Disclaimer: Much to my dismay, I don't own SM's story or characters. I just like to mess with their clothes, sanity and anything else I can.
Hello? Is anybody out there? (hears echo) I hope some people still are so I can sit here and go: YES! It's an update!
I know it's been too long and I am very very sorry. Not going to bore you all with excuses. Let's just say real life is a bitch and she's backing off again right now.
Anyways, I'll let you get on with reading it.
"Bella, are you ready or not?" I sighed, running a hand through my hair as I waited for her by the apartment door.
"Two minutes!" She shouted back from somewhere deep in the back of the closet and I rolled my eyes, looking down at Nix who just stared blankly back. Great help you were.
Two minutes, my ass.
"We don't have two minutes, love." I sighed again, grabbing my bags. "Alice and Jasper are waiting downstairs and Nahuel is going to be meeting us at the airport. And you're going to have to explain why we've missed our flight."
She glared at me as she walked out of the bedroom, yanking her jacket on as she walked. "I'm ready." She grumbled, grabbing her bags and yanking the door open, walking out into the hallway as I followed her out, laughing. Nix wasn't pleased that we were leaving her, as she probably knew that we were, even if it was just for a couple of hours before Mae and Jake picked her up to look after her for the five days Bella and I would be out of town.
"Come on, love." I chuckled as I locked the door. She made a little 'hmph' noise as she turned away from me. I dropped my bags, wrapping my arms around her, pulling her to me. "You can't be mad."
"Yes, I can." She smirked, stubbornly and I rolled my eyes, burying my nose in her hair.
"Come on, you always said how you wanted to go to England." She narrowed her eyes at me, knowing that she couldn't fault me on that. Even though it wasn't the way she'd wanted to go, she couldn't deny that she was excited about going to England.
She rolled her eyes and I knew I had her, giving her a quick kiss before grabbing my bags and leading the way towards the elevator. She followed behind me, unable to keep the smile off her face as we went down.
"I can't believe we're going to Tattoo Jam." She grinned and I had to chuckle. It was a first for the both of us in leaving the country. Even though we had both had passports from a young age, neither of us had actually used them to leave the country.
"Finally, you guys." Alice rolled her eyes at the two of us as we walked out of the building meeting the two of them outside where the two of them were standing by Jasper's car.
"What do you mean, finally?" Bella laughed, shaking her head as Jasper popped the trunk on his car and the two of us threw our stuff into it. He slammed it closed and Alice stood in front of us. "You texted Edward, how long ago?"
"Six minutes." I glanced at my phone and my sister glared at me, obviously not happy that I wasn't taking her side. "Alright, you two want to argue semantics, you can do that but can you do that in the car or we're going to miss our flight."
Then I was faced with two sets of glaring eyes.
I climbed into the front, not wanting to be caught in the backseat with either of the mean females.
"We'll be alright." He chuckled and I rolled my eyes at him as the girls climbed into the back. Bella's arms sneaked around my seat as she leaned forward. I caught her wrist smiling at the vines that ran down her arm. I pressed a kiss to the bone on her wrist and she giggled before sitting back in her seat, talking with Alice.
Thankfully, the car ride to O'Hare didn't take long and soon we were checked in and moseying towards the gate. We had an hour before our flight left but knew that it was better to be safe than sorry when it came to flights. We knew that there could be a chance that we'd get waylaid and possibly miss the flight. Not that that would happen but still, you never know.
"So, what's the first thing we're going to do?" Alice was practically bouncing in her seat and I was glad that I'd upgraded to first class – something Bella hadn't been happy about - meaning that some poor unsuspecting soul didn't have to deal with Alice bouncing up and down next to them.
"We're going to get to the hotel and sleep." I moaned and she pouted at me. "Alice, we're not going to get into Doncaster until around seven tonight. We have all day tomorrow and the rest of the weekend to go nuts. We can get some sleep tonight and be fine for the rest of the time we're here."
"I can't believe I didn't believe you when you told me she was always like this." Nahuel chuckled from behind me and I smirked.
