Hunter really liked working at the tattoo parlor. He got to meet interesting people, he got compliments on his talent and it paid really good. Most of his clients did make a point of letting him know he had a strange sense of fashion, but he always ignored them.
It was true, in a way. Most people expect a tattoo artist to be covered in black leather and piercings like some hot bad boy. Not a pair of crocs and a Hawaiian shirt in the middle of Connecticut autumn. Hunter was always quick to say, he liked wearing what was comfortable, not caring about style, letting his work speak for him.
He was getting ready for work when he heard the little bell, announcing his first costumer of the day.
"Welcome to The Owl House!" he said, smiling but not really looking at the client "what can I do for ya?"
"Oh, hi! I actually called ahead, I'm Willow Park," said the young woman, with a sweet cheerful voice that he did remember from the phone a few days ago.
The young lady was short but she looked at him with an air of determination that made him feel like she was not the type to get scared easy. And her smile was like sunshine, filling the room with warmth and light. The kind of person that made other people more confident by just being next to them.
Fuck, it was way too early for this shit.
"Oh, yeah! I remember, you had an appointment!!" he tried not to sound so loud "sit down, I still have to get my equipment ready."
Willow sat down and took off her jacket, which allowed him a better look at her. She was chubby, in a cute way. But her arms... fuck, they looked strong. Hunter briefly wondered if she'd be strong enough to carry him....
No! Nope! No! Professional!
"I'm Hunter Noceda, by the way,"
"Yeah, I know, you said your name when I made the appointment."
"Y-yeah, you said you wanted a sunflower tattoo?" he tried to recall.
"Yup! Right here, on my left bicep!" she said, flexing to emphasize.
He was not going to survive this.
"Is this your first tattoo?"
"Well then, I should warn you. The pain can be a little too much for first timers," he always tried to be gentle when he said this "if you feel like you can't handle it, just tell me and I'll stop. No judgement and I won't charge you if you don't let me finish it,"
"That's sweet of you, Hunter," she smiled kindly at him "but I think you'll find I have a higher tolerance for pain than expected."
She fucking winked at him. This had to be a fever dream. Did Luz spike his coffee with something that morning?
"Yeah, okay, let's get started then."
He started, fixating on his work. Concentrating as hard as he could on the drawing and not on the muscles he was lucky enough to have his hands on.
It wasn't like this was the first beautiful customer he'd ever had. Most of his clients were young and attractive; Hunter had suffered many bisexual freakouts, especially if a client wanted a tattoo in an unusual place. But something about this girl made her seem different from the others. Like, this was going to be more than just a fleeting crush.
"So, how long have you been working here?" she asked, breaking the silence.
It wasn't out of the ordinary for clients to start conversation when they got bored. Tattoos did take a long time to get done and sometimes talking was the only thing they had to pass the time.
And he might as well get to know her better.
"For, like, 2 years," he said "what about you? What's your job?"
"Oh, I work next door actually," she revealed "Willow's Wonderful Weeds, the new flower shop. We opened up pretty recently, it makes sense we haven't really been introduced."
Oh yeah, he knew that place. Of course he did notice when they opened a new shop next to his a few months back but he never paid close attention. He'd certainly pay more attention now, that was for sure.
"Yeah, I wouldn't forget about you, you seem like an unforgettable person," he instantly regretted saying that.
And then he saw her blush and stopped regretting it.
"Sooo, Willow's Wonderful Weeds, huh? That's a funny name."
She laughed. He made a mental note to make her laugh again.
"Yeah, my friend Gus came up with it. I thought it was stupid at first but it grew on me."
"It GREW on you?" he smirked at the accidental pun.
She groaned, but she didn't actually seem upset with him. He allowed himself a laugh.
"Oh, you're just as bad as him."
"You should introduce us, I think we'd get along," totally normal suggestion, not weird at all.
"Please no," she begged.
He laughed a little more before returning to work.
"So, flowers, huh? Is that why you're getting a sunflower tattoo?"
"Yeah, I've always loved plants," she said "ever since I was little, I felt connected with nature and I knew that's what I wanted to have on my skin to represent me. I wasn't sure what kind of flower I wanted at first since there are so many pretty ones, but I knew for sure I didn't want a rose, that one's been used to death."
"Oh yeah, totally," he nodded "take it from me, I see a million roses a day, it gets boring real quick. It's like, there are other flowers, people!"
