking hold of Schneider’s cock, pushing himself into a more upright position so he could guide Schneider into himself.

“Aren’t you forgetting something, sweetheart? Something important?” Schneider asked, voice husky from arousal, one hand placed gently on Richard’s to stop him from continuing.

Richard blinked, a frown creasing his forehead.

“I’m pretty sure you’re not ready for me to enter you completely dry, baby…at least stick some lube on my cock…”

The younger man reddened again with embarrassment fro forgetting such a basic thing.

“Sorry, I wasn’t thinking properly…”

“I could tell, you were letting the wrong head do the thinking!” He smiled. “Do you want some help with that?”

Richard had put some lube on his fingers and was trying to work out how to best prepare himself without making a complete mess.

“Um, yeah…please.”

“Hand me the bottle, I’ll see to your sexy bum while you use that on my cock. Turn sideways on so I can reach you…that’s it….”

Schneider prepared Richard quickly, the sight of the young guitarist bent over him, having finished daubing the blob of lube onto Schneider’s leaking cock, making him almost as impatient as his pet to get started.

“You’re ready, baby…” He gave Richard a light smack on his rump to encourage him to get a move on. “Do you want to change positions first?”

“No, I….I’d like to ride you, if that’s okay?”

“Of course, you’re in control tonight, remember?”

Richard nodded, pushing himself up from his crouching position to retake his place on Schneider’s lap. Once again he took a hold of Schneider’s cock and aligned it with his entrance, Schneider’s hands on his hips to help keep him steady as he slowly impaled himself on the drummer’s hard shaft. He sank all the way down until Schneider was buried inside him completely, then started moving straight away, small rocking motions of his hips, gradually becoming larger as he rode Schneider hard, fingers turning white with pressure as he squeezed Schneider’s biceps where he held on to him for stability.

Schneider felt as though he was about to cum, far sooner than he’d like, so he lifted one of his arms to place a hand at the back of Richard’s head, pulling him in for another kiss, slowing Richard’s movements, delaying his orgasm. Perhaps sensing that Schneider wanted to slow the pace down a bit, Richard pulled them both into a sideways roll until he was the one lying on the bed, the drummer between his legs, nestled deep inside him. They lay together like that for a couple of minutes, exchanging passionate kisses, until neither of them could hold back any longer. Schneider started pumping back and forth, interchanging short shallow thrusts with deeper ones that hit Richard’s prostate, making the younger man buck his hips under him.

The room was filled with the sounds of their heavy breathing, their pleasured moans and whispered declarations of love. Their bodies became slick with sweat as they moved as one, their limbs intertwined until it became impossible to work out where one ended and the other began. Schneider began to feel lightheaded, a sure sign that he was on the edge of climax, so he quickened his pace, panting with exertion. Richard dug his fingernails into Schneider’s back, gouging the flesh on the drummer’s back as he screamed with his release, muscles contracting around Schneider’s cock. The guitarist coming undone below him triggered a supernova in Schneider’s brain, ecstasy flooding through him from the core of his being, exploding out to fill Richard’s tight ass with semen.

The guitarist sank back against the pillows, chest heaving and eyes closed as he waited for the dopamine high to subside. He whined softly when Schneider eventually pulled out as his cock softened, not wanting the pleasant sensation that came with being full to end.

“You were incredible, baby! That was so hot when you were on top, we’ll definitely have to do that again!”

He lay back himself, his heart still hammering wildly. Richard rolled over to lie on his side, arm draped across the drummer’s stomach. Schneider moved it until Richard’s hand was resting on his chest, above his heart.

“Do you feel that, Richard? That’s the effect you have on me… You throw me completely off-rhythm.”

Richard smiled, fingers drawing a heart on Schneider’s chest, then leaning over he placed a kiss in the same spot before laying back in Schneider’s embrace as they waited for sleep to claim them both.

*
Schneider woke before the sun had started to creep above the horizon, the room was still dark, the house silent in the pre-dawn. He wondered what had disturbed his sleep as he’d felt certain he could sleep for a week he was so tired the night before. Richard whimpered in his dreams, his body shuddering slightly, providing Schneider with his answer. The drummer shifted onto his side and brushed back some strands of hair that had fallen across Richard’s face, tucking them behind his ear, then caressed his cheek with the tips of his fingers.

“It’s okay, baby, it’s just a dream…you’re safe…I’m here…”

Richard groaned, his breathing coming in rapid, shallow bursts, and when Schneider placed two fingers on the younger man’s wrist he found that his pulse was racing. He could tell from the expression on Richard’s face that he was in the grip of a bad dream, and the sounds he was emitting were anything but pleasured.

“Wake up, love…come on….”

He gently shook Richard’s shoulder until he woke him up, the younger man’s reaction startled at first until he realised he was awake, Schneider watching over him with concern.

“It’s okay, baby, you were dreaming…”

Richard took some steadying breaths, trying to slow his racing heart. Schneider stroked his cheek and leaned in to kiss him, mashing their lips together slowly. After a moment’s hesitation Richard reciprocated the kiss, remembering their passionate night, pulling Schneider closer and slipping his arms around him, craving intimacy. Schneider was only too happy to oblige, languid kisses turning more heated, hands exploring every dip and curve of each other’s bodies.

Schneider mouthed at Richard’s neck, giving him a small nip with his teeth, marking him as his property, gradually moving down the younger man’s torso, licking and sucking Richard’s nipples until they hardened, making Richard hiss with the increased sensitivity as Schneider squeezed them between thumb and forefinger. He threw his head back into the pillows, moaning as his arousal increased, Schneider kissing his stomach and abdomen, moving backwards on his hand and knees between Richard’s partially raised legs.

He circled Richard’s thighs with his arms, anchoring himself above Richard’s groin, the guitarist’s cock erect below his head, already leaking precum. Schneider licked his lips to moisten them before taking Richard into his mouth, cheeks hollowing as he sucked in Richard’s entire length, the head hitting the back of his throat. He drew back slowly, his soft lips maintaining constant contact with Richard’s flesh, tongue curled up underneath Richard’s cock leaving a warm wet streak along its length. Schneider took him in again, head bobbing as he swirled his tongue around and over the head, swallowing the bitter fluid at the tip.

Richard was moaning loudly, back arching upwards, but Schneider had something new in store for his lover before he finished teasing him. He placed his hands at the back of Richard’s knees, pushing the guitarist’s legs backwards so they were almost touching his chest, making Richard’s entrance more accessible. With a wicked smile that had Richard’s eyes widening in surprise he bent his head back down, licking a stripe along his perineum from his balls to his entrance, teasing the hole with the tip of his tongue, smearing saliva to get him wet.

 

Richard’s hips bucked slightly from the unfamiliar sensation, but Schneider’s firm hold on his legs prevented him from accidentally injuring him. Schneider proceeded to eat him out, occasionally adding his fingers to help stretch Richard open until the younger man was ready to take him. Schneider released the other leg while he got himself lined up, watching Richard’s face for any sign of discomfort as he pushed inside him. Richard’s eyes were closed, head tilted back with his throat exposed, hands grabbing fistfuls of the bedsheet underneath him as Schneider began making love to him. With every stroke of Schneider’s cock hitting his prostate he gave out a moan, sometimes accompanied by a shudder.

The drummer’s own heart rate had risen to a similar pace as the one Richard had on waking, his breathing heavy as he pumped away against Richard’s ass, the tight wet hole accommodating him completely. The younger man writhed underneath him, lost in the throes of ecstasy, beautiful noises rising from his throat up to the ceiling as he lost the ability to form coherent thought. Schneider stepped up the pace, thrusting as deep as possible, his own cock becoming painful from holding his orgasm back, wanting to ensure he lasted long enough for Richard to come.

He didn’t have to wait too long as Richard soon arched his back again, his muscles constricting around Schneider’s cock, squeezing him tight as he yelled out as his orgasm hit, fireworks exploding behind his eyes, the fire in his belly erupting from his cock as cum that spattered over his abdomen. Schneider came hard at the same time, enjoying the sight of his lover taking pleasure from his body. He continued snapping his hips against Richard’s ass until he was spent, groaning from the exertion, sweat beading on his brow below his hairline.

He pulled out as he softened, his seed spilling out in his wake, and flopped down on the mattress next to Richard, one arm flung above his head on his pillow. He lay there, not speaking, while he caught his breath, eyes closed. Richard lay supine, enjoying the pleasant sense of calm and wellbeing that came in the aftermath of their intercourse. He no longer felt he had anything to fear from Schneider, the love they shared for each other was self-evident , so he firmly believed that Schneider wouldn’t do anything to him that he didn’t think he could take. He turned towards Schneider, wanting to snuggle up to him, nuzzling at Schneider’s neck.

“Come on, then, kitten…we can cuddle for a little while before we have to get up for breakfast…”

He moved his arm so that Richard could get nearer, then wrapped it around the smaller man, holding him close as they dozed.

Chapter Text

After realising that Richard trusted him with his safety and well-being again Schneider decided that he would start his corrective training straight away. Once he’d cleaned and fed his pet he took him down to the playroom. He asked Richard a series of questions in order to determine what would be the best way to achieve the behavioural changes required.

“…and, finally, why did you break the rules and have sex with Paul less than forty-eight hours after telling me that you loved me?”

“I didn’t intend to break the rules, I was starting to feel happier in myself…more confident… but when I saw that the massage had turned Paul on, I couldn’t help myself. I’ve always found it difficult not to give in to temptation, whether it was drugs, alcohol, sex…”

“So, it’s a lack of impulse control that drives your actions…you need something that’s going to stop you from acting on your urges….” Schneider thought for a moment, gaze wandering over the toys and equipment at his disposal, “I believe I have just the thing….”

Schneider picked up a blindfold, then guided Richard over to an x-shaped piece of furniture.

“I’m going to put this on you first, then fasten your arms to this at your wrists, I will leave your legs unfettered, for this session at least. When you’re secured, I’ll begin the training. I’ll be putting something on you, and will talk you through it, okay?”

“Yes, Master.”

“Let’s begin, then. Stand in front of the cross, facing me…” Schneider put the blindfold over Richard’s eyes, the elasticated strap holding it in place, “I’m putting this on you so that you can’t see what I’m going to be using on you before it’s on. It looks worse than it is, so I don’t want it to cause you any anxiety. I’ll remove the blindfold after, so that we can start the training properly. If it gets too much for you at any point, use your safe word and I’ll stop everything and release you. Can you remember what it is?”

“Peaches, Master…”

“Good. Now, lift your arms up for me…” Schneider used the attached leather cuffs with buckled fasteners to secure Richard to the furniture behind him, “…now I’m going to get the item, are you still feeling okay, sweetheart?”

“Yes, Master.”

Schneider strode the few feet across the room to get the item he’d decided would have the best effect on Richard. Returning with it he explained what he was doing as he attached it to Richard.

“This is going to feel strange at first, probably a little uncomfortable, but you’ll soon get used to it…I’m going to put it on you like this… it closes around you, and can be locked shut, but I’m just going to use the clasp….and this goes around your waist to fasten at the back… how does it feel? Not too tight or causing any pain?”

“No, Master, I’m not in any pain, but it’s a bit weird… what is it, Master?”

Schneider replied as he removed the blindfold, Richard looked down to see what Schneider had done, “It’s a chastity cage, sweetheart. While you’re soft - like now – it will just feel a little strange and you’ll soon forget you’re wearing it. However, when you’re aroused and get an erection you’ll find that your cock will press against the nodules inside. What I’m going to be working on with you is to deliberately turn you on, gradually increasing the length of time you can withstand the pressure, until you achieve what is referred to as ‘subspace’ - I’ll explain that bit to you later. The other outcome we should hope to get from using the cage is for you to be able to use your mind to overcome your body’s natural reactions to certain stimuli, enabling you to prevent getting an erection in the first place. If you can will your erection away under specific circumstances you’ll be less likely to succumb to temptations of the flesh, as you’ll associate erections with the sensations created by the cage, except for when you’re having sex with me. Do you have any questions before we begin?”

The guitarist’s eyes had widened throughout Schneider’s explanation, definitely not feeling keen on what he was about to experience, but relieved that items such as the whips and chains, or the long thin metal rods with small spheres along their length wouldn’t be used on him, as far as he knew anyway. He had a limited view of the cage thanks to the position he’d been secured in, so he couldn’t see the answer to one of his questions.

“Um, what happens if I need the loo, but I’m fastened in the cage?”

“When you need to pee there is a relatively small hole for the urine to flow through. You would just have to hold the cage in order to aim, assuming your hands are unbound at the time, otherwise you’ll just have to hold it in until you’re released, or pee where you’re standing or kneeling, although I’d prefer you not to. Signalling you need to take a piss would be preferable under those circumstances. If you need to take a shit there’s nothing that obstructs you from doing that, either. There are other attachments I can add to the belt which would restrict you from going to the loo, but you need some basic training first before we consider adding them. Any other questions?”

