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Ens McKenzie, PO2 Ek, Cm Kaeriss & Cn Popples - "Little Darling, the Smile's Returning to their Faces"

Posted on 2020-09-12 08:36 by Crewman Fearne Popples & Ensign Liam McKenzie Ph.D. & Petty Officer 2nd Class Kennet Ek & Crewman Kaeriss

Mission: Grains of Sand

Kenny lead the way along in front of the shops in downtown Gothenburg, occasionally having to double back when one of the others would get distracted by a particularly interesting shop window. It was getting late in the evening it was still light out, and the sun had dipped low in the sky. It was a comfortable 20°C, and Kenny was wearing a rainbow gradient sleeveless jumpsuit with slits up the sides of the loose and floaty legs. She came to a stop in front of one particular shop and turned in place to wait for the others to catch up.

"Göteborg's best piercing and tattoo studio," she said with a wave of her hand at the front of the very mundane looking shop. The door slid open as she stepped close, and grabbed Liam by his elbow to pull him along inside, trusting Fearne and Kae to keep up on their own.

As a surprise to precisely no-one Fearne was is the epicentre of a lot of distractions and double-backs. A vast quantity of the objects thereabout, both on display and just sitting around like landmarks or buildings were apparently "tasty", "sweet as” or “stellar", she certainly wasn't missing a single opportunity to take in the unique character of the city. If there were a scale for enthusiasm out of ten Fearne would be hitting a solid twelve. Generally she managed to keep it on the side of endearing and quirky rather than annoying, but at least if she did get tiresome she was open to being moved along or pacified, the last thing she wanted was to be a pain to her friends.

“Sweeeeeeeeet!” Fearne followed Liam and Kenny into the shop, taking in the atmosphere with typical overt curiosity. Her tank top which proudly advertised the album Ritual by In this moment, wrecked skinny Jeans and grungy boots were certainly well in keeping with the tattoo and piercing theme, as was her choice of smoky black eyes and matte black lips. She looked over her shoulder and grinned at Kaeriss in an "isn't this cool?" sort of way.

Liam stepped inside with a knowing smile. Knowing he couldn't put the piercing off any more, he entered with an expression of resigned curiosity tinted by a whiff of nervousness. His eyes quickly adjusted to the dim, sumptuous interior and the faint scent of incense. He took off his old, threadbare flatcap and tucked it under one arm as he entered. Ahead he could see a young woman at the front table. After making sure everyone was inside, he turned to address the woman with a broad smile.

"Hej, god dag," he said to her cheerily in flawless Swedish.

Kaeriss was only here to soak up the atmosphere and provide any hand holding anyone might need. She was wearing what amounted to a halterneck beach cover up as a token effort to clothe herself around so many humans. She didn't care, and she knew that given a chance to get used to it her friends wouldn't either, but she didn't like making anyone feel uncomfortable. She smiled back at Fearne as she followed her in, and took a good look around. It was certainly an interesting place, but nothing was going to tempt her to get any modifications done. She stood at the back of the group, ears perked and twitching with each new sound, drinking in the experience.

"Aslög!" Kenny practically squealed as she moved to catch the young woman at the front table in a hug.

"Is this your linguist friend? He's sure showing off, twisting his tongue around our language," Aslög replied as she and Kenny pulled apart. Kenny laughed as she nodded, and Aslög looked straight at Liam. "Kenny says Carita's putting a hole in you, but you hadn't decided where yet?" Aslög's eyes drifted to Kaeriss and Fearne as she waited for Liam's response, offering a friendly smile to them both.

Liam beamed a genuine smile as the reunion unfolded, sharing the moment with Kaeriss and Fearne. He then turned back to Aslög and responded to her question in a friendly, upbeat tone. "That's right," he said simply before gesturing slightly towards the others. "We brought a few friends for moral support. This is Kaeriss and this is Fearne," he said, introducing the others. "So tell me, what do you recommend for a newbie?" he asked, leaning slightly towards Aslög. He shared a friendly glance with Kenny out of the corner of his eye before turning back to Aslög.

"With your face? I'd go for the septum, it's a classic. Slips right through the little part of that divider in your nose where it doesn't have cartilage. Dermal regenerator makes a quick job of healing it up when we're done." Aslög grinned, showing off her pink tinted smiley piercing. She looked to Kae and Fearne. "Are you ladies also getting pierced today?"

