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Kind Stranger

Chapter Text

It had been a warm mid-April evening when you met him. The Easter holidays had just started and you had decided to take a walk along the shore of the Main in Frankfurt, a city you didn't often find yourself in. You weren't a city girl and skyscrapers always were a foreign sight to you but you had had an appointment here earlier this day and decided that a little walk before taking the train back home couldn't hurt. 

You liked the warmth of the sun against your face - it wasn't too hot as it was only spring. Patting your phone to make sure it was securely in your pocket, you made your way over to a bench that stood a bit apart from the path, facing the water. The wood of the bench was warm from the sun and you sat down, observing the currents of the Main

Sighing, you leaned back, resting your head on the back of the bench and closing your eyes against the brightness of the sun to simply soak in the peacefulness of the moment. Sure, you could still hear the roar of car engines in the background but the air seemed clearer here, by the river.

You weren't sure how long your eyes were closed for when someone cleared their throat from above you. You jumped a bit, eyes wide open and looking into the upside-down face of a man. You felt your throat work, trying to find something to say but the only thing that left your mouth was a surprised and breathless "Yes?" You studied the man, he was very clearly older with, what you guessed, dyed light blonde hair and eyes the colour of the sea. It sounded cheesy but you really couldn't decide if they were more green or blue. He also had piercings in his left eyebrow and, you wouldn't lie, looked quite intimidating, especially from the angle you were watching him from. 

"I just wanted to make sure you weren't asleep.", he said with a gravelly voice and you raised yourself, turning your body to face him properly. Your eyes flicked down over his body and you shivered - your assumption was accurate, he really did look intimidating - he was a bear of a man with a barrelled chest, large arms and - well, everything about him looked muscled and broad. "It is dangerous - a young vulnerable woman like yourself, all alone; I felt like it was right to check on you." 

You nodded, realising that he was right - you shouldn't have let your guard down so much, this wasn't your hometown where you practically knew everybody. There could be bad people lurking around, waiting for the chance to pounce on an unsuspecting girl. "Thank you.", you said, still a bit shaken by his sudden appearance. "You're right. I was a bit careless." The man shrugged his shoulders, his form a looming shadow above you. 

"You should probably get home soon, the sun won't be up for much longer.", he told you and you looked up at the sky, agreeing with him. It was later than you were expecting. "You mean, take the train. I'm not from here.", you replied, secretly becoming anxious - it would be dark before you would be home. He raised a dark brow and narrowed his bright eyes.

"How far from here is your train station?", he finally asked, his deep voice measured. You quickly calculated in your head, "About 20 minutes, I think." He continued looking at you and you stared back, nervous, shifting your weight from one foot to the other. "And how long until you'd be home?" His expression was unreadable. "Uh, another hour or so, I'll have to wait for 10 minutes at a bus stop and there's another 15-minute walk at the end." You weren't sure why he was questioning you like this. 

"I'd offer to drive you home if I could but I have an urgent meeting right after - this is actually my break right now. ", he started, "Yet I don't feel comfortable just leaving you to go home alone in the dark.", he seemed to think for a while, looking at his shoes contemplatively. A strand of pale hair fell into his face rakishly. You had the silly urge to swipe it away.

Then he fixed you with his eyes again and you were struck by how pretty they were. To be honest, you thought that other parts of him were attractive as well - his long face, full lips, the slight stubble and the large hands that he currently had in the back pockets of his dark jeans. He wore a dark shirt and a black suit jacket over that. It was a strange mix between casual and formal. You compared your fascination with him to the kind of fascination people experienced watching dangerous and deadly predators. It seemed oddly fitting.

"You have a phone with you, right?", he quizzed and you nodded dumbly, taking it out to show him. 
"I can walk you to your train, and after that you'll call me, alright? We'll talk - that way I can make sure you're alright.", the man clarified and held your gaze with his, expression open and giving an impression of trustworthiness. You were shocked at how much he seemed to care but you couldn't deny that it was a neat idea - few shifty people would try to approach you if they saw you talking on the phone. And if something happened, he would know immediately. That reminded you, you didn't even know his name, yet you trusted him. You would've gone with him if he had been able to take you all the way. 

"That's very kind of you, sir.", you supposed, not sure what else to do. He chuckled, low and rumbly. "Oh, don't call me sir. I don't like to be reminded of my age.", one of his hands raked through his hair, dishevelling it a little. "What should I call you then? You haven't told me your name.", you shot back, a bit cheekily, slowly warming up to him. You were always timid while talking to strangers but he was easy to talk to for some reason. He seemed to tense up for a moment. "You can call me Till.", he revealed quietly, watching you intensely for some reason. It looked like he was expecting a reaction.

"Till.", you mirrored and smiled slightly, holding out your hand, "I'm Y/N." Whatever he was tense about seemed to disappear because his shoulders loosened and he took your hand in his, dwarfing it with his warm fingers. You shook hands quickly and he smiled as well. It suited his face, made him look more approachable. Almost carefree. The small lines that formed softened his otherwise hard features.

"Lead the way then, good lady.", he told you, gesturing with his arm for you to take the lead. You walked down the path together in silence for a while until he turned to you slightly and started asking you about casual things, like what you were doing, if you had a job and so on. He didn't tell you much of himself, preferring to listen as you told him about your two dogs excitedly. It felt nice to be so intensely paid attention to by another person – your parents certainly didn’t do it. And you couldn’t stand crowds.

When you arrived at the train station, you were almost sad. You would continue to talk to him over the phone, of course - he had given you his number on the way, but it wouldn't be the same without his presence beside you. With this hulking man, you weren't afraid of anything that might happen in the dark. His arm was almost as wide as your upper leg and Till looked like he could easily carry another human being over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. You quickly let go of that train of thought when you replaced that non-descript human being with yourself. Best not to fantasize about a man you just met.

The two of you stood awkwardly at the station for a few moments - you had agreed that he would wait for the train with you and you would call him when you entered the train. The cool night-air caressed your face, it wasn’t cold enough to hurt and you enjoyed the soothing sensation against your cheeks, not noticing Till watching your serene face, deeply in thought.

It was weird, you had met him only an hour ago at most but you would still miss him when he was gone. Till had a certain magnetism and even though he had mostly acted like the strong and silent type, you just knew that there was more to him. You couldn’t imagine what interesting stories he could undoubtedly tell. He just seemed to be someone who had experienced a lot in life.

Additively, you were insanely attracted to that big man. The only thing that held you back from flirting with him was your own lack of experience with males and the obvious difference in age between you (even though you liked it - he was an older gentleman sweeping in to save you). Well, and you couldn't imagine that someone like him didn't have a woman waiting for him at home - maybe not a wife as he didn't appear to wear a ring but at least a girlfriend. And if he was single, he'd probably still laugh at you if you actually tried to flirt with him, he seemed like he could have any woman he chose; definitely not someone as inconsequential like you. 

It seemed much too soon when the train arrived in the station and you felt your heart sink just a little, beholding Till's strong profile. He sensed your gaze and looked down at you, gifting you with a reassuring smile while you felt your cheeks heat up at being caught staring. "Don't forget to call me, alright?", he reminded you and you nodded sharply, gripping your phone harder. 

As the train came to a stop, he laid his hand on your upper back, his fingers resting on you almost possessively. You felt his thumb stroke over the fabric of your jacket in a soothing gesture. "You'll be fine.", he said and you deflated a little - he'd only touched you because he thought you were worried about being alone. How perfectly sensible.
On the other hand, it was adorable that he felt the need to protect you like this, even if he probably only meant it in a fatherly way. He was certainly old enough. 
Damn you and your inappropriate attraction to unobtainable men. 

With one last look over your shoulder at him, your dark sentinel, you boarded the train and sought out a seat to sit in.

You expected the train to be almost empty but you were met with quite a few people and you mentally smacked your head. This was Frankfurt, of course there would still be lots of people travelling. Sitting down in an empty corner, you turned your phone on and dialled the new contact 'Till'. He immediately picked up. 
"Hey", he said and you marvelled at how different he sounded over the phone. His voice didn't sound nearly as rich as it actually was. "Hey", you returned lamely. "Thanks again for doing this, Till."

"It's not a problem. Like I said, I'd feel bad if I didn't do this.", he answered and you imagined him smiling at you again. He really had a beautiful smile. You breathed in and out slowly, chastising yourself for being such pathetic adolescent. Till interpreted your pause as a sign that you wanted him to talk for once and, while not quite your intention, you were satisfied with the result. You could listen to his voice all day. "I have two daughters, one is about your age, I would never let them walk all by themselves in the night if I could do something about it.", he explained and you felt your heart break a little. Yes of course, he had children, probably with a woman a thousand times prettier than you. He probably was a perfect father, too.

