a/n: this is the exagerated version of my adventures getting a tattoo.(i got an ankh instead though) everything happened right up to the bit where he squeezes his legs together, from there one it's imagined (or dreamed, sigh).

--smiles dreamily--

he was so pretty...

i n k . e m o t i o n s

It was a spontaneous decision of mine to get a tattoo. Nothing big or fancy. Just something small, something symbolic, something that was meaningful.

When I told my friend, she just rolled her eyes. "Puhlease," drawled Casey. "You? Getting a tattoo? Do the words: immense voluntary pain mean anything to you?"

"Why not?" I said, smiling, drawing an imaginary design on my arm. "I've always wanted one, just never been serious. Don't you think I will?"

Casey just rolled her eyes and said sarcastically, "Yeah, sure, you'll get one." She followed it by saying, "Of-bloody-course not!"

So it was a big surprise to her when I pulled the Skintastic Tattoos And Piercings card from my wallet and waved it in her face. "I've got an appointment tomorrow afternoon. I've made the deposit. My tattooist's name is Rafael." I gave her a sly grin. "And you're coming with me."

x x x

Rafael, I thought to myself. Raf-a-el.

It sort of rolled off the tongue. "Rafael..."

"Are you still going on about his name?" Casey groaned. "You've been saying it to yourself since yesterday!"

"That's because it sounds so cool," I said, grinning. "Rafael... Rafael." I sighed dreamily. "...wonder what he looks like."

"You'll soon find out," said Casey, giving me an amused grin. She put on the indicator and slipped into a parking spot. As she turned off the engine, she propped a hand up behind her on the seat and gave me a slow, sneaky smile. "We're here."


"Yeah. Getting cold feet?"

I shook my head quickly. "Nope. Not at all."

But as I climbed out of the car and crossed the pavement into the three-storey arcade, my stomach quivered uneasily. It was like pre-public speaking nerves. I felt slightly sick, but more exhilarated. As we walked up the stairs, Casey gave a laugh. "Shit, even I'm nervous! You can't tell me you're not?"

"Nope." But I said it too quickly and at her probing stare, flashed a nervous grin. "OK. Maybe a little."

"I knew it," she crowed. As we reached the last floor of the arcade, my nostrils were filled with the strong, sharp scent of antiseptic. "Whoo!" Casey waved a hand beneath her nose. "Smell that! Hell, it's making me sick!"

We walked closer and closer to the sliding doors, with the painted sign about the door saying Skintastic in big, bold, gothic letters. Just reading it made my throat close. I wasn't going to back out, but I also wasn't going to walk in there with no nerves what-so-ever. I opened the door and held my breath for a long second, releasing it with some of my axiousness. Casey nudged my side. "How you feeling, Ash? Gonna puke yet."

I rubbed my stomach and flashed an excited smile. "Not quite yet. Wait for the pain."

Inside the parlour was a mess of posters and pictures and drawings. Tattoo designs were all over the walls and roof, as well as in large folders and books on a small, square table. There were a few long couches pushed into a U-shape by the wall and there were heavy-set, tattoo covered people sitting on the cushions. There was a glass case by the door displaying all the different piercings available.

The air was full of the low buzz of guns and the whirling of fans overhead. Casey edged closer to my side and whispered, "It feels like we're out of place..."

I smirked. "That will only be you, soon. I'm going to be inducted into the Tattoo Club--it's gonna make me cool and bad-ass."

Casey rolled her eyes. "No amount of ink can make you cool."

"Just like no amount of money would make us really friends. You're mum's still paying me to hang out with you."

"Whatever," she scoffed. "You so stole that from Nathan."

"Yeah, I know," I grinned.

As we approached the counter, a man wondered towards us. He was slightly taller than me, with light olive skin that showed between the tattoos racing up his arms and neck. His dark hair was done in dreadlocks and his ears were pierced with big black discs. He met my eyes and smiled an easy, white smile. "Hi, you made the appointment?"

"Um, yes," I said, cursing my voice for coming out like I was twelve and not nineteen.

His smile widened. "Do you have the design?"

"Yes!" I dug around in my bag and pulled out the small square of folded paper. As I passed it to him, I added, "That's the size I want, too."

He walked around behind the desk and opened a photocopying machine. He glanced over and asked slyly, "You sure you don't want it bigger?"

