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It was supposed to be easy, just find a clean needle have some cloth ready and bam- you got your ear pierced. At least that’s what Richard had thought, yet that wonky result in his ear told him otherwise; his left ear was pierced alright, but the hole was at such a bad place he barely could put anything into it, making it completely useless. He often found himself fiddling with the ear, massaging it as if he could move the puncture a bit further and quite annoyed he was not more careful - at least it did not get infected.

It had been a couple of weeks since the attempt and right at the moment, Richard was lounging under a couple of trees near some almost nameless village, still occasionally reaching up to his ear, pondering how he could fix it. He was also thinking about dozen other things, the half burned blunt in his right hand helping him quite easily with the task. There was some distant noise behind him too, his friends were in the middle of hefty preparations; Feeling B was supposed to play this evening in one of the pubs near him and by the ruckus coming from the inside, they were in the middle of a sound check. He volunteered to help the band that spring as his own band was going through some kind of a crisis; he didn’t want to argue with the lot so he just grabbed Till, and together they joined Aljoscha’s travelling circus. He was supposed to help them too, but the warmth of the sun and the gentle breeze completely stopped any thoughts of getting up out of his cosy den. He slowly brought the cigarette to his lips, inhaled the smoke and with a long sigh snuggled back into the trunk of the tree he was leaning on.

He didn’t know how much time had passed, he could’ve fallen asleep for an hour or two when he suddenly felt an object blocking the sunrays from reaching his skin. He furrowed his brow and stretched a little, slightly opening his left eye to peek at the intruder. Paul. He was standing in front of him, his arms hugging his slender frame and his lips turned into a mischievous smirk. That smile could mean anything; Richard quickly discovered Paul was quite skilled at hiding his emotions with his smiles, though the lack of any furrow in his brow put him more at ease, it probably meant he did not come to scold him. Or at least he hoped.

“What,” Richard mumbled as he stretched once more and sat more straight against the tree.

“Was wondering where you were, we needed some help there.” The man pointed behind himself with a thumb.

“Well, I was taking a nap.” He started to pat at his pockets, quickly pulling out a small container and a packet of papers. “Looks like you guys managed it even without me.” He threw a quick glance at Paul and then returned his gaze to the carefully spread weed and tobacco on the thin paper. He began to slowly roll the paper, trying to keep all the contents inside. Once he was sure he would not spill it out he looked back up; Paul still did not move an inch and kept staring at him.

“What,” He repeated more loudly, grinning as he brought the paper to his lips, licking the edge of the paper. “Would you move to the side? You’re blocking the sun, y’know.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know I interrupted your tanning session, herr Kruspe.” Paul snorted and sat down next to Richard, absentmindedly fishing out a lighter out of his pocket. He watched as the younger man took it with a low thank you and lighted up the blunt. After a couple of inhales, Richard passed it to Paul, putting his right arm behind his head, his left one once again returning to his ear to play with it.

Paul slowly blew out a puff of thick white smoke and trailed his eyes towards his friend’s ear. He watched him for a couple of seconds, his gaze quickly focusing onto the pierced mark. He put the blunt into his mouth and reached out with his hand, pushing Richard’s fingers off and taking the lobe into his own. He chuckled as he stroked his thumb over it, switching his gaze to Richard’s eyes as he once again sucked the smoke into his lungs.

“Where did this come from, huh?” His chuckle turned into a good-natured laugh as he pinched the ear, making Richard flinch and annoyingly swat at his arm.

“Hey!” Richard massaged it with one hand, while taking the blunt with the other. “I tried to pierce it. Didn’t know I could fuck up something so easy.”

“Aah.” Paul once again put his fingers around his ear, now being much gentler. “You should never do that on your own, especially if it’s your first time.”

“Thanks for the advice.” Paul had to laugh at the clear sarcastic note in Richard’s voice, he could clearly tell that the man was annoyed with the result and wondered if he could somehow help him.

