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  • Richard Kruspe, 24.6.1967. Trumpet. Constantly searching for new creative challenges. Bought a trumpet at a pawn shop when he was 16 and has never looked back. Gets shit done.
  • Christoph Schneider, 11.5.1966. Lead guitar, backing vocals. Likes wearing expensive suits. Made his first electric guitar out of junk when he was 13. Nicer than he looks.
  • Oliver Riedel. 11.4.1971. Bass. Former plasterer, started playing bass when the instrument was taller than him. That didn’t last. Voice of reason. 
  • Till Lindemann, 4.1.1963. Drums. Former champion swimmer, single father for six years, can’t tell you when he started drumming because he can’t remember not drumming on something. Voice of unreason. 
  • Paul Landers. 9.12.1964. Trombone. Food gourmet, doesn’t like the media, started playing trombone as a joke but then took to it. Breaks hearts, fixes everything.
  • Flake Lorenz, 6.11.1966. Lead vocals. Former toolmaker, responsible for much of the band’s musical and thematic contrasts, flunked out of school choir. Anxious mess. 

 

“I still need a two-meter cable, and can someone who is not me please do something about Flake before he passes out?”

“I’m coming, I’m coming, Jesus!” Schneider slapped a neatly coiled cable into Paul’s impatiently outstretched hand. 

“Flake had better be soon,” Paul muttered. 

Olli and Till thunked down an amp, carried between them. Olli stared coolly at Till. “Go on.” 

Till grinned back at him with all his teeth. “But who will lift these heavy amps if I don’t?” 

Olli didn’t smile. “Richard.” 

“You’re breaking my heart, Olli.” 

“Move.” Olli remained expressionless, but his stare intensified. “Now.”

Till drew back somewhat nervously and started towards the wings. He jogged to catch up with Richard, busily running a cable to the sound board. “Richard, Olli is being terrifying again.” 

Richard’s crown of black spikes popped up over the board. “I swear he doesn’t bite.” He grinned. “Not hard, anyway.” 

“Tease. Where’s Flake?”

“Green room, try to get the fucking bottle away from him.” 

Flake was indeed in the green room, bottle in hand. He was pacing, then taking a swig, then pacing again, his shoulders hunched inside the leather jacket worn against his skin. Till blocked his path and put his hand out. 

“Richard says you’ve had enough. Give it here, sweetheart.” His tone was half jocular, half firm.

Flake dodged around him, cradling the bottle in his elbow. “How about I don’t,” he mumbled. “And don’t call me that.” 

Till let him go untouched. He could only go another pace or two before having to turn around in the small room. “Give me some, then. Can’t leave the rest of us sober.”

Head low between his shoulders, Flake held out the bottle to him on his way past, not slowing his gait. Till took a slug and thoughtfully watched Flake orbit around him a few times. 

“You know, I think I’ve got something that will help more.” 

“Not interested. Give it back.” He tried to pull the bottle out of Till’s hands, but Till wouldn’t let go and Flake wouldn’t stop pacing, so it just slid out of his grasp as he strode past. 

Till eyed the liquid’s level and Flake’s stance. “You have any more, and you’re going to puke on stage.”

“I thought that sounded pretty punk.” 

“Makes you hard to follow, though.” 

Flake made a wobbly about-face at the wall. “We’re following you, dumbfuck.” 

“Sure, but I like my music to have beautiful singing.” 

Flake snorted. 

“Seriously, I have a better plan.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah. Different bodily fluids. That’s pretty punk, going on stage with spooge on you.” 

Flake’s steps slowed, though he kept plodding along in his track. “Gross. And it’s not like anyone can tell.” 

“You’ll know, though. Come on, I’ll make it worth your while, you know you’ll feel way better.” 

“Paul put you up to this, didn’t he? I regret every choice in my life that has led me to this moment.”

Till shrugged. On Flake’s next pass he grabbed him by the wrist and tugged. Flake lurched drunkenly toward him, and Till caught him with an arm around his waist. He ended up smashed to Till’s front, reaching for the bottle. Till held it out at arm’s length. “Schneider!” 

Schneider leaned in. “Is that for me?” 

Till pivoted, holding Flake firmly to his chest, like an awkward waltz. “Yeah, or else our frontman here is going to be a sidewaysman, if you catch my drift.” 

Schneider shook his head and plucked the bottle from his hand. “Whatever works.” He darted out, his other hand full of cables. 

In the quieter room, Till wrapped his now-free arm around Flake and squeezed gently. “It’s going to be okay, sweetheart, really it is.” Flake’s body was thrumming tensely against him.

