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Tut mir weh, nicht ihm

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Till closed the front door with his heel and shrugged off his jacket. It had been a long day in the studio without Richard by his side, even with Flake as company, the hours had dragged by filled with thoughts of his boyfriend and he was glad to finally be home.

The loud yap followed by a stern “Hush, Reeshy” from the living room brought a smile to his face. Paul and Schneider had been eager to keep Richard out of trouble for the afternoon without his assistance and Oli had decided to join them, despite previous complaints about his stubborn nature. It left Till wondering if he enjoyed the pet-sitting more than he let on.

Upon reaching the living room doorway, he found Richard struggling on Schneider’s knee, trying to break free of his hold. With one look at Till, Richard let out a sharp whine that was shushed with a hand to the back of his neck from Paul. “Shh, Reesh. Hallo Till, good session?”

“Ja, not too bad.” Till nodded, eyeing Richard with slight amusement.

Oli idly scritched behind the pup’s ears, who stilled momentarily before resuming his thrashing. “Flake not with you?”

Till just shook his head. “You know what he’s like, he’ll be back when it gets dark.”

Richard let out another squeak and huffed, smushing his face into Schneider’s neck. The drummer chuckled, “Someone wants your attention, huh?”

Till fondly rolled his eyes and whistled to get Richard’s attention, he always had been a drama queen. “Richard,” he said firmly, signalling towards the ground, “sit.”

Richard flung himself off the sofa and dropped to his knees, he knew the rules; no pets unless he behaved. His legs trembled in anticipation and he couldn’t suppress the soft whimper that bubbled in his throat.

“Good boy.” He praised, crouching down on one knee. At this new angle, he could make out scattered bruises peeking out from under Richard’s collar; something to inquire about later. “Come here, Liebchen.”

Richard shot forward on command, slammed straight into Till’s chest and eagerly lapped at his cheek.

“Calm, calm Scholle! I missed you too.” The larger man laughed, enveloping the squirming man in a bear hug and kissing his nose. He hadn’t expected anything less, of course; ever since Richard began exploring his pup headspace, an over-excited greeting when he returned home became the new norm. “How was he today?” He asked, looking up to his friends.

“He’s been very good, haven’t you liebes?” Paul clicked his tongue and clapped his hands between his legs. Richard nodded as he crawled back to Paul, whining happily as fingers wound into his fluffy hair.

“He did make a mess in the kitchen earlier. ‘ Very good’, Landers?” Schneider chuckled, a faint smile on his face.

Paul clamped his hands over Richard’s ears. “Ja! Nobody’s perfect, Doom, he can’t help getting excited,” he protested, tilting Richard’s chin so he was gazing innocently at Schneider, “look at his face and tell him he’s not a good boy.”

Till smirked to himself; Paul was too soft for his own good and Richard knew it. Whether Paul realised it or not, even in his dominant role, Rich had him wrapped around his black-nailed finger. “I left our updated rules on the fridge before I left. I take it you gave him a timeout for misbehaving like we agreed, yes?”

Schneider, Oli and Paul exchanged glances while Richard sprawled out over Till’s lap. Till quirked an eyebrow as he waited for a response, lifting Richard’s shirt to trail his fingers down his spine.

“We tried to put him in timeout...” Oli started, poking the palm of his hand.

“Correction, we did put him in timeout. But someone,” Schneider shot a glare at Paul, “someone was afraid of hurting his feelings.”

“What was I supposed to do?! I’m not heartless, he looked so upset.” Paul flung his hands in Richard’s direction just as he looked up with the widest puppy-eyes he could muster. “See, just like that! How do you say no to that?!”

“Simple really, ‘no pet, get your ass back in the corner’-“

“Says the man without a soul...”

Poor Oli, stuck in the middle of the bickering men, rolled his eyes at Richard and smiled. “I hope you’re proud of yourself, pitting them against each other all afternoon.”

Richard just grinned and wiggled his hips, a playful gleam in his eyes. The devil took him over when someone else took the leash (quite literally). Nothing on a devastating scale though, like burning the house to ashes, he was a good boy despite what his Doms thought (the kitchen fire had been one time and still, they never let it go.) Hands gripped his waist and he almost purred, arching into the rough touch.

“Such a troublemaker...” Till muttered, but Richard caught his amused gaze; he wasn’t angry. Smiling sweetly in response, he laid still, enjoying his petting and listening to Schneider and Paul teasing one another. “How was he apart from that?” He heard Till ask as he rolled onto his back and wrapped one arm around Schneider’s ankles.

“Good as gold. But you know what Schneider’s like, he really cracks the whip.” Paul snickered, while Schneider smirked and grazed Richard’s cheek with his knuckle.

“What can I say? Our sub enjoys being put in his place, don’t you baby?” The drummer tugged gently at his pup’s dark hair.

Richard whined and nodded, leaning into Schneider’s hand and rubbing his cheek against his leg. Doom was right; being dominated was a pleasurable experience for him in more ways than one. By three different men, no less, all of whom had very different approaches to being dominating.

“He’s been very sweet, in all seriousness.” Oli said sincerely as he stood up to stretch. “We lounged around watching movies, he napped for a while, then we played with him a little. Just calm things.”

Till nodded in approval, Richard never took enough time to rest and recover on his own - hence their extended scenes. Without them on a regular basis, he risked running himself into the ground with exhaustion. He was grateful for times like these and in particular, he was grateful for Paul. Paul was the softest Dominant he’d ever met - all cuddles, pillow-forts and smiles - and he knew Richard like the back of his hand. He brought out a surprisingly warm side to flirtatious, rough, whips-chains-and-lovebites Schneider.

Perhaps that contributed to the lack of jealousy , Till mused. There was no fight for power, only minor clashes between Doom and himself over Richard’s treatment. They were content with the dynamic within the relationship, for the most part; Schneider got a tad rough for his liking.

Richard stirred on his lap, following Oli with his eyes as he wandered into the kitchen. His stomach growled and he flinched, cheeks turning pink.

“Puppy,” Paul cooed softly, “you should have told us you were hungry. Do you want to get takeout for dinner?”

“Uh huh...” Richard nodded and looked up with big eyes, voice soft from staying quiet for so long.

Paul opened his mouth but Schneider butted in, tapping Richard’s collar with his index finger. “What happened to your manners, Princess?” He raised an eyebrow.

“Please can we get takeout, Herr Landers?” Richard, correcting himself without missing a beat, clambered onto Schneider’s knee and smiled sweetly. Usually, he would’ve been reprimanded for getting up without permission but Schneider let it slide, instead gripping Richard’s ass to pull him closer to his chest.

“Of course love, thank you for asking so nicely.” Adoration shone in Paul’s eyes as he planted a kiss on his sub’s forehead. “Be good for Schnei and I’ll get the menu from Oli.” He stood up and Till followed at his heels, but not before giving Richard a gentle kiss.

They’d barely set foot out of he living room when Till decided to spring his question, but it appeared that Paul had been expecting it. “Schneider got a little carried away, nothing to worry about.”

“Did he choke Richard?” Till frowned; where was the line between ‘a little carried away’ and a serious injury? “We discussed that...”

Paul leaned against the kitchen island and shook his head. “Have some faith, Till, he gave Reesh some hickeys. He’s possessive, you know that.”

Till did know that. That didn’t mean he was convinced. “Let me rephrase, did he upset Richard in any way?”

“You tell me.” Paul rolled his eyes softly and moved Till to peek round the door to the sofa, where Schneider and Richard were playfully nipping at each other, both with big smiles on their faces, until Schneider gripped Richard’s jaw and murmured something in his ear. Whatever it was turned the smaller man into a giggling, blushing mess - it was oddly endearing in a flirty, Schneider sort-of way. “Does he seem unhappy to you?”

