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 Whispers From the Past

Chapter 8

It had taken a few phone calls, but he’d finally located it. The tattoo parlor that his Wife and her best friends had visited. It was called ‘Michelangelo’s’. He paused just outside the door. He’d been tortured. Had suffered wounds inflicted by a staff weapon. He’d been zatted far too many times to want to think about. This couldn’t be any worse than what he’d already endured. Besides, he knew from experience that often a part of the body hit repeatedly eventually went numb. Hopefully that would be true for this particular procedure.

The establishment was owned by one Michael Elizabeth Warren. Or so the sign on the wall proclaimed. He wondered about the odd combination of masculine and feminine names. Her nickname, according to his Wife, earned in art school, was Michelangelo. Pictures of her work, both paintings and photos of the tattoos she had created, adorned the walls. She was most definitely worthy of the epithet she bore.

"Hello, may I help you?"

Daniel turned toward the voice, came face to face with the proprietor herself. She looked exactly like the photo above her name, a short brunette with generous curves and a captivating smile. "Miss Warren?"

The woman grinned. "Call me Mike."

"Oh, sure...uh...Mike. I’m here for a tattoo." Well, duh, he thought, discomfited. Nothing like stating the obvious. He could feel the heat in his cheeks, a sure sign that he was blushing. Danny, my boy, you’re a dweeb.

Mike smiled. "So, you know what you want?"

"Yes, I do. I just don’t know if it can be done," he replied.

"Well, why don’t you tell me what it is, and I’ll let you know," Mike suggested.

"Um...I have a photo, but...it’s sort of personal..."

"I won’t tell a soul," the artist promised.

Daniel pulled his wallet from his pocket. Flipped it open to the picture of his Fantasy Angel. "I’d like wings like those, around her name."

Mike’s smile widened. "I think that’s an awesome idea. Where do you want it?"

"Over my heart," was the immediate reply. "And not really big."

The artist nodded. "A wingspan of...hmm...about four, maybe five inches?"

"I guess so."

"I’ll tell you what, let’s go back into one of the booths, I’ll do a simple line drawing, and you can decide if it’s the right size."

He gave a nod of approval. "Fine. Um...do I pay now?"

Mike chuckled. "No, you can pay after the work is done. It might take a couple of sessions."

A couple of sessions? Disappointment flooded him. He didn’t want Casey to see it unless it was fait accompli. There would be no way to hide a partially completed tattoo - they showered together daily. "Are you sure?"

"Well, depending on how big it’s going to be. We’ll just take it one step at a time." She motioned with her hand, and led him toward the back of the shop.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Janet dropped down into the empty seat beside Sam. "So, we’re doing this?"

"I am," Casey said. "I just have to get past the needle thing."

Sam nodded her agreement. "I’m ready, too. But I’m still nervous about it. I mean, it’s going to hurt like hell."

"Not necessarily," Janet grinned. "I just happen to be a doctor. I can inject a local anesthetic that should eliminate the pain, or at least lessen it considerably."

"Now that’s a great idea!" Casey grinned. "No pain is always the way to go!"

"I’ll wait until we get there, and then do the injections. Sam, I’ll need you to inject me, since mine is on my butt," Janet said.

The major nodded. "Got it."

"What did Jack say when he saw the eagle on your shoulder?" Casey asked, sipping at her coffee.

"He was a little shocked at first. Then he said he thought it was a bit...masculine. When I told him I was thinking about him, and how he has the characteristics of an eagle-"

Casey snorted. Looked up apologetically. "Sorry...please go on. Jack’s like an eagle..."

Janet was chuckling as well.

Sam looked down at her coffee cup, then back up at her friends, the expression on her face one of deep love. "Eagles mate for life. They’re strong, and independent, they’re beautiful and graceful...yet they’re deadly at the same time."

"You’re right," Casey said softly. "That does sound like Jack. Well, he’s not as beautiful as Daniel...but I suppose that’s just my opinion."

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," Janet said. "So what did Jack say when you told him that?"

