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stick n poke

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“What did you want again?” Patrick asked, getting ink on the needle.

“A lock,” said Vic, crossing his ankle over his knee, pulling the bottom of his pants leg up to show where he already had the design drawn in Sharpie. “Right here.”

“M’kay.”

Patrick put out his cigarette in the ash tray next to your hand.

“You next, sweetheart?” he asked, grinning at you like he wanted to eat you alive.

“Sure, just hurry up.”

“Can’t hurry art, honey.”

You snorted. Henry’s had taken half an hour, but it looked pretty cool. It was the sun, just a circle with lines coming out of it on his wrist. It was really small, so he could cover it with the bandanna he always wore on his wrist anyway. He washed it off one last time, then held it out for you.

“Cool, babe,” you said, then you kissed his cheek.

He smiled at you, then put his arm around you, pulling you down with him as he sat down. You sat in his lap, watching as Patrick started in on Vic.

Vic barely even showed it on his face, how he was being stabbed over and over again. You made a face at him, and he mirrored you, then laughed. Belch reached over and messed with Vic’s hair, and Vic pushed back in his hand like a cat asking for scratches.

Patrick, for all his weirdness in every day life, was really good at what he did. He could pierce anyone without a second thought, push a needle into skin to make ink stick like it was nothing. You thought it might have to do with his penchant for carefully causing pain. You also thought that, because sex wasn’t a part of the equation right now, there wasn’t a chance he was going to get carried away.

He had a steady hand, and he focused hard on what he was doing. It was almost cute — though you hesitated to use that word to describe him, would only do it out loud to bother him — how his eyebrows drew together as he squinted at the skin he was busy tattooing.

Forty-five minutes and three cigarettes later, Vic’s tattoo was done. He struggled to get it high enough to wash it off in the sink, eventually having Belch haul him up onto the counter so he could put it under the stream of water.

Now that — that was cute.

“You like it?” Belch asked him.

“Mm. Looks cool,” said Vic, finally getting to smoke a cigarette of his own. Patrick had insisted that he hold off until he was done with him, so the smoke wouldn’t get in his eyes. He had a point there, though, so Vic had done it, only just now lighting up.

“Guess who’s next?” Patrick sung, looking at you.

“Belch?” you joked.

“Baby, no,” said Belch, laughing. “Not you, too.”

“I think you’d look cool with a tattoo,” you said.

You’d had this conversation many times before. He was pretty stuck in the idea that Patrick Fucking Hockstetter wasn’t going to go near him with a fucking needle.

You had to admit he had a point, but you also sort of trusted Patrick.

“I know. Which is why I’m saving up to get a real one.”

“You saying my tattoos aren’t real, honeybunch?” asked Patrick.

You all groaned. If there was anything in the kitchen that you could throw at him, you all would have. You hunted around, found a balled-up paper towel, and tossed it at his head.

“Honeybunch?” Belch laughed. “Fucking — really?”

“Listen, I’ve run out of things to call you, big guy. I’m grasping at straws, here.”

“Well, honeybunch fucking sucks. Try again,” said Henry.

He was still looking at his tattoo, and you smiled. You could tell he loved it, though he’d never say it out loud.

“I like big guy,” said Belch.

“Sure you do,” you said, standing up and putting your arms around his shoulders. “You’re our big guy, babe.”

He smiled down at you, then pressed a short kiss to your lips.

“Are we gonna do this, or what?” said Patrick, forcing you to stop kissing Belch and look at him.

“Ugh, fine,” you said, sitting down in front of him and crossing your ankle over your knee just like Vic.

“What’d you want?” he asked.

“A key. Skeleton key.”

“Mm. ‘Kay.”

He started sketching it out, taking direction from you. Once you were satisfied with it, he got the needle ready, sterilizing it and wrapping it up again. He hummed an eerie tune as he did, and you listened, wondering where you’d heard it before. Probably just from him.

Then, he began pricking your skin with the needle, slowly forming the key under his careful hand. It took about an hour, and an uncomfortable one, at that, but when it was done, it looked great. The lines were straight, and the oval at the top of the key was perfect.

“Fuck, I love it,” you said.

“Yeah, sweetheart?” he asked.

“Yeah. Lemme wash it off. Belch?”

Belch lifted you easily, setting you on the counter next to the sink, just like Vic, who still sat on the other side, and you washed off your sore ankle.

It looked so, so good.

“I love it,” you said again, hopping down from the sink.

“How much do you love it?” Patrick asked.

“Mm, enough to blow you later.”

“Perfect. Why not now, though?”

“Because I wanna get fucked up. And I wanna start now,” you said.

“Wait, doesn’t Patrick get one?” asked Vic.

“I already have like, ten.”

“To match one of us, then?”

Patrick held out his wrist. On it was a tiny crescent moon, the size of Henry’s sun.

“Got it covered, already.”

You grinned at him. You knew he had a soft spot for Henry, but you wouldn’t have guessed it’d go deep enough to merit a coordinating tattoo.

“You keep looking at me like that, baby, we might have a problem,” he said to you.

“Oh, we’re not gonna have a problem. Don’t worry about it,” you said, grabbing Belch’s keys.

You walked toward the front door, jingling the keys as you went.

“Last one to the car has to sit bitch,” you called.

“Wait, I don’t have shoes on,” Vic yelled.

“Too fucking bad, sweetheart.”

Patrick streaked past you, beating you first to the door, then to the car. You laughed.

“Don’t wanna be bitch, huh?”

“You know my legs are too long for that shit.”

You laughed harder.

“Sure are."