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Herz' short stories

Chapter Text

*1995*

Till's recording his Hallo Hallo for Das Alte Leid with Flake, their sessions ends and Till lingers in the doorframe;
"Hey, Flake?"
Flake takes a second to react.
"Yes?"`
"Thank you for... for this. For today."
Flake shrugs and looks away.
"It had to be done."
Till fidgets with his hair and clears his throat.
"Also..."
Flake inspects him silently, glancing down and turning off the keyboard.
"I think you're cute." Till says, and grabs his jacket from the coat hanger mounted on the wall. Waves goodbye and laughs nervously. Flake's not sure what to think and realizes what Till just said when the door's almost closed. He rushes out and calls after Till;
"I think you're cute too!"
Till smiles and lets out a little laughter.
Flake watches as Till trots away in the dark evening and smiles to himself. Heh, I'm... cute!

*1997*

"Oh, I'm so hungry-" Till said, stretching his arms above his head, "singing must really drain my stomach."
He grinned and swept a big hand across his backswept silver-dyed hair, drumming on his stomach and laughing.
"I suppose it does."
A single note was cut off as Till switched Flake's keyboard off and tapped him on the head.
"Come on, Flake, time's out. And by god, you need something to eat. Look at you! Skinny like a bug!"
Flake rolled his eyes and took his jacket from the chair he'd been sitting on.
"Yeah, maybe I should..."
...should ask you to eat with me.
Flake gave his head a minute shook and looked back at Till. He didn't feel brave enough to ask... to- to go on a date. Especially not asking Till. Till, of all people. Why did Flake fall for just him? The big, kind, and god so muscular singer smiling so sweetly at him.
"Yeah. I should go eat."
Till tilted his head.
"Maybe we could... ah, uhm... where would you go eat? Maybe we're going to the same place?"
Flake's heart skipped a beat- his chance! Be smooth? Just simply ask if Till wanted to eat with him? Oh god, oh god, oh god- two shy people talking together. Oh god oh god oh god, Flake thought, would Till go out with me?
"Well, maybe we could... eat, uhm, maybe we could eat together? I wouldn't mind going anywhere, just if it's with you."
Till's look went blank and he stammered out word fragments.
Shit, Flake thought, I messed up. What did I even say!? 'as long as it's with you'!? Oh my god, that's so... painfully... obvious. Flake panicked and stuttered;
"I- I mean-"
Till was soon to answer and wave his hands around.
"N- no! I'd gladly go eat with you!"
They stared at each other- Till's green and Flake's blue eyes meeting- before they nervously laughed, the atmosphere still tense.
"Hah, uh, yeah, uhm... what kind of food, uhm, where do you want to go?"
Flake breathed out and smiled at Till.
"Oh, yeah, uhm... I wouldn't mind some salad."
Till laughed and flashed Flake a beaming smile.
"Of course!"

Chapter Text

“People are gonna think I’m a criminal” whined Flake with exasperation, “yes, everybody has the soulmate tattoo. But a huge angel, and on my back for that matter? Where can you get that but in prison?”
Paul patted his friend’s shoulder and sympathetically said that it would be difficult to find his soulmate.
“But” he said with a creeping grin, “today we’re taking your mind off of things! You’ve yet to meet Till, don’t you? Richard’s best friend, big and burly. Black hair. No? Anyways, anyways. You’re out to meet new people.” Paul had befriended Richard Kruspe because they worked at the same guitar store. Then, one day, as they were working, Paul had noticed Richard had a tattoo around his bicep that somehow felt familiar. He’d commented on it and simply gotten the explanation; “it means a lot to me. Even without the soulmate, er, thing… it’s a crashing wave, y’know. And I lost a friend to the ocean.”
And that was the story of how Paul found his soulmate- with the corresponding tattoo. The same as his.
“Hm.” Flake muttered something and shook his head. Paul had already found the One- Flake hadn’t. Now he was wasting his time meeting Paul’s boyfriend’s buddy, when he could be out looking for his soulmate or something equally pointless. Paul grinned wryly at Flake and threw his arm over his shoulder- best he could with their height difference- and patted on his friend's back. Right on the tattoo.
"It'll be good fun!" Paul pouted.
"Yeah sure it will." Flake rolled his eyes again but smiled at Paul when he hooked his arm with Flake's.
"It's going to be great!"
"M-hm."
"No, for real though. Till's a really cool person. And he's kind." Paul thought about his coming words, "and handsome." he stated and laughed when Flake yet again rolled his eyes.
"Aye, it'll be great fun!"
"I sure hope it will."