“No, Master.”

“Excellent! Then we’ll begin…”

Schneider pushed a wheeled trolley in front of Richard. There was a TV set and video player on it, both plugged in via a nearby socket. He switched them both on then pressed ‘play’, a porn movie filled the screen.

“Hold out as long as you can, pet, it will help reduce the frequency and duration of subsequent sessions, I’ll be keeping a record. Use your safe word when you feel you can’t take any more…”

Over the course of the next few days Richard received extensive training using the cage, and although he hadn’t completely mastered his self-control, Schneider deemed it sufficient for Paul to be allowed back to their house. He needed to use Paul as a stimulus to help further Richard’s training, as Schneider knew that he would be the biggest source of temptation for Richard and so needed to be present when Richard wore the cage.

*

Winter drew closer, and with it the New Year’s Eve gathering at Paul’s house. Schneider had managed to get Richard out of the house on two occasions before Christmas, both of them being birthdays – first Flake’s, where Richard managed to cope for a couple of hours before his anxiety started getting the better of him, then Paul’s. The older guitarist decided to have a low-key celebration at his house, knowing that Richard would still be nervous with a large gathering and also to help acclimatise the younger man to the surroundings ready for New Year, having been told what Schneider was considering doing that night. Schneider and Richard spent the night at Paul’s after everyone else had gone home, the three of them sharing the large bed Paul had invested in after he and Schneider first became a couple.

“Richard and I have one more present for you, Paulchen…”

“What? You’ve already spent more than enough on me for my birthday and Christmas combined!”

“Oh, this present didn’t cost anything, babe… Richard, be a good boy and kneel down on the bed for Paul…”

Paul looked at Schneider in surprise as Richard complied, wondering what exactly his present was.

“You’ve not been with Richard since you returned to us, so here’s your opportunity, but with a twist…I get to fuck you while you’re fucking him….”

The shorter guitarist couldn’t think of anything to say, he was so surprised.

Schneider smirked. “Richard’s all prepared for you, if you’ve been wondering why he didn’t sit down much this evening, it’s because he’s had a plug in that pretty ass of his since we drove here. Now, if you’d like to bend over so I can get you ready, you can soon unplug your gift.”

Richard wiggled his rear end while looking back over his shoulder at Paul, urging him to get a move on. Paul took one look at Richard’s ass and practically jumped on the bed so that their master could do the necessary preparations. Schneider laughed, shaking his head, his tousled locks swaying with the movement. He grabbed the bottle of lube that he knew Paul kept in his nightstand and squeezed a large blob directly onto Paul’s entrance, making the shorter guitarist squeak indignantly as the cool liquid hit.

“I thought you were done with punishing me!”

“Oh, I am… that was just for fun, now keep still while I stretch you or you’ll not get your gift…”

Paul huffed quietly, but obeyed nonetheless, despite Richard doing his best to tease him with more wiggles and making him hard in the process. Schneider tossed a condom packet onto the bed next to Paul’s right hand while he continued to dip his fingers in and out of Paul’s ass.

“Put that on while I finish up. When I pat your bum you can pull the plug and mount Richard, but don’t start fucking him until I’m inside you, okay?”

“Yes, Master.”

Schneider worked him a few moments longer, then patted his rump. Paul sat back on his heels, his erection bobbing slightly, and removed the buttplug from the younger guitarist’s ass, Richard sighing with relief, tossing it to one side.

“At last! That thing’s been driving me to distraction all evening. I loved seeing the others again, but I couldn’t wait for them to piss off home!”

“Quiet, kitten! Tonight’s all about Paul, not you, liebchen.”

Richard stuck his tongue out at Schneider then faced forward again, waiting for Paul to move. He didn’t have to wait long, the shorter guitarist had shuffled forward on his knees while the other two talked, and knelt at the ready.

“You ready for me, Reesh?”

“Hell, yes! Fuck me already!”

“If my kitty keeps up with the potty mouth, he’s going to get a proper spanking!”

As Richard was starting to enjoy being spanked again, he thought about retorting, but the only thing that came out of his mouth was a low moan as Paul penetrated him slowly, his entrance sensitive from the stimulation he’d received from having the plug in his ass for hours. He held still, knowing that they both had to wait until Schneider had mounted Paul in turn.

“Good boys, let’s get this party started!”

Schneider spread Paul’s ass cheeks with his hands, and sank his cock into Paul’s inviting hole, eliciting a moan from the shorter man.

“Okay, Paul… it’s your birthday, you set the pace, and if you want me to shift position for any reason, just let me know…”

Paul took a moment to gather himself, the sensations from being both the one doing the fucking, and the one being fucked. Schneider hadn’t buried himself in all the way, knowing that when Paul drew himself backwards he’d be the one impaling himself on the drummer’s lengthy cock. Paul started moving, slow and steady, while his brain wrapped itself around this new reality. He grabbed Richard’s hips in order to anchor himself, then pulled backwards, feeling Schneider slide further inside him as he did so, shuddering as his master’s cock brushed against his prostate.

He let out a breath he hadn’t realised he’d been holding as he pushed forward again into Richard, his master’s pet moaning softly beneath him, fuelling his desire. He did a few more slow thrusts just so he could gauge how far he could move comfortably, then began to increase the tempo, Richard’s moans getting louder the faster he was fucked, Schneider grabbing hold of Paul’s waist so that they remained properly aligned. Paul was in heaven, sandwiched between the two men he loved, both their bodies giving him pleasure beyond belief, he’d never experienced anything like this before in his life.

Richard’s body was beautiful – broad shoulders and a slender waist, muscular chest and soft belly, clean-shaven all over except for the tuft of hair below his abdomen. Then there was his ass, perfectly rounded, and perfectly tight around his cock, capable of giving him so much pleasure. Paul’s breath became more ragged as he was drinking in the view from where he knelt between Richard’s legs. He knew he wouldn’t be able to hold out for much longer at this rate, he didn’t want this feeling to stop. He tried slowing things down a little, drawing back until his cock tugged at the ring of muscle, finding that pulling that far back meant that Schneider was now fully inside him, the drummer’s hips resting against his ass. Schneider pulled out partway, continuing to fuck him, making him moan in turn.

Deciding that he needed to come, Paul resumed his thrusting, faster now. He panted with the effort of trying to keep focused on what he was doing, Schneider’s cock hitting his prostate with every movement making it difficult to concentrate. He was starting to feel a little dizzy, not used to this level of stimulation, every part of his body shaking as his orgasm built.

He yelled out as he came, collapsing forward to rest on Richard’s back, his own chest heaving, Schneider holding him steady so that he didn’t roll off unceremoniously. The drummer pulled out, needing to check that both his subs were okay, putting their well-being before his need for release. He stepped back onto the carpet, and moved to kneel at the side of the bed.

“You boys okay?”

“Nope, I don’t think I’m ever going to recover from this!” Paul’s heart was pounding in his chest, which he was sure the whole neighbourhood could probably hear, the blood rushing through his ears making it seem like a thunderous roar.

Schneider smiled. He’d given Paul dual stimulation before, but using sex-toys or hands was no substitute for the feel and responsiveness of a human being.

“Are you up for more, baby?”

Paul exhaled slowly before replying, “Pretty sure I’m done for now, but if you want more, I could just lie here on top of Reesh…if he’s no objections…”

“What about you, pet? Do you feel okay?”

“Yes, Master” Richard wasn’t as out of breath as Paul, and was only semi-hard, a result of the continued training with the chastity cage. He only got full erections now when his Master touched him directly. “Umm…is Paul asleep, Master?”

Schneider turned his head to glance at Paul. The guitarist’s eyes were closed, and his breathing seemed to have become regular. Schneider stroked a finger along his cheek, but got no response.

“You’re right, he is. Hang on a moment, I’ll lift him off you…”

He stood up and carefully wrapped one arm under Paul’s chest, taking his weight off Richard, gently manoeuvring him back so that his now-flaccid member slipped from the younger man. Schneider moved him so he could lay him on the bed, head resting on a pillow. Paul stayed blissfully asleep throughout.

“I’ll just be a second while I take care of Paul, then I’ll be right back to see to you, sweetheart…”

*

Christmas was a quiet affair, with the six band members meeting up at Till’s home for a few hours to exchange gifts and to have a meal together before they dispersed to spend time with their respective families, confirming that they would gather together again on New Year’s Eve at Paul’s house.

Richard was showing positive signs of his mental health improving, to the point that Schneider was comfortable leaving him home alone for a few hours to run errands, gathering groceries and other supplies together for New Year and dropping them off at Paul’s. The drummer was a little anxious about what reaction they would get dropping their relationship bombshell on Ollie and Flake, but with Till supporting their decision he felt certain it wouldn’t be too disruptive.

“Are you ready to go yet, baby?”

Schneider was fiddling with the new cuff links Richard had bought him as one of his gifts, which Paul had picked up on the other guitarist’s behalf, Richard not feeling confident enough yet to go into the city on his own again.

“Just about…done!”

Richard emerged from the en-suite bathroom where he’d been putting the finishing touches to his hair and makeup in front of the mirror. He was wearing a red shirt under a black waistcoat – his nod towards the festive season instead of wearing all black that he’d been favouring recently – his hair was gelled into spiked tips, black eyeliner outlined his blue-grey eyes making them appear brighter, and he had applied fresh nail polish.

“Wow! How is it possible that you can be even more gorgeous!”

Richard smiled, pleased with the compliment. Seeing his lover fiddling with the cuff-links he strode over to him, batting Schneider’s hand away from its task, and took hold of his arm, nimble fingers making light work of fixing each of them in place.

“It’s a question I often ask myself…” he replied as he worked on the cuff links, with mock-seriousness, his gaze flicking up to Schneider’s face, “…but somehow I just seem to be able to improve on perfection…”

Schneider laughed. “My…such humility too!”

As Richard released his hold on Schneider’s other arm the drummer slipped them around the guitarist’s waist, linking his hands behind his back, keeping him close.

“You’re in serious danger of not making it to tonight’s celebrations, I’ve got an urge to rip your clothes off you and fuck you into next year!”

“I’d have no objections to that, personally, but it would be a shame for us both to have put in so much effort for no-one else to see us.”

“That’s true, although wearing this suit and tie feels rather alien to me, but as you’re introducing me to your closest friends as your boyfriend I want to make a good impression.”

“I thought you were introducing me as your boyfriend to your closest friends tonight…” Richard grinned, reaching up to straighten Schneider’s tie, contemplating how it looked, “… I think you could lose the tie…and the jacket…just wear your overcoat to and from the car. You’ll feel more comfortable without them and still look devilishly handsome…”

He started to loosen the tie slowly, waiting to see if his master objected to his suggestion. Receiving none, he removed the tie over Schneider’s head, discarding it on the bed, then moved his hands under the shoulders of the jacket, slipping it from his broad shoulders and guiding it down his arms and placing it on the bed with the tie. He looked Schneider over, smoothing down his shirt with the palms of his hands, and nodded.

“That’s better…you look almost as sexy as me!”

Richard’s eyes shone with mischief as he spoke, one corner of his mouth quirked up as he tried to suppress a grin, putting his arms around Schneider’s waist, mirroring the drummer’s actions. Schneider rolled his eyes dramatically, a wry smile on his face.

“Come on, we better get going… before any more clothes come off!”

He bent his head down to give Richard a prolonged kiss, which the guitarist returned eagerly, pressing his body against Schneider’s. As Schneider felt his cock stirring to life he broke off the kiss, his voice gruff when he spoke.

“That’s enough for now, get downstairs and put your big coat on, I don’t want us to be late…”

He released Richard from his embrace, and gently removed himself from Richard’s in turn, stepping over to his nightstand to grab his car keys. Richard was still standing where he’d left him, pouting, showing no inclination to move.

“If you don’t move right now, I’ll make you give blowjobs to the rest of the band as punishment!”

“Eep!” Richard squeaked, almost crashing into the bedroom door in his haste to get down the stairs following that threat.

*

The pair were the last to arrive at Paul’s home, which was intentional, Schneider wanting the others to have chance to relax and have a head start on the drinks. Their four friends greeted them both warmly once they’d removed their coats and shook the snow from their hair.

As the midnight hour and the New Year approached, the six friends were pleasantly inebriated, which Schneider knew would help ease Richard’s nerves, having agreed to the proposal that they reveal their relationship to Flake and Ollie during the celebrations. They’d turned the television on to watch the countdown and the fireworks that would light up the sky above the crowds congregated in the heart of the Tiergarten.

