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    Celian
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Ink and Flowers - 2. Finley

The taste of Emmett's fear stuck in the back of my throat until I brushed my teeth with special toothpaste in the evening. As intense, as sharp and pure as the taste was, I was almost a little surprised that he hadn't run away from me. He probably had something helping him with instinctive fears, considering the tattoo parlor probably a magical tattoo.

On the other hand, he wasn't the first to react much more intensely than normal around me since a while. Again, the only reason for this could only be my own magical tattoo that was supposed to mask my very own scent and at the same time help me maintain my personal shields permanently. And since my tattoos were all done by a military-approved sorceress and my own magic would fuel them, it had to be damaged.

The thought- or rather this worry- kept me awake for a long time. The sleep I got was riddled with nightmares.


 

When I walked into the flower shop in the morning, Patricia was deftly wrapping a ribbon around a finished bouquet in bright shades of yellow and orange. "God, you look really wrecked, Fin," she said instead of a real greeting. Her face clearly showed concern.

Half-heartedly, I shrugged. Before I could think of any kind of response, however, she continued speaking.

"Really, you should think about getting a tattoo for sleeping. Tony's pretty damn good. I mean, he warned me I'd have to get mine charged every few years, but I've now almost had it four years and it's still tip-top."

I bit the inside of my lower lip. It wasn't the first time Patricia suggested I get a sleep-well tattoo. On my second day, she had already asked if the dark circles under my eyes were from my moving. After I had denied, she pointed to her own necklace as a sign that she had seen my dog tags, quietly and knowingly remarking that classic trauma recovery sometimes wasn't enough, followed by pointing out that Tony across the street was doing an excellent job.

My lip protested under my teeth and I shrugged again weakly. I should at least have him check my scent masker, since my own amateurish inspection hadn't exactly been revealing. "Maybe I'll go over," I said quietly then, as the look on her face deepened its concern. "My tattoos would need to be checked out. Maybe-" I left the end hanging like that, but she seemed to understand me.

"Be a dear and put the bouquet in the pick-up vase line, will you?" Her smile was encouraging, her whole disposition as sunny and vibrant as the flowers in her hand, and I forced the corners of my mouth up a little.


 

I had just lit a cigarette when Emmett came around the opposite building. He was staring at his cell phone, grinning, and looked up only briefly to first release the safety mechanism for the window bars and then let them slide gently upward with the turn of a key.

The nicotine-laced smoke filled my lungs and I held it in. Most magic-soaked species can't do much with nicotine- I can. And I took full advantage of it. Not that the stuff could help much with sleep deprivation, but it calmed my nerves.

Emmett nodded politely at me when he noticed me, and just as politely, I nodded back while smoke poured out of my mouth and nose. Would he be able to withstand his fear in a prolonged face-to-face conversation with me?

The thought made me grimace. After all, I didn't want to scare him or anyone else.

I sucked on the cigarette hard enough that a little ash fell off all by itself, and glanced at my watch. Five past eleven. Plenty of time, then, for me to get a few words together.

 

~

 

Emmett's mouth smiled, his eyes didn't, as I entered the tattoo shop right after I got off work. "Did Patricia send you for anything?"

"No." I stepped a little closer to the counter so I wouldn't stand there silly in the middle of the room. "I'd like to get one of my tattoos inspected."

Emmett's brows, which were surprisingly dark compared to his pale blond hair, drew together a little before he nodded curtly. "Tony?" he called over his shoulder, noticeably trying not to take his eyes off me.

"Yeah?" it came from the back room.

"Do you have a minute?"

"Sure."

We waited in silence, and though it was maybe half a minute, the taste of Emmett's growing fear crept up my throat. Sharp and a little sour.

"Hey, Finley." Tony greeted, nodding at me, though he too was sporting a subtle frown.

I was clearly uncomfortable under the dual gaze from equally confusing and intriguing blue-violet eyes. "I think one of my tattoos is broken," it slipped out without a counter-greeting, my voice a little lower than normal with tension.

Tony nodded simply. "Is Ron coming at eight or seven-thirty?" he turned to Emmett, who shook his head.

"Called, won't be here until eight-thirty."

"Well, then. In to the drawing room."

After a nod, I followed Tony and his welcoming gesture into the back room, the heart of the business. Just like the small reception area, everything here was bathed in bright, friendly tones, and photographs of done tattoos hung on the walls. The air smelled and tasted of chemicals.

"Where's the tattoo?" Tony wanted to know, pointing to a monster of a chair that seemed to have a lot more joints and moving parts than a chair should have.

"Left calf."

"How old?"

"Fifteen years." I paused in unlacing my boot as he pulled out of the chair resting surfaces for the legs, but hastily removed the boot under his almost mocking gaze and rolled up the pant leg. Hooray for wide cargo pants and the freedom of movement they offer, because taking off my whole pants because of a calf really wouldn't have appealed to me. I know why I don't like jeans.

While I struggled for a moment to keep my balance on one leg, Tony settled down on a low stool and pulled out a lamp and magnifying glass combo. "Who did the tattoo, what's it supposed to do, and has it been redone yet?" he then soberly demanded to know, donning disposable gloves.

"A military-approved sorceress, scent masker and shield fixation, yes," I replied just as matter-of-factly, getting a grumble in response. The gloved hands on my skin felt uncomfortably like a medics.

"Interesting combination.", Tony then remarked with a little delay. My leg hair crackled strangely under his fingers.

