By CS WhiteWolf
Michael was lying on the bed-chair, his fingers curled and clenching intermittently into the fabric of his pants as Ianto worked on the chest piece part of his design- the Devil seconds away from killing the defenceless Angel. Though his eyes stared vacantly at a spot on the ceiling above and his face remained poised and expressionless, Ianto could tell that the area he was working on felt particularly sensitive to Michael.
“Are you naturally hairless?” Ianto asked as a distraction, pausing in his tattooing to wipe away the excess ink.
Michael frowned then, his eyes flickering down to look at Ianto questioningly.
Ianto gestured to Michael’s chest, moving the tattooing gun into position to continue working the area surrounding Michael’s right nipple.
“Pieces like this are far more effective if you don’t have to remove unwanted hair,” Ianto commented as if to explain. Michael made a sound of agreement and Ianto smiled slightly, knowing that Michael didn’t really have a clue as to what he was talking about.
“Waxing removes a layer of skin each time, you see,” Ianto explained, more to keep Michael’s attention from his discomfort than for any need to fill an otherwise quiet session with idle chatter. “And shaving leaves the skin prickly, which isn’t pleasant by any means,” he continued, pausing to sneak a glance at Michael’s continued frown. “And if you decide to leave everything looking all au naturale, it just looks very odd.”
“You’ve spent a great deal of time thinking on it,” Michael said, his voice tight but amused.
“I’ve done a few chest pieces in my time,” Ianto agreed, pausing in his work as Michael hissed as if in pain.
“You okay?” Ianto asked, sitting back a moment.
“Fine,” Michael answered, shifting a little.
“If it hurts too much I can move onto another area?” Ianto offered, chewing on his bottom lip.
“It doesn’t hurt so much,” Michael said, looking at and then away from Ianto as a flush of colour came to his cheeks. Ianto grinned outright then, realising that it wasn’t so much the pain that was causing Michael his discomfort.
“You ever considered getting pierced, Michael?” Ianto asked, putting the tattoo gun down a moment and shaking his fingers out to relax them a little.
Michael looked directly at him then. “What-,” he started, his eyes wide and his expression more than a little scandalised, “you mean in the nipple?”
“Yeah,” Ianto laughed, “It doesn’t hurt all that much, and if you’ve got sensitive nipples already, just imagine…”
“Wait,” Michael lifted a hand to stop him before he could go any further. “You have one?” he asked, curious.
Ianto grinned, nodding. Michael opened his mouth to question him before catching himself, looking as if he couldn’t quite bring himself to ask further.
Ianto’s grin lessened to a more professional smile as cocked his head towards Michael. “Would you like to see it?”
Michael looked at him for a heartbeat before nodding his head, his eyes widening fractionally as he watched Ianto stand and tug off his gloves before moving to lift his shirt upwards, showing off the small, silver ring pierced through his left nipple.
“And that didn’t hurt?” Michael asked, disbelievingly. Ianto tried not to grin outright as he remembered the exact circumstances surrounding his first ever piercing.
“Any pain I felt was quick to fade,” Ianto said, dropping his shirt.
“What about those?” Michael asked, gesturing to his mouth and the snakebite piercings he had adorning either side of his bottom lip. Ianto lifted his hand, touching at his mouth a moment before shrugging slightly.
“They hardly hurt at all,” he explained.
“What made you get them?” Michael asked, sitting up now to better eye Ianto’s piercings.
“I thought they’d look good,” he smiled, “I tend to forget they’re even there now if I’m honest.”
“I think you’d look fine without them,” Michael said, and though the comment was made only with innocent intentions, both Michael and Ianto were quick to look away from one another, suddenly silent and feeling an impromptu awkwardness settle between them.
Ianto turned to his workbench, snatching up a fresh pair of gloves and reseating himself before Michael who smiled somewhat sheepishly at him before settling back down onto the bed-chair. Ianto picked up his tattooing gun and moved into place, his hands moving confidently over Michael’s chest as he pushed all other thoughts to the back of his mind, intent on concentrating solely on the piece before him.
For the first time since getting his lip piercings, however, Ianto was seriously considering taking them out. But that was just silly. Wasn’t it?
- - -
Ianto stopped earlier than usual that evening, putting the gun down with an apology on his lips as he massaged the building ache his hand.
“It’s been a busy week,” he said by way of explanation as Michael looked curiously at him. “If you just give me a couple of minutes?”
“I tell you what, how about we both call it a night?” Michael offered with a small smile. Ianto blinked up at him in surprise.
“If you’re sure?” He asked slowly.
“I know I’ve been pushing you to do this for me,” said Michael, “I don’t know what your workload is like during opening hours, but you never complain about having to work on me for the hours you do after closing time. I think I maybe owe you a bit of slack.”
Ianto laughed, “I’m as excited about this piece as you are, Michael. You know I don’t mind doing the work, but if you’re sure you’re okay with it, I definitely wouldn’t say no to a night off.”
“No problem,” Michael agreed, “I think my body could do with the night off too, if I’m honest.”