The six of them stood in a semi-circle, drinks in hand, waiting…

“Zehn… neun…acht…sieben…sechs…fünf…vier…drei…zwei…eins…Frohes neues Jahr!”
The pictures on the television were full of loud, colourful explosions, as the friends embraced each other in turn. Schneider had told Richard they should save each other until last, as that was when they would let the others in on their secret. That moment came quickly, and while the other four were hugging each other and exchanging platonic kisses, Schneider pulled Richard into his arms and kissed him ardently on the lips, the younger man returning it shyly at first, but soon relaxed and kissed Schneider passionately. The room and everyone in it seemed to fall away, Schneider becoming the entirety of his world in that moment.

As Schneider felt him letting his defences down he ran the tip of his tongue against Richard’s lips, prompting the guitarist to give him access to his mouth, tongues massaging each other. Richard wrapped his arms around Schneider’s waist, trying to press closer to him, moaning softly as Schneider gently squeezed one of his buttocks.

“Jeez…get a room, you two!”

Flake had noticed the rather prolonged embrace and was currently rolling his eyes towards the others after his exclamation.

“I really wouldn’t encourage them if I were you - you might regret it!” Till responded, wiping away tears of laughter at seeing Flake and Ollie’s puzzled expressions.

Breaking apart from each other at last, mainly due to needing oxygen by that point, Schneider put an arm around Richard’s waist and turned so that they were both facing the others, the guitarist resting his head against his shoulder for reassurance, knowing what was about to happen.

“Flake…Ollie… It’s time I introduced you to my boyfriend, Richard…”

“Your boyf…hang on, why just us two?” Ollie asked, confused.

“Because Till and I have both known for some time.” Paul said, grinning from ear to ear.

“How? When?”

“Richard let it slip by accident that day I was around and that pap piece of shit turned up…I promised not to say anything until they were ready to tell you…”

“I knew about it the day they decided to hook up, the three of us living together made it kinda difficult not to know…” Paul added.

“How the fuck have you managed to stay quiet so long? You’re normally the first to spill the beans!”

“Actually, Paul is much better at keeping secrets than you think. The identity of his secret lover being a case in point, how long has he kept that quiet?” Schneider asked, with a sly grin.

“Wait! Are you still with that person, Paul?”

“Yes…”

“So that’s been…at least a couple of years…” Flake said, surprised at the realisation of how much time had elapsed.

“I think I need more vodka for this…” Till interrupted, reaching for the bottle, pouring himself a large measure.

“Well, are you going to keep us in suspense, or are you going to tell us? I’m sure the others are curious to know too….” Ollie was getting a little annoyed by the lack of straight answers.

“Ollie…Flake…I’d like to introduce you to my boyfriend…” Paul said, mimicking Schneider as he stepped over to put his arm around the drummer’s waist, smirking.

“Fuck off, Paul, then, if you’re not going to tell us…”

Flake trailed off as Paul and Schneider exchanged a deep kiss, then the two guitarists kissed each other. Till was doubled up on the sofa, laughing hard at Ollie and Flake’s astonished faces.

“Thank fuck for that!” he managed to get out, gasping for breath, “I’m not sure how much longer I could’ve kept your threesome quiet… is that what I looked like when you told me?” he asked, pointing his finger at the two stunned men.

“More or less, yes! I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m ready for bed. Come on, Reesh…are you joining us, Paulchen?”

“Once I’ve checked everything’s locked up, and our guests have everything they need for the night, yes.”

“See you in a bit, then. Good night everyone and Happy New Year!”

*

Chapter Text

Flake and Ollie were still trying to come to terms with the night’s revelations, wordlessly accepting the drinks that Till placed in their hands, Paul having left to check the house was locked down.

“Get those down you, then have a couple more, you’ll feel better for it!”

The keyboardist turned to regard Till.

“This is for real? It isn’t just some stunt they’re pulling to mess with our heads? And you’re okay with it?”

“I’m not sure that ‘okay with it’ is how I would put it, but Richard is much happier now and is on the road to recovery, and that’s down to Schneider and Paul, so I accept it. They’re grown men…well, maybe not Paul…” the others sniggered, “…and they’re aware of the possible consequences if things go badly, so leave them to it. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.” He shrugged.

“Well, guess we’ll just follow your lead then.” He knocked back his vodka and was about to pour himself another glass until Till added the proverbial icing on the cake.

“Oh, one other thing… Richard is Schneider’s pet…”

Flake put his glass down and just drank straight from the bottle, muttering “Not enough fucking alcohol in all of Berlin for this…”

Till smirked and headed to the kitchen in search of another bottle of vodka, for him and Ollie to share. When he returned to the others Paul was just explaining the sleeping options available.

“…so two of you can share a bed while the other has the second room to themselves, or I can make up the sofa bed down here…”

“There’s no need for you to go to any trouble, I’m okay sharing, how about it Flake? Me and my puppy dog together again, eh? Just like old times… I promise not to molest you!”

He had a lopsided grin on his face, which Flake responded to with an exaggerated eye roll.

“Whatever, but if you snore I’ll kick you out of bed!”

Oliver laughed, “I’d pay to see you try that!”

“Yeah, me too!” Paul added, “Well, if you don’t need anything else, I’m off to bed….”

“Actually, do you have any earplugs?”

“Earplugs? Oh…I get it…er, I’m pretty sure Schneider’s got that covered…I saw him unpack a couple of gags when he arrived…”

Flake made a retching sound. “I think I’m going to gag – there is such a thing as too much information, Paul!”

Paul grinned, “Oh, I haven’t even started yet…but I’ll save that for another time. Good night!”

“Night…don’t forget to put the cat out!” Till responded, making Ollie choke on his drink.

“You told them? Schneider’s gonna kill you when he finds out!”

“He’ll get over it, they’d have found out sooner or later anyway, especially when we start recording the next album.”

“It’s your funeral. You might want to leave before he wakes, for safety’s sake!”

“I’ll take my chances. Good night Paul.”

Paul nodded, and left for bed. Feeling a little bit guilty about spilling the beans – which he decided he would blame on the copious amounts of alcohol he’d drunk – Till told the other two that they shouldn’t make any reference to it with anyone, especially not Richard. He changed the subject to that of their plans for the new album - which all hinged on Richard’s recovery – and their ideas for places to record it when the time came.

*

Schneider and Richard were already in bed when Paul entered the bedroom. The drummer had spent several minutes taking care of his pet’s needs, making sure to bolt the bathroom door shut so that nobody walked in on them, to avoid any potential embarrassment. Once they’d returned to the bedroom he’d taken his time stripping Richard of his clothing, prolonging the process in order to enjoy the intimacy it brought as his lover’s body was slowly revealed.

“Are you aware of just how breathtakingly beautiful you are, baby?”

Richard bit his lower lip and dipped his head, almost shyly, at the compliment. He was used to women complimenting him on his looks all the time, but having his friend – his colleague – speaking about him in the same way was still taking some getting used to which, considering some of the things they had done together over the past few months, was somewhat ironic, he thought to himself. He raised his head to meet his master’s gaze.

“Thank you, Master. You’re very handsome yourself.”

“You think so? Tell me what you see in me…”

Richard felt flustered, not sure where to begin.

“You’re tall, and strong – you’ve got the right amount of muscles for me, you’re toned, but not over-muscular like a bodybuilder is… you have the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen, like the crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean. You have cheekbones that most women I know would kill for…your hair is perfect for running my fingers through, and you have a kind face…and a good heart…”

Schneider silenced him with a deep kiss, slow and sensual, while he ran his fingertips down Richard’s back and sides, making the younger man shudder with arousal.

“Thank you, sweetheart, those were lovely things you said about me. Come on, let’s get into bed and while we wait for Paul getting here I’ll show you what I love about you…”

He gave Richard’s ass a light squeeze followed by a pat, encouraging the guitarist to move so that he could undress himself, taking nowhere near as long as he had with Richard. His pet had clambered onto the bed and under the duvet, shuffling himself into the centre of the bed which was his usual place. Schneider slipped in beside him and immediately resumed kissing him, tongue darting between the guitarist’s lips, exploring his mouth. When he stopped he raised a hand to Richard’s cheek and looked him directly in his eyes.

“I love your beautiful face, your raven-coloured hair, your long eyelashes that fan your eyes, eyes that change from grey to blue, or a hint of green, depending on your mood. Your sinful mouth and soft lips, just the right size to take my cock all the way in…” Richard’s face turned crimson at that, making Schneider smile, “…the way you can still get embarrassed when I compliment you or talk dirty to you….”

He ran his finger along Richard’s jawline to the centre of his chin, then under and down his throat, “…I could feast on your neck all night…” his hands moved down to Richard’s chest, thumbs brushing against the younger man’s nipples, which hardened at his touch, “…your perfectly developed pecs, your flat stomach, your toned arms…”

Richard’s breathing was becoming more rapid, shallower, with every word and every touch from his master, his pupils dilated… Schneider didn’t need to look under the duvet to know that Richard was nursing an erection, but he pulled it back anyway. The head was already leaking precum, Schneider knew that it probably wouldn’t take much for Richard to reach orgasm so he wrapped a hand around the root and squeezed, cutting off the blood flow long enough for the erection to subside, making Richard whimper in frustration.

Hearing footsteps on the stairs Schneider covered them both up momentarily, until they could be certain who it was approaching. The steps stopped outside the door, and the handle turned. Paul entered quickly and bolted the door behind him. Once he realised who it was, Schneider pulled the duvet back again and continued where he left off, knowing that Paul wouldn’t interrupt them.

“…then of course there are your muscular legs, with your perfect peachy bum on top…”

He’d drawn his fingers up from one of Richard’s knees, along his inner thigh, and returning his hand to the younger man’s cock, starting to stroke it up and down.

“…as well as being beautiful you’re talented, inventive, you’re loyal to a fault when it comes to your family and closest friends, you’re funny….but what I love most about you isn’t something that can be seen….” He placed his other hand on Richard’s chest, above his heart, “…it’s what’s in here – your precious heart – I just want to protect it from harm, if you’ll let me….”

Richard was hard again in his hand. Schneider had an erection of his own, and decided not to delay their mutual satisfaction any longer. He grabbed the lube from the nightstand and made short work of preparing them both, then picked up a bit gag from where he’d set it aside ready.

“I’m going to give you the choice sweetheart, you can either wear the gag knowing that any sound you make will be muffled, or go without it – but if you can’t stay quiet the others will hear everything, and I’m not sure you’re ready for their comments just yet…”

“Please can I wear the gag, Master?”

Such a polite pet! His training was definitely progressing well, Schneider thought. He looked over his shoulder to where Paul was undressing.

“You should pay attention to how Richard addresses me, Paul – you could learn some manners from him!”

“Yes, Master…” Paul replied, sticking out his tongue defiantly when Schneider had turned his attention back to Richard.

“Good boy, I’m proud of you, taking a gag so readily for me. I’m not going to cuff you, so if you really need the gag out quickly for any reason you don’t have to try remembering your safety signal, okay?”

“Yes, Master, thank you.”

Schneider fastened the gag by its press-stud at the back of Richard’s head after adjusting the straps to make sure the bit was sitting comfortably and wasn’t hurting the guitarist’s mouth or cheeks. The guitarist only needed the subtlest of signals to move how Schneider wanted. When he was certain Richard wasn’t in any discomfort he knelt between his legs and mounted him in one smooth motion.

Richard wrapped his legs around Schneider’s waist, crossing his feet to keep them in place while Schneider made love to him. Paul joined them on the bed, taking hold of Richard’s closest hand, interlacing their fingers, kissing him on his neck in between whispering his own declarations of love to him. Schneider’s thrusts were slow and deep, taking his time deliberately in order to enjoy his pet’s body for as long as possible.

His pet responded to his touches perfectly, with the squeezing from his legs, the eye contact he maintained when he wasn’t returning Paul’s kisses, his muffled moans. He leaned forward, kissing Richard on his forehead, then backing away slightly, moving to nuzzle at Richard’s neck. The younger man tilted his head back so that his master could get a better angle if he wanted, which Schneider took advantage of, biting the flesh to mark his claim of ownership.

Richard winced, squeezing Paul’s hand tight. Schneider licked the spot he’d just bitten, almost as an apology, then kissed him softly on the cheek. He increased the tempo of his thrusts, changing his position slightly, gripping the guitarist’s sides at the waist with both hands to steady himself, grunting quietly with the effort of bringing them both to the edge of climax. Richard arched his back underneath him as he came, semen spilling onto his abdomen between the two of them. The guitarist moaned behind the gag, eyes closed, as fireworks exploded in his brain.

“Paul, can you remove the gag please?”