"You're a good father, then.", you voiced that thought. Till let out a snort and sounded a smidge guilty when he answered. "I try my best. I wasn't there much when they grew up. I'm a very busy man." You realised that he hadn't mentioned what he worked as and you asked him, genuine curiosity colouring your tone. You heard rustling on the other side, guessing that it was Till moving as he talked.
"Uh, I do different things. You could say that I... am in entertainment.", he stated and you could tell that he was trying to tiptoe around the actual thing. You shrugged, if he didn't want to tell you, you wouldn't bother him about it. It wasn't your place - you barely knew each other after all and, with what he was doing for you, he didn't deserve an interrogation.

"That sounds interesting.", you said instead, "Do you like it?" That way he could chose to either elaborate or not without feeling pressured. "It's exhausting work. I work at... odd hours, you could say. I barely have a minute for myself. But it's also rewarding work. You get a lot of feedback.", Till mused and you automatically nodded along even though he couldn't see you. 

"I guess I understand. To be honest, I'm not sure what I want to do after school. I mean, I'm eighteen-going-on-nineteen, I don't know where life will lead me. The only things I really know, are what I don't want to do.", you rambled as was a habit of yours when you were nervous or simply unsure of something. "And what would that be?", Till asked and you felt your stomach do a funny twist at his interest. "I'm kinda awkward, clumsy and I don't like it when I'm the centre of attention. I avoid situations where I have to speak in front of a lot of people because I get anxious and then stutter and embarrass myself." 

Till let out a short laugh. It wasn't mocking like you would have expected from a confident man like him. "I know the feeling. And people are always surprised when I tell them that I'm shy.", he said and you felt bad. 
You had also thought he was anything but that, having been fooled by his imposing appearance. Till, bear of a man that he was, did not look like he was shy. He filled the room and you had let yourself be blinded by that. 

Head up, you thought, it's ok - we only just met. You don't have everyone all figured out after one meeting.

"I would've never guessed.", you responded truthfully. "Well", he murmured lowly, "at least you don't accuse me of lying about it."
A dark feeling bloomed in your chest. "Did someone do that?", you bit out, "Fuck them if they don't get it." Till grunted approvingly. "Yeah, fuck them.", he agreed, "I'm over shit like that. Getting too old for the drama." His voice was teasing and he sounded only semi truthful. You giggled girlishly, cursing yourself for the childish sounds. You only sounded that way with people you liked. Luckily, Till didn't know that.

~~~

Your journey was over before you knew it and you and Till chatted about more minor topics; one interesting thing that he told you was that he was originally from Leipzig - living there during the time it was still in the DDR. When you arrived at your house (well, your parents' house), you stopped in your tracks. "I'm there.", you told him quietly, dreading the end of your acquaintance. He was silent for a moment. "I'm glad." You took a deep breath, concentrating very hard an sounding confident.
"I liked talking to you.", telling him this somehow felt easier over the phone. Till didn't reply and you feared that you had overstepped a boundary. But you had wanted to be truthful.

You heard him take a breath. "If you are ever in a similar situation, text me.", he finally said, avoiding your statement a bit. You clenched your hands, tears stinging in your eyes. What was wrong with you? You barely knew him. But then again, this was the kindest someone, especially a stranger, had been to you in a while. "I promise to do that. But I'll try to be more careful from now on.", you told him. "I have to hang up now.", you added and waited for his reply. 

After he told you goodbye, you pressed the red button to cancel the call and stepped into your house, going straight to your room. You threw your things in some corner and flopped down on the bed, clutching your phone to your chest. You felt your heart beat wildly. This day felt like a turning point in your life.

Chapter Text

The following days you thought about Till often, yet you didn't tell anybody about him, not even your friends - it was as if he was your dirty little secret. He haunted your dreams, his dark silhouette looming above you in a way that seemed both threatening and exciting with his blue-green eyes shining luminously. You tried to ignore your little crush but you couldn't help but remember the comfortable warmth of his hand on your back and imagine his arms encircling you.

But, throughout those days, you continued your life. You didn't have much to do other than prepare for the last weeks of your life in school. 

About four days after meeting Till, you woke up to two messages from him. It surprised you - you hadn't thought that you would ever hear from him again. In your head, you had considered him a man you'd meet once in your life, more an idea than an actual person. Yet here he was, sendinh you messages. You opened them with shaking hands, reading the first quickly and nervously. 

This whole thing hasn't let me go. I still feel bad for not being able to drive you. You beamed slightly; it was kind of cute of him to be so concerned. You looked at the second message. Let me make it up to you.
Nothing else. You furrowed your brow, typing a reply What do you mean? and not expecting an answer for a while. He had written those messages two hours ago, at around five in the morning. The symbol that he was writing surprised you. I owe you a ride. You grinned sheepishly, sitting up in your bed. No, you don't. I was stupid to get distracted for so long. His answer was immediate. Still. Do you have anything to do on Wednesday? Today was Thursday. You didn't have anything planned as most of your friends were abroad until at least next Friday. There was a party planned for Saturday, though. Kind of a Welcome Back party and also the birthday of your best friends.

No, I'm free for the whole day. Why? You waited until Till finished typing. Let me surprise you. I'll show you my work. Be ready at seven and I'll have someone pick you up wherever you want. But you probably won't be back before midnight. What do you say? I promise it'll be fun.

You were stunned and tried to untangle your bedhead while the gears in your head turned. Why are you doing this?, you typed. It's my apology was his answer. You sighed, you were really fond of him already and your warm feelings for him were only increasing. You felt pretty stupid and naive and once again tried to remind yourself that you didn't even know him a week ago. But it was of no use, you couldn't force yourself to be suspicious of him after all. And, well, if people could have one-night-stands with people they just met, you could accept a nice invitation from a man who had given you no reason to think he had sinister intentions. 

Alright, you texted him. How should I dress?, you didn't want to embarrass yourself after all. Oh, casual. Maybe something dark-coloured and comfortable. That seemed like a strange dress code but you didn't complain, you were happy not to be expected to wear heels (not that you would without being forced, you hated these things with a passion). 

Your heart was pounding and you cursed yourself, you knew that it wasn't a date and yet your body reacted like he had just told you that he was proposing to you. Your excitement was certainly comparable.

~~~

The next few days your anxiety grew. You weren't sure what to expect. You had told Till that you wanted to be picked up at your house because it was the most convenient thing and your parents additionally weren't at home to question anything - they were on a romantic three-day trip in France, leaving you in charge of the house and the two dogs. To your relief, you had very kind neighbours who themselves had a dog and promised to check in on the canines until you were back - you didn't know how long this was going to go after all.

On Wednesday morning you woke up like on any other day but immediately stepped under the shower and groomed yourself to perfection. You wanted to look good for Till, vain as you felt by doing this. You ate your breakfast normally, wearing a washed-out shirt and jogging pants and put on some shoes and a jacket to take the dogs out in the cool spring air. On the walk, you contemplated what it was that Till could take you to that would require you to dress like what he said. You didn't come up with anything that made sense and stopped trying; you would see soon enough after all. And dogs really provide a good distraction from all of the issues of life.

You passed the time until six in the evening when you started to seriously prepare yourself; picking out dark skin-tight jeans, black sneakers and a dark shirt. You had planned to wear an all-black shirt but, of course, you couldn't find any of the two plain black shirts that you owned. The "blackest" shirt you found was, how could it be otherwise, a shirt that a friend had jokingly bought for you as a present on a trip. The lettering on it was hot pink and read "bitch" crossed out with "princess" standing underneath it. It was more than a little embarrassing but you truly couldn't find anything else. 

With a heavy heart and a very red face, you put it on to see if it even still fit. It did. It wasn't really something you would normally wear but you had to admit that it did look good on you. But still, you weren't sure if the shirt was appropriate for what Till was going to bring you to, so you took a photo of yourself with the help of your mirror and sent it to Till, asking if that outfit was alright. You had to wait a few minutes for his answer, he was obviously busy, and you felt your blush intensify when you read his answer. Yeah, you look good, princess.

You kind of liked that nickname, so you imagined him saying it in his deep voice and felt your stomach do a funny little flop. You definitely weren't over that little crush. Are you ready? He continued to text and you nodded out of reflex even though Till wouldn't see it. Yes. You answered. He wrote one last thing before going offline. 
The car will be there in 15 minutes. You were excited. You wouldn't see Till until you arrived at the location; he'd told you to expect a driver to pick you up since he had to prepare too many things to disappear for a while to get you, but just the thought of seeing him again made the butterflies in your stomach flutter.