Flake sighed on his ear. “Easy for you to say. I’m sure you would entirely lose your shit if you had to sing.” He rolled his eyes. “And next you’re going to be calling me ‘muffin’ or something.” 

Seizing the opening, Till grinned and licked Flake’s ear in a big wet stroke. “Yeah, come on, cupcake, take this shit off.” He tugged at the leather jacket. 

Flake flinched and scrunched his nose in disgust, but he didn’t stop Till from running his broad hand up his bare chest, then to his shoulder to push the jacket off. He had a hard time getting out of the sleeve with how rigidly he held himself and how much he was nervously trembling. Till pulled on the other sleeve, and the jacket slid to the floor. 

“Fucking finally,” commented Paul on his way past the door. 

Till rubbed Flake’s long bony back, pulling him tight to his chest. Flake was tense and twitchy against him. He got his hands under Till’s black t-shirt anyway. 

“I’m sweaty,” Till cautioned. 

“And I’m shaky,” Flake agreed. “We’re the two dwarves.”

With a grin Till pulled away and skinned off the shirt, exposing his furry belly and enormous chest. His heavy chain necklace thumped against his collarbones. Flake heaved a shuddering breath. His hands spasmed. 

“Come here, sunshine,” Till coaxed, easily turning Flake around so his back was against Till’s front. Flake resisted, then made a coughing clearing of his throat as Till pulled him close, cool pale skin against Till’s muggy bulk. “Sorry,” Till muttered, rubbing up his flat chest. “I told you I was sweaty.”

“No, that’s - it’s good.” Flake tipped his head back. He was too tall to rest it on Till’s shoulder, so Till took them a couple steps to lean on the grubby wall, making Flake stumble backwards with him. “I - you’re warm, it’s - I like it.” 

Till ran his hands down to Flake’s slim hips and pulled them back into his own. “More where that came from.” He rubbed his knuckles over the front of Flake’s black jeans. “Yeah?” 

“Yeah.” Flake gingerly reached back to lay his hands flat on the sides of Till’s thighs. 

“Attaboy,” Till said, undoing his belt, button and fly with both hands and then sliding one in, sneaking his fingertips under the waistband of his underwear. 

A different voice announced itself loudly. “Okay, what asshole didn’t put the toolbox key back?” Paul stood in the middle of the room, feet planted, arms crossed, aggressively facing the two. 

“Wasn’t me,” Flake automatically answered, his voice hitching as Till fondled him. 

Paul glowered. “Well, wiggle that scrawny tush around, because if it wasn’t you it’s in Till’s pocket.” 

Flake slid a hand up behind himself. 

“A little to the left, buttercup,” Till growled. 

“Right, you mean.” 

“No, left,” Till insisted. 

After a few moments of feeling around, in which Flake determined that in fact he needed to go to the right, something else was to the left, he located the key in Till’s pocket. He extricated it with some difficulty, Till’s pants were tight. He held it out triumphantly to Paul. Till gave him a congratulatory squeeze. 

Paul snagged it out of his fingers. “As you were.” He patted Flake’s cheek.

“Sir.” Till shook his bangs out of his eyes to wink at Paul, then started peeling Flake’s jeans down. 

“It’s a good thing you’re useful for other things,” Paul called over his shoulder. “Next time you pull that I’m sending Olli after you.” 

“You wouldn’t.” Till shuddered, and Flake shivered with him. “Cold, babe?” 

“Just paralyzed with terror, don’t mind me.” 

Till smiled and kissed the top of his thin shoulder. “Paul would be very disappointed with me if I didn’t mind you.” Flake shuffled his feet wider as Till pushed his pants down his thighs. He palmed under his sharp hip bones and ran thick callused thumbs along the ridges of his pelvis. “Can I hump your ass?”

“You really know how to sweet-talk a guy.” 

“I’m jerking you off in the green room so you don’t hurl, it’s not going to be classy, pumpkin.” He slid his fingers under Flake’s half-hard dick, then trapped it up against his quivering belly and rubbed his big palm up and down over the whole thing. 

“Go on, then.” Flake reached behind his own bare butt, mashed against Till’s groin, and opened the button on Till’s pants. Till groaned as Flake pulled him out and pressed him against his crack. He bracketed Flake’s hips, grabbing handfuls of his skin to pull his cheeks open. 

“Fuck, how are you so hot,” he breathed, thrusting a few times.

“I have no idea,” Flake mumbled vaguely, hanging his dark, shaggy head. 