Schneider was close to his own orgasm and wanted to be able to kiss Richard on the lips without needing to stop. The older guitarist let go of Richard’s hand in order to obey his instructions, lifting Richard’s head carefully with one hand while the other undid the stud fastening. He removed the gag and lowered Richard’s head back down onto the pillow, grabbing a quick kiss for himself as he did so, before moving aside for their master to finish.

Snapping his hips against Richard a few more times was all it took, Schneider’s moans captured by Richard’s mouth as they shared a passionate kiss, the older man taking a moment to catch his breath before pulling out. He kissed Richard more gently as he lay down next to him, spent.

“You were incredible, baby, thank you. If you’re not too tired, I believe Paul would like to have sex with you now…”

“Is that okay, Reesh? I can wait until morning if not…”

Richard gave a small smile, “You’d have to be on top, it’s too soon for me to get a hard-on again, even if Master allowed it. Do you want me to wear the gag again?”

“Leave it off if you think you can manage without it, I know I don’t make you scream as much as Master does, anyway. I’ll just be a moment while I get ready…”

Schneider put his hand on Paul’s arm, stopping him momentarily. “For tonight, as it’s a special occasion, you can ride him bareback if he’s okay with it.”

“Um, my birthday and Christmas were special occasions too and you didn’t let me then…”

“You were both still being punished when it was your birthday, for one thing, and for another – that was last year, this is a new privilege to go with the new year. As long as you both behave, I’ll allow it on special occasions going forward.”

“Does that include friends’ birthdays too?” Paul asked, thinking of Till’s birthday just a few days away.

“Don’t push it…”

Richard did a polite fake cough between them to get their attention.

“Sorry, kitten…I’ll let you play with Paul’s balls now…” Schneider kissed him briefly then settled back on his pillow, eyes closed.

Paul put one hand on Richard’s cheek as he kissed him on the lips, his thumb gently stroking the younger man’s face. Richard returned the kiss, opening his mouth readily, knowing Paul loved to taste as much of him as possible. The other guitarist accepted the silent invitation, tongue darting between his lips, eagerly exploring the wet warmth within.

After a couple of minutes of foreplay, Paul couldn’t restrain himself any longer, moving to line himself up with Richard who pulled his knees up towards himself to give him easier access. He slid inside him with ease, Richard was still wet from the fucking his master had just given him, so Paul started making love to him without hesitation. The younger guitarist reached up with one hand, placing it at the back of Paul’s neck, pulling him down to him for a languid kiss, sighing softly with every forward thrust from Paul.

Paul held on for as long as he could, wanting to pleasure Richard as much as possible before he came, needing to show him how much he loved him. His hands roamed over Richard’s supple body, feeling the muscles flexing as he moved underneath him, his warm skin soft to the touch. He kissed Richard’s chest and neck, but resisted the temptation to bite him as Schneider had, knowing that he would be punished if he marked him too.

Feeling himself beginning to tire, Paul picked up the pace, pumping hard and fast, straining with the effort, then grunting as he came, his semen shooting out to mingle with Schneider’s, Richard moaning quietly in response. Waiting until his shuddering had subsided, Paul withdrew and climbed off Richard, breathing heavily. Richard reached out and grabbed Paul’s hand, drawing it up to his lips for a kiss, smiling sleepily at the older man.

Schneider, who’d been dozing lightly while his subs were occupied with each other, forced his eyes open and sat up. Seeing how sleepy both guitarists were he took charge of Richard’s aftercare before pulling the duvet up to cover them all. When he resumed his position in the bed Richard turned on his side towards him, and snuggled up to him.

“Thank you, Master.”

“You’re welcome, sweetheart. Get some sleep now. I love you, both of you….”

*

Once Paul had left the room and could be heard climbing the stairs, Ollie and Flake turned back to Till.

“Please tell us this is all an elaborate hoax!”

“Okay, it’s all an elaborate hoax…”

“You’re lying…”

“You asked me to! I support my friends anyway they need me to…” Till replied with a smirk. “Look, right now the priority is to get Richard well again, and then we can look at recording a new album, and then maybe a tour after that, but it could be a while. Being with Schneider and Paul is apparently working, for some bizarre reason, so let’s just accept it and get on with business as usual. Now, I’m going to go to bed and try to get to sleep before they start fucking, I’ve no desire to hear that again any time soon. I’ll see you in the morning Ollie, Flake – are you joining me?”

“I might as well, just keep your hands to yourself!”

“I’m not making any promises, you sexy beast, you!”

Flake rolled his eyes again and sighed, following the other man upstairs, leaving Ollie to turn out the lights when he decided to call it a night. That didn’t take long as the bed in the master bedroom above him started to creak rhythmically. He downed the last of his drink and quickly flicked the light switch, taking the stairs two at a time heading for the second spare bedroom.

*

As was usual, Paul was the first to wake in the morning. He carefully lifted his arm from where it was resting on Richard’s waist and slipped out of bed. He unbolted the bedroom door and headed to the bathroom. When he returned he found Schneider had woken up, and was propped up on one arm watching Richard sleeping.

“Hey…” he whispered, as he slid the bolt home and crossed to the bed.

“Morning, Paulchen. Happy New Year, love!”

“Happy New Year, Schneidy-poo!”

“I thought we agreed you were never going to call me that again…”

“No, you asked me not to, but it was never an order, I just chose to go along with it until now…” Paul replied with a big grin on his face.

Schneider couldn’t help but smile in response, shaking his head ruefully, his dark curls swishing with the movement.

“Get your cheeky ass around this side of the bed and come sit on my cock…”

“Yes, Master…”

*

Till had been the first of the guests to wake, and had made his way down to the kitchen to make a coffee for himself, hoping it would help ease his hangover. Despite being the one insisting Till keep his hands to himself the night before, when the singer opened his eyes he’d found Flake had turned over during the night and had spooned him. He was thankful that the keyboard player hadn’t been sporting a hard-on, small mercies and all that.

The kettle switched itself off as the water reached boiling point. He pulled out the power chord from the base of the kettle, and poured water into the mug containing the coffee granules and sugar he’d prepared, stirring the solution with a teaspoon he’d located after searching through a few of the drawers.

“Did you boil enough water for two?”

Till practically jumped out of his skin at Paul’s sudden appearance behind him.

“Fuck’s sake Paul – you nearly gave me a heart attack! I’m going to suggest to Schneider that he puts a collar with a bell on it round your neck!”

“You forget I’m not the pet…”

“No, but subs often wear collars anyway, and I’m sure he’d be agreeable. In answer to your question, yes - I boiled enough for a few mugs. I was going to have mine then take one up for Flake if he isn’t up by then.”

Paul nodded and set about preparing a drink for himself, then sitting cross-legged on a chair as he sipped at the bitter drink as he waited for it to cool to a comfortable temperature.

“Ollie and Flake thought that last night was all a big hoax until I set them straight, How much of it they remember when they wake remains to be seen. I hope the three of you are ready for a possible inquisition…”

Paul sighed. “We know it’s far from normal, and that people may struggle to accept our relationship, but right now it works. For the time being we’re keeping those in the know limited to just the six of us, as we’re the ones who’ll be potentially spending the most time together, thereby the practicalities of working closely together necessitated telling you all. Telling anyone else will be dictated by future events. We’ll deal with that if and when situations arise. Hopefully Flake and Ollie will understand the reasons why we’ve kept it a secret up to now and why we’ve finally let them in on it.”

“Hey, you don’t have to try convincing me, I’ve got used to the new situation where the three of you are concerned, it’s Flake and Ollie you should be saying this to. It may take them a bit of time to get used to the idea, but I think that eventually they’ll just learn to accept it as the new normal… Right, I better make that drink for Flake, I suppose I should do one for Ollie too. Are Schneider and Richard awake yet?”

“Schneider was when I left the bedroom, but he might have dozed off again, Richard was sleeping like a baby…why?”

“Just wondering if I would be needing earplugs anytime soon!”

Paul laughed. “I think you’re safe - I’m pretty sure I’ve worn Schneider out this morning!”

“Gah! Too much information! I’ve got to go scrub my brain clean thanks to that mental image!”

Till grabbed the mugs containing the drinks for the other house guests and turned for the door that Paul was holding open for him helpfully, having risen from his seat, grinning mischievously. Once the larger man was in the hallway Paul returned to his own coffee, humming thoughtfully as he continued sipping, occasionally blowing across the surface to try to cool it a little faster.

Upstairs there was more activity as the others started rousing themselves from their beds. Till had set down his drink on his side of the bed, and was just setting down the one he’d made for Flake when they heard Ollie letting out an expletive close by. Curious as to what had made the normally quiet man swear they both crossed to the doorway where they found Schneider making ‘shushing’ motions from the master bedroom’s open doorway.

Till realised immediately what had prompted Ollie’s outburst, as beyond Schneider he could see Richard asleep with his bare back towards the doorway. Flake peered from behind Till’s shoulder and promptly added his own colourful language to the mix. Schneider quickly shut the door, hoping that Richard hadn’t been disturbed.

“Please, keep your voices down! Richard’s still very sensitive about his back…”

“What the hell, Schneider?” Ollie demanded.

Seeing that the drummer was getting exasperated Till stepped in for him.

“Ollie, come in here and I’ll explain everything to you and Flake…here, I brought you a cuppa…”

The bassist accepted the mug off him and followed Flake into his and Till’s room pushing past Till as he did so, giving him a stern look. Till had a brief whispered exchange with Schneider then walked back to join their two waiting bandmates, closing the door behind him.

“You two should probably sit down, because what I’m about to tell you will probably shock you. Cast your minds back a couple of years or so ago, do you remember Richard telling us he’d fallen down the stairs when he was drunk?” The two nodded. “Well, that’s not entirely accurate. You mustn’t repeat this to anyone. It all started when Caron found proof that Richard had been cheating on her…”

Chapter Text

The rest of the winter months passed without incident. Richard had gone out into the city on a few occasions, thankful that there was steady snowfall that year requiring intrepid urban explorers to bundle up with thick scarves and woolly hats as well as their winter coats, rendering most people unrecognisable from a distance. He’d not ventured out alone yet, still having residual anxiety about not being able to cope if faced with paparazzi or bunches of over-excited fans.

At first he would only go out with Schneider, but after only enduring a few minor encounters with fans, or the occasional double-take as passers-by recognised them, he soon felt confident enough to go out with Till.

On another occasion Paul drove the three of them out into one of the nearby volkspark where they took a walk in some woodland. It soon descended into anarchy as Paul scooped up a handful of snow, moulding it into a sphere and lobbing it as hard as he could at Schneider, hitting him squarely between his shoulders. The drummer responded immediately throwing a snowball with his powerful arms, striking Paul on the chest. Richard grinned and joined in on the fun, soon snowballs were hurtling in every direction accompanied by the laughter of the three men.

Till had been taking advantage of the long dark nights to work on writing new lyrics, some of which he’d shared with the rest of the band, wanting their feedback and to hopefully kickstart the creative process musically. Richard would sometimes spend a few hours with his best friend at his home, working on songs together which allowed Paul and Schneider to spend time together without him, helping rekindle their relationship.

When Richard returned home he would share the song ideas with them both, descending into the home studio and recording some melodies and riff ideas while he remembered them so that he could play them back for the rest of the band. Paul would occasionally sit in, acting as engineer on the mixing desk, and making suggestions of his own, adding rhythm sections to compliment Richard’s lead guitar.

Till eventually had close to twenty songs that he was happy to present to the whole band, so they agreed to gather together and work on creating a new album. With the groundwork done they asked their management team to book a studio and to contact Jacob Hellner to produce the album. With them wanting to avoid the press at home, and with the weather in Berlin being still cold and wet, with sporadic wintry showers laying blankets of snow on the ground, it was decided that they would record the album somewhere warmer.

El Cortijo Studio was situated in the hills west of Malaga, close to the southern tip of Spain. Being a relatively short distance from the continent of Africa it promised to be warmer there than at home even though it was still officially winter. Schneider had kept his hair long over winter but decided to have it cut short before they headed to Spain.

“I can do that for you!” Paul announced, when he found out why Schneider was trawling through the phone book.

“No offence, Paul, but no way am I letting you anywhere near my hair with a pair of scissors!”

“Why not? I used to cut mine and Flake’s hair all the time!”

“I know, and I saw the results - that’s why I’m declining your offer!” Schneider retorted.

“Fine, go and pay someone ludicrous amounts of money just for a few snips here and there…”

“There’s more to cutting hair than that and you know it, a good barber or hairdresser is worth paying the ‘ludicrous’ sums of money, as you put it. But I have another idea… Richard rarely has a bad hair day, I think I might let him try.”

“Playing favourites again? Your perfect pet hasn’t cut another person’s hair as far as I know.” Paul’s tone was light, telling the drummer that he wasn’t really put out by Schneider’s suggestion.

