By DXM Junkie
A/N: It has been a particularly rough week. To make myself feel better I went with pairing Akuroku because why the fuck not. Most of the time when I write romance I prefer to preface some sort of back story and, you know, character development. Right now that would take way too much effort so here is some gratuitous fluff.
"Holy shit." Roxas yelped in astonishment, incredulously amused.
Demyx was holding his t-shirt aloft with one hand, effectively allowing Roxas to size up the terrible damage he received in his friend's basement. When he'd been a rebellious teenager and starting out in his first band, he allowed his buddy who'd never done a tattoo in his life to ink his ribs. Super duper idea at the time. Dem still bitterly regretted his spontaneous choice.
"It looks like a prison tattoo." Roxas commented, blue eyes scanning the queer blotchy mysterious demon-turtle-dinosaur-creature rendered in black. It looked like some dude took a cheap sharpie and scribbled it across Dem's toned abs. Only it was permanent.
Dem glared at him petulantly, scowling as he pulled his shirt back down. "Don't judge."
"What was it supposed to be?"
Demyx deflated and hesitantly admitted, "A Grateful Dead bear."
"…" Roxas' eyebrow shot towards his bangs with disbelief, arms crossing absently across his chest. "I'm not sure, Dem. That's gonna be a difficult tattoo to cover. You do know that the ribs really, really hurt. Right?"
Demyx cracked a smile, turning to admire the sketchbook sitting next to him. "I know, I know, it's gonna suck ass. I was there when Ax got his done. Poor dude looked like he wanted to cry. Still, what Xion drew me would be so badass. And I hate the shit out of the doodle on my tummy."
Roxas hummed for a beat. "I think I may be able to make this work. I'll have to change a couple things with the design she made. The appointment will probably take around five hours, maybe more."
Blue eyes blinked over at the musician, "What did Zexion say about this?"
"I haven't told him yet." Demyx chirped. "Even if he'll never say this in a million years, I know he thinks my ink is ugly."
Xion, a mutual friend to both, was an artist who reveled in symmetrical shapes. Demyx requested for her to make him a new tattoo using colorful waves and smiling cheerful fish. The finished product was visually stunning, her attention to detail miniscule and flawless. Her lines were too small on the original, so Roxas knew he'd have to blow the image up. His mind swiftly prompted him with a mental checklist, he spun gracefully and pulled a pen from his back pocket and bent over his desk.
"I'm gonna take her sketchbook with me tonight. I'm sure she won't mind." Roxas muttered as he stared at his calendar, tapping the pen into use. "I have to toy and make the lines thicker, otherwise that thing is gonna get huge. I'll need to take a picture of your current tattoo so I can place the coverup at the right angle."
After the pair took three photos with a digital camera, Roxas snagged the post-it off a stack and wrote his next free date. "Here. I penciled you in for next week. Stop by on Friday and we'll talk about the design."
The musician scanned his yellow slip before beaming at his friend. "Thanks, Roxas. I can't wait. I've seen what you can do, dude, and it's totally impressive. I'm gonna start performing at live shows shirtless and sexy after this!"
Dem pulled his coat on, whistling. They waved goodbye, Roxas noting how dark it was becoming outside for the first time in hours.
His hand deftly fished out his cell phone, disappointed that he had no missed calls or texts. He figured he'd done enough for the day, he was feeling lazy and it had been slow at the shop anyway. He cleaned his station with the sanitizer before flipping off the lights and wandering into the lobby.
Ink XIII was a head shop, started in the late eighties. The place specialized in tattoos, coverups, piercings, pipes, tobacco, incense and herbal energy supplements. The lobby sported immaculate cabinets flanking three sides, displaying cheap metal pipes alongside expensive glass bongs. At one point the walls in the shop were painted a deep crimson red. However as time progressed they become so plastered with posters and pictures you couldn't even tell. It always smelled wonderful, since the boss Axel burned incense and scented candles like a religion. Roxas only finished his apprenticeship as a tattoo artist that summer, and he'd been fortunate to find this place since the pay was great and he worked with talented artists. This new crew was refreshingly eccentric and entertaining, the atmosphere chill and laid-back.
Roxas was the last one in that night, his co-worker Leon left early on an errand.
The dutiful employee counted the register and ran the vacuum around the thick plush couches until the floor was spotless. He sprayed liberal amounts of glass-cleaner over the counters, chucking random garbage away. Finished with his closing duties, he pulled his black and white checkered winter jacket on, zipping up and tugging gloves out of his pocket. He grabbed his backpack from behind the coatrack, shifting the strap under his fur hood.