You were lost in your thoughts for a while, only startled out of your musings by the ringing doorbell. You guessed that this was the promised driver. Grabbing a bag for your phone and purse, plus other necessities, you hurried outside and were met by a redheaded middle-aged man in a dark suit - one of those without a tie. He was very official looking, just like the sleek black car that was standing in your driveway. The man told you to get in the backseat of the car and you did so with unsure steps, all of this seemed much more serious than you were expecting.

Once inside the car, you realised that there was a divider between the back and the front, so you couldn't see the driver when he entered at all. Similar to how you imagined it to be in a limo. The first few minutes of the journey were rather uneventful until you started to slow down when you were at a bridge. You looked out of the opposite window (on your side was only the river) and saw what you guessed was some kind of traffic jam caused by a commotion. Sighing, you sat back in your seat and hoped that you wouldn't be stuck for too long - you didn't want to arrive late and disappoint Till.

After a while, you were almost ready to close your eyes, you were that bored, you started to hear a weird sound. Like screeching. You looked out of the window just in time to see a car hurtling toward you, having lost grip on the road and now crashing towards you. A scream bubbled up in your throat and for a moment you wondered why no one was doing anything. But it all happened too quick. 

Before you could properly raise your arms to shield yourself from the oncoming impact, your car and the other car crashed together; the sound of clashing metal echoing in your ears. You heard glass shatter and felt a sharp pain explode in various parts of your body before the force of the collision knocked you head first against the door on your right - immediately sending you into unconsciousness.

~~~

Till had wanted Y/N to be surprised by the concert, so he had instructed Jonas, the driver, to bring you through the backdoors and into the backstage lounge without you catching wind of what was happening. He had been relieved when you didn't recognise him as the singer of Rammstein but he wanted to show you their performance in action as an apology, figuring that it was a good way to make up for not properly helping you. When you hadn't arrived by the time the concert was supposed to start, he felt worried that something had happened. He couldn't imagine that you had chickened out. Jonas would've told him. But there had been no message from either of you.

He didn't really know why he even bothered, why he even cared - you were just a random girl but for some reason he felt a certain kind of a responsibility for you - something he'd never before experienced. Till was sure it would fade over time, so it couldn't hurt to indulge his little fancy, couldn't it? He felt the need to make you happy, he liked your smile - so innocent, ignorant of who he was, just seeing him as a normal person. 

At first, he hadn't wanted you to know who he was, had dreaded telling you his name in the fear that would recognise him, but you hadn't. And now he wanted you to know what he did - it felt wrong to keep it a secret. He also knew that he was distracted, visibly so, Richard, his oldest friend, would not stop watching him and Till was only waiting and dreading for the guitarist to open his mouth and ask what was wrong. Which was why he put on his best mad-face and glowered at everyone who dared to get in his path on his way to the stage. He did NOT want to explain that he was waiting for a girl and getting nervous like a school boy.

~~~

Y/N hadn't arrived during the concert either. Till felt his heart sink - he was somewhere between annoyed, disappointed and worried. But before he or his bandmates could actually do or say anything, a crew member hurried toward Till as soon as the concert was over, handing him his phone and telling him it was urgent. 

"What is it?", he snapped a little breathlessly, wiping sweat from his face. His voice was always strained after a concert. It was no wonder really, with titles that required him to constantly growl and scream.

"This is the Klinikum Frankfurt Höchst. We have a young woman that came here two hours ago due to a car accident. She's barely conscious due to her injuries and the painkillers, but she keeps asking for Till and you are the only contact in her phone with that name." The singer of Rammstein felt his breath stop. He couldn't fucking believe it. A car accident? How much bad luck was that? "Is she alright?", he asked the woman over the phone. All of his disappointment was replaced with alarm.

"Like I said, she got injured in the crash and has head trauma but nothing serious. She's a bit out of it, so if we should ignore her rambling..." Till cut her off quickly. He needed to go see you if you were asking for him. This whole thing was practically his fault. You wouldn't be in this situation if not for him. He owed it to you to at least visit you in hospital. "No, I'm coming. What room is she in?" He was already beginning to walk while he listened to the woman's reply, loosening the buckles on his clothes; he couldn't go to the hospital in the stuff he was wearing - that would only attract attention that he didn't want - it'd also be bad if the press somehow got wind of it. They would question why he was doing this and might drag you through the mud in the process.

Till passed a confused Flake and Paul as he stormed to his room to change as quickly as possible. He ignored their stares, silently thinking that he would explain this whole thing to them later. If he had the choice, he wouldn't want to mention you to them; they would think the wrong things and as long as they didn't know about you, he could pretend that you belonged only to him. Till had always been a possessive person, with things and people alike, and you were no exception. Having said that, he wasn't some caveman that thought he could own people, his possessiveness was more a desire to take care of and a very keen aversion to sharing the attention of people that he felt possessive of. 

He always felt strongest about women he was sleeping or in a relationship with, which was strange because he didn't plan on sleeping with you - not that it hadn't crossed his mind, there were few things in that area that he hadn't passingly thought about (just look at the stuff he sang about on an almost daily basis) - but because it wouldn't feel right. You weren't even twenty - Till was sure that the two of you fucking would only lead to regret on your end and he wanted to spare you that - he also didn't want to ruin your developing relationship. It wasn't quite a friendship, you were at very different stages of life after all, but it was still something and it was refreshing. It excited him and he wanted to see where it would go since you were quite different from his usual circle of acquaintances. A fresh breath.

Chapter Text

During the drive, Till was on a short fuse. Everything got on his nerves, annoyed him - he barely resisted flipping some poor guy off that drove a little too slowly. He guessed that he made quite the scary sight, a big hulking (still a bit sweaty) man with a dark expression. The hospital stuff handled him quite well and showed him the way to Y/N's room without much preamble. Till briefly wondered if they recognized him. 

It was very silent, save for the steady beeping of the heart-monitor, and a strange stillness fell over Till as he observed your pale form. You were lying on the bed, the blanket thrown to the side and your body only clothed in a hospital gown. Your left side was covered in ugly blue bruises and bandages on your shoulder and arm. There was a nasty looking horizontal cut on your cheek with bruising all around your face. Your eyes were closed but your lids were fluttering wildly like you were having a bad dream. 

Till watched your body squirm and saw you breathe in sharply when you moved a sore spot. "Hey", he whispered, stepping closer to you and letting himself slump on the chair beside your bed. You immediately opened your eyes. Your pupils were blown impossibly wide from, what Till guessed, the cocktail of drugs the doctors had given you to manage the pain. "Heeey", you slurred in return, dragging the word out lazily. Your hand reached out to touch Till's arm and he almost recoiled due to his surprise but held still to let you touch his hand. "You're real", Y/N supplied like it was a revelation and Till felt bad for you. You were totally out of it. And it was because of him. He felt guilty looking at your cuts and bruises, at the discolouration - he wanted to make you better but didn't know how.

Then, after your fingers dragged over his rough skin clumsily, you suddenly snatched your hand away and Till could see the alarm in your large eyes. "Are you mad, Till? That I didn't make it? I'm so sorry, I'm really sorry, I-", you garbled and Till felt the unquenchable need to shush you, which he did. "You’re talking nonsense, Y/N. Of course, I'm not mad. You should be mad at me. You're in this situation because of me, princess.", the nickname slipped out before Till really thought about it. You gifted him with a dopey grin when he said it. It had felt strange and foreign on his tongue because it wasn’t something that he normally called women. Which wasn’t to mean that he didn’t like the image of you the name conjured in his head. 
"I like it when you call me that.", you told him and Till was sure that this was a drug-induced confession - something you wouldn't have said if you hadn't been under the influence of god knows how many painkillers. He smirked indulgingly; a bit amused at your sudden openness. "I guess that instead of evening the field, I've managed to feel like I owe you even more, Y/N." Till murmured, looking into your sleepy (Y/E/C) eyes. You looked so small and defenceless, Till had the desire to spoil and protect you. 

"I'm happy that you're not mad at me.", you answered instead, genuine relief in your sighing tone. Till wanted to reply something but was interrupted by a drawn-out yawn. Observing you, he could see how your eyes had gone droopy. You were probably very tired. "I better leave you to sleep." Till went to stand up and quietly leave you but your hand on his biceps stopped you. "Won't you kiss me goodnight?", you slurred, giggling slightly. Till let out a playfully dramatic sigh but leaned down to place a quick chaste kiss on your forehead, like a father might. When his lips touched your warm skin, he felt the telltale tingling of desire tug at his gut. He had been ignoring his attraction to you for a while now, he realised, as he watched your half-lidded eyes. 
"Does that suffice?", he finally asked, forcing a smile and still leaning above you. "You smell.", you told him and Till snorted at your inappropriate comment. "Oh, do I?", he asked teasingly, "Well, then I better get out of here."