“Stop your whinging or I’ll take away your pet as punishment…”

Schneider was referring to the small black and white bulldog that he’d agreed that Paul could adopt and keep at their house. The dog had his bed in one corner of Paul’s room and would join him on the bed whenever he was sleeping there on his own. At the moment though it was playing a game of tug-of-war with Richard in the lounge, jaws firmly clamped around the short length of rope trying to tear it free from the guitarist’s hands.

“You’re such a mean master!” Paul replied, doing his best imitation of Richard’s pouting.

“I’ll give you a good spanking for your insolence!”

“Ooh goody!” Paul replied, bending over to present his rear end to his Dom, wiggling it from side to side enticingly.

Schneider laughed, shaking his head. “I guess that spanking doesn’t serve as a deterrent for you anymore, I’m going to have to be more creative going forwards. You should go back to yours and pack your suitcase for Spain. We’re flying out tomorrow afternoon.”

“Do you want me to stay the night there?” What Paul was really asking was whether Schneider wanted to spend the night alone with Richard, in case their Master had something special planned for the younger man.

“No, that’s up to you. It would probably be easier for us to leave for the airport together in the morning, and cheaper too – only one airport parking fee instead of two…” Schneider explained in response to Paul’s quizzical expression.

“Well, I guess I’ll come straight back then. At least that way I can fix whatever mess Richard makes when cutting your hair before we set off.”

Paul ducked away from the playful punch Schneider threw at him and headed into the lounge. The dog was growling through its clenched teeth as it tried desperately to pull the rope towards himself, but Richard wasn’t relinquishing his hold easily.

“You’re cheating Richard – you should be using your teeth to hold the rope too!”

As Richard’s attention was drawn towards Paul the dog took advantage, pulling with his full body-weight, successfully tearing the tug-rope from Richard’s hand.

“Puppy one, Pussy nil” Paul commented, grinning.

“Stop teasing my kitten! Go on, you’ve got a job to do!”

Paul scooped the dog up into his arms, giving Richard a quick peck on the cheek as he bent down.

“I’ll see you later, Reeshy, I’ve got to go pack.”

He stood back up, carrying the pup with him, pausing in the hallway for a brief kiss from his master before leaving for home. Once Paul had driven off Schneider went into the lounge to check on his pet who was still sitting in the same spot where he and the dog had been playing.

“Hey there, sweetheart. I’ve got a job for you too if you think you’re up to try it.”

“What is it, Master?”

Schneider held out his hand to help Richard up from where he knelt on the carpet.

“Come with me…”

He led Richard by the hand along the hallway and into the kitchen. The guitarist saw a chair had been taken from its place at the table and set down on some sheets of newspaper. Placed on the chair was a pair of scissors and a comb.

“As we’re going somewhere warm I thought that I might have my hair cut short for the trip, it will save me from having to tie my hair back every time I need to do something energetic.”

“So, are you wanting me to call the hairdresser I use and get her to come here?” Richard asked, confused as to where this was going.

Schneider laughed quietly. “No, love. I’d like you to cut my hair.”

“Um…I’ve never cut someone else’s hair before, I’d probably make a real mess of it. You should probably get Paul or someone else to do it…”

“Where there’s the chance that you might make a mess of it, Paul almost certainly would! It’s just a dry trim, I’m sure you’ll do just fine.”

He placed the scissors and comb in Richard’s hands and sat down.

“Shouldn’t you have a cape or some towels on your shoulders, or something?”

“If I was planning on wearing this t-shirt for the rest of the day, then yes, but I’m not, so…”

Richard stood looking at the scissors and comb for a moment, then looked at his Master, who held his gaze steadily. Coming to a decision Richard stepped up to him.

“How short?”

Schneider held up a hand and indicated with his thumb and forefinger. “This short.”

Richard gulped but took the final step towards the chair and took hold of the hair framing one side of Schneider’s face with one hand, the other hand snipping the hair trapped between his fingers as he’d watched the professional hairdressers do with him in the mirror. His first cuts removed the majority of the length of Schneider’s hair all the way round, the clippings falling to the floor, landing on the paper.

As he gained some measure of confidence he used the comb to help trim the hair shorter still. When he was done he picked up the mirror that Schneider had placed on the table and haded it to his Master, nervous as to his reaction.

“You’ve done a great job, babe, thank you… Can you put the chair back and I’ll clear the rest up, then I’m going for a shower to wash out the loose hair, and you’re invited to join me.”

*

Late afternoon the following day saw the six band members on a Lear jet heading from Tegel Flughafen to Malaga. The mood onboard was jovial, as though they were off on holiday rather than going to work. Once the flight attendant had finished serving them drinks and snacks she joined the pilot and co-pilot upfront in the cockpit in order to give the band their privacy. If they needed anything else they each had a call button above their seats.

Till was chatting to Flake – who hated flying with a vengeance – in order to keep the keyboard player distracted from the fact they were in a tin can several thousand feet in the air. Although the seatbelt sign was off Flake’s was still securely fastened, and every ‘bump’ had him gripping the armrest tightly. He’d had a couple of drinks to help take the edge off his anxiety, but it didn’t seem to be helping much.

On the opposite side of the aisle Ollie and Paul were discussing the rhythm sections for some of the songs they’d been working on, wondering how they could tweak them to make them even better. Paul’s dog snoozing comfortably on his lap, ears twitching occasionally at the various strange sounds from the plane.

Schneider and Richard occupied the seats behind them, the drummer had his head in a book while the guitarist had reclined his seat and was listening to music through his headphones, eyes closed. A particularly large bump, as the plane hit an air pocket, jolted his eyes open. He turned off his music and sat up. He heard Till trying to placate Flake explaining that it was just a minor bit of turbulence and nothing to worry about, and could he please loosen his grip on his thigh before he leaves bruises. Paul and Ollie were both trying to soothe the puppy who hadn’t liked that jolt one bit, and was whining loudly, picking up on Flake’s fear.

Richard decided he’d might as well go to the toilet now that he was fully awake, and tried to stride over Schneider’s outstretched legs, grabbing the back of Ollie’s seat as the plane lurched again. Schneider pulled his legs in and stood up, allowing Richard to pass. He headed forwards past the other four and opened the cockpit door to check on the situation while Richard headed for the bathroom at the rear of the plane. Once he’d been assured that they would just be experiencing a bit of turbulence for the next few minutes as they passed through a weather system over the mountains he returned to pass that information on to the four men still seated. While they remained distracted he headed to the bathroom, knocking on the door and asking if Richard was alright, or was he feeling airsick. He knew that Richard was okay, but he asked the question out loud for the benefit of the others, before slipping into the bathroom when Richard unlocked the door, sliding the bolt back into place when he was in. Richard’s eyes widened in surprise.

“What are you doing?”

It had been agreed beforehand that neither Paul nor Richard would address Schneider as ‘Master’ on this trip, as not only would it make their colleagues a little uncomfortable, but there was a chance that Jacob or one of the sound engineers might pick up on it, and with so many microphones about the chance of them being accidentally recorded was quite high.

“I would have thought that was obvious, love. I’m going to induct you into the ‘Mile High Club.’”

Through general conversations with the whole band when slightly tipsy, Richard had admitted that he’d never had sex on a plane before, mainly through fear of being discovered and confronted on a plane full of passengers. Apparently Till had had no such concern and had made a few flight attendants very happy over the past few years. As they were on a private jet Schneider had decided that this would be the ideal opportunity to give Richard his ‘first.’

The bathroom on the jet was bigger than that on a standard passenger plane, with more floor space and better fixtures and fittings, although it was still a fairly tight squeeze for two people. Richard’s face had flushed a light pink when he heard what Schneider had in mind, aware of the close proximity of their bandmates. Schneider read his mind.

“Don’t worry about them, the attendant is in the cockpit and the others are rather preoccupied with the turbulence, I’ve made them think you’re feeling sick and I’ve come to check on you. We’ve got a few minutes before they might start wondering what we’re up to…”

He pulled Richard towards him, kissing him passionately, making the younger man moan as he squeezed his ass with one hand. Schneider reached down with the other hand and with deft movements unfastened Richard’s jeans and pulled them and his underwear down below his buttocks. Before leaving home he’d inserted a buttplug into his pet, with this situation in mind, making sure Richard would be ready to take his cock without preparation. Full body scans were not yet in place at all airports, and private charter companies had a degree of discretion security-wise, so he knew that Richard’s plug wouldn’t be discovered. He turned Richard around and got him to rest his hands on the wall, feet spread as far as he could with his jeans around his ankles.

He unzipped his own jeans, letting them drop down while he pushed down his boxers. He removed the plug, placed it in the basin, then spat on his hand, rubbing the spit over the tip of his cock before pushing into Richard slowly. The younger man winced from the lack of lubrication, but took his master all the way in without complaint.

“Who’s my good pet…try to stay still sweetheart, concentrate on keeping your balance while I do all the work…”

Richard nodded, closing his eyes so he could feel the movements of the aircraft. Schneider kissed the back of his neck, then took hold of Richard’s hips, moving his own backwards and forwards in short, slow movements, gradually building momentum. Knowing that it wouldn’t take long before the others became curious as to their whereabouts, he made sure to hit Richard’s special spot as often as possible, bringing him to orgasm faster than normal. When he heard Richard starting to pant he knew he was close, reaching round he took hold of his cock and started jerking him off in time with his thrusts.

The younger man became rigid as he ejaculated, his ring squeezing tight around Schneider’s cock causing him to come inside him at the same time, grunting as he made his final thrusts. When Richard muscles relaxed Schneider pulled out, cleaning them both up quickly before reinserting the plug that he’d rinsed under the hot tap.

“I’m sorry that wasn’t very romantic, but it’s difficult to set the right mood when you’re leaning over a toilet! Right, let’s make it look as though you are feeling a bit sick… here, hold this tissue up to your mouth, we’ll dab a bit of water on your forehead like so…there, that should do…and I’ll carry this empty sickbag at the ready…”

He unlatched the door at the same time as flushing the toilet, getting rid of the evidence of their dalliance. Pushing the door open he put his arm around Richard to ‘helped’ him back to his seat. Richard kept his head down, eyes on the floor, as Schneider guided him down the aisle. The others had turned their heads when they heard the bathroom door open, Till’s face etched with concern watching them returning. The attendant had come back into the main cabin after Till had buzzed for her, wanting to get something to help calm Flake’s nerves. She approached the couple as they sat back down.

“Can I get anything for you, sirs?”

“Perhaps a bottle of still water for Richard, please. A coffee for myself, thank you.”

She nodded and went about her tasks, the others returned their attention back to their own conversations. Schneider pretended to fuss around Richard, settling him back in his chair, pulling the complimentary blanket over him and giving him his pillow so his pet had two. Schneider fastened the seatbelt around him just in case there was any severe turbulence, then sat back in his own chair.

“Try and get some sleep, we’ve got a couple of hours before we land, then a short drive to where we’re staying.”

Richard nodded, keeping his eyes closed, knowing that if he saw anyone so much as glance at him that his face would turn beetroot red. He listened to the sounds of the attendant moving about the cabin, then her footsteps as she walked back to the cockpit. Waiting a few minutes for the others to resume their discussions, he cracked one eye open to see if the coast was clear. Schneider smiled down at him and offered him the spring water. Richard sat up slightly to take hold of it, the pillows sliding down the seat without his head to pin them in place.

He pushed the blanket down to his waist while he was upright, taking steady sips from the bottle, carefully avoiding looking at any of the others by staring out of the window. A couple of minutes later the attendant reappeared with some news.

“You’ll be pleased to know that the pilot has informed me that the rest of the flight should be pretty smooth from now on, so hopefully that will help stomachs settle and prevent certain people from ripping the armrests off their seats…” she smiled at Flake as she spoke. “The wind is at our tail, so we are going to arrive around half an hour ahead of schedule, so roughly ninety minutes from now. I’ll update you with any changes. Can I get you gentlemen anything before I take my break?”

*

When they landed at Malaga airport they passed through customs and immigration relatively quickly, private planes landing at a different terminal from the commercial airlines meaning the queues were much smaller. A minibus had been laid on for their arrival to take them to the studio situated within the villa in which they were going to be staying. They had thought about renting out a second villa to give them some separation between work and downtime, but in the end they decided it would be much simpler to make use of the studio’s on-site accommodation.

They couldn’t see much of the surrounding area on their trip from the airport, the nights still being long and dark, but when they woke up the following morning they could see the city at the foot of the hills and the sea beyond, and verdant greenery surrounding the villa. There was hazy sunshine with a light sea-mist settled over the valley, which would burn away as the day wore on.