When he'd first met Alice six months ago, he'd thought that her hyperactivity was a fluke, a one time thing and was convinced that she couldn't be like that all the time. How wrong he'd been. For a while I'd thought that he might have reconsidered taking a job at New Moon.
Since the beginning of the new year, New Moon had expanded. When it had gone up for sale, we'd bought the shop next door, knocking out one of the walls and turning it into newly refurbished studios. We'd hired two new artists and a new piercer to help with the heavier client load and Jake had even taken on another apprentice. Something he hadn't done since me. He'd said that there was too much work that he hadn't considered it since I came along.
Maggie was great. She was eager to learn and even though she had been stuck doing a lot of the grunt work to begin with, she never let it get to her. She clearly wanted to learn what the whole tattoo world was about and would do whatever she could to learn.
And learn she did.
She picked everything up extremely quickly and even though she wouldn't be picking up a machine for a while yet, she had a great eye for detail. Nahuel had approached us, noting our ad on the site for a new artist – yes, Rosalie had convinced us to get a website and I had to admit, it had done nothing but good. He'd recently moved to Chicago from Minneapolis looking for a new start. We looked through his portfolio and decided to give him a test run. He worked on a couple of walk-ins and we both liked what we saw. After we gave him a month probation time in the shop, he seemed to fit right in and got along with everyone. The fact that he had caught the eye of Bree, one of the bartenders in Eclipse. We had rented out the small apartment to him. He told us to take what we needed for the rent of the apartment out of his wages before he even got them, getting a mild surprise when we told him that we didn't pay rent on the building, so there was no point for him to pay it to us. All we asked for was that he pay for his utilities and I didn't think I'd seen anyone grin so much before.
Well, maybe I had when Jake asked Mae to marry him – finally!
Damien had moved from Houston, not wanting to stay there anymore after things between him and his family had finally exploded. At twenty eight, he had come out to his family when he was in college and been practically rejected for it. His parents ignored him, which although the hurt was clear on his face when he told us about it, he could handle. But it was when his brothers came back into town and decided that they were going to try and antagonise him out in the street, vandalising his car and harassing him in the shop he'd worked in. It all finally came to a head, he said, when he'd been out for a drink with his boss and they'd decided to get physical on his way home. When he'd walked into the shop, he still had a gash on his forehead and we were initially wary.
Once he'd explained, we'd decided to give him the same conditions we'd given Nahuel and again, he'd fit right in. He was quiet to begin with but once he saw that we didn't judge him for anything that had happened and that we didn't give a fuck who he fancied, he started to loosen up, getting more comfortable around the loud group that we were. We could all tell that he wasn't entirely comfortable, clearly waiting for the other shoe to drop. He'd had a nest egg built up which meant that he could get his own apartment from when he decided to move to the city. We made him aware that if he ever needed it there was an apartment over the other shop we'd taken over that he could use if he needed.
I could see that he appreciated it.
"What's got you so deep in thought?" Bella asked softly beside me, rolling her sleeves up.
"Just thinking about the last year or so, that's all." I smiled, linking my fingers with her and she smiled.
"Yeah, a lot's happened, huh?" She rested her head back, smiling and I couldn't help but lean across and kiss her gently.
She wasn't wrong. So much had happened.
I'd started therapy and Zafrina was amazing at what she did. He knew that there were some things that were too difficult for me to talk about in the beginning, just touching on them, letting me know that it wouldn't be long before we addressed them. It had been hard and I was still seeing her weekly but it was worth it. When I'd started seeing her, the nightmares I'd suffered after the attack returned full force and I could see that it scared the shit out of Bella. She hadn't seen me like that before and I had to admit that I scared myself a little. I had been jumpy and snappy and unfortunately because she was around me the most, she bore the brunt of it.
It had been a trying time for us and we'd fought a lot. I could understand why she had become so frustrated with me at that time, calling me out on my shit and I had given it straight back. It was only after a huge blow out that caused her to leave and head to Alice's that I realised I needed to get control of myself. I was pushing her away and I didn't – couldn't – do that again. I had made that mistake once before and I couldn't risk losing her.
