Paul couldn’t stop jittering - not after an hour, not after two weeks, not on the day they planned to pop the question. His excitement was heartwarming, absolutely, but it got to the point where spontaneous combustion became a legitimate concern.
“You’re going to give it away, you know,” Schneider remarked over pastries that morning, the buzz from Paul’s body was practically audible. “This energy is excessive, even for you.”
“Like you’re not excited,” The mug of coffee in Paul’s hand trembled. A drop spilled onto his skin and he hissed in pain, “Scheiße!”
“We’re not burning ourselves, are we?” Till took the cup before he could cause himself more damage, biting into another croissant. God knew how many he’d devoured - he’d stopped counting around six.
Without any burning liquid to occupy himself with, Paul began drumming his fingers on the tabletop, “Two weeks, the longest I’ve kept anything secret. Two whole weeks, fourteen days .”
“We know how long two weeks are, Paulchen,” Schneider shook his head, filling in the gaps in Paul’s rhythm with soft taps of his own.
Till took the guitarist’s hand and inspected the angry blotch on his knuckles. “Go run it under the tap,” he leaned back, watching Paul from the comfort of his chair, “I’m still stunned Reesh hasn’t noticed yet.”
“Reesh hasn’t noticed what, now?” Richard swayed into the kitchen in his underwear and a loose vest, hair still damp from his morning shower.
“How damn nosey he is,” Schneider suppressed a grin, basking in the exasperated look that was shot his way.
“Good morning to you too, dear,” Richard messed up Schneider’s hair as he brushed past, grabbing a clean cup from the cupboard and pressing a kiss to Paul’s cheek. “Morning Bär, morning Pauli. What did you do to your hand?”
“He poured coffee over himself,” Till cheerfully replied, in the process of assembling a rather large plate of food for their boyfriend.
“Ja, by accident ,” Paul grumbled and turned off the tap, sliding back into his seat at the head of the table.
Richard reached behind his back to stroke his cheek and cooed playfully, “Poor, poor baby.”
Paul hmphed in embarrassment but seemed rather smug about winning Richard’s attention, which didn’t end up lasting long.
“Take a picture, Schnei, it’ll last longer,” Richard called from where he was bent over a drawer just below his knee; the drummer was never as sneaky about eyeing him up as he liked to believe. Though, to be fair, they were all as bad as each other - he could feel three pairs of eyes boring into his back (well, ass).
Not ashamed in the slightest, Schneider chuckled coolly, “Not a bad idea, actually.” Across the table, Paul nodded his agreement. Even sweet, shy Till’s eyes flickered a little.
“It’s too early for this, you pervs,” Richard whined, glad that his turned back meant they couldn’t see his smile. He valued his beauty, too much one might say, and though he would deny it he wasn’t getting any younger. It gave him butterflies, knowing that his partners still desired him despite not being twenty anymore. “At least let me eat first.”
Till perked up at the mention of food and pushed his masterpiece of a plate towards Richard’s spot, “This is for you, Scholle.”
Richard turned around with a smile and slid into his seat. “Danke, liebe,” he leaned in to nuzzle Till’s jaw and swung one leg over his lap. The singer pulled him in closer and kissed the side of his head, a happy flush on his face. “Do we have any plans today?” Richard asked, toying with Till’s hair while taking a bite of his breakfast.
“Ja, we’re taking you out. Date night!” Paul chirped, sidling closer in a way that screamed hi, hello, some attention over here please and thank you .
Richard’s eyes widened a little. “Date night?” He echoed, putting his head on Paul’s shoulder, keeping his excitement under wraps; they hardly ever had time for date nights, apart from quick takeaways from time to time.
“You deserve it, Liebchen, you work yourself half to death,” Schneider stole a piece of croissant and popped it into his mouth. “What kind of boyfriends would we be if we didn’t spoil you every now and then?”
“Lame-ass ones,” Richard grinned, shoved the rest of his food into his mouth in one go and sucked his fingers clean.
Paul snorted and gestured dramatically at Richard’s chipmunk cheeks, “Look, our oh-so elegant boyfriend.” He would’ve been impressed, if he hadn’t witnessed Richard choking on much bigger things countless times before...
“Shut up, you love it!” Richard swallowed and laughed, tossing his now-empty plate into the sink.
“We love you , Welpe,” Schneider pulled Richard down onto his lap for a cuddle and tousled his hair. “Quirks and all.”
Half an hour later and Paul was lying on the floor with Richard, making a game out of balling up scrap paper and batting it into the air.