***

"Till, what on earth are you doing?" Flake had walked to the kitchen for a sandwich when he was stopped dead in his tracks by the sight of Till stretching his body in funny ways right by the freezer.
"I'm stretching."
They'd grown so close and accustomed to each other's antics since Paul had introduced them that nothing the other did surprised them anymore.
"That doesn't look very effective." Till shot Flake a glare upon his comment.
"Would you like a massage instead?" Flake pulled out a chair and gestured to it with a nod, eyes still on Till.
Till slumped forward and sighed.
"Yeah."
"Alright, come sit down. And take off your shirt!"
Flake zoned out as Till sat down with his back to him and started taking his shirt off. He reached his hands out to begin kneading, still not fully back in his body- when he froze.
Spanning across his broad back, feet pointing down at the small of his back, inked wings spreading out by his shoulders and biceps- the angel tattoo.
Flake's mind was racing, his train of thoughts spinning wildly, but he stood still, fingertips still grazing Till's back.
"What's up?"
Till noticed Flake was staring at his tattoo and seemed to get hostile, standing up and crossing his arms over his naked chest.
"What?" He spat out, "you have a problem with my soulmate tattoo?"
Soulmate.
Flake fumbled for the right words, Till growing more unimpressed for every stutter.
"Seriously, fuck o-"
"TILL!"
Till was taken aback by Flake exclaiming so loudly and seemingly... desperately.
"Wait, w-wait! L-look!" Flake fumbled with his shirt and almost got stuck in its' hem by his glasses when he hurriedly wriggled out of the orange sweater, adrenaline running like it was the blood in his veins.
"H-Here!" He finally stammered out- always stuttering at the most inconvenient times- almost screaming at Till.
Is he trying to show off his own tattoo, Till thought, or what the hell is he doing?
Flake's eyes held a strange emotion, Till couldn't place it at all- but when he turned his thin back to Till, the latter understood why.
His tattoo, across the entirety of Flake's back- from the darkened eyes, the halo, to every individual feather.
Till couldn't help but stare- jesus christ, Flake had his soulmate tattoo!
"Does this- this mean..?"
Flake turned back around to face Till, wringing back into his shirt, and had a look as if the air was knocked out of him.
"I d-don't k-know."
Till ran his hand through his hair and rubbed his temples.
"So we are- well, if we are... What are we supposed to do?”
Flake shrugged and rubbed his hands over his arms.
"Are you cold?"
Flake shook his head and tried forming a sentence.
"I-it's a s-s-shock r-response, l-like the s-s-st-stuttering. I'm j-just really… s-surprised?"
Till reached out his arms and tilted his head.
"Would you like a hug?"
Flake looked up at him warily.
"I-is that w-what… soulmates d-do?"
Till jumped a little at the mention of the word soulmates. It had been a natural part of his life since the tattoo appeared- yet there he was, dumbfounded.
"Well… I guess anything we do is what… what soulmates do."
Flake smiled meekly.
"Yes, I-I'd like a- a hug."

Chapter Text

The words Flake moaned as he laid writhing were near unintelligible.
He turned around onto his back, his bare and damp chest wet with sweat and semen, taking his sinewy hands to Till's face and treading through his black hair.
"Again?", Till snarled, "how many times have we even done this now?"
Flake whimpered as Till took hold of his wrists and pinned them against the headboard of the bed. The tears grazed Flake's cheeks as Till near bit into his hickey-struck shoulders and sucked with force. Till looked up, his eye catching Flake's tears, and took his other hand to wipe them off and kiss him vigorously.
"Please, Till..." Flake sniffed and saw his chance when Till's attention swayed, "get inside me..."
Till tilted his head and scoffed. He looked down at the vulnerable Flake, his lips bleeding a little from getting caught up in Till's teeth. Flake must be insane, he thought, how many times has he even come?
"Fine."
Flake was surprised at how fast Till had obliged and arched his back when he imagined the familiar sensation of penetration. He could only think about that single act, getting caught up in becoming one with Till- but it stopped there. Only the tip of Till's dick was making its way inside of him and Flake whined;
"More!"
Till smiled wickedly at him and slowly made his way into the other man, taking in every facial expression Flake made- nothing but need. Lust.
"Till- please!"
Till shook his head and took his hand from one of Flake's wrists- of course he immediately started touching himself. Till struck his hand and coyly offered;
"If you stop with that, I'll go right in."
Flake eagerly took his hand away, the long brown hair plastered on his face but still showing his beaming smile, and placed his both hands in Till's hair. Slowly kneading his scalp, a sign of love in their rough session- then he moaned out loud and his legs twitched when Till pushed into him.
He was full of love.
He smiled at Till and wiped various body fluids away from his mouth and pulled Till down for a kiss.
He'd never get tired of him.

*

Pleasant.
The spine bending in awkward positions, the arms dragging along the wall and gaining all sorts of scratches, forehead pressed between them.
Pleasant.
Keep your eyes on the prize- keep your eyes open. Turn around and tear small holes in your back. Feel his lips and his teeth dragging along your chest- feel his hands clasp over yours. Look down at him best you can, meet his gaze- throw your head back when he touches you.
Pleasant.
Till goes rough on you- gasping for air or growling? Can’t tell the difference- and you can only succumb into his world of pleasantries.
You’re weak. But you’re his, and he’s strong.
Your eyes lock with his again and he says;
“Flake, I love you.”
I know. I’m glad you figured it out.
Your hands treading through his black hair, pulling on the loosening suspenders still attached to his dropped pants, are you happy now? Yes.
You find it pleasant.
Adornment and pain lock arms with each other- you crave both of them. Doses varying. But Till can give your both, and push you through all the doubt until you feel the pleasantness. You can love yourself if he loves you.
You already loved him from the start.
And your feelings being reciprocated, your needs fulfilled-
Pleasant.

