INKED

Jul. 28th, 2017 03:02 pm
yukulicious: (inked)
[personal profile] yukulicious
 


Title INKED
Band EXO
Raiting PG
Pairing Jongin/Suho (minor KrisYeol)
Genre romance
Length 9.5k ; complete
Chapter oneshot
Warning English is not my native language.
Disclaimer I own nothing but the plot and formulations. This is fiction.
Summary Junmyeon's linear life gets a twist when the neighboring tattoo studio's new artist, Jongin, walks into his parents' pastry and his life.

I wrote this last Autumn for my dear friend eoryndal after I got inspired when we visited the tattooist together.
It's my first try on both, SuKai and KrisYeol but all in all I came to quite like the story (you can find it on aff, too).
I'd be overjoyed to receive some feedback. 




He hums along to the song on the radio that plays in the small shop. The warm odor of fresh bread and sweet pastries lies thickly in the room, contrasting with the crisp October wind that chases red leaves around the small pedestrian area on the other side of the shop window.

The happy chime of the bell on the door announces a new customer and Junmyeon puts down the icing bag in his hands, wipes his hands on his apron and walks into the front of the shop to greet the person who just entered his parent’s bakery.



“Oh, Jongdae!” He is surprised to find his childhood friend on the other side of the counter, checking out the cakes in the showcase.

The younger man looks up and his elegant features break into a bright smile that makes him look even more attractive. He is a lot that the baker’s son wouldn’t say about himself.

“Nice to see you, Junmyeon-hyung,” he greets the elder before he pulls out a small piece of paper and orders two loafs of bread and four pieces from various cakes.



“When did you come back? I haven’t seen you in months,” Junmyeon comments while he wraps the food for his old friend. He knits his eyebrows.

“I guess being in training for fashion merchandising makes you really busy,” he can’t help the jealousy from speaking through him. It’s not like Junmyeon wanted to take the same path but sometimes he gets frustrated about how his friend could just go out to see the world and chase his dreams while he is stuck.

The most frustrating part is that it is his own fault - his insecurities keep him in that snuggly bakery. He loves it with all his heart but sometimes it turns into a warm cage of bread loafs, wooden café furniture and flour that falls out of his dark brown hair when he shakes his head.



Jongdae laughs.

“Yeah, actually I just returned for my father’s birthday. Say, do you have some of these fruit tarts you made the last time I visited? They were delicious and my mom loved the way they looked. She always raves about your cupcakes, too. You always had a hand for this.”

Junmyeon smiles, flattered by the other’s compliment but he has to decline: “I’m sorry. I haven’t come up with any creations lately…”

It’s not exactly the truth but he hasn’t been content with any of his ideas lately, adding to his state of frustration.



He hands over the bag of pastries but stops when something catches his eyes.

“What happened to your leg?”

His words cause Jongdae to look down to his feet himself. He smiles slyly and twists his left foot for Junmyeon’s curious eyes.

The trouser leg is rolled up, revealing the ankle and the low end of his calf. It is wrapped in saran wrap. But the most prominent thing is the pattern of dark ink on the younger’s skin, forming a star.

“You caught me,” the fashion merchant-to-be laughs.

“I wanted to get that done for some time now and I know someone close to the owner of that studio next door. The place is really cool and they just got a new artist. He’s amazing and super young, too!”

Jongdae’s voice is filled with excitement and Junmyeon has to admit that the tattoo looks really cool. He never thought about it before but it fits and yet contrasts with his friend’s general appearance.

“Anyway, I’ll get going. My parents wait for the loaves and cake. Oh, and please give your parents my regards.”



Junmyeon watches how his old friend pulls up the collar of the expensive looking coat he wears, when he leaves the store.

He keeps looking outside, even after Jongdae is out of his field of vision, thoughts clinging to what the other just said.

He knows about the tattoo studio that is hidden in the backyard of the neighboring house but he has never been there before.

It has always been a mixture of fascination and fear with which he has faced this kind of art; Art that stays for the rest of your life.

Junmyeon thinks this is a really long period of time and the idea of stagnation makes his hair stand on end with discomfort.



He shakes his head and walks into the back of the store again, back to his baking sheet that holds a row of small tarts - half of them topped with a layer of cream, while the rest still looks naked, artistically carved pieces of apple peeking through golden dough.

Junmyeon prefers fleeting art; Art from living things, art that you can smell and taste. Art that - the store’s bell chimes again and Junmyeon puts down the icing bag with a sigh - has to wait.



*



He balances the baking sheets gracefully through the door, entering the shop where his mother is talking to one of their regulars. The old lady’s face lits up when she sees the baker’s son who smiles bashfully at her and sets down the small cakes he is carrying. It’s Friday around lunch time and the store is filled with a handful of customers.

“Here you go, the pumpkin cakes you ordered,” he announces and begins to box the small presents carefully after the lady could have a good look at them.

“They look marvelous, dear.”

“Thank you.”

He walks around the counter to hand over the paper bag he prepared before he sees the lady off.

“She is always so happy when she sees you. You got a real fan with these small creations you make,” his father comments from the back of the store but Junmyeon laughs it off and averts his attention back to the counter. His mother walks into the back of the store to prepare another order, when the door chimes again, welcoming a new customer.



It’s not a regular, in fact Junmyeon thinks he has never seen this person before but he feels struck by lightning when he does because the man looks mesmerizing.

The young man takes off a black beanie, revealing white-blond strands of hair that fall into his face charmingly and contrast with his complexion that reminds Junmyeon of caramels.



