A/N: Finally, after a long period of procrastinating and laziness, I have completed part 2 ~ ! Although, I think it is not as well written as Part 1, it's readable nonetheless ~
I hope you enjoy this second part and please express any comments, questions, criticism, opinions, feedback, critiques, recommendations . . . etc. They will be greatly appreciated!
It happened; the first contact of sterile iron against bare skin that sent a pain so foreign, so exhilarating upon Ace's arm. Falling victim to the extraordinary agony that began exploding throughout his whole body; Ace felt his lips gap slightly in a silent cry, his arm tense to the electricity that stimulated at each puncture of the needle and his eyes cloud in a watery haze that threatened to blind him to unconsciousness.
Clenching his fist in hopes of somehow finding support in the form of a touch back or gentle words- Ace realised that he was in fact alone in this. Ignore it. Ignore it.
Nobody was there to stroke or hold him in reassurance. Ignore it. Nobody was there to sing words of encouragement. Ignore it. Head spinning and losing grip of his senses that unbearably made the World tilt, Ace knew that he was alone and that nobody was there to relieve the hurt. Ignore it. It was painfully lonely, and it was his worst fear. You can't ignore it.
But amidst the distressing strain and Ace's self solitude, was a voice that sounded so heavenly distinctive amongst his suffering and was appeasing to his ears:
Marco's voice was there, in all its contradicting beauty; soft yet firm, placid yet concerning, almost a whisper in the physical World yet an exclamation to his thoughts. Hearing his name draw from the fine lips of the older man in front of him liberated all the fears that had drained Ace's mentality. Lifting his eyes in search for any of Marco's being, Ace settled to putting his focus on the sparse shrubbery that rooted along the blonde's jaw-line he had only just discovered.
And breathe Ace did; abiding without a second to spare. He deeply pulled in the crisp atmosphere of the interior but more significantly, the scent of the man barely a distant from him; his friendly stranger, his personal artist and just now, his saviour: Marco. And damn, Marco smelt amazing; fresh elegant notes of violet leaf and bergamot with a slow finish of spicy notes from black tea and cinnamon. It was enchanting, captivating his senses completely and most obviously easing him from the throbbing pain before.
Having been unsettled for his client before, Marco pulled a smile seeing comfort begin to finally wash over Ace's face before softly speaking, "That's it."
The younger man sighed in relief as the torturous pinning gradually faded into an irritating buzz against his skin as he continued breathing (or in other words; the not-so-obviously-inhaling-in-Marco exercise). Looking up into heavy-lidded eyes; that partially enclosed the luminous blue circles beneath, Ace managed to pull a wavering but ecstatic grin that Marco so coincidently caught between the occasional glance to his customer. Those lips. The way Ace's fleshy supple rim curved so radiantly, slapped the professional within the artist for a short moment before Marco self-irritably ignored his own personal indulgence; that could have horribly stumble the needle out of its inky pattern.
Lightly shaking his head in annoyance at himself and continuing his artistic speciality; Marco found that maybe now was the appropriate (and convenient) time to ask a budding question to Ace.
"You know, yoi" he started, clearing his throat and being cautious not to falter his professionalism as he continued pressing the needle across Ace's arm, "Behind every tattoo is a story."
Stealing a quick glimpse of the freckled-face, Marco knew he had Ace's full attention by the way those metallic grey eyes reflected a curiosity and sheer absorption of his words; though he couldn't help but think that a little part of him, did feel guilty of having such influence on the latter.
But he quickly disregarded those dark thoughts and continued, "I ink stars that preserve wishes and dreams, quotes that inspire anyone who reads them, crosses and bones that signify strength, brutality and rebellion, names of ex-girlfriends and boyfriends crossed out in regret and -no joke- but flying llamas with butterflies and rainbows encircling them from drunken mistakes."
Ace giggly snickered to the last remark and Marco couldn't help but follow ensue as he finally questioned with his own gaze of curiosity, "Is there a story behind yours, yoi?"
That question struck Ace, and abruptly he was swept into a mental warp that devoured him in a time lapse of moving images; he was inflicted with nostalgic flashing memories of himself and Sabo . . . Oh, Sabo. His best friend. His brother. A piece that had once completed Ace as a whole. But Sabo had departed from the World and with him, left an idle void that wounded the very core of Ace's existence. However, that was so long ago and Ace swore to never dwell in the past, no matter how much it hurt to move on or forget.
After a few minutes of dipping his lower lips only to pinch it back closed, Ace found his words with a poignant smile, "The 'S' symbolises a brother I lost a long time ago. I thought it would be a good tribute to him, so here I am."
There was a pause; a deathly silence that ripped throughout the room, apart from the rousing hum of the tattoo machine. Though he was quiet, Marco was not loss for words, in actual fact; he knew exactly what to say. But death was a delicate subject and required appropriate timing and consideration to avoid from offending. "It's a beautiful gesture." Marco expressed, voice faint and all the sincerity he possesses in his words, as he could never imagine the pain of losing a brother or the gratification of having someone dear to you, do such a lovely thing.
Ace's eye-brows knitted in uncertainty, "Really?"
"For your brother to be remembered forever on your body, yoi . . . ", Marco voiced, letting the needle drift off Ace's arm, "Whoever you become, where ever you go, until the time you join him …"And at that moment, there was a clash of swirling marine blue eyes with cloudy grey ones before the blonde finished with a smile, "It's a beautiful thing you're doing, yoi."
Ace was unquestionably stunned; he slowly scrutinized the man who spoke what sounded like poetry of the Gods in his ears, with a break between his lips that illustrated a shrilling gasp that never sounded. His eyes felt blanketed in tender inspiration and before watery tears could pathetically form, Ace harshly blinked his lids. He was touched.
