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Inked

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“Our bodies were printed as blank pages
to be filled with the ink of our hearts”
― Michael Biondi


 

Every person is born with a tattoo, the tattoo is always plain and black, no colour or shade. The tattoo is a sign of a person’s soul mate, the outline fills in and shades to finish the tattoo when a person meets their soul mate. The images and colours all represent the person’s soul mate’s personality, it’s like having a part of that person permanently with your body. The tattoos differ in size and placement for everyone. Some have tattoos on their ankle while others have them on their wrist. Some are so small they could be covered with a penny, but others span the body that carry them.

Really Zoro thought it was just a bunch shit. His tattoo hadn’t coloured yet, the swirls and fish that covered the expanse of his back and a large portion of his sides remained nothing but black outlines. The tattoos that started from below his shoulders, those were a different story. He’d gotten them done when he was between sixteen and nineteen, he’d asked Usopp to sketch a couple designs, and had gotten them done and coloured. Now when he wore a shirt, it looked like he had met his soul mate, which discouraged the ridiculous romantics who walked around and forced eye contact with any uncoloured person. The unmatched people could get ridiculous, there were so many people who were so focused on finding the person that finished their tattoo that they forgot to live. Zoro had met so many people who refused to sleep with anyone, sometimes even refused a friendly invitation to dance because it was “cheating”. Honestly, Zoro figured it was to your soul mate’s advantage if you had a little experience under your belt. He’d met a few others who felt the same, and had gained that experience. Hopefully his soul mate wasn’t one of the idiot romantics, that would be hell to explain.

Some people were so desperate to find their soul mate they went to “professionals” to get their tattoos read so they had a clue as to what their other half was like. A lot of the idiots were gullible enough to trust anyone who put a sign on a door, and walked away with stupid assumptions that turned out to be completely wrong.

It was in a very public reading place that Zoro sat with his long-time friend Nami, waiting to get his tattoo read. Zoro sighed and slouched further into his seat. If the witch hadn’t promised to take a fourth off his debt for by helping her expose a well-known tattoo reader, he wouldn’t come within ten feet of a place like this. Apparently the money Nami would make by exposing her would be double the debt Zoro owed her.

He grumbled a curse at Nami as he sulked and glared at the floor. He could’ve been drinking, working out, or sleeping. Really anything was better than this. He glared around the room at the semi-circle of hopefuls waiting to get their tattoos read. A weird looking chair sat across from the semi-circle, where an idiot would sit with their tattoo on display for the rest of the room to see as the psychic wanna be would molest them trying to find answers. He’d been to a few others like this with Nami, back when most of his tattoos had been unfinished outlines. Nami would point to a tattoo at random and say it was the one and the “professional” would go on a long and ridiculous rant about what it meant and how they could feel Zoro’s soul mate. Nami would then stand up in mock outrage and point out the reader was talking about the wrong tattoo, if they did this with any random tattoo that meant nothing how easy was it for them to do it with the real deal. Blah blah blah.

“She’s supposed to be the real deal.” Nami mused, tapping a finger on her chin, “Apparently everything she says is correct, but I’m thinking she has a way of knowing it, like researching people or something.”

Zoro nodded, not really listening to Nami’s chatter, he didn’t care, and as long as she stuck to her side of the deal he was fine. A door opened and a woman walked in, stopping in the middle of the semi-circle.

“Hello, my name is Madame Shyarly, I will be reading your tattoos today.” The tall woman said, unsmilingly. Zoro had to hold in a groan when he looked at her. She had chin length black hair that fell into her face, covering one of her heavily lined blue eyes. A deep blue hood sat over most of her hair, leading down to a hoodie like shirt that barely covered her chest. She fit perfectly into the description of a fortune teller who was in touch with “the other side”. Zoro had nothing wrong with that type, it was just too predictable.

“Who would like to be first?” Madame Shyarly asked, scanning the faces of the people sitting in the room. No matter how desperate the room’s occupants were to find out information, no one wanted to go first, it was always the same. Nami nudged him and he sighed, raising his hand slightly. A small smile worked its way onto Shyarly’s face and she nodded, gesturing to the chair.

“Right wrist.” Nami muttered. Zoro nodded slightly and stood, walking to the center.

“His tattoo is already filled in.” A scandalized voice called. Madame Shyarly shook her head, “Those are merely additions, each has a meaning, but are not the one.”

Zoro cocked an eyebrow at her, she was the first to get that right. The tattoos that covered the skin on his arms all had meanings. He lifted his right arm and pointed to the small outline of a bird that had been designed and done by Usopp about six years ago, representing Nami’s freedom from Arlong.

To his surprise the woman shook her head and smiled, nodding her head at Nami, “Her life has nothing to do with your soul mate, not yet.”

He heard Nami’s gasp of surprise, but kept his emotions in control, eyeing the reader with interest. Shyarly smiled and motioned for him to take off his shirt. That was definitely new, she knew where his tattoo was. He pulled his shirt over his head and dropped it on the seat of the chair, ignoring the gasps and murmurs his body started. He knew he was well built, he spent hours training his body to become a weapon of sorts, the result was, as Robin called it, an Adonis like body. He turned and sat in the chair with his back to the audience, starting a whole new wave of murmurs. Even he had to admit the large tattoo that covered his whole back and shoulders was impressive. The waves and swirls seemed to accentuate the muscle he had built up over the years, even the fish and flowers that looked like they were floating on the water fit perfectly. He’d asked Robin once, and she’d identified the fish that covered his back, and had pointed out pictures of the real colourful creatures in a book. There was an octopus, a few clown fish, a insanely detailed lion fish, a symphysodon discus whatever that was, a Moorish idol, a French angel fish, a banggai cardinal fish, a mandarin fish and a couple trout, crawfish and salmon. A weird combination of fish to be in the same place.

