Flake crossed his arms over his muscular chest. “This is all your fault!”
Richard blinked at him owlishly and groped for the glasses Flake had slammed on the table.
“How is this my fault?” he snapped. “I have no idea how this… this happened!” Richard gestured down at the bony, lanky body he was currently occupying. Annoyance turned to horror as he put the glasses on and saw his own body staring daggers at him in a very Flake-like expression of disapproval.
“I don’t know yet, but it must have been something you did. I have been reading quietly in my room all night. Managed to piss off some groupie who happened to be a witch?”
“What? No! I mean, there might have been some girls who claimed to be wiccans, but they were too young by about twenty years. Wiccans, not witches. Besides, that’s all bullshit!” Richard cringed at his accent, every word coming out of his mouth leaping in strange directions.
“Well, some bullshit has got us mixed up in wrong bodies! Seems like a curse to me.”
“A curse? Thanks a lot, that’s really appreciative of you! There’s got to be a reason though, things like this don’t just happen… right?”
Flake sighed and rubbed at the bridge of his nose where glasses would normally have pressed down. It was downright uncanny for Richard to see Flake’s expressions flitting over his own face. Otherwise, he didn’t feel particularly cursed. His clothes hung on him in very unflattering ways, and he kept bumping into things because suddenly distances and dimensions had changed, but it didn’t feel like he was inside a wrong body. As long as he didn’t look in a mirror, that was.
“All right,” Flake said. “What are the last things we remember before this hit us? I was reading, and all of a sudden the text became blurry and my clothes were several sizes too small. Thanks for the ripped seams, by the way.”
Richard didn’t have a death wish, really, but everything about this was too absurd not to be hilarious. “You’re saying I’m ripped? I rarely hear compliments from you.”
“Richard Zven Kruspe, if you don’t get serious this fucking second, I’m going to take this body and do some really unpleasant things to it. Think of haircuts, ugly-ass tattoos, shaving off your bloody eyebrows.”
Richard stared at him. “That’s low, Flake. I didn’t think you’d resort to holding my body hostage.”
“I will, if you won’t start cooperating with me right now!”
“All right, all right. I think I was here in the common room, yeah, bored like hell because there was nothing to do and I was too tired to go out. There were some gifts sent by the fans on the table, and I was tinkering with them. There was this odd-shaped bottle with some clear yellow drink inside...”
Flake glared at him. Richard hadn’t known he could look that frightening. But maybe it was just Flake.
“Don’t tell me you drank it.”
“I’m not an idiot. I just opened it to take a sniff, to figure out what it was. Something sweet and citrusy. I thought it was lemonade.”
“That was it. I closed the bottle, started on a movie, fell asleep on the couch. And woke up like this.”
Flake stomped over to the table and went through the haphazard pile of items. He pulled out a round glass bottle with a tiny label filled with spidery writing.
“Is this it?”
“Yeah. See, I didn’t drink any of it!”
“I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.” Flake squinted his eyes at the label. “I can’t make out the rest, but it’s signed warlock something or other. With lots of love. Ugh. This didn’t stop you?”
“Well, I didn’t read it...”
“Great. Lovely. Apparently the fumes were enough for the curse to take effect.”
“How come you were affected, too?”
“I passed through the room when I came back from a walk. I remember seeing you out cold on the couch.”
“Yes. Oh. How are you going to fix this?”
Richard spread his newly spindly arms. “How should I know? And how do you know it’s a curse? It doesn’t say that in the instructions, does it?”
“I can’t read the instructions. The ink’s been smudged. I think this person has a very odd idea of love.”
“I suppose we’ll just have to wait it out, then.”
Flake pointed a finger at him. “I am not the one who’s going to explain this to the guys.”
The others. The upcoming concert. Shit.
“Do you think we must explain it?” Richard asked hesitantly. “It could always wear off in time.”
“It better, or otherwise I’ll have to learn to play the guitar very quickly. Good luck with the keys. I’m going to bed.”
Flake slammed the door shut behind him with perhaps more force than he’d intended. Richard was left sitting on the couch, deep in thought.
The night had brought no solutions, magical or otherwise. The only improvement was that Richard had grown more comfortable with this set of limbs.
“Huh?” Richard remembered to glance up from his magazine.
“You’re wearing nail polish.” Olli looked a bit concerned.
“Yes?” Painting his nails had made Richard feel more at home in his new body. So had chain-smoking.
“So what?” Richard huffed. “It’s a free country, isn’t it?”
