By CS WhiteWolf
“Now what’s a guy like you looking to be inked for?” Were the first words out of Jack’s mouth as he stepped into Ianto’s workspace, his eyes automatically running the length of the impeccably dressed man standing beside Ianto.
Michael Schofield, tall and tanned with a crop of dark hair visible despite the crew cut he sported. Not a bad looking bloke, Jack noted, as his eyes assessed Michael from the juts of his cheekbones and the fullness of his lips to the cut of his navy-grey suit and the polish of shoes afforded only by gentlemen with a disposable income at hand.
Behind Michael, Ianto was shooting Jack a look that clearly told the older man to behave. A look Jack willingly chose to ignore as he smiled winningly at Michael who merely inclined his head in acknowledgement. The slightest hint of a smile touching his mouth as he carefully regarded Jack. He appeared remarkably calm and collected, completely unfazed by Jack’s open leering as he stepped forward, hand extended, to offer his greeting and name.
“As for wanting to be inked-,” and here he turned to smile at Ianto whilst purposefully extracting his hand from Jack’s lingering grip, “-I’ve been told that Mr. Jones is one of the best tattooists Chicago has to offer.”
“Much to the chagrin of all other tattoo artists in the area, I can assure you.” Jack said, stepping further into the room and speaking before Ianto could brush the comment away.
“I understand you’re fairly new into the business, Mr. Jones?” Michael asked. “Only a matter of years, am I correct?”
“Please, call me Ianto. Calling me Mr. Jones makes me feel as old as Jack,” Ianto quipped, smirking in Jack’s direction and watching as Michael’s lips twitched. “And yes, you’re correct; I’m not an expert by any means.”
“But you are a perfectionist?” Michael asked and Jack snorted back a laugh at the accuracy of Michael’s words; the both of them watched as Ianto shrugged somewhat self depreciatively in reply. It was true; he was a bit of a perfectionist when it came to his work. But if he felt unsatisfied with a piece, it was only right that he endeavoured to fix whichever issue he had with it. It was a sort of professionalism, a pride in his work. If he wasn’t pleased with the results of a tattoo or design, why should he assume his client would be any different in their opinion of it?
He’d always been a man of details. He could spend hours, perhaps to a fault, perfecting the most miniscule of details- particulars perhaps that no one other than he himself would ever have noticed. But, Ianto supposed, that was decidedly the point. That he noticed and corrected mistakes before they had the chance to become just that- mistakes; inked statements of shoddy artistry, etched permanently into the skin and on glaringly permanent display. His name forever attached to it.
“I’ve been known to… linger on a piece or two.” Ianto slowly admitted. Jack grinned widely back at him from over Michael’s shoulder and Ianto bit back the scowl he wanted to direct towards the other man.
“Is that going to be an issue?” Ianto asked, cocking his head to the side and frowning only the slightest of frowns.
“On the contrary!” Michael said, his bemused ‘I know something you don’t’ smile turning to a more genuine smile, and one that lit his whole face up as he seemed to relax into the moment. “Perfection is exactly what I’m in need of.” He reassured before reaching for the poster tube he’d brought along with him and extracting from it a couple dozen pieces of paper- tracing paper, Ianto noted with a vague interest that soon morphed to an overwhelming sense of fascination as he noticed just what was on said pieces of paper: lines. Lots of lines, all painstaking sketching out an overall design, each piece meticulously planned out down to the last seemingly inconsequential detail.
Ianto was pretty sure he’d gasped aloud at the sight of such exquisite artistic capability and quality as he gratefully accepted the pieces from Michael and laid them out across the small bench lining the wall directly to the left of the doorway. Michael stepped up behind him as Ianto’s hands flew over the pages, taking in every motif and pattern till he was sure he could envision the designs perpetually imprinted into living flesh.
“Where on earth did you get these?” Ianto breathed out, his words soft and almost reverent in the face of such skill.
“They are of my own design.” Michael said equally as softly. Ianto turned his head at the words, finding Michael to be only inches away from him.
“This is your own work?” Ianto asked, his awe apparent. Michael nodded.
“They’ve taken me a long time to perfect.” Michael began, “But like you, Mr Jones- Ianto- I am a man of details. And though my skill lies only in putting this to paper, yours lies in the ability to put this to skin. Perfectly. Every inch of every line mapped to perfection. I want this entire piece- all twenty four specifically designed parts- to span the entire upper half of my body. torso and arms.”
His words hung thick and heavy in the air about them. Ianto felt a giddy sense of excitement bubbling up within him at the very idea and he turned back to the pieces, his fingers flying over them once again with a new sense of purpose as he imagined them now applied to the top half of a body. He noticed the numbers scrawled in the top right hand corner of each page and assumed that worked out the order in which they were to appear on the body.
Movement to his right and the heat at his back disappeared as Jack stepped closer to the pair of them. He’d been almost suspiciously silent as he’d watched their proceedings.