"He looked at me for a minute, then gave me that crooked grin, and said, ‘Sweet’," Sam smiled. "And then he went out and got me Starbucks coffee and a chocolate muffin."

"That is so sweet," Janet said. She grinned wickedly. "Gary wanted to find mine."

"Okay, that is so much more than I want to know," Casey objected, putting her hands over her ears.

"What did he say about it being a teddy bear?" Sam asked, throwing a mischievous look in Casey’s direction.

"He thought it was cute. Said it suited me." She toyed with her cup for a minute. "Do you think the guys will get tattoos?"

"Jack has the tattoo on his shoulder from his Special Ops days. But I don’t think he’ll get another one. That was from another lifetime," Sam replied.

Casey shrugged. "Not a clue. I suppose if Daniel decides to get one, he’ll let me know."

"Gary has one from his Special Ops days as well. I guess he and Jack went on a couple of covert missions together," Janet said. "I have no idea if he’d ever get another one."

"Well, are we going to do this?" Casey asked. "Before I completely chicken out."

"Let me get the hypos and the meds I need," Janet said.

"My car, fifteen minutes," Sam said.

The women nodded their agreement, and left.

Ferretti had noticed the quiet conversation, the women leaning on arms that lay crossed on the table in front of them, their heads as close to one another as they could get. The Three Musketeers, as the best friends had become known among those who worked in the SGC, were up to something. And he was just the man to find out what it was those three lovely ladies were up to.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Mike held the mirror. "The wings will be solid white, I’ll do as many individual feathers as I can...and you say you want her name in the same calligraphy and colors that I used to do your name on her thigh?"

Daniel nodded. He had been relieved to learn that this very nice, very professional artist...tattoo artist, his mind qualified quickly...had been the one to draw the tattoos on Casey’s thighs. Because she had done the work, Mike would be able to ‘copy’ the style and colors, putting Casey’s name ‘between’ the wings, and it would ‘match’ his name. And because she had done the work, he didn’t have to worry that any man had been too close to that intimate part of his Wife that belonged to him alone. The fleeting thought that Mike could be gay crossed his mind, but he pushed it away. Why borrow trouble?

"Is that too big?"

"No, that’s just right," he said. It wasn’t going to be huge...in fact, it was a bit smaller than he had envisioned. But Mike promised that it would be ‘crisp and clear’, and easy to read.

"Okay, are you ready to do this?"

He gave a weak smile. "Not really. But I want it done, so let’s just get to it."

"Are you sure? I can just draw it on, give you a couple of days to think about it," Mike said.

"I really want to do this," Daniel replied firmly.

"Okay then. Just lay back and relax. I’m going to put a towel over your eyes...that helps block out the light that I’m going to have shining on you. Is there any particular genre of music you like?"

"Um...jazz," he replied.

"I’ll be right back, and we’ll get this done!"

He closed his eyes. Never in a million years would he have ever believed he’d be getting a tattoo. There had been a couple of close calls on planets where they'd been dealing with tribes of primitive people. Lines and symbols to decorate their faces, marks that meant something special to those people, particularly the leaders and the shaman, but would be a bit difficult to explain back home on Earth. Luckily they had been able to talk the eager villagers out of those particular steps in the ceremonies to make the team a part of the tribe. Daniel had noted that both tribes, which had been on two different planets, seemed to be extensions of one another. He'd theorized that at some point in their past there had either been travel through the ‘gate between the two planets, or the tribe had been split, and half had been ‘transplanted’ from one planet to the other.

Soft jazz filled the air, he could feel the breeze that signaled the door had been opened...and he heard it click closed again. He opened his eyes to look up at the artist. She had several bottles of paint in a small plastic basket, a box of disposable gloves, and a black hand towel. She put the items on the cart beside the chaise he was lying on.

"Just close your eyes and relax," Mike said. "I’m going to clean your chest with alcohol, that will be the first thing you feel." She draped the towel over his eyes.

