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His ears were ringing. His entire body was filled with this intense, burning pain.

This was it. This is where he died. Outside of Mordhaus, broken and bloody, with nobody around. He failed. He could no longer protect the boys.

The only thing he hoped was that they were okay. He did all he could amongst the commotion, and he knew that there were hundreds of klokateers to defend them. But what if it wasn't enough?. Adrenaline was the only thing keeping him conscious right now, while the assassin punched him over and over-- all while telling him how he planned on torturing him to death. It was pretty bittersweet, honestly. After their last confrontation he never thought he would be bested by him again. His guard had been down, though. Which was his own fault. Things can happen in a split second-- he knew that. He should have... done more. Should have dodged that arrow somehow. Took a different route. Stayed with the band. Why did he let this happen? Who was supposed to take care of them in his absence?.

Not to be rude, but he couldn't see them coping very well on their own. Would their label just give them a new Manager? Would they be as capable as he was? As brave? As intelligent?. He was.. certainly talking highly of himself right now-- but it wasn't like he was wrong. He was more than confident that he was the best man for this job. He was having his doubts that anyone could match his standards. But he was wasting his precious time. The time he had left. His last moments would be him worrying over things he couldn't control. He was dying how he lived, ironically enough. Worrying.

The knife on his cheek felt like nothing compared to the rest of his abuse his body had taken, but he could feel the blood ooze from the wound and drip down his cheek. This man was an idiot. His body would give out well before he got the chance to properly torture him. He still couldn't understand the assassin's motive. His brother's death was an accident. It wasn't the band's fault he clearly wasn't good at his job. Killing them would not bring him back. Revenge was.. a weird concept to Charles. He understood it to an extent. But the theme of 'a life for a life' seemed counterproductive if anything. You don't trade one life in for another. All you end up with is more dead bodies and more people to grieve. Not an effective method at all.

He had no more energy. His adrenaline was running low. He could feel his eyes get heavy, as his limbs went numb and his mouth closed. These were his final moments. Slowly, his body would give out and his organs would shut down. One by one. All starting with his heart. He couldn't even form fully coherent thoughts anymore. Nothing hurt, at the very least. It was just.. fuzzy. Like he was floating on a cloud in the sky, far away from all of this chaos and torture. A happy place for him to finally relax. To rest his head. Just... sleep.

But suddenly there was a loud 'thunk', and his body fell to the ground as the assassin tumbled a few feet away. He couldn't open his eyes. But he heard a familiar voice say "That's my bread and butter you're fucking with" and subconsciously recalled it as Nathan's. That meant he was okay. But then there was.. a strangled gasp. A shriek yell. Panicked footsteps. It was... someone else. He still couldn't will his eyes open. He was just... so, so tired. He wanted to sleep. To stop worrying. To stop being in pain. Forever.

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Pickles felt like he was in a haze. He had successfully protected the master record with Skwisgaar, and they were now running around the burning rubble attempting to find the others. It wasn't long before they found Nathan and Toki, and Murderface followed suit. But.. they were missing someone. Someone important. Someone that should be here right now.

It was Charles. Where was Charles?

A search party immediately took place, since the main threat seemed to disappear thanks to the sacrifice and help of.. many, many klokateers. So many people lost their lives defending them. It was something that Pickles desperately tried not to think about. The klokateers were people with thoughts and feelings, and.. knowing that these people died because of THEM was both brutal and incredibly saddening. It was best to ignore it. To try his best not to acknowledge them as people. He was more concerned about finding Charlie than their potential body count anyway.

Nathan found him first. Pickles couldn't see it right away, due to the thick smoke surrounding the outside of Mordhaus. All he heard was a thud, Nathan speak, and an even louder thud. He slowly inched his way forward, looking over the vocalists' shoulder to see what was going on. It was.. Charles. Well, whatever was left of him. He couldn't tell if he was even still alive. He was in fucking horrible shape. That big dude really did a number on him. Oh no. Oh fuck. This cannot be happening to him. He's already lost enough-- he... he can't lose him too. Please. God, no.

A strangled cry was the first noise to leave his throat, and he began to storm over before feeling a grip on his wrist from Nathan. "Pickles, you don't want to do that." He whispered, and all Pickles did was scream and shake his head before FORCING himself out of the other man's grasp to sit down beside Charles' body. He began to feel around for a pulse, but had no idea where to look. If there was one, it was.. weak. He couldn't tell if he was feeling a pulse or his own heart was beating so aggressively that it was radiating to the tips of his fingers. Tears began to well up in his eyes, and he took one of Charles' hands to clutch it against his chest with both of his own. This was happening, wasn't it? This was really happening, as much as he desperately did not want it to. It was too soon. It was WAY too soon.

