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Chapter 3: Ink

 

For vronaqueen

 

Crypt studied the CNN video of the woman he recognized as the Captain’s girlfriend. The tattoo artist already knew what she was announcing to the whole world today and hadn’t told a soul about the name he’d marked on Captain Rogers’ skin.

He’d been damned proud of the way he’d entwined the white ink of her name into the black ink of the name of Captain’s other lover--and wasn’t that a hell of a thing? Crypt snorted in amusement. Cap had confirmed his bisexuality with his pair of lovers on national television a few months back and had damned near broken American society in the process.

The shop clients talked about it for weeks. Being Brooklyn, Cap was hailed a hero by most of the locals, but there were those who’d had their shining idol tarnished by the revelations, and there was real grief as reality didn’t match up with expectation. Crypt felt some sort of obligation to soothe the sharp edges and help his clients understand the why’s and how’s of it all.  

Darcy Stark seemed fearless behind the podium, but Crypt wasn’t particularly surprised. Any kid of Stark’s would either be a permanent basket case or a paragon of stubborness to put up with him. Crypt would put money on the latter. He rocked back on his heels as he listened to the conference, his eyebrows flying up so hard his forehead hurt when she announced they--all three of them--had been married on Asgard. Hoo boy. Crypt scratched his ear, wincing in anticipation of all that noise for the next month. Every client was sure to have an opinion all over again.

He was right, but for every vocal asshole, there were five who quietly murmured approval and went about their business.

About the time the furor died down at summer’s end, “Grant Barnes” made an appointment. This time, the Captain did it like normal folk, during regular working hours and not minding the wide-eyed stares of the other patrons when he made his way to the back of the shop where Crypt worked.

“Captain,” Crypt greeted with a nod.

“Call me ‘Steve,’ Crypt. Good to see you.”

“Congratulations on your wedding.”

Steve quirked his lips in a happy grin. “Thanks.” He rubbed a thumb over his wedding ring, perhaps unconsciously, but Crypt didn’t think so.

“Ready to do your lady’s name in black ink?”

Steve lifted a shoulder. “I kind of like it the way it is, but it’s the right thing to do, I think. Equal time, right?”

Crypt huffed a laugh. “Sure thing.  Lemme see what I can do.”

The captain stripped off his t-shirt, folding it up to tuck under his head as he stretched out on the table. His dog tags slid to one side, but the man didn’t seem to mind. “Can you do something in blue? Electric blue?”

“It’ll fade,” Crypt chided. “The whole piece was meant to be black in the end. But I can do some shading, sure. You’ll have to touch it up now and again.”

“I can do that.” Steve closed his eyes, shifting a bit to get comfortable. “Let me know when you’re done.”

Just like that, the captain fell asleep, not even twitching as Crypt set the needle to his skin.

 

A week later, Crypt opened a padded envelope. Inside was an 8”x10” photo of the Captain’s tattoo with the “Darcy Maria Stark” and “James Buchanan Barnes” entwined delicately together in black ink, with bright blue highlights edged in white separating the two names. The print was signed in black Sharpie.

--Thank you, Crypt, for your art and professionalism.  Steven G. Rogers--

The photograph went up on the wall behind the reception desk.

 


 

 

Darcy might have shared a picture of Steve wading out of the refurbished pool at Stark Mansion with Bucky, Jane, and Clint. Clint sent it to Sam, who showed it to his mama the next time he dropped in for Sunday dinner. His niece, who was visiting with her cousins, neatly hacked Sam’s phone and ripped a copy that she sent to all her friends.

The photo went viral. It took all of seven days to break the notes on Tumblr.

“Fuckin’ sap,” was Bucky’s only quip when the photo popped up on all the entertainment news shows. But he ordered a poster-sized version of the photo and hung it on the back of the closet door just to annoy Steve.  

Darcy slicked on her brightest red lipstick and kissed the print next to the tattoo.

Steve grinned every time he got dressed in the morning.