Chapter Text

“Papa?”
Rosa called out for Flake as he was about to turn off the lights and go to his room. He’d been unsure as to how to take care of his daughter for the first months, but as a year had passed and she’d turned three, everything about parenting came so naturally.
“Yes, Rosa?” Flake wanted to name her Rosalie, his husband Till wanted to name her Zoey or Maria. Their compromise? Rosamarie Zoë.
She’d already begin resembling both her dads. Reading like Flake, humming to herself like Till- blood connection isn’t all.
Rosa thought for a moment and fiddled with her shirt. A careful smile crept onto her cheeks as she entwined her hands and sweetly asked;
“Can I feel your hair?”
Flake smiled and shook his head slightly so the long bleached hair got all in his face.
Rosa always wanted to feel his hair- how come both his husband and daughter were so fond of it? Flake couldn’t imagine. It was a pain to wash and was impossible to style. But they liked what they liked, he supposed, and bent his long body forward so Rosa could grab his hair.
A cheeky smile dented Rosa’s cheeks with dimples as her tiny hands reached up and fumbled until their chubby fingers combed through Flake’s hair. She must have gotten that habit from Till, Flake thought, because he’d always comb Flake’s hair in the morning after having been in a ponytail all night.
Small acts of kindness, simple love. But oh so much.

Till had gone to knock on the door frame to ask how his family was doing- they’d been quiet for a while- but saw the two on the bed, silently came inside and sat down beside Flake on Rosa’s bed. Way too big for a three year old, but the only one they’d gotten their hands on.
“Hallo, Zoë” he said, smiling when Flake with a surprised face looked up at him from where he was leaning, “you like papa’s hair?”
Rosamarie giggled and waved her arms around a little before finding the right words.
Yes, yes she did.
“I do! Don’t you like it too, dad?”
Till looked at Flake adoringly, slung an arm over his shoulders and smiled; “yes, I do. I love his hair-“ Till pressed a kiss to Flake’s temple- “and I love him.”
Flake huffed and buried his head in the slope of Till’s neck, getting a proper smooch right on the forehead and flustering furiously.
Till murmured so Rosa couldn’t hear;
“I love you, Flake.”
After stiffening for a second, Flake’s head turned up and Till kissed him gently on the lips. Rosa, who’s view was blocked by Flake’s skinny back, had no idea what was going on but felt that she was safe. She turned in her bed and pulled the sheets over her, her parents remembering they weren’t alone and Flake hugging her goodnight. Till kissed her small forehead and said;
“I love you too, Zoë.”
She drifted off and fell into a sleep with dreams of elephant plushies and rainbow hair ties. Even if Rosa didn’t a lot understand yet, Till was sure talking to her would be worth it.
He wanted everybody he loved to know they were dear to him.

Chapter Text

“I’m not handsome nor cute,” Flake stated matter-of-factly, “no need to indulge yourself in such illusions.”
“Then I’m not either,” Till sighed, “and I know you don’t agree with that.” He pulled the jacket over his fishnet shirt and began buttoning it up. Flake rolled his eyes and looked down at the beer bottle he was part drinking from and part fiddling.
“Till, I’m telling you, you look good. I do not.”
Till slammed the closet door shut and crossed his arms, studded gloves and eyeliner still in one hand.
“Please, Flake, you look great. You perform great. What else would you need?” Do we have to do this right now? The concert is on in an hour and I’m stuck with Flake being so insistent that he’s ugly. He is not. Rather pretty, really.
Mighty fine legs he has, Till thinks, those fishnets really suit him. And I know he doesn’t like showing skin, but shorts dress him so well.

Flake scratched his cheek and cursed when his hand twitched. Fucking nervousness always coming and making me feel shit.
“I look like some heeshie in a bad porno.”
“Well, didn’t you use to think you were trans?”
“Yes?”
“Heeshie wouldn’t be too far from the truth, then.” Till grinned wryly and pushed past Flake to see himself better in the mirror as he carefully stroked his eyelids with a dark eyeliner.
“Transvestite and transgender aren’t the same thing, Till, and I am neither.”
“You sure? Ms Flake, Frau Lorenz-” Till grinned “-Christina! What a good fit. My little she, the finest woman of all!”
Flake raised an eyebrow at Till- why would I be *his* little she? Hasn't he already women at hand whenever he'd like?- and glanced down at his bottle. Miraculously still no new beer. He looked back up, unimpressed, and ran a hand through his hair- it’d gotten quite long, the locks smelling of the instant coffee he’d smeared over his body for the stage look.