“Welcome, what will it be?” Junmyeon asks when the other has looked around and into the cake display for a while.

“I would like to have two pieces of that cake here and three sandwiches please.”

The stranger smiles and talks in a calm, polite way, but it’s hard for Junmyeon to listen because the two dark marbles that rest snugly at both corners of the stranger’s button lip demand all his attention.

He struggles to wrap the order, before he looks up at the young man again.

“Can I get you anything else?”

“Can you recommend something?”

Junmyeon is taken back by the sudden counter question and doesn’t know what to say but his opponent just chuckles.

“Is there something you baked?” He asks again and raises his left eyebrow that is adorned with yet another piercing.

“I made the cake you just ordered,” Junmyeon admits clumsily but the handsome stranger just smiles at him again.

“Perfect. Then this is all, thank you.”



The blond salutes playfully before he exits the store with a paper bag filled with pastries and Junmyeon can’t help but watches him leave through the shop window.

Maybe his eyes betray him but he thinks he saw flowers on his neck, peeking out under the stranger’s long red scarf.



*



It’s Tuesday afternoon and Junmyeon wishes the floor would open up to swallow him whole. He is alone in the store when the stranger enters the store again - but he’s not alone this time. Instead two tall men accompany him. While Junmyeon already thinks that the handsome blond is tall, these guys take the word to a whole new level.

They sit down around one of the wooden tables his father has set up in one corner of the small store because it is too cold for their outdoor seating area by now.

Junmyeon starts to rearrange the loaves of bread but he can’t help but watches the trio in the corner of his eyes.



One of the tall strangers - Junmyeon notices big ears that peek through maroon hair - starts to laugh loudly about a joke and hits the man next to him playfully.

The latter is even taller than the first but seems unaffected by the blows to his shoulder.

The handsome stranger that Junmyeon has been anticipating to steal another glance from whenever he visited the store the last couple of days sits opposite of the two and grins about their bickering.

He is not wearing his scarf today revealing fine lines that form delicate blossoms on the skin of his neck - the flowers Junmyeon has caught sight of when they first met.



The baker’s son feels his hands getting sweaty from nervousness when the three approach the counter. Junmyeon’s favorite stranger bents down in front of the cake display, eyes trained on the choice of the day, while the tallest of them checks out the offered beverages.

His features seem hard and angular and it reminds Junmyeon of some models he has seen Jongdae post selcas with on his social media.

He doesn’t dare to look into the person’s face too long, but the colorful rose and strong lines of another big blossom on the throat of his opponent catch his attention fast. They are more prominent, more daring than the fine lines on the other’s neck he has glanced at before.

There is no space for doubt in this: they are from the tattoo studio Jongdae mentioned.



“I will have coffee, black please.”

Junmyeon jerks up from his train of thoughts when the tall man suddenly speaks up to order drinks.

He turns around to the maroon haired boy that has joined Junmyeon’s favorite stranger to look at the cakes on display.

“What do you want to drink?”

Junmyeon can’t help but notice the change in the voice. It’s not like the customer was rough or unfriendly to him, but his voice sounds so much softer when he talks to the other stranger.

“Just get me anything, I don’t really mind. You know what I like, Yifan,” he answers with a big smile on his face and Junmyeon watches the man with the name Yifan shake his head fondly at the latter.



“OK then. What about you, Jongin?”

The white blond man looks up and Junmyeon feels a soft tug on his excited heart. His favorite stranger has a name - and such a beautiful on top of it.

“Just tea. You know I don’t like coffee…” he explains casually before his attention is suddenly on Junmyeon and he has trouble to suppress another jerk in surprise.

“What kind of tea do you have?” He smiles charmingly, like always and Junmyeon presses his lips onto each other to keep him from stuttering.



He takes a deep breath and walks over to a shelf at their coffee counter.

“We have plenty… black tea, green tea, mint, various herb and fruit teas…” He explains then and start to prepare the already ordered coffee.
“I want fruit tea!” The voluminous voice of the maroon haired stranger perks up and Junmyeon can hear the other two chuckle at their friends excitement.

“Give me the herb tea you like the most.” Jongin says and winks playfully before they order two pieces of cake and retreat to their table after their orders are ready.



Junmyeon particularly flees to the back of the store after they are served. He might have a problem if this silly crush gets any more serious.

He shakes his head and looks around the kitchen. There has to be something to occupy his mind with - but his head feels even emptier than usual.

Junmyeon slums down on a stool with a frustrated huff.

Hasn’t it been enough that he can’t come up with any decent recipes or creations for months already? Now this tattooed stranger has to appear out of nowhere and turn everything upside-down.

He kicks a bucket that stands in reach and combs through his dark brown hair while another frustrated sound leaves his mouth.

He hasn’t asked for pierced lips to talk playfully to him, he hasn’t asked for delicate inked lines of roses to look so soft and intriguing, leaving him wonder where they end. He hasn’t asked for any of this.



When he walks back into the store - he remembered a order that is due soon - the group of young man wrap themselves into their fashionable black coats again.

The handsome stranger, Jongin, carries over the dishes they used, while his two friends are already out the door.

“I hope you didn’t mind us intruding… but Chanyeol really liked the cake I brought yesterday. He just got a new tattoo and was really excited afterwards so I suggested coming here.”
He smiles and Junmyeon likes the way the corners of his mouth curl up.

“I’m surprised they didn’t know about the store, though it’s right next door,” he laughs and shakes his head but Junmyeon still doesn’t really know what to say.