After leaving them sufficiently long enough to wake up and have breakfast, Jacob and the sound engineer arrived to help get their equipment set up and to discuss the order in which they wanted to approach the album. Their instruments, apart from Schneider’s drum kit, had been sent overland ahead of them so that they would be ready and waiting for their arrival. It had been agreed that the drums would be recorded separately as Schneider had heard good things about a particular sound engineer but they wouldn’t leave their studio so he’d have to travel up to Sweden if Schneider wanted to use his services.

When Flake first heard about the plan for a truck to make the journey to Spain he offered to go along to keep the driver company, desperately trying to avoid flying. He was disappointed when it was pointed out there was only room for two people in the cab, one driving and the other resting, and both of which needed the appropriate driving license and insurance for heavy goods vehicles. Unfortunately for Flake he had neither, which put an end to that discussion.

It was late night when they pulled into the villa, so they couldn’t make out much of their surroundings. They decided it was too late to explore the studio properly so divided up the bedrooms between them, and all headed to bed planning on being up early to inspect the villa and make a head start on the album preparations.

*

Jacob and the engineer arrived before nine, knowing that the band were workaholics having produced for them before, wanting to make sure ‘certain people’ wouldn’t complain about timekeeping along with anything else that they were griping about. They had keys to the studio section of the property and could set up without having to disturb anyone in the residential section which was separated by a locked door that only the band had the keys to for privacy reasons.

Paul had got up early to feed the dog and take it out for a walk, discovering the lay of the land around the studio. Because of that he saw their arrival and made his way to the adjoining door to unlock it.

“Good morning! Would you like a tea or coffee before you start?”

“I would, but won’t Richard get annoyed that the studio’s not ready to start straight away?”

“Oh, don’t worry about Reesh, he was still fast asleep when I looked in on him just now. He’ll be wanting his breakfast before he even looks at a guitar, so you’ve got plenty of time yet.”

Jacob looked unconvinced, but followed Paul into the kitchen nonetheless, keeping his eyes open for a moody lead guitarist, the dog skittering about on the hard surface, almost falling on its face a few times.

“Is that your dog, then? It certainly seems to take after you behaviour wise!” he commented with a grin.

Paul handed them their drinks and boiled some more water for the rest of the band, taking it on himself to extend the role he had with Schneider and Richard to include the others. Till was the next to surface, rubbing the sleep from his eyes as he descended the steps from his room which was situated directly above the studio.

“Morning,” he greeted them, reaching a hand out to pick up the coffee that Paul had pushed towards him on the kitchen table, sinking heavily onto one of the chairs.

“What would you like for breakfast? There’s bacon, sausage, blood sausage, eggs, tomatoes… or there’s a selection of cereals and pastries, toast….”

“I’ll have a few pastries I think, I feel the need for a sugar rush this morning. None of the others up yet?”

“Schneider and Richard were both fast asleep when I looked in on them a few minutes ago, I don’t know about Oli and Flake. I was going to knock on their door once I’d finished my drink.”

There was limited bedroom space in the villa, so Richard and Schneider had taken the double bedroom, and as no-one fancied having Paul’s dog drooling on them overnight he got a single room to himself. Till had volunteered to take the bedroom above the studio which had no door, not one to be bashful about people seeing him naked, which left a twin bedroom for the other two to share.

Flake shuffled down the stairs from the bedroom, and made his way to the kitchen drawn by the voices and the smell of coffee. He adjusted his wire-frame glasses to sit on the bridge of his nose as he greeted the assembled men, then took a look through the available foodstuffs before deciding on a full cooked breakfast. Till offered to make a start on cooking it while Paul took the drinks in to his two lovers in the main bedroom situated just beyond the kitchen..

Jacob glanced over as Paul opened the bedroom door surprised to see the two men inside huddled up to each other in bed. He’d assumed that there would have been a bolster cushion separating them at the very least. Flake noticed his expression and commented.

“Quite a few things have changed since you last worked with us, although that is probably the biggest thing…”

“Wait, are you telling me they’re a couple?”

“Yes, although a couple of what changes on a frequent basis. I’m sure we don’t have to remind you about the NDA…”

“Well, you have by just mentioning it, but you know the two of us work with the utmost discretion. Don’t worry about that.”

The engineer echoed Jacob’s statement and the subject was dropped. Paul returned empty handed and took over the cooking from Till. Ollie soon joined them, he’d been woken when Flake got up and had dressed and washed once the bathroom had become vacant. The conversation over breakfast was a discussion over which song they should start with, Jacob still feeling slightly uneasy that Richard wasn’t there to give his opinion, the lead guitarist having controlled most of the proceedings with the previous album.

A few minutes later the two missing band members emerged from their room to join them, bringing the remainder of their drinks along with them. Paul placed a selection of pastries and a couple of small plates in front of them having asked them what their preferred breakfast was when he went in to wake them. The pair listened in on the conversation while they ate, hearing the reasons why the others thought one song should take precedence over another. Finally they settled on one, starting with the vocals and the rhythm guitar for the base, keeping time with a click track.

“If that’s okay with you Richard? Do you want to sit in by the mixing desk?” Jacob still wasn’t convinced that things had changed that dramatically within the band.

Richard shrugged. “It’s fine by me, if everyone thinks that’s the best approach. Do you need assistance setting up all the mics and running cables?”

“No, thank you. We did a lot of the groundwork yesterday before you arrived, so it should just be a case of tweaking things a little bit.”

“Well, if that’s the case, maybe Schneider and I can take one of the hire cars into town and do some exploring…”

Although he’d said it as a statement it was really a question aimed at his master.

“That sounds like a good idea. Would you like to join us?” Schneider’s question was for Flake and Ollie’s benefit.

“I think I’ll stick around in case I’m needed, I’ll check out the town and the surfing another day.” Ollie replied.

Flake thought about it for a moment before responding. “Will you be taking the dog with you? Someone needs to look after it while Paul’s working, can’t have it chewing on the cables, can we?”

“Well volunteered!” Till said, clapping the lanky keyboard player on the shoulder, almost knocking him flying.

“I wasn’t…” Flake started to protest, but found a pup placed in his arms by Paul as he made a beeline for the studio.

“Thanks, Flake! He’s had his breakfast and his morning walk, I’ve put his food and toys in that cupboard there along with his leash. See you at lunchtime!”

Paul disappeared quickly before Flake recovered enough to object properly. The engineer took his drink, following in the guitarist’s wake. Jacob finished his drink and was about to join them when Richard laid a hand on his arm, stopping him. Here it comes, the producer thought, expecting Richard’s control-freak persona to appear.

“Jacob, I … I need, want… to apologise for my behaviour during the recording of the last album. It’s no excuse, but… I was going through some personal stuff at the time, and I took it out on everyone around me, including you. I’m sorry.”

Jacob was stunned, that was the last thing he’d been expecting. He stammered out a reply. “Th…Thank you, I appreciate it.”

Richard nodded and gave a small smile before returning to the kitchen table where the remainder of his breakfast was waiting for him. Jacob finally came to his senses and turned around to help Paul setting up in the studio.

*

The recording of the album continued at pace, especially when a weather front brought seemingly unending rain showers that put a stop on various outdoor activities that might have otherwise distracted their attention from the job at hand. The heavy drops splattered on the red brick tiles, each square demarcated by imitation white marble tiles. The shrubs in their terracotta pots got a good watering, while the grey shale that decorated the miniature maze in the centre of the inner courtyard turned a darker shade, making a stark contrast to the whitewashed walls of the property.

The cowboy hat that Richard had brought with him to keep the sun out of his eyes instead ended up keeping his hair dry instead when he sat on the balcony, strumming his guitar, working on perfecting his parts. Paul, who was acting as the band’s video biographer, had joked about the pink star on the hat acting as an announcement to the world that Richard was gay.

Paul seemed to be ubiquitous at times, whenever any of them turned around he would be there recording whatever it was they were doing, including Richard burning some sausages, and Schneider eating a hard-boiled egg, which the drummer told him off for, saying that filming people while they were eating was ‘disgusting.’

There were a few tracks that were proving problematic. One of them required Till to do more than eighty takes before he and Jacob were satisfied with the vocals, ‘Amerika’ proved to be quite triggering for Richard, having been written in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, which the guitarist had witnessed first hand due to living with his then girlfriend in New York at the time. As a result they recorded everyone else’s parts before bringing Richard in to lay down the lead guitar, with the vocals removed from his in-ear monitor to allow him to finish faster.

‘Ohne Dich’ turned out to be quite emotional for the band as a whole. Till had written the lyrics following Richard’s two suicide attempts, and he struggled to sing the song in its entirety. When he’d explained what had prompted him to write the song Richard threw his arms around his best friend in a prolonged hug, tears streaming down both their faces. Their four colleagues found they weren’t immune from the emotions in the room and stepped forward to pull the pair into a group hug.

Eventually they managed to complete more than the required number of tracks for the album, so they had decide which ones they should discard with the possibility of them featuring on a subsequent album, ‘Rosenrot’ being one of them. Satisfied that they’d got the best possible album in the can, minus the drums which would be added in a few weeks’ time in Stockholm, the band returned home to Berlin.

Chapter Text

“Has Zoran told anyone what they’re doing in the video?” Richard asked, curious to know what was in store for them.

The others looked at him and each other, all shaking their heads and saying variations of ‘no.’ The warehouse where they were going to be shooting the majority of the video for ‘Mein Teil’ had been turned into a closed set, with the band members only allowed in when Zoran was ready for them to shoot their individual segments. There was an office building next to the warehouse that had been made available for the band to relax in while they waited their turns, but for now they were leaning against two of their cars, chatting.

Richard took a drag on his latest cigarette, hoping that it might help steady his nerves. He always suffered from performance anxiety whether it was on stage in front of thousands of fans, or if it was acting for a video, like he would be doing today. They’d been asked to come down early so that they could try to get through as many takes as possible that day, as Zoran had arranged to have a section of Bismarckstraße cordoned off the following day for another segment. He wanted as much time as possible for getting that as yet unknown scene completed, so if they didn’t finish the sequences on set today it would mean using some of the time allotted for the following day.

Schneider knew what was probably going through Richard’s mind so he took it upon himself to have a word with the jovial producer to see if it would be possible for the guitarist to do his segment first. He wandered over to the large doorway where one of Zoran’s assistants was waiting with a clipboard.

“Good morning! I don’t suppose you happen to know the running order do you?”

“Hi, sorry Herr Schneider, I don’t. Zoki is keeping everything on a need-to-know basis. I’ll be sent to fetch each of you when he’s ready for you.”

“I see. Would it be possible for me to speak to him? I need to ask him something…”

“I’ll ask him. Wait here please, and no peeking!”

“Scout’s honour” Schneider replied, one hand raised in a salute, a warm smile on his face.

The assistant returned his smile and disappeared inside, closing the door firmly behind her. Schneider kicked idly at some loose gravel on the ground in front of the warehouse, close to where the band had parked their cars. A couple of minutes passed before Zoran poked his head out of the doorway.

“You wanted me, Schneider?”

“”Hi Zoki, I wanted to ask if it would be possible for you to shoot Richard’s segment first? He’s feeling a little anxious so the less time he has to wait the better.”

“Hmm, I was going to do his thing after lunch, there’s some preparation I need him to do beforehand, but I can move him up to second after Ollie. He can do his preparation while we shoot Ollie so he’s not waiting as long. Would that be okay?”

Zoran was used to Richard wanting to control everything so the request wasn’t a surprise, but this was the first time that he hadn’t made his demand directly. He assumed any diva tantrums would likely happen after they started filming.

“That will definitely help, thank you.”

Zoki offered one of his trademark smiles. “Could you ask the both to come over, we’re ready to start now anyway.”

“Sure.” Schneider turned and strolled back over to the others, and told Ollie and Richard to join Zoran.

Richard stubbed out his cigarette, flicking the remains onto the soil underneath some nearby bushes, exhaling the smoke in a single steady stream as he pushed himself off the bonnet of the car he was leaning against. Ollie was already striding across the small yard, eager to get down to work. He followed the director through the doorway, Richard trailing after them. Once he was inside the warehouse Zoran’s assistant pulled the door shut, closing the set to everyone outside.

Although there was lighting in the warehouse, the vast empty space made it appear darker. There was a section of the warehouse curtained off so that anyone in the main entry area couldn’t see what was going on beyond. Zoran had called over two members of staff, and asked them to take the bassist and guitarist to their respective rooms to prepare. He told Richard that he would be along shortly to discuss what he wanted him to do, but he had to go through Ollie’s role with the bassist first.

“…it shouldn’t take me long to go through it, I’ll be with you in five, ten minutes tops…”

Richard shrugged. “Take as much time as you need.”

He followed the assistant assigned to him up some metal steps and along a corridor into a room that had crash mats in it. Richard’s curiosity was piqued, but he said nothing, sitting on the chair offered to him.