They had plenty of time but Schneider and Till mutually decided that it was better to get their final preparations over and done with. The drummer approached the pair on the floor and crouched down, “We need to go into town to pick something up for tonight, are you going to be good while we’re out?”
Richard sat up and nodded, his eyes flickering with intrigue. This ‘something’ sounded interesting.
Schneider chuckled and ruffled his boyfriend’s hair, “That’s my boy, you’ll find out what it is later.”
While he was curious, he didn’t want to push his luck - it would only be a few hours, he could wait that long.
“We’ll see you soon, Reeshy,” Paul scritched behind Richard’s ears and followed the other men to the front door.
Richard watched at the window as his partners left, looking back up at him and blowing kisses while they walked. Satisfied, he hopped down from the window-seat and began exploring for something to amuse himself with. Schnei’s drumsticks were always great for chasing...
He quickly got bored of snuffing around his partner’s rooms (though he did manage to steal a particularly soft sweatshirt of Till’s) and crawled back towards the living room. Except the sweatshirt got caught round his ears and obscured his vision, his headspace-induced clumsiness making it impossible to pull his arms through the stupid thing. Unsure of what else to do, he sat back on his heels and cried, waiting for someone to save him from his fluffy hell. Sure, he was a self-sufficient, independent, big boy... but putting on sweaters was hard goddamnit!
Footsteps coming closer made him perk up, hopefully squeaking in their general direction would encourage them to stop and help. It seemed to work, as deft hands pulled his arms through the sleeves and tugged the jumper over his head.
“There you go, silly. Such a drama queen.” Flake turned out to be his saviour, who received a head-butt to the knee for his service. Richard got a stroke on the nose in return, which he was more than delighted with - he savoured any shred of affection the keyboard player gave him. Now able to see (and move), a long figure stretched out on the sofa attracted his attention. Oli.
The bassist was sprawled out, headphones on, holding his phone above his head with both hands and creating the perfect Richard-shaped shape for him to squirm into. Oli didn’t jump, he must have noticed him slinking across the carpet. “Hi sweetheart,” he said quietly, putting his phone on the coffee table and ruffling Richard’s hair, “Do you need a cuddle?”
Richard nodded, scooting further up Oli’s chest till his head was securely tucked under his chin. Arms wrapped around his back and he sighed in content, tilting his head to bury his nose in the other man’s neck.
Oli bit his lip in an attempt to keep from grinning. It had taken him a while to get used to Richard’s headspace, to differentiate between his longtime friend and bandmates’ puppy, but found he loved both just as equally. “You’re such a good boy, Reesh...”
Shivering from the praise, Richard took Oli’s t-shirt in his hands and held it tight. A warm feeling bubbled in his chest, he snuggled as close as humanly possible and peppered the bassist’s neck with butterfly kisses.
“Such a good boy...” Oli murmured on repeat, he truly meant it. He wasn’t just saying it to get nuzzles and kisses in return, though they were a welcome bonus. It came naturally at this point - Richard could do nothing but sit completely still and he’d still get a mountain of praise (and deserve every word of it). Laying with the other man on his chest was a comforting pressure rather than crushing, it made sense why he was always in Till’s arms, or Schneider’s lap, or pressed close to Paul.
Occasionally, Richard would twitch and Oli would give him a reassuring squeeze. Communicating when Richard was completely non-verbal was the only struggle he really had, what he wanted or needed wasn’t always clear. “Richie, do you need the bathroom?” Oli tried when he shifted again, clearly agitated.
Squirming slightly, Richard let go of Oli’s shirt and fumbled in his pockets. Once he’d fished out his cigarettes, he quickly held onto his friend again; he didn’t want to move but his cravings were kicking in. Come with me , he begged with his eyes, desperate, not able to form the words.
“Oh... Let’s go for a smoke, yeah?” Oli caught on fast, gently sitting up with one arm still supporting Richard. Expecting the other man to break away and slide to the floor, he was surprised when he adjusted his arms around his neck and held on tight. “You want me to carry you?”
Richard looked at him like it was a stupid question (and maybe it was), but he was used to the guitarist using every opportunity to prove his independence. This was highly unusual. Maybe he was sick.
“Fine by me, Schatz.” It was more than fine, in fact, Oli felt extremely flattered. Richard’s distaste for being carried wasn’t a secret, the hissy fits that followed an attempt if he was anything less than semi-conscious were a marvel. Either he’d earned a special place in the pup’s heart, or the poor thing had eaten something funny. Oli liked to think it was the former.
Once outside, Oli set Richard on the ground so he could explore as he pleased. He padded a small ways away and stopped to fight his way out of his sweater, it wasn’t needed anymore with the sun beating down on his skin. Realising that Oli wasn’t following, he scrambled back and clutched anxiously at his leg.