“No...” Till bit his lip, conflicted. Schneider was his friend whom he trusted with his life, yet when it came to Richard, a switch flicked in his brain. No longer was it his life placed in Schneider’s hands, but sweet, bratty Richard’s admittedly more fragile one. “I always worry, Paul. The thought of something going too far...”

Reaching a hand up to his shoulder, Paul looked up at Till with what he hoped was a soothing expression. “I understand, I do. But what happens between Schneider and Richard is between them, I’m sure they’ve had conversations about boundaries in private, just as he’s has with both of us. We cannot police their dynamic, the best we can do is voice our concerns to Schnei and hope he’ll listen.” He searched Till’s eyes for any gauge of a reaction and squeezed his arm, “Till, we can’t take Reesh away from him simply because his way of showing love isn’t akin to ours.”

As reluctant as he was to agree, Paul was right. Aggression always had been Till’s natural response to conflict; it left no room for vulnerability, self-preservation in its truest form. But communication was key, ten-fold in a relationship such as theirs. “Later, once we’ve eaten and have a quiet place to talk. Oli and Flake don’t need to be involved.”

Paul nodded, pulling back into the room. “Food, right.” He wandered over to the other kitchen door - the one that lead out to their bedrooms - and yelled for their bassist, “Oli, get in here!” Till winced a little; for a man of his size, Paul had an impressive set of lungs.

Oli opened his door and cocked his head, a cup of coffee in hand. “What? I’m three steps away, you could have knocked.”

“I’m too hungry to walk three steps, which is why I need you to order food.” Paul suppressed a grin at Oli’s exasperated expression. “C’mon, please Oli. We’re starving.”

Oli groaned but ducked back into his room, retrieved his menu and shuffled into the kitchen. “Remind me again why this is my job.”

“Till and I are having a conversation, Schneider is busy with Rich and Flake is god knows where, sooooo.” Paul tossed the landline to Oli with a cheeky smile.

“You’re awful at arguing your case.” Having accepted defeat, Oli caught the phone and flipped open the paper menu. “What are we having tonight?-”

“Who’s been murdered?” Richard’s fluffy head interrupted them as he poked around the corner, eyes narrowed as he scanned the room.

Till laughed and reached to touch Richard’s cheek. “Paul, he’s hungry.”

“Understandable,” Richard cocked his hip against the door and elegantly folded his arms, nuzzling into Till’s touch, “I’d scream for food.”

Schneider appeared behind him and snaked an arm around his waist. “Amongst other things.” He smirked. The smaller man rolled his eyes and huffed,

“You suck.”

“I do believe that’s your job, Liebling.”

Richard let out an indignant squeak, turning to smack Schneider’s chest. At the table, Oli choked on his coffee and pressed the receiver into his shoulder, “Don’t need to know...” he mumbled, letting Paul pat his back with a shit-eating grin.

“Schneider isn’t wrong,” Till chuckled, feeling Richard’s cheek heat up. “Though, I hope you haven’t subjected Oli to your pervy comments all afternoon.” One glance at the despair in Oli’s gray eyes told him everything - yes, yes they had.

Paul resisted the urge to coo at his boyfriend’s adorable blush, grinning at Oli instead. “He doesn’t care, huh Oli?” The bassists face said otherwise but to Paul’s credit, he did seem vaguely amused.

“Let him talk, unless you want to go hungry.” Schneider’s eyes rolled to the back of his head, his hands roaming gently over Richard’s hips.

Paul grumbled but complied. He took the seat across from Oli, staring into his eyes while the poor man tried to form proper sentences with all the distractions around him. “Paul- Uh, three chicken noodle soups, danke...”

Sighing fondly, Till turned to look at the two snuggling men in the doorway. The bruises marring Richard’s skin tainted the moment, but seeing Doom’s eyes filled with so much protective affection stirred something inside him. Schneider and himself weren’t that different when he thought about it, and that was exactly what made his insides crawl.

Yawning, Richard snuggled closer to Schneider, knowing he was safe in his arms, and angled his head to brush his lips against his cheek. Receiving only a slight hum in response, his eyebrows furrowed, hands moving to paw at Schneider’s shirt.

“I see you, liebchen, you have my attention.” Schneider chuckled, cupping Richard’s cheeks with his calloused hands and running one thumb along his pouty lower lip. The younger man melted into his touch, as expected - neediness normally meant nap-time was around the corner. “Go rest your pretty head before dinner.”

“Not tired, Sir...” Richard sucked Schneider’s thumb into his mouth, blinking his green eyes up at him with the slightest shake of his head. Sighing, Schneider pursed his lips in disapproval, “Don’t lie to me, Reesh. Go lay down.”

Folding his arms across his chest, Richard shook his head again, not once lowering his gaze. Sometimes, arguing with him was like trying to move a marble pillar; hard work, incredibly frustrating and damn near impossible.

“Richard.” Schneider’s piercing eyes flashed, warning. This wasn’t happening, Richard’s tendency to crash and burn was long out of hand. “It’s not up for debate.” He slid one hand down Richard’s throat to curl two fingers around the leather of his collar, more encouraging than intimidating, briefly catching Paul’s gaze who nodded in his direction.

Richard whimpered softly and Till stiffened, straightening against the counter. “C’mon baby, I’ll lay down with you,” he butted in, offering his hand to Richard.

Schneider looked over at him in surprise, then back to Richard’s wide stare. He took a calming breath and smiled softly, leaning down to rest his forehead against Richard’s. “That sounds nice, huh, spending time with Daddy?”

A shy smile quirked at Richard’s mouth, he nodded with little hesitation. “Yeah...”

“Good boy. Ich liebe dich, bunny...” He murmured and rubbed noses with his boyfriend, then shimmied him in Till’s direction. Richard beamed, snuggling close to Till before leaning back to peck Schneider’s lips. “Hab dich auch liebe.”

“What about me, ah?” Till smiled, lifting Richard to carry him over his shoulder and dropping a kiss on his hip.

The smaller man giggled and kicked his legs, his nose scrunching in laughter. “Ich liebe dich drei, Daddy!”

“Hey!” Paul jumped up on his chair, a hurt expression on his face. “Don’t I get any love?”

“Ich liebe dich vier, Oli! Und ich liebe dich fünf, Paulchen!” He yelled back, in the process of being carried out of the kitchen, hearing Paul cheer and Oli call a soft ‘love you too’ in response.

Then there came a pause.

“How come Oli’s further up the list than me?! Bullshit!... Reesh?!”

Richard threw back his head and laughed - how easy it was to get under Paul’s skin. Till dropped him on the sofa with a gentle thud, giving him the opportunity to stifle his giggling with a pillow.

“Awful boy, upsetting Paul like that,” Schneider leaned over the back of the sofa and clicked his tongue. But as Richard peeked up at him, he winked, eyes shining with amusement. This brought on the second wave of laughter, even Till chuckled as he slid in to lie behind Richard and wrap his strong arms around him.

“You’re so silly...” He rumbled low in his throat, nosing at his boyfriend’s dark hair. Once Richard calmed a little, they cuddled in peaceful silence for a few minutes, just listening to each other’s breathing. At some point, Schneider had taken to the armchair beside the sofa and was observing with a watchful gaze.

“Daddy, can I have a cigarette?” Richard mumbled into Till’s chest. He was headstrong but deep in his headspace, it wasn’t unusual for him to ask for things he really didn’t need permission for.