"Who, me?" Fearne craned her neck around from the various and mesmerising offerings of tattoo art on the walls. It turned out Aslög was looking pretty much straight at her which quickly made the question redundant.

“Uhhhhhhmmmmmmm well, I wasn't planning on it?" She answered, "but I do like the look of... hmmm… hey, that's cool! Oh, sweet!" Fearne’s attention had been hijacked again by a computer terminal in the corner that not only had a complete catalogue of all of the basic artwork but could also make scans of the body for 3-D mock ups, arrangements and previews and even, if the operator was talented enough, some custom artwork. Her attention completely lost, she started the scan and turned so the terminal could take a complete image of her right arm.

"I'm just here for moral support and to soak up the atmosphere," Kaeriss replied with a smile, and followed Fearne over to the machine to see what she was looking at. "Oh, wow, that's... more extreme than a piercing," she said with a laugh.

"That depends on technique," Aslög explained as she stepped around the counter. She offered a PADD to Liam as she went, with the piercing information and liability release on it. "She can do the classic experience with the tattoo gun and all the little needles poking her skin, with or without the dermal regenerator to speed the healing up, or the modern hypo ink sublimation. Though all of our tattoo artists are trained in the whole range of processes we offer, depending on which you'd prefer, I'll definitely base my recommendation on who to pick based on their preferred technique." Aslög could see that Fearne appeared to have a solid grasp of the controls of the terminal, so she waited for her or Liam to ask any questions.

Liam smiled at Fearne's excited response and glanced over her and Kaeriss's shoulders at the catalog. "Very, very nice," he said, obviously impressed. As he did so, a strange feeling of thrill tinged with a subtle anxiety came over him. This was really happening!

As Fearne, Kaeriss and Aslög looked over the artwork, Liam leaned over to brush shoulders with Kenny. He lowered his voice into a soft, deep baritone as he whispered a question in her ear. "That was your suggestion, too, right? Septum?" he asked, standing close enough that she could perhaps notice the new cologne he was wearing.

"That was one of them," Kenny answered, smirking at how close to her Liam was standing. She'd suspected something had been brewing all the way back in the holodeck before the ship blew up, but everything that had happened since really hadn't given her a chance to even think about it. She couldn't help but wonder if he'd even consider doing this if anyone else had asked him. Maybe she should be nice and give him an out. "I did also suggest an eyebrow piercing, or a smiley — like the one Aslög has, though if you're not man enough for pink..." Kenny winked at Liam. "But, you know that if you really don't want to do this, you don't have to, right?"

Over by the tattoo terminal Fearne’s arms shot up as she lifted her tank top off over her head and let it fall to the floor so the scan could also cover her right side. Doing so revealed three things: first a bright cyan sports bra, second more six pack than a beer factory and third that Fearne clearly didn't give much of a fuck about showing any of this off. Seemingly happy that the scanner could now do its thing she reached for a small civilian model PADD from the back pocket of her jeans with her left hand and showed something to Kaeriss and Aslög.

"I was thinking something like this, except take the bunny and make it a Degu and like these plants all round here? They need to be ferns. Blue ferns. Yeah." She grinned excitedly at Kaeriss. Clearly some thought had gone into this, but strangely it was something that Fearne hadn't jabbered on about at all. In fact, she hadn't even mentioned wanting a tattoo, let alone one that covered an entire arm and side of her body.

"Damn Popples, I didn't realize you were ripped," Kenny quipped with a laugh.

"If you want, you can transfer your file to our terminal, and the system can help you manipulate it into a design. Then once you pick an artist, you can consult with them to clean it up and adjust it to better work with whichever technique you choose to put it into your skin." Aslög touched the terminal to display the link info for Fearne. "Are you thinking of keeping it realistic like your image, or do you want to stylize it?"

Fearne shot a grin at Kenny presuming her comment was some kind of approval.

"No Vulcan DNA," she explained, "wanna floor a Klingon, got to be shredded!" With this comment she tensed all of her muscles from the shoulder upwards in a mildly grotesque and somewhat humorous display which finished with a wink of her green eye. Returning her attention to Aslög, more evidence was apparent that this is something Fearne had been considering and wasn't just a spur of the moment thing.

"Like, totally realistic. That would be sweet, could you?" Fearne replied and passed the PADD to Aslög. Computers were not her speciality and she figured Aslög had probably done this many times before. Better than trying to do it herself and probably flailing a bit.