“Can I get you anything while you wait?”

“A coffee would be great, thanks. Am I allowed to smoke in here?”

“In here, yes, but not downstairs. I’ll fetch an ashtray for you.”

Richard smiled, and thanked them. He took his packet of cigarettes from his jeans pocket, flipping the lid back and pulled one out. He fumbled around in his other pockets for his lighter, finally locating it in his jacket. He inhaled deeply as the cigarette caught light, holding on for a moment before exhaling steadily, the controlled action helping to keep his nerves steady. While he waited for his coffee to appear he started to run through possible scenarios in his head that might require the crasmats use.

A few short minutes later he was sipping his drink while Zoran explained the storyline for his sequence, and introduced his body double. They needed to practice wrestling moves together, and when they were confident with it they would move on to makeup ready for filming.

“Sounds good. How much time do we have to prepare?”

“I’m hoping we can get Ollie’s segment in the can in about an hour, it shouldn’t be much more than that. He’s in wardrobe and makeup now, so we’re scheduled to start in thirty minutes.”

“Hmmm, do you have a backup plan if we’re not ready in time?”

Zoran was surprised. He’d thought that Richard would insist that no-one else went before him.

“I suppose I could get someone else prepping just in case, but I’m confident that you’ll be ready in time.”

“Okay, well, I guess we better get down to work, then.” Richard said, smiling.

Zoran nodded and left, still bemused by Richard’s behaviour, putting it out of his mind as he descended to the warehouse floor, mentally preparing for directing the action.

*

Ollie and Richard’s segments were completed late morning, and Flake had been in wardrobe and makeup while Richard was being filmed. Zoran reminded Richard not to tell anyone about what he’d been doing, he wanted to wait until he’d completed the video, splicing the segments together, before they saw it. Richard nodded and left to rejoin the others. As he left he was followed out by the assistant with the clipboard who called for Paul to come in for his preparation.

Richard crossed over to where Schneider was waiting for his turn.

“Well then, love, tell me what you’ve been up to…”

“We’re not allowed to say, Zoki wants to keep it all secret until post-production is finished.”

“I’m sure I can find a way to make you talk,” Schneider replied with an evil grin.

Till laughed at Richard’s alarmed expression, equally curious as to what was going on beyond the closed door. The guitarist winced as he leant on the car, his muscles aching from having to throw his double several times before Zoran was happy with the takes he’d got. Schneider noticed immediately.

“Have you hurt yourself?”

“Just some sore muscles, one part of my segment was very physical.”

“I think I’ve got some gel to help with that in the car, I keep it handy for when I’ve been to the gym. Get in the car and I’ll apply it on you.”

Richard opened the passenger side door and slid into the seat, shutting the door out of habit. Schneider walked around to the opposite door and perched on his seat while he reached across to Richard’s side of the car in order to open the glovebox. It took a few seconds to locate the tube of gel, the small space was crammed full with what appeared to Richard to be junk.

“I must remember to get Paul to clear his stuff out of here, he leaves a mess wherever he goes. I think it’s a trait all you guitarists have.”

“Hey, not fair!” Richard complained, pouting.

Schneider unscrewed the cap, and started to squeeze a small amount out onto his fingertips.

“Tell me where it hurts, love.”

“My upper back between my shoulder blades, my shoulders and upper arms, my sides and the small of my back…”

“I don’t care what Zoran says, tell me what you’ve been doing that’s left you in pain.”

Schneider used the tone that Richard would recognise as a command from his master, and as carrying it out wouldn’t endanger either him or anyone else he knew he had to obey. Master’s commands took precedence over everything else. Schneider pulled his door shut so that Till couldn’t hear Richard’s response so that Zoran’s request wasn’t completely thrown out the window.

Suspecting that the couple might want a little bit of privacy Till approached Ollie who had wandered over to the catering truck their management had hired for the band and crew’s use.

Inside the car Richard had removed his t-shirt that he’d changed back into before leaving the set so that Schneider had unimpeded access to his torso. He grit his teeth as Schneider daubed the first bit of gel onto his back.

“So, out with it…” Schneider demanded.

“I was acting alongside a double, who acted as a mirror image. Zoki wanted to show the love/hate relationship I have with myself, so I had to wrestle with him and throw him onto the floor. It took quite a few takes before Zoki was happy with our performance. As I’ve not wrestled in a few years I’m not in the physical shape I was back then, so I’ve rediscovered a few muscles I forgot I had!” Richard replied, with a small laugh at the end which he immediately regretted.

Schneider had continued applying the gel while Richard spoke, rubbing it in so that the skin absorbed it faster.

“Was it just wrestling? You said love/hate… Wrestling covers the hate part. What about the love part?”

“Promise you won’t be mad at me?”

“Reesh, baby, whatever you did for the video I’m sure wasn’t anything that I could get mad at you for.”

“I had to kiss him…on the mouth…several times.”

Schneider smiled to himself behind Richard’s back. The fact that Richard felt guilty about kissing someone, even though it was a fake scenario, showed him that Richard’s training was definitely working.

“And did you enjoy kissing ‘yourself’?”

Richard looked horrified, turning his head to look back at Schneider.

“No! Of course not! I only enjoy kissing you!”

“Not Paul?”

“Well, yes, but only when you allow us to.”

“Sweetie, you can hug and kiss Paul anytime you know…”

“I know, but… I don’t know, I feel like I’m kinda cheating on you when we do.”

Schneider thought that was an interesting revelation, but shelved it for later. He placed a gentle kiss on Richard’s shoulder after he’d finished applying the gel.

“Put your shirt back on, love. When we get home I’ll draw a hot bath for you, or maybe give you a massage if you prefer.”

“Can’t I have both?”

“Who’s a greedy kitten, then?”

Richard put on his best pout, and batted his eyelashes at Schneider. “Please?”

“Awww, how could I possibly resist when you ask so nicely?”

Richard flashed him his biggest smile, knowing he was going to get his way.

Schneider shook his head ruefully. “Come on, baby, let’s get some lunch and sit somewhere more comfortable.”

*

While they were finishing up their meals – a burger for Richard, vegetable soup for Schneider - Flake wandered in with a hot sandwich, and took a seat opposite Till who was trying to get Ollie to crack and spill the beans on his segment.

“You’ll find out soon enough, I’m not going to tell you anything!”

“I’m sure I can find a way to make you talk…”

Ollie laughed, “Are you going to shine a spotlight on me, tie me to a chair, and parade around in jack-boots?”

“Would that work?” Till asked, amused.

“No, but it would be fun to watch!”

“Sounds like you’ve come up with an idea for a future video,” Flake interjected as he sat down.

“Possibly, although I’m not sure any imagery with Nazi overtones would go down well, with either the media or the public. We’ve only just managed to convince them that we’re not Nazi sympathisers, I think we should think very carefully before we tackle that subject.”

“That’s not like you to shy away from controversy, Till…”

“I know, but I think we have enough to deal with at the moment without stirring up that hornets nest.”

Flake shrugged, dismissively, and tucked into his sandwich before it could go cold. Paul arrived soon after, having completed his segment quickly, followed hot on his heels by Zoran. The producer addressed Schneider and Till.

“I’m sorry to keep you waiting, but we’ve made good progress this morning, so we’ll be able to get you on set as soon as the crew have had their lunch break. I’ve reviewed the rushes and I’m happy that we won’t need to reshoot any of the scenes from this morning, so you four…” Zoran addressed the other band members, “…can leave if you wish. If you can return here for nine tomorrow morning we can redo your wardrobe and makeup for the external shoot. We’ll be taking you to location in a minibus.”

Turning his focus back to Till and Schneider he continued before leaving, “I’ll send someone to bring you in when we’re ready for you.”

Schneider got up off the sofa he and Richard were sitting on and caught up with Zoran outside.

“Hey Zoki, do you have a moment?”

The shorter man stopped, turning to face the drummer. “Yes, what’s up?”

“As I’m going to be driving Richard home, he’s going to be waiting around in there possibly on his own, which isn’t a good idea, so would you mind if he comes in with me when it’s my turn? I’d like him to be close by just in case he has any issues.”

Zoran cocked his head to one side, studying Schneider’s face before responding.

“Something tells me that there’s more to your request than you’ve already said. Is it something I should be concerned about?”

“Not concerned, no, but we’d both appreciate your cooperation.”

“I see…” Zoran replied, intrigued. “… I know it’s none of my business, but is it anything to do with the bad press around his divorce?”

“Not directly, no.” Schneider looked around to make sure no one was close enough to overhear them, and lowered his voice. “You need to promise to keep this to yourself…” Zoran nodded, “Richard and I are in a relationship, and have been since he started his rehabilitation. He’s still having difficulty adjusting to being in recovery, so I need to be able to get to him quickly if he’s in distress.”

“Ah, I did wonder about his radical change of attitude, that explains it! Once I’ve got you on set I’ll have Simone fetch him to your dressing room, and have someone wait outside in case he wants anything. Will that be acceptable?”

“Perfect, thank you.”

“Good. We’ll be gearing up to start filming again in thirty minutes or so, I’ll be calling for you first. I’ll see you shortly.”

*

Richard was stretched out on his side on one of the sofas in the dressing room set aside for Schneider, eyes closed while he concentrated on breathing exercises to keep himself calm. Paul, Ollie and Flake had left after lunch, not seeing any point to waiting around until the end of filming so they decided to hit a bar before going home. Till had been called in for his preparation soon after Schneider, leaving Richard on his own in the office building. He was starting to get anxious when the female assistant asked him to follow her back into the warehouse.

Schneider was already down on the main floor ready for his performance when Richard arrived, hidden from view by the heavy black curtains. Richard could just about make out his voice, so felt reassured that his master was close by, and continued up to the dressing room after Simone. He had smoked his way through three cigarettes while he waited, and had reached the point where he thought a brief nap wouldn’t go amiss. It would help stave off the boredom and anxiety if nothing else.

He didn’t know how long he’d been asleep when he was woken up by a polite cough followed by an oddly familiar female voice.

“I don’t suppose you could lend a lady a cigarette, could you?”

When Richard opened his eyes, his face was on a level with a pair of stockinged legs. He followed the legs up past the knees to a tan coloured skirt, higher still to a matching jacket, then finally up to the face. He sat up quickly, eyes almost popping out of his head.

“Wow! You look…wow!”

Schneider smiled coyly, then booped Richard on the tip of his nose with a perfectly manicured finger. “Well, aren’t you just adorable?” he responded, maintaining the effeminate voice.

Richard laughed. “Yes, mistress! Can you ask if you can go home in that outfit?”

“Ooh, such a kinky little boy, aren’t you? Dirty boys like you deserve a good spanking! Now, be a gentleman and avert your eyes while I get changed…”

Richard laid back down, grinning, closing his eyes while Schneider started disrobing. He took an occasional peek through eyes opened just a crack, enjoying the extremely rare spectacle of Schneider removing his stockings and stuffed bra. Schneider caught him watching in the reflection of the mirror he was using to wipe his face clean of all the makeup, and smiled. It looked like gender role-play could be added to their activities, he’d have fun exploring that with Richard. He wondered how Paul would react when he saw him in costume in the morning. Before that, though, he needed to take his pet home and take care of his aches and pains.

Once he’d got his own clothes on Schneider folded the skirt suit and blouse carefully, placing them in a neat pile, with the stockings placed on top. The wig and jewellery he left on the dressing table in front of the mirror. Wardrobe would retrieve them after they left to store them ready for the shoot the following morning.

Schneider clicked his tongue to get Richard’s attention, the younger man sitting up and paying attention immediately as he’d been trained to.

“Come on, love, let’s get out of here so I can take proper care of you.”

Richard pushed up from the sofa with both hands, grimacing slightly as his muscles protested, which didn’t go unnoticed by his master. He followed him obediently down the metal stairs to the warehouse floor. As they neared the bottom Zoran emerged from behind the high curtains, on a brief break from filming Till’s scenes while the next segment was set up.

“Can I have a moment with Zoki before we go home?” Richard asked quietly.

“Of course, I’ll wait at the door for you…”

Richard nodded, and approached the director, who eyed him cautiously.

“Um, Zoki… I….er… I want to apologise for my behaviour the last time we worked together, I know I acted like a total bitch. I was dealing with some stuff and took it out on everyone around me, and well…I’m sorry.”

Zoran gave him a bearhug by way of response, squeezing the guitarist until he squeaked in submission.

“Thank you, I accept your apology. I’ve enjoyed working with you today, and look forward to tomorrow. Have a good night!”

Richard smiled. “Thanks, you too.”

He ambled over to where his master was waiting for him, both wished Simone a good evening as they left, headed for Schneider’s car. Doors shut and seatbelts fastened, Schneider praised Richard as he turned the key in the ignition.

