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Karlheinz: Flowering

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DISCLAIMER: Not mine.  If they were, Renz would be Theo’s.  But you knew that, right?
TITLE:    Karlheinz: Flowering
AUTHOR:    kel
FANDOM:    Bronski and Bernstein
PAIRING:   B/B, with a side order of Renz Yen
RATING:    PG-13
WARNINGS:  It’s got Renz in it. ;-p

CHRONO:    Half past Geisterstunde?
SPOILERS:  only for Renz’s you-know-what
ARCHIVE:   yes to Fabulae, Rareslash, WWOMB
SUMMARY:   Geschichte schreibt der Sieger, es rette mich wer kann
FEEDBACK:  Of any and all stripes welcome to bessie@goldweb.com.au 
COMMENTS:  Started writing this ages ago, put it aside, had the urge to dig it up
           thanks to Mirna.  Pardon the very Anglo epithets, I ain’t got a clue what
           the German equivalents would be.  Unbetaed (which I HATE), so *please* tell
           me if stuff needs work.  I'd rather know.

=========
Flowering
By kel
=========


Karlheinz Renz, alone in his dark and damp office, peels slowly the shirt from his
back, one more time.  It hurts more than it did yesterday, and he's sure the skin's
broken in places.

He can hear Rita Keil laughing across the hall.  Telling that waster Bernstein all
about it.

Sod the pair of'em.  *He* likes his tattoo.

It's infected and sore; surprisingly so.  A large and complex design, inking in
stages.  First time anything's gone wrong.  Perhaps that's a good thing; one more
obscure worry disposed of.  One more "what if", gone.  He knows he can bear it now.

In any case, the pain doesn't bother him as much as the waiting.  Although there's a
pleasure in that too; it makes the change, no, the *revelation*, incremental. Organic.

-- Wouldn't feel half as right if it all happened at once, would it, Paulchen? he
says, smiling at the //Lobivia cardensiana// lurking in the corner.

-- Sorry?

He hadn't heard the door open; twisting round far too fast, his hands fly, stupidly,
to cover his naked chest. 

It's only Bronski; curious, perhaps.  But doing a good job of hiding it.

-- Didn't mean to disturb you, he says, without backing away.  -- If you'd rather I
came back later...?

-- No, it's fine, mumbles Renz, starting to pull his shirt back on.  Wincing. -- Come
for a look, have you?

-- Micklitz said you were... having some trouble.

Renz lowers the shirt.  -- He thinks I'm an idiot. 

Across the hall, Bernstein and Rita are giggling about words which rhyme
with 'dragon'.  Renz'd bet a week's pay whatever they come up with ends up on the wall
of the gents'.

-- I *am* an idiot.  Wish I hadn't said anything now.

-- I thought this might help.

Bronski holds out a small jar.  -- Angela had one last year.  Just a little one.  All
her friends were doing it.

-- Girls, eh.

-- She says take vitamins and try not to get stressed.

-- Ja mutti.

-- Of course, if you don't want it... 

Karlheinz takes the jar, touched.

-- Just a topical antibiotic. 

-- Not tablets?  Scheisse.  He ducks his head, apologetically -- I can't ask Mother to
put it on...

-- I can help, shrugs Bronski.  -- Unless it's somewhere personal...

*What the hell*. 

Renz raises his eyebrows, hands the jar back and turns, reluctantly, waiting for the
laugh.  They all laugh.

-- That's... big, says Bronski, eventually.  -- Colourful.

-- Like it? 

-- It says a lot about you.

Karlheinz turns back, beaming like a child.  As proud as if he'd done it himself.

-- I've been saving for ages. 

-- Sit down. This is going to hurt.

Renz perches awkwardly on the edge of the desk and braces himself. It does, but
Bronski's touch is sure and gentle, and the relief of the cream on his skin more than
makes up for it.

-- Better?

-- I suppose *he* thinks it's pathetic.

-- Does that bother you?

-- No, says Renz eventually.

-- Good. 

The already dim room darkens a little; Bernstein's peering through the door, grinning
broadly.  Renz tries to rise, reflexively, but Bronski holds him firmly in place. 
Shooes Bernstein away with a frown.

-- I'll be down in a minute.

-- Hurry up.  Time's *draggin'*.

-- Go!

Bernstein disappears, pulling faces at Renz as he goes. 

-- That little... If he was my son...

-- God forbid.

-- You can laugh.  He's not too damn old for a spanking.  Knowing my luck, though,
he'd probably enjoy it.

Bronski wipes his hands, quietly, not looking at anything in particular. 

-- Ah.

Not quite blushing.  The silence grows suddenly heavy.


==========


The problem with Bernstein is... No.  It's easier to work backwards.  The one thing
that really angers Renz is that he's *good* for Wolfgang.  Not that he *assumes* he
is, although he does; more that the assumption is unquestioned.

Because his departure will be, too. 

Probably.

He tries to be fair, but... He's met Bernstein's type before.  Decades ago, when he
was more of a catch; back when he got *caught*.  Daddy's boys with their imported and
costless freedoms; with the eye, the style, and the talk.  Whom nothing ever touched.

Wolfgang’s father knew all about that.  He was a good friend; always there, willing to
listen.  And one of the few kind enough to open his family life to the poor
deluded //schwule//. 

Wolfi’s always been special to Renz.  They both had to grow up fast. 

Renz worries for him, that he's one more in a long line of Bernstein’s whims.  That
even if the affection Bernstein radiates is real, he’ll never understand.  Things just
*aren't* that simple for ordinary people. 

Wolfi lost the chance to be a boy; to be carefree, careless, stupid with desire.  And
now there’s Lene, and Bernstein, and he’s never looked so bloody happy.

Renz can't interfere.  He won’t.  To endure the souring of love is basic, bottom-line
hell; but never to have taken the risk...

Nobody deserves that.


==========


-- He's trouble, says Renz gently.

-- I know. 

-- As long as you *do*.

-- Ja mutti.

-- Hmph.  Your Dad never listened either.

He can't hide the affection in his voice.

Bronski pats Renz on the shoulder, gets up. 

-- I'd leave that for a couple of minutes, if I were you.  And try not to lean on
anything on the way home.

Somewhere down the hall, Micklitz is shouting again.  About idiots and budgets and no
damn overtime.

-- Home? I've forgotten what that looks like...

Renz pulls a face, because it's expected. 

-- Karl... You'll show him one day, says Bronski quietly.  -- When it's finished.

-- Mm.

-- Trust me.  He'll *ask*.  When he's ready to know.

-- Off you go, mumbles Renz, into his buttons.  -- Don't want to keep Wonderpup
waiting.

It's a blessing, of sorts.

Bronski taps the doorjamb twice for luck as he leaves.

Just like his father.


=== © arjuna 2007 ===