"Wasn't my choice," I returned. None of the five- well, actually six- tattoos had been my decision, and instead of the giant lizard Tony was examining, I would have preferred a lion, for example.

Tony grumbled something and then let go of me. "There are some unusual fissures showing." Tilting his head, he looked at me, causing a queasy feeling in my stomach. "It's fifteen years old? When was it redone?"

"Fifteen, yes. It was repaired in a few places five years ago, inspected two years ago."

"Any injuries, fights, magical healings since then?"

I was already going to deny it when I remembered my encounter with the wolf shifters a few weeks ago- but I hadn't been injured in the calf then. Had I? "Passive as well as active self-healing," I said quietly, adding, "But I don't remember any injuries at the location."

But Tony nodded simply. "Emmett, why don't you pass me the wax and then see if we have any matching ink."

"What kind of wax?", I wanted to know in wonder as Emmett slipped past the half-drawn curtain and into the room.

"Depilatory wax." Pulling a pink packet from a shelf, he grinned broadly. The grin wasn't even meant for me in the first place, but along with the amused twinkle in his eyes, it made my stomach tingle. "Tony loves the look men get when they realize they're in for a waxing."

With a snort, Tony rolled his eyes. "Do you want me to go into detail about what facial expressions you like on men?"

Playing innocent, Emmett batted his eyelashes. "The smiles of satisfied customers, of course."

"Bitch."

"Uncle Tony! My mother would be horrified!" Outraged, Emmett threw the pink pack across the room, which Tony expertly caught.

And I just stood there, on one leg like an overweight stork, listening to the banter.

"Ink, Emmett, ink.", Tony reminded him, smiling.

 

What followed was about half an hour of more or less uncomfortable silence, broken only by Emmett, who brought Tony the ink he needed and seemed to have already forgotten his indignation. As Tony readied the black ink and the machine, however, he restarted the professional conversation.

"You have active self-healing?"

I nodded. "Yes."

"Targeted?"

I nodded again. Not that I could use it to get myself off the doorstep of death, real shifters were much, much better at that, but it was enough to save my ass on occasion.

"Very well. Then we can do this in one go and not have to worry about the inks mixing." Tony wiped my calf again to make sure there was really no wax residue left behind, then nodded at me. "Now all you have to do is lower your shields far enough for my magic to get through."

And that was exactly the problem. I squinted over at Emmett, who was putting something on a shelf and glanced over his shoulder at that exact moment. The taste of his fear had faded, but was still there. "You should go," I said quietly, and he frowned.

Tony made a strange, sort of questioning sound, and I had the impression that uncle and nephew were communicating wordlessly for a moment- the result was a deep frown on both sides. "Your shields, Finley," Tony said almost gently.

I suppressed a sigh. One of the first things I had been taught as a child had been to keep my personal shields up permanently. Lowering them was not necessarily one of my finest skills. Besides- already the whiff of scent that reached Emmett thanks to the damaged scent masker scared him. Then what was he supposed to say about my aura?

Well, he didn't say anything, but shrieked shrilly, crashed into a cabinet, and then ran away.

However, Tony also sat there frozen, looking as if he had to compose himself before he could look me in the face.

"I'm sorry," I said quietly, and I meant it. But I mean, I'm a dragon, what can I do? We are, after all, the biggest and most dangerous predators in the world. I didn't choose to be born as one.

"This is," Tony swallowed audibly, "a first." His fear also tasted sharp and sour, mixed with the somehow salty taste of his magic.

"I'm sorry," I repeated, even more quietly than before.

With trembling fingers, Tony waved it off, then took a deep breath. "Okay. Okay." He didn't ask what I was, for which I was decidedly grateful, but instead raised a shield of his own, and two breaths later I could no longer taste his fear, his hands were no longer shaking.

In exchange, I now wondered what Emmett was. A witch like his uncle certainly not, and another mana user neither, otherwise he could have raised a shield like Tony and weakened the influence of my aura. Besides, the two looked similar enough to be related by blood, and thus Emmett was hardly anything entirely different from a human, a half-breed of something perhaps.

I thought of his cheery-cheeky grin. The way he had just reacted to me, it would probably never really be meant for me.

Copyright © 2024 Celian; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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So Finley scared Emmet away when he lowered his shields for a tattoo repair.  The power of Finley's dragon became apparent.

Guess (?) he is not meant to be close to Finley. Who is Emmet?  Finley does not know but has learned he is the nephew of Tony who is a witch.

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16 minutes ago, johnnyboy2285 said:

Interesting 🤔, was Emmett being dramatic?

Not dramatic, just overwhelmed. He's sensitive and Finley is very strong.

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42 minutes ago, sopocles said:

Interesting Idea Magical Tatoos.

 

I got inspired by another story for this.

 

Thank you!

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Finley seems to be permanently sad, and this makes me sad.  Why does he seem to hate being a dragon, I would love it.  LOL.  The list of people that I would bar-b-que and eat is rather long.

Hate that he scared Emmet that much; but glad that Tony was able to shield enough to do the job that needs to be done.  

Interesting...

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4 hours ago, centexhairysub said:

Finley seems to be permanently sad, and this makes me sad.  Why does he seem to hate being a dragon, I would love it.  LOL.  The list of people that I would bar-b-que and eat is rather long.

Hate that he scared Emmet that much; but glad that Tony was able to shield enough to do the job that needs to be done.  

Interesting...

God yes so many annoying people suddenly less in the world!

Thank you!

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