"Exactly! Valentine's Day is coming later and I'm thinking about all of the roses I'm gonna have to grow, as if other flowers aren't romantic enough."
Hunter didn't think of telling her how the sunflower perfectly fit her, as she seemed to shine brighter than the sun. He was totally not thinking that, no.
"And you? You got any tattoos?"
"Yeah, I have one on my back of the starship from Cosmic Frontier, I don't know if you've read that."
"My friend Gus read it," she said "he keeps trying to get me to read it, but it doesn't seem like my thing. Maybe I will introduce you to him after all, give him someone to talk about it."
He now actually wanted to meet this Gus, he sounded like a cool guy. And the idea of spending more time with Willow wasn't bad either.
"I also have this one," he showed her his left arm for an instant before going back to work.
It was a big gray wolf, howling at a full moon, surrounded by bright stars.
"Wow, it's beautiful," she said, starstruck.
Totally not a big deal that she just said something about him was beautiful. Totally normal. Yes sir. Nothing weird at all.
"And this one," he showed his right wrist, where there was a picture of a little red cardinal bird.
"Aww, he's so tiny," she cooed.
"I actually did this one to myself, the other two are from some friends, fellow tattoo artists," he explained "can't exactly draw on my own back."
"Wow, that's actually pretty badass, I didn't know one could tattoo oneself."
"You can if you know what you're doing," he tried not to sound too braggy.
Willow took a deep breath, almost like she was hipping herself up to ask the next question.
"You don't have any tattoos that you share with your partner?" she asked, kind of quickly. As if she was scared.
"Uh, no. I don't. I don't have a partner."
Willow tried to hide her joy. "Oh, okay."
"Do you have one?" he asked, his fear even more evident.
"No, I'm single."
He quietly celebrated in his head.
"I don't really like matching tattoos anyway, you won't believe how many couples I've seen come in and get matching tattoos only to come back and remove them," he told her, quietly.
"Aw, that sucks so bad," she frowned.
"Yeah, it's not fun thinking something is gonna last forever only to realize it won't."
"Definitely not getting a matching tattoo with anyone now," she decided with finality.
"Yeah, I didn't even get one with my sister when she suggested it."
"Your sister wanted matching tattoos?"
"Yeah, she wanted ones that said 'La Banda de las Chicas Malas', which means 'The Bad Girl Coven' in Spanish," he recalled.
"That's so dumb, I'm glad you didn't go through with it," she laughed again.
"Yeah, she's like that," he rolled his eyes "she's annoying, but I do love her, don't get me wrong."
"Aaww," she sighed "I always wanted a sibling. I guess I have Gus, he's kinda like a brother, but that's not exactly the same."
"You're not missing much," he promised her "just constant invasions of your privacy and walking in on her and her girlfriend, neither of which is fun."
Willow laughed again. Hunter was suddenly reminded that, if Luz found out he now had a crush on the girl next door, who owned a flower shop, he would never hear the end of it. Her little fanfiction loving heart would explode with evil plans trying to get him and Willow together and it would be terrible for them both. Mostly for him.
He would try his best not to let her find out, although part of him knew he would simply be delaying the inevitable.
"So, tattoos... science fiction novels... what else are you into?"
You, he might've said if he was braver. Or crazier.
"Well, the tattoos started because I liked drawing and I also know how to sew," he regretted not wearing one of his shirts with patches, he would've wanted to show them. Oh well, next time.
"Ooooooohhh, a man who sews, that's nice," she said, her tone light and flirty.
Well, two can play that game.
"How about you? You work out? Because your bicep game is ridiculous," he tried to sound cool.
He also tried to sound like he didn't get that phrase from Luz.
She blushed again! Fuck yeah!
"Yeah, I do a lot of heavy lifting when I'm working the plants but I also go to the gym pretty regularly and I like roller skating and jogging and soccer."
"It's called fútbol," he muttered under his breath.
Curse his wonderful, latino family.
"Yeah, that," she nodded "I also love photography. I have a camera that I carry around everywhere. It's super old but I love it, I love developing the pictures and seeing them come to life. I have sooooo many photo albums back home, it's crazy."
"I'd like to see them," he confessed.
"I'll show you some time," she promised.
Not too long after, the tattoo was finished.
"Okay, it's ready. Look at yourself in the mirror."
She did and she immediately squealed at the sight. She spun around, looking at herself from different angles, her smile kept getting bigger.