“Anyway, thank you for the tea. I’ll see you around-” he pauses, cranes his neck to peer at Junmyeon’s name tag before he starts to smile and adds “- Kim Junmyeon.”



*



Junmyeon shakes his head with a huff and buries his nose deeper in the green muffler he has flung around his neck.

He doesn’t even know what he is doing here right now. This is ridiculous. But he can’t help it.

He takes a couple of steps closer, the sound echoing through the archway that connects the street with the backyard.

The small paper bag in his arm feels warm and he can smell the apple pastries but his fingers feel cold and stiff anyway. He’s nervous.

Another cautious step and Junmyeon finally steps into the small backyard. There is a big tree standing in the middle of it, orange and red leaves rustling under his feet. Ivy frames doors and windows of the house facade in front of him, the deep green leaves contrasting with the white wall underneath.

It looks just as cozy as the bakery of his father but he doesn’t trust the calm. Something is still eery...

It doesn’t take Junmyeon long to find the entrance to the studio. The shop window is small but the abstract decorations catch his attention with ease.

A small neon sign spells the name of the shop, the yellow light being reflected on the shop window’s surface Dragon’s Lair.

It sends cold shivers up and down Junmyeon’s spine but he still proceeds with caution, one shy step at a time.



He can hardly suppress a loud shriek when suddenly there’s a loud voice calling after him: “Hey!”

Junmyeon whirls around in shock to meet the tall man with maroon hair that walks up to him casually but with a huge grin on his face. Junmyeon gulps. The young man in front of him looks like he’ll eat him like the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood.

He beams down at Junmyeon. “You’re the baker!”

Junmyeon shakes his head but his opponent ignores him and takes the paper bag from his embrace to have a look into it.

His face distorts into another grimace - but this time it’s joy.

“Woah! These look amazing! Did you want to bring these to us? Did Jongin order that? Man, he’s really the best!”

He talks so fast that Junmyeon doesn’t know how to reply. He bites his bottom lip instead.



“Oh, sorry. I totally forgot to introduce myself. I’m Chanyeol. Nice to meet you!”

The giant reaches out his hand, the paper bag of apple pies resting in his arm now.

“I’m Kim Junmyeon… my parents own the bakery next door.”

“Family business? That explains the quality; really amazing stuff!”

The giant called Chanyeol continues to ramble while he opens the door to the studio and walks in, before he looks around again and motions Junmyeon to follow him.



Junmyeon follows and he tries to tell himself that it is only because that tall guy still has his pies.

“Yifan! Look!” Chanyeol’s voice booms through the small studio, overpowering the music easily and causing the baker’s son to flinch.

He flinches when Chanyeol closes the door behind them with a loud bang. He feels a string of panic run through his system. He feels like a bunny in a trap.

“We have a guest!”

Chanyeol walks further into the studio that looks a lot bigger than from the outside. The room isn’t spacious but it appears huge and airy because there is no ceiling. He can look directly into the next story of the building, where a staircase leads to a gallery.

This is where the blond model guy appears, looking down at them almost threateningly - like a dragon.

“Babe, I told you not to shout around. It disturbs my customers,” he explains and rubs his temple while climbing down the stairs.

“I checked your schedule, there are no appointments today,” Chanyeol talks back and pokes out his tongue before he reaches out to hand the paper bag to Yifan.



“Look, Junmyeon came along to bring some delicious pastries!”

Junmyeon wants to disappear into the wall when Yifan looks at him with an unreadable expression.

He passes Chanyeol and puts the paper bag back into Junmyeon’s trembling hands.

“I’m sorry if he scared you. My dear Chanyeol can be quite overbearing sometimes. He gets excited so easily,” he explains in a calm voice and proceeds to push Junmyeon further into the room.

It seems like he wants to give him a tour around the studio and Junmyeon doesn’t dare to tell him that he’s definitely more intimidated by the blond model-lookalike himself.



“Anyway, how can I help you?”

Yifan sits down on a black leather couch that stands in the middle of the room, part of a small waiting area.

Junmyeon looks at his surroundings, trying to grasp all the new impressions around.

He doesn’t really know what to say and looks at the paper bag in his arms again.

“Well, I… I thought - I was curious about the studio. One of my friends got tattooed here a couple of weeks ago and raved about it.”

Yifan leans forward, listening attentively.

“A friend?”

Junmyeon nods - still intimidated - but the panic in his chest calms down slowly. He always had trouble adapting to new surroundings.

“His name is Kim Jongdae. He works for a fashion enterprise-” Junmyeon stops mid-sentence when Yifan waves at him dismissively.

“What kind of tattoo? I’m not good with names - sorry - but I’m sure I remember every tattoo I’ve done the last two years.”



Junmyeon bites the inside of his cheek before he tries to explain the placement and design of the tattoo.

Chanyeol - who has sat down next to Yifan - scrunches up his nose.

“Maybe Jongin did it?” But the tall tattooist shakes his head at him.

“No, I remember that I tattooed this. It was not my design but I remember.”

He looks at Junmyeon again, a lopsided grin on his face that seems less intimidating than his more serious expressions. Maybe it has this comical effect because Junmyeon hasn’t seen the man smile before.

“So your friend’s tattoo made you curious too?”

“Well, he talked about a new artist and I honestly never thought about getting a tattoo of my own yet. And then I remembered that your team liked the cake so I thought I could bring some over. It seemed strange to me that I haven’t been here before, though the bakery of my parents and your studio have been neighbors for years now.”