"Ahfdensen.. fuck, I mean Charles." He knew that now wasn't the time for formalities. He most likely didn't have a lot of time left with him, and he knew he needed to get out the important shit before it was too late. "I, fuck, I don't know if yew can hear me or nawt.. but..." He kept pausing to sniffle and hold back his sobs, cursing every two seconds just so he could continue without losing his mind. He really wasn't ready for something like this. Hell, he never even considered NEEDING to be ready for something like this. It all felt like a bad dream that he was trying to wake up from.

With another deep breath he squeezed Charles' hand even harder, shaking like a leaf in the wind. "I am.. so.. so gawddamn in love with yew, dood. I'm sawry that I waited so damn long." There it was. He could hear a few shocked gasps from behind him aside from Nathan, who flashed him an understanding smile but made sure to keep his distance. He'd called a medic helicopter already, and there were a few klokateers on standby ready to take Charles away. Whether they were transferring him into a body bag or not was to be determined. But Pickles didn't even notice. He was stuck staring at the love of his life's face, all bloodied and horrible. He couldn't help but feel he still looked beautiful, though. In a fucked up way. "Yer... just tha best person I've ever met. I.. dunno what I'm gonna do without yew. Please, please don't leave me." It was becoming harder and harder to keep his composure, and tears began to fall down his face.

Pickles leaned down to hover over Charles' face, a pained smile gracing his lips. "I promise that you'll be the only man I'll ever love, kay? Yer.. the fackin love of my life. I'm so sorry.." He pressed a tender kiss to his lips, and it was upon pulling away that his arm was being tugged on by Nathan again. "Pickles. They need to uh.. take him. Come on." He went up without a fight, letting go of Charles' hand and bringing his own up to touch his lips whilst he was whisked away. He could have SWORN that Charles kissed him back. He... must be losing it. He was dead, right? There was no way. Denial WAS always the hardest stage to get over, after all.

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He couldn't handle the funeral. It still felt like it was a bad dream. Charles would be in his office again, doing whatever the fuck he did, and everything would be fine.

But it never was. Every morning since that night, he checked the office for any signs of life and was left with nothing. Charles was never there. They wouldn't even let him see the body, actually. He kept asking every person he could think of-- but was denied each time. He was even told that Charles' face would be covered during his funeral, since the wounds had apparently gotten worse and he was in no shape to be shown off to the public. He was being denied a proper goodbye, and it fucking wrecked him. So he drank. A lot. Did every drug he could find.

During the funeral he was barely able to stand up straight, and had to be wrangled away in tears by Nathan when he tried to remove the bag over Charles' face. Why wasn't he allowed to see him? Why were they keeping Charles from him? Charles was the love of his life! He DESERVED to see him one last time.

He ended up leaving the funeral early, locking himself in his bedroom and pulling out a bottle of pills from the bedside drawer. He didn't bother reading the label. He just.. popped them in his mouth like they were candy. They made him feel nice and fuzzy, just drifting away to his happy place where everything was fine again. A place where Charles was alive, with him, and they were able to live their lives in love like they should have. A place where they got married and grew old together. It was when he was coming down from the pills that his thoughts turned sour again. If he had just told Charles how he felt sooner, maybe he would still be alive. It wasn't a very logical conclusion, seeing as his feelings for the man wouldn't have changed the outcome of the assassin and the revengencers. Grief was a funny thing. When you experienced a loss, it always felt like your fault somehow.

Toki had come by to see him after the funeral was over, equally as upset due to being an overall sensitive guy. Pickles had offered him drugs but he awkwardly refused, not as capable of handling strange substances as the drummer was. Eventually he broke down into sobs, going on and on about Charles to which the rhythm guitarist only smiled and nodded. This was all so fucked. He couldn't even have a proper conversation with anyone now. All he did was cry and drink and talk about how he lost the only person that truly made him feel alive. Over and over. Toki ended up leaving as Pickles passed out mid-sob, unable to handle seeing him that way. None of them could. But any of their efforts to brighten his spirits were futile.

