Batarou Week: Day 6 - Family
I wasn’t able to get Day 4 done yesterday, so if I have time I’ll be catching up. And on top of that, I did Family tonight because evidently I am incapable of keeping things in order! Oh well. Enjoy anyway!
The door chimed as Badd walked in to the small barber shop, holding the door open for Garou to come slinking in. He could see his nostrils flare as he breathed in the air of the establishment, and Badd wondered what it was like for him, because he had just grown to love it since he was a kid. It always felt like a home.
“‘Ey, kiddo!” Tony called as he brushed stray hairs off the client he was finishing up. It was a blond gentleman - Badd thought it was Genos for a second, until he saw his very human eyes - and a suit with a bowtie. He seemed very pleased with the results of the cut, and he and Tony exchanged words before he bowed and left.
When Tony hugged him, it was with his entire, stocky body, and even as an S-class hero, one of the strongest men in the world, it nearly knocked him off his feet. Tony slapped his back three times, and he reciprocated. “How ya doin’?”
“Good. Great. This is-”
“Garou, amirite?” Tony pushed past Badd and reached out one thick hand. “Heya. How ya doin’?” Garou actually seemed pleased that he wasn’t assaulted with hugging, and after a moment, he shook. “Damn, son. Cold hands. Things must get pretty steamy with the hothead over here, yeah?”
“Jesus, Tony!” Badd put his head in his hand, trying not to immediately regret this idea. But the fact of the matter was that Garou’s hair had gotten…a bit out of control. It had grown so long that the usual part in it that caused those dramatic white flairs had started to fold them over, giving him a look kind of like some strange breed of dog. When he caught Garou with a pair of scissors, he put his foot down and told him they were going to Tony’s.
“So what? Ya want a cut like your man?” Tony asked, giving Garou a little elbowing in the stomach. The Human Monster had been smirking at Badd’s discomfort, but this made him go a pale, sickly white.
“I don’t think he wants something that crazy,” Badd said quickly, stepping in and looping his arm inside of Garou’s, a gesture that was to be both comforting and to keep him from taking off out of the shop.
“Nah? C'mon over. We’ll chat about it and figure somethin’ out.”
Garou’s palms were starting to get clammy as he sat down in front of the large mirror. He wasn’t used to staring at himself like this, and he started staring at his lap so intently that he flinched when Tony started running his hands through his hair. “So how do ya usually wear it?”
He had no idea how to respond. It was hair. It just sat there. He didn’t 'wear’ it at all. In the reflection, the short, round man’s black hair shone with product, like Badd’s.
“Usually up,” Badd interjected. “Like, natural, though. When it’s short it sort of does this crazy thing. Here.” He showed the barber a picture on his cell phone.
“I’ve been in this business for twenty-five years and I ain’t never seen hair like his. Pretty wild.” One of those thick hands clapped on his shoulder, and Garou looked up at his friendly smile. “I won’t scalp ya, Longshanks. You’re the boss. We’ll take this one step at a time, alright?”
Badd chewed on his lip, reaching up to flick his nose with his thumb. What was his problem? It didn’t make sense to him, but this - his response, his getting along with this miniature, stout, older version of Badd - seemed important to the hero. More important than shearing off body hair should be, but…
“Alright,” Garou said finally, falling forward as he was smacked full force in the back.
“That’s the fightin’ spirit!”
The first part was a wash, and it took quite a bit of cajoling to get Garou to position his head into the basin. The angle of his neck back and throat exposed made Garou’s muscles clench, and he was about to call the whole damn thing off when the water came on. A steady stream moved around his skull, and Tony’s hands rubbed his scalp, rinsing out the long hair. The sound of the water, the steam, and the insistent kneading of fingers cracked through his anxious lizard brain, and Garou closed his eyes.
Then, there was a smell - pleasant and welcoming, like a warm sea, a touch of sweet oil tickling the back end. Tony created a lather and rinsed through his hair, massaging the base of his skull, small motions pressing and parting the follicles. Normally, Garou eschewed heavily fragranced soaps, but here and now, it made Garou think of the ocean, a nostalgia seeping into his bones from a memory he couldn’t place. He wanted to go to the beach with Badd sometime, he realized. He wanted to recline on the sand at night and smell the salt and hear the waves with Badd at his side.
The water turning off brought him back to reality.
“Wake up, my man,” Tony said, squeezing his hair out into a large towel. “Now comes the tricky part.”
Seeing Garou so relaxed was a rare and pleasant sight for Badd, who had taken up a place at the spare cutting station. The former Hero Hunter always seemed to be pulled taut just under the surface, and it usually took a lot of work to get him to unwind. And he didn’t even have to do anything other than be there.
As Tony led him back to the chair and started combing, Badd could see that Garou was beginning to get anxious again. If he had hackles, they’d have raised as Tony leveled the scissors towards his head. One golden eye turned to him, like he was on the other side of a ship that was sinking.
“Say, Tony,” Badd said, knowing he was going to regret what he did next. “Do ya still have those photos from back when my dad used to bring us in?”
Tony turned, smile widening from under his mustache. “Sure do. I still bring those out when I’m havin’ a bad day.” He reached over and opened a drawer, pulling out a weathered envelope. He didn’t even bother handing them to Badd, but instead put them right into Garou’s hands.
It was bizarre watching Garou experiencing Badd’s childhood secondhand. He would pick up a picture, turn it every which way, and would then move on to the next.
“Aw, man, that’s a great one,” Tony said, snipping away. The photos did seem to distract Garou from the process taking place on his head, so that was a good thing. “First time this guy came in after his ma tried to give him a bowl cut. With a bowl. Can ya believe it?”
Garou made a small snort through his nose.
“And that was when I gave him his first leather jacket. 'Course it was too big for him. Did ya ever grow into that thing, Baddo?”
When he asked, Garou held the photo towards him. There was twelve-year-old Badd, trying to look like a tough guy in a jacket that was many sizes too big. Everything squeezed inward, a fondness suddenly flooding his heart, and Badd grinned. He recognized the jacket immediately. He had kept it…and given it to Garou.
“Yeah. Turned out real good.”
“So! There ya have it, Stretch,” Tony said, combing Garou’s hair back into something like it’s normal form. There was a bit more control to it - it was tighter to his scalp but not dramatically so - and Badd found himself wanting to run his hands through it.
Garou passed Tony the photos and looked up, nodding once. “Good.”
“Ya like it? I could always take off another inch or two…”
“I like all my inches, thanks. So does Badd.” Garou gave Badd a smirk when he said that, and Tony roared with laughter as Badd felt himself go red, gripping the bridge of his nose. Was this actually what he had wanted? Two jerks to gang up on him?
Of course he knew the answer was 'yes.’