Your Love on My Skin
Naruto loved the attention that he was getting with his new, improved whiskers, the negative and the positive.
He didn't feel invisible or neglected.
He didn't have time to dwell on the emptiness of his existence.
'Naruto' was a name on everyone's lips as he passed through the locker lined hallways of Hidden Leaf High School. It empowered him with a confidence that he had never felt in all of his lonely life. He grew to love the marks on his cheeks, the formerly cursed scratches that used to brand the sorrows of his past into his skin. They were quite beautiful to him now, and he couldn't imagine himself without the bold lines gracing his cheeks.
As his fingers touched each trail of ink embedded in his skin, Naruto could hear the gruff voice of the burly tattoo artist named Jiraiya, echoing through his thoughts.
"You should never be ashamed of your battle scars."
After he finished his homework in class, he started to sketch a fox inside of his sketch book. It was a picture he had been working on since his free period that morning, and it was gaining a few, amused spectators.
A pretty girl named Ino looks over his shoulder and gasps.
"Wow! You're good!" She exclaims, calling her friends over to see.
"You are an amazing artist, Naruto." Another girl praises him as she views the orange animal.
"He's got nine tails! That's so unique!"
Suddenly, a hand rips the page away and crumples it.
It was one of Naruto's former, bullying tormentors, a starting line-up, basketball jock who also happened to be the jealous boyfriend of one of the girls who gave him such kind compliments about his art.
"Look at that. Now its just a worthless piece of trash!" He shoots the wadded paper at his head, bouncing off a landing on his sketch book. "Just like you, fox boy."
If it weren't for the promise that he made to Mr. Umino, that bully would have enjoyed a broken nose… Naruto growled at the boy as he walked away, laughing, his girlfriend looking back at him apologetically. His hands unfurled the wrinkled drawing and gently smooths the paper as best as he could with his palms.
The next month, he returned to the tattoo parlor, "Toad Sage Tattoos", with a fist full of money that he had earned from completing odd jobs for the land lady and pleaded with the owner to give him another.
"You want a fox… with nine tails..? On your back?"
"Yeah, something fierce. Like this…" Naruto handed Jiraiya the crinkled picture that he drew of the ferocious, nine-tailed fox. The owner of the Toad Sage looked impressed.
"You drew this?" He asks, scratching his chin and flipping the drawing on its side to admire it from a different angle.
"Yeah. So, can you do it?" The blonde boy hurriedly continues pleading his case.
"I'm not gonna lie…this is really gonna hurt, kid…"
"I can take pain."
Jiraiya sighed as he heard the seriousness in his voice and ushered the boy onto a table. He immediately began preparations for the rather remarkable art to be laid on his skin.
Many painful hours later, Naruto emerged from the parlor with his back bandaged, and instructions to care for it. He didn't have a mirror in his tiny roof top hovel, so he couldn't see what exactly was on his back.
Several visits later, Naruto grew worried.
He only had enough money for a medium sized tattoo on his back, but not a giant one. It now extended down both of his arms. By now, he was well acquainted with Jiraiya's crazy antics in expressing his 'art' but he was afraid that he couldn't pay for any of it.
"Are you… almost done, Jiraiya?" The weary teenager whines, his cheek flat against the cushioning of the tattooing table.
"Done." Jiraiya grunted in response, allowing the boy to shakily lift himself from the table and move to the viewing mirrors.
Craning his neck to view his back, Naruto's breath caught in his throat as he saw it.
A giant nine-tailed fox.
It was the perfect size to capture it's magnificence and grandeur, occupying almost the entirety of his back. It was frozen, mid-growl, with fur so detailed with ink that it nearly bristled with life in its vibrancy. Nine, whispy tails extended and vanished along his sides, curling back into view along his well toned arms.
He looked pretty bad *ss.
The confidence began to course through his veins once more.
He'd like to see that bully try to mess with this fox…
"I know you were worrying about paying for this…" Jiraiya's voice cuts into his admiration session, making the boy slouch where he stood.
"I need a new apprentice… and you have a sh*t ton of talent."
Naruto's eyes narrow, trying his hardest to see where the tattoo artist was going with this conversation.
"With your high pain tolerance, I figured you could practice on yourself until you are old enough to take customers." The tall man stands beside him to admire his work, stretching his hands high, behind his head.
