So, because I'm a masochist, I signed up for the Secret Santa exchange over at subarashiki_ds. I wound up with sumersserenity and despite my initial nervous feeling, I managed to write something. (Yay!) On the other hand, I'm not entirely sure it's what sumersserenity wanted. (Boo!) But that's, uh, totally normal with commissions and requests and stuff, right?

Also, everything I know about gothlolis and drag, I learned from the Saki-verse (there was originally a link there, but you'll just have to Google it, due to FFnet's restrictions on links). Anyway, the point here is I don't usually write crossdressing fic.

I have mad, irrational love for gothic-lolita fashion. If I had the cash, it's all I would wear. After reviewing the game to check specific examples of items, the brand is actually somewhat less lolita than I recall, though still very, very gothic. Anyway, hobey-ho, here we go.

Warnings: Uh. Length. It's definitely not long enough. Also, cross-dressing, but that was pretty much a given in challenging me to Joshua in Lapin Angelique. Due to me failing at deadlines, the editing here is much less than my usual. I apologize. /fail. On top of all of this, it's also pretty much crack. Again, I'm sorry.
Pairings:
Vague, sort of Joshua/Neku?
Rating:
PG. Language and whatever.
Notes:
Vaguely tattoo 'verse? Much love for umarekawareru, who came up with the title for the tattoo parlor. Most items described are actual items in the Lapin Angelique store, but not all. Some parts have to be imagined, because the in-game items would clash.

---

Buckles, Ribbons, and Boots

---

It was going to be one of those days, Neku could already tell. He rolled out of bed, very nearly landing face-first on his floor. He dragged himself to his closet, where he chose an outfit he liked a lot. Good, old J-of-the-M. He began mentally preparing himself for the doubtful looks and whispers he would receive from Shiki and Eri.

Today was Thursday, which meant guinea pig day. He went with Shiki and Eri, and they made him go into too many stores and try on weird clothes, which they would then closely examine while whispering and making more doubtful faces.

Neku sighed before grabbing his phone and shoes and heading for the door.

---

The third stop was the weird, darkened shop out by A-East with the attendant who talked in the third person. Shiki and Eri had never actually made him try anything on in this store, but it was the fourth time they had brought Neku here. It was only a matter of time.

Neku cursed Shiki's sad face with her pouty lower lip as he followed them inside.

He felt a part of himself die a little inside at the renewed knowledge that he would have to wear something dark and frilly. He still held hopes that Shiki and Eri would have some mercy and only make him try on the cool, scary things with buckles and leather, but there wasn't enough of that in here. Too much was black lace and thin, gauzy, effeminate shirts and pants.

Neku took out a scrap of paper and a pencil, seeking out a chair and a subject. Movement caught his eye near the dressing rooms. There was a pretty girl with almost shoulder-length blonde-bordering-on-silver hair in complicated stockings and lacy gloves that would take an attention to detail with more buckles and ruffles on her dress and boots than Neku would have thought possible.

"Excuse me," Neku said, approaching her. He felt like being anything less than totally polite might make her shatter. She looked as pale as porcelain.

"U-uhm, yes?" the girl said in a soft voice, blinking up at Neku through thick, dark eyelashes. She was wearing an immense amount of make-up, though it looked good on her.

"I was wondering if you would mind if I sketched you," Neku asked, waving his pencil and unfolded piece of paper.

"I--oh. Really?" the girl stammered. There was something odd about her voice--it should have been a little bit too deep for a girl, but somehow it sounded alright with her. She had the prettiest blush, too. And violet eyes. Neku decided that her contacts must have been very expensive.

"It's just a light sketch," Neku assured her. "I need something to do while my friends are busy. You can have it when I'm done, if you want."

The girl blushed again. "Alright," she agreed, taking a seat in one of the nearby chairs. She smoothed her skirts and folded her hands as she sat with a kind of practiced grace.

Neku grabbed a nearby chair, as well, kneeling by it so that he had something on which to bear down as he began his sketch.

That was how Shiki, Eri, and the attendant found them twenty minutes later.

"Oh, you're right. See, if we could just get something like that..." Eri said, already forming a new design in her head.

"Mm, no, he's a special case. We'll need to make the shoulders broader for Neku, and any other boys," Shiki corrected.

Neku signed the bottom of the sketch and stood up, wincing as his knees protested the sudden movement. "What?" he asked, turning to Shiki. He thought he had heard his name.