“Nee, Till, I don’t want to think about that right now. I have enough stress as it is with the album, my gender can be left aside for the moment.”
Till looked up and shot his bandmate a cheeky grin.
“So you’re saying there’s a chance?”
“Why so insistent? If you wanted a new girlfriend, you have beautiful women all over you. Why would that be I? And, that’s another thing about you that I don’t have.”
“Well, that bears no weight, that doesn’t matter. You don’t need to have a girlfriend to be successful,” Till screwed the lid of the eyeliner shut, “but if you were a woman, I sure wouldn’t mind a date.” He leaned closer to the mirror to ruffle his hair up a bit- he felt all the gel to protect it from fire made the hair all too stiff and winked at Flake.
Flake sighed and felt his chin. Did he mind the stubble? A little, but not so much. He could just shave it.
Did he mind his gender, then? Flake sighed and gave his head a minute shake, leaning back against the table used for makeup and spun the bottle slowly in his hands.
“Ah, Herr Lindemann, if you want to date me, I’m afraid you have to take me as I am. No Frau Lorenz for you, boy.”
“Nee, nee, that’s fine. You’ll do great as you are.” Till smiled at Flake, turned from the mirror to his beloved friend, and leaned his head on his shoulder. Tapped Flake’s pocket- do you have any cigs? No?- and gazed blankly into space.
The concert is on in twenty-five minutes.

Chapter Text

*

Flake pulled the shirt over his head and could for a split second view the studio through the holes in the woven fabric. Blurry, too, for that matter. He'd taken off his glasses so they wouldn't get stuck as he got dressed.
Sure, he could've dressed at home, avoiding not seeing anything in the studio- but the urge to get recording was too strong.
Paul had left just as Flake had arrived: he waved at the taller man as they passed each other and then went on his merry way. He hadn't trashed the studio, thank god, but it smelled of dust and... old beer. Somebody had been drinking but it wasn't Paul. Nor Flake.
The fingers fumbling after the glasses on Flake's keyboard stiffened as the door was locked open and somebody came inside. Had Paul returned? Forgotten something? Flake squinted to try and see the silhouette of whoever had come.
It wasn't Paul- the outline of the person who'd just entered was way wider and taller. White jacket. Who in the band wore a white jacket? Flake's heart skipped a beat when he saw who it was, leaving him standing with his head slightly bent and completely still as Till entered.
"Oh, hello-"
Till went quiet and raised an eyebrow at Flake, standing by his keyboard with no glasses on- though his hand laid in such a way it indicated he was searching for them- and gazing blankly into space. Long blonde hair falling out from behind his ear pulled Flake back into reality and he stammered out a hello as he turned down to keep searching for the glasses.
"Here."
Till tried handing Flake his glasses but he had that empty look again, completely unresponsive when Till said his name.
"Flake? Are you okay?"
No answer. Till unfolded the glasses and huffed for himself as he gently tried to put them on Flake's nose.
Flake drifted back to consciousness and reached up his own hand as if to correct Till- but the glasses were already in place and he was left with his fingers lightly touching the back of Till's hand. The two kept their eyes locked together in silence, Flake's head turned down just slightly, long hair in his face. Till slipped his hand away from one of the spectacle frames and let it graze Flake's cheek before trying to pull it back- but was stopped.
Flake held Till's big hand against his cheek and gently closed his eyes, leaning his head against Till's hand and sighing lightly.
Carefully- as if to not disturb somebody sleeping- Till stroked Flake's hair from his face with his free hand.
It hit Till: what was... even going on? He didn't mind the closeness at all, no- he and Flake had always had a relationship that allowed such things- but something was different.
"Hello, by the way", Flake said and laughed a little, "I forgot to say hello."
Till smiled at him and shook his head, looking down at the floor- but when he locked eyes with Flake again, he felt something new. Something different.
A warmth spread in his chest and found its way through his whole stomach, teasing in his throat and causing him to laugh.
"Hallo, Flake!"

***

Till's narrative

I miss his touch.
Really, it was a rather strange occurrence, I put on his glasses for him. Then I held his face and I wanted to cry- not because he was ugly or something superficial like that, no, but from how he made my knees go weak and my breathing nervous. How his smile sent shivers down my spine and how his laugh made my heart race.
I just can't let it go. And I wish I didn't let him go, either.
But now I see my chance, and I will take it.

The rain left us soaking wet, the meek umbrella we had with us not near enough to shield the two of us.
He’s sitting on the same porch as I, in an abandoned place in an alley with balconies taking all the rain damage for us. He ties his hair up in a ponytail, the blonde having turned a dirt brown from the rain.
He’s so pretty, I think, and feel those tingles in my chest again. Just his presence makes me want to sing and dance, to laugh until I burst, to keep waking up for another day. Dramatic, yeah, I know. But this is such a nice feeling, and I can’t describe it.
Maybe this is love.
“I’m cold. Hold me, Till.” I happily oblige. “You remember how you gave me my glasses that one time?” Nod. “I haven’t been able to let go of that since. I thought I should just tell you that… I liked it. I want to feel that again.”
“As I.”
One of my hands seeks its way into his cheek, turns his head towards mine- I rest my forehead on his. Feel his breath edging closer to mine, feel our noses touching and the cold of his glasses.
Then, suddenly and slowly, he comes closer. I feel him breathing through his mouth, as he does when he is nervous, onto my lips. I feel the softness of the kiss, the uncertainty in how we’re speaking without words. The heat momentarily taking away the drops in our clothes that the rain cried, how we move closer together, his tongue on my teeth.
Imperfect, but what is there to expect? It’s not like we have experience.
Yet somehow, my hand slips into his hair effortlessly, and the hand he uses to steady himself is like made for promptly being placed on my thigh. I wish I could stay here forever.
“I forgot to say hello again…” He huffs and smiles, features softening when I look up at him.
“Hallo, Flake!” That warm tingly feeling tickles in my throat again, and I giggle childishly with him. What are we? He’s beautiful, at least.

