3,320/50,000 words (chart)
x.i.s, kang/kwang, g, 1,350w
3,320/50,000 words (chart)
x.i.s, kang/kwang, g, 1,350w
Kang sat back in the hard plastic chair and pretended to read a three month old fashion magazine. What a fashion magazine was doing in a place like this, he had no idea. Every inch of the walls was plastered with sketches and colored designs hand-drawn on yellowed sketchbook paper, but one had to squint and lean in close to see any of it in the dim light. The area the less than cheerful receptionist called the lobby was the dimmest spot, the light coming from a bright lamp placed in the back directly beside the artist. Here, the artist was king and everyone else just had to deal with his eccentric wishes.
From where he sat, he could just barely see Kwang if he leaned forward enough. Back behind the receptionist's desk Kwang lay on a cushioned table face-down, the top of his head pointing toward the lobby. He had his head resting on his folded arms, and he was staring off to the side at something or probably nothing. Kang couldn't see his eyes, but somehow he knew Kwang wasn't closing his eyes.
The stout, muscular man was hovering around Kwang's lower back, his needled tool in hand and a thick set of glasses perched on his nose. He never wore those glasses unless he was working because they were bad for his image. Kwang's tan, naked skin seemed to glow in the bright light of the man's lamp.
Kang had been waiting for hours now and he was starting to get agitated. He hated coming on these trips but for whatever reason hadn't been able to deny Kwang's invitation, maybe because it was rare that Kwang thought to bring someone along. "He'll be done soon," the girl at the front desk said in a rather bored way, cracking her gum and not looking up from her magazine. Maybe she was the one who brought in these magazines.
"Wanna look?" Kwang's soft voice echoed in the nearly empty salon. Kang didn't, but he got up anyway and made his way around to the back. The tattoo artists didn't look up as he approached, but Kwang turned his head just enough to give Kang an anxious look.
Far below the scrolling text at the base of his neck, underneath the mirrored designs on his shoulder blades and just beside the words along his left side, fresh black ink glistened on Kwang's skin. There were vines, or it could have been a single vine, Kang couldn't tell because of the inpredictable and complex way it or they wound and tangled together across Kwang's middle and lower back. Small black outlines of flowers dotted the thin strands here and there. The design was a bit girly, in Kang's opinion, and trying to follow the lines made him a little dizzy, but he knew it looked good. Kwang made everything look good.
"I don't get it," he finally admitted, earning a small, somewhat strained smile from his friend below. The slightest hint of pain creased the corners of Kwang's otherwise unreadable expression.
With a gruff sigh, the artist pulled back his needle and squinted at his work through his glasses. "Done," he concluded in his rough voice. "Stay still for a bit while I get the bandages."
Kwang turned in vain to try and catch a glimpse in the mirror behind him, frowning and huffing. Kang grinned and grabbed a hand mirror to help, angling it do that Kwang could see his new skin. A familiar gleam shone in Kwang's eyes as Kang slowly moved the mirror to show it all bit by bit.
The majority of the time, Kwang kept his emotions to himself. He had his loud moments and his silly moments, but he was naturally one of the more quiet people Kang knew. He smiled when people expected him to smile, but when he wanted to smile, everyone around him fell in love. Or at least that was what happen to Kang and he'd like to think that it happened to everyone else. When he looked at his tattoos, though, his smile was different still. Perhaps not different in a bad way, but different in a way Kang doubted he could ever understand, and that made him incredibly frustrated.
"Time to go," he sang as he helped Kwang gingerly pull his t-shirt on over the bandages. They gave the artist and his receptionist one last repsectful bow before they exited into the bright daylight.
Kwang took a deep breath of fresh air and experimented with lifting his arms above his head. He winced and tried stretching them out to the sides. Kang pulled on his sunglasses and frowned.
"You're running out of available skin, you know," he said as they started walking to the bus stop.
"Hm?" Kwang asked as if he hadn't been listening.
Kang gave an exasperated sigh and grabbed Kwang's wrist, lifting it up in front of their faces. A sleeve-style tattoo extended from the wrist all the way past his elbow, maybe an inch below the large tattoo on his shoulder. The other arm was almost exactly the same. "Your arms are covered, now your back," he said seriously. "What's next, your legs?"
Kwang blinked. "I hadn't thought of that."
It took all of Kang's will power to leep from smacking his best friend across the face, one of the few places not covered in those instricate designs.
Kwang didn't notice and shook his arm free, wincing again at the strain the movement put on his back. "Actually I was thinking about getting something done on my neck."
They arrived at the bus stop and Kang took a look at the schedule. "You''re not going to be satisfied until you're completely covered, are you?"
Kwang was already sitting on the bench, and he looked at Kang thoughtfully. For a few long minutes, they stayed like that, Kang standing a ways away and Kwang sitting and thinking to himself. Kang chewed on the inside of his cheek and wondered if maybe he'd said something wrong, but Kwang smiled.
"I'm pretty strange, huh?" His smile wasn't one of those captivating, genuine smiles. It seemed tired, almost apologetic.
"Nothing wrong with that," Kang muttered and cursed himself for not watching his words. He sidled over and took a seat awkwardly beside his friend as Kwang stared at his arms where they rested, palms-up, on his legs.
"It's hard to put into words," Kwang began, flexing his hands and watching the inked designs stretch with his skin. "I've always felt... uncomfortable, I guess. I'd look at myself and feel dissatisfied. No matter what I did, I hated what I saw."
His lips trembled as he took a deep breath and smiled another tired smile. Kang felt the urge to hold Kwang's hand.
"I got the first tattoo because I thought they looked cool and thought, hey, why not, and then afterwards I loved looking at it. For once I could stand in front of the mirror and not, you know, hate everything." He ran his fingers across one arm. "So I got another one, and then another, and I started to like myself more and more."
Kang followed Kwang's fingers along the tattoos, tracing up all the way to where the white t-shirt blocked the art from view.
"I never want to stop getting them," Kwang ended breathily. He gave Kang another nervous glance before looking away. "I want to keep liking myself."
The bus pulled up to the sidewalk and startled them both. A genuine grin spread across Kwang's face as he laughed out loud, and Kang couldn't help smiling along with him. They carefully pressed through the crowd on the buss and settled into an opening side-by-side. Kang rested his chin on Kwang's shoulder because it was close by and he felt like it.
"Can I come the next time, too?"
Kwang smiled again and Kang's heart ached just a little. "That'd be great."
"And when you finally do run out of skin," Kang continued with a fake sigh and a slight grin, "I'll lend you mine."