Pickles woke up sometime in the middle of the night, knocking empty beer bottles out of his bed as he slid on some slippers and stumbled down the long hallway. He found himself in front of what used to be Charles' sleeping chambers, breaking in with ease and turning on the light. It was still untouched. The klokateers hadn't gone through with putting away his things yet, so it currently looked just how it did before the party. The attack. His.... death. That word still stung when he did so much as think it. He was still in the denial stage sometimes. Mostly the anger stage, though. He would yell at anyone that tried to bring up Charles. As far as he was concerned, only was allowed to utter his name. No one else was deemed worthy.

He made a beeline for the closet and flung it open, looking at all the neatly hung shirts and jackets and pants. It was so organized. Clean. The exact opposite of what Pickles represented. He grabbed one of Charles' old button up shirts and held it out in front of him, furrowing his eyebrows and undoing the buttons before throwing it on his own body. It was a tiny bit long for his arms, bunching up around the wrists. But he felt content. Almost like, in a weird way, he was getting a hug from Charles himself. A part of him lived on through his items. As if his spirit was inhabiting them. It was far from being as good as the real thing, but it would have to do from now on.

Dragging his now heavy feet over to the nearby bed he ended up snuggling himself under the sheets, turning off the nearby lamp and passing out cold. In Charles' shirt. In Charles' bed.

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He heard it all. Felt it all. He was conscious at the time, but not enough to... do anything about it. He heard Pickles' sobs. His confession. He felt the squeezes on his hand. He felt the kiss on his lips. All of it.

Internally, he had been screaming. Wanting to wake up and just tell him how he felt. That he loved him too. That he was sorry he couldn't do a better job. That he wished things could be different. But it was no use. All too quickly Pickles' presence had disappeared and he was back in isolation. Fading quicker than before. His last thoughts before blacking out completely were about Pickles. How was he feeling? Would he be alright? Would he be safe?. Sirens filled his ears before there was a sharp silence. Blackness. Nothingness.

He was told he died. Not for too long, but long enough. There was, somehow, no lasting brain damage. It wasn't easy to bring him back, he had been told. But he was special. He was the Dead Man. Part of a prophecy. It was too much for him to get his head around now, but he was told more would be explained when he was nursed back to full health. His primary concern was Pickles. The rest of the band. He kept asking about them, asking when he could go back. But he was told it would be a long while before he could do that. There was something more important he needed to prepare himself for.

A mission. A long one. But it was.. for them. It would protect them.

When they needed him the most-- he would know. He would go back to them.

Go back to Pickles.

Chapter Text

Pickles glanced down at the palm of his hand, which was filled with another handful of random drugs. He had always gone a little bit overboard when it came to drugs and alcohol, but people were actually starting to become worried about him. It HAD to be excessive if people were starting to wonder if someone like Pickles was okay. Even Murderface was starting to check on him.

But he was far from okay. Polar opposite of it. Everyone that looked at him for only a second could see that. It was written all over his face. In his body language. Hell, he didn't even have the energy to PRETEND to be happy anymore. In most situations he was able to plant a grin on his lips, crack a few jokes, have no one be the wiser to his silent plight. They hadn't even tried to do any public appearances, or work on the album. Apparently the head of the label had fallen ill and his son was in charge during his absence, and he was already being a goddamn nightmare to deal with. Their funds were depleting. They felt lost. Pickles was on the verge of death with all the torture he was putting his body through.

He reached under his shirt collar and pulled out the small locket he had purchased shortly after Charles' death, sitting cross legged on his bed. His eyes darted between the handful of pills and the photo of his lover-- although lover wasn't the correct term. They had never gotten to that point before his death. For all Pickles knew, the feelings hadn't even been returned. Not that it could be cleared up now. One of the worst parts of it all was the fact he would never know how Charles felt about him. Was he reminiscing on some worthless, one-sided love? Or had their been potential to become something much more, after all?.

The pills went down his throat and he chased them with the bottle of whiskey he kept at his bedside table at all times, falling back against the pillows and still clutching that locket in his fist. Charles was too good for this world, and he knew that. But he didn't care. He didn't deserve to die like that. Every night, all Pickles could think about was how Charles had felt in the moments prior to his death. All the pain he must have been in. The thoughts running through his head as everything began to fade to black. Did he think about Pickles at all during that time? It sounded a bit vain to be wondering something like that, but that was one of the many little things that tortured his soul over.. all of it. So many questions that would forever go unanswered. He would never get over it. This would probably be the thing he would be thinking about when HE inevitably came to an end.