I'd told Zafrina what I was afraid of and she had suggested sessions with Bella every two weeks. After a lot of apologising and grovelling I'd suggested it to Bella and she agreed. I was afraid of what Bella would think but she took it all in her stride. Zafrina had spoken to the two of us about opening up and even though it terrified me to do so, I made it happen.
There were times when I could feel myself getting wound up at nothing at all and had to force myself to stop what I was doing.
That time had been hard but it made Bella and I stronger as a couple. Even though we had been pretty honest with each other from the start, we told each other everything after we'd started seeing Zafrina as a couple.
Bella had thrived in Chicago, making her own little niche and making some new friends through her job. She absolutely loved being her job and even though they weren't too impressed with the new ink on her arm, she had an impact on the kids and their grade averages in English had gone up since she'd started there. Even though she was a young teacher, she knew what she was doing. So while they might not be too happy with her new body art, even in the short amount of time she'd been there, she'd made an impression and they weren't willing to let her go. It was something they'd learned to deal with.
"You excited about this weekend?" She asked and I grinned, squeezing her hand again. I ran my thumb over the back of her hand where the ink stopped and she grinned.
"Sure am." I smirked back and she giggled. "Hopefully, I'll get to have a look around as well."
"Isn't that one of the reasons for bringing Nahuel along as well?" She asked, glancing at him. "So that the both of you can work and look around at the same time."
"Yup." The two of us were going to the convention to in a nutshell, represent New Moon. It would allow us to get a name out there on foreign soil and it meant that we could convene with other artists and get a grips for their work as well. And hey, if we managed to get some new ink as well, well, that was just a bonus.
"I wonder what it's going to be like."
"Busy." I snorted and she raised an eyebrow at me. "It's one of the largest tattoo conventions in Europe, love. There are thousands of people that come to this thing over the weekend. People getting work done, seeing the entertainment or just coming because of some kind of curiosity. There are a lot of reasons."
"You've got people lined up?" She asked and I nodded. There had been some eager people that had called the shop as soon as we'd confirmed that we were attending the show. The biggest surprise was that they weren't people that happened to be from Chicago and were going as well. They were people from the UK that had seen some of the work that both Nahuel and I had done and wanted work from each of us.
It was a little humbling to have people from thousands of miles away wanting work done by me.
We would have a busy weekend ahead of us that was for sure.
I just hoped I could sneak away to see some of the entertainment they had going on.
The both of us managed to get some sleep on the flight from O'Hare to Heathrow before Alice woke us up when the fasten seatbelt sign came on. Of course I could have done without the acrylic nail poking the side of my head but I would have to figure out a way to get back at her later.
It didn't take long for us to deplane and catch our short connecting flight to the Robin Hood Airport just outside of Doncaster.
"Wow," Bella breathed as we walked out of the airport. "What the hell happened to all the people?" She asked and I had to wonder the same thing. There was no one here. The parking lot was packed, completely full and yet there were only a couple of people here. "It's like the apocalypse happened and only hit this airport." I had to laugh and nod.
"Maybe there was a zombie attack." Alice supplied, causing us all to laugh.
"Alice, if there was a zombie attack on this place, they'd get here, think 'what the fuck' and go somewhere else." She rolled her eyes, hitting me with the back of her hand. "Jasper and Nahuel getting cars?"
"Yeah. We figured that two would be better. That way we're not all crammed into one and there'd be room for all your gear." I nodded, understanding her reasoning.
Both Nahuel and I had brought our own machines with us, which we had to have labelled for the airlines or they may have stopped them going through.
The two of them pulled the cars round a few minutes later and we laughed as they sat there. Bella and I elected to go with Nahuel in the car he'd rented, shoving our stuff in the back. It seemed pointless to be driving around to the hotel because it was literally across the road but we couldn't be bothered to walk over there when there were two perfectly good cars in front of us.
We laughed as we pulled out of the airport parking lot, drove across the road and pulled into the parking lot. We pulled out our stuff and walked around to the front door. Bella waited for the rest of us to go through the revolving door first. For some reason she had a fear of these doors and I couldn't help but laugh as she waited for everyone else to walk through before coming through herself, stalking past us to the check-in desk, muttering a 'shut up' as she walked past.