He nodded his understanding. The click of the door on the cart opening seemed loud to him. He jumped slightly from the cold chill of the chemical as Mike carefully swabbed the area on his left pectoral muscle.

"I’m going to do an ink outline, and then fill it in. That will be my guide when I do the tattoo. So that’s what you’re going to feel at first."

"Okay." The woman had a gentle touch. He could feel the tip of the pen moving against his skin. He concentrated on the music. Actually felt himself becoming a bit sleepy. He wasn’t sure how much time had passed when he realized that she had stopped drawing. It seemed to have been a considerable amount.

"I don’t think this is going to take as long as I first thought," Mike said quietly. "I’ll do the wings in pure white, then I’m going to use a shade of creamy-white and a bit of light gray to outline the feathers. I’ll do Casey’s name first, because it will take the least amount of time. If you get to a point where you just can’t take it, let me know, and we can either take a break, or set up an appointment to finish."

"I’d really like to get it all done this afternoon," Daniel said.

"We’ll see how it goes," Mike replied, not willing to make any promises. "Deep breath, Daniel. Here we go."

Damn! The initial touch of the needle startled him. The continued assault on his chest had him gritting his teeth. His skin felt as if it were on fire. He would do this, no matter what, he thought determinedly. Within a matter of minutes he'd been able to meditate enough to find that, while still painful, the scratching feeling wasn’t anything he couldn’t tolerate, or even control. He continued to take deep steady breaths, hoping that doing so wasn’t interfering with the work. Mike hadn’t said anything, so he assumed she was having no problems.

Six times the sound of the tattoo machine ceased. And then started up again, moving over his skin at a frightfully slow pace. Just when he was convinced that there was no way he would be able to stand much more, the machine went off again.

"Her name is finished, want to see it?"

"Yes, please."

Mike moved the towel, handed him the wide hand mirror. She wiped the skin carefully, several places were bleeding profusely. "It won’t bleed for much longer."

It was an amazing bit of work. Casey’s name was on his skin, in the same color, dark blue on the top, fading to light lavender on the bottom. "It’s great!"

The tattoo artist grinned. "That was the easy part. Would you like to take a break?"

"Only if you need to," he replied.

Mike grinned. "I’m going to do the outline for the feathers. That will hurt like hell. But once it’s done, filling in will be a piece of cake."

"What’s the difference?" Daniel asked, naturally curious.

"I only use one needle to do the outline. So it takes longer, I have to move slower. Filling in I have this little gizmo." She held up device that had at least a dozen needles in it. "This is a ‘shader’. More needles put the ink into the dermis more quickly."

"Interesting. Is that what you used to do the name?"

"Yes it is, although I’m going to have to do an outline around it, just to make the letters more defined."

"Let’s do it," he said, sounding more confident than he felt. One thing was for damned sure, there was no way in hell he wanted Casey to make her tattoos permanent! Inner thighs were very sensitive, the pain of getting tattoos there would be damned near unbearable!

With a nod, Mike waited until he was lying comfortably, then covered his eyes once again. She adjusted the light above him, then began to carefully outline the letters. The fact that his breathing remained steady...slow...deep...made her certain that he was meditating. Before she started the wings, she’d change the music to something more suitable for mediation, she decided.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

"So, we can’t drink, right?" Casey sighed.

"It would be best not to," Janet replied. "Even though it’s a local, you don’t want to have alcohol in your blood to mix with it."

"Got it."

"Do you think we could eat first?" Sam asked. "I didn’t have lunch and I’m starving."

"I don’t see that it would hurt," the doctor replied.

"Sonic?" Casey suggested.

"It’s quick, it’s good, it’s a deal," Sam grinned.

"How long will this stuff last?" Casey asked, digging in her purse for her wallet.

"At least an hour, maybe a little longer," Janet replied.

"That’s good. It took about an hour for Mike to do both when she drew the tattoos. She told me that drawing and tattooing took about the same amount of time."

Janet looked at Sam. "Yours is the most detailed. If you need a second shot, let me know."

The major nodded. "I can handle it."

