The enthusiastic screaming of the crowd follows them through the backstage hallways like a reminder that they just blew the minds of thousands of people, quite literally. Smiles linger on some faces, grimaces of exhaustion on others. Paul is one of those smiling, and Schneider is one of those grimacing. Paul definitely notices.
“Slowing down there a bit, Schneider?” he teases good-naturedly as they enter the dressing room to grab some makeup wipes, if only to get this caked-on shit off their skin before they meet up with the fans previously picked out from the crowd. It’s just the two of them; the others are already speaking to the staff about where to meet the fans. Paul plucks two makeup wipes from the container on one of the vanities, passes one to Schneider.
“You move your fingers and wrists, I move my entire body,” Schneider remarks as he roughly scrubs at his face, “Tease me when you put in as much effort as I do.”
“Alright, alright, sheesh. I was kidding.”
Saying nothing, Schneider tosses the used wipe into the garbage bin beside the vanity mirror and then sighs as he drags his hands over his face. While silently rubbing the makeup wipe over his neck, Paul looks him up and down. As usual, he’s wearing that chainmail top with the knee-length drop-crotch pants. One of his socks is sagging to his mid-calf. It’s cute and has Paul smiling faintly. Schneider then begins towards the door.
“Hey, are you doing okay, though? Really, Schneider,” Paul interjects, side-stepping in front of him. Halting, Schneider heaves a sigh and throws his hands up, watching Paul with exhaustion in his gaze as the smaller man finished scrubbing the red makeup from his eyes. Paul leans over to toss the wipe into the garbage and then straightens up, folding his arms across his vest while standing his ground in front of Schneider.
Schneider searches Paul’s stubborn expression, and then nods weakly with his lips pressed together.
“Yeah. Just tired and sore. You know how it is. Touring can be fun, but it can be draining.”
“Homesick, huh?” Paul says with a slight grin, arching a brow. Schneider huffs a laugh, shrugging.
“That too, I guess.”
“Well, I’m glad you’re okay, overall,” Paul says, his grin softening to a smile. Schneider nods.
“We better catch up with the others,” he says, glancing towards the door. Paul suddenly grabbing him on the bicep and arching up onto his toes to press a quick, firm kiss to his mouth has Schneider taking a startled step back. He looks at Paul with bewilderment, sees the amused grin on his face. Paul squeezes his bicep, thumb digging into the muscle, and then fake-punches Schneider in the chest as he proclaims with his grin broadening, crow’s feet strengthening, “Let’s go, I’m sure you want to meet all the hot girls as soon as possible.”
“That was rather forced,” Schneider comments dryly, ignoring his half-assed tease. Then he grabs Paul’s wrist, his other hand reaching up to clutch his shoulder—the metal rings in his vest are cool against his palm. Easily manhandling him, Schneider spins him (Paul stumbles with a laugh) and then twists his arm behind his back. He begins marching him to the door.
“No, it was smooth as hell—What are you doing?” Paul sputter-laughs, letting him guide them both to the entryway of the dressing room.
“We’re going,” Schneider explains, squeezing his big hand around Paul’s wrist, over his armband. Once they’re outside the room, Schneider releases him with a gentle push. Paul staggers forward, the leather of his boots squeaking loudly against the polished floor of the hallway. He spins around to face Schneider, grinning, and says, “If you wanted to get kinky, you could’ve just asked nicely.”
Schneider rolls his eyes, but makes no remark considering they’re now coming up on the other four (not that Paul deserved one; that was, once again, a lazy taunt). Richard, friendly as always, holds up a hand towards Paul as they approach and Paul, naturally, throws his entire body into the high-five—the crack of their meeting hands fills the hallway, and has Paul hissing in pain. He proceeds to shake his hand out while jokingly collapsing into the wall beside them, feigning upcoming death with a grimace on his face. Richard laughs aloud. Flake is already ignoring them, following Till towards the meet-up room. Ollie joins Schneider’s side, smiling faintly from under his black hood. Schneider cannot repress his own tired smile, watching those two.
Two hours later, at one in the morning, with the afterparty winding down and the fans gradually taking their leave (thank God—Paul loves them all, of course, but holy hell he’s tired), the six members all mutually agree it’s time to head back to the hotel for a much needed rest, before they leave in the morning for Estonia. Flake, Ollie, and Till are the first to leave, carpooling with a designated driver.