“Do you want a better one? I could do it.” Paul grabbed Richard by his chin and was liberally turning his head from side to side, looking at him as if he were a blank canvas, ready for his artistic expression.

“I mean, I guess?” Richard kept confusingly staring at Paul’s focused face, trying to decipher his plan. “I wanted to redo it, didn’t have the time yet though.”

“Okay, gimmie a couple of minutes and stay here.” Paul smiled and patted Richard’s head as he stood up. He took the blunt out of Richard’s mouth and put it in his, his grin widening. “The nurse will be back immediately.” He saluted and turned around, jogging back to the pub.

Richard, too comfortable to get up, just stared in mild confusion before he shrugged and began rolling another joint.

About fifteen minutes later he could see Paul again, the smaller man making his way across the grass, carefully carrying a steaming cup and a small bag. He paddled over and sat in front of Richard, stretching his legs over the younger man’s thigs and letting them rest on them.

“I tried to boil the needle for a bit, better be safe than sorry, huh,” he said quietly, almost more to himself as he put down the cup. He then opened the small bag and took out a couple napkins, a cork and another smaller bag. He rummaged through it, making the younger man curious of what was inside. Paul looked up and smiled, taking one of his hands into his own. “Which one do you want? They’re all hand made, by the way.”

Richard watched as a number of different earrings spilled into his palm, some of them even falling onto the ground. All possible shapes and sizes were present; from small studs to enormous hoops with buttons and beads hanging off of them. Richard pushed his index finger around, trying to see all the individual earrings. “Uh, where did you get those?”

“I’ve made them. Aljoscha taught me, so now I try to sell a couple from time to me.” Paul explained as he picked a random couple and brought it to Richard’s ears. “Ooh, These aren’t bad – what do you think?” he shook them a bit, grinning at the possibility of Richard actually having them on.

“Well I can’t even see them.” Richard grabbed him by his wrists and brought the dangling earrings in front of his eyes. His disgust must’ve been pretty visible, Paul’s immediate reaction was to throw his head back and laugh – he was holding a pair of eight-shaped earrings with a bead dangling in the bottom half. And while they were not bad looking, they certainly were too girly for Richard’s taste. “No.”

“Okay, okay, okay.” Paul returned to the small pile, searching for better ones. “And what about these, hmm?” He raised a pair to his own ears, pursing his mouth in mock and closing his eyes, modelling it for the other man. Richard had to snort, this pair was just three little chains braided together, already tangling into Paul’s messy blonde hair. Paul opened his eyes and wiggled his eyebrows, angling his head to show off his product more. “No? Well, your mistake.” He grinned and looked back into the pile, searching for something more suitable.

Richard was in no hurry, the high from the joints was in full effect and he had no desire to move his head, not even an inch from his comfortable position. Instead, he just kept staring in front of himself, absentmindedly counting Paul’s freckles on his nose and brow. The close vicinity made him conscious of every single movement. He could feel Paul’s arm moving, he could feel his legs flexing on his, he could even feel his breath falling onto his opened palm as Paul raked through the small pile. His gaze moved to the side, to Paul’s own earrings, gently glistening in the afternoon sunlight; he slowly raised his arm, now comfortably heavy from the high, to play with one of the small hoops.

“I like yours, don’t you have any like them?” He tugged one, amusing himself with repeatedly stretching Paul’s lobe.

“Like mine? Uh, sure.” The smaller man momentarily looked up, briefly smiling at the other man and then returning to the small pile. He quickly fished out a simple pair of two rings, just as small and simple like his own. “Clean them for me, would you?” He handed them to Richard, while getting the rest back into the small bag. Richard took one of the cloths and soaked it in the warm water, preparing to rinse the earrings as much as possible. Paul meanwhile fished out the needle out of the water, took his lighter and started to burn the sharp end, making Richard look up to him in doubt.

“It’s not like it’s gonna do much, but it doesn’t hurt to clean it once more.” Paul focused on the needle, letting the small flame repeatedly lick its surface.