Yifan’s features relax into a content expression that is graced with a thin smile. He leans back into the couch and sprawls out his arms that are covered in colorful images of dragons and waves, wild flowers and vines. They look bold and strong and powerful but Junmyeon feels the fear fall off of him with every passing second. The tattooist watches Chanyeol whose eyes are trained on the paper bag in Junmyeon’s arms, and there is something warm, something soothing in his eyes before he looks at Junmyeon again.



“I’m not fond of sweet things and I was rarely in need for takeout as lunch because my flat is directly connected to the studio. But Jongin, the new artist, likes to walk around and get in touch with people. He started to bring in food from the stores nearby and after a while he sticked with pastries from your shop. My studio has been a hidden spot, my lair for years so I wasn’t mad about not being in contact with the stores next door - but since my new artist and Chanyeol seem to enjoy the sweet things you create so much, I’m glad you dropped by.”

He ruffles Chanyeol’s hair fondly and pecks his forehead before he gets up again and walks up the stairs to the next story.

“I need to finish some sketches for customers but feel free to look around. Jongin won’t be here before 3pm, though.”



Junmyeon blushes but he isn’t sure if it is because he feels caught - Yifan looked right through him - or if it is rather because of the obvious display of affection he just witnessed.

Chanyeol looks after Yifan with a coy smile and it’s weird for Junmyeon to see how small someone so tall can seem.

He harrumphs and Chanyeol looks at him again.

“If you want, you can try the apple pie…” he suggests then, earning a overjoyed laugh and nod from the younger man opposite of him, who jumps up to fetch plates and silverware for them.

Maybe adjusting to new surroundings isn’t as troublesome and hard this time.



Chanyeol shows him his favorite tattoo magazines and doesn’t hesitate to show Junmyeon the tattoos that grace his own body.

“This is my newest!”, he explains, presenting the line sol lucet omnibus on the outer edge of his right forearm. The font is artistically swung but the words are still readable.

“It means the sun shines everywhere. Jongin came up with it - isn’t it amazing? He really has a hand for this. Did you see the peony on Yifan’s wrist? This is also Jongin’s doing!” he explains excitedly. He takes out his phone and scrolls through his photo gallery when Junmyeon shakes his head no.

“It was still fresh, so don’t mind the swollen lines,” he rambles and Junmyeon simply nods.

“It looks really beautiful,” he agrees, and he really means it.



“By the way, if you don’t want to wait you can go out and look for Jongin. He’s usually in the park, looking for inspiration and muses, he says,” Chanyeol perks up once more when they have looked through another magazine and he has finished the apple pastry Junmyeon brought.

“Oh,” Junmyeon emits clumsily and Chanyeol smiles at him encouragingly.

“He’s really nice and patient. If you want to talk about your ideas with him, I’m sure he’ll be glad to listen. Though Yifan always says it’s a job, I think that being chosen as someone’s first is something special and Jongin will appreciate it.”

Junmyeon doesn’t have it in himself to tell Chanyeol that he never said he wanted a tattoo by Jongin but somehow the thought makes him tingly inside.

“Thank you,” he says when Chanyeol sees him off but the maroon haired boy just laughs.

“No, thank you. This cake was amazing and it looked pretty on top of it. Maybe you should become a confectioner!”



*



A wind is getting up when Junmyeon arrives at the park that lies on the other side of the pedestrian area.

He hunches his shoulders, trying to bury his ears and half of his face in the green muffler to shield them from the cold.

His hands are hidden in his coat’s pockets while he walks around the park and looks around. He can see children that play with kites and a couple that walks their young dog, that runs around and chases red and golden leaves that get picked up and swirled around by the cold October wind.

He walks further into the park before he can finally spot the red scarf and black beanie that hides white blond hair.

Jongin sits on a bench. He has his legs pulled up, to rest a sketch pad on his thighs and Junmyeon thinks that it makes him look a lot smaller and younger.



He smiles and waves his hand shyly when Jongin notices him. He smiles and taps on the seat next to him invitingly.

Junmyeon tries to seem casual but he’s really excited and doesn’t know what to say when he sits down on the cold wooden bench.

“I’ve never seen you outside of your small bakery,” the boy muses, causing Junmyeon to look up from his lap - but Jongin has his eyes trained on his sketch pad.

“Actually, it’s my parent’s bakery… I just work there,” he replies and tries to sound casual.

Jongin chuckles, but he still doesn’t look up from the pad in his hands. He watches the children that play with a yellow kite before he continues to scribble.



Junmyeon watches him with fascination.

Jongin’s pencil is relatively small and looks worn, the original color of the wood no longer visible but he uses it with expertise.

The curved lines flood naturally on the paper like the wind that tousles Junmyeon’s hair.

He looks at Jongin’s face and is mesmerized by the way his expression changes ever so slightly - with every dash and every concentrated glance. Jongin’s face is constantly tensed in focus but never ceases to look soft at the same time. Junmyeon thinks the boy looks beautiful - even more beautiful - when he draws.



He watches the fingers of the tattooist, his fascination drying out his lips, so he licks them absentmindedly. He can see the tip of soft blossom petals peek out under Jongin’s coat’s sleeve around his wrist, soft pink petals under his skin, that contrast so greatly with the brisk wind around them.

“Are you interested?”

Junmyeon’s heart stops in shock and he jerks his head up to stare at Jongin with big eyes.

“Excuse me?” His voice betrays him and squeaks, causing his cheeks to turn an even deeper red.

Jongin chuckles and puts down the pencil in his hand.

“Are you interested in my drawings?”

He asks again and nods his head in the direction of his sketch pad when Junmyeon still looks at him with big confused eyes.