I wonder if he thinks I’m beautiful too.

Chapter Text

Richard’s hair dye stinks.
The studio’s all but empty but for him and Flakie. The keyboard plays no tunes, but stays silent as its player sits and fiddles with their shirt.
“Are you upset over somethin’?” Richard asks. His black guitar’s resting against the couch he’s sitting on. Plugged into the amplifier, power off.
“No… I’m feeling lonely, is all.”
“Don’t you have a girlfriend?”
“No, she broke up with me,” Flakie answers, “because she wanted a man.”
Oh yeah, the classic, Richard thinks. Women start dating Flakie because they think she’s a man, she stays in the closet for a while, then they take off running as soon as she gathers up the courage to come out.
“Y’know? That’s really, er, rude of ‘em. You deserve... you deserve better than that, y’know?”
“I doubt your words, Richard. They’re scared of people like me, they call me a freak.”
“Well, being different isn’t inherently negative! Women back off from me too, y’know. Men as well. They’re unused to anything outside the norm,” Richard sighs and readjusts the beanie on his head, “may that be rockstars in nailpolish or trans people like you.
“And, if anything, we still have each other, y’know. Rock stars in nail polish.” Richard cracks a smile and Flakie huffs, rubs her temples and stands up from her chair.
Her instrument is left silent.

She walks over to the couch and makes a gesture as if to ask for a seat and Richard gently moves his guitar further towards the armrest’s edge and shuffles himself to the side. He looks down at his sinewy hands and rough fingers- feels the typical guitarist’s hardened fingertips- and rubs his eyes.
“Ja. We still have each other, at least.” Flakie brushes her hair to the side and lays her head on Richard’s shoulder, to which he responds with flinging an arm over her shoulders and pressing her closer into a hug. Has she dyed her hair, too? Or maybe that’s just my smell, nevermind.
Richard sighs and looks up at the lamps in the ceiling,
Why does the world feel so gray, am I turning colourblind? The world is black and white, and the summer differs not from the night. Maybe I’m just a downer, but it’s losing its colour…
Flakie seems to be enjoying the song, her fingers moving back and forth as if creating a melody. She sighs and mumbles; “Go on, Richard. I like it when you sing.”
“Really? I thought you liked Till’s voice more.”
“A voice loses the feeling when you’ve seen what’s behind it.”
“...and what’s that supposed to, eh, what do you mean with that?”
“I’ve been with Till for long enough to know what he feels. I’ve seen the tears, the dicks too if I must be honest, behind what he writes. And, I like it, but I don’t have that context when it comes to you.” Flakie fidgets with her shirt.
“It simply feels more distant,” she sighs yet again, “like a stranger in the forest. Or a siren in the sea.”

Richard sits silent. Flattered too, of course, but a little overwhelmed. He knew Flakie had a way with words, but has never felt it… like that. So close.
“Maybe you should be our songwriter instead,” he murmurs and rests his head on hers, “you’re brilliant.”
Silence.
That’s alright though. She’s probably just zoning out for a while. I’m glad she’s my friend, Richard smiles into her hair, that she’s somebody I can talk to.

Chapter Text

Comfortable and warm.

Till was all tangled up in Flake’s arms and rumbling with laughter as his boyfriend tried to keep his hands from sliding down Till’s back. Flake was mad delighted when Till grabbed his temples and kissed him right on the head, resting his head against Till’s chest as he was still laughing.

Looking up through his crooked glasses and placing his hand on Till’s stubble and goes silent for a moment- the grin remains, but his eyes grow distant and he gazes into space.

Then! Flake starts giggling profusely and Till, although confused, can’t help but join. His hands in Flake’s long hair and on his back, half sitting up in the comfortable bed- lovely. At peace. Smiling, Till shuffles himself onto his back and pulls Flake closer again. Feels their hearts beating together, their breaths soft and content. Comfortable and warm, like a fire’s glistening heat. Love.

Chapter Text

The first thing in the room he noticed was the awkward silhouette sitting in a dark corner.
The dunking of the music, the heat of moving bodies, the smell of booze, and something else he couldn’t really place, didn’t catch his attention at all.

He crammed his way through the throng-like dancer crowd moving their bodies back and forth on the floor, neon lights in the ceiling shining upon their sweat and reflecting off the alcohol in their glasses.

“Hello.” He said, idling by the person’s feet.

