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coloring carelessly

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“I didn’t know you were into wargaming,” Stuart says.

Raj looks up from the coffee table, across which is spread an array of tiny enamel paint pots, tiny figures, and tiny paintbrushes. “I’m not, but I do like using minis for D&D, and it’s more fun if they’re personalized, not just paint by numbers.”

Stuart sits down beside him. “‘Personalized’. Is that a new synonym for ‘a total mess’?”

“Not all of us have your delicate touch, dude.”

“Here, let me help.” Stuart takes the brush, trying not to let the touch of Raj’s fingers mean more than it does.


Kids’ Day at the comic book store is, Raj thinks, his best idea for Stuart’s business ever.

Sure, Sheldon’s barely moving as the Flash, because there are kids hanging off him for photos. Howard’s been sulking in the back room for the last twenty minutes after getting called a Batmidget by a babysitter. Penny looks like she’s going to lasso the next teenage boy who gets anywhere near her.

But Stuart is in his element painting kids’ faces. Five bucks a pop makes some moms wince, but every elated Spiderson or Wonderdaughter is clearly worth it... especially for Stuart's smile.


Stuart hears the front door open and sets the paint roller carefully down in the tray before going out to welcome his roommate home.

“You’re wearing your painting t-shirt,” Raj greets him. “Minis?”

“No.”

“Terrain?”

“No.”

“Oil portrait of Cinnamon?”

“…why would I even?”

Raj goes into the bedroom and apparently figures out the location of the fresh paint smell.

“You’re painting the bathroom?”

“Do you know how much good a fresh coat of paint can do after the amount of cleaning I had to do in here?”

“What happened to my blue walls?”

“They clashed with the green mold!”


Raj has long since conceded that Stuart’s minis-painting skills are superior to his own, but that only means he gets bored when Stuart’s painting and he’s not.

He gives himself a mani-pedi while Stuart adds details to half a dozen figurines that Raj has hand-picked to represent his D&D characters, but it doesn’t take long before he’s bored again.

“Scoot round.”

“What?”

Raj hauls Stuart’s feet into his lap, shoves the toe separator in place, and starts with buffing. Stuart puts up only a token protest.

An hour later, Raj has beautiful detailed minis, and Stuart has beautiful pink toenails.


“I said you can,” Raj says.

“It still feels appropriative.”

“I lived in India until I was nineteen.” Raj sighs. “I promise you, this is 100% not appropriative. Also I didn’t spend forever mixing this paste for you to say no.”

Stuart pins Raj’s hand to the table and picks up the henna bag. “I feel like I’m frosting a cupcake.”

“A sweet, sweet, chocolate cupcake,” Raj agrees.

“And that feels racist.”

“Not if I say it.”

Stuart paints for a full minute before asking, “Why?”

If Raj is a cupcake, his cheeks are cherries. “I like you touching me.”