“I’m done with the sketch and you watched me so patiently, so I thought you might want to take a look,” he explains with his dark, calm voice that reminds Junmyeon of warm cocoa.



Junmyeon nods shyly and his poor heart begins to run off in his rib cage when he feels the stranger scoot closer to put his sketch pad in his hands. He opens the book, feeling the well-thumbed paper under his cold fingers. He feels Jongin’s eyes on him and it makes him shy but he’s too curious about the other’s art to not look at his sketches. With every page he turns, another world opens up to him and Jongin takes his fingers to lead them over specific parts of the drawings he has done, explaining where he did them, what he thought about this moment and a lot more that Junmyeon can’t recall in detail anymore because his heart beats so loudly in his ears.



“I thought you only did tattoos…” Junmyeon says shyly, still looking at the sketch of the kids that he can see playing with a kite only a few meters away.

Jongin laughs and shakes his head, causing stray strands of his hair to fall into his face, and Junmyeon likes that.

“Well, I am tattoo artist now… but I still like to draw.”

Junmyeon nods slowly.

“You are really great at art. I wish I was so determined and confident and knew what I wanted.”



Jongin watches him for a few seconds before he takes the sketch pad and bags it. He looks around the park that gleams in oranges and yellows and reds.

“I dropped out of college two times before I found what I actually wanted to do-”

“Two times? What did you do?” Junmyeon’s interjection causes the blond to laugh.

“Well, I started with architecture because I thought this was the closest I could get to art without my parents being too worried about it - I also liked the idea of creating something with time. Something that would be forever... but it just wasn’t what I actually wanted. So I finally gathered all my courage and told my parents. It turned out, they were actually OK with me doing what I wanted, so I started applied arts, just to realize that what I drew and learned didn’t feel like art for me anymore. Studying just wasn’t my cup of tea after all - so I dropped out again.”

He laughs at Junmyeon who stares at him with bewilderment.

“It was after I got my first tattoo that I realized that this was what I wanted. This was the kind of art I had looked for. It’s not set in stone but it lasts forever - a lifetime. It’s part of the people around me, part of their story and sometimes it tells their story.”

Junmyeon nods slowly. Jongin’s words move him and he doesn’t know what to reply. They sit in comfortable silence for a while.



“Do you know why I am here and not in the studio?”

Junmyeon shakes his head.

“Sometimes I wake up and don’t feel like I can draw anything good. I’m not even out of bed yet but I just feel like nothing will go smoothly that day. No line will be like I want it to be, no sketch will be good enough.”

He looks at his fingers pensively and Junmyeon bites his lips, eagerly waiting for the younger to continue. He can feel Jongin’s words and feelings resonate deep in his insides. He wants to hear more of his words, bath in the sound of his warm chocolate voice and the soft, soothing words he says.

“On these days, I go out and take walks. I go and look for new cafés and shops to stay at and occupy my mind. I can’t force myself to create - I have to be patient and sometimes it frustrates me to no end - but I just have to let it go and then, it comes back step by step, line by line. Art needs time and a lot of patience and sometimes we need it, too.”



Junmyeon looks up, chased off his train of thoughts by the sudden movement next to him, when Jongin gets up from his seat on the bench. He shoulders his bag and motions him to get up as well - to stretch their legs, he says with an inviting smile and Junmyeon feels unable to resist. Jongin’s words resonate deeply and he feels weirdly touched - and understood, though he didn’t expose anything of himself yet. It’s almost like they know each other forever, though it’s actually the first time they talk to each other beside the small exchanges during Jongin’s visits to the bakery.

They walk aimlessly around the park to breathe in the fresh air and Junmyeon likes every bit of it: the way the leaves crunch under their feet, how the wind tousles their hair - his more than Jongin’s because the latter is wearing a beanie - or how their scarves’ colors contrast.



“So, you take after your parents and carry on their business?”

Jongin asks with a smile. He looks genuinely interested and the truth is, Junmyeon really wants him to know more about him, too.

“Yeah, maybe…” He trails off, because it is actually harder for him to talk about this, than he expected.

Jongin eyes Junmyeon with a lopsided grin that makes his insides tingle. Junmyeon ruffles his hair embarrassedly and looks at his feet.

“Well… yes and no,” he admits then, “I love the bakery and I grew up baking bread and cake and all this,” he trails off again and Jongin waits patiently for him to continue - or not.



“When I was younger I always dreamed of decorating wonderful cakes and becoming a confectioner but I don’t really think I have it in me. It’s different from just baking a cake. I don’t think they’d accept someone talentless like me at a confectioner school. I can’t even make my mind up about what art is for me. It’s not that easy…”



“This is probably weird for me to say, because I’m only 22 years old but in retro-perspective I feel like I always knew that this is what I actually wanted to do. I was just scared, insecure and thought I couldn’t do it.”

He looks at Junmyeon again and smiles warmly, who once again doesn’t know what he should say.

This doesn’t feel like a simple infatuation anymore, he realizes, this goes deeper - under his skin like the flowers on Jongin’s neck. But he’s not scared this time. He’s not scared of his own feelings for the first time in forever.



*



Junmyeon looks at his phone fondly when it vibrates, signaling a new message.

Jongin and he have ended up exchanging contacts and Junmyeon feels like he has smiled more ever since, than he did the entire last year.

He unlocks his smart phone when his father walks back into the kitchen. He opens the direct messenger whose icon shows a small notification and is greeted with a blurry picture of Jongin and Chanyeol. It looks like the latter successfully photo bombed the tattooist but Junmyeon cherishes the failed photo even more. He grew quite fond of Chanyeol within the last two weeks and Yifan seems to warm up to him too - or the other way around.