Till entered the room, took off his sunglasses and looked Richard up and down in a way he’d never really been subjected to.
“Nice,” Till commented. “Though you know you didn’t need to go to all that effort,” he added in a low voice as he ruffled Richard’s hair in passing. Richard was left staring after him. That was… interesting.
Richard was jolted out of his thoughts as his voice – Flake’s voice – cut the air like ice.
“Rich… Flake. I need a word with you. Right now.”
Richard looked up like a deer in the headlights. Did he really look that imposing when he was mad? Because Flake most certainly was, and the effect wasn’t diminished at all by the fact that he was wearing Richard’s oldest hoodie and his hair was sticking out in all directions.
Richard got up from the couch like a marionette pulled by strings.
“Okay. I’ll be right back with you guys.”
“Flake, are you sure you’re all right? You sound odd,” Till said, way too perceptive.
Richard was practically beginning to sweat. He let out a nervous laugh.
“Yes, just give us a moment.”
He escaped to the corridor where Flake promptly slammed him against the wall.
“What do you think you’re doing?” he hissed, glowering at Richard.
“What do you mean?” Richard tried to move, but he couldn’t budge. Flake had quite a bit of mass on him now. “Keep your voice down!”
“What the hell is all that?”
Flake let go of Richard to gesture wildly at his… everything, really. Richard smoothed his clothes and glared back at Flake.
“Is this the thanks I get? After I was nice enough to take your body shopping and all!”
“I… You… That is not me!”
“I totally agree. This is me. Right now I’m stuck in this body, and I’ll be damned if I’m not going to wear something that suits me.”
“Black and white stripes,” Flake moaned. “Eyeliner. Goddamn skinny-fit jeans.”
“Always wanted to try them. You’ve got the legs for it, I gotta say.” Richard smiled happily.
“How did you even find my contacts? And what have you done with my hair?”
“It’s a wonder what proper hair products can do. You should let your hair down more often. I won’t comment on what you have done with mine, since apparently it’s fuck all.”
For a moment Flake seemed to be lost for words. His face changed colors. “You are not supposed to have fun!”
“Why the hell not?”
“It’s – disrespectful! That’s my body you’re wearing!”
“Along with some very nice, fitting clothes, yes. What’s the fuss? I fully expect you to take advantage of this situation, you know.”
“I – you – what?”
“Come on, don’t you feel at least a little bit curious?”
“No. We are not going down this road. And you’re not taking my body down there, either!”
“Right. No. Absolutely not.”
Flake narrowed his eyes at Richard.
“I don’t want to know what you have been up to. But if I find out about it, I’ll kill you. And no smoking!” he added as Richard reached for a pack of smokes in the infinitesimal pocket of the tight, not at all good-looking jeans. “I don’t want your cancer.”
Richard let out a forlorn sigh.
“Fine. But you can’t expect me to stay cooped up here. Otherwise the guys will figure me out, Till and Olli are already suspecting something. I’m going for a walk.”
“Okay. I suppose that is like me. Go on, remove your presence before you ruin everything.”
Flake watched his body leave, donned in combat boots and a leather jacket. It should have looked wrong – it did – but something in the way Richard moved, like he expected everyone to be impressed, created some sort of an optical illusion. He must have practiced it in front of a mirror. God knew what else he had practiced. Suddenly Flake had the sinking feeling that he shouldn’t have let Richard out of his sight for a minute.
Too late now. Flake retreated to his room, not really willing to play Richard for a perceptive audience.
He was feeling too jittery to concentrate on anything. He’d traded rooms with Richard for the sake of appearances, and there just happened to be a huge, gaudy mirror in this one. Every glance in the mirror told Flake how badly this body fit him. He didn’t usually think about his appearance too much. It didn’t really matter to him. But now he felt acutely like a skinny, weird dude in glasses trapped inside a well-cared for suit of muscle and meticulously plucked eyebrows.
Ah, what the hell. Richard was out there doing who knew what with his body, and Flake wasn’t immune to curiosity. He shrugged out of the hoodie and stepped closer to the mirror to inspect his new body. It wasn’t really news to him that Richard shaved his armpits and chest, only he’d never paid much attention to it. Now he looked, and looked some more, and then took off his undershirt.
He hadn’t ever felt particularly attracted to Richard – a frustrating personality came as a part of the package deal – but looking at it all from the inside was… different. He run his hands over the muscled arms, felt at the absurd chest muscles and the toned stomach. Little hairs raised up in his arms. At least Richard didn’t shave those. He craned his head and poked at his chin. There was very little flab anywhere. Richard seemed to take good care of himself.