"You know, I just thought of something," Casey said, still searching for her wallet, to the amusement of her friends. "Once the Goa’uld get a gander at our body art, we won’t be able to fake being local villagers."

"Good point," Sam said, frowning slightly.

"On the up side, no innocent bystanders can be confused for being us." She victoriously held up her wallet.

"Also a good point."

"You won’t get into trouble will you? Defacing government property or something like that?" Casey asked worriedly.

Janet laughed. "No, we won’t get into trouble. If we do, then there are thousands of military personnel in all branches of the service, all over the world, who will be in just as much trouble."

Sam maneuvered her car into on of the parking stalls of the drive-in restaurant. "All right ladies, what are we having?"

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Mike hadn’t been kidding. The outlining hurt like hell. She'd changed the music, it sounded like chanting. It was almost hypnotic, between the beat of the drums, and the nearly monotone voices.

He had accepted a cup of tea as soon as the outlining on Casey’s name had been completed. When the artist had commented that the bleeding had stopped completely, he wondered just how long it would take the tattoo to heal completely. Then wondered briefly if the damned thing would simply disappear. He certainly hoped not! Not after what he was enduring to get it!

"This will be a little easier. I’ll do the outline of the wings...that’s going to take about twice as long as it did to outline the name. Then I’m going to do the fill in. That will give you a bit of a break. Then I’ll outline the feathers. I’ll be doing a lot of starting and stopping, so that should help."

"I’ve come this far. Let’s get it over with," Daniel said, sounding much more convincing than he felt. The first Goa’uld who tried to mess this up was going to get his snake ass snapped into pieces, he decided as he settled back against the chaise lounge. Grinned at Mike and grabbed the towel, covered his eyes. He could feel the heat of the lamp, and was glad that she had his eyes covered. Light that intense would be a bitch to deal with.

He'd checked his watch before lying back down, so far Mike had been working steadily for just over two and a half hours. At that rate, he figured the wings would take at least another hour...each.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Janet had her cell phone in hand, checking her text messages. "Hey! Cassie says Macy’s is having a sale on jeans!"

"Really?" Sam asked. She exchanged glances with Casey. "What time does Mike close up?"

"When I called, Jake said nine. Well, the doors are locked at nine. They finish up whoever they might be working on," Janet replied. "Macy’s closes at eight."

"We’ll be out of there long before closing, for either place," Sam said assuredly.

"It won’t take more than forty minutes. Tops," Casey agreed.

"I’m in," Janet grinned.

"You realize that we’re just putting off the inevitable," Casey said drolly.

"We are getting the tattoos, Case," Janet said.

"We delay too much longer, I’ll start thinking about it, and I’ll chicken out."

"No you won’t. We won’t let you," Sam promised.

"I’ll hold you to that." She sat back in her seat. "Not even one little shot of Jose’s Black Label?"

Janet snickered. "You’ll be fine."

Any comment Casey might have made was forestalled by the appearance of the car-hop, and a tray laden with burgers, onion rings and chocolate shakes.

 

 A  A  A  A  A  A

 

"Okay, that part is done," Mike announced. "I’m going to fill it in, and then I’ll do the outline for each feather. How ya doing?"

"Not bad, actually," Daniel admitted. "I think I’m numb."

"That’s a possibility. I’ve had other people tell me that after awhile, the burning sensation just turns to a numb feeling. I’ve got ointment that you’ll put on this three times a day for about a week. It aids in the healing process."

"Okay." He doubted seriously that he'd need that long. Janet would be able to tell him when the skin was fully healed. When the buzzing sound of the machine filled the room again, he almost laughed. The sensations were nothing like the burning pain that he'd felt during the ‘outline’ part of the procedure. It took less than thirty minutes for the artist, very obviously a skilled, experienced tattooist, to finish filling in the white for the wings.

"We’re on the home stretch, Daniel," Mike said. "Just hang in there, you’re doing great."

The machine would buzz, then stop, buzz, then stop. Buzz. Stop. Buzz. Stop. The area where she was working really was damned near numb, to the point that he didn’t seem to feel every individual feather that she outlined.

