Title: Stories on the Skin
Ink - April 10, 2012 03:33 AM (GMT)
Spring 2010, Early Evening
The biting frost of winter’s embrace had come and gone in the subterranean warrens of the Morlock Undercity; a welcome change that the fresh-faced Ink was more than grateful for. He was quite exceedingly pleased to no longer be “freezing his goddamn, motherfuckin’ nuts off” as he had so eloquently put it these past few months, frequently offering up complaints whilst attempting to warm himself under a mountain of blankets. However, spring had finally arrived and swept away the cold with its balmy breeze that heralded the opportune return of warmth and color. The ink-etched man had survived his first winter season among the tunnels of the drain-dwelling mass of mutants known by a moniker so accurately borrowed from the imagination of H.G. Wells.
With the delectable musk of a celebratory beer enthralling his nostrils, Ink took another sip of his micro-brewed beverage as he drummed his fingers on the aluminum skins of the six-pack at his side, now short one can. He’d agreed to meet Marrow for a nice little needle-to-skin session with a tattoo gun that he’d fashioned together from a multitude of odds and ends found throughout the tunnels. A battery-powered motor, discarded toothbrush, ballpoint pen, some wire, and a touch of electrical tape meant they were in business. Sanitary concerns seemed to be of little concern to the rosy-haired Morlock, what with a healing factor and all to protect against any hygienic hazards, but Ink had still taken the time to scout for a relatively clean location free of rat droppings (and what a time it took).
Lounging back against the sloping wall of the concrete tunnel with a hand lazily placed behind his well-coiffed head, he continued to sip his brew in expectation of Marrow’s arrival. Once the beer can had liberated its final droplet of amber liquid into the tattooed man’s pressed lips, he quickly crushed the can and tossed it aside, allowing a rumbling burp to resound through the shadow-streaked passageways.
Marrow - April 11, 2012 08:45 PM (GMT)
The day'd been long. Two houses. That rough up with Frank Cleegs. She was gonna be late. That pissed her off.
The girl, no more than eighteen, walked through the streets with her head dipped, hidden beneath a hood, though the horns issuing forth were nothing less than a dead giveaway. Nobody in this neighborhood said anything, of course, by this time, word had spread and people knew that piss-pot Cleegs was still spitting his own teeth and worse onto the pavement.
She reflected on that a minute as she neared her destination. Gene-Freak, he'd called her. "Gene-freak indeed. Fuckin' sapie mouthbreather. Hope you like the taste of fixodent, chucklefuck."
She turned a corner into an alleyway, someone brushing against her shoulder. She turned to look with a furrowed glare and she got the same in return.
Moving down the side-street between two buildings, pavement slick with spring rain, she gave a look ahead and behind and around to make sure errant eyes didn't folllow, and as she approached the center, she bent down, pulling free a metal grate from its holdings, here musculature not needing any additional aid, and tossed her satchel over her shoulder before climbing down.
And with that she came back to Kansas.
Moving along the dim of the sewer lines that lead to the auxilliary tunnels that made up the alley, she pulled a pack of reds from her pocket and lit one, tossing the dead match into the waters rushing by, carrying the refuse of a rainstorm away to happy oblivion.
It didn't take her long to find him. Ink. Former X-Nerd if she knew right. She didn't trust him, not really. It wasn't personal, she trusted three people in this whole tunnel. Ever since Callisto had gone, she didn't even guarantee that.
He seemed alright though, and funny. It was hard to prize laughter out of Marrow. Always had been. Not two years ago she'd been something else, something much more primal. Callisto'd helped her out of that. When she left so did much of the pink haired mutant's warmth
"Ink you fuckin' rube." She called as she rounded the corner. She let fly a soccer kick at the crushed can, sending it flying, bouncing off a wall and clattering down the tunnel. "Where the hell's mine?"
She pulled the hood down, even in the dim light provided she was monstrous. Face cased in bony growth, a rack of horns coming from annoying angles at bare-ish patches on her head. Her wild blue eyes glinted in the light. "I got the Don." She smirked, pulling a bottle of Cuervo out of the satchel. "Also, stay outta Cleeg's turf topside. He might be a lil pissy in comin' days."
She set her satchel down. It was full of booty from her two little invasions this afternoon. She'd cashed some of it in at Gabes but it never hurt to have fallback. "I got a hundred bucks in my pocket, liquour for the burn and a carton a camels. It's been a good day."
The blood on her jacket said so.
Ink - April 12, 2012 05:27 PM (GMT)
Marrow’s raucous entrance triggered a slight jump in Ink as the reverb from her hollering bounded off the tunnel walls and hit him square in the chest. Using the concrete rampart as a grip, he lifted himself up to greet her with a cheeky grin and threw a nonchalant wave at her direction before the cast-off beer can sailed past him. It just missed his head before disappearing into the black thereafter as the metallic echoes from its clattering slowly died away.