“You’re fine Reesh, I’m not going anywhere.” Oli smiled in reassurance, brushing the pup’s dark hair out of his eyes. “Come sit over here.”
By the time familiar voices made Richard perk up from sunbathing spot, they’d shared multiple cigarettes and Richard had convinced Oli to let him paint his nails. Richard’s wide, green eyes had that effect on him - Oli couldn’t bring himself to say no.
The smallest of Richard’s dominants rushed over to greet him, while Till and Schneider hung back with something hidden behind them. “Hi Squish,” Paul cooed, leaning down to rub Richard’s exposed belly. “Did you have fun with Oli?”
Purring, Richard nodded and grinned, tilting his head towards Oli and licking a long, affectionate stripe up his cheek. Paul looked overjoyed and took a seat on the grass beside them, “Danke, Oli, for looking after him with no notice.”
“My pleasure, he’s been wonderful,” Oli chuckled, fingers finding their way back to Richard’s hair. Approaching slowly with Schneider, Till crouched down and gave the bassist a warm smile,
“He really likes you,” he commented and petted any part of Richard that wasn’t covered by Oli or Paul.
Oli flushed with happiness. The way Richard acted around him told him as much, but it meant a lot coming from someone who knew him so intimately.
Richard, noticing Till’s touch, sat up and hugged him tight - the few hours spent apart had been a few hours too long. “Hi sweetheart,” Till laughed softly, holding his boyfriend to his chest. “Have you said hello to Schnei yet?”
“Reesh, komm her baby.” Schneider coaxed. Richard crawled over on command and nuzzled against his thigh, he smiled, “Good boy. Now, our reservation is for half past eight, which means you have plenty of time to get dressed up. But it shouldn’t have to take hours - you look beautiful as is.”
Richard did spend the rest of the day choosing an outfit, doing his makeup and (spending an absolutely ridiculous amount of time) gelling his hair into meticulous spikes.
Paul had attempted to get a glimpse at what was going on, but was met with a baby-dinosaur-esque noise and a slammed door. He’d wandered off to get ready himself (aka throwing on a clean shirt and jeans) before waiting in the hall, ironically, like a lost puppy. Till and Schneider decided to go more traditional; boots, dark slacks, shirts with the sleeves rolled up and first few buttons undone (the former wearing black and the latter crimson.)
Finally, after about thirty years, Richard emerged from his room. All three of them couldn’t stop their jaws from dropping; his makeup was striking, tight leather trousers and sheer, black blouse leaving little to the imagination.
“Any chance of pushing back our reservation?...” Paul muttered, only half joking. Schneider laughed and shooed him away to finish getting ready, but his mind was in a similar place.
“Nein kann ich nicht, Pauli. You’re going to have to wait,” Schneider put his hands in his pockets and fixed Richard with a burning stare, making him blush. The look said it all - he was gonna get it hard tonight.
“You’re so beautiful Reesh, truly” Till murmured, cupping Richard’s face in a way that wouldn’t smudge the shimmering highlight across his cheekbones.
Richard looked doubtful. “I’m not sure about the shirt...” he mumbled, eyes drifting to one of his more... ‘flamboyant’ ones hanging in his closet, “I might change-“
“Oh look, taxi’s here!” Schneider hurried him out of the room before he could look twice, hands firmly on the hips as he walked behind him. “Paul, komm schon.”
“Coming!” Paul kicked his door shut behind him, fiddling with the grey scarf around his neck. He offered his elbow to Richard and flashed a charming smile, “Ready to go, princess?”
Richard was tempted to argue that he wasn’t a princess, but he wasn’t in the habit of lying to his dominants. Instead, he held Paul’s upper arm, a blush spreading across his cheeks, “Ja, Herr Landers.”
“Good boy.” Paul lead the way out to the taxi, Flake and Oli bringing up the train. While it was unusual for the whole band to partake in date night, Richard didn’t ask - he was more than happy to have their friends tag along. They’d taken their seats and greeted their driver, when Till shot back out of the vehicle.
“Einen Moment!” Till raced back up the steps, returning moments later with a collar in hand. After he slid into his seat and gave the driver directions, he turned to Richard and attached his collar with a loving swipe of his thumb across his neck, “Du hast das vergessen, wunderschön.”
“Danke,” Richard leaned back so Till’s hand was cupping the back of his neck. He slipped his feet out of his boots and stretched his legs, far enough to tap his toes against Paul’s legs. Smiling, Paul held his ankles and waved them gently up and down, always eager to hear his partner giggle.