"I need to get another shade of gray, I’ll be right back," Mike said, after another forty minutes of work.

When she opened the door, Daniel heard a very familiar voice. That was Sam! And he’d bet a month’s pay that Casey was with him! Well, hell. He wanted this to be a surprise.

Then the implications of Sam’s, and Casey’s, presence set in...if they were here, the three were about to make their temporary tattoos permanent. He cringed at the thought of what Casey was about to endure. Debated getting up and going out there, telling her not to do it. That, his brain pointed out, was a sure fire way to piss her off enough to have the tattoos done out of spite. There had to be a reason...something that had changed her mind, or at least calmed her fears of the needles.

The sound of Janet’s voice pulled his attention back to whatever was happening in the front room of the business. "...doctor, and if it won’t interfere with doing the tattoos, I’d like to give us a local anesthetic, one that will deaden the nerves in the area where tattoos will be, for an hour or so," she was saying.

Daniel grinned. Now that was just damned sneaky. He grimaced slightly as he moved; his chest still on fire, and feeling a bit stiff as well. Too bad he hadn’t thought of that...he could have asked for an injection himself! Well, as long as she wasn’t going to suffer, if Casey wanted to make those 'no trespassing signs' permanent, it was definitely all right with him!

"I’m working on another customer right now, Joanie can take care of you, all she has to do is go over what’s already drawn. She’s an excellent artist," Mike was saying.

He couldn’t hear exactly what Casey said, but it seemed that she was agreeing. Shane would be taking care of Janet, and Keith would be doing Sam’s...shoulder? That’s what he thought he heard.

Mike came back into the room. "Your wife just came in with her friends."

"I know, I heard them."

"I didn’t know if this was a surprise or not, so I didn’t say anything. Do you want me to tell her you’re here?"

"No!" The word was out of his mouth in an instant. He laid back, gave the woman a sheepish smile. "This is a surprise."

The woman grinned broadly. "There’s a back way out of here. When we’re finished, I’ll sneak you out that way. I don’t know how much longer this is going to take. Casey’s will take a couple of hours. Well, maybe not quite that long, since all of the basic work is done. It’s mostly just shading work, and that goes fairly quickly."

"As long as she doesn’t see me," Daniel said.

"We’ll figure out a way to get you out of here without her knowing."

"Thanks."

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Janet smiled. "Relax Casey. This is going to be the worst of it!"

"Right. Keep telling me that, so eventually I’ll believe it!" She took her jeans off, stretched out on the chaise lounge. The vinyl was cold, and her body protested the touch. She jerked slightly when Janet administered the first injection, on her right thigh.

"When you’re ready to start on the other leg, let me know, and I’ll inject that thigh," Janet told Joanie.

The tall, bleached-blonde nodded. "Okay."

Casey took a deep breath. "I’m ready."

"Just relax. If you tense up, it will make it hurt worse, and it could affect the tattoo."

"Relax. Right." She closed her eyes. Let her legs fall open. Just sitting cross-legged on the dock at the lake, she told herself.

"Don’t worry, Casey. The door is closed, it’s just you and me. Do you wear a bikini?"

"Yes."

"Well, you’re actually wearing more than that right now. Wow, that is awesome! Mike does great work!"

"I like it," Casey smiled.

"I’ll do the outline first, because that hurts the most. I’m going to do a little test poke here, see if you’re numb yet."

"Okay." She frowned. "Whenever you’re ready."

"I already poked you...three times," Joanie laughed. "This is going to be a piece of cake. Try not to snore, all right?"

She couldn’t help but giggle. "I’ll do my best."

The buzz of the machine broke the silence of the room. She could feel Joanie pressing against her thigh, tugging a bit. But that was all. Janet, you are a genius!

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Another forty-five minutes had passed. "Almost done, Daniel, I promise."

"Good. I’m starting to feel stiff."

"Do you want to get up and move around a bit?"

