Title: N is for Needle

Author: FraidyCat

Summary: Answer to alphabet challenge (not what you think)

Disclaimer: Don't own 'em – but wanna cuddle 'em; will put 'em back when I'm through with 'em

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The needle ripped into the flesh of his shoulder, and he wasn't ready for it.

He gasped, and jerked; cried out.

The next thing he knew he was on the floor, and someone was waving smelling salts under his nose. He pulled back again, this time from the pungent smell. When he opened his eyes, he realized that they had been closed.

Violet eyes blinked at him.

"Dude." A breathy, husky voice penetrated the rush in his ears. "You sure you want to do this?"

Lying on the floor, looking up into those eyes, hearing that voice — Charlie knew there was nothing he really wanted more. When he had first come into the tattoo shop, it had been curiosity, and boredom. He was in Miami for a conference. After two days holed up in the hotel, he had decided to take in some local culture when the afternoon session dismissed early. He strolled by the shop, decided to stop and look.

Sitting at the reception desk had been the most exotic looking creature he had ever seen in his life.

And when she spoke, it was as if her words were directly connected to his solar plexus. It didn't matter what she said. He just had to listen to her speak. He kept nodding, smiling, trying to encourage that voice … and suddenly, he had agreed to a tattoo.

He almost came to his senses, once. Needles terrified him. He never even got a flu shot. He wondered how he could back out now, and started to look at her again, but she was setting up a table, putting on gloves. She was going to do it herself.

She was going to touch him.

It was going to be on the back of his shoulder, so he would be leaning over something that looked like the back of a chair, his back to her. She would sit directly behind him; almost on top of him. And she would keep talking. Her breath would cascade over his naked back.

Charlie ripped his shirt off.

"This will be cool," she breathed. "I've never done the symbol for Pi before. Did a pie once."

He took a deep breath, and started counting backwards in his head from six million, only in square roots. Still, when the needle ripped into his flesh, he wasn't ready.

Now, lying on the floor and looking up at those eyes, he blushed. She only smiled at him as he awkwardly stood, helped by one of the other tattoo artists; a bald man not even attempting to hide his sneer. Charlie reddened further, assumed the position again.

"I'm sorry. Keep going."

This time he clutched the knees of his jeans and twisted. On at least three more occasions he was sure he was on the way out, but he began to pinch the flesh of his leg through his jeans. He tried to concentrate on the pain in his leg, pinching harder, and harder.

She didn't talk as much as he wanted her to. Or maybe he just couldn't hear her.

Finally, she told him to get up, look in the mirror. She kept a hand on his arm to steady him as he did, apprehensive of his pallor. He stood and looked backwards, at the symbol of Pi permanently part of his anatomy now. His color began to even out, and he felt himself smiling.

He looked directly into those violet eyes again. "I love this." He looked back into the mirror. "I love this."

She laughed, and led him back to the chair. "Let me put some ointment on it. I'll give you a sheet detailing the care and feeding, before you leave."

Relieved it was over, Charlie nevertheless jerked a little more when she applied the ointment, the clear banadage. Eventually he put his shirt back on, and followed her to the desk.

She handed him the promised instructions. Her voice dropped a little lower, this time connecting directly to his groin.

"If you have any problems, I'll be glad to help. My number's on the back."

Somehow Charlie got outside. He was pretty sure he was walking back towards the hotel, but he wasn't certain until he felt Don beside him.

"A week in Miami. Charlie, I can't thank you enough for bringing me along. I'm just sorry you're stuck in conferences all day while I'm on the beach. If I didn't meet you every afternoon for drinks, you'd probably never get out of that hotel." Don clapped a hand on Charlie's shoulder, not noticing his brother's sudden stumble and slight intake of breath. "I'm telling you, Charlie, I've got to find a way to get you to lighten up a little."

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That's it!