Y/N's eyes glowed dully and Till held his breath at the sudden intensity of your gaze. "No, I like it.", you whispered, and drew your arms around his neck quicker than Till thought possible in your state, hugging him and burying your face in his shoulder. Till's hands hovered in the air, not sure what to do with the young woman that was holding onto him. He wasn't sure if your slight advances were born only out of being high or pre-existing inclinations. But right now, you looked as if the weight of the world was crushing you. You were touching him because you just needed to hold onto someone.
"Princess", he said, "talk to me." 
His voice faltered a little and he wished to whisk you away and lock you up in a safe haven where nothing could upset you, like a real princess. But Till knew that he wasn’t really prince material. He felt more like a dragon trying to hoard his golden treasure.

A sob escaped your throat and he could see tears gleaming in your eyes when you loosened your grip and looked up at his face. "I keep hearing the metal screeching...", you whimpered brokenly and Till's heart twisted a little, you trusted him, you were so vulnerable in front of him. He couldn't fail you. "Shh", he tried to calm you down, vowing to himself that he would try everything in his power to make you smile for him again. You shouldn't hurt or want for anything as long as he could do something about it. That was the least he could do even if it wasn’t his smartest move to get “involved” with (and again, he didn’t plan on ever touching you) a female as young as you. 

He sat with you for a while, holding your weeping form, a storm of thoughts and emotions brewing within his head. When you went silent in his arms, he looked down, seeing that you had closed your eyes and that your breath had evened out. You were asleep, your arms clutching at Till in your slumber. Slowly extracting himself from you, the man stood up, observing your paler than normal skin and the blemishes that it now carried because of him. Objectively, he knew thst it wasn't him who put those cuts and bruises there but it still made him feel guilty and infuriated. No one should be allowed to mark you in any way - you didn't deserve that. 

Till had planned to reveal his status as a member of Ramnstein to you - that was the reason he had invited you to the concert after all but he now felt unsure if it was really what he wanted to do. He didn't want you to view him differently, to feel like you had to act a certain way around him. Few people ever reached out to him like you, to be comforted by him - and he guessed that he had now realised that he was afraid that you would stop once you knew. You wouldn't know that the distraction you provided was what he had been missing in his life.

~~~

When you woke up the next morning in hospital, you noticed a bouquet of various flowers on your bed stand. Beside that there was a card. I'm sorry that I can't visit today. Have these flowers as an apology. I've been told that you can probably leave later today or tomorrow. Write or call me when you get home. TILL.
You remembered last night only sparingly - the only thing that you were sure of was that Till had come and that you had cried on him. You buried your face behind your unbandaged arm in mortification. He probably thought you were a little girl even more now than before. At this rate he'd never see you as an actual woman!

At least you hadn't told him about your infatuation with him. That would've been beyond embarrassing. You laid in your bed in thought and it suddenly occurred to you that the party on Friday was probably off the table with the condition you were in. It wasn't that you were very keen on it, you had never been a partying girl but it would've been a nice way to meet up with your friends. Well, you'd see them all on Monday anyway. 

The bouquet from Till was rather large and quite beautiful. It didn't look like one that you would buy at just any shop. The gift filled you with happiness even though you'd rather have him be physically present. But you understood that his life didn't revolve around you. He had children, a demanding job - things that were much more important than you. Not that you were at least good company right now. You still felt drained and a little woozy, your body aching everywhere. Not to mention that pounding in your head.

When you entered the small bathroom, you jumped a little at the sight you made. It certainly wasn't pretty. That cut on your face especially seemed like it would scar. And the dark circles under your eyes weren’t doing you any favours either. You had never considered yourself beautiful (and who actually did unironically?) but right now, you looked downright horrible. How Till could even stand looking at you was beyond you.

~~~

In the afternoon, after numerous check-ups, you were released with strict orders not to overtax yourself and to be mindful of your cuts, to change the bandages in two days and come in for a follow up in a week and a half. Standard hospital procedure.
You had texted Till, as he had commanded you to, and he'd written that there would be a car waiting for you. Grateful for his help, even if you felt nervous getting into a car just a day after the incident, you scanned the hospital parking lot for the car he'd described, finding it standing in the far-left corner. 

You didn't hesitate to approach it, even though you stopped just short of getting in, your palms sweaty. The windows were dark, the kind where you couldn't look inside. You shifted from one foot to the other, one hand hovering over the handle of the car door uncertainly. You wanted to see Till so badly, your belly clenching and heart beating wildly against your chest. You had never felt about anyone quite the way you did about him and, in a way, it scared you. You weren't supposed to want him in that way - once again you couldn't be normal, like everyone else and like someone your own age. 

But it wasn't his age or anything, it was just Till that lured you like a siren's call. When you closed your eyes, you imagined the lines of his face, the heat of his body when you touched him and Till's warm, comforting scent. Maybe you were a little obsessed. You were so confused. Yet he seemed so very interested in your life and you were worried that you were imagining that it was anything more than friendly concern.

Well, if you continued standing around, you would never find out. Mind made up, you forced your body into moving, opening the door in one swift motion and promptly freezing in place - pinned by familiar green-blue eyes. "T-Till", you stuttered, caught off guard that he was sitting in the backseat. He made space for you by scooting aside and gestured with his hand for you to get in. You obeyed him without second thought, carefully lowering yourself into the expensive leather and being mindful to leave a respectful amount of distance between the object of your thoughts and yourself. "Y/N", he answered to your exclamation when you had closed the car's door, his eyes studying you and the healing cut on your face. The discolouring was as present as the day before, minus the redness. It was now simply a blue-ish lilac colour.

"How are you feeling?", he enquired, "Are you fine with being in a car so soon after..." You nodded as he trailed off, biting your lip. "I'm – alright, I guess. Nervous but it's okay.", it was a bit of an understatement but you didn't want Till to worry. The blonde didn't look completely convinced and you were thankful when he chose not to comment on it. "Why are you here?", you questioned to change the topic, wincing at how your wording sounded. The corners of his mouth quirked up and he grinned at you, raising his pierced eyebrow. "If I had known I wasn't welcome, I wouldn't have burdened you with my presence, princess.", your cheeks never failed to heat up when he called you that. His tone revealed that he wasn't serious and that he was only mock-hurt but you still felt the need to clarify your meaning, instinctively grabbing the hand closest to you and lightly squeezing the rough palm between your own hands. 

"Y-you know I don't mean that! I'm happy and grateful - I am!", you added the last bit when he shot you a disbelieving look. But behind that, his eyes were filled with laughter. He placed his other palm over the fingers that still cradled his digits. "I wanted to be there in case you needed a familiar face to distract you.", he explained, a smidge more serious. "Distract me from what?", you retorted stupidly, your brain short-circuiting at the contact between you and him. He chuckled. "It seems it's working.", he simply countered, a relieved half-smile on his face.

You noticed that Till seemed to smile a lot lately. At least around you. You wondered if that was just the kind of person he was or if he was just in a good mood for whatever reason. You didn't think to explore the idea that it could be because of you. That would just be wistful thinking on your part, after all. 

The conversation reached a natural pause at that point and you slowly let go of each other’s hands. You turned your head, looking out of the window to hide your embarrassment at least a little. 

You were mystified when you realised how far you had already driven away from the hospital, you hadn't even noticed when you started your journey, distracted as you had been by Till. But, you guessed, that had been his intention. A thought occurred to you. "Where are we even going?", you implored out of the blue. It would technically be good if you returned home but you didn't have a lot of stuff with you, so you could postpone it a bit. You had only told your neighbour that you would be back from hospital sometime today, not exactly when. "You said that you really like books, didn't you?", Till queried slyly and you nodded. "Well, I thought that I would take you to one of my favourite book shops here in the region and let you pick out whatever you want.", he glanced at you out of the corner of one sea-coloured eye. "As an apology for everything that went wrong." You coughed awkwardly.

"Y-you, you really don't need to do that! The flowers were wonderful and sufficient and I never even blamed you to begin with and-", you realised you were rambling. "You don't need to spend money on me unnecessarily.", you finished, shutting your mouth to stop some other drivel from tumbling out of you. Till fixed you with an intense stare. "I want to, Y/N. Let me do this to lighten my conscience. And trust me", he snorted, the sound full of mirth, "I have enough money to last a lifetime. It's of no consequence if I give you something you want." You tilted your head, curious. Was he saying that he was rich? It made sense, the fancy car and driver, a job in entertainment... What confused you was what he was even doing with you if he was loaded. Even if he hadn't been totally out of your league before, he certainly was now. You weren't poor but if he had the kind of money you were imagining...

You didn't want to argue with him and offend him, so you accepted that he wanted to buy you some books of your choice. It wasn't like books were crazy expensive, after all, and it was kind of flattering for him to want to spend money on you now that you thought of it. Nobody (who wasn't family) had ever done anything similar for you.