“Outside Scholle, Flake will murder us if we smoke in here.” Till nudged him upright and dug in his pocket for his lighter. Arching his back, Richard rolled to his feet and rubbed his eyes slowly with his knuckles. At his heels, Till held him by his waist for support, “Kommen, Schnei?”

The drummer shook his head, “Nein, he hasn’t seen you all day. Don’t let him get cold.”

“You know I won’t,” he shuffled over to the balcony door and slid it back, gently swinging Richard over the doorframe like he weighed nothing more than bag of feathers. It was warm despite the sun’s rapid descent in the sky, now only an orange glow outlining the horizon. Till nudged the door closed for privacy, fumbled with his pack of cigarettes and held one up for Richard to take. Ducking his head, Richard took it between his lips, flushing as Till clicked his lighter to light it for him.

“Danke,” He shyly mumbled before taking a drag, blowing the smoke out in a steady stream.

Pulling him closer to his side, Till smiled, “Bitte, liebe.”  Richard went limp against him and he idly stroked the skin peeking out from under his collar - he had so many questions yet not a single idea where to begin. His hand moved from his neck to his ear and Richard made a noise in the back of his throat, maybe letting him finish his cigarette first would be a good start.

“How was your day?” He eventually asked softly, chin atop Richard’s head.

Richard’s eyebrow quirked, “Schnei and Paulchen told you, we had a good day.”

“I want to know about your day, Reesh. What did you get up to?”

Richard ran a hand through his hair, “I woke up, walked about ten steps to the bathroom, pissed, closed the- no, I washed my hands then closed the door, took sixteen steps to my closet, detailed enough?” He snarked.

“Ja, you’ve made your point, brat,” chuckled Till, snatching the end of Richard’s cigarette to steal the final drag.

“You sound like Schneider...” He grumbled and propped his chin on his palm, drumming the tips of his fingers across his cheekbone.

Till chose to ignore that comment. “I hate the days when we’re apart, you know I don’t mean to pry,” he stubbed the cigarette butt out on the railing and laced fingers with Richard, “I worry, Rich, you know me.”

“Worry about what, not being there to protect me from Paulchen?” Richard snorted, looking at Till out the corner of his eye with an amused smile.

‘It’s not Paul I’m concerned about.’ Shaking his head, Till huffed out a laugh, “Paul couldn’t hurt a fly if he threw his whole body into it. Except when he gets his hands on that fucking whip.” He shuddered at the memories; Paul had taken such a liking to the gag gift that it had ultimately been locked away for Richard’s -everyone’s- safety.

“I almost miss that old thing, he always looked so cute brandishing it like a madman.” Richard mused, grinning. “If not Paul, I know it’s certainly not Oli who’s troubling you, then Doom? Please, Schnei’s all bark and no bite.”

Sure doesn’t seem that way.’ For a split second, Till’s mouth twisted in a grimace - one that he quickly tried to hide.

But it wasn’t quick enough, the shine of amusement left Richard’s green eyes as fast as it had appeared. “It is, isn’t it?..” He murmured, trailing his hands down Till’s shoulders to rest on his chest. “Talk to me, Bär, what’s wrong?”

Till shook his head, avoiding eye contact, “It’s nothing, it’s not important.”

“I hate it when you say that, don’t say it’s nothing.” Richard begged as he worried his lower lip between his teeth. “Till, please, just spit it out.” Again, softer, nervous. “Daddy...”

Shit. “We, uh- We had an argument in the studio yesterday,” Till fumbled, holding Richard gently by his waist. “We didn’t want to stress you out over something so trivial, that’s why we kept it to ourselves.”

Visibly relaxing, the smile returned to Richard’s pretty face and Till knew he’d dodged a bullet by the skin of his teeth. “That’s why you’ve been a little off with each other?”

Till nodded but thankfully didn’t have to elaborate; the doorbell rang and, like some kind of chaotic guardian angel, Paul shouted something incoherent and scrambled towards the door. “I think that’s Paul for ‘dinner’s here’.” he chuckled and flipped Richard over his shoulder who squealed in surprise, conversation apparently forgotten. “Let’s get some food in you.”

————————————————

Night had fallen long before Flake returned home. When he had, they’d only managed brief hellos before Richard decided that he should be the centre of attention again and sprang onto the kitchen table, having slipped back into his pup-space midway through his meal.

“I have one rule in this house, Reesh: do not clamber where we eat.” Flake hung up his jacket and looked from Till, to Paul, to Schneider; he wasn’t Richard’s Dominant and wasn’t about to overstep his bounds.

Paul patted his knees in encouragement, “Reeshy, come here baby. Flake needs to eat.”  Richard cocked his head to look at him, pupils dilated in interest. “Where’s your ball? Fetch your ball, liebling.”

‘Ball!’  Richard rocketed off the table like he’d been shocked, yelping loudly and narrowly avoiding running headfirst into the wall. ‘Ballballballballballball!!’

“Be careful!” Shaking his head in amusement, Schneider pressed his palms to his eyesockets. “What have you done?...” he groaned.

“... Ball?” Paul offered helpfully, pressing his lips together to keep from laughing. In the distance, there was a thud, a pause, and another loud bark. “You gonna join us?”

Schneider sighed, knowing he didn’t actually have a choice, “I might as well, it’ll tire him out. Hopefully.” He followed Paul out into the main room, where Till was lazing on the sofa with his feet dangling off one end. “Till will join, I’m sure.”

“Was?” Till perked up, glancing up from his phone just as a blurred lump flew from the hallway to land on his chest with a thud. “Scheiße!”

Grinning as well as one could with a rubber ball lodged between their teeth, Richard straightened up atop Till and stuck his nose in the air, proudly showing off his toy.

“Who’s a clever boy, huh?” Paul gushed, cupping Richard’s cheek and brushing his fingers along his jaw. Richard’s eyes shone in a way that said ‘It’s me, I’m the clever boy!’ - had he actually owned a tail it would no doubt be spinning in circles. “Give it here, liebchen.”

Richard dropped the ball on command and clambered to the floor, shifting restlessly until the ball went flying across the room and smacked the skirting board. Yipping, he gave chase and came to a screeching halt at the wall, rolling the ball back with his nose. When he reached his boyfriends, he nudged it towards their feet and sat back with an expectant look in his eyes.

Schneider chuckled and twirled Richard’s hair, “Yes, you’re a good boy.” Richard preened at the praise, eyeing the ball in his hand. This time, it was drop-kicked with so much force it ricocheted off the wall and hit the adjacent window.

This rather violent method of fetch carried on for the best part of fifteen minutes, till Flake popped his head out of the kitchen. “Watch the wallpaper,” he chided.

Richard yapped an apology and wound himself around Paul’s legs, almost bringing the smaller man down to the floor beside him.

“Danke,” Flake cracked a smile and disappeared again. It didn’t take long for the three men to resume the frantic passing of the ball, whether Flake hadn’t noticed or was actively ignoring their chaos wasn’t clear.

Schneider kicked the ball particularly hard and Richard followed its path from one wall, to another, to another, to... It was gone. He huffed through his nose in displeasure, Paul laughed softly.

“Don’t fret, it can’t have gone far.” He rounded the sofa and dropped to his knees, feeling around under the bookshelf and finding nothing but empty space. “Schnei, is it over by you?” He glanced over his shoulder and stopped dead. Richard and Schneider had vanished. Narrowing his eyes, Paul glanced around the room - the balcony door was shut, as was the one that lead to the hallway. “Richard, where are you baby?” He called, moving to peer under the coffee table.

“Think fast, Landers.”

“Huh?-“ Paul spun around and collided face-first with the ball. He watched the offending object skitter away in shock, only snapping out of it when he heard snickering from behind the sofa. “Oh yeah, very funny.”