Suicide had crossed his mind. Quite a few times, actually. It wasn't as if he had a whole lot to lose from it. His family never bothered to contact him (unless it was Seth wanting another 'loan' which he never paid back). The band.. well, that was the one thing that made him hesitate. He knew the members themselves would adjust without him. But the band as a whole would suffer. Pickles wouldn't consider himself to be the BEST drummer out there-- but finding someone that fit in with Dethklok was a different can of worms. Then there was the fans. Imagine the death toll on them if they found out the drummer of their favourite band had taken his own life. Pickles would indirectly be responsible for many, many lives. Even in death that would not be something he was comfortable with. But there was the chance to be with Charles again. It was always inciting.

Maybe one day he would get the courage to do it. Maybe.

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Charles had been briefed on everything the moment he was able to walk again, and he was having a very hard time comprehending all of it. His new mission was to keep an eye on the tribunal's new project-- which was named Falconback. It was being overseen by a brainwashed General Crozier. Little was known about the main goal of the project, which is why the church had sent Charles undercover to find out. Since he was now deemed the 'Dead Man', he was (or so he was told) invisible to Salacia. This made him the perfect person to follow the projects every move-- to gather Intel, possibly find out who else was involved, when it was going to happen. This mission would span the course of almost nine months, and he was also banned from having any direct contact with the band.

He did hear about them, though. They were having conflicts with Damien, a man Charles remembered from their first meeting with Crystal Mountain Records. He was Roy Cornickelson's son, who was the founder and head executive. He had fallen ill and his son had temporarily taken his place, and was apparently putting Dethklok through hell. The man Nathan had punched in the face, too. Broke his tooth. He was recalling the last words he said to them, being "You'll be sorry for that you son of a bitch! I'll never fucking forget you did this!". It was obvious that he hadn't. Pretty impressive to hold a grudge for so long, though.

But the entire situation worried Charles. Damien wasn't exactly a genius, but he knew Dethklok had no real knowledge of contracts and overall legal practices. He DID try to teach them about it multiple times-- but they usually fell asleep or called him a robot before he had the chance to finish. Damien was feeding on their ignorance. Charles knew he had cut off the label money until they were 'willing to renegotiate', and the band was currently falling right into financial turmoil. Their money would eventually run out for good. Then they would be faced with a choice: to go bankrupt, or renegotiate the contract on Damien's terms. Charles wasn't around to read the contact Damien had drawn up-- but he knew it would NOT lean in Dethklok's favor.

He had gathered files and files of Intel toward the project in his nine month absence. He found himself sifting through all of it when the door to his room opened, and he was approached by the High Holy Priest, Ishnifurus. "Ah, hello." He heard himself mutter, organizing the files and placing them in a neat pile beside himself. There was a long silence as the man took a few careful steps toward him, and Charles rose an eyebrow while waiting for him to speak. "You must go back, Charles." Ishnifurus' voice seemed to echo off the walls, and even caused a shudder to move through Charles' body. This was it? He was just.. supposed to go back now? How was he expected to do that? It had been so long. He was scared. Nervous. So many things could go wrong.

Always the worrier.

"The band needs you. You cannot stay here any longer. You have collected more than enough information for us to research." He continued, watching the expression on Charles' face and holding out his hand. Charles took his hand and stood up, wobbling a bit due to the nerves. Were they in trouble? Did this have anything to do with the contract being waved in front of their faces?. "I understand. I, ah, am grateful for your help. I wish you luck in... this." He made a vague hand gesture as he spoke, since he still found himself not completely understanding the grand scheme of things. He would in due time. But for now, all of his thoughts and energy were going toward the band. He needed to get back to Mordhaus and fix whatever mess they had gotten themselves into before it was too late.

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Charles glanced up at the walls of Mordhaus, noting that they had never gotten around to fully finishing the renovations. Must have run out of money before they could (and spent the money they DID have making poor design decisions). There were significantly less klokateers than he remembered there being. That most likely was in direct relation to the rumors of money problems. He sauntered through the large front doors to.. silence. Total silence. Where were they?. Was he already too late? He sighed and began to look around for someone that could help, finally coming across a few employees that hadn't given up yet. Who knows the last time they had been paid.

"Where are the boys? It's important I speak to them immediately." He snapped, running a hand through his hair as his gaze seemed to be in multiple directions at once. Charles didn't really look like himself, and even the klokateers seemed shocked to see him without his suit and tie. They weren't surprised at him being alive, though. They were all informed of his condition when he reached the church, and had been told to under NO circumstances tell the band he was alive. They were to act like he was dead until they heard otherwise. "They are playing a show, sire. I will fetch you the information." The hooded figures then rushed off, and returned with a piece of paper.