Shouldn’t you be working?

He hits send and grins, but the expression falls from his face when he hears his father harrumph behind him.

He locks the screen and pushes the phone into the back pocket of his trousers in a hurry before he turns around to look apologetically to his father.

Mr. Kim only shakes his head and passes Junmyeon with a sheet of bread.

“Your pumpkin cupcakes sell really well. Maybe you can come up with a special for the end of the month. A lot of customers have asked about it,” he suggests when Junmyeon is wiping the cake display a couple of minutes later.

Junmyeon pauses and his father knits his eyebrows, hastily adding a “No pressure, son. I know that you haven’t been too happy with your recent creations.”

Junmyeon smiles gratefully at his father and ruffles his hair. He thinks of Jongin’s words, how they walked through the park and watched children play with their kites. Patience.

“I will think about it, father,” he says then and nods reassuringly. This is a start.



*



Junmyeon cautiously knocks on the dark door of the Dragon’s Lair, yet another paper bag with warm pastries in his arm. He chuckles, thinking back to the first time he got here, but he doesn’t have enough time to remember all the details before the door is pulled open by an overjoyed Chanyeol.

“Pastries?”

Junmyeon laughs when the tall man reaches for the bag. He looks like he’s ready to jump in head first.

He lets Junmyeon enter the studio and closes the door behind them - face still buried in the bag.

Junmyeon can hear the buzzing of a tattoo machine and his eyes wander up to the gallery to peek at what might be going on there.

“Yifan has a customer upstairs,” Chanyeol confirms his thoughts and sets the paper bag down on the low table in the middle of the seating area.

“I’ll go and make some tea. Jongin should be here soon, too. Just make yourself at home.”



Junmyeon watches the giant walk into the direction of the studio’s tea kitchen. He sits down on one of the leather couches and starts to flip through one of the magazines that lie around. The Dragon’s Lair isn’t scary anymore. It’s curious but cozy and Junmyeon thinks the buzzing of the tattoo machine doesn’t sound as intimidating and dangerous in his ears anymore either. It’s what he thinks the purring of a dragon would sound like - if they purr - making the studio’s name appropriate.



He looks up and turns his head to look at the door when he hears keys turn and the door open again, welcoming a handsome young man with a red scarf over his shoulder. His white blond hair is partly hidden under a black beanie, just like the fine lines of roses and peonies that peek out from his neck and wrist. Junmyeon’s heart skips a beat; it’s always like that when he sees Jongin.



Jongin takes off his hat and drives his fingers through tangled strands. He pulls off his scarf, revealing a cascade of flowers that drips down his neck and into the sleeve of his jacket, enclosed in his beautifully tanned skin.

It’s when he has taken off his coat that he finally realizes Junmyeon presence. He breaks out into a huge smile and walks over to greet the baker’s son.

“New pastries? You’re spoiling us,” he says playfully upon catching sight of the paper bag but Junmyeon knows that he is actually excited to taste-test.

“Yifan said, you can’t give him a discount on his tattoo, even when he feeds you with cake every day,” Chanyeol perks up when he approaches the table with a tray, carrying plates and cups.



Jongin laughs and Junmyeon rolls his eyes at him.

“I’m actually trying to find the best recipe and creation for a Halloween special. My dad told me that some customers asked about it… so I thought I would give it a try…”

He smiles shyly when he catches Jongin looking at him with a encouraging, soft smile. They both know what this means to Junmyeon and his insides start tingling when he thinks about the possibility of Jongin being actually proud of him for trying.

“That’s such a cool idea! You could make jack-o’-lantern cookies. I’m sure children will love them! The whole range of pumpkin recipes you came up with already fits perfectly too!” Chanyeol starts to shower them in excited words, causing Jongin and Junmyeon to laugh once again.



Junmyeon watches his two new friends eat the pastries he brought with a fond expression on his features.

Chanyeol’s eyes light up, clear evidence for how much he enjoys the taste. Jongin on the contrary isn’t that obvious but the way the corners of his lips curl up while he eats keeps Junmyeon hopeful that he likes them, too.



“Yifan, you should give these a try! They are not as sweet and just look how amazing Junmyeon decorated them!”

Chanyeol jumps around his partner like an excited dog and Junmyeon watches them amusedly.

“Chanyeol, we’re going out for dinner. I won’t eat pastries now,” the Chinese tattooist rejects, putting on his coat.

“You didn’t even tell me you’ll go out tonight,” Jongin interrupts the two men in front of him. He doesn’t sound upset but curious instead.

Yifan looks over his shoulder, watching the two young men that sit on one of his couches. He shrugs his shoulders then.

“It’s not like I plan to take you on a date, right?”

Jongin huffs and shakes his head, but Junmyeon can still see nothing but amusement in his face.

“Besides, we don’t need to hang around here, for Junmyeon’s briefing. It’s his first time after all.”

Junmyeon chokes on his tea, tears shooting up into his eyes while he fights for air. Jongin, who still sits right next to him hovers over him in a seconds, rubbing his back soothingly. Worry has chased off the amusement that played on his lips before.

“Oh right, you wanted Jongin to tattoo you,” Chanyeol adds innocently, before the two giants bid good bye and leave them behind in the Dragon’s Lair.



Jongin looks at him inquiringly, his arm still resting on his back. The warmth of it seeps through Junmyeon’s sweater.

