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If I Ever Lose My Faith In You

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[1]

Christoph Schneider woke up early the day of his wedding with a head that felt like a hundred little coal miners were inside it, hammering away merrily. He groaned as he cracked an eye open and quickly shut it again for the sunlight that was blazing through a crack in the bedroom curtains was blinding. He ached all over, his mouth tasted horrible, and what was worse, he had no memory of what had happened the night before.

“Oh dear God,” he groaned, burying his face in the pillow. “What the fuck happened last night?”

A whimper from behind him made him peer over the blankets; when he pulled one of them back he saw his husband-to-be staring at him with bloodshot eyes in a very pale face. “You don’t remember?” he whispered, obviously trying to be considerate of both their headaches. “Till, Paul, Ollie and Flake threw us a bachelor party at Ollie’s last night. If it wasn’t for Khira Li being in town for the wedding, we’d still be passed out on Ollie’s living room floor.”

“Bless her,” Christoph replied, just as softly. “Wait. She didn’t haul us up here by herself, did she?”

“No,” Richard groaned, pulling a pillow over his head. “That was Till and Ollie. Of course, they were as shit-faced as we were, so your guess is as good as mine as to how they got us up here without damaging the furniture, the walls…our heads.”

“Rise and shine, oh happy couple!” came a woman’s voice from outside the bedroom door. Both men whimpered and shoved their heads more firmly under the pillows, hoping that the ringing in their ears would subside soon. Whoever it was threw open the curtains, flooding the room with light.

“Good morning dad, uncle Christoph! Time to get up! It’s such a lovely day for a wedding, don’t you think?”

“If you were not my child I would kill you where you stood,” growled Richard, peering warily out from under his pillow. “My brain is melting out my ears and you’re all sunshine and puppies. For the love of God, shut the curtains back and let us sleep!”

“Nope!” Khira Li said as she crossed the floor and pulled the pillows from her father’s face and Christoph’s. They glared at her, Christoph baring his teeth in a hiss, which did nothing to lessen the smile on Khira Li’s face. “Up, up, up! I knew neither of you would be civilized enough to be out in public before noon, so I put breakfast together and it better not going to go to waste. Now, I’ll be back at one to make sure you two are ready to go over to Uncle Paul’s, and you’d better be ready because I don’t care what condition you two are in, I’ll drag you out of here if I have to.”

“Where did that sweet little girl I used to go ice skating with go?” Christoph sighed, snuggling into Richard’s shoulder. “Khira Li, you used to be so…less bossy.”

“It’s not every day my dad and the man he loves are getting married,” Khira Li replied, leaning over to kiss her father and ruffle Christoph’s hair. “I’ll be back at one, like I said. Get dressed, eat, clean up and be ready. And….I’m so happy for you both.”

Before either Richard or Christoph could get up, Khira Li dashed out the door, calling “Bye!” over her shoulder. Thankfully, she did not slam the front door; they’d been holding their breath in case she did. Christoph slowly crawled out of bed, holding his head in his hands as he slowly maneuvered his way to the bathroom. Richard pulled himself up in bed, biting back a groan as his inner ear swam and settled, making him nauseated.

“The last thing I remember was Till pulling out these canning jars full of...something,” he muttered, running his fingers through his hair and wincing when his fingers caught on a snag and pulled. “Fuck, I know what it was, it was that moonshine Peter brought back from his cousin's house in the States. If we don't die from some kind of exotic poisoning, we'll be lucky.”

“You and Paul got into a drinking contest with that shit,” Christoph said as he came out of the bathroom. “Till told you both that more than a couple shots of moonshine would fuck you up royally. And of course, you both managed to finish off two of the four big jars he had in under an hour. I stuck to vodka because I remember the last time we had any of that moonshine. You could clean grease off of car parts with it, and I'm pretty sure Flake took a jar home to see if it would!”

Richard sighed and slid off the bed, staggering across the room and into the bathroom. He stared into the mirror, grimacing at the ache in his lower back and right shoulder. “I hope Paul has a bigger headache than I do,” he growled. As he woke up more fully, he saw something out of the corner of his eye in the mirror, and when his foggy brain figured out what it was, he shrieked at the top of his lungs, bringing Christoph running.

“Who...how...what the fuck is on my back?” he yelled, awkwardly trying to twist around to look at his lower back better. “Christoph Schneider, do you have anything to do with this?”

Christoph came to a skidding stop in the doorway, spotted what his lover was shouting about and stuffed a fist in his mouth to keep from laughing. He coughed, choked on his first comment, then tried again. “Well, you said last night you weren't going to travel clear into Berlin to get a tattoo and you really had to have one right now, so Till called a couple of his friends. They came over, brought their tattoo stuff and...voila.”