The snickering evolved into cackling  and Richard poked his head out to grin at his boyfriend, before a large hand pulled him back behind shelter.

“What happened to not wanting to play, huh Schneider?” Paul rolled his eyes with a smile. At least the drummer was lightening up for once, even if it was at the expense of his forehead, “And you say I’m childish.”

“Pfft, you’re jealous that Reeshy’s on my team and not yours,” came the voice from behind the furniture, accompanied by more giggling.

“That’s not fair, it’s two against one!” Paul scowled and tossed the ball between his hands - if he aimed it right maybe he could smack it off the back of Schneider’s head. “Till, come help me.”

“I’m not taking sides,” Till grunted, sinking further into the sofa cushions.

“Unbelievable... Till.”

“I said no.”

“Lindemaaaaannnn!” Paul grabbed Till’s shirt and attempted to haul him upright without much success.

“Ja ja, kommen...” Till slid to his feet, murmuring something about ‘gonna be the death of me’ that was drowned out by Paul’s victory cry. It really didn’t do much to argue with the man.

“Hah, you don’t stand a chance!” Sing-songed Paul, creeping round one side of the furniture while Till took the other.

“Yes, I’m the child here,” Schneider’s eye roll was audible. But his sarcasm was cut short by a hand grabbing him by the ankle, dragging him out to the middle of the room. His kidnapper, Till, quickly got him in a headlock, and Paul took great delight in clinging to him like a spider-monkey.

“Reesh, help me, you’re my only hope!” Schneider choked, trying to get Paul off of his back by digging his fingers into his ribs.

Richard sat up straight, his ball back in his mouth. Apprehension filled his chest, he didn’t want one -or any- of his dominants to get hurt. They’re smiling, it’s okay’. On first thought, he could fend them off, he wasn’t small by any means - but Till was much bigger. Second thought, he didn’t stand a chance if he went at it alone.

They were distracted, he just had to move quickly.

Richard took the opening and skittered across enemy lines, crawling onto the kitchen tiles and towards the table. He disappeared under one side, then popped up beside Oli and dropped his toy on his knee.

Oli looked down in surprise, “You want me to join in?” He asked, scooping up the discarded ball. Richard barked and sat back on his haunches, waiting patiently as the bassist stood up and glanced at the fighting men in the living room. Eventually, he huffed and nudged Oli’s knee with his cheek - hurry up!

“Richard, bad! No cheating!”

“He’s not cheating, Till is the equivalent of two people at leas- Ow, you bastard!”

Chuckling, Oli held the ball close to his leg, “Want to go get them?” He reached down with his free hand, a smile spreading across his lips as Richard tilted his chin to press into his palm with a wicked grin. “Lass uns gehen.”

Richard’s speedy return with his new teammate prompted a scream of terror from Paul and a triumphant snarl from Schneider. He yapped and slammed straight into Till with a surprising amount of force, allowing Schneider to break free from his chokehold.

“Oli’s an athlete, that’s an unfair advantage!” Paul ducked to avoid the ball that came hurtling by his ear. “Will you stop aiming for my face?!”

“It’s such an easy target,” Schneider laughed as he rolled to his feet, standing between Richard and Oli. Having regained his footing, Till lunged for him again, the pair landing on the floor in a flurry of fists and snarls.

Eager to get even, Paul joined the struggle, though he didn’t seem to care very much about who’s hair he had in his fist, or skin between his teeth - any hit that landed was a win.

Despite being more than tempted to drag Flake into the mix, Richard knew better than to do so - he wasn’t the type to play rough. Brushing his disappointment aside, he crawled closer before flinging himself onto Till’s back with a giggle; he enjoyed these games.

Eventually, even Oli threw himself into the thick of it, being extra mindful of Richard while he swept Paul up and dangled him by his ankles - suddenly, the guitarist’s screaming at the sight of him seemed a lot more justified.

The mini-war raged on for a lot longer than intended until, finally, Richard slumped on his back in exhaustion, chest heaving and cheeks flushed.

“Time for bed, I think,” panted Till, leaning heavily on the back of the sofa.

Schneider wiped the sweat from his forehead and huffed, “Agreed. Who’s he sleeping with tonight?”

“Daddy...” Richard whined sleepily, his head on Paul’s lap. Till nodded gently, lifted Richard under his arms and held him steady.

“Alright baby, say goodnight and we’ll get you tucked in.” He kissed Richard’s hair and turned him gently so his back was to his chest.

“Gute Nacht...” He repeated, rubbing his eyes with the back of his hand.

“Sweet dreams, beautiful,” Schneider murmured as he stepped forward, ghosting his hand against Richard’s cheek.

Richard flashed a goofy, sleepy smile and leaned closer to connect their lips, sighing as their mouths overlapped, “Love you, Schnei...”

A final few kisses later and Schneider moved aside to let Paul have his turn, sitting down on the sofa and picking up a book from the coffee table.

Paul pulled his boyfriend into a tight embrace, Richard looked surprisingly small in his arms, height difference be damned, “I love you so much, go get your beauty sleep...” Over Richard’s shoulder, he caught Till’s gaze and understood the look in his eyes - I’m getting the talk over with now.

“Love you too, Paulchen...” Richard whispered into his neck, breathing in his familiar scent as fingers ran through his hair, clinging on as tight as he could.

Till squeezed his arm gently in encouragement, “C’mon Scholle, you’re swaying on your feet.”

“Not yet...” Richard held up a finger and broke away from Paul, gazing up at Oli expectantly. Till sighed but smiled, humouring him.

Shy, Oli reached out to pet Richard’s head, “Goodnight, Reesh. I promise we’ll play ball again tomorrow.”

“Gute Nacht, Oli,” Eyes shining, he nuzzled Oli’s palm and fell back against Till, who scooped him up and kissed his forehead.

Sleepy Richard was something of a treat for Till; often times he despised being picked up and made it very clear that he was not a baby. He cherished the limited moments when Richard allowed it, or was simply too tired to argue.

“Gute Nacht, Flake.” The guitarist slurred as they passed the kitchen, cheek smushed into his boyfriend’s shoulder.

“Gute Nacht!” Flake called back, Richard made a happy noise in the back of his throat and settled again. As badly as he wanted to stay up and play, he was exhausted beyond belief - his bed was calling him.

————————————————

Till closed the bedroom door softly behind him; waking Richard was the last thing he wanted to do, talking to Doom coming in close second. But it had to be done. Upon walking into the living room, he found Schneider reading alone. It seemed that Paul had retreated to his room but he shouldn’t have expected any different; he’d always despised conflict. He cleared his throat, time to get this over with. “Christoph.”

“Ja?” Schneider looked up as he marked his page and set the book down beside him. Neither him nor Till moved from their respective places. The air between them was tense, he knew something was wrong. “Is there a problem?”

Eyes hardening, Till folded his arms across his chest. “Ja. We need to talk.”

Chapter Text

In Till’s mind, the best approach to this sort of situation was a calm discussion in the privacy of the kitchen.

“How dare you, I would never hurt Richard. Do you hear me?” Schneider hissed, running a hand though his hair in an effort to calm himself down.

However, it hadn’t exactly gone to plan.

He couldn’t blame Schneider for getting worked up. Maybe stirring the pot further was a bad idea, but the rage bubbling inside him was proving difficult to suppress. “Actions over words. Physical evidence over excuses.”

“I didn’t batter him black and blue, for heaven’s sake!” Schneider rose from his chair. “I don’t have an excuse, I marked him. It was consensual, okay Till? I got his explicit consent before, during and after, and Richard will attest to that.”

Till stiffened, “I’ve known Richard for years, he’s never had interest in any of that stuff. He wouldn’t change for you, or anyone for that matter.”