The girl he had been sketching stood, as well, moving to Neku's side. "May I see it?" she asked.

Neku smiled. "Of course. Here," he handed her the sketch. "It's pretty much done."

"I think we're done here for today. We'll be in touch, Princess K," Eri told the attendant.

"Alright," Neku waved at the girl. "I'll see you around, I guess..."

"Josie," the girl said. "Thank you, Mr. Sakuraba." She held Neku's sketch to her chest in her delicate, gloved hands.

Once they were outside, Shiki and Eri agreed that almost none of the things they had bought would fit Neku, but they would see him tomorrow morning, bright and early for an extended session.

Neku agreed easily, despite his dislike of acting as their main male model. Still, it meant that the rest of the day was free, and he had time to swing by Wildkat and ask Mr. H about getting a decal on his tattoo parlor before he declared it open for business.

---

A familiar head of straightened almost-silver hair was sitting at a window table when Neku arrived at the Wildkat Café. He had taken the long way, so it wasn't unreasonable that Josie got there first.

Josie smiled, biting her lower lip, and waving in a shy, muted way as Neku passed her.

"What, you've met?" Mr. H asked when Neku pushed open the door to the café.

"Just a bit ago," Josie replied softly. "He sketched me." She lifted her teacup with two hands, taking a small sip.

Mr. H nodded, one eyebrow raised.

Neku spoke up. "So, uh, about that decal."

"Yeah, I'll call Josh up," Mr. H replied. "He should have taken care of it this morning, unless he was messing around." He picked up a steaming pot of tea, taking it to Josie's table. "More tea?"

"Please," she said, scooting her teacup to the edge of the table. Mr. H refilled it, looking between Neku and Josie. When he was done, he set the teapot down and went into a back room with an audible sigh.

"Does he seem weird to you today?" Neku asked, taking a seat across from Josie.

"I wouldn't really know." Josie tucked a piece of hair behind her ear. Sometime between now and the time spent in the store by A-East, she had acquired an elaborate black bat clip for her hair, though it didn't seem to be clipping her hair like it should.

"Do you want me to fix that?" Neku offered. He stood up once more, moving to the seat next to Josie without waiting for a response.

"Um, thank you," Josie said, holding perfectly still while Neku re-adjusted the hair clip.

"It's no big deal," Neku replied. "I've got these friends--you may have seen them at, uh, the place we met--"

"The Lapin Angelique store?" Josie offered, effortlessly pronouncing the title.

"Yeah, that," Neku agreed. "They're kind of fashion nuts, so they mess with my hair a lot," Neku finished, pulling back. "Your hair is really soft. I bet they would be jealous."

"Oh, probably not," Josie replied, blushing again. "I straightened it. It's not e very good thing in the long run. My hair is usually much..." she waved a gloved hand, "fluffier."

"I have trouble picturing... that..." Neku stopped mid-laugh. "Joshua?" he deadpanned.

Josie giggled an entirely too familiar giggle. "Aw, you figured it out!"

Neku leaned his head on the table in front of him and did not lift it until his cheeks stopped burning.

---

Joshua sat on the edge of Eri's desk, retelling his adventures in drag as he swung his feet back and forth, the long ends of his pants swishing over his toes--now they were covered--now they weren't. The pants had bandages near the knees, unevenly wrapped. He had relinquished the shoes to Neku at Shiki's request.

Neku wanted to point out as he spoke that a bunny parka wasn't much of an improvement over the fluffy black dress, but Shiki was handing him another thin top with frilly sleeves, so he kept his mouth shut.

"The shoulders are too thin on this one, too," Eri said, stopping Neku before he got it all the way on, or it tore, or got stuck, all of which had happened to Neku as he tried on clothes the girls handed to him. Then, in response to Joshua, she added, "Aw, Neku sketched Josie? That's so sweet!"

Neku had long since given up being embarrassed in Shiki and Eri's presence. Still, this was Joshua, too. "You're talking like Josie is someone totally different," he grumbled.

"She's an alter-ego," Joshua insisted. "Like Clark Kent to Superman."

Neku snorted. "I don't know if it's scarier that she's the normal half of that analogy, or that you consider yourself a superhero." He accepted the third shirt from Shiki. "It's tight in the shoulders," Neku complained, keeping his movement restricted in case he tore the shirt. "But I do like the cloth." He tugged at the edges carefully. It was too thin--almost translucent--but it felt soft and elastic. "Feels like it could tear any minute, though."