Inevitably his hands strayed to the waistband of his pants. He hesitated. It wasn’t like it was something he hadn’t seen before. But he had to admit that seeing and feeling everything from this angle was rather different. He told himself that Richard had very likely already done this to his body, what with his talk of taking advantage and all. Yes, Flake was sure of it. He pushed his hand down the front of his pants and let out a huff of air at the feel of the strange-familiar touch. The sensation was weird, but kind of amazing at the same time. Any qualms forgotten, he shucked the pants and looked at his new body in all of its naked glory.
Richard stared back at him from the mirror, a bit more hunched and awkward than usual, but still. Flake bit his lip at seeing his hand on his – Richard’s – cock. Just a bit of exploration, he told himself. You got to try everything once, right? And this wasn’t going to get a repeat performance, not if he had anything to say about it. He’d stop any minute now. He’d let go of the nice, hardening cock in his grasp and go wash his hands and probably his brain of all the richardness of it. Yes, any time now. His other hand slid down the muscular thighs, his eyes glued to the mirror. Was this what Richard looked like when he was jerking off, or was it more Flake? He didn’t know, he wouldn’t have done it in front of a mirror. But he bet Richard would.
Flake flinched as come spattered on the mirror and he came back to his senses. He was panting hard, his forehead pressed against the cool surface. He looked down at his hands with dawning horror. What had he just done? Pleasure buzzed in his mind – this body felt really nice after an orgasm, all mellow and – no, he wasn’t thinking about that!
A shower. That was what he needed, preferably a cold one. After Flake had done that, put on Richard’s most casual clothes again and taken care of the mirror – don’t think, don’t think – he felt almost normal. As normal as possible in these circumstances. His stomach rumbled, and he looked at the clock. It was late already. He should go and get something to eat while he could, but that meant possibly running into the others. Instead, he took out his laptop and started looking for quick guitar tutorials and cures for magical ailments.
There was a knock at his door. Flake hesitated for a moment, then put the laptop down. It’d be weirder if he didn’t answer.
“Come on, I know you’re in there!” Flake heard his own impatient voice through the door. Great. He wrenched the door open.
It was Richard, of course, balancing two pizza boxes and a pack of beer on top of them. He waltzed right in, grinning in a way that was really disconcerting, and set his haul on the table with a flourish.
“What are you doing?” Flake asked him rather coldly – mostly because he still felt vaguely guilty about the mirror episode. He felt his face flushing. He hadn’t known Richard blushed this easily.
“Bringing you food. I’m not letting you starve me.” Richard flopped down in the only armchair, a bit uncoordinated. “Umph. You really are a lightweight, you know.”
“Have you been drinking?” Flake glared at him. “You better hope we don’t switch back before you’ve dealt with the hangover!”
“It seemed like the only sensible thing to do.” Richard didn’t look the least bit remorseful. On the contrary, he seemed to be quite happy. “Also I had an awesome night, and I felt like I ought to thank you.”
“You – what? Richard, what did you do?”
“You always expect the worst of me,” Richard sighed morosely. “I hit the best gay bar in town, of course.”
“You did not.”
“Sure did. I never thought I’d get to experience one in such a twink body. I didn’t have to pay for a single drink!”
Flake stared at him, at the messed-up eyeliner and drink-blurry eyes, and at lips which were redder and more puffy than they ought to have been.
“How exactly did you pay, then?”
“Oh come on, I was just flirting around. Nothing serious. I wouldn’t do that to you, honest. But you were a hit, I’ll let you know.” Richard hiccuped. “Your pizza is getting cold. Flake, you look odd.”
Richard hadn’t… and he had… Flake gulped. He felt the blush returning and ran his hand through his hair, messing it up even worse. A beer sounded like a really good idea right now. His fingers fumbled on the packaging.
“Flake, is everything all right?”
“Fine. Better than fine. Which pizza is yours? Oh, there’s onion in this one, disgusting. It must be yours.” Flake downed half a beer in one go and started to cough.
“Something is going on.” Richard fixed surprisingly sharp eyes on him. “Don’t try to fool me. What happened?”
“Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I stayed in all night, so there is no way anything could have happened.” Shit, his mouth was running as fast as Richard’s in an interview. He sank down on the floor and tried to concentrate on eating. At least it would stop him from talking.
Flake saw a sly smile spread over his own features as the gears turned in Richard’s mind.
