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Fire With Fire

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“Fire with fire now!”

The explosion of stage lights together with Ruben’s drums felt like a punch in the chest. Merel could feel the endorphines filling her head to toe, as she shredded through her solo, smiling at the crowd that that was jumping up and down along with the rest of the band. She could feel the drips of sweat running down her back, but it has became such a natural part of being on stage that she couldn’t care less. God damn, this was her song.

Her eyes met Charlotte’s, as the singer started approaching her with a smirk.

“And you will always be much too
Strong for someone else,”

Merel turned towards the singer, whose face was now so close she could actually hear her voice distantly. She was not even trying to hold the laughter back anymore as Charlotte, in all her grace and glory, awkwardly started to get down on her knees in front of her. It was especially so funny to see, because whenever she had her yoga pants on and her hair in a bun, she was like a cat, so flexible and self-assured in her every move. But the heels and very lightly sewn stage dresses were obviously an enormous challenge for her. Yet she somehow managed to play her act successfully every time. 
We’ll see how that goes today, Merel thought, only adding to the laughter as she started to go down on her knees as well.

“You will always be much too
Tall for someone else,”

She saw the surprise in Charlotte’s eyes and her raised eyebrows, but despite her surprise she didn’t let Merel get her out of her act so easily, and just kept on going down, until she was lying on the floor in front of the kneeling guitarist. There were tears of laughter in Merel’s eyes. She sat down and laid down next to the singer, making sure not to miss a single chord as she did. But then it struck her; her both hands were preoccupied with playing. She knew there was no way for her to get up now, until the end of the song. Charlotte only noticed her struggle after she swiftly got up herself.

“Don’t you try to apologise
Black Star, that’s what you are,”

There was laughter to be heard in her singing, but she was holding up bravely. Merel could feel how the wet back of her T-shirt is sticking to the filthy ground of the stage. The lights were shining right in her face, making her sweat even more. She shoot a helpless look to Charlotte, who, for a second, seemed like she would just leave her lying there. 
Good job, you idiot. It’s gonna be on all the pictures and you’ll be even more of a dork than usual. 
Charlotte turned to the audience and finished the chorus:

“No one stills the fire in your heart
Fire with fire now!”

As the instrumental part exploded, Charlotte spread her arms, and for a second, the spotlight made her look like a fiery angel who’s about to take off and just fly off the stage. She headbanged with Timo and Otto, making a firestorm out of her hair flash everywhere, but then she suddenly stopped, and turned back to the grounded guitarist.

“Fire with fire now!”

As the scream cut through the air, she started walking towards Merel, staring into her eyes.

“Fire with fire now!”

She walked up to her, stepped over her hips and kneeled down. Merel suddenly found herself partly hidden underneath the faux-fur white coat. Her eyes widened, because Charlotte’s face suddenly became completely serious. 
Okay, this is new. 
Then the singer let out her siren’s call, as she started to move her face closer to Merel.

“Oh-eh-oh-eh-oh, just kill 'em with kindness, oh-eh-oh-eh-oh…”

Charlotte got so close now that Merel could feel her breath on her face. There was wet hair everywhere and a heavy smell of their sweating. For a second, Merel suddenly started to feel light in the head, as if she was about to faint. But then she pulled herself together as suddenly, Charlotte put her mic to Merel’s mouth. It took her a second to catch up with the lyrics, because she was so dumbstruck by this unexpected situation, but eventually she sang the lines in time, although much more silent than she meant to.

“Strong for someone else,
Strong for someone…”

Charlotte was looking straight into her eyes, and a slight hint of smile was playing on her lips. The moment of silence until the next verse lasted forever, at least that’s how it seemed to Merel, who was now starting to slowly lose her amusement and getting slightly confused by the singer’s signals.

“Strong for someone else,”

She was singing it to her. Their eyes locked, their body heat intertwining in front of the eyes of the whole audience. Merel completely forgot about the hundreds of people watching them right now. She opened her mouth slightly and lifted her head up, as if she was going in for a kiss. Instead, the microphone was hers again. She practiced this song too often to not take the chance (more often than all the others, but she would never admit that).