Schneider is changing at the moment, while Paul shares goodnights with some fans that are loitering outside the back exit (he partakes in a few pictures with them despite his exhaustion, and reluctantly signs some things even if he’s not in the mood to). Meanwhile, Richard is preoccupied chatting with two members of the staff, standing by the open double doors of the room where the afterparty took place, considerate and talkative like usual.
Paul manages to step back into the building after waving goodbye to the small crowd just in time to see Schneider collapsing onto one of the couches—now, he’s wearing a simple black long-sleeved shirt, joined by jeans and his black-framed glasses. A prominent change from his stage outfit and it has Paul smiling. Paul himself had changed into his comfortable navy blue jogger pants and a short-sleeved black top himself, complimented by a beanie. Black often seems to be the theme, among the six of them. Now that he thinks about it, Flake is probably the most colorful of them all. He always wears the ugliest shit.
All too happily, Paul paces further into the room, passing tables and chairs, earning Schneider’s tired gaze, to drop down onto the couch beside him. Schneider doesn’t say anything, just stares out into the room as he sinks further back into the couch. Paul watches his profile, wondering what’s on his mind.
Leaning over slowly, Paul gradually invades his personal space until his head rests on Schneider’s shoulder. Schneider smells like cologne and makeup remover.
“Hello, Paul,” Schneider says, lamely. Paul lifts his head, smiling, and shifts closer, gladly taking that as an invitation. Maybe it was because he drank a bit during the afterparty, but Paul is feeling tempted to be annoying and get a rise out of Schneider. Instead, he decides to go the other route: affection. He winds his arm around Schneider’s and slides his roughened hand down along his forearm, fingers catching on the soft cotton of his shirt. He finds Schneider’s hand, which is rougher than his own, worn down from the lifetime of playing the drums. Schneider drops his gaze, staring past the frame of his glasses as Paul aligns their palms and threads their fingers together.
Paul didn’t expect him to reciprocate it. Whenever Paul pulls this kind of shit in semi-public areas like this, he pulls away or just accepts it limply with no response at all. But this time, Schneider squeezes his fingers back and it has Paul smiling warmly. It also makes Paul ballsy. He clears his throat and speaks lowly, and a little drunkenly, “Would you let me try and kiss you again? I’ll make up for how rushed the other one was.”
Schneider shifts away just enough to look at him with a furrowed brow. Paul’s smile becomes a slight grin, eyes hopeful. Schneider searches his face and then glances towards the double doors where Richard once was, with the other two—they’re noticeably missing now.
“Nothing heavy,” Schneider insists, giving him a pointed look. Paul raises his other hand as if to swear in with a jut of his bottom lip, nodding. Schneider lets out a deep breath and then nods, too. Paul’s pout becomes a smile. He begins to lean in, watching the other man through lidded eyes. Schneider’s gaze softens as well, trained entirely on his.
Closing the distance, Paul kisses him with a chaste purse of his mouth, lips laying softly against Schneider’s—he feels his nose press into his cheek, feels the scratchy spot of stubble under his bottom lip that he missed when he shaved earlier today. Paul squeezes his hand. Schneider is silent, unmoving, at his side. He then returns it with a gentle purse of his lips. It becomes a sweet, reciprocated kiss that doesn’t delve into anything more. Their mouths tenderly overlap together a few more times, the sounds of the kiss quiet and heard only between them, before Paul pulls back to search his handsome face. Schneider is the one smiling faintly now, his blue eyes lidded and trained on the other man.
He startles slightly when Paul leans in to kiss him firmly on the temple with an obnoxious wet sound. Then Paul sits back and unravels their hands. He grins at him, accentuating his laugh lines and crow’s feet. He arches a brow and tilts his head as he muses, “Now that was much better, wasn’t it?”
Schneider pauses, and then lets out a tired exhale. An exhausted, yet fond, smile appears on his face.
“It was better. Now, I would like to go sleep, so can we please find Richard and go to the damn hotel.”
Paul gives a mock salute—an obvious jab at Schneider’s previous service—and then rises from the couch to stride for the open doors, in search of their other bandmate. Schneider is tempted to sprawl out across the couch, catch a half hour of sleep because no doubt, once Paul finds Richard, they’re going to get sidetracked and fuck around like they always do.