A laugh made Till’s ribcage expand against Flake’s back. “You really don’t, do you.” He pinned Flake’s dick up again, though it was getting on towards fully stiff, little surges of blood making it twitch and fill out. Flake reached up and laced his fingers together behind Till’s neck, and Till leaned on his shoulder, looking down his long torso at his own hand wrapping around Flake’s cock. 

He got in a few good strokes, his other hand pulling Flake back onto his dick by the hip and Flake starting to push back into it, when another voice interrupted them. 

“Flake, I’m setting up your mike, any requests?” 

“I’m kinda - kinda busy -”

Schneider put his hands on his hips. “Yeah, so busy I’m setting up your shit for you. Seriously, how do you want it?” 

Till kept jerking him off, letting his cock peek out of his hand, while Flake shifted from foot to foot. 

“I, uh, don’t set it at Paul-height, otherwise I don’t give a shit.” 

Schneider chortled, making his face go from stern to goofy. “You could end up with anything, you know, I could just crank all the treble tones all the way up or something.” 

“I still wouldn’t care.” 

“Yeah, I know.” Schneider grinned and reached in, and without thinking about it Flake leaned into his hand while Schneider ran his fingers into his dark hair. 

“Oh, yeah, he likes that, keep doing that,” Till rumbled, still determinedly tugging with his hand. 

“I do actually have to set up the mikes, though,” Schneider said, after a minute of combing his fingers through Flake’s hair. “Since we’re down two roadies.” He marched out, dark curls flying. 

“Maybe someday we can afford actual roadies,” Flake mused wistfully. 

“Focus, cupcake, one show at a time, here.”

Flake wiggled back against Till interestedly. Till sucked on his earlobe and rocked his hips against his ass. He looked up when someone started kicking a chair across the floor.

“Richard.” He sighed. “What brings you here.” 

“The only mirror in the damn venue.” Richard threw his makeup bag on the counter, sat astride the chair, and gave a couple hard shakes to a tube. 

Flake and Till twisted around to look at each other, shrugged, and kept going. 

Richard painstakingly put on eyeliner as Flake’s eyes drifted shut again, and Till worked his hand faster, and pinched Flake’s nipple. Flake ground back against him. 

Richard started on his other eye, and was touching up the lower lid as Flake gasped, “Ah, yeah, please, ah, ah-” and Till tried to aim the wet spurts back against him. 

“Fuck, Flake -”

“Okay, hold it right there.” Richard sprang towards them. 

“Wha -” Flake slurred, mostly held up by Till’s burly arms. 

“No, you keep your eyes closed. Olli,” Richard called over his shoulder, “a little help?” 

“The fuck, Reesh,” Till groused, still thrusting slightly, and starting to get eager. 

“And you, stay still,” Richard commanded. He eased Flake’s glasses off his face, then held them out to Olli, who had ghosted in silently. “Hold this, too.” He put a small tray in Olli’s other hand, collected something from it, and brought it to Flake’s eye. 

“Your thumb isn’t a makeup tool, Richard,” Flake said, once he figured out what was going on and stopped ineffectually trying to get away. 

“It is for you, because you won’t hold still long enough for anything else,” said Richard, smearing over his eyelid. “If you’d sit for it you could have nice eyeliner, but no.” He gathered a fresh supply and neatened up the edges. “All you get is eyeshadow made for preteen girls who put it on in the school bathroom so their parents don’t find out.”

“That’s very specific.”

“I got it just for you. Look up.” 

Flake obediently aimed his unfocused eyes at the ceiling while Richard dragged his thumb under one, reloaded, and then the other. Till made a couple little rolls of his hips, trying to hold Flake against himself without jostling him. 

“Quit it, Till, I’m almost done. There.” Richard clicked the case closed. He pointed at Till. “I’m coming for you later.”

“I’d be coming now -”

“Yeah, yeah.” He flipped them off over his shoulder as he strode out, makeup in hand. 

Olli stood by impassively as Till cautiously slid his hands down and around Flake’s front, confirming that he was going to take his own weight, then wrapped them around his hips and started blissfully thrusting again, the slick head of his cock skidding on Flake’s tailbone. 

“Fucking - nobody - talk to me -” 

“Do you want your glasses back?” Olli asked quietly. 

“I guess.” Hands still linked behind Till’s neck, Flake offered his face to Olli, who delicately poked the earpieces over his temples. “What color did I get this time?” The motion of Till’s muscular hips made his whole body lurch, even with Till’s firm grip on him. 

“Dark blue.”