Roxas locked the door behind him, breath coming out in thick puffs as he shoved the keys in his coat. It was snowing. Just great. It had been sleeting during lunch, which meant that slush was frozen over and Roxas was probably gonna slip on the ice. Yay.
He needed a car. Well, he wanted a car. What he actually needed was the money to buy a car. Sora would always nag that walking was so healthy and cars were so bad for the environment and yadda yadda. Roxas could seriously care less. It was windy, it was cold. Winter was his least favorite season, by far. He wanted a damn car.
The blond heard his phone chime from his jeans. He fumbled with thick gloves and flipped the device open, almost dropping it.
"Hello?" He inquired, breathless.
Roxas gleefully grinned, feeling his stomach swoop with giddy pleasure as he tried to keep his tone nonchalant. "What's up, boss?"
"I'm over at Xion's place. We made some delicious taco nom noms. She was showing me some of the photos of Dem's tattoo design. You finished at the shop?"
"I actually have her sketchbook in my bag." The blond mindlessly shook his head, "Um, and yeah. I just locked up for the night."
"Did you see Dem's original tattoo?"
Roxas burst out laughing, nodding even though he was on the phone.
The husky voice chortled, adding sadly, "Fuckin' pitiful, isn't it? When he first showed me that I almost cried I was geeking so hard. I had no idea what it was supposed to be, at all. Demented dinosaur bear?"
"Axel!" Roxas moaned. "That's mean and you know it. We need to support the decisions friends make. Just because his chest is a walking example of tattoo-fail doesn't mean… Okay, yeah. It means Demyx has bad taste and is kind of an idiot."
A loud snort echoed before the pair fell silent for a long moment.
Axel casually mentioned, "I was thinking of maybe heading back home soon. Wanna hang out?"
Roxas jumped over a snow-bank. He'd instantly turned down a side-street in another direction. Of course he wanted to go to Axel's place. As if that wasn't obvious enough.
Instead he retorted, trying to sound equally flippant, "I don't know, Axel. I've been pretty busy. So much to do, that sort of thing."
"There's the meteor shower tonight, it's gonna peak around midnight. C'mon, kid." Axel persisted, mock-serious. "You're supposed to be young. You shouldn't require sleep, that's for when you're dead."
"Fine." He relented verbally, trying to sound at least a little reluctant. Even though he'd already been hoping Axel might ask him. "I'm about four blocks away."
"Let yourself in, you know where my spare key is. I'll be about ten minutes, tops."
"Pick up some beer." Roxas demanded. "Not the shitty kind, and none of that fruity flavored crap either."
"Yes, dear." Axel responded immediately.
"And a pack of ciggs."
"Roxy- Sometimes I feel more like your bitch than your boss."
"…" Roxas's cheeks flushed. He bit his lip sharply and quelled the urge to giggle aloud.
"I'll see you soon, Rox. Walk safe."
Roxas pulled the phone away from his ear and snapped it shut. Noting a slippery portion of sidewalk and duly avoiding it, he raised the device to his lips. He was feeling a little embarrassed and a little bit more pleased. He wasn't really the type to be pushy or even that verbally argumentative.
But his redheaded boss was different. He didn't know how to explain it. And he'd known that from the moment they'd met.
Roxas had been nervous during his interview, fidgety and antsy. Axel had been trying not to spook the kid with his face tattoos and studded leather pants. It had been awkward as hell but eventually they became more comfortable. And suddenly, soon after he got the job, they'd been hanging out nearly every evening.
The artist always walked quickly when it was freezing, and this instance was no exception. He bee-lined towards Axel's place, jumping up the stairs two at a time. The building was an old house which had been converted into four decent sized apartments. Axel lived on the third floor, his door at the end of an outdoor rusty spiral staircase. The spare key was tucked above an awning on the porch by a window. Unfortunately, Roxas was nowhere near as tall as Ax, and he needed to jump precariously to snag the damn thing.
Rushing inside, cheeks burning from the cold, he shut the door and flipped on the lights. Axel's apartment was quite possibly the coolest place he'd ever been in. It smelled even more potently of incense and smoke than the shop, and normally Roxas would've detested the strong musk. But now, for some reason, that smell made blood pool in his groin. It was such a manly scent, fine pipe tobacco and sage.