"Not really," I said slowly, drawing up my arm and staring at the underside of my wrist. "I don't want it to be too, you know, bold."

"Oh, OK." He shrugged his shoulders, but still looked at me. "You positive?"

"Umm..." His smile was doing wonders to my already-quivering stomach. I glanced at Casey. She was looking around with a lost look upon her face, eyes wide and innocent. "What do you think?"

"I think...you should go for it," she chirped. "Who cares. It'll look good anyway."

My mind wrapped around the idea, and I said carefully, "Alright, a little bigger, but not too much."

"Good on you," said Rafael.

Good on you, was repeated in my thoughts, and I smiled dreamily. Casey nudged me. "You're gonna die," she said.

My smile twisted. "Thanks for the support, Case. I feel the love."

She leant closer and her eyes slid to Rafael, whose back was turned towards us. "I feel a little something else," she said. She smirked. "Something starting with 'L' but ending a little differently... It rhymes with...trust."

"Shut up," I hissed, looking at Rafael just as he turned.

He handed me a form and said, "You'll have to full this out. You're over eighteen, right?"

A little affronted, but mostly amused, I said, "Sure am."

He squinted apologetically and asked, "I.D?" I scooped it out of my bag and passed it to him. Our fingers brushed and I resisted the urge to draw them up to my mouth and blow on them -- because they were on fire. He handed my license back and grinned. "Just sit down and fill the form out and when you're done, come and find me, OK?"

"OK," I said, watching as he walked away. My eyes slid down from his broad shoulders to the slight pinch of his waist where his shirt was more fitting. Then they dropped to his baggy jeans and I watched the way his legs swished as he walked.

Casey pinched me. "Earth to Ashley. Not going to pass out on me, are you?"

"No," I breathed, tearing my gaze away from Rafael.

Her eyebrows rose. "Or should I be asking if you're going to float away from me. Shit, Ash, he's not that good."

"But he's so pretty," I said softly, collapsing down onto one of the free chairs.

"Right." She looked up at the roof. "I wouldn't exactly call the tattoo-covered, pierced, black-clothed, dreadlocked guy pretty."

"But his name--"

"Yeah, his name is pretty good," she cut in. "But only you would call him 'pretty'."

"He is," I sulked, before starting on the form.

x x x

I was sitting down a few minutes later, trying not ti fidget as Rafael wiped my arm down with antiseptic. When he was finished, he pressed the outline of the tattoo design down onto my arm, and looked up, asking, "Does that look good to you?"

Still staring at him, I nodded dumbly. "Sure does."

He turned away and started fiddling with some objects on a bench. My heart thudded painfully in my chest. Over my shoulder, back on the chairs, Casey sat looking at magazines. She wasn't allowed to watch, for some safety reason, but she reasoned with me that she'd probably pass out if she looked anyway. Soon Rafael had my hand in his and he was positioning my arm on the table. He glanced up and said, "Can you move forward a little bit? Turn your body towards mine."

I moved the chair forward a little, attempting to control the wheels on the hard tiled floor. Frowning, I asked, "Is that better?"

"Almost," he said, before reaching forward and grabbing onto the back of the chair. His arms pressed against my shoulders and his leaning position brought his face closer to mine. I held my breath while he pulled me closer and when he leaned away, he grinned and said, "Perfect."

I remembered to breathe when I felt my lungs ache.

Because he needed to be close to do the tattoo, our legs were touching beneath the small padded bench, and I tried to shift my body around without moving too much. But he squeezed his legs together, catching mine between, drawng me forward once again, and he looked up, smiling. "Right there's good."

I nodded, too shocked and nervous to speak.

When he picked up the ink-filled gun, I wanted to flinch away. But it was like looking at a car wreck-- horrible yet all too fascinating. He placed the needle to my arm and the buzzing started.

Pain flooded across me. Hot and searing, yet sharp like a knife. I bit my lip, hard. But I didn't look away. When the outline was finally finished, Rafael looked up, and it was then I discovered just how nice his eyes were. They were a light, golden brown, framed in incredibly long eyelashes that curned towards his brow bone. They crinkled in the corners when he smiled. "Are you OK?" he asked softly.

I nodded again. "F-fine."

