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A Tolerance for Pain

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Gideon Nav was many things. Funny as fuck, sexy as hell, a complete badass with a sword and definitely an A+ hook up.

One thing she wasn't was a punk ass bitch. Because only punk ass bitches didnt get cool tattoos because they were afraid of needles.

And that's how she ended up standing outside a sketchy ass looking tattoo parlor a full hour commute away from her cabin, soaked in rain and shaking in her boots.

“It's alright if you’re nervous Gideon, I was for my first piece.” Her friend Palamedes said next to her, his head tilted in a sympathetic gesture.

“Nervous?! Who could possibly be nervous about a bunch of tiny little needles.” She was, but he didn't need to know that. She fought with one big needle all the time! What was it about a few baby needles that had her skin crawling?

“You’re not canceling.” Camilla, her other friend who tagged along, said in a distinctly less supportive way.

“That wasn't- I wasn’t gonna-” Gideon spluttered.

Rather than respond Camilla rolled her eyes and started pulling the door open. Panicked Gideon sprinted ahead and stood in front of the handle.


“Just- I just need like one more minute. Honestly like thirty seconds.”

Camilla and Palamedes gave each other one of their famous sidelong glances. Glances that ranged from ‘oh jesus get Gideon away from the bar before she starts hitting on other peoples girlfriends in front of them’ or ‘oh jesus get Gideon off the table she just challenged someone to a sword fight’ or ‘oh jesus Gideon just got us kicked out of another bar’. They probably meant other stuff too but those were the looks she was most familiar with.

Palamedes sighed and braced one hand on Gideon's shoulder. “Listen, I’ve known Harrow forever. She does all my work and Camilla's too. She's serious about what she does, she isn't going to bullshit you and as long as you do as she says you'll be in and out in less than an hour.”

“I know but-”

Before Gideon could complete her response Camilla jumped in “And you know you’d already be prepped and in the chair if you just walked right in when we got here twenty minutes ago.”

She opened her mouth to argue, then closed it, then opened it again before dropping her head and groaning. “Alright. Alright. I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.” And before she could talk herself out of it Gideon threw open the door and walked into the warm front room of the parlor.

If one word could be used to describe the Blood of Eden tattoo parlor it would be bones. Bones everywhere. Bones on the wallpaper, crossbones on the ironic welcome mat that said “go away”, little jangling skulls on the door, goth-as-hell designs neatly framed and displayed on the walls featuring what else? Bones. Even little cushions on the (surprise) black couch had little skull patterns stitches all over them. Not that Gideon could complain. Skulls were sick as hell and as long as she could make it through the next hour or so she’d have one stamped on her too.

“So I’m guessing the owner has an aesthetic.” Gideon joked.

“She does.” A raspy voice said from the back, the large two way doors hiding her from view, making Gideon jump just a tiny bit.

“Hi Harrow, how's business today.” Palamedes called out in his usual warm manner.

“Usual. Are you accompanying the client then?” The mystery owner asked from beyond the swinging doors that separated the lobby from the tattoo area. Which honestly was a little rude Gideon thought. Like hello please greet your customers lady?

“Uh-huh. Gideon’s a bit nervous so we're here for moral support. Camilla’s here too.”


“I’m not nervous! Just like… a little wigged out. That's all.”

“I see.”

Gideons face twisted up. No reassurances at all? How hard would a ‘don't worry I do this all the time’ be?

“I’m guessing you’re here alone today then?” Palamedes continued.

“Yes, Tridentarius has the day off and Pent left early for an appointment.”

“Then you’re doing the clean up by yourself? I hope we’re not intruding.”

“You’re not.” She said curtly. Gideons stomach knots tightened up as she heard heels clicking over to the front. Oh shit. Oh god. It was go time.

The doors swung open unceremoniously and Gideon barely held back the bark of laughter that grew in her throat. When she pictured a person with a name like Harrowhark Nonagsimus she thought of like… a badass old lady with a peg leg. Or like a fucking Baba Yaga type. Not this tiny girl with half a tube of eyeliner on and a goth fixation.