Most expensive concert, huh? That didn't sound good. Then again, when did they ever make good decisions without him?.

Charles made a few orders and inquiries, promised the remaining klokateers he would have their pay sorted by tomorrow afternoon, and jumped on a private jet. He had a very limited time window to fix this mess, and he was still PRAYING that it wasn't too late. The moment they signed that contract there was nothing he could do. He could attempt to take Damien to court and fight him tooth and nail to change it back-- but it wan't something he was particularly fond of trying to do. Fighting with the (current) head of their record label was harder than it sounded. Contracts were legally binding documents and he knew that Damien would triple check there was not one mistake in it. They would be... fucked, for lack of a more eloquent term.

The jet landed and Charles all but ran off of it, hearing the distant yelling of an angry mob. The fans. The lights were shut off. He could see the stage set up nearby-- and the band was not on it. He looked around from his elevated location and could see a building close to the stage-- which had a light on. They must be in the middle of renegotiating. If he can just get there before they sign...

He broke out in a sprint toward the building, glad they were close enough to do so. His heart was pounding against this chest. So much was riding on this right now. Dethklok's future was hanging by a thread, and it all came down to how quickly Charles could run. He wiped some sweat from his forehead as he finally reached the door, taking a few deep breaths to get himself under control before he burst in there. The band thought he was dead. The entire WORLD thought he was dead right now. His arrival would be more than a small shock. Hopefully that worked in his favor right now.

With one final breath he pushed open the door, finding his gaze falling directly onto... Pickles.

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They were fucked. They were SO fucked. They had negotiated contracts before, sure. But they had no time for that now. There were a LOT of angry fans out there, and the longer they took in here, the higher chance there was of a full-blown riot breaking out. Millions in damages. A good handful of fatalities. All that fun stuff. Usually, Pickles would be proud of something like that. But after Charles' death-- he viewed things a bit differently. Much more jaded than he was before. Honestly just.. the less bullshit they had to deal with, the better. Even if it meant having little to no freedom with their label. Probably had some fine print where they would have to pump out an album at least every two years, constant tours where the label took a massive cut of the revenue, less finances to play around with. Pickles just didn't care anymore. Without Charles, none of this shit even mattered to him.

He watched silently as Nathan finally picked up the pen, and hesitated before starting to bring it down toward the dotted line. But, just as he was about to write the 'N'-- the unthinkable happened.

The door swung open, and someone stepped inside. Pickles' eyes widened to the size of dinner plates as he fixated his gaze onto the man, and realized who it was.

It was Charles. Was it Charles? This couldn't... be happening. He felt frozen in place as he looked back at him, only looking away when he heard Nathan grunt and deck Damien in the face which made him fall on his ass. Charles took a few steps forward and told them not to worry. To just go play the show. He would 'deal' with Damien and the other executives in the room with them. This roughly translated to 'guaranteed threats towards their lives, promises to follow through with those threats, and forcing them to change their minds on renegotiating'. Charles was tougher than he looked. The guy had, quite literally, beat death. Or maybe he never was dead in the first place.

Pickles had so much he wanted to say to him but followed the rest of the band back to the stage, where power was restored and they were able to play their 'most expensive show' without any other problems. He was smiling the entire time. He couldn't stop. Charles, HIS Charles, was back. For good, hopefully. They really.. needed to talk. He needed to find out just how much he heard when he was laying on the ground at Mordhaus. Did he know about how Pickles felt? Or was he really just.. out cold. Maybe that was for the best. Pickles was a complete disaster and, admittedly, Charles deserved someone better than him. It hurt to admit-- but he knew it was true. Look at him. He couldn't handle being sober for any long period of time. He couldn't handle not having Charles around without being on the verge of death himself. Why would he want to be with someone like Pickles, anyway?. Either way, all the cared about was Charles being alive and well. That was more than enough to make him happy.

The show ended and they had all been loaded onto a jet, Charles no longer being in his casual attire and was now dressed in the suit and tie that the boys were used to. After they had asked about his whereabouts the past nine months he simply told them he would explain everything soon enough, which appeared to satisfy the rest of the band as they wandered off to relax before they landed back at Mordhaus. But Pickles stayed put, twirling one of his dreads nervously with his finger before clearing his throat. "Hey, uh, Charlie?" He piped out, and he watched as their Manager turned around to look at him with an unreadable expression. "What can I help you with?" He mumbled, although there was a sparkle in his eyes that showed he already knew what it was. Maybe he did hear everything.