“In all night? Flake, what have you been up to? You know you can tell me anything.”
“I can’t. Because nothing happened. Now can you please shut up?”
“No, because you’re lying to me. I know what I look like when I’ve had sex, you know. And I’ve never seen you blush that much. Do I do that? I hope not.”
Flake groaned and buried his face in his hands.
“I’m sorry. I thought… I don’t know what I thought. Can we just forget about this?”
He flinched as he felt Richard’s hand on his shoulder.
“Hey, it’s not that serious. It’s not like I mind. Was it any good?”
“No. Yes. No. I want to get rid of this bloody curse as soon as possible! I want things to get back to normal.” Flake drank the rest of his beer and reached for another. “This is messing with my head. And turning me into an alcoholic.”
Richard bit at his lip, worrying it between his teeth.
“Why are you in such a hurry to get rid of my body? I mean, I don’t see there’s much wrong with it.”
“And are you saying you’re happy?” Flake snapped. He gestured down at himself. “Changing from this to… me? I would have thought you’d get rash just thinking about it. You didn’t even try to...”
“Jerk off? Have sex? Arrange an orgy of debauchery?”
“You’re such an idiot.”
“If it makes you feel better, I’d have done it if you hadn’t threatened to kill me.”
Flake looked up at him.
“It is making you feel better. Okay, how about this: I only came home this early because I couldn’t stop wondering what it’d be like to have sex with myself. In this body of yours, which you don’t appreciate half enough.”
Flake blinked. “That’s simultaneously the most self-absorbed and complimentary thing I’ve ever heard from you.”
“Well, what do you think?” Richard looked at him hopefully.
“Are you serious about this? And not just drunk?”
“I’m not that drunk,” Richard claimed. He did seem to have sobered up considerably when the possibility of sex seemed to be on the table. “And I’m always serious when it comes to sex.”
Flake sighed. “Did it ever occur to you that I might not want to have sex with my doppelgänger – who happens to be you?”
“You can think about it as masturbation, if that helps.”
Flake coughed. It did seem slightly unfair that Richard had been considerate, for once, while he had completely failed in that respect. The body he was wearing certainly didn’t seem to mind the idea.
“Fine,” he conceded. “This is madness anyway, why not take it to the next level?”
“Such enthusiasm,” Richard said, but he had already clambered out of the chair and was climbing into Flake’s lap. He stared at his own face closely. “Damn, this is strange.”
“You don’t say –” Flake’s words were swallowed as Richard pressed their mouths together. He didn’t know what to do with a lapful of a very enthusiastic Richard who was kissing him dirtily, straddling him with ease. His hands came to rest on Richard’s slim waist on top of the godawful shirt. It was the oddest thing, knowing exactly how your partner’s body worked, and likewise. It had been a while since he’d been kissed with such fervor. Trust Richard to have the hots for himself…
Flake shifted and realized how easy it was to maneuver Richard in this body. A hot rush ran through him at the thought. Flake run his large hands all over Richard’s waist and back, pulling the offending shirt off him. Richard made a complaining noise as the kiss was broken, but he was just as eager to get his clothes off.
“This is the best idea I’ve ever had,” he announced.
“This is the worst idea I’ve ever agreed to,” Flake countered, but it didn’t stop him from picking Richard up and carrying him towards the bed. Richard wrapped his long legs around Flake, beaming at him.
“Now you’re getting it,” he said, and laughed as he was dropped on the bed. “No one ever does that to me.”
Flake hadn’t really considered it. The thought that Richard might enjoy a joyride in his body had felt ridiculous. But there he was, sprawling on the bed and getting rid of his clothes with an enthusiasm which couldn’t really be faked. Well, if that was the case, Flake might as well do what he damn well pleased while in this body. And right now he felt like getting naked in bed with Richard, who was staring at him with open appreciation.
“Will you fuck me?” The words rushed out of Richard’s mouth. “Please say you want to.”
“I...” Flake was thrown off by the way his weight settled on top of Richard. He would have felt smothered like that, but Richard only opened his legs wider and tried to pull Flake closer, his fingers skirting down Flake’s arms. His cock certainly agreed to Richard’s request, pressing hard between their stomachs. “Yes.”
“Oh, thank fuck.”
“Do you – condoms and –”
“Yeah, yeah. Gimme my jeans.”
Flake picked them up from the floor and went through the pockets. He squinted at Richard suspiciously as he found what he was looking for.
“An innocent night out, was it?”
“A habit, that’s all. It never hurts to be prepared. Come on, I was saving myself for you!”