“Uh… hi! I’m Gideon Nav. I have the appointment for five?”

The puny witch narrowed her dark eyes. “I know.”

Well okay fuck you too Gideon thought. Guess she wouldn't be making a new friend to go along with her badass new tattoo.

Harrow tilted her head slightly and looked her up in down in a way that, in another circumstance, she might view as a come on. Gideon had doubts though that this frigid lady of the night had a sexual bone (ha ha nice) in her body. Which upon further inspection was a bit of a shame.

Harrow was admittedly pretty cute. She looked like she popped right out of a dirty magazine titled “Goth GFs” (which Gideon would totally buy). From the eyeliner to the violet lipstick and the short black dress that was made just conservative enough with the black tights she had on her mile long legs. Had she not been so stiff upon first meeting Gideon would absolutely have been hitting on her by now.

To their right Palamedes and Camilla were observing this silent exchange, their eyes ping ponging between the two women like active spectators at a tennis match. Sex Pal, bless his helpful little heart, coughed, breaking the aggressive stare down.

“Were you able to confirm the design I sent over email?” Harrow asked her, black eyes flicking up to Gideons.

“Yeah it looked tight as hell, I’ve got no complaints.”

Harrow quirked up an eyebrow at that but said nothing. Turning away from the group she walked over behind the desk and pulled out a clipboard with paperwork already affixed. “Fill this out and give me your ID, then we can get started. I have a print out of the design on the second page, this will be the last chance to change anything so go over it thoroughly.”

And with that the bone bitch disappeared into the back, leaving Gideon to her forms. She took the clipboard and with a grumpy “hmph” sat down on the couch.

“You promise you wont run off?” Camilla asked suspiciously, peering over Gidons head to look at the forms.

“I’m already here aren't I? Besides you are my ride, where else would I go?”

“Forgive me for saying this but I honestly believe you would run out into the night to avoid even looking at a needle.” Palamedes said gently.

Gideon groaned. “I’m gonna be fine!” As long as she didn't think or look down or breathe.

“You swear?”

She rolled her eyes at Camilla, jabbing the paper with the last signature needed “Yes I swear. I swear on my beautiful two-hander. Are you happy?”


Before Gideon could come up with an excuse Palamedes walked to the backroom “Harrow she's ready for you.”

“And with that we’re leaving.” Camilla said as she stood up.

“Wait wait wait, what happened to holding my hand?” Gideon asked, more than slightly freaking out.

“We agreed to take away your escape options before we picked you up.” The traitor formally known as Palamedes said happily.

“We’ll be back in a couple hours you baby, enjoy the tattoo.” Camilla said just as Harrow came out of the backroom, now equipped with plastic gloves. Gideon's evil former friends gave the midnight haggette a quick wave goodbye and practically ran out of the parlor, leaving the two alone.

“Forms.” Harrow commanded (rather than just asked, Jesus what was with this lady).

“Uh yeah. Here”

Harrow's face pinched up while she read through the form, tediously checking every dotted i and crossed t. While she did that Gideon let her eyes roam up and down the lady she’d be spending the evening in pain with. She had to be at least a foot shorter than her, and through the high collar of her dress Gideon could see some kind of moth wing tattoo peeking out. It was admittedly pretty rad.

“Absolutely no changes to the design? Are you positive?” She asked, shaking Gideon out of her stupor.

“Nah, I really liked the skull and sword thing. Sorry I wasn't super specific about the look of it. This was kinda… last minute.”

“So I gathered.”

“Uh yeah I don't know what Sex Pal told you but I’m kind of terrified of needles.”

Harrow tilted her head, a confused expression gracing her face. “Sex Pa- Oh you mean Sextus. Yes he warned me about that. Are you sure about getting a tattoo on your ribs? It's considered one of the more painful locations.”