"Come on, love. It's funny." I smiled as I placed my bags on the floor and wrapped my arms around her waist, resting my chin on her shoulder.
"No, it's not." She grumbled. I kissed her neck softly and she sighed, her head flopping back slightly so it was resting on my shoulder. We stood there as Alice, Jasper and Nahuel booked into their rooms. We'd managed to book rooms on the same floor. "Our turn." She smiled as Alice grinned, waving her key card at us. I rolled my eyes as I checked the two of us in, confirming that it was a smoking double that I'd reserved. They handed me two key cards and I slipped them into my back pocket, thanking them as I grabbed my bags and we all made our way over to the elevators.
We went our separate ways, making plans to meet down in the restaurant later for something to eat.
"Oh, thank god." Bella sighed, dropping her bags and flopping down on the bed. She looked up at me, grinning and I chuckled, shaking my head, dropping the keycard on the small table by the door. "Come here." She held out her hands and I toed off my shoes, removing my jacket and crawling next to her on the bed. I heard her shoes drop onto the hardwood floor and she pulled her jacket off, curling up next to me.
We lay there for a while, long enough for the both of us to doze. We woke up a little while later, both of us changing into something that wasn't covered in travel grime. Or at least what we perceived to be grime. There probably wasn't anything on our clothes but we wanted to feel fresher anyway.
We met Alice, Jasper and Nahuel out in the hallway and made our way down to the restaurant area. There were a few people that were already there and they looked us up and down, clearly not appreciating the five of us. Meh. Not like we gave a crap.
Not like we had to please any of them anyway.
. . . . . . . . . . . .
"Oh my God, she has got balls." I looked up from the guys leg I was working on and smiled as I heard the girls coming back from the main stage where they're been watching some of the entertainment.
"Well, I can definitely tell you, she does not." I heard Bella laugh and I couldn't help but wonder who they were talking about. I raised my eyebrow at her and she giggled, blushing slightly as she sidled behind the table that held portfolio's and booklets containing work done by both Nahuel and me. "Millie Dollar."
"The burlesque dancer?" I asked, remembering that I'd seen her name in the programme.
"Mhmm . . . she's really good. Probably what it would have been like when burlesque was at its height, you know. Without the tattoos of course." She grabbed one of the cream cakes I'd hidden underneath the table, taking a bite as she sat down. "And Alice was right. She has got balls. Metaphorical ones of course."
"Well, for one, she's up there, stripping in front of hundreds of people and not giving a crap and afterwards, she just struts off the stage as though she's not just wearing a thong, heels and nipple tassels." I looked up at her, thankful that I was wiping the guys leg rather than inking it at that point. She nodded, smirking and I chuckled. "And she can make them spin,"
"That was cool." Alice agreed, sitting on the table.
The two of them were proudly displaying the ink that I'd put on them. The two of them were wearing tank top but while Alice was also wearing a pair of leather boots and shirt, Bella was wearing some low rise jeans and jeans. The tank was short enough to reveal a tantalising strip of her midriff, showing off the ink she had. Along with the roses on her side, she now had vines running up from the top of her thigh, all the way up her side and down her arm. Every so often, there were little flowers blooming on the vines and on her back, there were two large lilies that had blossomed off of the vines.
She loved it and even though I was a little dubious about marking her with something like that, she was insistent about it and I had to admit, it looked good.
"You hungry babe?" She asked, hopping off the chair and walking around to join Alice. I nodded, not taking my eyes off of the line work that I was doing. Thankfully, Bella spent enough time in the shop, I'd gotten used to talking to her and working at the same time. "Pizza?" Nod. "Cheese and a coke?" Again another nod. She knew not to take the fact that I wasn't verbally answering her personally. She knew that I was engrossed in what I was doing and didn't take it the wrong way.
"Those two seem hyper." The guy I was inking chuckled and I couldn't help but laugh.
"Nah, the little one yes, but the brunette, not so much. She's just excited to be here and their energy is feeding the others. They'll crash later on tonight." I laughed and he nodded.