"Where the hell's mine?"
”Pfft! Aren’t you a little young to be drinkin’ alcohol, cuz?” he replied, words dripping with sarcasm.
He pried loose a brew from their plastic-ringed collar and tossed it to Marrow as she continued to gab on. It’d been nearly a year since he joined the Morlocks and he still couldn’t quite get used to her appearance, having to take a moment or two for his sensibilities to adjust to the ever-changing pattern of calciferous growths laced about her visage. He supposed she could be pretty under all the spikes, but the true deal-breaker was the fact that he didn’t really know where else the spikes might be poking through. No amount of curiosity could ever nudge him into taking that kind of risk.
"I got the Don."
The timely appearance of that beautiful bottle chock-full with golden liquid snapped the ink-etched man out of his awkward daydream in a quick instant.
“Well fuckin’ damn, Marrow. You got the prime stuff!” he exclaimed as he took the crystalline container from her bony grip, inspecting it with gleeful intensity. He took little notice of her warning against traipsing through Cleeg’s territory, but diverted his attention back to her when she mentioned the cash. “You know sixty of that is mine, right?” he interjected with a sly wink in tow. “Everlasting art ain’t free, bone beak.”
The nickname was something he’d come up with a few weeks back in response to one of the many insults she often threw his way in jest. He thought of it as a term of endearment, as little sense as that made to anyone outside of their relationship. Marrow being the drain-dwelling deviant that actually brought him into the fold, he was grateful to her and considered her worthy of his camaraderie for however long he remained with the ‘Locks.
“So we gonna get started? Step into the chair, cuzin.”
He motioned to the little set-up behind him with a stark blue tarp laid across the concrete floor; the “chair” he mentioned was merely a pillow draped in cling wrap. Paper towels, latex gloves, and some dime-store disinfectant were casually placed atop the nylon canvas as well - all lifted from a gas station only an hour ago.
“You got the drawing?”
Marrow - April 19, 2012 06:59 PM (GMT)
"Prime Stuff? Is there any other?"
She shook her head in answer to her own inquiry as she moved over to his hapshat set up, pulling her jacket off to reveal bone-studded arms, the shirt beneath that outer layer a torn-to tatters tee that had long lost it's sleeves, it's art proclaiming it's owners love of The Clash. Marrow looked at her shoulder, which was clear of any major breeches, save a series of spiked studs dotting right down along ground zero. "Pfeh."
"One sec, let me dust off the canvas huh." She said before moving to the tunnel's bracing wall, steeling herself before shouldering into it, one, two, three times, and finally again, until a series of snaps sounded as well as a hiss of pain.
Pulling the broken spikes free, she moved back towards Ink, the skin healed around the jagged bases before she'd moved three steps. It had been so quick she hadn't even had time to bleed.
"And yeah, I got it." She said, routing through her jacket on the floor and pulling up a crinkled and crushed sheet of yellow ruled paper. unfolding it with the greatest of care, as if it were still pristine and she couldn't afford a crease despite the state of it, she handed it over. "Like it? It's like the one the chinks wear down at the docks. I think they look cool."
She traced a finger around the knots in her shoulder. "Think you could maybe change it a lil? Wrap it around these. I don't care if it goes away sometime, I just want to know what its like right?"
She snatched the bottle of liquor from him and traipsed over to his little chair. "And you'll get your money when it's done. I ain't not sheister." She turned and gave him a look while she untopped the bottle and took a big swig of the Tequila. It wouldn't do anything for her, not unless she chugged down that whole thing here and now, but hell, it helped to dull a few things regardless.
Plus, she liked the burn.
Ink - April 20, 2012 07:23 PM (GMT)
Taking a moment to look over his living canvas, the tattooed mutant eyed Marrow’s arm as he traced a nimble finger across her pale-tinted skin. His digits looped through a maze of tiny bones as he visualized the form his art would take. The mythological beast of the Orient was vivid within his mind’s eye, wrapped tightly around the Morlock’s upper limb in snaking coils.
“Okay, I think I got a good idea of what I’m gonna do. Just sit still while I draw it on so it doesn’t come out crooked or anything,” he instructed dryly.
He took a few minutes to illustrate the dragon upon Marrow’s skin; that which would be the basis of the actual tattoo. The lines of red ink slowly transformed into a great serpentine wyrm with every stroke of the marker. Each scale had been meticulously drawn in uniformity, contrasting nicely with the contours of both the image and Marrow’s muscled arm.
“Okay, done with the outline. Ready for the fun part, cuz? Feel free take another swig before we get started.”
With a quick flick of the switch on the battery pack, the tattoo gun came to life in the ink-etched man’s clutch. Eric was in what one could refer to as “The Zone”, his concentration steeled and his mind sharpened to the point where it rivaled the needle in his grip.