Unconsciously disregarding what would usually be a 'thank you' that followed, Ace instead pointed with his free hand towards spinning flames of blue as Marco began tattooing again, "Your arms. . ." Ace inquired, "What's your story?"
Sparing the younger man an elongated gaze as he multitasked between conversing and inking, Marco leaned into Ace with a solemn expression bearing his face, "People perceive fire to be a burning curse, something that brings only pain and destruction, yoi. But I see it as something more; something along the lines of energy and life. . . Like the Sun" Feeling gentle fingers smoothly brush the surface of the arm that gripped the younger man's triceps, Marco jumped slightly but didn't recoil from Ace's feathery touch as he continued, "On lonely nights, where all I want, is to embrace the skies; I spread my arms in hopes of flying and of course I don't, yoi. But at the same time, it feels like I am. That energy is there. There's life within my arms that cycles every time I get that feeling, yoi."
The blonde man closed his eyes briefly after the tattoo shading had finished, releasing the needle off Ace's upper arm as he concluded, "Like I'm born again. So I tattooed that very fire on my arms."
Ace dropped his free hand from Marco's arms with a laughing smile and commented, "That's amazing! And does the blue represent a contrast to the heat of fire? Or did you do blue because you wanted to tell those stupid people off? Are phoenixes blue?" Something suddenly clicked in Ace, the gears in his mind jerking on as he cried with enlightened realisation, "Maybe you wanted to be a phoenix!"
Marco chuckled at the rather interesting analysis before shaking his head, "I only did blue because it's my favourite colour." However, upon seeing Ace's distorted eyes and disappointment begin to plaster his face, Marco quickly asserted, "But I guess I am a phoenix now, yoi."
Ace lit the room with his delirious beam that had Marco trying to reflect it with his own, as he began opening a single-use bottle of anti-bacterial dressing.
"Are you finished already?" Ace asked, tilting his head to see his design that was at first printed on paper, perfectly mirror on his left arm.
"Yes; I am that good, am I not, yoi?" Marco replied with a defiant grin, slyly suggesting what Ace had said earlier about his expertise in tattooing. And in response, freckles soared with a shade of pink that dusted his cheeks from Ace, who couldn't help but stare at the ground in embarrassment at his former outburst.
"Right now, your tattoo is classified as an open wound, yoi" Marco prompted before carefully applying the dressing on the newly inked tattoo, "For the next two weeks, you will need to take very good care of it."
Swiftly, Marco unpeeled a medical patch before wearing it above the black text, spreading his hands centre outwards to draw out the air beneath as Ace's eyes rolled around to his movements. Marco then pulled up from his seat and walked over towards a shelf, picking out a pamphlet and handing it to Ace who clasp it with an engrossed peep.
Marco helped fingered a precise page and flicked it open before Ace, "Remember to wash your tattoo with liquid antibacterial or antimicrobial soap after you take off the patch, which you will have to leave on for a minimum of two hours" With a smile; he added, "Don't get too excited in wanting to show your friends, they will have to wait 'till later, yoi."
"Not a problem" Ace returned, "Thanks Marco."
Feeling already and strangely accustomed to being addressed by his name, the blonde tattooist just realised how easy it was to talk to Ace and how much he wanted to know and discover about the younger man before him. Unconscious of the moment that passed, Marco was shocked at himself after he had heard himself just gush out, "I like you Ace, I won't charge for the tattoo, yoi."
Expecting all hell to break loose between them, Marco hastily stalked towards the door before he had to painfully witness Ace's horrified or even outraged response. No he did not want to see that. Gripping the door handle, and about to violently swing it open in a quick escape, a voice found a way to Marco's hearing and he abruptly froze with a mute whine. He was too late.
"Say Marco . . . When are you free?"
Strike three on his train of thought today; the older man slowly spun around, door handle still captured within his fingers and eyes lifted in disbelief. Did Ace just . . .?
"I-err-I was wondering if we could talk a little more, y-you know?" Ace kneaded the back of his head with a gawky laugh, "I think I want another tattoo- maybe on my back- but I am starving right now!"
As he made his hunger obviously known by rubbing his stomach and pulled a small grin; inside, Ace was screaming, organs churning in self-loathing and revolt at what he just suggested to Marco. What the hell Ace! Expecting all hell to break loose, Ace sunk on the spot and knew that for once, he was going to regret something. At least he was willing to look into the azure eyes of the man in front of him, and see for himself the appalled reaction of the tattoo artist.
Yes, he did just ask that. Without a second thought; Marco opened the door with a insistent hand extended towards the gapped exit, stunning the very existence of Ace's being with two words the youngster never thought he would ever hear as a reply. Get out, no it was not that. Go die, definitely not that. Piss off, not that either.
Marco had let out with a soft laugh, "After you."
A/N: WOW ~ ! I never thought I would have written a second part for this story, I honestly didn't think Part 1 was worthy of a sequel ~
But I would just like to thank the following people for making this possible : Portgas D. Paula , Son Goshen , Mafa , azab , Mai Kusakabe , KashixKashi , Mountain97 & angelrider13~ You beautiful souls made this possible and I cannot thank you all enough for lending me the motivation and support I needed to write this ~ Also: Sparrow1011 , Itsyourday , Hiken08 , Lacus01 , LadyUzuScarlet & Inori. D for your favourites ; they mean a lot to me and contributed just as much as reviews (:
Thank you everyone ~~
On another note that isn't full of "thank you's" ~ I had another ending in mind but it seemed satisfying when I ended it with the one above ~
Alternative ending anyone? :D ./bricked