“Yeah, won’t hurt you maybe,” Richard snorted, plopping the earrings into the clean cloth, “C’mon, I’m getting hungry.”

“You can’t rush art, darling,” Paul tsked, his exhale turning into a laugh at Richard’s annoyed groan. Putting his lighter back into his pocket, he inspected the needle for the last time, picked up the cork and shuffled a bit closer to the other man. “Okay, don’t move till I tell you to.”

Paul gently grabbed his ear lobes and quickly measured the space, deciding where to make the puncture. He then put the cork behind Richard’s right ear, moved the needle for the last time and started counting.

“Five, four, three-“ He pushed the needle quickly through Richard’s ear, successfully piercing him.

“Don’t you know how to count?!” Richard wanted to push him but stopped himself, remembering the needle in his ear.

“Eh, it’s better this way.” Paul laughed. “Just don’t move, I’m gonna put the earring in.” He quickly took out the needle and put the ring in instead, cleaning the drops of blood that managed to escape. “There, one done.” He then moved to the left ear, positioning the needle in the same place and putting the cork behind the ear for protection.

“Three, two, one-“ Nothing. Richard opened one of his eyes and looked in confusion at his friend; Paul was grinning, biting his bottom lip with his hands still in position.

“What’re you-“ Richard couldn’t finish his sentence as Paul’s fingers quickly moved and the second ear was pierced too. “Motherfucker!” This time Richard jerked his head out of Paul’s grasp and pushed him, making him fall onto his elbows and letting the needle dangle in his ear.

“Okay, okay, I’m sorry.” Paul giggled, raising his arms in apology. “Let me finish it, please.” He looked up for reassurance and could see Richard smiling, not really being angry at him. Paul gently took out the needle, put the second earing in and dabbed off any mess left on his ear. He did the same again with the other ear and then looked at his result in satisfaction. Richard’s ears were pierced, quite evenly, and two small hoops were hanging from his lobes. He slowly snaked his arms around Richard’s neck, letting his thumbs gently play with the other man’s new piercings.

Richard raised his eyebrows, not really being able to see the result. He just felt a tingle in his ears whenever Paul’s thumbs brushed over it. “So?” He asked, turning his head to the left, letting it rest in Paul’s palm. “How does it look?” Richard mumbled into the palm, still not letting his eyes slip from Paul’s.

“I think I did a great job. Maybe I should start a business.” Letting Richard’s face rest in his palm, he took him by his chin with the other hand, turning his head towards him. “What a handsome man you are.”

“I know.” Richard breathlessly laughed, kissing the inside of the palm. “Thank you, really.” His voice was quiet and sincere as he hooked his own hand around the back of Paul’s neck and brought him closer, softly kissing the corner of his mouth. He let their lips brush for a second, suddenly too shy to look up.

When he finally managed to look up, he discovered that Paul’s eyes were cast down as well, a small smile tugging at his mouth. He could also feel how the smaller man’s right hand moved into his hair, idly playing with a couple of his strands. Their foreheads touched, that little connection snapping Paul’s gaze into his own. It didn’t take long though, as soon as their eyes met, Paul’s smile widened and he moved forward, pushing his lips onto Richard’s parted ones. Richard returned all the purses with his kisses, sometimes nudging Paul’s nose with his own or massaging the back of his head. He did so until both of them slowly began to laugh, interrupting the little intimate moment they had.

Paul let out one more laugh, nudged Richard’s nose and leaned back, slowly withdrawing his legs from the other man’s lap. “I think we should head back, people are gonna soon start turning up.” He scooted further away and quickly collected the discarded stuff around them. Richard only managed to quickly blink his confusion away and before he was finished, there was a hand in front of him, waiting for him. Richard took it and Paul raised him up, letting him fall into his chest. “Just try and keep your ears clean, okay?” He patted his back, beckoning with his other hand towards the pub.

“Uh, yeah, thank you.” Richard smiled back, following Paul towards the building and trying to get rid off the blush that had spread across his face.