The pulsating barb danced across an epidermal canvas, each puncture healing only a microsecond afterwards, though trapping the ink beneath it as they did so. There was no blood. Nothing to really do except direct the needle.
“Holdin' up alright? I quite enjoy the burning, scratching sensation myself,” he said with a rapturous sigh.
Marrow - April 24, 2012 08:46 PM (GMT)
He got to work and she settled in, keeping that bottle in reach of the both of them. The money that bought it had been hard won and she sure as hell was gonna get her damn share of it.
He finished drawing it on and asked her if she was ready, she gave a shrug and a nod and took a big long gulp of liquid courage, not that it was required. Ink set to the business of doing the dead and she found herself relaxing more than anything. It had been a rough day, too rough for some others but really, just right for her. She'd sleep well.
His voice pulled her out of dozing and she looked haphazardly as his progress, pursing her lips and cocking a bone-dotted eyebrow.
"Quit yakkin' about it and keep goin', I'm a big girl."
Marrow sat there, feeling the buzz and burn across her arm, occasionally giving a twitch when he moved close to the bone, which, with her, was easy to do. She sat there in the dim, lost in the hum of the gun and the ambiance of subterranean living. Her fingers, pointed and erupted from their normal flesh housing, gave the occasional tick of movement, though whether from sensation or ennui she'd never really say.
It went on for a bit longer, and before all that long she couldn't help but try to strike somethin' up.
"Why'd you come down here really. I mean they got places you coulda stayed up top, you ain't marked like most of us. I mean, maybe not why you come down here but, uh..."
She tried to parse her thoughts and it wasn't working.
"Why d'you stay? It ain't easy, not really fun. Stinks. People here are annoying. Whiney. Topside this topside that. They don't do shit about it. Hell it's all I can do sometimes not to haul off and punch that damned Thornn in the face."
She wanted to shrug but then she remembered what Ink was doing and thought against it.
"I dunno, jussayin it confuses me."
Ink - April 25, 2012 03:39 AM (GMT)
Marrow’s enquiry had been a question Ink had been expecting to hear for months upon his arrival to the Underneath. The former student of Xavier’s had never been posed the question of his being there by any of the other Morlocks before now, though he assumed it was common courtesy among them not to ask. Not all of their comrades had resided themselves to live beneath the city streets simply due to unconventional looks alone and he supposed he was included in that group. Some, like Tommy, had been raised amidst the Alley’s shadows and seemed to feel duty-bound to stay. Others, like Plague, held close their dark secrets. Then… there was Eric.
“Hmmm. Why am I here, cuz? You tell me,” he said teasingly.
Were it anyone else, the ink-etched man would have likely given a vague reply entwined within a dirty joke. However, tattooing was an intimate thing, the ink beneath their skin connecting the two mutants through some form of imperceptible bond. It was a thing unexplainable to any who had not experienced it. Perhaps that was the reason he decided not to counter her innocent question with some witty bullshit story.
“In all seriousness though, I guess it feels more comfortable here than any other place I’ve been before. Xavier’s was full of goody-goodies and the whole vibe was just stifling. For all they preach about togetherness of the species and what not, it seemed like somebody was betraying somebody else every other month. Mind controlled or turnin’ possessed and shit.”
He took a moment to focus on a particularly detailed spot before continuing on with his reasoning.
“I just didn’t see a future there for me. I went there because it was better than rotting in a concrete cell at juvie hall, but I never saw myself as the kind of guy to graduate and become an X-Man or some hero an’ save lives or whatever. Yeah, I tried playing the role a few times, but they just shot me down whenever I tried to help. Said it was because I was too young at the time, but I think it’s because they knew I wasn’t cut out for it. I was a right son of a bitch to everyone. I was angry all the time. I cursed every chance I got. Hell, I’m pretty tame now comparatively!” he exclaimed with a short chuckle.
“So yeah, after the whole Apocalypse disaster, I split. I did my best to help and they pretty much benched me when I wasn’t powerful enough. Pretty much nearly drained myself dry tryin’ to save those people and I still got these useless tattoos to show for it,” he muttered whilst presenting the powerless badges upon his skin. “I just couldn’t really stand to be there anymore. I was nineteen, been there for three years, and was just done with it. Mutant town felt like it could be a new start, but I’m not really cut out for the nine to five thing.
“I guess I’m rambling here. You didn’t ask for my fuckin’ life story, but yeah. Basically, I’m here because it just feels right for now. I’m not sayin’ I’ll be here forever, but right now, I can’t really imagine being anywhere else. People can whine and bitch all they like while they sit on their asses and do nothin’, but that’s them. I do whatever the fuck I please and no one really gives me shit. Weird as it may seem to you guys, I’m kind of free down here…
“Hope that doesn’t come off fucked up or anything.”