They almost melted into the wall as the lights by the dance floor switched to a dark red shade, hiding the inventory of their face. They wore old, dirty converse. One string was half gone.
“Hi.” The person whispered and looked up at whoever wanted to talk to them with weary eyes.

“Can I sit here?” The stranger asked with a smile. His face was almost entirely cast in darkness, his body outlined by the neon lights on the dance floor.
The person hesitated and tried to get a better look at the stranger, but couldn’t distinguish any features in the dark, big shape.  

They gave up, nodded and looked down again.

“What’s a person like you doing in the corner?” The stranger asked as he sat himself down with a huff, letting his gaze sweep across the dance floor.
The person shrugged and fidgeted with a hairband on their wrist. They looked very frail and delicate.
“Too many things going on at once?” Asked the stranger, running his hand through his fringe and ruffling his hair.
He got a nod and a sigh as an answer.
“Me too.” He said. He didn’t mention that the person was the first thing he saw, or that he’d barely walked through the door when he saw their crooked figure hiding in the shadows along the walls and decided to check them out.

“What’s your name?” The stranger asked, smiling again. The person looked over for a second, locking eyes with him, but quickly looked down again and nervously bit their lip.
“I- don’t really have a name. Or, I do, per se… but nobody knows it.” They whispered again, their voice breaking through in a few places.
“Oh, I see. What would you like to be called?” The stranger asked, chasing the person’s eyes again. They had looked beautiful in the club lights, and their face was like an angel’s for the few seconds it had been illuminated in green and blue.

“Uh.. I have a nickname that everybody calls me by. And I have another name, but I don’t like it.” They said, nervous. The stranger looked to his side and saw the person’s blonde hair falling in front of their face like a veil.
“They call me Flake , but-”
“Flake? That’s… an unusual name. But I like it.” the stranger interrupted.

“Oh, thanks. And-” Flake started to say again.
“My name’s Till.” The stranger, who wasn’t really a stranger anymore, said.
“Nice to meet you, Till, but-”
“Nice to meet you too, Flake.” Till said, interrupting Flake again.

“Ok, about that-” Flake said, growing impatient.
“You said you had another name too?” Asked Till, not noticing how he was cutting Flake off.
“Yes, I was right about to-”
“Why don’t you like it-” Till started to say, but had a finger pressed to his lips by Flake before he could go further.

“Because I don’t. And there are other names I like much more.” Flake’s whisper had become more like a low hiss, brows furrowing over irritated eyes.
“Call me Christina when you don’t call me Flake.” Christina removed her finger from Till’s mouth and stuck her hand in her pocket.

Till tilted his head, trying to get a better look of Flake’s face.
“Christina’s a pretty name.” He said, catching a glimpse of chapped lips with a slight pout to them.
“Mm.” Flake hummed.

“So are you a girl?” Till asked, inching a little closer. 
“Girls are children. I’m not a child, am I?” Came the counter-question.
“A woman, then?”
“I guess. But… not like the average woman. Not what you’d… not what you’d expect.” Flake said, pressing her back closer to the wall. It was bumpy and uncomfortable.

Till took a moment to inspect his new friend’s features when they were tinted by the neon light again. Closed eyes, lips relaxed, cheekbones casting a minute shadow on pale cheeks.
Almost angelic.
“Fine by me.” He murmured, still eyeing Flake. Till turned his eyes back to the dance floor and felt his bum going numb from sitting down for so long. 

He saw flashing lights, people stumbling around and waving their hands in sync to the music, he smelled alcohol in the hot air and somebody was smoking a blunt in another corner. A few people were making out around the bar and outside the toilets.

“Do you want to dance?” Till asked suddenly.
“We don’t need to go to the dance floor,” he continued quickly “I saw a balcony entrance earlier, it’s just on the other side of the room.”
Flake looked at him, surprised.

“Huh? Oh, uh, I-” she said, fumbling with the words.
“Really? I-I mean-sure.”
“Yeah?” Till smiled wryly, a dimple denting his cheek. He stood up, stretched his arms above his head and turned around to see if Flake was joining him.

He saw she was struggling to get up from the floor, so he reached out his hand and helped pull her up.
Their hands lingered for a moment until Till turned around and started edging along the walls, trying not to bump into anyone as he walked towards the balcony entrance he saw in the few moments before he spotted Flake when he entered.

Till pushed the balcony doors open and was pleased to find that there were no people there. He motioned for Flake to join him and leaned against the ledge for a moment, taking in the view of the city.
Tall buildings rising out of shabby streets, broken streetlights and billboards advertising everything from lingerie to water bottles. An infinite amount of lights and lamps in windows.

He heard a thud and light click , and assumed Flake had closed the door on the way out.
    Till turned around and saw she had shedded the hoodie from her shoulders and had hung it on a chair on the edge of the balcony.
She was much taller and much skinnier than Till had observed in the dim lights of the makeshift club. The slightly puffy sleeves on her shirt almost slipped down her hands, her forearms too thin for the elastic band at the hems of the sleeves.

She almost looked prettier in the dark than in the color-changing strobe lights inside, her blonde hair catching a silver-white color under the bright moon..