Ianto smiled at him, cleaning up the freshly inked area before rubbing a thin layer of the Retcon over the tattoo. He moved away then, letting Michael get dressed as he removed and disposed of his gloves and the equipment he wouldn’t be able to sterilise and reuse.
Once they’d both finished, Ianto led Michael through into the front shop, where Toshiko was bent over the counter, sketching away in a notebook. She looked up with a smile as they stepped through.
“Hey Tosh,” Ianto smiled, “I thought you’d be at the club setting up by now?”
“Adam had to work late so we’ve managed to arrange a slightly later set,” she answered, closing her notebook, “Mary and Tommy are at The Hub dropping off our stuff but nothing’s starting for a while yet.”
“You’re in a band?” Michael asked, handing Ianto his payment- in cash- for his session that evening.
“What, you mean Ianto hasn’t been gushing about my music to all and sundry?” Toshiko asked, her eyes growing comically wide as she pressed her hand to her chest in faux distress.
“Um,” Michael laughed, “it must have slipped his mind?”
“Slipped his mind?” Toshiko turned to look at Ianto with a wounded expression.
“Oops?” Ianto offered, his hands held up and placating as he tried not to laugh outright at her dramatics.
“Ianto, I am offended that my music wasn’t one of the first things you two talked about during your sessions together. How can you be so cruel?”
Ianto laughed then, taking Toshiko’s hands and kissing them both. “Forgive me?” he asked, shooting her his wide-eyed puppy look.
Michael chuckled at their antics, “Why don’t you tell me more about your music instead, Toshiko?” Michael invited, watching the smile that touched Toshiko’s lips as she turned towards him.
“Finished so soon?” Jack's voice rang through the front room as he slipped through from the back, interrupting Toshiko before she could even get started.
“Michael was kind enough to give me the night off,” Ianto jokingly replied, throwing a smile in Michael’s direction.
“Huh, and here I thought that was my job,” Jack said, his tone indulgent as he eyed the three of them. “Listen, I’m off out,” he started, smiling at Ianto, “you got your keys to lock up?”
“Sure, where are you heading?” Ianto asked, his own smile seductive now, inviting Jack to change his plans to involve the pair of them and some much anticipated alone time back at Ianto’s apartment.
“Oh, just here and there, nothing too exciting,” he evaded, flashing his patented Harkness grin as he moved towards the front door. “I’ll see you all on Monday.”
Ianto pursed his lips, the dismissal tasting sour upon his tongue. He turned away from the door, smiling vacantly as Toshiko reengaged Michael in a conversation about her band and where they were playing that evening. Ianto tuned them out, his thoughts still following Jack out the door and wondering what- or rather who- was so not-exciting it would keep Jack away from him for the rest of the weekend.
He bit at the insides of his mouth, trying to still his wandering thoughts. The last thing he wanted to do right now was think of Jack getting it on with some faceless stranger. All he’d achieve by that would be the raising of his blood pressure. It wasn’t as if Jack was exclusively his anyway. Not as if he held any sway over who else Jack wanted to spend his time with over one of the few days they both had off at the same time.
“-and Ianto’s coming tonight, aren’t you?” Toshiko’s voice filtered through the jumble of thoughts and half-hearted rationalisations all vying for attention in Ianto’s head.
“Sorry, what?” He asked, smiling apologetically at Toshiko who shook her head fondly and repeated herself.
“You are still coming out with us tonight, right? You did promise?” She peered at him intently and Ianto only briefly entertained the thought of going home alone and sitting up all night speculating on where and what Jack was doing before deciding that the best thing he could do right now was go out and get blitzed instead.
“Of course,” he smiled, putting his blue mood aside for now, “I did promise, didn’t I?”
“See?” Toshiko turned her smile to Michael, “you simply must come too.”
Ianto blinked, realising that he’d missed far more to the conversation than he’d thought.
“I’m not sure,” Michael hedged, shifting his gaze awkwardly between Toshiko and Ianto.
“Tosh, I’m sure Mr. Schofield has better things to be doing on a Saturday night?”
“Actually, I don’t,” Michael said quickly and Ianto faltered. “I just… I thought you might mind.”
“Mind?” He shot Toshiko a look that had her laughing into her hand.
“I’ve invited Michael along to keep you company, since Gwen’s bringing Rhys and we all know what Owen’s like when he’s in a bar surrounded by women.”
“Oh. Oh!” Ianto touched his hand to his forehead. “Sorry, I don’t mind at all, if you’re up for it you must come.”
“More tired than you thought you were, huh?” Michael smiled, nudging at him with his shoulder. Ianto smiled softly and nodded, happy to blame his distracted thoughts on work for the time being.
“I hope you’re both happy to leave as you are?” Toshiko asked. Michael and Ianto nodded in unison. “Good. I’m driving. Got everything you need?”
“Give me a minute to tidy my station?” Ianto was moving towards the back rooms even as he asked. Toshiko groaned.
“Fine, but I’m timing you,” she called out after him, “you’ve got two minutes, Jones!”
Ianto laughed on cue as he slipped into his workstation and methodically began to tidy away the pieces of Michael’s design, wiping down work surfaces and disposing of anything that couldn’t be reused.