"Björn is our best artist for realistic, and he prefers the hypo ink sublimation, but he does well with the needle too." Aslög made quick work of transferring the file to the terminal, and it overlaid on Fearne's body scan, though it was clear it would need adjustments to follow her contours. "That'll take longer and it would require multiple sessions if you do needle. Sublimation is much faster." Aslög held out Fearne's PADD for her to take back.

After smiling at the interchange between Fearne and Aslög, Liam turned to whisper his response to Kenny. "Oh no, I wouldn't be here if I didn't want to be," he said, still leaning in close. "I promise," he added in a low tone, in order to not disrupt Fearne's conversation. "I'm going to get a curved barbell. I did some research and I like that look the best," he added with growing confidence. "Will you come back with me?" he asked out of curiosity.

"With all that fancy officer's training, you need someone to hold you hand to put a hole in your nose?" Kenny laughed, and bumped into Liam's shoulder with her own. "What would you officers do if you didn't have an enlisted around to keep your head on straight?"

Liam smirked, stifled a laugh and replied in a hushed, yet warm tone. "No! I don't need someone to hold my hand... want you to!" The sparkle in his eye told her he wasn't joking as he began flirting in earnest. His hand drifted towards hers and he attempted to brush her fingertips with his own in order to help make his point.

There was a moment as Kenny considered. "Well, if you insist, I could come with you as a friend... for now." She hadn't really consider Liam as anything but a friend, and it was going to take her a little time to see how the idea of anything else sat with her. But there was no need to scare him off. She offered him a smile.

Back at the terminal and PADD back in hand (and thence jeans pocket) Fearne deigned to return herself to being fully dressed. She smoothed down her long bob and nodded to Aslög thoughtfully.

"Yeah no definitely going with the hyper ink sublam… subren… the fast one," she said, deploying a contemplative duck face for a moment. "I’m all about rapid gratification… just in case any eligible partners are listening..." She added loudly with a wide cheesy grin to Kaeriss.

Liam glanced over at Fearne for a moment before returning his attention to Kenny. The light in his eyes didn't seem to dim even the slightest as his hand retreated from hers. "Understood," he said simply, acknowledging her boundary.

"Aslög," he went on to say, turning to face their host. "May I look at the septum horseshoe rings? Do you have any under the glass over there?" he asked confidently and with slightly flushed cheeks.

"Under glass..." Kenny looked in the direction that Liam indicated and laughed. "Björn talked Carita into changing the holodisplay? I gotta see this." Kenny caught Liam by the elbow and pulled him towards the case. Aslög smirked as she watched them a moment and turned back to Fearne. "So, they replicate the jewelry custom, but you can handle samples and design what you want in their display." As they approached, the glass in the front of the case disappeared, and the lights rose in the case with labels under each piece that spun in mid-air.

"Björn should be finishing with his current client, if you want me to go get him to help you finish up your design?" Aslög said to Fearne.

Kaeriss was still chuckling to herself over Fearne's declaration when Aslög came back over to them. "Mind if I sit in and watch? I'm intrigued," she said, and she was. Tattoos would never be her thing, and they weren't really a thing back home at all so she was quite interested in the whole process.

"Yeah, thanks, that would be sweet!" Fearne replied to Aslög. She was equally as enthusiastic with Kaeriss. "Yeah totally you can watch," she told her former ship roommate, continuing in a stage whisper, "...but you have to promise not to tell the others how much of a wimp I am!"

A fresh purr of a laugh rolled out of Kae's chest at that. "You have my word," she replied with mock sincerity, and then went right back to chuckling.

"That's the one," Liam said confidently, pointing to an elegantly simple, silver, medium-sized horseshoe ring. "I'd like to replicate and put in this one, whenever you folks can fit me in," he said, flashing a devilish smile at Kenny. He then glanced supportively at Fearne, secretly sharing the same fear. Kenny would never let him live it down if he whined too much about it!

Kenny laughed, and pulled his selected style up out of the way before she started browsing the jewelry. "Aslög, do you still have the pattern for the rainbow threaders I replicated last time I was in for a hole? They were on the ship when–"

"Say no more, they're in your pattern files, we'll get a new set replicated for you. Let me know if you need to modify them — adjust the length, gradient, or anything." Aslög disappeared into the back of the shop to collect Bjorn for Fearne.