No Gideon wanted to scream. No she wanted to run off into the night just like her dumb friends thought she would. But she put on her best lopsided grin and powered through. “I kinda figured if I do the worst one first the others I get later will be easy street in comparison you know?”

Gideon braced herself for some rude comment but was surprised to hear a laugh from Harrow. Or at least she thought it was a laugh. If a quick exhale through the nose could be counted as such. But considering who this was she was gonna take this as a win.

“Alright, go into the back, first door on the left. I need to make a photocopy of this then I'll join you. Feel free to place your belongings on the hook behind the door.”

Gideon slouched off to the back, trying her best to take inconspicuous calming breaths as she took off her leather jacket. Standing in the (again) very black room, staring at the little machine of pain she couldn't help but to get nervous again. What exactly was the policy if you threw up on your tattoo artist?

Shaking she sat down on the high backed chair and hummed to herself, wishing she had something to do with her hands to distract her from all of the everything around her. She rubbed her hands up and down her arms, now kind of regretting the tank top she wore today.

“Everything looks in order, lets get... “ Harrow trailed off as she came into the little room, eyes darting to Gideon's bare arms. She coughed once and looked away.

Oh Gideon knew that look. Grinning she not-so-subtly flexed her arms. “Get?” she asked teasingly.

“Get started. I apologize I had an... itch in my tonsils.” Harrow said, clearing her throat for effect.

She bet she had an itch but didn't press the matter. There would be plenty of time for hitting on cute goth ladies after she faced her greatest fear.

“Sit back, I’m going to adjust the seat so you’re laying down.”

Gideon did as she said, trying her best to hang on to the smug feeling of being hot rather than focus on the unending dread still dancing around her stomach. She nearly squeaked at the sound of the motors on the chair dragging her down.

“We’ll need to disinfect the area, take off your shirt.” Harrow said in the brisk tone that made Gideon think this was just the way she talked with everyone.

“Gotta say that's the first time a girl’s been so blunt with me over shirt removal.” Gideon half joked, pulling her shirt up and tossing it in the corner with her other things, to the chagrin of the lady in front of her.

She glanced up at Harrow just as her eyebrows rose. Either she was seeing things or her tattoo artist just checked her out.

“Lay down Nav.”

“Oh now you’re just giving me ammo.”

Harrow gave her a very put upon look until she relented and laid back down. Quicker than she expected Gideon felt something cold and wet touch her stomach and she jumped. In response her tattoo artist laid a gloved hand on her ribs.

“Calm down, it's just a disinfectant wipe. We’ll get started very soon.” Harrow said in a surprisingly soothing voice, rubbing a small circle on the part of her stomach not currently being de-germed.

Gideon internally refused to find this hot. Or comforting. She failed on both accounts.

Gently Harrow went over her skin with her eyes furrowed, dragging her hand across the newly cleaned skin as if looking for something. “Luckily you’re relatively hairless on your stomach so we don't need to shave. Take a deep breath and relax, we’ll start in a minute.”

Gideon leaned her head back, begging her ginger genes not to give up the ghost and make her flush everywhere. She heard the clinking sounds of Harrow setting up her gun of cool-skulls-and-pain and squeezed her eyes shut.

“Last chance to back out.” Harrow said cooly as she moved her spinny chair over to Gideon's seat.

“N-Nah I’m good. This’ll be easy.” Gideon stuttered, shifting her head to show the tattoo artist her game face.

Big mistake. One look at the machine of scary-scary-pain and she was ready to climb out of the window.

Harrow hummed thoughtfully and slid open the drawer next to her. “Here. It's a stress ball. Make sure to keep it in your right hand and only apply a little pressure at a time. You don't want to cause an accidental line break.”

Gideon peaked up. Rather than a stress ball Harrow handed her a stress… skull. A cute little cartoon skull with a goofy white painted face. “Where the hell did you get this?”

“My co-worker thought they’d be funny to hand out. But they’ve become rather useful.”

“Do you guys do anything outside of bones?”

“...Occasionally. Though it is rare.”