“Oh, good.” Flake was starting to revive, blinking his dark-rimmed eyes. 

“With sparkles.” Olli smiled slightly. “It’s pretty.” 

Flake nodded, gratified. “How much pyro space do we have?” Till’s thumbs rubbed shaky circles over the divots at the base of his spine.

“The ceiling is low, probably fountains only.” 

Flake grimaced disappointedly. “We’ll have to get more sparklers for tomorrow, then, we’ll run through them tonight.” 

Into the crook of his neck Till grunted, “I can - just - just turn down - the flamethrower,” and then clenched his jaw and came in drippy stripes on Flake’s lower back. 

“We might still torch the lights,” Olli said. “It’s pretty low.” 

“Well, let me look at it.” Flake disentangled his arms and tried to pull away, but Till was still snuggled into his neck and holding him tightly. Flake resigned himself to his fate. “I’ll be right there. You might as well let Richard do your eyeliner before he hunts you down, too.”

Olli nodded. “I’ll tell Paul he can set up the flamethrower for a test.” 

“He’s been drooling to do it all evening, hasn’t he.” 

Another slight smile escaped Olli. “Yeah.” 

Alone, Till made no move to release his grip. Flake nosed his head. “Hey. You have cured me. You can let me go now.” 

Against his neck Till mumbled, “Okay, cupcake.” He slid his fingers into Flake’s pubes and put the other hand low on his back, then dragged both up through the slick, goopy messes, ending on his chest. “There. All you need is a jacket and you’re ready to go.”

From the door, Paul called, “Maybe pull your pants up, too, just a thought.” 

“Fuck off, Paul.” 

 

They gathered for the last pre-check before the curtain. 

“Sounds rowdy out there.” Ollie handed the bottle to Till.

“Good.” Schneider zipped up his jacket. 

“You all are as pretty as I can make you,” Richard said. He’d gotten eyeliner on the rest of them, though he’d had to sit on Paul. 

“Well that’s a fool’s errand.” 

“Fuck you, you look lovely.” 

Paul batted his eyelashes back. Schneider passed him the bottle. “Put your jacket on.” 

“‘S fucking hot.” He took a gulp and handed the booze to Olli, then shrugged the jacket on anyway. 

“You skipped me,” Flake complained.

“On purpose.” 

“Look at that,” said Till, thumping Paul’s leather-clad back. “We look like a real band.”

“I don’t know about that.”

 

***

 

They did not torch the lights, or the audience, barely. 

Gear packed into the van, they had a cigarette in the dark parking lot. 

“Who’s driving?”

“Nose goes,” said Richard. “I drove here.”

“I got it.” Olli folded himself into the driver’s seat and spent several minutes adjusting the mirrors and seat. Till took shotgun, Paul and Schneider got the second row, and Flake and Richard squashed into the back, the stack of amps a wall next to them. 

Schneider twisted around and draped one arm over the back of the seat. “Idea - Flake, if you thought it would help you could bring the keyboard back, play piano, give you something to do with your hands on stage.” 

Flake yawned. “Sounds like Elton fucking John.” 

Paul cackled. 

“Nah,” said Till, “let’s work up more pyro.”

“I bet we could stick fuel injectors on the brass,” Paul suggested. “Make them smaller than the flamethrower, but every time we play, fwoooosh.” He mimed extending the trombone’s slide, and then a jet of flame. 

“Sick,” approved Richard.

“We’re getting food, right?” 

“There’s a late-night place in the next town.” 

“If we’re convincingly charming we can get the day-olds from the bakery next door, and that’s breakfast covered.” 

“Start practicing your puppy eyes, Paul.”

“Four more shows before the festival?” 

“Three, that was the fourth.”

“There had better be Nazis there,” Till rumbled. “I’m behind on my punching quota.” 

“We’ll send them your way.” 

After a few minutes of quiet, then: “Okay, somebody smells rank.” 

There was a lot of sniffing and a few quiet accusations before Schneider said, “It’s all of us, isn’t it.”

“Yup,” agreed Paul. “It’s a lot more noticeable with us all closed up in the van.” 

“We can take a dip in the lake tomorrow.” 

“Flake in particular.” 

“And Schneider. His hair is half of what the last interviewer wanted to talk about, better make it look nice.”

“Yeah.” Flake scooted down, trying to rest his head comfortably on the seatback before eventually settling with his knees against Richard’s. “Good show, though.”

“Three hours ago you said you regretted everything.”

“Whatever, I take it back. It wouldn’t be better than this if we were playing the Olympiastadion.”