Chapter Text

The bookshop Till had chosen was large, but just lovely. He insisted to let you browse in private while he stayed near the entrance on a couch meant for reading. He looked slightly out of place on the furniture, his large frame standing out a bit awkwardly. He was dressed a little more formal than you had seen him last in a charcoal button-up with pushed up sleeves and equally dark trousers. Dressing in black, or something close to black, seemed to be Till's thing.

You almost had to giggle, imagining Till clothed in ridiculous colours like hot pink or something similar. In your head, it was a funny picture, but knowing Till by now a little, he would totally rock it. That man could wear a sack and it’d look good stretching over his bulging muscles.

In the end you found two books that you handed over to the cashier - "Agnes" a story about a young physicist and her lethal romance with an aging writer and a cool looking version of "Dracula" which was a classic you had always wanted to buy but never gotten around to doing it. There was a third one you would have liked but you didn't want to pick too many and you also were a bit too embarrassed by your interest in the book to let Till see it. It was "Lolita". You had seen excerpts of the book and were dying to read it as the subject interested you, as well as Nabokov's almost poetic style of writing but you just couldn't bring yourself to take it with you, leaving it at a bookshelf at the last second. 

After Till had paid for the books and carried them to the car, insisting that he was a gentleman and would therefore handle the bag for you, he asked you if you wanted to go home. It was a strange question, in your opinion. You didn't exactly want to be home alone when you could be with Till but you also didn't want to be a bother or be clingy. You didn't tell him that. What you said was "Yes" even though you didn't mean it. The world felt bad in your mouth. 

The two of you sat next to each other comfortably when the car lurched to the side at a sharp turn, sending you crashing into Till's hard side. You knocked your forehead against his chest with a yelp, your face mushed into the fabric of his shirt and your hands instinctively gripping the available surface, effectively feeling him up. Your lips had also briefly made contact with the soft black button-up and you could still feel the warmth of Till's body burning on your skin. You were close enough to hear his heart beating. As the car made another turn, you were almost thrown back in the other direction if it hadn't been for Till's large arm wrapping around you and holding you in place against him. You blushed into the not-quite embrace, hiding yourself against his button-up. His hand was settled on your hip and you keenly felt each of his digits slipping over your cloth-covered body. 

They seemed to linger even when the car continued on its way normally. He hadn't let you go. Curious, you looked up at him with wide (Y/E/C) eyes, noticing the far-away look in his eyes. As if he was contemplating something. The giant seemed to snap out it when you moved though, his grip on you loosening. "I think we're almost there.", he murmured and it took you a moment to realise what he was talking about. His free hand pushed a blonde strand of hair away from his forehead. You nodded. "Yeah."

The separation was kind of awkward, neither of you quite knew what to say and it was made worse when he told you that he wouldn't be in the proximity for quite some time since his work required him to travel a lot. But he also promised that he would not forget to take you wherever he wanted to take you when the car accident happened. So at least it wasn't a final goodbye. The thought that you wouldn't see him for a while still didn't sit well with you. 

~~~

It had been ten days since then and no word from him. You guessed he was busy wherever he was and you didn't want to take liberties but he had given you his phone number, so you decided to use it. If he didn't want you to contact him, he could always say so. 

How are you? was what you wrote, backed by all of your gathered bravery, starting a steady stream of messages with that between the two of you. Every few days, you would text for a few minutes, just talking about stuff - books you had recently read or that he could recommend (he had excellent taste), a bit about politics (he said he found it funny and refreshing to hear your comments which were often witty and sarcastic) and the like. You slowly felt like you were getting to know him more through these "conversations". 

About four weeks into your chats, your birthday had arrived. You had only mentioned it once in passing and you woke up that Sunday like it was a normal day. It wasn't your 18th birthday after all which had been kind of a big deal last year. It's kind of sad, you thought, Nineteen and never been kissed. Your graduation was around the corner as well. You had gone to an all-girls school and you didn't have an easy time making new friends as you weren't the most out-going person, so there had simply been very few opportunities to even meet any boys you could be kissed by. 

And even if you met one now, you were still pining over your gentle and stoic "friend". You didn't really know if he was even that. The term seemed silly to describe what you two shared. It was more an understanding of each other, similar people only separated due to their life experience. At least that was what you felt. Well, and he was hot. In an older, sophisticated (even though Till tended to be kind of silly quite often) way with a low and rough voice that sent shivers down your spine.

But back to the matter at hand. Sunday started pretty normally. You had decided not to celebrate in a special way, so there was nothing planned. Your friends had sent you congratulatory texts and your parents hugged you awkwardly when you went down the stairs. They didn't really know what to do with you (they never did).

There was no word from Till. You tried not to be disappointed, you hadn't explicitly told him that today was your birthday after all but you had secretly wanted him to remember. 

You went about the day as usual - until the doorbell ringed. As today was your birthday, your parents assumed it would be for you and gave you the task of checking the door. When you opened it, you saw nothing at first. Yet when you looked down at the ground, there was a brown parcel. You picked it up easily since it wasn't too heavy. The address on the package didn't reveal who the sender was.

When your parents asked who had been at the front door, you told them "nobody" which was the truth. You didn't reveal that there had been something. Carefully, you set the wrapped package down on the table in your room and proceeded to unwrap it with bated breath. The first thing you saw was a folded sheet of paper, a card. Brushing it aside for the moment, you uncovered a book. "Lolita". Your breath stopped and your heart began to beat erratically. It wasn't the same version that you had seen at the bookshop, in the contrary, this version looked much older, but still in impeccable condition. You reached for the card, fingers shaking against your will.

I saw you eye the book at the bookshop. I hope that you still want it - this version is special. I regret that I can't be there to give it to you in person. Happy birthday, princess.

Confused, you studied the book again. Special? You opened it. There, on the first page was a signature. It read, quite clearly, Vladimir Nabokov. You didn't doubt for a second that it was real and a quick look at the print date (1975) of the book proved it to be even more likely that it was a genuine signature. You were amazed and happy tears filled your eyes. It was the most beautiful gift you had ever gotten. 

The urge to thank Till filled you with a vengeance but you weren't sure you could speak right now. So, you texted him. Till, thank you so much. His answer didn't take long. I trust that you got my present? Did you like it? You grinned through your silent tears, wiping them away with your sleeve. I do. I'm so happy. This is the best present I've ever gotten. You replied truthfully. Prove that you like it, Till wrote cheekily and you could almost see his teasing eyes, the cocky tilt of his mouth. Wiping at your eyes one last time, you opened your front camera, quickly checking your hair was alright before giving the brightest and most sincere smile you had given in a while. You hit send quickly to stop yourself from worrying over the picture too much. You waited for his response.

Are you crying? he typed. You snorted a laugh. And what if I am? you replied, feeling braver over text message than you actually were. It was meant as a rhetoric question, so you continued. And, you know, now you have two photos of me, kinda unfair don't you think? Why don't you even the scales?, you pressed on brazenly, the boldest and most forward you had ever been with him. There was a pause in which you started to regret your words, wondering if you had been too pushy but that was all blown away when Till sent you a selfie of himself. His hair was tousled, the suggestion of a smirk on his full lips and he looked to be in some kind of meeting room judging by the background. He was cut off at his shoulders but he seemed to be wearing a black hoodie jacket. It was just the slightest bit blurry - you guessed that he wasn't really someone who would take a lot of selfies and therefore unpractised. But he looked...well, dashing. Smiling suited him, as you had observed many times before. Satisfied?, he asked and you responded instantaneously. Very.

When you had calmed down from your happy excitement, you began to wonder just how expensive that book was. It was, despite its age, in top condition and also signed by the author. Surely that meant that it wasn't cheap. Deciding that a search engine would be the best place to look, you typed "Lolita signed copy" into the search bar and pulled up shopping links. The site you clicked on made your face pale. The prices for those books ranged from 3000$ to even 12000$ from what you could see. You couldn't imagine that Till had spent so much money on a gift for your 19th birthday. Not even your parents had ever given you anything that came close to that and it was a strange feeling to get something like this from the man you were kind of infatuated with. 

You didn't ask him about the expensiveness of his present, still remembering his words in the car. If he had the money and wanted to spend it on you, arguing with Till would be pointless.

~~~

The next weeks were filled with distractions, preparing for graduation, the ceremony and ball looming before you. You had a dress for the ball, a bit longer than knee-length and a deep burgundy with a high collar and embroidery at the top. You really liked it and you couldn't help but keep wondering if Till would like it too. You had texted every now and then, as was your established rhythm, and even called once when he wanted to congratulate you on your very last day of exams (which you had told him about the day before, expressing your nervousness to him). 