“Or perhaps,” Schneider stated coldly, “you don’t know Richard as well as you think.”

“Bullshit, what do you know? He tells me everything, always has,” Till knew he sounded like a petulant child, he didn’t have the energy to care.

“What do I know?” The drummer’s grip on the edge of the table turned his knuckles white, “I know I have more experience being a dominant than you and Paul combined, I know  I have experience with subs like Richard. But here you are, questioning my methods. I have strict rules, we are all aware of how seriously I take this relationship. Do you honestly think I would be so inconsiderate of his needs?”

“Honestly, I don’t know what to think-“

“Exactly, you don’t have the full story because you won’t let me speak!” Schneider slammed his fist on the table and immediately regretted it; there was shuffling just beyond the door. Both men froze, staring at the door handle with held breath. Till prayed to whatever god would listen that it was Paul, at least he knew what was going on.

“What’s going on?...” Richard yawned and rubbed his eyes, nudging the door to shuffle into the room. His hands came away black, the remnants of makeup staining his eyes like a panda, and he blinked.

Schneider forced a smile but his tone was shaky, “Nichts, go back to sleep bunny.”

“Mmm...” Glancing from Till’s angry expression to Schneider’s clenched fists, Richard shook his head, “Say it’s nothing again, I will hit you both with that dishcloth,” he pointed at the counter, suddenly very alert and surprisingly menacing for someone who’d just rolled out of bed.

Till paused, prepared to lie and face the wrath of the cloth if it meant sparing Richard’s feelings. Schneider, not so much. “He thinks I’m abusing you,” he said, unable to keep his voice from straining.

“I didn’t say that, nor do I think it. Context is important, I wanted to have a civil conversation,” Till interjected calmly and crossed his arms across his chest.

The drummer exploded. “What fucking context?! You dragged me in here and accused me of mistreating our partner, there’s nothing civil about that!”

“I didn’t accuse you of anything, Christoph. We should expl-“

“It was heavily implied,” Schneider seethed, rubbing his forehead with a shaky hand. Till fell silent and turned his head away.

Astounded, Richard took a moment to process everything he’d just heard - it was a lot to take in, let alone in the middle of the night. Till looked miserable, dejected even, like a child who was bracing themselves for punishment before their fate was even decided. On the other hand, Schneider was a ticking time bomb on the verge of explosion, every fibre of his body radiating aggression. But Richard knew the man well enough to notice the glimmer of hurt in his eyes too; arguments aside, Schneider valued Till’s trust and friendship.

“We need to talk, clearly. I knew something was wrong...” he sighed, stretching his arms above his head as he sat between his two fighting partners. “Can we be adults about this, please? It’s too late for playground bullshit.”

“Ja, liebchen...” Till mumbled, keeping his gaze trained on the floor and slowly taking a seat. To Richard’s right, Schneider followed suit and nodded curtly.

“Start from the beginning, so I can understand,” he urged, taking both of their hands - Till visibly relaxed and the ice in Schneider’s gaze melted a little. “I don’t care who goes first but don’t talk over each other.”

Nobody spoke, until Till did.

“I started it. I wanted to talk to Schneider about your neck, I was concerned. It wasn’t supposed to end in a fight...” He murmured, looking up with his naturally sad eyes, “I hate the thought of failing to protect you, Reesh, even when it’s not necessary...”

Richard raised a hand to his neck, tracing around his markings and along the faint ring left by his collar, lips parting in an ‘O’ shape, “Did Schnei tell you how I got them?”

“I tried to, he thinks I’m lying.” Schneider grumbled, chin on his palm, “Repeatedly, I explained that it was consensual, and still it won’t sink in. As if I’d ever lay a hand on you without asking...” A hand touched his cheek, he couldn’t resist flinching.

“Schnei, love, look at me,” Richard coaxed in the tone that always made Schneider’s anger melt away. His boyfriend turned to bury his nose his his hair, breath huffing against his ear.

The guitarist smiled softly -as tough as Schneider acted, he was a sweetheart deep down- and beckoned Till into his other side so he could snuggle them both. “Why didn’t you think to ask me about this, meine süßen Jungs? Can you not trust me, hmm?”

“I- No!” Till spluttered, clutching Richard’s side. “We wanted to spare your feelings, save you the stress. Stupid...”

“No, not stupid. Regardless of how it played out, you were being thoughtful.” Richard hummed. Schneider nosed at his earlobe and his breath hitched, “But communication is more important to me than avoiding hurt feelings. I love you both, and Pauli, so much, nothing you could ever say would hurt as much as feeling like you can’t talk to me.”

“We love you too. I can’t speak for Schneider, but I’m sorry,” Till murmured earnestly. Schneider nodded, biting his lip like he was holding back his words. 

Richard nudged against him gently, “What’s wrong, Schnei?” 

“You said ‘nothing we could say’, not even... your makeup looks awful?” Schneider flashed a cheeky smile. He was well aware of the severity of the situation but knowing it might bring a smile to his boyfriend’s face, he couldn’t resist teasing. Especially when Richard had provided him with the perfect opportunity.

“Your hair is a mess?” Till mumbled, catching Schneider’s eye.

“You drive like an octopus on crack?”

“Black really isn’t your colour?”

“I can still reach the dishcloth, you know,” Richard grumbled, but curled closer into his partners with a smile. He didn’t expect them to be best buddies within seconds, far from it, but was grateful that the urge to strangle each other had subsided. If it meant putting up with incessant teasing, he’d just have to deal with it.

Schneider arched an eyebrow, “You’re too soft to hit us, sweetheart. No matter how much we irritate you.”

“Which happens to be quite a lot.” Richard smirked, idly flicking under his manicured nails.

“Oh yeah?” The drummer chuckled and brushed his knuckles across Richard’s jaw. “Are you being cheeky?”

Richard fluttered his eyelashes, a smile curling the corners of his mouth, “Of course not, Sir.”

“Mmm, that wasn’t very convincing. What do you think, Till?” He threaded his fingers through Richard’s hair. Till tapped his chin as if he was deep in thought; Schneider knew it was just part of the act.

“Not convincing at all,” He tugged Richard onto his lap and held him to his chest, preventing him from escaping. “Do you remember what happens to cheeky pups, Reesh?”

Richard shook his head in protest; he did know what happened to cheeky pups and hoped that playing dumb would save himself.

“I daresay he needs a reminder,” Schneider stood up and Till followed, putting Richard over his shoulder in a fireman’s hold. He let out a tiny squeak, a second one stifled by Schneider’s hand. “Shh, be a good boy.”

Richard huffed and darted his tongue out to lick his boyfriend’s hand. Earlier, he had been tempted to spend the night with Paul instead, but their conversation had ended better than expected and Till’s bed was big  enough for at least five people. Though he knew what was coming, he didn’t fight. Struggling would be futile.

Till dropped him on the bed gently, while Schneider threw his shirt on the ground and crawled on top of him with a devilish grin. “Are you ready?” He cooed, shifting to give Till some space beside Richard.

No, Richard was absolutely not ready - he barely had a second to gather himself before fingers were digging into his ribs and stomach. Yelping, he squirmed from side to side, unable to get up due to his partners holding him down, “Don’t-ah!”

“Don’t what, Liebling?” Schneider knew full well that the wriggling man beneath him wouldn’t be able to speak coherently; his ticklish-ness was his downfall. Still, he continued his torture with an innocent smile.

Richard arched up off the mattress, an escape attempt that even he had to admit was rather feeble. “Not... t-there!” He whined through his giggles.

“Not here?” Till punctuated each word with a soft jab to the ribs.