Flake leaned one of her arms on the ledge and looked out over the city. The blocky, black buildings dotted with yellow lights for windows. The few cars and people only visible when they passed a streetlight. The white billboards with texts, which were for Flake unreadable without her glasses in the dark night.


Why do people and companies who make so much money feel obligated to flaunt their products? she thought. 

They could pay their staff better instead of sucking the cash out of ad revenue.

She made a face and turned to Till.

He hadn’t noticed she was wearing a long skirt and a top with long sleeves under the big hoodie she’d been hiding under. She blended in well with the night, her black clothes only contrasting with the balcony ledge and her pale skin. 

Flake was almost fully hidden in the dark sky and the city skyline.

 

Till made a gesture with his hand between the two of them.
“Dance?” He said, raising his eyebrows and opening his arms in an invitation.

“I can’t dance.” Flake said, shaking her head.
“But you still came out here to dance with me, because you wanted to? And not because we were making a dance choreography. ” Till asked, puzzled, and reached one of his hands out.

Flake looked at it for a moment, hesitant, but let one of her hands go from the ledge.
She pushed herself away from the balcony edge and into the center- she hadn’t noticed just how small it was until she and Till both tried to fit on the small floor.

“Okay, I wasn’t expecting it to be this little space.” Till said, looking around and scratching his cheek.
A little stubble got stuck under his nails.
“So we’d… uh. Have to be rather close for this to work.” He continued.
Flake nodded.

 

“Maybe we can just.. Spin around for a while?” Suggested Till, looking up at Flake through his fringe.
Flake nodded again. She extended her arm, awkwardly putting one of her hands on his bicep.
Till put one hand on her shoulder and one hand on her waist, but was too left in stiff silence.
The two glanced at each other, first one, then a second, then a third time.
  The proximity of their bodies and how they could feel each other’s breaths on their skin made for a curious emotion, willing to explore and see what would come if they were to grow even closer.

“Okay, let’s go.” Flake said, whispering again. Her hushed tone was much more audible in the mostly silent night than in the noisy club.

The two started spinning around slowly, awkwardly stepping carefully so as to not trample the other person’s feet.

But they picked up pace, and like the wind, they flew, they danced and frollicked. 

Their breaths became laughs, their hair blew around like leaves whirling in a tornado, their clothes picked up as they went faster and faster and spun around in circles all around them.
Their bodies pressed closer and closer, and their hands slid around each other’s backs, now nearly stumbling around in the sound of the occasional car honking and their delighted laughs.

Flake felt dizzy and stopped mid-spin, almost making the two of them fall over because of their sudden halt.
She laughed breathily in Till’s ear, her big hands on his back.
He chased her hair with his hands, gently holding the back of her head and pressing his forehead against her collarbone.
They held each other in a chaste embrace, feeling their heartbeats slowing down and their breaths becoming even again.

“It’s getting late.” Flake said breathily, turning her cheek away from Till’s hair and taking a moment to look down at him.
She could see her face reflecting in his irises, the perspective distorting her face casting shadows on her features.

Till hummed in agreement.

“I never knew dancing could be fun.” Flake whispered, cracking up when she saw Till smiling so that the dimples appeared in his cheeks again and his eyes scrunched up. She hadn’t noticed they were green, with a speck of gold and hazel to them.
She thought they were beautiful.

“I’d love to dance again.” He said, still not really letting go of her. 

“Mm.” Flake said, and looked down on the city again.

The buildings didn’t feel quite as blocky, the windows quite as yellow, or the advertisements quite as obnoxious when she stood and watched them with Till.

   
Christina figured she’d finally made a new friend, with a warm smile and beautiful eyes.
As did Till.

Chapter Text

She wants to hide.

She wants to close her mouth and press the air so far into her lungs that they burst. She wants to intertwine her legs, pull them to her chest, until they mend and become one.

She wants to bury her chin in her collarbones, feel her face mend with her chest and not ever have to look up to face her own reality ever again.

Maybe she desires going back to an embryo and trying to change it all, so she's reborn with a mind and body that can work together and erase her shame, the self-disgust, the sad and long buried.

 

But a voice comes floating through the dark, dark thoughts. A gentle voice, concerned movements, something to save her from going back in the womb.

Somebody who's there, somebody who supports her. Somebody who loves her whether she loves herself or not.

 

"Are you okay?" The owner of the gentle voice asks, placing a hand on her shoulder. The stress to shape-shift eases a little off her back.

"Mhnn." she says, not wanting to hear her own voice. Sometimes she wants to retort to the whisper she once thought was the only way she could cope.

"Christie? Are you okay?" 

"Bad fucking... shitty dysphoria." Christina nearly spits out the words. The internalised stigma of speaking her feelings have almost planted a resentment against it.

 

"I don't think you can do anything to help, Till." She continues to mutter, pressing her legs even closer to her chest and trying to make herself as small as possible.

Till sighs and lets his hand slip down to hold her around the waist, leaning his head forward and pressing his lips to her back. 

He feels her breathing. In, out. In, out. The breaths are slow and heavy.