On the day of the ball, as you were changing, it still gnawed on you. You needed him to see you in this dress which you felt so pretty in. Your crush had only increased in the passing time and you weren't even sure if it qualified for a crush anymore. You positioned yourself in front of the mirror and, trying to look as mature and alluring as you could, snapped a picture of yourself, sending it to Till with the caption What do you think?

You waited for a few minutes, your anxiety growing (what if he thought it was ugly?). 
It looks very complimentary. Who's the lucky guy? Your face burned hot. There's no lucky guy. I'm going to the ball with some of my other friends. You couldn't tell him that the only male you'd like to go to the ball with was him. It would look strange, anyway. He was much too old to go to an event like this, especially as someone's date and not their father. You did see that Till started typing, yet he did not send anything. There was a pause and then he typed again. One would think you'd have boys slobbering all over you, princess. You nearly threw your phone away out of surprise and a warm tingling sensation settled in your belly, fuelling your next message. I don't but then again, I'm also not interested in them. You didn't know what possessed you to be so bold. Momentary insanity maybe? But Till didn't seem to catch your meaning. Maybe he just didn't want to.

Girls, then?
You flushed, mortified that he would think that. Not at all! Why would you...? Females didn't hold any attraction for you at all. The only boobs you ever wanted to touch were your own! Gotta be progressive, princess. It's fine either way.

Till was a kind man. He might seem a bit gruff and intimidating but deep down you just knew that he had a good heart. Moments like these proved it. He could be a sarcastic dumbass and you supposed that there was a kind of darkness there beneath his smile and you didn't pry, everyone had their own demons, but about every time you two spoke, he would show just how sweet he could be (even without knowing it).

You liked that he could be both - soothing and intimidating, it fulfilled an unknown craving within you when he gave you an order and took charge, his large body easily able to overpower. The possibility that he could do everything he wanted with you thrilled you. You imagined his hands pinning you down forcefully, leaving you gasping and writhing, the hard planes of his chest against your softer frame. How it would feel to have his teeth leave burning marks all over your skin, marking you, showing the world you were his? God, that was exactly what you wanted. 

You wanted Till to take you, rough and loving alternating at his leisure. But you could never tell him that, of course.

Chapter Text

A month passed and Till still hadn't been at least close to Frankfurt. It was late July, a bit over three months since you had met Till on that fateful day. You couldn't believe that you were still talking with each other. That he even bothered with you. You figured that he saw himself as some sort of mentor or father figure in your life. You'd shared with him that you weren't close with your parents and only continuing living with them due to the money. He'd told you a little more of himself, his closest friends whom he also worked with and even shared that he wrote poetry whenever he had time (which made him even more perfect in your eyes). 

During all this time, however, there was one thing he didn't share. His last name. You guessed that he had his reasons and since you already had a suspicion, didn't press. You suspected that he didn't tell you his surname was because he was afraid you'd know of him and treat him differently. It wasn't all that hard to figure out that, since he was rich, he was probably successful and at least a bit known if he worked in the entertainment industry. You didn't care if he was actually famous or not - he'd remain the same person to you - the same beautiful, hulking man with the gentlest hands and soothing rumbly voice. You really missed him though and caught yourself looking at that picture of him repeatedly.

It wasn't healthy to think about him so much; he was one man and you had your own life to worry about. You were right in the middle of waiting if any of the universities you had applied to had taken you. You had mostly applied to universities close to you but also a few special known ones, like the University in Berlin and wanted to study sociology. Human behaviour had always interested you and since you couldn't imagine yourself being a therapist or psychologist, you had decided on sociology. One of your childhood dreams was writing a book and becoming an author but that wasn't exactly a stable career choice.

You were startled from your thoughts by a message from Sophie, a friend of yours. I just got invited to a party at Justin's. You know him, Tessa's boyfriend? And guess who I'm taking with me? You rolled your eyes. Of course, you knew Justin. He was a bit of a prat but Tessa, a mutual friend of you and Sophie, seemed to like him just fine. Your mom?😉, you replied, adding a winking smiley after the teasing remark. No, you silly!😑 YOU're going with me! It'll be fun! Be ready at eight, guurl. Ah, typical Sophie. You furrowed your brow, searching for a reason to say no aside from not feeling like it. To be honest, you weren't much of a party girl. But you hadn't met up with Sophie in a while and, hey, what could it hurt. You didn't have anything else planned for today. 

That was how you found yourself in Justin's living room, having lied to your parents to go, idly listening to the booming music and nipping at your coke. You didn't drink anymore - your uncle had died because of it, leaving two children fatherless. Your mother was still heartbroken over it. It had instilled an aversion to alcohol inside of you. You couldn't smell it without feeling bad. Sophie had started off chatting with you but just as quickly abandoned you to moon over Markus and was now off somewhere shagging him probably. 

You were standing quite alone in your corner until a young man, your age or slightly older, approached to stand next to you. He was average looking, except for the cocky and self-assured grin on his face. "My name's Tristan.", he introduced himself and raked a hand through his sandy hair. He slurred just the slightest bit. 
"I'm Y/N", you replied, hoping to end this quickly. You weren't interested in talking to him. He didn't seem to take the hint, though, ignoring your less than friendly tone and leaning into you. "Why don't we talk somewhere more private?" Before you could tell him to leave and rebuff him, he had grabbed you by your wrist and started dragging you up the stairs. Your shock froze your body and you only snatched your hand away when you had reached the top of the stairs which led to a corridor. No one else was up here.

"What are you doing?", you bit out at the cocky man and he smirked. "You can drop that 'hard-to-get' act. I know that you're totally into me. I saw you looking at me across the room." Your jaw almost dropped and you felt yourself flush in indignation. That, too, he seemed to misinterpret and Tristan proceeded to step toward you while you backed backwards until you were backed into a corner. You stared up at him, feeling caged and kind of scared. "Please leave.", you told him, your voice quivering. He breathed out through his nose, growing visibly annoyed. "You don't mean that.", he explained, his head getting closer to your face. You tried pushing against his chest but he was unmoveable. "Stop.", you tried one last time but he clearly pretended not to hear you. He crashed his lips unto yours sloppily, one of his hands slipping up to grope at your breast and you balked at both sensations. It felt disgusting and, this close, you could smell the alcohol. You could even taste it. You pushed at him again, harder this time and he leaned away, his eyes half-lidded. "See, you liked that, didn't you? You women just need a little force to know what you want." 

Smack. You couldn't stop yourself from slapping him hard. How dare he? How dare he ignore your 'no' and then act as though he was doing you a favour? What a sexist pig. "Did you...did you just smack me?", Tristan growled, his face growing red. His expression was twisted, angry. 
"Do you want me to be rough? I can do that.", he told you darkly and the slight fear you had felt before increased tenfold. You had to get away from this guy. 

With one mighty shove and a strength you didn't realise you had, you pushed Tristan away from you, making him stumble, surprised, and land on his ass. The alcohol probably helped you there. You darted away from him, down the corridor where you knew the bathroom was. You couldn't go back down the stairs since Tristan was blocking that way. You sprinted towards the door, running in there and quickly locking it behind you with a hammering heart. You barely had time to catch your breath before Tristan's fists began to pound at the door. "Get out of there, bitch! I'll show you!" You observed the door fearfully, watching it rattle against his onslaught. Tears gathered in your eyes. You had never been in a situation like this. Fuck, you thought. What to do? You couldn't tell your parents, they thought you were at Sophie's doing a girls' night. You tried calling your friend but she didn't answer and you guessed that your earlier assumption was correct and she was fooling around with her beau.

You looked at your contacts, your eyes catching on 'Till'. He had told you to call him if you were in trouble. You knew that he was away, maybe not even in Germany, but you had to at least try. You were not going outside of this room alone with that sicko lingering around. With one last kick against the door and an enraged growl, he had left the door to the bathroom alone but you weren't taking any chances that he was waiting to corner you again when you left the protection of the locked door. 
You pressed the call button as anxious tears spilled down your cheeks. Till answered after the fifth or so ring, giving you ample time to descend into a panic, thinking he wouldn't be available and no one would be there to help you. 

"Princess?", he asked and his voice was uncertain. It was a strange time for you to call him and normally you texted him before calling to make sure you weren't interrupting him. "Till", you started, your voice choked and quiet. It was hard to think. You were afraid of Tristan's violence and not being able to get out of this. "Y/N, what's wrong?", he demanded, his normally gentle voice lowering and taking on an edge. You explained the situation to him through tears, telling him that you were afraid to leave. "Oh, princess, shhh, it'll be alright, I promise. I wish I could get you myself but I'd take too long. I'm going to get someone to pick you up, okay? It'll be okay. You don't need to cry, princess." Till's measured tone calmed you down, even though you could hear hints of worry in his words. You nodded to yourself. You could do this. Till continued talking to you, offering comfort and reassurance as he contacted someone.

