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A Wonderful Son

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Till's heart thudded loudly and almost painfully. He was amazed it didn't burst out like that stupid horror movie where the alien exploded from the guy's chest. After a swipe of his hand across his face to rid himself of the clammy feeling covering him, he sat up in bed, trying to clear his frantic thoughts and separate his dreams from reality.

A quick glance around confirmed no one was there. While at first reassuring, the emptiness of his hotel room eventually emphasized the hollow, terrified feelings swirling around his head. He squeezed his eyes shut, counting to ten as he'd been told before by several group therapists, willing his heart to slow down and release him from the panic quickly rising inside him.

It didn't.

Till swallowed a whimper that nearly left his lips. No one was around, but he still felt pathetic regardless. People already suspected he was nowhere near the hard, stony rock star he tried to portray onstage; nor was he the carefree, sex-obsessed partier he portrayed offstage. He was none of those, but simultaneously both of them, as he felt just as connected to the characters he portrayed as he did now, when he was alone with no one watching. He sometimes wondered if he were just one man split into three equal parts. Therapists had said some bullshit about compartmentalizing, but he never listened. It was never worthwhile, especially not now.

Desperate to relieve himself from the rampaging emotions and ever-heightening mania he felt overwhelming him, Till pressed the heels of his hands hard against his closed eyes, rubbing and grinding. He felt tears leak from the sides of his eyes, but reasoned it was from his aggressive rubbing, not crying. Everything could be reasoned. Everything could be explained, and he knew better than most exactly why he felt as he did.

He was just tired, sleep deprived and exhausted; that was why he slept poorly. He just had too much on his mind; that was why he had nightmares. He was just overworked; that was why he felt the world was caving in around him.

He just missed her.

That was why he felt like he was drowning, dying.

This time, a whimper did make itself heard. He almost couldn't recognize his own voice. It was so frail and pathetic, so unlike him. So small.

What was wrong with him?

With fingers shaking so badly he had to retry twice, Till finally managed to type out a text. As soon as he sent it, his mind went back to his turmoil. Maybe he should sit and try to write…

What he thought had only been a few seconds had probably been several minutes at least, as he heard a quiet knock at his hotel door before the click of the lock.

Richard walked in. He had a key. Till didn't remember giving it to him.

"Are you ok?" he faintly heard his band mate ask.

It felt like his ears were plugged up with his racing heartbeat hammering far too loudly in them.

Till shook his head, and heard himself whimper again. Tears streamed down his face. He couldn't pretend they were from rubbing his eyes this time.

Richard went to him immediately, pulling him into his arms. Till felt horrible, nearly falling to pieces at the touch. He didn't deserve it, didn't need it, didn't *want* it, but he couldn't find the strength to push away. Richard held him tightly, and Till wondered if it were possible to choke to death from emotion. He shook like a child who'd forgotten his coat in a winter storm; even Richard's firm hold didn't stop the ravaging trembling.

"Nightmare?" Richard asked in a low murmur.

A faint nod was the only reply he received, but it was enough. Richard hugged tighter, and pressed his head down against Till, who had scrunched himself into a tight ball in Richard's arms.

"I'm so sorry, Till," Richard whispered.

Richard wanted to say more, comfort him, tell him things everyone else had said: it was her time, she lived a wonderful life, he'd been there for her every second of her last few weeks, that she was in a better place, that she was proud of him, that he'd been a wonderful son.

But he knew it wouldn't help. Only time could make that hurt ease and ebb away from him, and Richard couldn't bend time, as much as he wanted to.

So he just held the sobbing man, and stroked his hair until he'd run out of tears to shed.