Schneider’s gaze slid from Richard and Paul’s cute game to Oli, where a flash of colour caught his attention; the bassist’s nails were coated in a red varnish. “Richard?” He guessed.
The tips of Oli’s ears turned pink. “Yeah, he wore me down,” he murmured, curling his fingers to admire his manicure. Richard didn’t say anything, a proud smirk on his face.
“Mmm, he has a knack for that,” Schneider smiled, lacing his fingers with Richard’s and watching Berlin pass by in a blur of lights.
“Then, he ran right into the wall. I saw it coming.”
“I couldn’t see where I was going! How come you didn’t help before I hit my face?”
“And spoil free entertainment? I don’t think so.”
A piece of pasta went flying past Flake’s ear, Paul choked on his drink from laughing so hard, Oli gave Richard a not-so-sneaky high five.
“Richard, behave,” Schneider coughed, smiling despite himself. They were all rather drunk and Richard’s cheeky face was hard enough to be stern with without alcohol.
So far, the night had gone like a dream. Their table was at the back of the restaurant, as requested, with enough privacy that allowed them to eat their meal without being recognised. Best of all, Richard hadn’t stopped smiling since they’d arrived; he’d eaten well and his eyes were sparkling.
And it could only get better.
“Reesh, we actually have something important to ask you,” Till cleared his throat anxiously once their main course was finished, making eye contact with Schneider and Paul, the same nervousness reflected back at him.
“What I want for dessert?” Richard’s eyes glimmered with hope, resting his chin on the palm of his hand.
“Ja, exactly.” Schneider chuckled and slung his arm around the back of Richard’s chair, “And uh, something else too. Paul?”
Paul straightened up and after a moments pause, took Richard’s hand between his own. “Um, we’ve been thinking about something for a while now. This past year has been incredible, for all of us, and it got Till, Schnei and I talking about going more serious.”
“You’re our partner, yes, but we want more than that. We thought you might too.” Schneider continued, cupping his boyfriend’s cheeks who blinked up at him in confusion. “I know we tease you, I call you a brat, but you’re our brat. We wouldn’t have you any other way and, if you accept, we want to collar you. Officially.”
Inhaling sharply, Richard glanced around the table, unsure where to look. Oli offered him a smile of encouragement, while Till held his free hand.
“When Paul brought up the idea, none of us thought twice on it. Our minds are made up, we don’t want anyone else. We want you, Scholle, Wir lieben dich,” The singer murmured.
Richard didn’t say a word and then, tears welled at the corners of his eyes. “I... I hate you all,” he choked through a watery laugh, hands trembling.
“What?” Schneider’s head whipped towards him in surprise. This wasn’t the reaction any of them had anticipated.
“For making me fucking emotional in public,” He continued, dabbing at his eyes with his sleeve.
“Is...” Paul looked confused, and a tad nervous, “is that a yes or?-“
“Of course it’s a yes! Why do you think I’m so worked up? Scheiße...” Richard whimpered, burying his face in Paul’s neck so the others couldn’t see him crying.
“Oh sweetheart...” Schneider murmured, tracing soothing patterns on Richard’s back. He could be so sensitive at times, bless his heart.
When his sobs quieted and he raised his head, hiccuping, Till cupped his cheeks and thumbed away the lingering tears on his cheeks. “Don’t hide, Scholle,” he dropped a kiss on his forehead, “Schnei has a surprise for you.”
“We bought you something, to make it official.” Schneider reached into his pocket, pulled out a small, black box and set it in front of Richard, “Go ahead, Liebe.”
In his current emotional state, Richard couldn’t unlatch the box thanks to his trembling fingers. Paul cupped Richard’s hands with his own, helping him flip back the lid.
“This...” Richard slumped back in his seat and raked his fingers through his hair. The thin, silver chain-link choker was so simple yet stunning. It took his breath away. “This is really happening.”
“We’re dead serious, sweetheart. We choose you,” Paul wrapped his arms around his partner’s middle, close to tears himself, “Think of it like an engagement ring.”
Another tiny sob left Richard’s throat. Suddenly, three pairs of arms were around him instead of one, holding him in a warm embrace. It felt so right; like home, safety, comfort. “I love you...” He whispered, craning his neck to kiss each of his dominants on the cheek before looking back down at the table. “Can I put it on?...”
“Here, let me.” Schneider carefully unlatched his worn leather collar and placed it on the table, replacing it with his new one. The delicate chain settled around Richard’s neck, resting on his collarbones perfectly - as if it had meant to be there all along.