Pete's in a mood.
A couple different words for it occur to Travis while he sits and listens and waits for Pete to finish his rambling and take a pause. Defiant, is one, and bratty. Maybe just flat-out hostile or self-destructive. A mood, anyway. Pete's got a whole collection of them. As many as he has pairs of shoes.
Eventually he misses a beat, though. The steady stream of pissed-off words hiccups and he hesitates, his attitude shifting from outward-facing to inward for just a second. That's all Travis needs.
"That's enough, now," he says quietly, and Pete looks up with a little jerk of his chin, his eyes going wide.
Travis nods at other end of the couch from where he's sitting. "Park your ass, bruv."
"I don't know if I want to today," Pete says, shoving his hands into the waistband of his pants. They're loose workout pants, made of something synthetic and slightly shiny. They rustle when he moves and he's moving a lot, restless and wound-up. They're distracting.
"Just sit," Travis says patiently. "I've got some stuff to show you and it'll be easier if you're not bouncing all over the place."
Pete flings himself down aggressively, hands still tucked away out of sight, those damn pants making a slick sound against the material of the couch. Travis is definitely against these pants.
"I'm waiting," Pete says, the edge in his voice half-teasing and half-aggressive. Travis thinks about smacking the back of his head, but instead he just stands up and goes in the other room for his bag. Smacking Pete when he's feeling defiant won't get him anywhere but in a fight. He's going to have to bribe a better mood out of him.
Travis tosses his bag on the couch and raises an eyebrow at Pete when he reaches for it. "You just go digging through other people's things, now?"
"I thought you said it was for me."
"No excuse not to have some fucking manners." That's right on the edge of too much scolding; Pete's eyes narrow and he touches the bag again, just to make a point. Travis rolls his eyes and reaches into the bag, pulling out one thing at a time and lining them up on the coffee table.
Nice coil of good rope. His tattoo machine. Fat black permanent marker.
For the first time since he came over, Pete smiles. "Do I have to pick one or do I get all three?"
"Will you ask nicely?"
"Let me hear it, then."
Pete exhales, staring up at the ceiling. Travis watches his eyes dart back and forth and his throat convulse with quick swallows. Little big bruv is wound tight as he gets.
"Please," Pete says finally. "Travie, may I please have all three things?"
"Of course you may, baby." Travis picks up the rope. "Stand up, strip down to your tighty-whities, and put your hands behind your back."
Pete does what he's told without arguing, which is the kind of thing that needs to be rewarded. Travis kisses him on the back of his neck before he guides Pete's arms to where he wants them, fingertips touching the opposite elbow behind his back, forearms laid together.
Then he starts placing the rope. Over the shoulders, around the biceps, back and forth across the span of his back. Down and around the forearms, again and again in neatly-spaced coils to hold them together and immobile. Neat and precise, spaced and held with careful knots, the simplest things. Pete's breath hitches each time Travis pauses to tie another knot, his head bowing a bit.
The idea of this is to make him be still, inside and out. It looks like it's working.
"There you are, baby," Travis murmurs, placing the last knot and trailing his fingers down Pete's back. "Sit down again."
He picks up the marker and sits at the opposite end, tugging Pete's leg up into his lap and studying the inside of Pete's calf for a moment before he tugs the cap off with his teeth and starts to write.
"Are you going to put your face on me?" Pete asks, leaning back with his bound arms on top of the arm of the couch.
"No." Travis adds a line weaving among the words, tying them all together into a design so neat and tight no one will know there's a message there at all unless they get up close. "Saporta ruined that for life."
"I should call him." Pete bounces a little and Travis taps his knee, glancing up at him sternly. He doesn't have to say anything; Pete promptly settles and makes a face that's somewhere in the neighborhood of apologetic. Travis runs his finger over the ugly inked version of Gabe's face, just a couple inches from his own in-progress knot of lines and words. Won't be hard to look better than that, but he hopes it'll mean as much.
"Is it ready?" Pete asks after a few more minutes, swinging his other leg up to nudge at Travis' arm.
"I suck at that."
"I know." Travis caps the marker and looks at him. "But I'm asking."
Pete bites his lip and nods, looking down at the couch. Travis finds the gloves in his bag, slipping them on and letting them snap against his wrists just to watch Pete shiver. Then he picks up the machine, switching it on and letting it buzz for a minute, so the vibration can settle down into Pete's bones before the needles touch him.
"Be still," Travis says. It's not an order, really; not a warning. He's just asking. And Pete gives, holding himself still and perfect while Travie inks his words and lines into his skin. He glances up at Pete's face every so often, and it's always the same--teeth sunk into his lip, eyes wide and watchful. His breathing is choppy and shallow. But he doesn't move an inch.
When Travis finishes and switches off the machine, it's so quiet it seems wrong. "Good boy," he says to break the silence, and Pete takes a full breath, choking a little on the end of it.
"What does it say?" Pete asks, leaning forward to see better.
Travis touches his finger to each word, letting Pete decipher them one by one, picking them out from the linework.
Beautiful, good, always, loved.
"You're full of shit," Pete says softly.
"That makes two of us." Travis opens his arms and Pete shifts around to lean against him, his arms still bound but the tension and fight gone from his body. Travis kisses the top of his head, and Pete smiles.