Ianto smiled brightly at Jack before turning to Michael. “I can do this.” He assured Michael. Knowing, honestly and without boast, that he had the skill to copy this exactly as it had been planned.
Michael nodded his head, returning Ianto’s obvious excitement with another smile of his own. “My own research into your previous pieces has assured me that you’re the man I need for this.” He met Ianto’s gaze frankly, “I know you won’t let me down.”
Ianto held Michael’s gaze, the moment drawing out for a heartbeat longer than was strictly necessary as they recognised in each other the same passion shared between them.
“Well, now that that’s decided,” Jack started, stepping another pace forward and interrupting the moment. He shot Ianto an inscrutable look. “The only details that remain to be sorted are of the pricing and scheduling variety.”
“The cost will be no problem,” Michael answered softly, “but if possible I’d like to get this piece done as soon as possible.”
“Mr Schofield-,” Ianto began with a sudden uncertainty, “this sort of thing cannot happen over a period of days or even weeks. We’re talking months here. Many months. Tattooing is a very specific art. Usually the initial structure of the piece would have to be inked into the skin and then left to heal before we’d even begin to think about the particulars of shading and whatnot. Now, I could probably, due to the complexity of this piece, complete both aspects at the same time, but we’re still talking months of works to apply and ink piece by piece.”
Michael folded his hands behind his back, his head bowed slightly as he contemplated Ianto’s words.
“If you’re willing, I can come in for evening sessions as frequently as you’ll allow. There are twenty four pieces to work from. If you can't work on one area for the reasons you mention, you could surely begin on another section, or on another side of my body?”
Ianto shot a look at Jack who was frowning openly at Michael’s words. Ianto turned back to the other man, seeing the openness in his face as he silently beseeched Ianto to agree.
“Please, I need this done as soon as possible.”
Ianto swallowed heavily. It was on the tip of his tongue to ask Michael just why it was so important to get this tattoo inked into his skin so quickly but he refrained, knowing the question was little better than a prying into the man’s personal life. He shook his head slightly, just enough to signal Jack into keeping his trap shut also. He would have smiled at the offended huff Jack gave in response if not for the seriousness of the moment.
“Come back tomorrow then, Mr Schofield.” Ianto said. “I’ll draw up a schedule over the course of the day and we’ll take things from there. I can also give you an idea of what the charge per session is likely to be.”
“Thank you.” Michael breathed out, his relief evident in the sudden sagging of his shoulders.
Ianto nodded. “I assume evenings are best for you?” he asked.
Michael agreed, “Yes, please- if that’s okay with you? I will be able to come in a few hours earlier on most nights though. I have weekends free too, if that helps.”
“It helps.” Ianto agreed. “If you call in tomorrow evening at some point we’ll take things from there.”
Michael thanked him most graciously as he was led back through the darkness of the front shop and towards the door. He assured Ianto that he would try and get away from work a bit earlier tomorrow night in order not to keep Ianto working any later than he had to. Ianto smiled kindly, taking Michael’s hand in a shake as they parted ways, with Michael heading out into the night and towards the car he’d parked by the curb just outside the shop.
“Oh, and please,” he said suddenly turning to look at Ianto, “it’s Michael.”
And with that he was slipping into his car and driving out into the silence of the night. Ianto stood a moment in the doorway mulling over meeting the enigmatic Mr Schofield.
“That was certainly as interesting one.” Jack’s voice called to him. Ianto jerked his head in a vague sort of agreement as he squinted out into the night. He heard the light thump of Jack’s boots as the Captain crossed the room towards him, his arms slipping easily about his waist as he hugged himself against Ianto’s back and rested his chin atop his shoulder.
Ianto turned his head with a smile, pressing a light kiss to Jack’s lips before patting at his hands to release their hold of him. Jack acquiesced to his wordless request and stepped away. Ianto moved to close the door, bolting and locking it from the inside before walking with Jack through into the back rooms to tidy up the few pieces they needed to take care of before they themselves could leave for the night.
“Hey,” Jack tried after a time, “I was thinking, what say you and me grab a bite to eat once we're done here?”
Ianto looked up from where he was filing away Michael’s sketches into a locked cabinet he kept beneath his workbench. He raised an eyebrow at Jack who blinked innocently down at him.
“What?” Jack asked when Ianto merely continued looked at him, deigning to answer.
Ianto finished with the cabinet and stood with a shake of his head. “I think not, sir.” He declined. Jack frowned- on the verge of pouting- at him.
“Well for one thing, I’m still upset you broke my coffee machine-,” Jack rolled his eyes even as Ianto began to scowl at him. “-and for another, I know what dinner with you entails, Jack Harkness, and I’m far too tired to play your games tonight.”
Jack shot him the most offended look he could muster. “And if I promised to be on my best behaviour? Scouts honour and all?”