"That's no big deal. This is more to get a feel of what the style will look like," Eri replied. "This isn't quite what I have in mind, anyway."

"I hope not," Shiki agreed. "Look at those stitches."

"Mm, you might want to do something with his hair," Joshua said. He pulled at the strings on his bunny parka, tightening the hood, which was flopped helplessly behind his head.

"You're right. It's affecting my perception of the outfit. Why don't you help Neku get all of that gel out of his hair, I need to sketch out a few ideas," Eri said as she stepped away from Neku.

"Hurry back, though," Shiki added.

"What's wrong with my hair?" Neku mumbled. He stood, facing Joshua. "I don't need any help."

---

In the bathroom of Shiki and Eri's studio, Neku turned around, stopping Joshua at arm's length. "You are not leaning over me while I'm bent over a sink," he insisted.

Joshua frowned. No, Neku decided, that was a pout. "You won't be able to get all of the gel off the back of your neck. You can't see what you're doing, Neku."

"Well, stand to the side or something," Neku compromised. "You're not leaning over me."

"My, Neku, do I intimidate you?" Joshua teased. He looked less threatening than usual in a hoodie with rabbit ears, but Neku wasn't about to let his guard down. He was sure everyone looked less threatening in a hoodie with rabbit ears.

Neku scowled. "No," he replied. He turned to the sink, glancing back to Joshua a few times before turning on the faucet and beginning to adjust the temperature.

---

"What is it with you and your clothes lately?" Neku asked. Joshua had on another Lapin Angelique shirt today. This one seemed to be intentionally made to look uneven and maladjusted. Neku had long since decided he didn't know or want to know how fashion worked, and Joshua's attire had not changed this.

Joshua tugged at the sleeves. It was a childish motion that left the sleeves covering all but his fingertips. Then again, of the old gang, Joshua was the only one that didn't appear to have changed, physically. "You don't like it?" Joshua replied. He spun, letting the bottom of the shirt lift up a bit. "You liked Josie. Am I just not pretty enough for you, Neku?"

Neku scowled. He was not blushing, he was not blushing, he was not blushing... There. Problem solved. "I think your prettiness is not really the issue here," Neku said through gritted teeth. "You just... it's weird. I'm used to seeing you in expensive, boring stuff."

Joshua picked up his parasol, opening it to shade himself from the summer sun. "Well, maybe I was tired of expensive, boring things, Neku."

"N-no, I didn't mean it like--" Neku stopped, seeing the smirk on Joshua's face. "Whatever." He folded his arms, looking away.

---

Neku saw Josie on opening day for his new tattoo parlor--Shibuya Imprints. She drew the first customer.

"Nice place," the guy said, leaning too close to Josie--no Neku told himself, Joshua. Joshua could take care of himself.

Josie-who-was-Joshua,-damnit blushed at the stranger's attentions. She--no, he had a red and black skirt and tall, red boots with a regular gauzy, black, fashionable shirt and a tiny, be-ribboned hat.

Neku gritted his teeth. He could handle this.

"Cute girlfriend," the guy added. Neku wondered if it would be too much to scare off his first customer and try again. "So, uh, let me see your catalog."

---

"Oh, man! when did Phones get a girlfriend?" Beat shouted.

Joshua decided to come to the weekly Hachiko meet in drag. Neku had thus far successfully avoided murdering Josie where she stood, as well as given up on mentally correcting himself. He feared that Joshua made a better girl than boy.

"Beat, don't be silly, that's Joshua," Rhyme insisted, putting her hands on her hips. "Those are very nice boots, Joshua."

"U-um, thank you," Josie replied. "I'm going by Josie right now, though."

"Of course! Whatever blows your skirt up, Josie."

Neku groaned and put his face into his hands. Shiki and Eri would be here any minute. Then, something occurred to him, "How did you know that it was Joshua?"

Rhyme raised an eyebrow. "Well, it's obvious, isn't it? His hair and eyes are rather unique. You should know if you're dating him Neku. Honestly."

"But--we're not--" Neku protested.

Josie blushed, twisting one boot into the ground. She looked hopefully at Neku and held out a hand.

"Awright, my brain's breakin', man," Beat insisted. "Is it okay if I pretend that ain't J-dawg?"

Neku took Josie's hand. "Please do," he agreed.