Once finished, Ianto leant against his workbench, slipping his phone from his pocket and staring demurely at it for a moment before typing out a quick message to Jack-
“If you change you plans, give me a call xx”
-he hesitated, finger poised above the send button as he worried his bottom lip with his indecision over whether to send the message or not.
“Knock, knock?” Ianto looked up quickly, seeing Michael leaning up against the door to his workstation. He flashed a small smile towards him.
“Toshiko sent me,” Michael said by way of explanation, head tilting just slightly.
“You know, if you don’t want me to come along tonight, you should just say.” Michael began, “I can make my excuses to Toshiko.”
Ianto shook his head, “Michael, sorry. I don’t mean to give off the wrong impression,”
“But you’d rather I were Jack?”
Ianto looked at him with surprise, seeing the calmly resigned look on Michael’s face. He found his resolve hardening just then and looked down at the phone in his hand, finger still hovering over the send button. He hit cancel instead and slipped his phone into his back pocket.
“No,” Ianto started in reply, smiling more genuinely as he approached the other man, “you’re more than adequate company for tonight.”
Michael smiled back, snagging Ianto’s jacket from the back of the door and holding it out for him.
- - -
Greeks Bearing Gifts, Ianto explained to him as they settled into a booth with Gwen and her husband, Rhys, was the name of Toshiko’s band. She played the violin, whilst band mates Mary, Tommy and Adam were responsible for piano and vocals, bass guitar, and drums accordingly. Their style of music also took a bit of getting used to, he warned, whilst Gwen made teasing comments about cats and choirs.
Pretty much from the word go, Ianto could tell that the music wasn’t in any way to Michael’s liking and he grinned, enjoying the look of attention and concentration Michael was directing towards the stage despite this. It wasn’t until Michael turned to him, his gaze questioning that Ianto realised it wasn’t the music holding his rapt attention so much as a certain member of the band.
“Is that real?” He asked pointing towards Toshiko who’s changed out of her corseted business style getup and sported now a long ankle length skirt in a deep burgundy red and a halter-neck top in the same colour that was barely long enough to cover her ample cleavage. Neither of these aspects were what Michael was asking about however.
Instead, he indicated towards her exposed midriff and the oriental dragon tattoo that covered her stomach and- though Michael couldn’t yet tell- circled right around her lower back too.
Ianto grinned, “Of course,” he answered.
Michael looked both intrigued and surprised by this. “I’m not sure why, but I would never have pictured Toshiko as the type to get tattoos and play in bands.”
Ianto laughed, “She does seem more suave and sophisticated than the rest of us, doesn’t she?”
“Oh, I didn’t mean-,” Michael apologised but Ianto just brushed his words aside.
“I wouldn’t have taken you as the type to want to get his entire upper body inked either,” Ianto said, pointedly. Michael smiled secretively and reached for the glass of beer sitting before him.
“Touché.” Michael toasted in Ianto’s direction before sipping at his drink.
Toshiko’s band finished their set just over an hour later to a spattering of applause. She disappeared off stage and through the back for a moment before making her way through the crowd towards their booth and slipping herself in beside Gwen and Rhys.
“So, what did you think?” She asked Michael as he turned to smile his greeting towards her. The question was asked lightly and in passing but when all eyes turned to Michael to await his answer, he felt a blush rising up to stain at his cheeks.
Beside him, Ianto laughed and nudged at Michael, encouraging him to answer.
“It was interesting,” he answered eventually and Toshiko smiled indulgently whilst Gwen giggled beside her.
“It’s okay if you don’t like it,” Ianto said, leaning in as if conspiring with him, “we don’t much care for it either.”
Michael looked surprised, shooting a glance first to Ianto and then to Toshiko who was grinning quite smugly now.
“We’re here more for the support,” Gwen offered.
“Speak for yourself,” her husband Rhys interrupted, turning from his conversation with Owen to offer his own opinion. “I’m here for the booze!”
He winked at the table in general before turning back to Owen. Gwen rolled her eyes at him, grinning at Michael.
“How’s the tat going, by the way?” She asked, leaning across the table towards Michael and engaging him in conversation.
Ianto sat back in his seat, smothering a yawn behind his hand and blinking sleepily around the table as he listened with a half-ear to Michael and Gwen talking.
He never did hear Michael’s reply.
“…not as sore as I’d thought-,” Michael cut off his sentence as he felt a dead weight pressing up against his shoulder. He turned his head to look beside him and couldn’t help but smile as he saw that Ianto had fallen asleep and was tilting towards him, his head resting itself half-on Michael’s shoulder.
Without thinking, Michael raised his arm, slinging it across Ianto’s shoulders and allowing Ianto to rest against him more comfortably. He smiled quietly to himself, looking down at Ianto’s sleeping face for a long moment before he remembered himself and turned quickly back to Gwen.
Gwen, however, was talking in hushed tones with Toshiko now, their heads bent as they conspired with one another, apparently oblivious to everyone else around them.
Michael relaxed, settling back into his seat and turning his gaze back to Ianto; smiling.
- - -
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