He shook his head. "No, I need this finished before Casey is ready to leave."

Twenty minutes later and the buzzing stopped...and didn’t start again. "Even if I do say so myself, that’s a damned nice tattoo!"

Daniel sat up, eagerly accepted the hand mirror. The skin around the tattoo was cherry red. But the tattoo itself...two white angel wings, spread as if in flight, were held together by, and surrounded ‘Casey’. The detail on the wings was incredible, it looked as if every individual feather had been drawn on separately, building up until the wing had been formed. "It’s incredible!"

"I’m glad you like it," Mike beamed. "I’m going to put some ointment on this, do you want a gauze bandage to protect your shirt?"

"Probably a good idea."

"As soon as you get home, the shirt and the gauze come off. Apply more of this if it starts hurting," Mike said, holding up the tube of ointment. She was already applying a generous amount to the tattoo. "In a couple of days you’ll notice some scabbing. That’s normal. Don’t pick at the scabs, let them come off on their own. Just take a washcloth, soak it in hot water, and hold it against the tattoo for a few minutes. Then very gently wash it. Apply more ointment, and keep that up until there’s no scabbing."

"Got it," Daniel said. Whatever was in that stuff was making his chest feel a hell of a lot better!

The artist filled out a form, handed it to Daniel. He was a bit surprised at the price, had actually expected the total to be higher, considering the amount of time that had been spent working on the tattoo...a glance at his watch had told him that just over five hours had passed since he had entered the tattoo parlor. "Do you take American Express?"

"Sure do." She took his card. "I’ll be right back. Normally I’d just take you out front and you’d pay and be on your way, but we’re trying to be sneaky."

"Stealthy," Daniel corrected, with a smile.

"Sounds much more...virtuous...doesn’t it?" Mike teased, giving him a broad wink. She held up his card and the form. "Be right back."

He eased his shirt on, noting that his chest and shoulder were sore. He didn’t think they’d be that way for long...there were benefits to being Immortal!

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Joanie turned off the machine. "Outline is finished. Filling in the color won’t take long at all. I’ll just have to change the paint a few times."

Casey nodded. At first she had held the mirror so she could watch the tattoo artist doing her thing. But eventually her arm got tired...and there really wasn’t that much to see. And the blood that was oozing was a bit of distraction as well.

The artist had just changed colors for the third time when there was a tap on the door, and Janet peeked in. "How’s it going?"

"Almost finished here," Joanie replied.

"Not feeling a thing," Casey grinned.

Janet grinned in return. "That was the plan."

"Is yours finished?"

"Yep."

"Let me see!"

Tugging her jeans down to expose her buttock, the petite doctor let her best friend examine her new tattoo. A tiny little blue teddy bear, wearing a big yellow bow around his neck, holding a red heart with the word "Lover" in white script lettering.

Casey giggled. "It’s adorable!"

"I thought so," was the smug reply.

"How’s Sam doing?"

"So far so good. She’ll probably need a second injection shortly," Janet said. She leaned back against the wall behind the tattooist, watching as the woman worked. As soon as Joanie was ready, she'd inject Casey’s left thigh.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Daniel thanked Mike again, then slipped out the back door. Zipped his jacket closed against the cold of the evening. When he wandered out front towards the Jeep, he couldn’t help but worry that perhaps the three women had seen it. Ah, very fortuitous. An SUV and a large red pickup were parked in front of it, concealing it from view. Considering that the street was one way, and the fact that Sam’s Volvo was parked halfway up the block, there wouldn’t have been any chance of his vehicle being seen.

He crawled behind the steering wheel. Checked his voice mail.

"Hey, Stud Muffin! Sam and Janet and I are grabbing something to eat, then we’re heading to Macy’s. Don’t know how late I’ll be. I love you," Casey’s voice said cheerfully.

Had the three really gone to Macy’s? Probably, he thought. And she’d have bought something, just to prove she’d been there. Of course, as soon as she saw his tattoo, she’d know exactly where he'd spent his afternoon and early evening! Once again the hope that she would be pleased skittered across his mind.