“I’m really proud of you, kitten. I thought your apology to Jacob when we were in Spain was a one-off, so watching you just now as you said sorry to Zoki…you’ve come a long way since last summer.”

“Thank you, Master. It’s all down to you…”

“I can’t take all the credit sweetheart, I wouldn’t have been able to change your behaviours if you didn’t want to change yourself. Have you given any thought as to whether you would prefer a bath or massage?”

“As I’m feeling a bit tender, especially after that hug just now, I think the bath would be preferable tonight, maybe I could have the massage after work tomorrow?” Richard’s voice was hopeful.

Schneider smiled, concentrating on navigating through the busy evening rush-hour traffic before answering.

“We’ll have to see about that. If you’re a good boy tomorrow I’ll consider it. As for tonight we have the house to ourselves…Paul’s apparently on a pub crawl with Ollie and Flake and plans to be out overnight, it’ll do him some good to spend some time with them, he needs to get out more. You do too, but only when you feel ready. But back to tonight – do you feel like doing anything in particular?”

“Hmmm…to be honest, I feel too tired to do much of anything, can we just snuggle up and watch tv after my bath?”

“If that’s what you want, love, yes. What would you like for dinner?”

“Can we get a takeaway? It’s been ages since I’ve had a decent pizza or Chinese.”

“Take your pick. Pizza or Chinese? We can pullover to pick it up on the way home if you know what you want…”

“Pizza, please.”

“What topping?”

“Meat feast, please.”

Schneider snorted in amusement, “I should’ve guessed. Do you want garlic bread too?”

“Umm… I don’t know what Zoki wants us to do tomorrow, so I better not, just to be on the safe side, don’t want to reek of garlic…”

“That’s very considerate of you…okay, if you open the glovebox I think there’s a menu from my favourite pizza parlour. Can you call while I’m driving, and order a pepperoni for me, and tell them we’ll pick up. Use my nickname, they’ll know it’s for me.”

Richard leaned forward as far as his seatbelt would comfortably allow without a struggle, and depressed the catch on the glovebox. The hatch opened slowly, the small internal light flickering on to illuminate the contents. After a moment’s search Richard found and retrieved the menu Schneider had mentioned, and pulled his phone out of his pocket, dialling with one thumb.

*

When they arrived home they tucked in to their pizzas, swapping a couple of slices with each other for comparison, Richard sitting at the table on a rare occasion. Schneider was trying to encourage a little bit of ‘normalcy’ with a view to the possibility of a tour in support of the album’s release at the end of September.

The management team had been drawing up plans for a European tour starting in November in Mannheim, breaking off over the Christmas and New Year holidays, before resuming in February to continue all the way through the summer. Getting Richard outside while filming the videos was an easy way to return him to the public eye without placing too much focus on him individually. Being back together acting as a group was helping to keep him grounded.

After they’d finished eating Richard tidied the kitchen up, disposing of the pizza boxes, washing their mugs and putting them away while Schneider ran a bath for him. He waited for the puppy to come back in from the garden, having let it out so it didn’t poop in the house, the excitable quadruped bounding back in and running in circles around Richard’s legs. He locked the back door, put the pup in its basket, turned off the kitchen light and made his way upstairs, at a slower pace than normal because of his aches, and flopped backwards onto the bed.

“Ugh…do we have to go to work tomorrow?”

Schneider popped his head around the bathroom door and laughed quietly at the sight of his pet sprawled on top of the bed in dramatic fashion.

“If you want to keep buying nice guitars and go on holidays abroad then yes, we do have to go to work tomorrow.”

“Don’t wanna!” Richard replied, sounding like a petulant four year old.

“Come on sweetheart, I’ve run you a nice warm bath, let’s get you all squeaky clean and then you can go to bed!”

Richard huffed, propping himself up on his elbows, but not making it any further upright. Schneider rolled his eyes, turned the bath taps off, and after checking the water temperature again crossed into the bedroom. He took hold of one of Richard’s legs and pulled off the boot and sock before letting the leg go and doing the same on the other. Leaning over Richard’s lower half from the edge of the bed he unbuckled the guitarist’s belt, sliding it free from the loops, moved on to undo the button and zipper on his jeans, then, with Richard raising his hips slightly to help, pulled the jeans free from his pet.

“Sit up, love, let’s finish getting you undressed.”

Richard grumbled but made the effort to obey, knowing he could only go so far before Schneider decided he would need punishment. As he lifted his arms for Schneider to pull his t-shirt up over his head the muscles in his back complained, making him inhale sharply. Discarding the shirt, Schneider got Richard to stand up and turn around so he could check for signs of bruising.

“Hmm, you’ve got a couple of small bruises, but you may have strained some muscles. I’ve got some more of that muscle rub in the bathroom cabinet, I’ll apply that once you’re dry. Knickers off, and bath-time, step to it…”

Schneider eased Richard’s briefs down and let them drop to the floor, running his fingers over the younger man’s torso then round his back to squeeze his buttocks gently while he kissed him on the lips. Releasing him, Schneider gently nudged him towards the bathroom.

“Go and get in while I undress, I’ll join you in a moment.”

The guitarist shuffled forward obediently, swung one leg over the side of the bath and dipped his toes in cautiously. Finding the bath to be just the right temperature he planted his foot down, and stepped fully in, gripping the edges as he lowered himself in to the deliciously warm water. He let out a small sigh as he submerged himself up to his chest, the heat and the steam already working to undo the knots in his muscles and brain.

It didn’t take long for Schneider to join him, moving to sit behind him so he could sponge down his back and shoulders, the liquid soap creating a lather as it mixed with the water. Schneider washed his pet clean with slow, gentle movements, making sure he didn’t miss anywhere, reaching around him with his long arms to rub the sponge in circles starting with Richard’s chest, moving down over his stomach and abdomen, then carefully running it over Richard’s cock.

He passed the sponge to Richard so he could clean his legs, while Schneider ran a flannel over his own body, being rather more vigorous with his own ablutions. Satisfied they were both clean again, Schneider got up out of the bath, drying himself off quickly, then helping Richard climb out, wrapping him in a dry fluffy towel.

“Do you feel better for that, sweetheart?”

“A little, yes, thank you.”

“Only a little?” Schneider asked, eyebrow raised, as he gently rubbed the younger man dry, taking care not to miss anywhere.

“I’m still achey, Master.”

“Poor kitten! I’ll get that cream out….”

Schneider turned to the cabinet, opening one of its mirrored doors and reaching for a tube on the bottom shelf. He unscrewed the cap and squeezed out a small amount onto the tips of his fingers.

“Where does it hurt, love?”

Following Richard’s directions, Schneider applied the cream to the areas causing him the most discomfort. Making sure it was absorbed properly before they left the bathroom, Schneider took hold of Richard’s hand and led him over to the bed.

“Would you like to watch something on tv, or would you prefer to do something else?”

“Hmmm… I’m not sure I could concentrate long enough to watch anything… can we just snuggle together?”

“Of course, my love. If that’s what you want.”

He waited for Richard to settle himself in the centre of the bed before slipping under the covers next to him. He propped himself up with pillows so he was partially upright, then put his arm around Richard pulling him close. The guitarist sighed happily as he nestled in his lover’s embrace, resting his head against Schneider’s muscular chest, his eyes closed as he started to relax.

“Can you read to me until I fall asleep?”

“The only thing I’ve got in reach is a drum magazine, it’ll be boring for you…”

“Not with you reading it, it won’t be…”

Schneider gave a small laugh. “Flatterer!”

He took hold of the magazine and flipped through the pages to an article discussing the merits of different types of wood for making various drum shells and started to read. It didn’t take long for his pet to gradually drop off to sleep, his gentle regular breathing tickling Schneider’s chest hairs when he exhaled. Smiling to himself Schneider continued reading the article silently, setting the magazine down when he’d done, and switching off his bedside lamp once he’d set the alarm for morning.

*

Schneider woke up before the alarm went off, with a crick in his neck from the position he’d fallen asleep in. He frowned when he realised he was alone in the bed, and there wasn’t any sign that Richard was in the bathroom. He was about to get concerned when he heard the loose board on one of the stairs creak as it moved under someone’s weight. He made a mental note to fix that as soon as possible, although it would be a pain pulling up the carpet to do it. Maybe it was time for redecorating anyway, make it feel more like home for Richard by letting him choose the new carpet and wallpaper. Although there was a good chance that he’d choose something in black and red, he mused, smiling.

“Good morning, Master. I hope I didn’t disturb you when I got up…”

“Good morning to you too, kitten. Don’t worry, I’ve only just woken up. What are you doing up so early?”

“The puppy was whining and scratching at the kitchen door. He needed to go pee, so I let him out, then put him his breakfast down. He’s gone back to his basket now.”

“Come back to bed, sweetheart, you deserve a reward for being such a thoughtful kitty, even though you should’ve woken me to look after the puppy - I’m supposed to be taking care of you, remember?”

“I know, Master, but I like looking after the puppy. He’s so small and cute… like Paul!” he added, with a mischievous grin.

Schneider laughed. “Naughty kitten, making fun of Paul – I should spank you!”

Richard climbed onto the bed and crawled over to Schneider, laying himself across his lap presenting him with his naked backside ready for spanking, making his Master laugh again. He gave his pet a few quick, light smacks across both buttocks, just enough to turn them a light pink hue, and to make his pet squeak with each impact.

“That definitely seems like I’ve just rewarded you, rather than disciplining you! How are you feeling this morning? Any soreness or stiffness, other than the obvious?”

“Only a little bit, Master. That bath and cream last night really helped. I’m sure you can think of something to help ease the ‘obvious’ stiffness you mentioned…”

“Someone’s definitely in a playful mood this morning! I’m not sure we should do anything energetic though, we don’t know how much Zoki will ask us to do today, and I don’t want to risk aggravating your injuries from yesterday.”

Richard pushed himself up onto all fours then sat back on his heels, pouting, the ‘obvious stiffness’ bobbing slightly with his movements, now on full display for his master. Schneider gave his pet’s erection a slow stroke, making Richard shudder, and whimper softly.

“Hmm, I guess we could still do something about that, though… lie down on your back, baby…”

*

A couple of hours later they were back at the warehouse where filming had taken place the previous day, in separate rooms having their wardrobe, hair, and makeup taken care of. The other four band members were being similarly prepared in other rooms in the building. When they had all arrived Zoran gave them a brief outline of what he wanted them to do when arrived at the Deutsche Oper u-bahn exit in the centre of Bismarckstraße.

This was the first time that the other four had been told that Schneider would be cross dressing in order to play the role of dominatrix, which of course had set them all off into fits of laughter, aware of the fact that Schneider wouldn’t need to do much in the way of acting to be a Dom. Then there was the revelation that the other five of them would be her ‘pups’, which sparked another round of laughter, though not from either Richard or Schneider.

“Who suggested that idea to you, Zoki?” The drummer demanded, voice level as he tried to contain his anger.

Zoran was taken aback by Schneider’s demeanour, not knowing why there was an issue.

“Nobody! It was all my idea. Why, is there a problem?”

“So no-one put you up to this?”

Till stepped in to save the confused director. “Calm down, Doom, I promise you that nobody said anything to Zoki about possible scenarios for the video. It’s all his own ideas… Zoki, can you give us a few minutes?”

Zoran nodded, and left the group in the office building adjacent to the warehouse, looking up at the morning sky to judge the lighting conditions that he would be working with when they got to location. Inside, meanwhile, the band members were assuring Schneider that the Dom and pups idea came solely from Zoran’s imagination. When he was finally satisfied that that was indeed the case, Schneider had to persuade Richard to play the role of a pup to the best of his ability, reassuring him that it was just for the video, and that he was still his kitten.

The others had left the office so that the pair could talk privately, and were able to reassure Zoran that everything would be fine, that Schneider was just being protective around Richard, making sure the guitarist wouldn’t be put in a situation he might be uncomfortable with, without explaining why Zoran’s suggestion might be a sensitive subject for the guitarist.

Fortunately Zoran was wise enough not to ask questions, and was just glad that the shoot would be going ahead. Without the segment they were due to film, the video would be lacking an integral part, which would probably have resulted in a completely different video to be shot, wasting precious time and money. He heaved a small sigh of relief as the missing couple emerged from the office and crossed to join them.

“Okay, let’s do this…” Schneider said, signalling that everything should be fine from now on, “…get going, doggies!” The last bit was said in Schneider’s affected effeminate voice.

The five ‘pups’ all filed in to the warehouse, each led off by an assistant to get into character for the video. Zoran gave a small laugh.

“Looks like you’re all getting into the spirit of it, I could almost believe that you’re a Dominatrix in real life!”

Schneider smiled enigmatically, stepping through the warehouse doorway behind the director.