DISCLAIMER: NCIS and its characters are the property of CBS, no infringement intended.
SEQUEL/SERIES: Fourth in the "Corruption of Caitlin" series, following Jesus in a Pacer, A Little Lipstick and Typing One-Handed.
SPOILERS: Dialogue from My Other Left Foot and Kill Ari.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Kate squeezed Abby's hand as they walked into the store, looking nervously at the man behind the counter. He was well over three hundred pounds, his button-down shirt straining to stay closed. His beefy arms tested the fortitude of the sleeves as he lowered the newspaper, putting his pen across the half-finished crossword when he heard the bell over the door.
"Abby!" he said in a surprisingly sweet voice. He came out from around the counter and embraced her. Abby became a rag doll in the beefy arms of the proprietor, hanging limply as he swung her back and forth. When he released her, he said, "Are you finally going for the ankle tat we were discussing?" When he crossed his arms over his chest, he almost looked like a businessman.
If businessmen had a tattooed snake coiling around their throat, that is.
"No, I'm here with a friend," Abby said, holding up Kate's hand in introduction. "She..." She tugged on their joined hands, surprised when Kate refused to let go. "She's... a little nervous."
"First ink?" he asked sympathetically.
"Yes," Kate said, looking furiously around the narrow store for signs of anyone she might know. The counter cut the store in half, separating the work area from the browsers. Due to a ragged orange curtain, no one could see back into the tattoo area.
He motioned at the artwork on the walls. "Well, just have a look around and if you find something you like, we'll see what we can do for you. First timer discount, half off the price. And another half off on the Friend of Abby program."
Abby gasped. "Aw! That's so sweet, Rasp!"
Rasp slipped back behind the counter, placing himself on an unfortunate stool before returning to his crossword. Abby guided her to the nearest wall and they scanned the options. "First of all, don't get anything too hokey. I doubt Rasp would agree to do it anyway, but you never know."
"What's hokey in the tattoo world?" Kate asked.
"Chinese symbols, barbed wire tattoos. I mean, they used to be cool until they were too cool. You started seeing them on everyone and everything. Half of the Chinese symbols mean impotent or homosexual diva."
"I don't want anything... large. Nothing that will take a long time."
Abby nodded. "My first tattoo hurt like hell."
"Which was your first?"
Abby lifted her arm, pulling down the glove to reveal a small black "P."
Kate smiled and looked again at the wall. "Frogs?"
"Frogs are cool," Abby nodded. "Peace frogs. Rainbow-colored frogs are pro-gay rights."
"Rainbow-colored comedy/tragedy masks," Kate said, pointing them out.
"Mm-hmm," Abby nodded.
They walked slowly down the wall, every now and then pointing at a particular design. Kate blushed and turned away from one that had two nude women standing in a pool of water. Abby smiled and squeezed her hand, moving them on. Images of cats, dogs, fairies, Celtic words, tribal designs... none of them spoke to Kate.
She hesitated at one, a pair of female symbols interlocked like links in a chain, but moved past it. They moved quickly past a section of tattoos illustrated to look like something was breaking through the skin and found planets; the Earth, mostly, but a few of Saturn with the wide-arcing rings.
"What is this?" she asked, pointing to a strange shape she'd seen several times. It looked like a stylized capital-A without the center bar, the top and bottom of the right leg curved.
Abby said, "That's a lower-case lambda. The eleventh... twelfth?" She thought for a minute, mouthing the numbers and then said, "No, it's the eleventh letter of the Greek alphabet. Yet another symbol of gay pride."
Kate blushed. "I seem to be good at picking those out..."
Kate bit her bottom lip, scanning the options again. "What if I want to design my own?"
"Rasp will probably be able to do it."
Kate leaned in and whispered into Abby's ear. Abby smiled as she detailed the design she wanted and lead Kate up to the counter. Rasp put down his crossword again and smiled at them. "She knows what she wants," Abby declared.