As he dabbed the end of the tattoo gun into the ink to refill it, he kept one hand on mine. Almost unconsciously, he was tracing shapes on the heel of my hand, with soft gloved fingers. I watched breathlessly.

As Rafael worked, he sang softly along to the song playing from the speakers.

Somehow, it made me feel like I was floating.

It took not even half an hour for the tattoo to be finished. And despite my initial thoughts, overall it didn't hurt as much as I thought it would. Rafael put the gun down and wrapped both hands around my arm. "How are you feeling?" he asked, lightly trailing his fingers over the freshly finished tattoo. I missed his question, too entranced by his actions, too engulphed by the warm fluttering feeling inside my abdomen. "Ashley?"

My name, coming from those bowed lips, pulled my attention up, up into his eyes. "Hmm?"

His grin was long and white. I took extra notice of the crinkles that sprang into existence beside his honey eyes. "How do you feel?"

"Good," I replied, and I was mortified to find my voice lower than usual, almost husky. A blush burnt across my cheeks.

Yet his smile brightened and his eyes flooded with humour. "That's good," he said. He put cream onto the tattoo and spent a few long moments rubbing it into my skin. I liked to think he spent extra time just rubbing his fingers over and over the figure-eight design. Shockingly, he bent down and blew gently across the top, and the tingles I felt were not because of the strange sensation of the cold across my burning skin. He looked up, light eyes smiling.

"Infinity," he said, and lightly traced the pattern on my arm. "What made you choose this?"

I had to clear my throat before even attempting to speak. "It's always fascinated me," I admitted, giving him a shy smile. My face still burnt in embarrassment. "The idea of 'forever' and 'eternity'. Never-ending. It's sort of nice, thinking about having that much time, or something lasting until the end. So I decided to get it as a tattoo, the infinity symbol, because... Well, I guess I'm a romantic like that."

"And you put it over your veins," said Rafael. He met my eyes. "Symbolic, huh?"

I shrugged, yet grinned anyway. "I was trying to make it meaningful."

"You did a good job of it," he said. He put a small piece of clear plastic wrap over the top and taped it down. I thought it was over, that I was now going to pay and leave this place -- leave him -- but he surprised me by pulling my arm up, towards his face. He met my eyes over the top of our clasped hands, and kissed the infinity on my wrist.

Warmth flood through me. Thick, twisting, excited warmth. Rafael gave me an easy grin, and turned my hand over, showing me my tattoo. But I looked below it, to the small black numbers along with the name, Rafe. "So you can call me, tell me how your tattoo's going," he said by way of explanation. He added with a crinkle-eyed smile, "Or if you just want to talk."

I swallowed, hundreds of thoughts racing through my mind, tumbling over emotions. Finally I said, with a voice tight with concern, "That's not...tattooed on me, is it? Your number? Because, I like you--" My cheeks burnt fiercely. "--but I don't know you enough to have your name on my name for, well, infinity."

Rafael laughed, a soft rolling laugh, and suddenly I didn't care if his name was tattooed on my skin. "No, it's not permanent," he said, grinning. "It's pen. It'll wash off."

"Oh." I stared at him for a long moment, and he stared back. Finally I started feeling uncomfortable. "So, ah, yeah."

I blushed, but Rafael traced infinity on my wrist, grinning as he said, "So...what do you want for your next tattoo?"

"My next tattoo?" I gasped.

"Well, yeah." He smiled roguishly. "You can't be a part of the Tattoo Club with only one tattoo."

x x x

As we were leaving Skintastic Tattoos and Piercings, I showed Casey my arm. She gave a gasp of shock. "He tattooed his number on your arm?! Wow!"

"He didn't tattoo it on there," I said, smiling, admiring my new tattoo. "He just wrote it with pen."

"Oh." She frowned. "It would have been more romantic if he actually put it there with permanent ink."

"Yeah, more romantic but less meaningful."

"What?" She stared at me. "Did the pain muddle your brain or did the hot tattooist?"

"Pretty tattooist," I corrected.

"As if he was pretty!"

"Yeah, you're right," I sighed dreamily.

"I am?" Casey repeated, staring at me strangely.

"Yeah, he wasn't pretty." I gave a large smile. "He was beautiful."

She rolled her eyes. "You're infinitely stupid."

"...that didn't even make sense."

"...I'll show you sense..."

x x x