I finished up a couple of minutes later, wrapping his leg and sending him on his way. Nahuel was just finishing up and while he had another lines up, I was going to wander around for a while. I waited for Bella and Alice to come back with the food, stretching out as I sat there.
I rolled my eyes as I heard giggling, hoping that wherever it was coming from was not my booth. Of course, my luck didn't hold out and I turned to see two girls standing there, matching. They were both wearing the convention t-shirts, tiny shorts – one was wearing pink and the other blue – knee high socks – again, pink and blue – and black heels. What the hell were these girls thinking? Were they not aware that it was October outside and not the middle of fucking summer.
"Hi," one of them smirked and I let out a breath, crossing my arms. "I was wondering if you could fit me in."
"Sorry," I shook my head, pointing towards the little notice on my table that read 'I'm fully booked today,' "booked up all weekend I'm afraid."
"Shame." The other pouted and I wondered if girls were different anywhere in the world.
I relaxed slightly as I heard Bella's throaty laugh floating through the air, accompanied by my sisters bell like laugh. I grinned when I saw the two of them and Bella handed me the food and bottle of soda.
"I don't know who you're more pleased to see, me or the pizza." She laughed, leaning against the table as I sat back down, devouring the pizza she'd bought me. I gave her a grin, knowing that I had to have pizza sauce all around my mouth but not really caring. This pizza was fucking good. "When you're finished with that, there's some more entertainment happening on the Cheyenne stage."
"What's happening?" I asked, wiping my mouth off before picking up the second slice and taking a bit.
"There's a freakshow guy or something and there are the judgings for the different tattoo awards." That sounded cool. I glanced over her shoulder, seeing that the two girls hadn't left and were still glaring at Bella as she stood there.
"You gonna be okay holding the fort while I go check the place out?" I asked Nahuel and he waved me off, not looking up from the stencil he was placing. I chuckled, knowing that he was as focused on his work as Jake and I were. That was one thing that made it easier to work with him. Knowing that he did decent work made it easier to relax. "Alright, let's go check out the stage."
She grabbed my hand and lead me towards the main area, stopping and gasping as she looked in front of her. I looked up and laughed when I saw what she was staring at. In front of us, walking around and posing for pictures were Jack and Sally from the Nightmare Before Christmas. They were awesome. Bella insisted that I take a picture of her with them and she was so excited that I couldn't refuse.
She was like a little kid at Christmas.
She bounded up to me, giggling before pulling me towards the main stage. I wrapped my arms around her, pulling her to my chest as the compere introduced the next entertainment act.
Whose name was apparently 'Sickboy'.
And he was aptly named, it turned out.
Now I wasn't usually squeamish when it came to blood and needles but watching someone put a screwdriver through their nose and staple pieces of paper to their faces made my jaw drop. Bella had her head buried in my chest for most of it, only looking up to glimpse at what was going on before burying her head again. She went pale and I thought she was going to puke for a moment.
She did get an apple out of it though. The fact that it had been bitten into and an 'x' had been sawn into it using a chainsaw made it a bit less appealing but hey, it was a souvenir. One she said that she would be taking a photograph of and throwing away.
"You okay love?" I asked and she looked up at me, shaking her head. "Wishing you hadn't eaten before we watched this?" She nodded and I laughed, pulling her close to me.
This was turning out to be an awesome weekend and I had a feeling that it was going to get better.
. . . . . . . . . . . .
Yes, Tattoo Jam is real. I went this year and it was fuckawesome. Any of you go? If so, what was you favourite bit? Millie Dollar and Sickboy are real entertainment acts and yes, she did strut off the stage in nothing but a thong, heels and nipple tassles and he did staple things to his face and shove a screwdriver through his nose. It was gross. But he's the sweetest guy out there.
And when asked why he did that stuff, his answer: why not? Seems like a fair answer, right?
I promise I won't keep you waiting long for the next update. This was going to be one huge chapter but it turned out being too long to post without thinking 'where the fuck does it end?' which is probably what you're all thinking about this AN.
Anyways, long story short, update: soon.