"I LOVE IT! THANK YOU!"
"It's nothing, I enjoyed doing it," he admitted.
He told her the price and she paid for it. He did still need the money, unfortunately.
"So, I'll see you around, right?" she asked, hopeful as she put her jacket back on.
"Yeah, if you ever need me, I'm right next door. You can just let yourself in here or you can call me, you have my number."
"Yeah, I do have your number," she said, as if she had forgotten "so I guess I'll call you soon, then."
"For another tattoo?"
"No," she smiled, as she opened the door to leave "for a date."
The Sunnyside of the Iceman
- tattoo shop!au: Sundown and Iceman are the owner of the most ridiculously named tattoes shop in Miramar;
- they were both pilots, but racism and the commie witch hunt did the trick on them. Doesn't matter that Ice was the best and Sundown already flown more mission that he could remember;
- Slider used to be his RIO and now he's Goose's and Ice swears in seven languages (that he speaks) that if one of them isn't going to ask out to the other he is going to do that for them. It's fucking embarrassing. Ice loves his best friend but he can't live with all that secondhand embarrassment for much longer;
- Sundown says that Chip says that they even get worse since they were called in Top Gun and Jesus, seriously Sunny? (Chip is Sun's boyfriend and he's knows all the little gossip that makes Ice laughs for days at time);
- Sun and Chip met two weeks in the program and it took them three years to speak about feelings. Ice would like to know if every single navy pilot is emotionally slow;
- they bought the shop for almost a penny because the lady didn't know what to do with it and Ice knows how to smiles when he wants to;
- Ice's first tattoo is on Sun's left wrist, the silhouette of a Tomcat F-14. Sun's first is on Ice's biceps, a colourful little things that he says represent the patch of Iceman's first squadron. Tom finds himself looking at it for hours, even if it's already four years old;
- They're close on Monday but once a month it's on Sunday because Marcus has his monthly meeting with his granma and he takes Ice with him because it's hilarious watching his 95 years old granny telling her friends, and the pastor, that this is the white Jewish boy I adopted! Ice looks pleasantly embrassed and his humor gets better and better everytime his plate gets filled;
- they hear about Maverick, for the first time, a cloudy day where half of Miramar is in their shop and Slider has his arm around Goose and their noses are so closed they could kiss, even without trying. Chip says he's half crazy up in the sky and that Merlin actually prayed during their third hop. They see Maverick for the first time four week in to the program and the first thing he says to Iceman is it's all your fault if Goose isn't my RIO and the silence is the only sound he hears back and then he's out of the door before anyone can move;
- Sun brings out the heavy alcohol for that night and Iceman finished between Slider and Goose, drawing new tattoes and trying to know knock his friends head together. The next morning the designs are still pretty cool, Slider&Goose are cuddling but nothing happend. He hoped Sun had made his special eggs, he deserves a treat;
- Maverick is back a week later, looking like someone had just kicked his dog and with a pie, a I'm sorry pie apparently. It was uncalled for, I'm sorry he says before shifting half of his attention to the last schematics Ice draw. I-would you be willing to tattoo that on me? It's freaking awsome and Marcus' job are great but I want to first one to that, Ice is almost going to say no to him but the pie is an apple one and Maverick is looking at the drawing like he's seeing something sacred and he can't tell him no. (For visual is something like this);
- so, as Sunny whispers to Chip adding the last details to his last tattoo, the Mitchell-Kazansky drama is beginning. Chip laughs before kissing him, and we have the front row tickets;
- Mav becomes a regular in the shop and in their lives long after the tattoo is done and he has the propensity of moving people around to be as close to Iceman as he can;
- they, Chip&Sun&Slider&Goose, bet on how much time is going to take them to realise that Mav kissing Ice's forehead when he's sketching is something 'friends do' and what the two assholes are going to do about that;
- in the end, and fucking finally Iceman would say, Goose asks Slider out for a date and it goes so bad they're back in the shop the very next afternoon screaming at eachother until Chip doesn't gently shows Slider against Goose's chest and than it's just so perfectly quiet. Because they're kissing. Ice brings champagne out for dinner, they all deserve it and maybe, maybe, he's going to find the courage to take Mav's hand in his and kiss him before the end of the night;
- Sun doesn't want to know, he just wants their shop free of drama, and let his boyfriend take him up in the sky after hours.