Gideon laughed at that and tucked the stress skull into her hand. “Okay mistress of doom, do your worst.”

“I’ll assume you’re coping for your fear with humor and ignore that.” Harrow replied dryly, but Gideon could see the hint of a smile on her face despite her tone.

Gently Harrow maneuvered Gideon around, tugging her so that her legs were off on either side of the chair and her feet sat flat on the ground. Presumably so her whole tall ass body didn’t slide off once they got going. Harrow tucked herself in between Gideon's legs so that she could have easy access to the swath of skin on her ribs. She wanted so badly to make a joke about it, but either nerves or butterflies kept her from saying a word.

Harrow began to peel the design stencil off the paper and pressed it onto her skin, carefully applying it so the blue ink went on smooth. Gideon counted backwards from one hundred, giving the stress ball little squeezed as the stencil was slowly pulled off.

“Alright, it's time. Are you ready?” Harrow asked, tapping her stomach so Gideon would look her in the eyes.

She let out a low breath. “As I’ll ever be I guess.”

Satisfied, Harrow looked back at the design and pulled her gun taunt to Gideon's skin. As she flicked on the machine Gideon instinctively tightened, then slowly let out the breath she was holding. The first stroke of the needle wasn't so much painful as indicative of the bodywand Gideon had tucked away in her bedside table at home. The pain came on the second stroke as Harrow grazed over one of her ribs.

“Shhh…” Harrow whispered softly as she traced Gideon's skin “That's right, you’re being such a good girl.”

Gideon felt like she just got thrown through a portal to the moon. She practically blacked out. There was no way she just said that. Risking a glance at the Great-Pain-A-Tron-5000 she looked down at her tattoo artist.

Sometime in between setting up the machine and situating herself flush against Gideon she had pulled her short hair back in a headband, showing off her high forehead and a litany of piercings running up and down her ears. She swore she could see the very tips of her ears turning red.

Gideon bit at her tongue as the next little flash of pain hit her, barely resisting the urge to whimper. It wasn't even necessarily that the pain was bad just… so much at once. Harrow glanced up at her once more.

“You’re doing just fine, don't worry. Embrace the pain, it's part of the process.” she said, running her free hand up and down her stomach in those calming circles from earlier.

That's it. She's doomed. There's no way she’s getting out of this without creaming her pants. Trying to maintain some air of dignity Gideon swallowed hard and nodded her head for Harrow to keep going.

“Would you like a pillow to prop up your head?” Harrow asked, tilting her head in such a cute way Gideon wanted to bash her own face into the wall.

“That… That would be cool.” she muttered. Before she even realized she’d done it Harrow tucked one of those airport pillows under Gideon's head, slowly dragging her hand through her hair. She had to be doing that on purpose. There's no way she didn't know.

“You don't have any piercings?” She murmured, turning Gideon's head slightly to the side. She had a sudden great urge to rub against her hand like a needy cat.

“I did once… when I was little. Stuck a paperclip through my ear to impress a girl at school. Didn't work.”

“That's a shame. I bet it was quite a sight.” Harrow said as she gently put Gideon's head down. She wasn't going to survive this. Stick a fork in her, she's done. Maybe Palamedes would put something nice on her grave. ‘Here lies Gideon Nav, greatest modern day swordswoman the world ever knew, whose life was ended at twenty four years by a hot witch with a tattoo gun.’

“Can I keep going?” Harrow asked from her spot between Gideons legs. Oh to hear those words in another context Gideon thought to herself.

Rather than give a vocal response (that would 100% result in some kind of embarrassingly staggered moan) she nodded and Harrow continued her slow drag across Gideon's stomach.

Was this a kink? Gideon thought. It felt like a kink. But maybe it was just because Harrow was involved. The minutes ticked by as she slowly sketched out the outline of the skull, carefully whispering words of encouragement to Gideon as she worked, unknowingly turning her insides into jelly.

As she got to a particularly bony spot she looked up at Gideon. “This is going to hurt. Get ready to squeeze that stress ball.”