He’d been told several times the tattoo was a little feminine for such a tough looking guy, but he didn’t care. In his opinion it was cool, and it had several different meanings that he didn’t know yet. But as Luffy had once said, the ocean was a mysterious place with different hidden places that some people never find, it was beautiful, terrifying and strong. So that meant Zoro’s soul mate was probably the same way. And judging from his friend’s tattoos and their soul mates, it would be true. Either way, the tattoo was cool, his favorite part was the giant frilled shark that looked like he was just swimming into the scene, his ugly maw open and showing his teeth. It would probably look awesome when it was coloured in.

He flinched as Madame Shyarly’s freezing hands touched his back, tracing the swirls and waves of his tattoo. He heard her hum in thought and rolled his eyes, they all had a signature noise they made when they touched a tattoo, making it seem like they connected to the “other world”. He glanced up at the reader’s face, she had made sure to stand to the side so everyone could see his back and the mess of sea creatures that lived on it.

“Well your soul mate loves the ocean, there seems to be a goal or dream attached to the sea.” She started, and Zoro snorted, no shit. She tapped her nails on his back as if reprimanding him for his rudeness, “He loves all things beautiful, and loves creating beautiful things. I’m seeing a sea blue, one that matches the water when the sun hits it just right.”

At that Zoro’s head snapped to the side to stare at the reader, this was different from every reading he’d gotten. His soul mate… was a he? Zoro had no problem with it, but he’d never expected a guy, he’d almost expected a woman to match the beautiful fish… horribly stereotypical, but everyone assumed it was probably a woman.

“He?” Nami asked skeptically, “You can tell the gender?”

Madame Shyarly ignored her and continued, “He is loyal and strong, he has a tremendous protective instinct. He can be very cool and calm, but that can change in an instant, much like the ocean. Calm one minute to a raging storm the next, I’d watch that if I were you. He is also… warm and romantic…”

Zoro groaned, romantic? Well shit. He dropped his chin onto the chair and stared at the wall, didn’t romantic mean flowers and chocolates? This guy, if Madame Shyarly was correct, was going to be a little disappointed with Zoro’s wooing skills.

A sharp intake of breath caught his attention and he glanced sharply at Shyarly. She was staring at his back in wonder and then glancing at the door.

“You’ll meet him today.” She said in awe. Nami scoffed and stood up from her seat, “There is no way you can know that. I really doubt Zoro’s soul mate is going to show up today.”

It was then the door opened. Zoro sat up and turned his head to look over his shoulder, there was no way in hell. A young blonde man poked his head in the door and looked around the room. He noticed eyes all trained on him and bit his lip, raising a hand in greeting, “Sorry I didn’t mean to interrupt anything, I meant to come and get my tattoo read but couldn’t get off work in time.”

He shuffled into the room and let the door fall closed behind him, clearly uncomfortable about the attention he was getting, “I’ll just stand back here, continue the reading, no need to stop for me… whoa…”

Zoro could see the blonde’s eyes tracing his tattoo, staring in awe at the waves. Slowly his eyes traveled up Zoro’s back, to his eyes. The second their eyes met Zoro felt a flash of heat travel up his back, searing his skin. Gasps echoed around the room as the heat encompassed Zoro, who panted in surprise at the pain.

“You were… you were right?” Nami sounded shocked as she fell back into her seat. Zoro twisted his neck a little more and tore his eyes away from the blonde. He glanced down and blinked in shock at the hues of blue and patches of colour that covered his back. Zoro jumped to his feet and twisted to see the skin, almost breaking his neck to try and catch a glimpse of his back. Shyarly touched his shoulder and pointed to a mirror on the wall. He almost sprinted to it, turning to examine his back in the glass. The sight took his breath away. His back was no longer a golden tan with black lines, it was now all shades of blue, beautifully shaded to create ocean waves and swirls of a current. The fish that had swum on his back since his birth now looked real, like they were actually swimming in a body of water, their vibrant colours and shapes created a picturesque scene on his back. Even the ugly frilled shark looked incredible. He could feel eyes on him as he took in his tattoo, staring in wonder at his back.

“Oh my god.” The sound of an awed voice broke Zoro from the trance he was in, his head snapped in the direction of the blonde that had caused this. While everyone, Zoro included, had been focused on Zoro’s tattoo the blonde had stripped his jacket and shirt off and was staring at his chest, then turning to study his back. A scaled, moss green tail stretched diagonally across the blonde’s chest, travelling up his shoulder and wrapping itself around the blonde’s left upper arm.

“What is your name?” Madame Shyarly asked, and the blonde looked up at her, shock still covering his face, “Sanji.”

“Come here Sanji.” She called, motioning for him to walk forward. Dazedly he did, stumbling as he pushed through the group of seated people to make it to the reader. She turned him so his back faced Zoro, and Zoro stared in awe at the back of his soul mate.

Sanji’s tattoo depicted a large, incredibly detailed, moss green Japanese style dragon fighting with a deep red, furious looking tiger. Both creatures had their mouths open and were snarling at the other, claws were bared and fighting to make a mark. Above the two fighters, coming from underneath Sanji’s hair was the head and neck of a white dragon. Its jaws were open, showering flames over and around the combatants, who didn’t look like they cared. The tattoo was brutal and violent, flames and fighting between two majestic beings that held so much symbolism. This tattoo was a depiction of Zoro, and Zoro could see the connection clearly.

Shyarly spun Sanji around so that he faced Zoro, staring with eyes clouded in surprise, “Sanji, this is Zoro, your soul mate.”