“And you will always be much too
Tall for someone else,
Don’t you try to apologise
My Star, that’s what you are,
“No one stills the fire in your heart-“

Charlotte moved closer to the mic, so that they both could reach it. Their lips were almost touching, and Merel felt a new flush of hotness coming over her. Charlotte closed her eyes and joined her for the final:

“Fire with fire now!”

As the song faded out, the singer put her forehead on Merel’s shoulder and took a deep breath. She stayed that way for a fraction of a second, then she lifted her head back up. Her cheeks were red and her hair messy. She smiled, and looked towards the audience.

“She totally asked for it,” she explained to the people, who answered with a deafening cheer. Merel laughed, and suddenly realized how tense her whole body was as a result of this idiocy. Charlotte got up, and gave her a hand to help her finally get back on her feet, too. Merel hurriedly made her on her way back to her right side of the stage. Charlotte touched her arm swiftly as she passed her.

“Your star?”

“What?”

Merel turned back with wide eyes, but before she managed to find out what she meant by that remark, the keyboard theme to ‘Suckerpunch’ sounded and the crowd exploded with more shouting and cheering. Their eyes met, and Charlotte gave her a wink. 

 


 

 

She was making her way to the hotel room, her head still throbbing from the epic Amaranthe concert she’s just seen, and all the beer, and the endorphin surge from their own show just a few hours back. The guys decided to stay longer, but she felt that she’s had enough for today; of both beers and excitement. Besides, she could really use a few extra hours of sleep, at least this once. 

She walked out of the festival grounds to the hotel, greeting a few familiar faces along the way, and being cheerfully greeted by some unfamiliar ones in return, despite her pink hoodie drawn deep in her face. It was dark, and a very advanced hour as well, and yet some of the people managed to recognize her petite frame anyway. 
“Hey! Merel!” 
She turned her head in a natural reflex upon hearing her name. A bunch of big, bearded, long-haired guys made their way to her, spilling their beer on the way. 
“You really kicked ass tonight! Man, I wish there were more badass chicks like you. Come have a drink with us, girl.”
She shook her head with a smile and avoided the massive arm, trying to catch her around her shoulders. 
“I went all out there for you guys, bedtime now. Thanks thoug. Here,” she took some free beer tokens out of her pocket and handed them out to them, before they started protesting against her refusal. 
“On the badass chick,” she said, gave them a thumbs up and walked off at the sound of cheerful laughter and some ‘Fucking marry me!’.

One of the things she adored about the metal community is that the people in it were always unbelievably friendly. Although she always felt like a child among all those impressive bearded men and breathtakingly beautiful women, it was a very loved and treasured child at best. She had that feeling back when she was at school, in her first band, but also alongside of all the big people with the big names that she’s been playing with recently. 
Still, this encounter made her think back at how cool it used to be when she’d still come to festivals as a mere visitor, instead as one of the headliners. It was different back then, much more time and energy for chilling, and drinking, and getting trashed, but also much less awesomeness. She had no complaints what so ever, but she did miss the anonymous fun that ended with the VIP armband and the (mostly) free beer.

Her line of thought was interrupted as she finally arrived to the hotel lobby, and saw Charlotte sitting at the far end of the now already a very quiet bar, clearly deep in thought over her notebook and a cup of tea. Merel was already tired as hell, and not exactly sober, but after a not very long moment of contemplation, she decided to join her, after all. 
Merel came crashing down on the bar stool next to her, put both her arms on the table and laid her head on them, facing Charlotte, who looked up and gave her a wide smile. 
“Had fun?”
“If by fun you mean beer, then yes, lots.” 
“Is that right? Then please don’t breathe on me.” 
Merel chuckled. 
“So this is how you come up with inspiration for your lyrics?”
Charlotte laughed, and rubbed the end of her nose with her fingers. 
“Might be. I am actually working on some new stuff right now.”
“Ooh,” Merel perked up on her chair, moving closer and trying to sneak a peek of what the singer was writing, “let me see.”
But Charlotte promptly closed her notebook and poked her index finger into Merel’s shoulder, pushing her away. 
“Curious little puppy, aren’t you? It’s not done yet. Besides, you really look like you could use some sleep, missy.” 
Merel frowned, but didn’t protest when Charlotte stood up, and gestured her to come upstairs. She got up and followed the taller woman into the elevator. 
As the door closed, it became completely silent. Wasn’t there supposed to be some kind of an elevator music? Just as Merel wanted to say her thought out loud, she heard Charlotte’s voice sing silently.