“Mmmn.” Gideon groaned out, grasping wildly at the little toy skull.

Harrow looked back down at the design and traced out the swords hilt. Gideon gasped and crushed the skull in her palms lightly, just like her tattoo artist had told her. She was right, the pain was bad. Gideon tried thinking about things that made her happy. The gym being completely empty except for her. Her beautiful motorcycle. Her sick-ass two hander. Harrow's thighs jammed against her ears.

Possibly wasn't the most appropriate line of thought but Gideon was in pain.

As soon as the pain started it was over. She cracked open an eye and looked down at the sword handle now sticking out of a half finished skull.

“Ha… I nailed that.” Gideon barked out, slightly out of breath.

“Yes Gideon you’re doing very well. Such a good girl.” Harrow whispered, half biting on a smile.

“You’re totally doing that on purpose.”

“Doing what? I haven't the faintest idea what you mean.” The very smart and very evil woman said, full on smirking now.

“Nonagesimus if I didn't know any better I’d say you’re using my pain as an excuse to flirt with me.” Gideon half-joked. Please use my pain to flirt with me, please please please, she thought to herself.

“Well that would be very unprofessional of me. If I were flirting with you you’d know it.”

“Yeah? How? Lay out your plan. It’ll make a good distraction.”

Harrow looked back up at her, nose scrunched up in concentration, way too cute to be real. Fuck fainting on the table, Gideon was going to go into full cardiac arrest before they were through.

“Well… first, if I were to flirt with you, I’d make up increasingly ridiculous excuses to touch you. Something you couldn't ignore.”

“Like… for example rubbing my head when you gave me that pillow?” Gideon said with the slightest atom of hope.

“Hmm, yes something like that would work quite nicely.” Harrow said as she kept sketching out the remainder of the skull.

“What else?”

“I’d likely be gauging your interest right about now. There's no use in flirting with someone who isn't… similarly inclined.”

“Exactly what part of me could ever come across as hetrosexual?”

Harrow stifled a laugh then, a real laugh, not one of those fake through the nose laughs she'd been doing. “Fair enough. But just because you like girls doesn't mean you’d like me.”

“The day I turn down a hot goth girl is the day I turn in my pussy-eating licence forever.”

Harrow spluttered, quickly pulling up her gun before she made a mistake. “You are- The most ridiculous- loudmouthed-”

“Don't forget incredibly hot. I want it on the record that I am all those things and incredibly hot.”

“I cannot comprehend that you are a real person.”

“And I can't comprehend flirting with the instrument of my personal hell and yet here we are.”

Just for that Harrow started again with the stabby gun, causing Gideon to hiss through her teeth.

“So what else would you do with this hypothetical person you’d be hypothetically flirting with? I mean now that you know they’re into you what then?”

“Then…” Harrow said, sticking the tip of her tongue out in concentration as she finished a curve of the skull. “Then I would finish my job of course.”

Gideon groaned “That's it? No more flirting with hot buff redheads for you?”

Harrow laughed, a throaty little noise that bubbled out without her even seemingly realizing it. “Not until I finish my job no, but after…”

“After?” Gideon led on with interest, trying her best to prop her head up higher without getting in Harrow's way.

“After I’ve got this mystery woman thoroughly satisfied with my work, after I’ve got her tattoo nicely cleaned and wrapped-” Her eyes shifted back up to Gideon's “I would tell her what a good girl she’s been for me, lay her out on my chair and fuck her within an inch of her life.”

Gideon blinked once. Twice. One more time for good measure. Then slapped herself across the face.

“Oh my god are you okay? Did I-”

“I just really had to make sure I wasn't in the Matrix or something.” Gideon said dreamily.

Harrow scoffed at her. “You are unbelievable.”

“Right back atcha babe. Say for reasons completely coincidental to what you just said, roughly how much longer is this gonna take?”

“Thirty or Forty minutes. Longer if someone keeps distracting me.”

Gideon had never shut up so fast in her life.