For the first time in years Daniel recalled the tattoos on his father’s arms, lines and squiggles that circled his biceps. Put there by the medicine man of one of the indigenous Central American tribes his parents had been in contact with. He could barely remember the long, thin stick that the heavily tattooed man had used, dipping it in a bowl of bright blue paint, then painstakingly poking the sharpened point into his father’s skin. Not once had Melburn Jackson made a sound, although Daniel now realized just how much it must have hurt. If his memory was correct, it had taken all day to do just one arm. Their willingness to abide by the laws of those people...a trait that they had quietly, by example, instilled in their son...had netted Melburn and Claire Jackson permission to excavate what was considered a holy site. The Jacksons had been the only white people ever allowed on the land. It had been a treasure trove of Mayan artifacts. And several that predated the Mayans. His father had never been able to discern just exactly who those earlier people had been.

The tattoo on his chest was there for an entirely different reason than the ceremonial decoration his father had. But just as important a reason, he thought. For a moment, he thought he heard his father laughing. "Yeah, you’re right, Dad," Daniel smiled. "I’ll do anything for her."

Once again he silently thanked his Wife for giving him back the ‘good’ memories of his parents. Thinking about them now brought a smile to his face, rather than the ache that had filled his heart for so many years.

 

 

 

As soon as he'd arrived home, he had taken off his shirt, pulled off the gauze, and applied more ointment. There was no blood, no sign of bleeding at all, though the skin that surrounded his newly acquired body art was still bright red. He stared at the tattoo for a bit...the name was backwards in the mirror, of course, as it had been each time he had looked at it when Mike had been working on it. But the letters of Casey’s name were beautifully done, looked exactly like the letters that adorned her upper thighs. The wings were truly a work of art. And symbolized exactly what she was to him...his Angel.

He wandered out of the bathroom, checked the time. The night was turning cold, so he adjusted the heat, started a pot of coffee, made a sandwich and settled himself at his desk. There was plenty of work to keep him busy until Casey came home.

When he heard her key in the door, he was pouring his second cup of coffee. Unless he grabbed his jacket, which would only look suspicious, there was no way for him to get to one of his shirts and pull it on before she was in the house. He sighed. Well, he'd been anxious to see her face when she saw what he had done. Only there would be no way to ease it into the conversation now. No way to gently break the news to her. He could only hope that her initial reaction wouldn’t be similar to his. He shook his head. Geez, had he been an idiot! What bothered him the most was that he'd been amused in the first few seconds of realization, looking at his name on her thigh...then that damned jealousy had taken control, causing him to react in the complete opposite of how he should have. He berated himself yet again for that colossal screw-up.

"Daniel?"

"Kitchen," he replied, knowing she had stopped in the den, thinking he was there because the light was on.

"Hi! How was-" Her eyes went wide. She always liked seeing Daniel without a shirt. She happened to love his chest and abs. It was impossible to miss the ‘addition’ to that strong pectoral muscle. "Oh, my god!"

Not exactly the response he had expected. Although, he admitted to himself, he hadn’t quite known what to expect. He watched her eyes as she stepped closer, her finger reaching out to gently trace the wings, and then her name.

It was beautiful. The wings were exactly like the ones she was wearing in the portrait Tiesha had done. And her name was done just like his, which was now permanently etched into the skin of her thigh. She felt the tears behind her lashes, tried to blink them back. "It’s amazing," she whispered.

"I thought so," he replied quietly. "I wanted your name on my skin, just like you have mine on yours."

She looked up at him. "When?" She shook her head. Smiled. "Silly question. It wasn’t there when we showered this morning."

He couldn’t help but grin...waited for her to put the pieces together.

"You were there? When we got there?" Her eyes went wider. "You’re the customer Mike was working on!"

"Yeah, I was. Mike was almost finished with it when the three of you showed up. She snuck me out the back way."

"Oh, Daniel! You didn’t have anything to numb you...and I know it had to have hurt like hell..." She leaned over and gently kissed the skin just above the ointment covered tattoo.