Richard shrieked, almost at the point of hysterics. More prods made laughter bubble in his throat until he was utterly breathless and curled on his side.

Till pulled his back to his chest, his touches firm to avoid another laughing fit. “So noisy,” He chuckled affectionately, glancing up and locking eyes with Schneider, who laughed and smoothed Richard’s hair.

This was what mattered in their relationship - spending quality time together, allowing Richard to let his guard down and relax for one. Not who was stronger, or more experienced, or more in control. They could put aside their differences for Richard’s sake.

A cough came from the doorway, Till craned his neck to look over his shoulder. Paul was leaning against the doorframe, arms folded and eyebrows raised in amusement.

“You’re having a secret cuddle fest and didn’t think I’d find out?”

Richard snorted, pulled back the covers and beckoned Paul over. The smaller man ran and jumped, landing on his boyfriend with little grace.

“What did I miss?” He grinned, manoeuvring between the other guitarist’s thighs and dropping a kiss on his forehead.

Schneider swatted Paul’s elbow out of his face, “Nothing exhilarating.”

“Being in my presence isn’t exhilarating?” Richard gasped in faux outrage, dramatically throwing his arm over his eyes while Till laughed into his shoulder. “Here I was thinking you adored me, Christoph Schneider.”

“Watch it, you.” An affectionate smirk on his face, Schneider moved Richard’s arm away to gaze into his eyes. He pinched his cheeks between his thumb and index finger, till the smaller man had no choice but to part his lips. “What an attitude you have tonight, pet.”

“So much sass,” Till agreed, making Richard huff and glare at him - you were supposed to defend me, you traitor.

“Oh really?” Paul quirked an eyebrow, reaching up to thumb across Richard’s jutting lower lip. “Maybe I can change that.” He waited for Schneider’s hands to be out of the way to attack his boyfriend with purposely sloppy kisses, smothering them all over his face.

“Pauli!” Richard squeaked in protest, attempting to shield his face only to have his wrists pinned to the bed.

“Don’t hide, pretty little thing,” Schneider licked a stripe up his neck, pausing to coo next to his ear. Blushing, Richard shuddered and angled his head to give Schneider more access.

“M’tired...” He whined softly. However, he didn’t complain when more bruises were sucked onto his skin, or when Till began nipping at his collarbone, or when Paul’s hands slid under his shirt to toy with the waistband of his shorts.

“Shh, baby, let us take care of you...”

It seemed he wasn’t going to get much sleep after all.

————————————————

Fear knotted Till’s gut the second he woke up the next morning to find the bed empty beside him. Richard.

Schneider and Paul were missing too but that didn’t concern him as much; Richard never woke up early. They’d gone to bed on good terms (brilliant, considering how the night had evolved) and yet, the absence of his boyfriend worried him.

Till swung his legs over the side of the bed, padded to the door with a sigh, and tried to swallow down his nausea. Richard didn’t seem like the type to run away, but given a deep headspace and a stressful situation...  “Reesh?” He called, looking in each room he passed on his way to the living room.

No sign of Richard, but Flake was sprawled on the sofa with a book in hand. He looked up at Till and smiled softly, “Oli took him on a run, they should be back soon.”

Breathing a sigh of relief, Till nodded without elaborating. Somehow, he got the feeling that Flake already had a sense of what was going on. “Paul and Schneider around?”

“Paul could be anywhere, Doom is in there,” Flake jerked his thumb in the direction of the kitchen and returned to his reading.

“Danke,” Till felt the apprehension rising in his chest before he had even set foot in the kitchen, he couldn’t stand awkwardness. Schneider had his back to him, frying something on the stove. Despite his gut telling him not to, he forced himself to speak, “Good morning.”

“Morning,” the drummer greeted in response, giving him a small smile, “coffee?” He gestured towards the pot on the countertop.

“Ja, bitte,” Till smiled in return, perching on the edge of the table, the tension leaving his muscles.

True to Flake’s word, the sound of a key in a lock signalled Oli and Richard’s return. As soon as the door opened, Richard burst into the hall with a bark. He made a beeline straight for the unsuspecting keyboard player, still hyper despite his massive walk.

Flake ended up with an ecstatic pup on his lap, his nose wrinkled in disgust. He wouldn’t have minded if Richard hadn’t been drenched in dirt and sweat. “You’re gross. Go take a shower.” He tried to shoo Richard away and got another affectionate face-full of sweaty hair. “Shower, Richard!”

Snickering, Richard scampered off to hide behind a kitchen stool. A large hand came to rest on top of his head and he yipped in surprise, looking up with his massive, green eyes.

“Guten morgen, beautiful. What mischief have you been getting into?” Till grinned, bending to gather Richard in his arms. Richard squirmed a little, a few kisses to his nose had him calmed, and he happily kneaded at his partner’s chest.

“No mischief. Well, apart from a few muddy puddles,” Oli looked thoroughly worn out for a man of his athletic ability, but happy. “He’s so fast, I had no idea.”

Apparently out of nowhere, Paul stumbled up behind the bassist and leaned heavily against him. “Told you... to slow down,” he heaved, trying and failing to catch his breath, “legs... too long...”

Behind Till, Schneider laughed, obviously imagining Paul trying to keep up with Oli and Richard, “Flake’s right, you’ll track mud everywhere if you don’t take a bath. Go clean up before breakfast’s ready.”

Richard shot off again, dragging poor, breathless Paul behind him as he made a dash for the bathroom, and even Flake smiled a little.

None of them would get tired of Richard’s playful side.

————————————————

Once Richard was cleaned and fed (and a considerable amount of water was mopped from the bathroom tiles), he padded back outside to enjoy the rare sunshine. Oli too slipped after him, quiet so as not to draw much attention to himself.

The bassist’s shyness never failed to warm Schneider’s heart; Oliver had been withdrawn since he’d joined the band, which made his newfound fondness of Richard all the more sweet.

Hearing giggling drifting up from the lawn, Till glanced out the window to an adorable sight; Oli and Paul pushing Richard up and down the driveway on one of the bassist’s old skateboards. Richard was sitting cross-legged, not experienced enough to stand up, holding Paul’s hand while Oli held his sides.

“How is it that everything he does is so cute?” Schneider fondly shook his head, joining the singer in his Richard-watching.

“Must be delusions,” Flake said, emerging from his room, “He could projectile vomit in an enclosed space with us and somehow, you’d still find it adorable.”

Till and Schneider looked at each other and shrugged - Flake might have been joking but it wasn’t far from the truth.

Soon enough, thunderous feet pounded up the stairs and Richard bounded in from the hall. Schneider opened his arms, catching Richard as he ran at him and flung his arms around his neck, “Wie gehts, bunny?”

“Good!” Richard beamed, burying his face in Schneider’s neck and clinging to him like a koala.

“That’s what I like to hear,” the drummer cooed and kissed the shell of Richard’s ear, keeping his arms tight around him.

Paul cleared his throat softly, wandering in to run his fingers through Richard’s dark hair. “The grownups need to talk, honey. Why don’t you go take a nap? You can choose a movie for us to watch when you wake up.”

Richard nodded without any of his usual fuss - they had Oli to thank for using up his excess energy. He kissed each of them on the cheek before he padded off, waving sweetly on his way out, “Ich liebe dich.”

“Ich liebe dich!” They called back in unison, watching his happy wiggle as he nudged open the door to Paul’s room - no doubt to gather sweaters to nest in. He repeated this little ritual with each of their rooms, then shuffled into his own and shut the door.

“Adorable...” Till murmured what they were all thinking.

“So,” Paul slung his arm around Schneider’s waist, “How did your talk go last night?”

Schneider blinked down at him, surprised, “You knew?”