"I told you about a friend of mine, Christoph, didn't I?", he asked then and you muttered a weak yes. "The one that you only call Schneider?", you said, remembering him being mentioned. Till's chuckle could be heard over the phone. "Yes, that's the one. He'll collect you, alright? It'll only take him 15 minutes to arrive and I'll stay with you over the phone, okay?" You muttered another yes. You had already calmed down a little and gotten over the first initial shock. You now felt completely disgusted. That dirty little shit had touched you, however brief, without your consent. Your lips and skin burned where he had touched you. And not in the good way. You hadn't told Till that bit, too embarrassed and upset to go over anything but the essentials.

Now you felt the need to talk with someone about it. And Till was the only one there. "Till", you started, "he kissed and touched me after I told him no. That's why I slapped him." There was a tense silence. "That son of a bitch!", the big man ground out then, voice low and growly. "But you did good. I'm very proud of you for defending yourself.", he paused, his tone gentle again. "Did he...", Till started and you immediately realised what he was going for. "N-No", you interrupted quickly, "I didn't let him get that far. I'm fine. Just a bit rattled." That was a gross understatement. You really weren't fine, better yes, but your eyes still stung and when you studied your face in the mirror, you could see angry tear stains on your paler-than-usual cheeks and your hair was a mess from your hands running through it nervously.

A knock against the bathroom door made you almost jump out of your skin. You expected the worst - Tristan's voice beginning another barrage, but the male voice that spoke was unfamiliar. "Y/N, are you there? Till asked me to get you. I'm Christoph." You exhaled shakily. Till on the other side had apparently heard him. "Go on, princess, he'll take care of you. I told him to bring you to a spare apartment of mine in the area safely. You can stay there as long as you need to." Your heart cleanched painfully. You didn't deserve all of this effort. "T-thank you, Till." On unsteady feet you reached for the lock and opened the door, revealing a tall man, around Till's height and age. He wasn't nearly as broad as Till though. Christoph was more on the lean side with piercing blue eyes and dark hair that was shaved short at the sides.

"Hi", you said shyly, suddenly self-conscious of your pathetic appearance. Christoph, or Schneider as Till always called him, was wearing a blue jacket over a casual shirt and jeans. "Hi", he returned, smiling reassuringly. "Let's get you out of here." Then he noticed the phone still at your ear. "Oy, Till! You owe me a favour! I was planning a very lovely night with my new wife, you know!" You heard Till snort over the phone "His wife will be happy to be rid of him for a few hours.", he muttered mischievously. You couldn't hold back a small giggle. Christoph raised his eyebrow, "What did he tell you?" You quirked your lips. "Nothing." Schneider's expression was disbelieving. "I'll leave you in pretty boy's hands now, okay, princess?", Till said at last and you gave him an affirmative answer, after which he disconnected the call. You lowered your phone and watched Schneider for an awkward moment. "Do you have everything you need?", he wanted to know. You nodded. "Good. And I'm not actually mad or annoyed. I'm happy that I can help. But, you know, don't tell Till. If I can get a few free drinks out of this as well, all's great."

~~~

You had followed Schneider as he had led you out of the house and to his car. Driving through the dark night, you fiddled with your sleeves. After a few minutes, Christoph spoke up. "How do you know Till? I hope you'll excuse me saying so, but you're rather young. Are you one of his daughters' friends?" You blushed. "No, I met him when I fell asleep watching the Main. He was concerned about me walking through the city alone at night and then we just...I dunno, continued talking. That was over three months ago." He shot you a quick interested look, his main focus being the road obviously. "You're a friend from work, aren't you? Till's always very vague with these things." 

"He would be, wouldn't he? But yeah, you could say that. I've known him for almost two decades now." You looked at him, impressed. You wished that you'd also have friendships like these. 
You didn't talk much on the rest of the way to the apartment, lost as you were in your thoughts. Thinking back to Till's voice, his dark and dangerous tone, brought a strange shiver down your spine. His ire hadn't been directed at you and you could admit that his growled words had you tingling all over as they replayed in your mind. This infatuation had got to stop. That Till had a daughter around your age should be enough to deter you, yet it didn't. You weren't exactly keen on having kids of your own and since Till was a father already, it seemed to fit perfectly. You were kind of jealous of the other women but as long as that stayed in the past, you could deal. But you wanted Till. You felt safe with him and you needed that - especially now.

The apartment that Schneider brought you to was locked via a keypad and a number combination that was shown to you. "I've only been here once or twice, so I can't really give you a grand tour but as far as I know, the bathroom's right there", Schneider pointed at a door on the right, "The guest bedroom is down the hall and the kitchen is behind the counter in the living room." You nodded along, grateful for every helpful word you got. "Do you need anything?", he finally asked, "Or are you fine staying here alone?" You could see that he was a bit flighty - straining to go back to his beloved and leave this strange situation but he wouldn't if you told him that you didn't want to be alone and that touched you deeply. Beyond your name, he didn't know you.

"No", you answered evenly, "I don't need anything. I'm just...going to lay down, I think." Schneider nodded, his eyes thoughtful, and approached you cautiously, probably afraid to startle you after what you went through. He laid an uncertain hand on your shoulder, only touching you lightly. "Then I'll go. But you should know that whatever happened, it's not your fault and you shouldn't feel bad about it. You did nothing wrong." Schneider looked you in the eyes, his own blue ones' piercing. You stared dumbly at him for a moment before jerking your head up and down once in an imitation of a nod. He had caught you off your guard with that but you appreciated his concern nonetheless.

When he had left and you had long heard the door behind him click shut, the tears hit you again. You were sitting on the couch and you didn't even know why they were coming. You couldn't stop it, couldn't stop crying into the empty apartment, drawing your legs up to bury your face behind the arms that clutched at your knees in an almost fetal position. 

Everything felt wrong. Too full where you wanted to be empty and alone when you wanted someone (Till) to be there. You didn't know how long you stayed like that but as the tears finally subsided you felt yourself slowly drift into an exhausted sleep. You didn't dream which you were thankful for.

Chapter Text

You were startled out of your sleep by strong arms hoisting you up. The person was careful but you were a light sleeper - especially when you were upset, so you opened your eyes, fearful for an irrational moment that it would be Tristan. It was another man. One that was infinitely more welcome. He was trying to pick you up gently which was difficult in your position in a ball on the couch and he hadn't yet noticed your change in status. Some part wanted to pretend to be still asleep to see what he would do but your desire to talk to him was greater.

"Till", you whispered hoarsely and he froze, green-blue eyes fixating on your face. His hair was in disarray, haphazardly swept to the side and he had a bit of a stubble. The look in his eyes broke your heart. He tried to hide it but you could tell that he was immensely worried. "How are you...why?", you asked, remembering that he was supposed to be somewhere in Sweden. "Princess", he said, gathering you up in his arms and helping you stand. You raised your head to continue looking him in your eye. "Are you really fine?" He had ignored your question but you nodded in the affirmative. It felt like a lie. 

"Till, why are you here?", you pressed on. The burly man sighed, his hand tightening on your back but not painfully so. You stood close enough that you could feel his heartbeat against your own. They were both racing. "What are you doing to me?", he murmured instead, the question sounded more like he was asking himself rather than you. "I don't understand.", you replied and Till's gaze averted from yours. "I tried to stay away, to leave you space - but I couldn't. You make me feel... something, I don't know, I needed to see you myself, to make sure that prick didn't hurt you.", it rushed out of him like a confession. Your insides twisted. "Till, what are you...?", you started only to be cut off by him. "Nothing. This is just...I don't know. But Y/N - it can't be more than what it is, alright? I can't give you more. This", he gestured to the two of you as you stood in a quasi-embrace, "isn't healthy. It's not good for any of us. You're too young. I'm too old. You're going to study - this won't work. We'll only hurt us both." You must've looked at him strangely because he continued. "Do you think I didn't notice that you were attracted to me? I tried to ignore it. Tried to tell myself it didn't matter - because I didn't want to stop our talks, everything. I want to give you presents, I want to give you everything you want, I want to see you be happy! But don't you see how this 'relationship' is already chipping away at you?", he explained and you felt both anger and wonder rise in your chest. How could he be such an idiot?

"You don't decide what's good for me and what isn't. I can and will make mistakes in my life. But I don't think this is one of them. And if it is, I'd rather have made it than always kept on wondering. If you feel the way you say, then, please, let's try.", you shot back, conviction colouring your tone. He stared at you disbelievingly. "You don't even know me.", he insisted. "Because you refuse to tell me what you do? Don't you think I've figured out that you're famous?" He blinked. "Then you know that-", you intercepted. "No, I haven't looked you up or anything! I respected that you didn't want to tell me. I respected that you had a reason not to." Your eyes burned with unshed tears. "Till, please, don't do this. If you want to ignore whatever is between us, okay, but I don't want you to just go and leave my life!"

On an impulse, and somewhat against what you had just said, you grabbed him by his lapels and crashed your lips against his brazenly. The rough contact inflamed a burning desire in your chest that was almost bittersweet. "I don't want that asshole to have my first kiss. I always wanted it to be you. Now I'll be able to pretend you were.", was your breathless explanation when he stared at you with wide eyes. "Your first?", he mirrored, his voice full of pain. Before you could reply, the hand on your back slid up to the back of your head and Till was kissing you, his stubble scratching your cheeks slightly. Your surprised eyes stayed open and your arms slung around his neck, desperate to keep him with you. You moved with him when he sat down, straddling his thick thighs and followed his lead as you felt his tongue on the seam of your lips, opening up to his invasion. Grabbing onto strands of his hair, you adjusted your position on his lap and moaned at the sensation of Till's hurried kiss. It was desperation that fuelled your actions, desires that you had thought would remain unfulfilled suddenly shifting into the realm of possibility.

He was igniting trails of fire in his wake as his lips trailed away from your mouth and over your jaw, nipping at the skin of your neck. Gasping, you felt your abdomen clenching and closed your eyes, getting lost in Till's administrations. "Till", you keened breathlessly in reaction to his teeth sinking into your skin - painful but bearably so. It heightened the pleasure, in a way. The man beneath you knew what he was doing, there was no question about that. "Princess", Till answered and he was just as breathless as you. He placed another kiss beneath your ear before resting his head at the crook of your neck.

"We can't continue this.", it was a low whisper against your skin and the warmth of the air leaving his lungs fanned against your cheek. You opened your mouth to retort, your hands sliding down and away to hang limply at your sides but Till didn't let you speak. "You're so young. You're basically still a kid." Those words hit you deeply. You had thought that you understood each other and here he was, telling you that he didn't think you were an adult. With anger and betrayal coursing through your veins, you pushed yourself away from him, standing up. "Kissing me and then saying that you see me as a kid isn't the smartest thing to do, don't you think?", you started, "But fine", you bit out, voice dripping with poison. "If you see me as a child then I have no business being here. Kids aren't supposed to talk to strangers, after all.

It hurt like a bitch to these things but he had hurt you just as bad with his words and you needed to get away. You didn't even know why exactly that had struck such a strong cord within you but when he said it, it had been a blow to your open chest, striking your sorry little heart in two. You were now cradling the pieces close to you as you ignored Till's stunned expression and proceeded to gather your jacket and stomp toward the front door.

As soon as he caught your intention, he shot up, trying to get you to calm down, to talk to him. When he reached out to touch your arm, you recoiled and his large hand stopped, hovering mid-air. "Don't.", you snapped hotly. His eyes were bright and confused and you felt your resolve crumble, just a little. "This is what you wanted, isn't it, Till? I'm leaving. You won't have to deal with my childishness anymore.", it was hard to keep yourself from trembling but you wanted to appear strong, sure of your decision. You walked past his broad frame, not in the least bit intimidated - you were sure that Till wasn't a threat to you. He was ultimately harmless - or so you had always thought. Maybe he would still prove you wrong, in the worst of ways.

He let you leave silently and you didn't look back, tears once again rising in your eyes. What the hell was wrong with you today? "FUCK", you bellowed, "fuckfuckfuck. Fuck." This had all gone so badly. You still liked Till a lot, maybe even loved him, this was definitely beyond a crush or an infatuation, - and how could you not? You thought that everyone who knew Till must love him at least a little. But he had pushed you away with his words, he didn't want you and you couldn't be with him if he thought that way about you. Your heart clenched and for one moment you wished you had never met Till. 
Everything would be easier, you'd never feel this way, like the world had suddenly rushed by and left you behind - broken and weeping. There would be no pale line permanently cutting over your cheekbone; no small, barely visible dents in the meat of your arm.

There would not have been a kind stranger watching out for you that night. There would not have been a low baritone comforting you. You felt like curling into a ball and just crying for a good while. Was this what heartbreak felt like? 