Flake shuddered. “I never want to hear those words out of your mouth again.”
“Well, technically it’s yours...”
A large hand covered Richard’s mouth, and he glowered up at Flake. A rather evil grin spread across Flake’s face. He caught Richard’s wrists and brought them over his head, holding them down one-handed.
“I’m starting to see a few advantages to this situation.”
And that was how Flake ended up fucking Richard into the mattress, wearing Richard’s body and watching his own face twisting in ecstasy, while Richard was squirming and moaning under him and staring at himself with lust-filled eyes. It was nothing like masturbation. It was so much more fucked up. It was so much better.
Flake felt lighter afterwards, and oddly like craving a cigarette. He glanced at Richard who lay beside him, panting and blissed-out. At least it seemed like Flake’s body had enjoyed the experience. Without even opening his eyes, Richard fumbled for his smokes. He seemed to have an uncanny ability for locating them – currently in the pocket of his jacket. Flake picked them out of his hand.
“Hey!” Richard protested, frowning at him. “Let me have my moment.”
“Not while in my body.” Flake lit a cigarette, because apparently Richard’s body agreed with his mind on post-coital smoking. It was also worth it to see the look on Richard’s face. Flake hoped he never wore that kicked-puppy look himself. He took a pull of the cigarette and turned to kiss Richard, deep and thorough. Richard let out a contented sigh and practically melted against him.
Out of the blue, Flake was taken over by an odd sensation. The world twisted, he saw faint golden-yellow sparks in his peripheral vision, and then it felt like he was lifted out of his body gently as a feather. His own body received him like a comfortable sweater. Flake blinked and saw Richard sitting up beside him, still holding onto his cigarette.
“What the actual fuck,” Richard said in his ordinary voice.
Enormous relief washed over Flake.
“The effect –” he refused to say magic – “seems to have worn off. I believe you don’t need to learn a new instrument after all.”
“Oh, because you’d totally rock the guitar? Please.”
Flake glared at him. “We don’t have to start bickering immediately just because we’re back in our own bodies. And for the record, you like your sex way too rough.”
“Well, excuse me, that was all your doing.”
Flake couldn’t think of a good retort to that. And he couldn’t deny that he was feeling good, not really up to untangling the mess of whose fault what was. Richard had wisely retreated a bit to give him space, but a small smile was still tugging at his mouth.
“I knew you had it in you, you know,” he said and ducked as Flake tried to swat at him.
“Shut up. I wonder why we changed back, though. Did it just wear off in time?” Flake mused, cringing at the mess they had made of the bed.
“Don’t you know how magic works? We fixed it all by having mind-blowing sex. Lots of love, didn’t it say so on the label?”
“Richard? Please shut up. I’m going to take a shower. Alone. And then go to sleep and forget any of this ever happened.”
“Yeah. Sure. Of course.”
Flake was uncomfortably certain he still felt Richard’s speculative eyes on him as he crossed the room.
“By the way, Flake? I think you should have a talk with Till. It’s about time, too.”
Flake paused by the bathroom door.
“Because he admired my jeans and told me you wouldn’t even need to go to any effort.”
Flake was not having this discussion with Richard of all people. After having had sex with him. In switched bodies. He escaped into the bathroom while his heart was busy doing somersaults. Damn Richard.
“You better be gone when I get out of here,” he shouted through the door.
“So cold,” he heard Richard answer, but then there was the rustle of clothing being collected. “And just so you know – I’d do that again, magic or no magic.”
Flake turned on the shower to drown him out.
In the morning, the whole gang met at breakfast. Flake had discovered a score of embarrassing hickeys and bite marks which he’d covered with a scarf to avoid annoying commentary. Richard was practically glowing, full of energy. But when it came to the others…
Flake stared at Paul who ducked down to avoid hitting his head on a lamp, and at Schneider who unfortunately did not. Till and Olli looked over the scene with mounting confusion. Flake, on the other hand, felt the urge to bang his head on the table.
“Richard?” he said slowly. “What happened to that bottle?”
“We left it at the… Oh.”
“No. This isn’t happening,” Flake groaned.
“Are you talking about the bottle of lemonade someone left in the common room?” Schneider asked, a strangely Paul-like expression of innocence on his face. “Because I drank it all. Sorry.”
Richard started to laugh. Both Paul and Schneider stared at him, while Flake kicked at his leg under the table, willing him to shut up. Richard was undeterred.
“You’re in luck, guys. I know how to fix this. With lots of love.”