The music blared from the speakers. The beasts formed a circle around the vast room and created a barrier around the crowd of writhing bodies. Amidst the sea of sweat, sin, and informality stood a stranger among strangers.

Dylan Marx, twenty-one years and two hours old, was lost in his own celebration. Though he did understand it was merely an excuse for his comrade to ruin his spacious home in the name of another, Dylan was still off-put by the complete disregard for his existence. He waded through the mass in vague hopes of encountering his party addicted friend.

The smell of alcohol choked his senses and the deafening noise surrounding him made his ears pound. He felt abnormal. He should have been drinking, partying with the crowd, or at the least making a pass at one of the dozens of beautiful girls he had the pick of. Yet the drive just wasn't there. The music was as foreign as the people were to him and the urge to dance had dwindled to adjust to the pressing presence of nausea.

"Milo!" He tried to call through the crowd, but it was a pitiful hum that blended into the noise with ease. Dylan sighed; he'd known it would be useless. Dilated pupils strained to see through the horde of colors and smoke. So many people.

The throng parted slightly to allow him to press through, but it was strenuous. After stumbling about he finally managed to locate the patio door. He busted through the door and breathed deeply of the cool night's air. Dylan considered abandoning his friend entirely and enjoying what was left of birthday alone. Then, remembering the last time he'd left Milo alone, he reconsidered and entered the fray once more. Since he'd made it to the porch he at least knew how to navigate to his friend's room.

He ventured past a large booming speaker and moved toward the staircase. Relief consumed him when he found it and headed toward Milo's room. The respite didn't last long however. When Dylan opened the door he found Milo. The older man sat on the edge of his bed, surrounded by three women and another man. Two of the ladies were perched to either side of him, topless, with beers in hand. Dylan inspected the ink carved into red splotches on their stomachs. The third woman sat cross-legged on the floor gazing up, a large bowl of grapes sat between her arms. Occasionally her long fingers would wrap around a piece of the fruit and she'd pop it in her mouth and suck on it for several seconds at a time.

The man was standing over Milo; he was the only one who didn't look up when Dylan entered the room. He held a long needle in a strong hand and appeared intent as he jabbed repeatedly at Milo's arm.

"What the hell?" Dylan asked as he came closer to his friend.

"Hey buddy!" Milo called excited and the man towering over him grunted and jabbed the needle sharply into the arm he worked upon. Milo shuddered at the pain then laughed it off before stilling himself. "Eddie here is giving out tattoos. Want one?"

"Like hell," Dylan said even as he stared now admirably upon the slowly forming image on his best friend's arm. Short dashes ran the length of the limb from wrist to elbow and they lead into a much more intricate dragon's head. Up close it was composed of a series of jagged and curved ink lines, but from where Dylan stood, it was a magnificent image strewn across tender flesh. Milo seemed unaffected as small beads of blood ran from the smaller wounds.

"Pretty awesome dragon huh?" Milo laughed as he watched his friend admire the decorative scar.

"It's a spirit," The man-whose name was apparently Eddie-said gruffly. "It's merging with him. They're a set."

"Right," Milo shrugged unconcerned.

Dylan looked for a moment from the art to the artist, "What kind of spirit?"

Eddie ignored Milo as he laughed and looked up briefly from his project to inspect the intruder. "Wild. Like your friend here, content in discord, yet longing to feel a connection. Its whole existence is broken fragments."

Milo's laughter faded and the girls beside him shifted uncomfortably. The girl on the floor giggled and shoved another grape in her mouth. The scent moved across the silent room. Dylan shattered the frail glass and spoke once more.

"Impressive," He whispered, "Can I have one?"

"Sudden change of heart?" Milo mumbled, still a bit uneasy.

"Yeah," The birthday boy admitted and took a seat to wait patiently for his turn.

When Eddie was finished he placed a patch carefully over the ink and mumbled something under his breath before Dylan approached.

"What are you going to get?" Milo asked, now fully recovered.

"I don't know. What do you think?" Dylan curiously asked the strange man as he openly inspected the many designs that ran over his dark skin.

"A dancer."

Milo and his assembly of women laughed, but Dylan simply knitted his eyebrows together in confusion.

"Forever to dance in circles. Held in place by the eyes that watch you. Doomed to perform."

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Milo asked defensively. Eddie said nothing.

Dylan breathed deeply the scent of grapes and let his eyes slip shut. "Okay." Then he sat, waiting eagerly to feel the sting of the needle on his skin.


AN: A short written for the prompt "Bowl of Fruit." Thoughts?