“You never told me that you wanted a tattoo,” Jongin starts to speak in a low voice, tilting his head to search for any reaction in Junmyeon’s face but the latter averts his gaze embarrassedly.

“I mean - of course. We can do a briefing but I’m kind of unprepared now. Why didn't’ you tell me sooner…”

“It was more of an idea, something I said at a whim. I didn’t think Chanyeol would tell Yifan,” Junmyeon confesses and bites his lips.

He feels how Jongin breaks loose from him and stands up, causing him to look up after him.

“OK. Let’s brainstorm a bit… and if you don’t want to get inked in the end, it’s fine, too,” Jongin smiles down at Junmyeon and reaches out to help him stand up, too - Junmyeon thinks he needs this extra help because Jongin’s soft words just made his knees feel like jelly again.



*



Junmyeon can’t help his curious eyes to scan his new surroundings when he follows Jongin upstairs, to the gallery. The younger turns on a desk lamp that bathes the attic in warm light, casting playful shadows on the white walls that wander around when Jongin pulls Junmyeon’s hands and motions him to sit.

Junmyeon is hesitant at first, but slowly sits down on the desk, while Jongin has taken seat in the chair in front of him.

He grins and Junmyeon likes how his eyes seem to spark.

“So… what do you want to get inked?”

He fetches a sheet of paper from his sketch pad and presses his lips together in excitement. Junmyeon feels flustered but he likes it.

“I don’t know… you see, I never really put more thought into it after casually mentioning it to Chanyeol. What do people usually get tattooed?”

Jongin shakes his head and laughs at him, but it sounds warm and he can’t hear a single hint of mockery.

“OK, let’s start with something else. What is your favorite animal?”

Junmyeon blinks and looks at his legs that hang from the desk.

“I like bunnies,” he confesses with a low voice then, a blush creeping up into his cheeks.

He can hear Jongin’s laugh ring in his ears again, causing a wave of embarrassment to well up in him. He splutters, ready to defend and explain his choice, when he grasps the latter’s whisper: How cute!



“It’s because my mom used to call me Bunny when I was little…”

Jongin nods slowly while he listens to the explanation, still smiling.

“I think it suits you somehow,” he consoles the elder before he scratches an itchy spot behind his ear, using the pencil in his hand.

“What else?”

Junmyeon folds his hands on his lap shyly, before he looks around the room to think. He feels comfortable around Jongin but the excitement to be alone with him, and some of the things he says still overpower him sometimes.

“I like the roses and peonies on your neck and shoulder…”

He whispers then, stealing a glance at the inviting, loose collar of Jongin’s dark green t-shirt.

Jongin nods, but he doesn’t seem to look at anything specific. His features tense in slight concentration - knitted eyebrows and pouty lips.

Junmyeon watches him for a bit, before the tingle in his stomach grows too strong and he has to look somewhere else.



“What is it like to be tattooed?” He asks, absentmindedly looking at the dimly lit ceiling.

Jongin leans back in his chair and follows his wandering eyes to look at the patterns of light and shadow on the ceiling above them.

“It depends on the placement of the tattoo… and the person. There are parts that hurt more than others. I mean, in the end it’s still a needle with ink being pushed under your skin repeatedly,” he muses then and Junmyeon screws up his face.

“That’s not really comforting,” he complains with a frown but Jongin just smiles and hits his thigh.

“Sorry for the blunt formulation but I’m not going to lie to you, Junmyeon.”

That calms Junmyeon down and he smiles at Jongin, who smiles back.



They sit in silence for a few minutes, before Junmyeon starts to look around more animatedly and curious again.

“Let’s assume that you were to tattoo me. How would it be? Show me!”

Jongin laughs at Junmyeon’s playful side, but he complies and stands up.

“Well, alright. Let’s see…”

He looks around and ruffles his hair before he rolls up the sleeves of his tee, revealing his inked shoulders. He gets a pair of black disposable gloves and rummages through a shelf on the side, before he returns with a cloth and a plastic bottle.

He sits down again and grins up at Junmyeon who still sits on his desk and watches him with curious eyes.

“So… let’s say you wanted it on the inside of your right lower arm,” he grabs the arm tenderly and starts to roll up Junmyeon’s hazel sweater.

“I’m sorry if my hands are still a little cold...”

Junmyeon can hardly hear the other’s soft whisper over the loud beat of his heart but he bites his lips and tries to calm down.

“It’s fine. They are actually really warm,” he replies softly, causing Jongin to smile.



“So let’s assume you want your tattoo to be here”, he resumes explaining and points at an area on Junmyeon’s skin before he soaks the cloth in a liquid from the plastic bottle he brought and starts to tenderly wipe the spot on Junmyeon’s arm.

“After that I have to shave that area-”

“But there are no hairs,” Jongin laughs about Junmyeon’s interruption.

“Yes there are. Really small ones and we’d need to get rid of of them where the tattoo will be… but I won’t do that now. It would look weird when one random spot on your arm is shaved,” he laughs and Junmyeon mimics him lowly - but the fact that Jongin is still holding his arm makes it hard to focus.



He looks around the room again, wondering how he could ever be afraid of this place and the people working here, making art here.

Junmyeon yelps when he feels cool lines on his skin.

Jongin has started to draw fine lines on his arm.

He looks up at him apologetically, presenting the pen in his hands.

“Don’t worry, it’s just a pen. You can wash it off with some soap… I would never just start to tattoo you. That’s bodily harm, a criminal offence.”



Junmyeon nods and calms down when Jongin resumes drawing on his skin. The fresh ink leaves a cool feeling, but the tip of the pen feels soft and it’s exciting.

