Save the Last Drink for Me
The lights faded down as he remained onstage, playing their ending theme, the keyboard producing the last few eerie notes. The others had just finished taking their bows, and soon he would get his. They had already descended to their private room downstairs, and were most likely partaking of the wine that the venue gave the band. He did not give a damn that they had left, he loved them like brothers, but they were done for the evening, and hell, they worked hard. All he cared was that Armin was still waiting for him. Armin had exited with the others, yet he had waited just offstage for Lenz, as usual. It was a simple gesture but it defined him, never leaving anyone behind, and especially never leaving his husband behind. Armin was tempted to do another encore, he loved the level of adoration the fans had for them, and had always asserted that it should be necessary for them to give even more back to the fans, if they loved them that much. The others might have been convinced to do it, but they did not love the concerts as much as Armin and Lenz did. He exited precisely on his cue and did not waste his time rousing the audience, he had done his job, and it was time for him to leave.
"Lenz, why do you always look like you have just come from a funeral every time you leave the stage?" Armin asked.
"It is my nature, you know that. I'm not a schoolgirl on her first date, I know how to hide my emotions." This was his usual response, and yet he felt that it was lacking. "Does it creep you out too much?" he asked, his tone flat and yet Armin could detect a hint of concern and potentially even sorrow.
"No, I married you five years ago, and you have not changed since then. I love you still. But, you could pick a more agreeable façade." Armin pulled him in close, using his lips to hold Lenz in place while his hands allowed themselves to roam wherever they cared to.
"One of these days I will get my revenge." His tone was nearly vindicative, but he only permitted himself to use this tone because Armin would see the sarcasm in it.
"You had it coming, besides, you wouldn't have married me if you truly hated this."
This was routine, and yet Lenz had never found a reply, it was true that he hated this public affection, and yet, he knew that he could never say 'no' to Armin.
"Come on, if we don't hurry the others will have taken all of the champagne before we get to have any." Lenz hated having to do this, but he had learned he could use his alcoholism as a defense against too much affection.
In the beginning of their relationship, Lenz had been a true alcoholic, there was never a night that he had managed to remain sober. They had been living together for almost five months, and so Armin was entirely accustomed to Lenz coming home in the early hours of the morning, completely wasted, and rarely ever managing to make it past the main room of their apartment before passing out. One night, Lenz had failed to come home at all, and the next morning Armin had every single friend of his looking everywhere for him. Armin had been the one to find him, passed out in an alley not even a block from the last bar he had been in. Armin and one of his friends had carried Lenz back to their apartment, Lenz was light for his gargantuan stature, but Armin was rather small and not particularly strong.
He had woken up to a bright light staring down at him, which he attempted to hide from, but to no avail. His brain felt like it was being torn apart and then smashed back together by a very angry Märzen. He felt a hand resting upon his shoulder, and though he wanted to look to see who it was, the light was forcing him to coil in upon himself. He heard Armin sigh and the light flicked off. He opened one eye tentatively, scanning his surroundings to make sure there was nothing else that would ally with his hangover and attack his fragile brain. A bottle of pills smacked into his chest. Now he knew he was in trouble.
"Here's some water. Take the pills so your hangover won't be as bad." Lenz shuddered with the monotone ferocity of Armin's voice. He simply nodded and did as he was told. Armin could not hurt him physically, and thus Armin knew how to use his passive-aggressive nature to terrorize Lenz, though usually he only annoyed him into doing things like shopping and other such mundane chores.
"I guess you had one too many last night?" He put extra emphasis on the s's and t's to make his words clear, but all they did to Lenz was make him cringe.
"Yeah, maybe a few too many." In his mind it was said meekly, but his voice carried its typical cadence.
"You usually stop before you get that drunk, and you always make it home, what made you stay longer? Was there someone there that you were interested in? Or maybe someone here you did not want to see?" His voice was beginning to rise from its whisper, and each word became sharper and more distinct.
"No, I just forgot my limits." Inside he was on the point of tears, but years of hiding his emotions had trained him well enough that neither his demeanor nor his voice betrayed any sort of feeling.
"You forgot your limits? You get fucking smashed every damn night, and you just so happen to forget your limits? Do you really expect me to believe this bullshit? Shit, I did not think there had been someone interesting, but if you are making up stuff like this, perhaps there was." He was practically yelling now.
"I promise, that is the truth." His voice quivered ever so slightly on the last word. Armin had been his only friend since they're first level of Gesamptschule, he was the only person that Lenz had ever loved, and they had been considering a civil union for the past few weeks.
"I'm sorry. I was worried. You scared me to death." Lenz had never seen someone change from enraged to sorrowful so quickly. Had it really been that slight quiver in his voice that had done this? It was something that Armin could pick up on, and would probably be hypersensitive towards, but why would Armin be upset that Lenz was getting his due punishment? It confused him, not that he had ever really been able to understand the motivation of people's emotions, he had lost that capability around the same time that he was able to subdue his own emotions, both of which he had done as protective measures.
"I did not mean to worry you." He reached out and gently held onto Armin's hand, a tactic he had only recently felt comfortable doing.
"Just don't do it ever again, alright?" Armin's surprise at Lenz's boldness disappeared into a smile, he would never cease to be amazed by Lenz's anti-social cuteness.
Lenz had tried to stop drinking completely, feeling that would be the most satisfactory result for Armin, but he knew that he was an alcoholic, and thus a complete cessation would only result in psychological torment. They agreed that the next best scenario would be if Lenz promised to never get drunk anymore. The first few weeks, this was difficult to pull off, even though Armin went to the bars with him. After a month or two, Lenz had gained enough self-control that he could stop himself from drinking too much, which was good enough for Armin. And thus with this new-found self-control, he was able to start his daily dosage of alcohol nearly as soon as he awoke, but could stay sober all the way through the night.
"Alright, but you know they would leave us some." He sighed, Lenz knew what he was thinking, but he was not ready to show this much affection to anyone.
"A shot each does not count. Come on." He pulled Armin downstairs, desperately hoping that not all of the champagne was gone already. They had cracked into it, of course, but they saved more than a shot each, they knew Lenz well enough. As usual, Armin never took a sip –ever –Lenz would always take a glass, down it, then somehow there was a full glass back in front of him, and Armin's would have mysteriously disappeared. He glanced over and smiled at Armin, it was scarcely more than a twitch of the lips, but it was enough to let Armin know he had done the right thing.