“I’ve built a hundred thousand walls 
To keep my heart from harm 
I’ve lived in the shadow of my solitude
Safe and sound, I stood my ground.

But then you came
And I became 
The huntress and the prey

The hundred thousand walls I built
I climbed until I bled 
Just to see you smile at me
To take me to your bed.”

Merel watched Charlotte sing. She had her eyes closed, and didn’t stumble once. She has obviously put a lot of effort in this already. Just when Merel wanted to say something, the door opened, Charlotte opened her eyes and nodded at her. 
“Come on.” 
Once again, Merel followed. The singing still sounded in her ears. She couldn’t stop herself from thinking that there was something different about this song. Something just didn’t feel right… Or maybe it felt just exactly right. 
Or maybe it was just the alcohol doing the thinking. 
They came to the doors of their rooms that were right next to each other. Merel looked at Charlotte expectantly, but she was busy figuring out the opening mechanism. 
“Why can’t they just use keys? What is wrong with keys? Who thought of opening doors with cards, seriously,” she was muttering to herself. 
“Hey, Charlie,” Merel said, coming closer and taking the chip card from her hands, “it was a beautiful song. I love it.”
She opened the door for her, and returned the card. 
“I am glad you like it, drunkie,” Charlotte responded softly, and gave Merel a kiss on her head.
“Goodnight.”
“Night,” Merel responded and made her way to her own room.

But then you came
And I became 
The huntress and the prey

Charlotte’s voice sounded in her head as she fell, fully clothed, face down on the bed.


Charlotte was sitting in the middle of a messy bed, only half dressed, her laptop being the only source of dim, yellow light in the room. Earlier on stage today, when Merel sang her part of the song, Charlotte could literally feel the kiss of the muse. In fact, it felt like a whole lot more than just a kiss. It felt deeper. Dirtier, And much more daring. She could feel it like a lightning bolt coming through her body. 
And that was also the reason why she left the festival so early, and why she spent the whole evening writing, high on green tea and inspiration. 
All of a sudden, a silent knock on the door disturbed her wild streams of thoughts. She looked up, and then back down. She was certainly not dressed properly to accept any visitors, so she grabbed a bathrobe on her way to the door. 
As soon as she opened the door, Merel squeezed herself through and walked into her room without a word. Charlotte turned around and walked after her with raised eyebrows, locking the door. 
Merel jumped on the bed and made herself comfortable among the messy sheets. She looked so natural in there, Charlotte’s heart shivered. 
“Show me more,” she said, hugging a pillow. 
“Well, I can take this bathrobe off-“ 
“No, jesus,” Merel exclaimed, “please spare me. I want to hear more of the song.” 
Charlotte sat down on the edge of the bed and let out a deep sigh. 
“I told you it’s not finished yet.” 
“But you just sang it to me in the elevator. Sounded finished to me.” 
“Maybe you sound finished to me,” Charlotte teased and poked Merel in the ribs. She giggled, but the spark in her eyes didn’t cease. She knew she’s gonna have to show her more, whether she likes it or not. She should never have started this… 
“Okay, okay.” 
Charlotte sat herself comfortably next to Merel, laid her head back and closed her eyes. At first, she just took a couple of deep breaths. Like in a yoga practice. Four in, hold for two, four out, hold for two, repeat. When her heart calmed, she started humming the new melody.

“You said I was your sun, your moon
You called me your black star 
But I never knew just what you want, 
Never learned who you are.

You lit my flame, 
And I became
The huntress and the prey

You’re always there, right by mi side, 
And yet you’re never here, 
And I keep building my walls 
And tearing them down, 
Just to drown in my own loneliness,
Over and over again.

I killed my flame, 
And we became
The hunters and the prey”

Charlotte opened her eyes and looked down at Merel. She met a pair of big, teary eyes. All Charlotte heard was the sound of her own shaky breath. But before she could say something to break the silence, a cracked voice sounded from beneath the pillow: 
“Is… Is this song about me?”