Junmyeon bites his lips and looks into Jongin’s face; slightly tensed but still soft features, eyes trained on his pale skin and the contrasting black color. He draws beautiful flowers with lines and swirls and Junmyeon thinks he could watch this beautiful man do art on him for the rest of his life. He thinks he would be fine with every pain, with every hit of a needle that pierces his skin and brings colors under it, as long as it was Jongin and he could watch him.



“Why do you want a tattoo?”

Jongin doesn’t look up from the petals he draws on the other’s skin and his words are mumbled, proving that he’s not entirely focusing on his words.

“I’m not sure,” Junmyeon says and it’s not the entire truth. He plays with one of his dark brown hair strands and glances down at Jongin.

“Maybe because they look so beautiful. You and Chanyeol and Yifan, you look so cool with all these patterns on your skin. Jongdae also has even more charisma ever since he got his tattoo,” he muses.

Jongin pauses with his drawing and looks up at Junmyeon with furrowed brows.

“Who’s Jongdae?”

“He’s an old school friend of mine. He works for a fashion enterprise and Yifan tattooed him a month ago or so,” Junmyeon looks at the unfinished image on his arm and shrugs his shoulders nonchalantly while talking about his old friend.

Jongin nods curtly before he hovers over the desk again to resume drawing on Junmyeon’s lower arm.



“You all have so much charisma and self-confidence. You know, when you first entered the store I thought you looked so cool and rebellious,” he laughs slightly but halts when he sees Jongin’s features hardening into a serious expression. He puts down the pen slowly.

“I know what people think. I know what they think about my tattoos and my hair and the piercings. I know what they think of Yifan and Chanyeol, of their tattoos, their dyed hair, their lifestyle - my lifestyle.

Not all you see is pure art for the art’s sake, Junmyeon. At some point it becomes armor…”



Junmyeon bites his lips and grasps Jongin’s hand.

“This isn’t what I wanted to say, Jongin. This isn’t what I thought at all,” he opposes with a soft voice then.

His gaze wanders around before he looks at the blonde thatch of hair in front of him - he can’t see Jongin’s face because the younger is looking down. He takes a deep breath and looks at the pattern of light and shadow at the ceiling again, squeezing the set of fingers in his hand’s embrace.

“I thought you looked extraordinarily beautiful; the flowers on your shoulder and your wrist. It was as if the art under your skin has come alive. And I want this too. I see Yifan, I see Chanyeol - how much more complete they seem with their tattoos, with inexcusably being themselves. I want this too. I thought that maybe, when I have so beautiful art under my skin, it will eventually go deeper. Maybe if I had art like that on my skin, I could finally do it myself.”



“But you are art, Junmyeon. You do art. Did you hear the customers? They all love your creations and the whole street talks about the talented son of the baker, how you could be an amazing pastry chef.”

He looks up at Junmyeon and when their eyes meet each other, Junmyeon bites his lips hard and looks away with a blush on his cheeks. They are silent for a moment, before he starts to chuckle and Jongin grins.

They look at his arm that is adorned with soft petals of roses and smaller blossoms of verbena.

“This is so beautiful,” he whispers and Jongin hums lowly in agreement, leaning his head in to take a closer look at the details he just created himself.

“But I’m not going to tattoo that.”

“Why not? I love it!” Junmyeon protests.

“Because I can’t support that you think so little of yourself. If I tattooed you this now, you would take it as confirmation that you need this to be able to create art yourself. But that’s not true. You don’t need a single petal under your skin to bloom, Junmyeon. You’re doing it the whole time - all by yourself and you are gorgeous. You’re a fucking masterpiece.”



His fast beating heart makes it hard for Junmyeon to hear his own words, but he can’t help it - he has to say something.

“This is not fair. You say all these nice things and make me feel all these things. I want a tattoo and I don’t want anyone else to do it but you. You look so beautiful when you draw, just as if you become art yourself. I want to be part of that magic too.”

Junmyeon knits his eyebrows for emphasis but his feature get soft when he catches sight of Jongin.

The younger looks at him fondly, just like he saw Yifan look at Chanyeol so often the past weeks and it makes him feel warm and wonderful all over.



The corner of Jongin’s pierced lips curl up in a lopsided grin and Junmyeon’s heartbeat speeds up once again, when he feels Jongin’s forehead press onto his owns, their noses touching.

Jongin’s laugh is low but it still makes cold shivers chase up and down Junmyeon’s spine.

“But you are,” he whispers and Junmyeon feels warm fingers touch his cheeks, cupping his face.

“You are that magic.”



Junmyeon’s hands reach out and take hold of Jongin’s shirt instinctively when he feels warm, soft lips pressing on his own.

He can feel the younger’s piercings press into his bottom lip but it only adds to the rush, to the sweet prickling that fills up every pore and cell of his body.

It has always been a mixture of fascination and fear with which he faced this kind of art; art that stays for the rest of your life. But maybe he has grown to like it, like the thought of things, of people staying, of time stopping around him for a while.



Junmyeon likes art from living things, art that he can smell and taste.

The kiss ends and Junmyeon looks into deep brown eyes, at soft features adorned with bold piercings and hid behind white blond strands of hair. He circles his arms around Jongin’s neck, fingertips tracing inked blossoms that bloom on caramel skin.

He pulls the younger closer until their noses bump into each other again and he can feel the other’s breath tickle on his cupid’s bow. He breathes in and out shakily, before Jongin kisses his lips again and his coy smile right off of them.



Junmyeon likes fleeting art, but he wants this one to stay.

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