34 - Ink and bulldozers

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"Minibars, expensive cars, hotel rooms and new tattoos."

"Are you sure you want to do this?" I can't help but ask for tenth time in the last ten minutes. I run my fingers over the plastic wallets in the leather flip-book; tracing the artwork tucked inside. "You know, you read about this sort of thing online and it's usually because it actually turned out to be a really shit house idea, so I think that maybe-"

I'm interrupted by an abrupt cough, and when I look up - Harry is staring at me with a pointed look and a single raised eyebrow. "Juniper, I'm quite sure that I want to do this."

I flash my eyes to the guy sat beside him; inked up to the neck and around the eyes, and currently sketching away on a piece of tracing paper that I'm apparently not allowed to see. I'd been terrified when we'd first stepped inside, the place decked out like a haunted mansion; skull shaped wax candles encased in copper candelabras, steel bars lining the windows and an open wooden coffin - etched with RIP Daz - propped up against the front counter. I'd been hard pressed not to enquire into the whereabouts of Daz's body now. 

But Ike - or Inked Ike according to his Instagram handle - had been perfectly polite and had greeted Harry with a hug, like an old friend. "Let me guess, no ink?" He looks up from his drawing and grins at me; displaying multiple gold crowns. I try to smile back with the same enthusiasm.

"Oh god, no." I shake my head quickly and then my eyes widen. "Not that there's anything wrong with tattoos at all, of course."

From somewhere in my peripheral vision, Harry snorts. "Stop your fretting, Juni. Go take a seat and I'll tell you when it's done."

Not wanting to cause a scene, I sidle closer to him. "Harry," I try in a hushed tone, but based on the smirk on Ike's face, it's clear I'm not doing so well at the hushed part. "This is quite a lovely gesture, but you really don't have to do it. I mean, what if it goes wrong?"

"I'm going to do my best not to take offence to that." Ike frowns and my cheeks burn a furious scarlet. It would appear I have all the subtlety of a bulldozer.

"You really are cute, you know that?" Harry smirks as I shuffle away towards the crimson bucket seats at the front of the store. "We went wrong for a while and you didn't give up on me." He reminds me. "I'm not giving up on this."

"But this is permanent!" I can't help but squeak as I fall backwards into the seat. It's definitely more for show than it is comfort, and I can't help but liken it to sitting on a rock. I get that Ike is going for a theme here but I mean...really?

"You're permanent." Harry says without missing a beat. He looks at me dead on, and if it wasn't for Ike carefully transferring his design onto Harry's forearm - I'd probably have thrown myself at him.

Whatever it is, is going to sit in the space just above the anchor on his left arm. It was Harry's idea to do this. To get a tattoo. A tattoo to represent me. At the revelation, I'd almost choked on my own saliva.

"And you're a soppy git." Ike grins at him; now adorning a pair of black vinyl gloves that are perfectly suited to our somewhat morbid surroundings. "You ready, Casanova?"

"Go for it." Harry confirms, voice steady, and a sharp buzzing fills my ears; as if we've just been invaded by an enraged swarm of bees. But his face remains composed - eyes fixed on where I've sunk into America's most uncomfortable armchair.

"Does that not hurt?" I can't help asking, but unable to actually lower my gaze to the act in question. I feel like I'm wincing for him; gripping the wooden armrests for dear life as the pinpoint needle repeatedly pierces his skin.

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