“What don’t I know?” The guitarist waved his hand and grinned. “Komm schon, if you don’t tell me Reesh will. He lives for gossip.”

“It went fine, Paul. Do you really think we’d be here together if it hadn’t?” Till mused, the guitarist could be so oblivious at times.

Paul pouted, “Disappointing. I thought I’d get to see a few punches, at least.”

“And risk Reesh losing his shit? I don’t think so,” Schneider rolled his eyes, amused. “Not that I wasn’t tempted, I am glad it didn’t get to that point.”

“I’ll take you right here, right now.” Till shrugged, beckoning with both hands. His straight face lasted mere moments, seeing Schneider’s playfully raised fists made him snort with laughter.

Relaxed, the trio drifted into silence, listening to the soft strumming coming from Richard’s room, a series of notes none of them had heard before.

Paul stared off into space, forehead creasing, “I’ve been thinking-“

“That’s a first,” Schneider chuckled.

“Shut up,” The smaller man scowled, “I’ve been thinking. We started dating Richard at different times but he’s been our pup for a while, at least eight months for each of us. He’s still wearing cheap collars that we use onstage, I think it’s about time we got him a proper one - his collar, with his name and everything. Maybe now isn’t the right time, but I think it would bring us closer together.”

Paul looked between the two other men. Till exhaled softly, “That’s not a bad idea, it matters to Richard that he knows where he stands in life. There’s no doubt in my mind that I only want Richard as my submissive.”

“We actually agree on something for once,” Schneider smiled, pulling Paul closer to put an arm around his shoulders. “It’s important that Richard knows we’re serious about choosing him. A collaring ceremony is a great idea.”

Paul quivered with excitement, the joy evident in his expression, “When should we ask him?” He was impatient by nature but Till and Schneider couldn’t blame him - this was important to all of them.

“Patience, we have one shot to make this special.” Till chuckled, copying Schneider by putting him arm around the guitarist and squeezing him. “We will ask him in time. First, there’s a lot to prepare.”

Chapter Text

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.

Chapter Text

“I’m glad Oli and Flake decided to come,” Richard knelt up in the shopping cart, idly fiddling with the silver chain around his neck. He’d only taken it off once and it felt like losing a limb, it hadn’t left his body since.

Till, deciding between two bags of crisps, smiled down at him, “We’re glad too, Reesh. It was a lovely idea to invite them.”

Beaming, Richard held the edge of the cart and put his chin on his hands. “They’re family, couldn’t leave them behind. And choose both, Bär. I’m hungry, and we all know you’ll be here for days if you try to choose.”

“You know me too well,” Till sighed, dropping the packets beside Richard and pushing him to the end of the isle. “Where to now?”

“Dieser Weg!” Richard pointed towards the back of the store, where he knew Schneider would be; his partner wanted a drink, or four. As he was pushed further between the isles, despite the few strange looks he received, his smile grew wider in excitement. They still had a long way to go, but they’d reach their destination soon. That’s all that mattered.

Since they’d pulled into the parking lot for a much needed break, everyone had gone their separate ways bar Till and Richard. Oli had said something about hot food and, after promising to bring back a milkshake for Richard, had left with Paul to find the nearest fast food place. They’d caught a glimpse of Flake from the storefront windows where he was stretching his legs, the cramped van was a bit too social for his liking. And Schneider was by the alcohol, of course.

“Schnei!” Richard waved, giddy. Schneider turned around, three packs of beer under one arm, and met them halfway. The guitarist looked pointedly at his haul and arched a pencilled eyebrow, “Really?”

“Mmm, I spend twenty-four hours a day with you. I need it.” He laughed, stooping to kiss the pout from Richard’s lips and lower the drinks next to the rest of their shopping. “Nee, it’s for everyone baby. Save me some though, I still need to drive.”

Richard giggled, the grin back on his face, “Deal, as long as I get to co-pilot for a while.” Squirming out from under their bags, he hopped from the cart to Schneider’s back surprisingly easily.

“I think I can live with that,” The drummer hiked his partner higher up and held under his thighs, keeping pace with Till as he headed for the checkout. As they walked, he could feel Richard gently messing with his curls. “It’s getting long, huh?”

“I like it,” Richard hummed and tucked a few stray locks behind his boyfriend’s ears. He locked eyes with the cashier before shyly taking cover behind Schneider again. “I can hold onto it properly.”

If Schneider had been gifted with a second pair of eyes on the back of his head, he would’ve seen the fingers itching to tug at his hair before they struck. “Watch the claws, Bunny,” he chuckled, shoogling Richard from side to side and almost knocking Till with his elbow.

“Sei sanft, Christoph,” Till stroked Richard’s cheek, then shooed them out of the way so he could continue conversing politely with the cashier.

Giggling, Richard buried his face in Schneider’s neck and locked his legs tighter around his hips. “My nails are perfect, thank you very much,” He scratched his nails down Schneider’s scalp for emphasis, smirking at his shudder.

Once Till had payed, they headed for the exit. Richard, confident that he couldn’t be smacked in his current position, had taken to nibbling on Schneider’s ears a little harder than necessary. It took two particularly hard bites for a soft blow to land on his ass, making him yelp.

“If it’s a spanking you’re after, you’re going the right way about it.” Schneider warned, giving Richard the look that made him shudder in delight.

“Somehow, I don’t think that’ll be a deterrent,” Till rolled his eyes, hauling their shopping bags from the cart and trudging towards the car.

Schneider smirked innocently, putting one arm over his shoulder to squish Richard’s cheeks together. “I’m aware the little slut enjoys it.”

Releasing his teeth from Schneider’s ears, Richard blushed and bit his lip instead. He wasn’t going to deny the comment - his partners were well aware that degrading nicknames made him squirm (and not in a bad way).

As they got closer, Paul, who was lounging against the side door with a cigarette, waved. “Schnei, why is Reesh so red?” He asked, grin forming on his face.

“Who said it’s my fault?!” Schneider exclaimed, lowering Richard to the ground and crossing his arms in mock annoyance.

“Till’s too self-conscious to get freaky in public. Process by elimination.” Paul took Richard under his arm and held his cigarette to his lips, letting the other guitarist take a drag.

Till lifted their shopping into the main area of the van, hauling himself in afterwards. “Paul makes a sensible point,” he shrugged.

“The day Paulchen makes even a vaguely sensible point is the day I become a sub. Ergo, never.” Schneider rolled his neck and climbed in behind the wheel, an amused twinkle in his piercing eyes.

Richard giggled, kissing Paul’s jaw before he scampered around to the passenger side. The other guitarist sighed and smiled, getting in and closing the side door behind him,

“You’re such a child when you know you’re wrong,” Paul chided as he collapsed beside Oli like a starfish, “Oh, we got something for Reesh.”

“I mean, I promised and I’m a man of my word.” Oli, perking up, shuffled forward, picked up a polystyrene cup and held it out to Richard.

Eyes sparkling, Richard took the cup with both hands and angled his neck to plant a sloppy kiss on the bassist’s cheek, “Dankeschön, Oli-kins.”

Oli turned beet-red and touched his cheek in surprise. Paul smothered his giggle, Schneider tugged on Richard’s hair, warning, “Must you flirt with everyone, Princess?”

Richard shrugged, a devilish grin spreading across his lips -Schneider’s jealousy made him so easy to tease. “He’s so cute when he squirms,” He cooed, batting his eyelashes at the already flustered man.

“Enough Reesh, before you give poor Oli a heart attack and make Doom blow a fuse.” Till kicked his feet up and tossed his hoodie over his boyfriend’s head. Richard blew a raspberry in response, though it was muffled by the material.

