This story can only be found bundled with the Erotic Novella “Maintenance Request”
The Alchemist was getting ready to close his tattoo shop when the bells on his door chimed. He turned and there she was, a shattered angel. She stood paused, frozen in his doorway, neither in nor out, motionless on the threshold, undecided.
The setting sun bled over the rooftops from across the street, staining her hair and cheek with the illusion of mortal wounds. The empty hunger in the crushed blue of her eyes screamed of lethal injuries hemorrhaging but invisible on the surface of her skin. Her mane was a lank yellow and her dead-pale skin was stretched tight over the finely carved cheekbones of her face. Her features betrayed a story of physical exquisiteness, brutalized to a mere shadow of their original loveliness.
His first thought was that she was too damn young to be so broken. She was what, nineteen? Maybe younger? His second thought was more practical; he really did not have time for penniless, injured street kids. He worked to viciously stamp out the twinges of sympathy oozing into his thoughts.
“I’m getting ready to close shop,” he growled. “Are you comin’ in or are you gonna hold my door open all night?”
She shook her hair, dispelling the impression of blood streaked across her face. Her glance was both fearful and feral as she hunched into her dirty jeans jacket. She flashed a nervous look about the brightly lit tattoo parlor then speared him with her feverish eyes.
“What?” he asked without humor, his tone telling her: I really don’t need this.
With frustrated movements, he turned his shoulder to her. “Damn street kids,” the Alchemist grumped to himself. “She’s just another wounded pup waiting to be kicked.” He locked away his tools and straightened the pages of flash art lying on the counter as he tried to ignore the look in her eyes. “Looks like another walking victim begging to get killed.”
“Um . . .” The girl’s voice was timid. “I uh, want a tattoo,” she coughed.
Yeah, right, the Alchemist thought with annoyance. As if this kid has any money on her to buy a tattoo. She doesn’t look like she’s had enough to eat in a week.
“Do you even know what you want? I haven’t got all night to wait for you to pick something out.” He wiped his face with his palm then glared at her. She cringed back from his glower then bravely took a deep breath. Her eyes lit up with a terrible hunger.
“Yeah, I do know what I want.” She moved closer to his counter, her steps silent on the tile floor. “I want one of those Japanese letter things . . .” The bells jingled on the door as it finally closed.
“They’re called Kanji letters.” His frown deepened as he noted that her voice must have been lovely once. Living on the street had burned much of its original beauty to ash. Why am I even talking to this obviously penniless kid? Inwardly he baulked. Shame at the way he was treating her, warred with his practicality. She’s obviously had enough shit in her life and here I go, being rude to her.
“Khan-jee letters?” she pronounced carefully. “Yeah,” she breathed. “I want one of them.” She was almost panting with an unidentifiable, hungry need.
“Sure. What do you want it to say?” he asked then flinched inwardly. There I go again. I’m just a damned bleeding heart. He swore at himself softly and bitterly.
“What do I want ‘what’ to say?” She blinked in confusion.
He rolled his eyes. “Kanji letters are whole words or phrases in Japanese. What do you want your Japanese word to say?”
“Do you have one for ‘beautiful’?” she asked then blushed furiously. “I want to be ‘beautiful’,” she added then sharply turned away from his gaze. Catching her image in a mirror, she glanced away from her reflection quickly. “Then maybe people will love me,” she added in a whisper he could barely hear. Her eyes were suspiciously bright with unshed tears.
“Yeah.” The Alchemist flinched as pity stabbed through his heart. He pulled out the page of flash featuring the Japanese letters he had collected. Sullenly he turned the page around for her to see, pointing out the simple but decorative oriental letters, or glyphs.
“Oh, how pretty,” she sighed. He watched her eyes come alive with an unholy hunger and a joy too defiant to be as simple as hope.
“It’ll be fifty dollars and take one hour.” He raised his pierced eyebrow sardonically.
“I want a tattoo, but I’m broke. Uh, can I, um . . . Can I pay you without cash?”
“Pay me how?” the Alchemist asked, crossing his arms on his broad chest. “I don’t do drugs so I won’t take drugs as payment.” He was pretty sure that she was going to offer to blow him or fuck him in trade for the tattoo but he wanted her to spit it out herself.
“Yeah, I heard you were clean,” she said then looked down at the floor. “Um, I really want that tattoo.” She glanced at him from under pale lashes. “Will you do it for sex?” she offered very softly, folding her arms across her narrow chest.
“You want to fuck me for a tattoo?” His smile was thin-lipped and without humor. I hate this kind of shit, he thought in annoyance. At the same time he felt pity creeping through his heart. It wasn’t as if she had much else to offer.
“Yes.” She blinked, eyes wide, caught off guard by his deliberate rudeness. “Sex for a tattoo.”
“You any good?” he asked, trying to see how far he could push her. If he was lucky, she would leave on her own and he wouldn’t have to join the ranks of all the rest of the people who had obviously taken advantage of her.
He cocked his head to one side in slight confusion. For someone who was trying to get something using sex, she wasn’t even trying to work it. She didn’t flirt and her jacket was closed to the throat. Not a speck of tittie was showing. If he didn’t know better, he’d swear she’d never tried to use sex to get anything before. She was acting like she didn’t know how.
“No, I’m not really that good,” she said through clenched teeth. Her gaze darkened in rebellion then faded to sullen hurt.
Well the kid certainly has guts, the Alchemist admitted to himself. “All right, I’ll do it for a fuck.”
“Great.” She smiled with a slight tightening of the lips. “But no weird shit, OK?” she added, taking a step back from his counter, her gaze defiant. “No hitting or cutting.”
“Gotcha, no weird shit, just you, me and my dick in your twat. OK.” He smiled ruefully. What the hell have I gotten myself into this time?
“Good,” she said. She nibbled on her lip then her lips bowed into a dazzling smile in return. He was knocked flat by her smile’s sudden and searing brilliance. He found his heart pounding and his palms dampening in sympathetic anger. And lust. His dick was hardening just looking at her smile alone.
Not that long ago, this little broken doll with her shattered eyes and straggly form had been a spectacular beauty. He could see from the smile alone that not all of her soul had been destroyed. Possibilities still shone, though dimly.
“Right,” he said, unnerved, then flipped up the counter. “Come this way.”
The Alchemist led her back to the stark white room he used, with its black leather medical table. His counters gleamed pristine with sterile cleanliness. His chrome tools glittered coldly in the harsh overhead light. The walls were covered with immense framed paintings.
“Wow, these are incredible,” she breathed as she gazed at the swirls of color and exotic, esoteric imagery on the massive canvases. “Whose art is this? I’ve never seen anything like it before.”
“It’s mine,” he said curtly then knelt and opened the cabinets under the counter. “I did all of it.” Efficiently he pulled trays of plastic coated, sterile needles and a couple of disposable wells for inks. What the hell am I doing, tattooing this shattered angel for a fuck?
“They’re gorgeous.” She sighed in awe as she looked at all the art covering his walls. “I wish I had the cash to get some of your stuff,” she said in barely a whisper. Then her smile reappeared like magic. She was transformed, practically glowing with a creative potential, a blinding inner beauty, that shone through her damaged body and refused to die.
Oh, that’s why, he reminded himself as his dick suddenly sprang to attention in reaction to her untapped power. I could bring all that a little closer to the surface, he mused. Make it easier for her to utilize . . . Damn it! I am not a charity worker. I am gonna get my dick wet then go home, eat a burger, drink a beer and watch TV and not feel guilty!