"So… payment..?" The Uzumaki lad's blue eyes turned towards the glowing eyes of the fox in the mirror.
"Consider this your first pay check." Jiraiya grins, patting the kid on his shoulders reassuringly. "We start training after you get out of school tomorrow."
"Do I need to, uh, bring anything?" Naruto asks his new instructor, still trying to get a grasp of what understanding exactly was transpiring between them.
"Draw a picture of the tattoo you want next and bring it… we'll begin there."
After a month of healing and strict tutelage within the Toad Sage, Naruto was given the green light to handle a tattoo machine. A few hours passed as he was left alone to focus on his art while his teacher was with a customer.
It hurt a little more than as his last experiences, but, the subject of this tattoo was too important for him to care about the searing pain of the needle penetrating the dermis of his forearm.
Jiraiya stumbled in after he was finished, excited to see the work of his pupil; he wasn't disappointed.
There was a gray scale image of two people (as if they were carved in stone) artfully crafted on the young apprentice's forearm. Their eyes were closed peacefully as they embraced each other, and they felt so life-like that they looked like they were actually taking a nap on his arm.
"It's none too colorful… who are they?" The older man asks the younger, who replies with a simple, "They're my parents."
"It's very good for your first time, Naruto." He inspects the arm and sees only a few spots in which there would be scar formations in the future, mistakes cleverly hidden by more delicate, detailed lines that drew the eyes away from the harsher lines.
Every nerve ending buzzed with excitement whenever his arm ached with pain, reminding him that his art was permanent and lasting. His need for expression and recognition was heard by a living canvas, and now his passion could be realized, viewed, admired, and left untampered by all who could see him.
It was that pivotal event that spurred Naruto forward, and his love grew for the ink within his skin.
The ink that touched his soul and bared it.
The ink that truly helped him feel free.
As Naruto threw himself on his lumpy bed that night, in his tiny closet home, he set his sights on becoming the best tattoo artist in the city.
After he graduated from Hidden Leaf High, Naruto found himself in a slightly larger apartment, and heading to college. He didn't want to go, but it was a request given to him by Iruka, and there wasn't anything he wouldn't do for the mentor who saved his life and turned him down the path that he now enjoyed traveling.
Well, not now, now…
'Three buses… THREE!? I can barely handle one bus…'
Naruto hated riding the bus.
He had to take three buses to get to Konoha University.
They were smelly, hot, and the riders looked eternally pissed off.
'I'd look that pissed if I had to ride the bus every day, too.' Naruto reasoned in his head. 'That may be me, soon…'
As much as he hated riding the bus, if he didn't, he wouldn't have seen her.
"Did you see that chick's hair?"
"Yeah, what a hipster. I bet she likes all of the attention that she gets with those crazy tattoos, too."
Not feeling at all guilty about eavesdropping, Naruto turns his head at the mention of 'tattoos' to see the owner of them standing behind him.
It was a slim girl with pink hued hair tipped with lilac dye and a multitude of tattoos like intricate ribbons, snaking around her arms. Naruto's gaze lingered along each picture on her skin, admiring the stunning artwork that adorned her limbs as she seemed to be looking out the window behind them, deep in thought.
Then she turned.
Cerulean sky connected with green, jeweled stone as their eyes met briefly.
She smiled brightly at him and he was instantly in love with the inked angel.
The beautiful smile. The beautiful ink.
Naruto felt his heart burn and enlarge dangerously with strange emotions in his own tattooed chest.
Then she was gone.
The bus had stopped and she had exited quickly. It looked like she was late for something. Naruto smashed his face to the window, trying to see where his pink haired angel was off to. A sign above the gates read, 'Konoha University est. 1945′.
He sits back in his seat and grins, his whiskers rising as his cheeks turn rosy in color.
"Hey! She goes to the same University I go to!" He whispers excitedly to himself. "I'm definitely going to find out her name… and the name of her tattoo artist…"
It took a few minutes for him to break out of his stupor before he realized a very important correlation… the tattooed girl with the pink hair stopped at Konoha University.
The university which he was supposed to be attending, at that moment, as well.
"I MISSED MY FREAKING STOP!"
Naruto really, really hated buses.
-The end of chapter two.
–Story by ODG
Review kindly, please. :) All those who are not into NS, please refrain from commenting about OTP choices.