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Hidden Declaration

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“Homes,” Ray said, sprawled on the couch and clearly bored out of his mind, “I think we should get matching tattoos.”

“Absolutely not,” Brad replied without thinking.

Sometimes Ray got like this, talking his mouth off about something stupid without really meaning anything he said, and it was like white noise to him now, just like whatever trash reality show Ray kept putting on in the background was.

Brad glanced at the screen before returning to his book, flipping a page. Punk’d. He hated that he even knew what that was.

“Are you telling me you wouldn’t want a completely original, one-of-a-kind design by yours truly?”

“I said no, Ray.”

Ray rolled his eyes. “Geez, Brad, give me some fucking credit. I’m not saying we should get huge ‘I heart RP’ and ‘I heart BC’ tattoos. I’d go for something classy,” he said as though he weren’t covered in dumb tattoos.

Brad dropped the book in his lap and turned to face Ray. “And what would a Whiskey Tango social reject like yourself know about classy?” He stared pointedly at the messy bowl of nachos and guac Ray had balanced on his chest, right below his chin for easy access, because he was too lazy to sit up and eat properly like a normal human being.

Ray wasn’t letting go of this for some reason, and it was getting under his skin. Ray knew him. He was career; he couldn’t risk getting caught, especially not over some tacky gesture that only dumb pussy fucks who were insecure enough about their relationship that they needed to broadcast it to the entire world resorted to.

Ray pointed a finger at him, nearly dislodging the bowl from his chest. “I know we shouldn’t be tramp stamp twins. Hey, we can get something hot! Like a babe with a big rack to pair off with the lady on your back,” he said as though they hadn’t just debated whether he knew what classy even was. “And when you’re lying in your grave at night, lonely and horny, you can jerk one out, looking at her and thinking of your old pal Ray-Ray back at home.”

And Brad finally got it, the reason Ray was asking. It wasn’t as though Ray could send him photos of himself or even write letters that said too much. He thought that Ray might want to do that if he could, give Brad a piece of himself to get through long tours, be there with him in whatever way he could because he couldn’t physically be at his side as his RTO anymore.

“You can choose something yourself if you’re that anal about it,” Ray said magnanimously. “I’m not that picky.”

Brad thought about it, about the idea of choosing something to be inked on Ray’s skin. He didn’t know the shape of it yet, didn’t know what it would look like, just that he would pick a tattoo that was small and simple. Nothing romantic or sappy, but one that would mean something to the both of them because if they were going to do this, he sure as shit wasn’t going to go for something stupid.

It would be somewhere discreet. He would put his hand there, on Ray’s hip maybe or his back, nothing much behind the touch, just a tap, and know it was there and he was the one who put it there. He would touch it through the cotton of Ray’s shirt, and he would know what he was doing and Ray would know what he was doing, but no one else would. No one would be any the wiser; they wouldn’t know what it meant, that it meant that he belonged to Ray and Ray belonged to him.

He thought of Ray sprawled on his back just as he was now, except under him and naked, thought of the way Ray would look when he pressed down on Ray’s tattoo, indenting the skin there to the point that his nails dug into it.

He thought of the way Ray would look as he did that and the way he always looked, for Brad and no one else.

Mine, he thought.

“I’ll think about it,” he said, and Ray smiled, showing all of his fucked up teeth that Brad loved so much, as though he knew that he had already won.