“Jack, you were never in the Scouts.” Ianto began frankly. “And even if you were-,” he hurried on when Jack opened his mouth to defend himself, “-you were probably kicked out for indecent exposure around a campfire or something equally as outrageous.” Jack grinned broadly and Ianto pinched at the bridge of his nose.
“No. I do not want to know.” He moved towards the door, pausing only to snatch up the leather-bound folder cum satchel he’d brought in with him that morning.
“Oh fine,” Jack relented, “but when you get home and realise what a great offer you just passed up-,” Ianto’s snort of amusement effectively interrupted Jack’s spiel and caused the Captain to shoot him his most unimpressed look.
“I’m sure I’ll miss you terribly when I’m stretched out in my bed, balls naked and wrapped in crisp, clean sheets.”
Jack pursed his lips as they headed towards the back door, turning off lights and power sockets as they went.
“I don’t hear any mention of food in that plan.” He tried and Ianto laughed as they stepped out into the warmth of the night, waiting till Jack finished locking up the backdoor before he stepped up to him, wrapping his arms about the Captain’s neck as he leant in to whisper salaciously into his ear.
“You and I both know that the only thing I’d be eating if you came over would be your arse.” He licked his tongue over the shell of Jack’s ear before nipping at the lobe and eliciting a half-moan from the older man. Then he pulled away. “But I think something with more sustenance is in order.”
“Oh come on!” Jack protested as Ianto turned towards his car.
“Goodnight, Jack!” he called over his shoulder, laughing as he slipped into the driver’s seat and pulled away; Jack’s scowling face watching him as it was reflected to him in his rear view mirror.
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As it turned out, Jack was right. By the time he got home, tired and hungry and wanting nothing more than a long hot shower, a quick bite of food and a good night’s sleep (and not specifically in that order), it was to find that he’d yet to restock his fridge after his recent trip back home to Cardiff.
Before Ianto could even summon up the energy to decide that maybe he should have taken Jack up on his offer after all (there really would have been some attempt at real food) there came a chap at his door. With a light frown, and knowing Jack wouldn’t have turned up after being turned down, Ianto ensured that the safty-chain was securely fastened before opening the door.
“Takeaway for Mr. Jones,” a young boy recited in stilted English upon seeing him. Ianto opened his mouth to tell the boy that he hadn’t ordered anything before closing it again as the smell of the chicken chow mien reached his nose; his mouth watering at the very thought of eating it.
“Courtesy of a Captain Harkness!” The boy smiled widely at him and Ianto shook his head fondly. Then again, maybe it had been a good idea to turn Jack down, he thought to himself with a smile as he opened the door fully and gratefully accepted the bag of food, tipping the delivery boy in thanks. If this was the kind of service it guaranteed him, he’d seriously have to consider turning Jack down more often.
His phone beeped at the exact moment he entered the small kitchenette and he fished it out of his pocket without breaking stride; thumb expertly unlocking and opening the message. It was from Jack.
“this is a one off, mr jones.
make the most of it.
bring coffee tomorrow?
Ianto laughed, closing the message without reply and dropping his phone to the counter as he fished through his cupboards for a plate and cutlery. He was still grinning as he piled a heaped portion of the chow mien onto his plate, poured himself a generous glass of wine and settled himself down in front of the telly; the pictures flickering silently before him as he muted the sound, content simply to sit and eat in silence, the soundless images on screen supposedly serving to keep his mind suitably distracted from thinking about work, even when all he really wanted to think about was work.
In specific, he wanted to think about Michael Schofield and his sketches. In the skill and dedication to detail he’d shown in each of the pieces, the sheer talent he portrayed. A talent etched to paper that he now wished to entrust to Ianto, to have Ianto himself bring to life upon his flesh- forever imprinted…
Ianto felt a shiver of delight shoot up his spine, his toes curling at the mere thought of being the one chosen to tattoo the piece onto the other man. He grinned anew around his last mouthful of chicken, suddenly wide awake and not at all interested in sleeping balls naked in crisp, clean sheets as he’d teased Jack with earlier.
Taking a quick sip of his wine, Ianto pulled his sketchbook towards him and began to plan out the sessions he could sensibly squeeze Michael Schofield in for per week, taking into account the apparent urgency the other man had presented and his own penchant for perfection. Not to mention the rest of the casework he already had filling up his bookings. It was going to be tricky. Not to mention terribly exhausting if he didn’t manage his time correctly. There could be no margin for error, not on any piece of course, but most certainly not on this one.
His writing hand flew across the timetable he’d constructed, his tongue peeking out between his teeth as he puzzled over the details. He’d need to see the pieces again of course, just to be certain of time management and the trickiness each presented before talking to Michael about a finalised schedule. But it would work, because if there was one thing Ianto Jones never backed down from, it was a challenge, and this, to him, sounded like a damn good one to boot!
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