He flung off his gloves, coat and bag, glancing at the rough outline in a giant notebook lying open on the table. Upon completion, it was going to be a zombie version of Alice in Wonderland. Axel'd just barely begun to trace the lines in his distinctive style. Roxas let his fingers brush atop the pencil and rough paper, mind automatically imagining how he might attempt the same composition. On that note, Roxas pulled out Xion's sketchbook and his tracing paper. He stared at Xion's design as he uncapped a marker. Her style was much more feminine than his own, she used sharp blues and subtle purples for the waves alongside neon pink cheeky smirking fish.
He rolled his eyes, randomly thinking about how if people didn't know Dem played for the same team, they would now with this girly tattoo coverup. Absently grabbing his camera out and clicking to Dem's tat, he flinched. Damn, that was dreadful. Roxas couldn't even imagine looking at that in the mirror every day. He started copying Xion's picture, making some portions larger and darkening the background. He wondered idly if he should add white bubbles of air under the water, it would be a neat accent as long as the pigment stuck.
The door opened with a burst of cold air, Roxas glanced behind him. Axel shook his head, snow falling from his tresses and scarf. He plopped a plastic bag with the beer and cigarettes on his counter.
"Damn, it is mutha' fuckin' chilly." He whined, unzipping his coat and chucking it atop the checkered jacket.
The blond nodded, marker still idly hanging over his drawing. His lips twitched upwards, ever so slightly. Axel had the most beautiful eyes, and his tattoos accented his sharp cheekbones perfectly. The man was slender, taunt, ostentatious and so-
"Sexy-" Roxas cut himself off by biting his bottom lip sharply.
Ax blinked, curious, "Hmmm? Did you say something?"
"Nope, just- ah, you know. Thinking aloud."
Axel handed Roxas one of the cans from the plastic bag. He popped the tab on his drink and sank into the chair beside his employee.
"Long day…." Axel moaned, sipping his beer.
Roxas copied him and inquired, "Oh?"
"I'm still trying to get the hotel for that tattoo convention in Las Vegas. But those dicks seriously try to rape tourists and I wonder if I should just drive my ass down and sleep in my car. It's only for one weekend."
"You aren't being serious, right?" Roxas was startled by how worried he sounded.
They locked eyes.
Roxas skirted his anxious blues to the wall. "That's super dangerous, Ax. You know that."
Axel was dismissive. "I was only kidding, little dude."
Axel wasn't paying attention. He was staring down at the blond's art, eyes rapidly focusing on the details.
His slender index finger poked down on the page. "You'll need to bring this wee yellow fish up about this much. The ink'll bleed otherwise and he'll need to get it touched up like three times."
Roxas sighed, cradling his chin in his hand with frustration. "I honestly don't wanna do this cover. Blue and pink over that mess of black? And on his ribs? I don't wanna fuck it up even worse and make a larger shitty tattoo."
"Don't worry about it." Axel informed him, matter of fact. "Just put the fish in that… awkward random space between the thing right there that looks like a face, and that hump thing next to it."
Roxas inwardly applauded Axel's technical explanation. "I suppose. And, by the way, it's still pretty early for the meteor shower."
"What did you wanna do?"
Roxas rolled his eyes in a pretentious manner, scoffing while waving his hand in the air. "Axel, must you be such an addict?"
"Greenhorn, go grab ol' Cal. It's in my room." Axel crossed his arms as he leaned back in his chair, eyes dancing with a cocky spark.
The blond make a sound of disgust and fetched what he requested, they both were only acting like that because they found it entertaining. Cal was Axel's pipe. Since the man had an inherent affection for all things flame related, it was a little fireball shape piece.
After packing a moderate amount of the herb, Axel chuckled as he exhaled a hit. "Dude, business has gotten so much better now that weed's legal in this state."
Roxas flicked the lighter, but he managed to nod his affirmation. They indulged companionably for a few minutes, both becoming dazed and complacent as they sipped the alcohol. Eventually they ventured into Axel's living room, with could be better considered a library. Bookshelves lined each wall, filled with the classics, art reference novels and field guides.
The redhead snagged his laptop to play music in the background. He was eagerly watching Roxas stretch, revealing a slip of taunt flat stomach while he sat on the sofa.
"So~" Roxas yawned.
"So." Axel quipped, plopping beside his friend on the couch. Roxas didn't even notice Axel left barely and inch between them. Axel could feel the heat radiating off the blond's body.
A random thought popped into Axel's mind. He smirked suddenly, standing abruptly before turning and offering his hand.
Roxas' heart raced at that expression, his pulse thrumming in his ears. He'd follow that man anywhere.
"Come with me."
"'Kay." Was his eloquent response.