The gentle caress affected him more than just physically. He shivered imperceptibly. "Um...can I see yours?"

She tossed her purse and the Macy’s bag she was holding onto the island counter, dropped her coat to the floor, unbuttoned her jeans, and pushed them to her knees.

Daniel knelt in front of her, pushed her jeans lower, which allowed her to move her legs farther apart. He carefully removed the gauze that covered her new body art. Like the skin around his tattoo, hers was bright red, and there were places still weeping blood. "Oh, Angel," he said softly.

"It didn’t hurt. Janet had me numbed up pretty well," she assured him softly.

He sighed. ‘Daniel’s Property’. "Love those signs, Case."

"I’m glad."

"Why don’t you put your robe on? Mike told me to keep mine uncovered as much as possible."

"Joanie told me the same thing, although when I’m dressed she said to keep gauze over them to prevent getting blood on my clothes. Janet said she figured by late tomorrow there wouldn’t be any need to worry about them."

"So what did Janet and Sam get?"

"Sam has an eagle on her shoulder, and Janet has a teddy bear on her hip."

He grinned. "I never in a million years would have believed I’d be getting a tattoo."

"Are you implying that I’m a bad influence?"

"Not necessarily bad," he teased.

She looked up into laughing blue eyes. "Yeah, well, nobody forced you to get this...this beautiful tattoo," she finished on a sigh. "My name. Right there where anyone can see it when you have your shirt off."

"Right over my heart, Angel. Where you always are. In my heart." Slender arms wrapped around his neck. His went around her waist. "Did you eat?"

"Mmmhmm. Sonic."

"I see you really did go to Macy’s."

Casey grinned. "They were having a sale on jeans."

He chuckled when her fingers went back to his chest, her eyes moving over the tattoo again. "I guess you like it?"

"I love it," she replied. "You know that’s permanent."

"I know."

"You’re Immortal."

"I’m aware of that fact."

"It’s going to be there for a very long time."

"I hope so."

She looked up at his face. "I guess this sort of puts a damper on you ever leaving me, or even cheating on me, right? I mean, what woman would want to make love with my name staring her in the face?"

Daniel roared with laughter. "I figure not many men are going to be comfortable messing around somewhere that’s posted as being my property."

"Probably not," she smiled. She paused, then gave a little shudder. "Eww. Just the thought of any man but you touching me..." Another shudder. "Eww!"

His heart soared at her reaction. "What you do to me, woman," he said softly, pressing his face against her hair.

"I suppose, in a way, this was inevitable," she sighed.

"How do you figure that?"

"Well, we went through that ceremony in that temple. Our hearts, our souls were joined forever that day. To mark our bodies to show that possession...it just sort of...fits."

"Hmm. Very interesting observation."

A sudden thought had her giggling almost hysterically.

"What?"

"Well, when the guys at the base see your tattoo, they’re going to know that I have one with your name on it, and they’re going to go nuts trying to figure out where it is."

He laughed again. "No doubt. Ferretti will have a pool on it."

"And you won’t be allowed to bet, because you know where it’s at."

Daniel grinned from ear to ear. "Yeah, but because I know, I’ll be the one to point out the winner...so I’ll get a cut of the pot."

"You don’t mind?"

"Why should I mind?"

"Well, I mean, considering where they are, and all," she said shyly.

"Honey, I’m going to enjoy every minute of those guys thinking about my name being on your inner thigh."

Yes, she thought, he would. Perhaps it would help heal the hurts caused by the rumors started by Samuels. That would be a very good thing.

Later, when they made love, he taking her gently from behind, unwilling to chance irritating her still reddened skin, his own thoughts mirrored hers. No one could doubt his love for Casey, or hers for him, when they had permanently inscribed each other’s name into their skin. Didn’t the Marines view tattoos as a rite of manhood? His wasn’t a simple tattoo, either. Somehow, he didn’t think he’d ever have to worry about whispers regarding his sexuality in the locker room again.


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