Inked across Richard's lower back, just below his belt-line, was an intricate tattoo in shades of red and blue of water and flames twisted together. Buried deep inside the design was the band's logo, so well hidden you had to stare at the design for a moment to see it. “You have to admit, love, it's really well done,” Christoph said, still choking back his giggles. “You're not supposed to get tattooed when you're drunk but you insisted. We tried to talk you out of it, especially Paul, but you said if you didn't get a tattoo before you got married you were going to be upset. So there you have it.”

Richard didn't say a word, he simply staggered back to bed and piled the covers over himself.

:::

Thankfully, Richard worked through his snit-fit quickly enough for his breakfast to still be warm. Christoph had given up trying to coax him from under the covers after a couple of minutes, declaring that he was starving to death and that if Richard wasn't out in the kitchen in ten minutes, his breakfast would be forfeit. Poking his nose out from the blankets, he smelled chocolate, vanilla and cinnamon, which made his stomach growl.

“All right, all right, you don't have to be so noisy,” he muttered to his stomach as he dragged on a pair of jeans that looked (and smelled) halfway clean, and pulling a battered and hole-covered t-shirt that had seen better days over his head, wincing when the soft material made contact with the fresh ink on his back. Thankful that the jeans were loose enough to ride low on his hips and not irritate the tattoo further, he padded into the kitchen and gingerly sat down at the table. Christoph pushed a steaming cup of coffee at him; Richard nodded his thanks and carefully drank down half the cup before saying, “Do we have anything like aspirin around here?”

“Right next to the sugar bowl,” his partner replied softly, head propped up on one hand as he stared blearily into his tea. “Give me a couple while you're at it?” Richard fished a couple tablets out of the bottle and handed them to Christoph, then knocked back his own dose with the last of his coffee. “I don't know what hurts more, my head or my ass.”

“We didn't have sex last night so I can't see how your ass is hurting,” Christoph reply slyly, poking Richard's calf with his toes, earning him a snarl that quickly turned into an impish smile. “Look. I'm sorry I didn't stop you from getting that tattoo. I tried, honestly, I did.”

“I'll get used to it eventually,” Richard replied, cutting into his chocolate chip pancakes and sighing happily at the flavors that burst on his tongue. “I think I can forgive Khira Li for the rude awakening. These pancakes are wonderful.” Christoph nodded in agreement, saying, “I'll put some bandages over your tattoo to keep your clothes from rubbing it raw. We must have lost the original bandages somewhere between Till's house and here.” They finished their breakfast in silence, hoping the aspirin would kick in before they had to leave for Paul’s house, which was near a gorgeous old estate that had been renovated into a place that weddings, anniversary dinners and the like.

Christoph had found the house while driving to Paul’s home from the apartment he shared with Richard and had fallen in love with the old estate, from its tiny pocket gardens to the gorgeous wooden floors that had been restored to their original beauty. He’d all but dragged Richard to see the place for himself and he had to admit, there wasn’t any place nicer to hold their wedding. As it was winter, the gardens lay dormant under the snow, but their colorful hues weren’t missed as every tree on the property had been strung with white and silver lights, while inside the house, there were several Christmas trees, all decorated in different styles and colors. Richard’s favorite was a small tree that sat in the entrance-way of the house, its sturdy green branches hung with tiny lead crystal beads and little bows made from shades of red and silver, while Christoph’s was a tree in the library that had been covered in little handmade wooden toys and musical instruments. Richard had laughed himself sick when Christoph had discovered the tree, his stifled “squee!” of delight making him blush and look around to make sure no one had heard him. So he wouldn’t be tempted to touch anything, he grabbed one of Richard’s hands and shoved the other into the pocket of his jacket. It didn’t stop him from all but bouncing up and down, his blue-green eyes wide and sparkling with delight.

“You’re such a kid sometimes,” Richard snickered, leaning over to kiss his lover’s flushed cheek. “Between you and Paul and your marathon-watching Spongebob Squarepants at his house once a week…”

“And Gravity Falls, and Lego Star Wars, and South Park, and the PowerPuff Girls,” Christoph said, turning to kiss Richard properly. “Plus you’ve gotten addicted to Archer and Star Wars Rebels, don’t deny it.”

Mea culpa. Although you’ll have to admit, Star Wars Rebels is pretty cool,” Richard replied as they made their way out of the library and out to Christoph's Jeep so they could go into the city and start the process of getting their marriage license completed. “You can be so bloody adorable,” Christoph countered, giving Richard’s hand a squeeze and turning a bright smile on him.

“Can be? I am, sweetheart,” Richard replied, raising an eyebrow as he handed Christoph his jacket and sliding into his. “Now, are you sure you have all the paperwork we need for our license?”

“It's in a folder in the Jeep,” Christoph replied. “Two copies of everything, in fact. We both know how long the process takes, I'm not letting anything get in the way of my wedding.”

“And that's why I love you,” Richard said. “When you set your mind on something, nothing stops you.”