~~~

He watched you go, your back straight and you could've fooled him if it weren't for the shaking of your shoulders. You were more affected than you wanted him to know. Till longed to call after you, to explain himself and why he was doing this. For once, he had decided to be selfless, to do what was better for you and it all backfired on him. He had succeeded in hurting you when he had aimed to do everything but that.

The kiss was seared into his mind and he couldn't comprehend what he had been thinking - if he hadn't come to his senses when he did, he might have actually slept with you then and there. It had simply been a culmination of holding back for too long - too many careless touches, too much physical contact that didn't result in the intimacy you both clearly desired.

And Till hadn't even come with the intention of 'breaking up'. What he'd said about needing to see you to calm the fear and worry that had been gripping his heart had been genuine. Till hadn't been able to record anything in the studio without his heart being in it. 

Maybe it was better this way. He would simply stay away from you by the force of his will and you would have the memory of his hurtful words to keep you apart. The two of you would've never been a good pair, anyway. You'd have been to different in some ways and too alike in others.
Or maybe Till needed to tell himself that to believe that he hadn't fucked up a chance at happiness. He was rather good at that. Maybe he ought to write another book. This time on how to mess up relationships.

With Flake, Oliver, Paul and now Schneider married and Richard having a girlfriend, he was currently the only one of the group to be single and he had to admit that he did miss having someone. One-night-stands weren't even close to the same thing.

But Y/N wasn't the right person. He wasn't even the right person. Everything about his feelings for you were wrong - he shouldn't want to hold your delicate form down and see you playfully struggle against him, desire in your eyes. Everything he'd ever sung about about wanting to do with a woman, he'd do with you in a heartbeat if that was what you wanted. And again, it wasn't right. You couldn't know that that was what you wanted, you were too inexperienced.

If the two of you had managed to enter into a relationship, the publicity would have torn you apart - the press would've had a field day with you and Till didn't want that fate for you. Personally, he didn't mind being called out for anything - he'd been in this industry for too long to be bothered by it, but he truly wanted to protect you. Till wanted you to be his, not the world's. And this desire for you - it was driving him crazy. Stopping it before it got too far was truly the best thing to do.
And Till held no illusions - there were many women out there, women who would gladly spent their time with the singer of Rammstein. Till didn't need you for that, not really. You weren't special. The hollow feeling that this thought left in his heart, he pointedly ignored.

Sighing, Till sat down on his couch, not sure what to do with himself. Images of you flashed before his mind's eye - you laughing, hair falling into your (Y/E/C) eyes, that innocent smile of yours that he found so beguiling. 

It hurt to imagine that today had been the last time he'd seen you and heard your voice. But he was a grown adult, he should be able to man up and get over it. Again, it wasn't like you were the only woman in the whole world. He needed to believe that this was the truth and not what he was trying to convince himself of.

~~~

At home, you pretended like nothing had happened. You smiled at your parents, ate at the table with them and walked to the room with calm steps. Without changing or checking your phone, you laid down in your bed, letting go of all of the tension in your body. Your sleep wasn't the most peaceful and you woke up the next day, feeling like you hadn't slept at all. 

You heard that your phone was beeping and you reached for it, turning the screen on hesitantly. There was an email. Confused, you opened it and felt your jaw almost drop. It was an email of confirmation. The university in Berlin had accepted you. You had applied, thinking it would never work. But here you were. For a moment you thought about declining since it was so far away but then thought that nothing was holding you back, you could do what you wanted, so why not? 
Your parents were happy for you when you told them and assured you that they'd try to help you in any way they could.

~~~

And that was how you found yourself in September, moving to Berlin to live alone in a small flat, financed in part by your parents. The other part would be your earnings from a job as a stagehand/event assistant. You hadn't wanted to take a monotone job as a waitress or in any kind of customer service, so you'd thought you'd try your hand at this. Because of your father whose hobby was tinkering with all kinds of electronic devices, you had an understanding of how electronics worked. Plus, you'd never been at a real event or concert and thought that this was the perfect chance. If the job wasn't for you, you could always try something else.

You were pretty excited for the start of the semester and hoped that it would finally distract you from the heartache that you were still experiencing, over one month later. You simply felt uncomplete. There had been no further communication between you and Till and a part of you regretted it, felt like there had been too much left unsaid. A part of yourself felt that you had overreacted. But you were too proud to be the one to break the silence. It would feel like you were crawling back to him and you did not want to appear any bit more childish in Till's eyes. If he never wanted to talk to you again - fine. You'd get over him. Eventually.

Hopefully.