Isaac was exhausted. He’d been running full throttle since they pulled him out of his apartment, only catching a few hours rest at a time. They’d been on the Roanoke a few days already and he feels filthy, covered in a fine layer of dust and oil and Necromorph fluid. The old UVA had taken a beating and Isaac had leapt at the chance to change. The new one however, beautiful as it might have been, made him uncomfortable. It was covered in markings and tattoos, all a brilliant white, and reminded him distinctly of Marker scrawl. He couldn’t read it so he supposed it wasn’t, not really, but all the same the crew had given him a round of disapproving looks.
Norton had ordered him to take a few hours rest and loathe as Isaac to follow the man’s orders, he was too tired to argue. There was a small storage room just off the communications room where they had holed up that they had devoted to catching quick naps. There were no large vents and the door could be sealed for safety. John Carver was there when Isaac entered, already asleep, though no doubt lightly.
Isaac hesitated at finding the room occupied. His scars… But John was asleep, he just needed to keep quiet. Isaac had scavenged a small tub from the Medbay and half filled it with the cleanest water they could manage, desperate for a wash. He set it in the corner and started unbuckling the RIGs thicker plates, setting them aside quietly. There were some sheets and hospital blankets piled up in pallets, just three, one was holding Isaac’s armor plates, John was stretched out on the other. At the third pallet, Isaac knelt beside the tub and began peeling back the RIG suit. He had just tugged one arm free when John spoke behind him.
"Did you carve those yourself?“
Isaac tensed, gripping the suit hard. For an instant he considered pulling the suit back on. "They told me I did.” Isaac said softly, “While Earth Gov- While I was on Titan Sprawl. I don’t remember."
A brief quiet followed and it was thick, heavy. Isaac refused to turn away from the wall.
"You must be damn flexible to have pulled it off.” It might have been an attempt at a joke, it might not. Isaac suppressed a shiver and started to pull his suit back on, wash be damned.
"I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.“ Isaac paused again, taking a slow breath. John may have been a hardass, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t be friendly just for the sake of it. Right?
"It’s alright.” Isaac slid the suit back down, peeling it to the waist, as far as he finds himself willing to go at the moment. “Ellie hated them."
John made a noise of understanding. "Reminders.” He said and he sounded like he knew the feeling, “You can’t ever really escape your past. She seems like the kind of person willing to try."
Isaac only nodded, scooping up a handful of water and pouring it over his shoulder. The water was cold and the ship was cold and the combination was just as unbearable as it was delicious. It was almost painful, but the grime was coming away and it was absolutely worth it. He didn’t bother stifling the tiny moan that escaped him.
John laughed behind him.
"They still pain you?” He asked as Isaac kept washing, keeping his hands gentle on his own skin.
"Not anymore.“ He washed over a particularly deep scar on his left upper arm where dirt had collected, an image of the Marker surrounded by glyphs that claimed he was a warrior of the faith.
"That’s Marker scrawl-” John cut himself off, “Shit, is that-"
John went quiet after that and Isaac wanted desperately to forget he was there.
The water was cloudy when Isaac pushed the tub into the corner and lay back on the empty pallet, still half naked, to dry. "You’re marked all over.” John was propped against the wall, watching him and examining the glyphs across Isaac’s chest that declared his adoration and devotion.
"Nearly every inch below the neck.“ Isaac blinked, realizing what he’d said, "Sorry, that was a bit much."
"It’s alright.” Isaac could feel John’s eyes on him, sense the intensity of his stare. “The ones on your back- those ere almost beautiful. Do you know what they mean?”
Isaac kept his eyes on the ceiling. “It’s a prayer-chant. Asking for protection and offering my body and soul in service."
Isaac gazed up at the ceiling, watching John out of the corner of his eye. The other man watched him steadily a long while before speaking again. "May I touch them?” Isaac turned his head to look at John directly. To his surprise, John was flushed. “Sorry, that-” He looked away, “Forget it."
"It’s okay.” Isaac’s tone came out softer than he intended, “They don’t hurt anymore, it’s fine."
John’s hand clenched suddenly, and his eyes hardened. Isaac didn't expect him to push himself up and shuffle across the little room on his hands and knees. Isaac looked up at him, feeling vulnerable suddenly, but trusting John inexplicably. For all his hesitation, John’s touch was firm, the pad of his thumb moving slowly over the symbol for Honor, just past the edge of his collarbone. The scars were quite shallow and had retained most of their sensation and John’s hands were dry and warm as he brushed his hand over Faithful Servant and Willing. Isaac sighed, tipping his head back into his blanket pallet. John’s eyes flicked up to his face. "That alright?”
"Yeah.“ It felt pretty good, if he was honest. It had been so long since anyone had touched him, any part of him, and the small circles John was rubbing into his skin were such a comfort. He didn’t feel so disgusting with hands on him. Didn’t feel so ruined. "It’s nice.” Isaac admitted softly, letting his eyes slide shut. He was so tired. John didn’t move away, didn’t stop and Isaac was grateful.