“Alright alright, all set?” Schneider laughed, and got all affirmatives and thumbs up. He turned to Richard lounging in the passenger seat, who’d wriggled into Till’s sweater and was drowning in it, “Bereit, sweetheart?”

“Yes Sir,” Richard saluted playfully, leaning over to peck Schneider’s cheek.

His boyfriend ruffled his hair, then lifted his chin to look in his eyes, “Now, you can’t distract me while I’m driving, that’s none negotiable. I know you want to play but it’s going to have to wait. You know how to behave Reesh, show me how well you can sit pretty.”

Straightening up, Richard nodded, his pupils blown - he knew better than to disobey the Dom voice. Sure, causing trouble was an entertaining pastime, but nothing really compared to praise from his dominants.

“Good Boy, let’s get this final stretch over and done with. We should get there by morning.”

The drive was as peaceful as it could be with Richard and Paul together in a confined space. At random, and in-sync, they’d burst into song, the first of which times almost ended with the van in a ditch. It would’ve irritated Schneider, but seeing Richard so bubbly made his heart melt a little. Not that he’d admit that to anyone.

As the night wore on, everyone (the two guitarists) calmed down. His energy spent, Richard resigned to looking out the window, his fingers threaded with Schneider’s over the gearstick. Out the corner of his eye, Schneider could see his chin repeatedly dropping to his chest, where he’d startle himself awake and rub his eyes with his sleeve.

But Richard couldn’t fend off sleep forever. Once he was sure his partner was definitely asleep, Schneider slowed the vehicle to a crawl and unbuckled Richard’s seatbelt with one hand. “Till, a hand,” he whispered, pointing to the sleeping man beside him.

“Richtig...” Till nodded, slid both arms under Richard and carefully manhandled him between the front seats. Trying to avoid waking him, he stretched him out so his head was supported on Oli’s lap. The bassist flashed a reassuring smile, arm coming to rest on Richard’s back, and Till slid back into his seat beside Flake.

With Paul now occupying Richard’s empty spot, Schneider pushed down on the accelerator. Eager to reach their destination as soon as possible, he took a sip of his now-cold coffee and stared into the darkness ahead.

“How long have you been driving for?” Paul asked around ten miles later, squinting to read his watch in the low light. “It’s one in the morning.”

Schneider shrugged, “Six, maybe seven hours total. No big deal.” He stretched his legs, too busy concentrating to notice Paul’s disapproving expression.

“I know being a big, grumpy hard-ass is your thing, but even the biggest, grumpiest hard-asses can’t stay awake forever.” The guitarist propped his chin on his palm.

“I’m fine, Paul. I can rest when we get there.” He stated firmly, pressing his lips together to fend off a yawn.

Though he looked eager to retort, Paul kept his mouth shut. Only when the car veered to the left did he yelp and lunge towards the drummer. “If we crash and die, I’ll kill you,” he threatened, arm outstretched to grab the wheel if need be. “Sleep, Schnei. I’m driving.”

Schneider didn’t have the energy to point out to Paul that, if they did crash and burn in a fiery inferno, he would need to use some sort of black magic fuckery to reanimate him in order to enact revenge. To be honest, he wouldn’t put that past the small man. “I’m pulling over, don’t get your panties in a bunch.”

Pulling into the nearest lay-by and letting Paul take control, Schneider crawled between the seats into the back of the van, kicked off his shoes and curled around Richard’s back. The other man didn’t even twitch, so Schneider wrapped an arm around his middle and pulled him closer - poor thing was dead to the world. “Sweet dreams, bunny...” He murmured, letting his eyes drift shut.

When he regained consciousness, light was streaming through the windows right into his eyes. Through the glare, he could see someone lying next to him - Flake, flat on his stomach and fast asleep.

The engine wasn’t running, the side door was wide open. They’d stopped.   

Just as he sat up, Till poked his head into the van. “Great timing,” he smiled, holding up two cups of coffee.

“When did we arrive?” The drummer smoothed back his hair and yawned, edging away from the sleeping keyboard player.

“Four hours ago, you needed the rest,” Till said softly, setting one of the mugs on the step and sipping from his own.

Schneider took the cup gratefully and slid forward till his legs dangled over the edge, “Where are the others?”

“Oli’s inside, Scholle is in the water with Paul. He’s been asking for you,” Till chuckled, looking out towards the beach. “Want to go see him?”

“Do you need me to answer that question?” Schneider hopped up with a grin, downed the rest of his drink and padded across the grass. Snorting at him, Till walked by his side down to the sand.

Right on the shoreline, they could see Richard staring out to sea, water lapping at his bare ankles. Paul stood behind him, arms tight around his waist and his chin on his shoulder.

“Hello lovebirds,” Schneider greeted as they got closer, dodging the sand that Paul kicked his way. “What do you think of this place, bunny?” He smiled while he reached out to touch Richard’s hip.

Gazing back over his shoulder, Richard grinned at them with sparkles in his eyes, “It’s perfect.”

————————————————

Choosing a house on the seafront turned out to be an excellent choice; Richard wanted to spend most of his time outdoors and it spared the others from many painful treks to and from a beach.

Especially for Oli. Two days in, it became apparent that he wasn’t going to get much of a break despite being on holiday.

“Hands at either side, Richie. A little further back, in line with your shoulders, and keep your elbows in.” Oli knelt down to help straighten Richard out on his front, “That’s great. Remember - push up and bring in your knees, right leg stretched back, left foot comes forward, right foot comes down, let go, straighten up. Give it a go.”

Richard pushed up, brought his knees in, positioned his feet, let go of the board, straightened up and promptly lost his balance. He would’ve fallen flat on his back if Oli hadn’t stepped in and caught him under his arms. He scowled down at his feet, “Verdammt...”

“What are you talking about? Everyone falls on their first try.” Oli poked at the guitarist’s ribs, making him squirm.

“We’re not even in the water yet!” He protested, barely grazing his toes against the surfboard -yes, Oli was exceptionally tall- as he leaned back against the other man’s chest.

Sighing fondly, Oli gave Richard a gentle squeeze and placed him back on solid ground. “You can’t be perfect at everything, y’know.”

“I can try, Oli-kins,” Richard grinned and crouched down to pick up the wooden board. “Are we going?”

“Where to?” Oli quirked his eyebrows and took the other end to take some of the weight.

“Das Wasser natürlich.” Richard huffed, already marching towards the water in a determined line.

Having no choice but to follow, Oli smiled to himself. “Something tells me we’re going to be here till you’re a master surfer.”

“That something would be correct.” Despite the nice weather, the water splashing around his knees had the guitarist shuddering to his core. When it reached waist height, he laid the board flat and scrambled onto it, balancing with crossed legs.

Oli held Richard steady, pushing him out to where the smaller waves were cresting - no need to semi-drown him before his special day. With the disappointment over his initial failure no longer in his mind, Richard looked like a kid on Christmas morning. Oli didn’t have the heart to tell him that there was no way in hell (or heaven, for that matter) that he’d become an expert surfer in an hour. But he did have to admire Richard’s drive, he wasn’t anything if not stubborn. “When you’re ready Reesh, you’ve got this.”

Back on dry land, Paul joined Flake outside on the balcony. “He’s not bad, for his first time,” he grinned, watching as Richard bellyflopped into the water for what was probably the hundredth time and inhaled half of the sea.

“Oli’s patience is admirable.” Flake smiled wryly, marking his page in his book and stretching his arms above his head, “How long has it been? Three hours at least.”

“Which means Richard hasn’t eaten in about four hours. Better get him fed before Till has an aneurysm.” Paul laughed and after sliding on his shoes, bounded downstairs for the sand.