"When... we thought yew were dead.. I told yew thet---" he began to say but was cut off by Charles, who was now smiling at him. He almost never smiled. This was.. different. "I know, Pickles. I, ah, heard you. Did you mean all of it? Or was it simply something you said because you were under the impression I was dying?" He was closer now, maybe 10 inches away. Close enough to get a good look at his face. The scar on his cheek. The cologne he had put on while he was changing outfits. Pickles could feel his cheeks heat up, and he found himself staring down at his sneakers since he couldn't handle making eye contact again. This was too real-- and it scared him. "Yeh. I mean, thinkin' yew were dead helped me say it. But I meant it, dood." He was really bad with this mushy love bullshit. It was easier when Charles wasn't conscious to reply to him. "I kno it's not.. perfessional or whatever. I geddit if ya don' feel the same--"

In the blink of an eye Charles had his arms around Pickles' waist and their lips were pressed together, and Pickles felt himself melting against the other man's chest during it. Kisses were a lot better when they other person wasn't basically dead. They pulled away after a few sweet moments, and they both panted softly while trying to figure out what to say next. "I have strong feelings for you, Pickles. I always have. It would... make me very, ah, happy, if you would be willing to explore taking it further." Charles was always so fuckin' awkward-- but Pickles loved it. That was the sweetest thing anyone had ever said to him. He brought a hand up to Charles' cheek, thumb running over his cheek bone and very lightly dancing over the scar. "Yeh, 'course. Pardon my language or whatever, but the moment we land, I want ya to fack my brains out. Ya know where to find me." He grinned and pulled away, laughing at Charles' deer-in-headlights look as he wandered off to find the rest of the guys.

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As they got back to Mordhaus, the rest of the boys went back to their own bedroom quarters. They were exhausted. Everyone was. Except for.. Pickles. He had enough energy to run a factory. Nearly bouncing off the walls as he waited for Charles to finish up whatever boring business shit he was doing. He meant it when he said he wanted Charles to have sex with him when they got home. They should probably discuss dates and stuff first-- but Pickles wasn't like that. In his defense, they had a lot of time to make up for. What better way than to bone until you couldn't move anymore? Ah, romance.

Charles entered the house and looked over at Pickles, raising an eyebrow and doing a quick check that none of the other members were nearby. "Mine or yours?" he whispered into the drummers ear, and Pickles grinned before taking the manager's hand. "Think we should test out how durable yer bed is, chief." He replied in a sing-song voice, dragging the two of them toward Charles' bedroom with a skip in his step. Oh, he hadn't been this happy in months. Hell, years. It was one thing to be spending time with Charles-- but it was an entirely different thing to be writhing in his bed and moaning his name.

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Charles looked over as he collapsed onto the bed, noticing Pickles was still fairly alert and chipper as ever. The moonlight seemed to perfectly show off his body, and he watched the drummer roll onto his side so they were facing each other. "I missed yew, Charlie." He mumbled, grabbing his hand and intertwining their fingers together. He smiled back at him, giving his hand a gentle squeeze and moving closer to even tangle their legs amongst each other. He really needed this. Part of him regretted not doing something about his feelings sooner. But there was no point in dreading the past. The only thing that mattered now was the future.

Their future.

"But I will be SO pissed if ya decide---" he began to scold him again but was cut off with another kiss, which seemed to turn him into a puddle of mush and forget how to speak for a while. Charles ran his hand along Pickles' side, stopping at his hip and rubbing small circles against it (he was tempted to slip between his legs and get Pickles hard again-- but he was too exhausted. Charles was a secret pervert, okay?). "I won't. I promise that I won't leave you alone again. It was... something I had to do at the time. But from now on, you can have me around as much as you like." he meant it. Charles was a man of his word, so if he promised something-- you could count on it. More binding than any legal document you could procure.

That seemed to satisfy Pickles, who nodded a bit and finally yawned. Charles thought he would never get tired. Guess a lot of... ah, sex, will do that to you (they had a few rounds. Like Pickles said, they had a lot of time to make up for). "Mkay. I really do love yew, ya know. Glad yer back." There was a crooked smile on his lips, the one that made Charles feel all tingly inside. He was still shocked that someone loved him. For.. well, his entire life he had felt unlovable. At least nothing further than familial love. It was something nice for him to get used to.

He buried his face in the crook of Pickles' neck, draping the blanket over their bodies and making a mental note to book them a nice dinner in the morning. Pickles deserved it.

"I love you too, Pickles. I love you too."

They then both drifted off to sleep-- tangled in each others arms and.. happy.

So fucking happy.