"We have an appointment, so don't worry. Once she's done collecting that big lunkhead she's just volunteered to do Fearne's ink, we'll head back to Carita." Kenny laid a hand on Liam's shoulder. "You may want to have them replicate you a transparent or skin colored plug too, in case we don't end up back with Waterhouse. Something to hide it on duty if your next CO isn't as lax about enforcing regs. Now, help me pick my new hardware — I want a rainbow set of studs, but should I do colored metal or gemstones?" Kenny flicked her fingers about and pulled up the options; one set was little domes of brightly colored metal, the other had little squared princess cut gemstones.

Liam nodded. "That is a great idea," he replied simply, nodding in agreement. Liam flashed a smile in the direction of the others before turning his attention to the display. "Both kinds are great. What's your birthstone?" he asked, "or would it be too small to even tell what it was?" he asked, second-guessing his own idea before he even finished speaking it.

As they talked Liam leaned in to get a bit closer to her, allowing her to keep her hand on his shoulder without having to reach. He turned to face with his usual warm expression as she thought over her response.

"To be honest? I don't know my birthstone." As Kenny said this, a display came up with the twelve months listed. "I'm going to do like six each along my arm and my leg, where the plasma burns were — so red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. But the gemstones will be more sparkly, especially with the way they're cut. They won't stick out very far, so they won't be noticeable under my uniform." She tapped at June on the display, and it expanded into three options — pearl, moonstone, and alexandrite.

Aslög emerged from the back of the shop followed by a tall broad shouldered man with a long blond braid down his back. He headed over to where Fearne and Kae were at the computer terminal with Fearne's design, and Aslög joined Liam and Kenny at the display. She laid a hand on each of their shoulders as she stood behind them.

"Carita is ready when you are. Did you pick out your hardware?"

Liam flashed Kenny an amused smile, knowing that his delaying tactics had come to an end. "Ready, and yes" he replied simply, turning to face Aslög. He pointed out the horseshoe ring he had shown Kenny earlier, and followed her into the back.

Once in the chair, Liam did his best to relax. He also made sure to place one hand close to where Kenny would wound up sitting.

"Hello, you must be Carita?" he asked, offering his other hand to shake. "I've heard a lot about you. Thanks for making time today," he said genuinely.

Carita grinned wide, taking Liam's offered hand for a moment before moving to pull on a pair of black medical gloves. "I'd never turn down a request from Kenny — she's my favorite client. Are you celebrating something with this piercing, like she does with hers?" The replicator flashed, and Liam's new hardware was sitting in a small tray with the end beads sitting unscrewed next to the bar. Carita collected a needle and a metal tube before she turned back to Liam and Kenny.

Liam gave Kenny a wink before turning back to Carita and replying.

"Sometimes Kenny and I find ourselves in harm's way. We just got back from a dangerous mission. If we're celebrating anything, I suppose it's living another day. Right now, that feels like reason enough for some body art."

He looked pensive for a moment before smiling again in Kenny's direction. "But, our line of work does give you perspective. It makes you want to live each day to the fullest, and not miss out on opportunities. Like today," he added, leaning back in the chair comfortably.

Carita smiled as she approached the chair. "Sounds like the perfect reason to me. Now, this shouldn't hurt — just a bit of pressure. Let me get the needle and receiving tube lined up, then when I tell you to, you'll take a deep breath for me and as you exhale, I'll put the needle through." She waited for Liam to nod his head before she leaned in, the cold metal pressing against the skin inside Liam's nose as she carefully lined her tools up.

Kenny caught Liam's hand in her own.

"Okay, deep breath." Carita met Liam's gaze as she spoke.

Liam's face blushed slightly as Kenny took his hand, and he couldn't help but smile. Eyes closed, he took the breath as suggested and exhaled. He squinted as he felt the pressure, and it was painless as expected.

When it was all over he opened his eyes and blinked, glancing over at Kenny with his new hardware. Still holding her hand, he have it a gentle squeeze and winked. "Boy, that was easy."

=/\= End Log =/\=

Ensign Liam ‘Mac’ McKenzie
USS Joshua Norton

PO2 Kennet Ek
Security Crewman
USS Joshua Norton

Crewman Kaeriss
Science Technician
USS Joshua Norton

Crewman Fearne M. Popples
Security Crewman
USS Joshua Norton


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