 

“I can try.” He says, turning his head up to see Christina glancing back at him with tired eyes.

Till pushes himself out of the bed and stretches his arms above his head, hearing a light crack in his shoulders and somewhere in his broad back. Blue light spills in through the light-green curtains.

He walks over to her side, stumbling and putting on a pair of pants in the process.
Carefully, he kneels beside the bed, and takes one of her hands in his. Wisps of Christina’s long blonde hair partially hide her eyes, darkened by the shadows of the blanket.

“What is it you’re feeling dysphoric about?” Till asks, putting his other hand on one of Christina’s cheeks. She sighs heavily and closes her eyes.
“I just… I wish I could change the way I was born. I could never be a real woman, just like everybody always said.” She says, feeling  a stinging in her chest at the memories of all the shit she’s taken just for being trans over the years.

“They’re wrong .” Till nearly spits, his eyes becoming filled with hate for just a split second.
Christina shudders. Till is always so kind, so nice, so polite and so caring. But there are moments when the realisation of what an angry man of his size could do hits just a bit too hard and he can be really frightening.

“You’re so beautiful.” he says, his voice still having a harsh undertone.

“You’re real. You’re so real, so vivid, and you’re so beautiful. You’re a real woman, no matter what anybody says.” Till continues, stroking Christina’s cheek with his thumb and smiling at her.

“What would make you feel a bit better?” He asks, his voice softer and his face relaxed again.
Christina thinks for a moment.
“I don’t know. I just don’t want to be in my body right now.” She says, smiling, her voice tired with a hint of sadness.

Till nods. He stands up and walks the short distance to the closet in one of the room’s corners, pushes the doors open and lets his eyes adjust to the dark for a while.
But the closet is filled with a darkness different from all the other shadows in the room and is almost impossible to look through. 

So Till gives up and just shoves his hand in there, all while being watched curiously by Cristina from the bed, and fumbles for a bit until he feels a familiar fabric on his hand.

It’s the dress Christina wore when he came home just the other day, it's black with a pattern of sunflowers in bloom. She’d sat in the kitchen, reading the newspaper, and almost got a panicked expression as she saw Till in the doorway and looked down at her dress.

It had made Till sad to see just how afraid she still was of being hurt for how she wanted to dress, the reflex so subconscious that she still acted on it when her own boyfriend walked into the room.

Till takes the dress out of the closet and presses it to his chest, breathing in its scent just for a moment as he closes the door. Christina doesn’t use any perfume or the likes, yet there’s still something about her scent that makes it so recognisable to Till.

It could just be his imagination. It could be something his mind has come up with just because he sees her in everything.

He carries the dress to the bed, shifts it onto the sheets with one hand and reaches out to their stereo, standing on the shelf where they keep everything from CDs to books, with his other one.

The case laying on top of the player is Pink Floyd’s The Wall , and Till picks it up to read the order of the songs while Christina gets dressed behind him.
He presses the skip button a number of times, making a plastic clicking noise, until the right song starts playing. With a little delay to the sound of the soft spinning of the CD inside the stereo, music starts to play softly.

Till sits down beside the bed, Christina soon joining him on the floor and crossing her legs.
They sit in silence, the lyrics and music streaming out of the stereo, bouncing around the room and being tinted by the moonlight.

Till hears when the chorus is about to come and starts to sing along.
There is no pain, you are receding- ” he begins.

A distant ship, smoke on the horizon- you are only coming through in waves.”

“Your lips move, but I can't hear what you're saying.”
Christina doesn’t understand English, and Till doesn’t know the song past those few lines.
But they’re still content, being with each other. 


Christina feels how she hates herself just a little bit less with every time Till hits replay on the stereo. She feels she crawls further away from the metaphorical womb every time he sings the chorus.
With the help of the dreamy music, the dark night, the comfort of her boyfriend by her side and the folds of her dress across her legs- Christina manages to fall asleep, without worry, without woe.

 

 

Chapter Text

Does beauty exist if nobody addresses it? Can someone view another person through the lens of love if nobody else has done so before them?
Insecurities take over, invade the spine so it folds into a shoulders-pulled-inward, head-bowed-down posture with a slow pait and nervous glances. Insecurities take over, and they nest themselves in, make themselves comfortable, until they become the truth.

As is the case for Flake- the unnecessary keyboard player. Known as the weird loner kid in his school days, that guy or bookworm as a teen, and as a musician regarded as unnecessary.
And Flake wants to believe it’s true. He wants to believe, because he knows no other truth.

Yet recently, a kind, loving face, has appeared in his life and wipes his anxieties away with a smile and kind words.
  He holds hands with Flake- hands with thin, long fingers that have never been viewed as able to bring anything to the table other than synthesizer effects and having their nails bitten into stumps. He hugs a thin body that had never been called beautiful, nobody ever considering the effort to compliment it worthwhile. He smells a scent of Flake’s uncombed hair that has never been called stylish or pretty no matter how it looked, whether it curled, whether it was short, whether it was there at all.

It makes Flake feel a little bit better.