"Excellent!" Rasp slid off the stool and said, "Where would you like it?"
"Her ass," Abby answered. Kate smiled nervously, suddenly worried this brute was going to see her rear-end.
She needn't have worried, however, as Rasp immediately stopped and held up his hands. "Whoop, okay. I'll get Sandy in there for ya. Did you pick a design or..."
"Kate has an idea in mind, but there's no match on the wall."
"Okay. Well, I know you, Abs. Sketch something close and we'll see what we can do for your friend."
They went around the partition and Kate sat in the artist's chair. "Can I see that pad?" Kate asked.
"You rock," Abby grinned, handing Kate the paper. Kate blushed and began sketching.
Sandy was a petite woman, coming up only to Abby's shoulder. "Sciuto!" she said, wrapping her arms around Abby's waist. "And you have a friend!"
"I have many friends," Abby said. "This is my current girlfriend for today."
Sandy wrapped her arms around Kate in a crushing hug. When she released her, she said, "Okay, which one of you is getting inked on a sensitive area?"
"Madame Todd," Abby said, pointing both fingers at Kate with a sly grin.
Kate picked up the pad and handed it to Sandy. "Wow, this is fantastic!" the artist said. "This didn't come from our wall, did it?"
"No, I drew it."
"Heavens to Murgatroid, darlin'!" Sandy laughed. "If you ever need to make some extra money, we're looking for people with half your talent." She slapped the leather chair and said, "Okay, what're we going for? Tit or pooper?"
"On her ass," Abby said.
"All right," Sandy said. "Drop trou and straddle that chair, darling."
Kate glanced at Abby, who nodded enthusiastically. Kate groaned and unfastened her belt, releasing the button and dropping her slacks just far enough to allow Sandy room to work. She pushed her panties down as well, her face beet red at the thought of exposing herself like this in public.
"Come on, Kate," Abby said. "Haven't you ever mooned anyone?"
"No!" Kate said sharply, ducking her head in embarrassment.
Abby came around the partition and hooked her thumbs in Kate's belt loops, yanking the slacks the rest of the way down. Kate's panties were the next to go. Lightly slapping the exposed cheeks, Abby stepped back and said, "There you go, Sandy."
Kate looked over her shoulder and said, "You are so going to pay for that, Sciuto."
Abby arched an eyebrow and smiled mischievously.
Sandy picked up the gun and said, "Okay. I'd say this won't hurt a bit, but I could get sued for false advertising." She wrinkled her nose at her own little joke and scooted forward. "Okay. Let's see if I can do your sketch some justice..."
Timothy McGee drummed his fingers on the steering wheel, staring forlornly at the red light holding him from his destination. He was bored out of his skull, having spent a mind-numbing seventeen hours behind his desk hunting down case files from a decade before, only to have the team who requested them close the case without the old information.
Now, he was on his way home for a well-deserved rest. If this light would just cooperate.
One day, he'd be an NCIS field agent. He just hoped he was a bit more tolerant of the trouble the peons went to in order to--
His thoughts were cut off by the sudden blaring of a car horn next to him. He looked over, surprised to see a pair of shapely ass cheeks pressed against the glass. No doubt a woman, the mooner swept her hips back and forth before a pair of gray slacks got in the way. The car, an unremarkable sedan, peeled rubber as it rounded the corner.
He hadn't gotten a look at the driver's face, but he would never forget the tattoo; it was a female angel at first glance, but a closer examination revealed a pair of horns behind the halo. The angel was lifting the hem of her toga to reveal combat boots and fishnet stockings below. Below the angel's boots, the name "Abby" was written in cursive. The red-tinged flesh all around indicated the tattoo was very recent. Apparently the wearer had been impatient to show it off...
McGee glanced at the light and realized that, at some point, it had turned green. He lurched forward, wiping the grin off his face.
Some nights, it paid to leave work a little late.
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