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'Convenient and tasty.' Ray agreed with a soft chuckle that was quiet in his apartment. Loosely crossing his ankles on the other end of the couch, Ray typed out, 'All art is a conversation. You create something, stick it out there, and someone reads intent and meaning in what you've made but usually it's fairly divorced. Artist makes something in their studio and people view it elsewhere, later. A tattoo, though, its made for someone and crafted for their body. Some clients, its about making their body into what they want to see, or memorializing a memory or a moment or a person or a CONCEPT on their skin because they need it. Or perhaps they want something beautiful just to have it. Or they want a joke etched in their skin. It's profoundly human and impermanent and that's amazing and humbling all at the same time.'


Ray paused and considered for a moment, 'And I understand it. My body didn't really feel mine when I was stuck on this plane but every time that I added images too it, it felt a little less strange and a little more like it was MY body. So, I get it. I get the need to anchor your soul to your flesh with ink and image and will.'


He paused, sending the messages as quick as his fingers tapped over the keypad and then grimaced a little. 'Sorry, I get overly enthusiastic talking about what I do. Anyway, if you come by the shop sometime, I'll set you up with a machine and an orange; show you the basics, if you wan't.'

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Jessie hesitated, going through responses in her head. "I don't want to hurt anybody anymore" was probably insulting to him, even if it was the first thing that jumped into her head. Hypocritical too, since the only thing she knew how to do in a superhero fight was hurt people. "I sometimes disassociate when I see blood" was also true, but way too much information. Light and friendly, she reminded herself. (You used to be good at this. A different version of you, a long time ago, used to be good at this.) Making friends wasn't so hard, if you let yourself. She caught her tongue between her front teeth and typed. 


i think paintbrushes and pencils are enough challenge for me right now haha

i really liked the art on your walls though

and aquaria loves her tattoo

it was really good of you to do that for her

she didn't feel good about herself when she didn't have it

i kept the window design you made for me

i keep thinking maybe someday i will get it put on




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Ray considered her responses and let the topic drop. Not everyone enjoyed the idea of jabbing needle into flesh repeatedly and he well knew it. 


'I'm glad you liked it. Holding onto something before you get it on your body is not a BAD idea. More of my clients should probably go that route. Well, not MY clients. I try to keep my 'drunk college kid' tattoos to a bare minimum,' Ray replied, keeping it light as well. While Ray thought he did 'making friends' very well, Ellis claimed he attached himself barnacle like until they gave up and accepted his presence in their lives. Which was RUDE but not inaccurate. 


'I'm glad I could help your friend. I know there's not a lot of people who could do it and less that probably would, more's the pity. Not going to lie, it's a little weird to tattoo invocations to deities likely better not invoked but, hell, I've always been more about intent than dogma anyway. It was clear she needed to have those markings when she came in. It is certainly not the weirdest thing that I've tattooed. I'm glad they still look the way she wants them too. I haven't tattooed too many amphibians and their skin is a little different.'  No, weirdest tattoos were probably the ones that Ray did on himself. The Enochian symbols that cracked the holy seal on his powers over creation. They were certainly the most esoteric thing that he'd tattooed. 

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i don't even think it was so much about religion

it was like a rite of passage she didn't get to do at home

so like she wasn't a real adult without it

and you're right about it being hard to find a tattoo artist for her!

i thought i'd have to get my friend to wish it onto her

but she said it isn't the same without the experience

have you been getting much work on superpeople?  


Jessie was honestly curious about that, especially she didn't have a lot to do with the superhero community in Freedom City. It was just a little too weird, given how enmeshed the real Erin was in all that. Plus, while people didn't tend to actually be mean to Project Freedom graduates, there was still something of a stigma, and anybody who knew enough to know all she'd actually done... it was a lot easier to hang out with regular people, on the rare occasions she socialized. 

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Some. Not as many as I would like but enough to keep the lights on. I’ve been doing a lot of mundane tattoos lately which is fine. I really depend on word of mouth and when I’m not out there involved in the super hero community, it tends to peter off. The only thing I don’t like, really, is the social networking nonsense. Not my thing.‘ Ray grimaced. He’d been spending a lot of his off time helping out with Ellis and his kids. Ray didn’t regret it. Being ‘Uncle Ray’ was a damn good use of his time but as Ellis’ league duties picked up, Ray had been spending more time in the carpool lane at Nicholson. 


I have a plantonic life partner, much like you. He’s been getting busier so I’ve been helping out keeping everything afloat. Having a day job, and super hero gig and family seems to be more than a full plate.’ Ray added. ‘What about you? There has to be more than work and superhero work keeping you busy.’ 

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i don't really work Jessie admitted, typing even as she curled into the very comfortable recliner next to her bed. It had been the first piece of furniture she'd ever purchased for herself, and it had been crazy expensive, but it was worth it. On nights when the bed was too flat and too cold and her mind kept turning in on itself, searching through sense memories that no longer connected anywhere, she could snuggle into the safe embrace of the chair's overstuffed arms and actually sleep. It was her favorite. 

i'm finishing my college degree this year

it took a long time because of reasons

like getting kidnapped to space and anxiety and stuff

but i'll graduate in the spring. 

my sister's footing the bill so she's probably happier than i am : )

i go out and play with my dog

do some drawing and painting

therapy's kind of like a full time job jk 

sometimes just walk around the city or to philly or nyc and watch the people

it's nice that there are so many people

kind of makes the hero stuff worth it you know? 

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You could volunteer, Ray offered the suggestion, his ankles crossed and resting on the end of the couch. The phone fit easily in his large hands. He did, however, type like an old person with punctuation and full sentences. 


'I do that a couple times a month. Like you said, reminds you why you do the hero thing? Plus, it might help you get that day pass to go to the Louvre. Ray added with a small smile although he entirely forgot to add an emoji into the conversation. 'You know, some kids do art therapy. With your love of art and your time in therapy, it might be a thing you look into? You seem to like to help people, more than just the saving the world stuff. I bet they offer classes in it at your school too. Just something to keep in mind. It can be hard to find a way to do art that also pays the bills. At least, that was true for me! 

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i don't actually do art at school Jessie admitted, tapping the words in with great concentration. Aquaria's phone was often a little hard to use; even though it was water resistant, it was often kind of... sticky. But she could make do. 


i took some classes the first couple of years

but they were not very understanding about missing class

even for kidnapped to space reasons

and like you say it's kind of hard to make a living

so i majored in accounting because i like math too

and a lot of the classes are online

and it means erin won't have to support me forever

i am thinking about getting my dog to be a therapy dog

let him visit kids in the library and stuff

he's a good dog

do you have pets? 



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'I don't although I like animals' Ray couldn't help but bite back a smile. Hence the question about liking dogs on the profile, 'Just as long as you don't hate it. Life's to short to spend it spending lots of hours on something that you hate. I mean, once you have the necessities covered. Food, shelter, a bit of fun, all that.'


Ray turned his head to glance at the clock again and found himself surprised at how much time had passed, 'Life's also too short to miss out on museums. You free sometime this week? I can swing by and we can go by the Met. Just as friends not as weird... Eros website whatever this thing is. Nothing weird or creepy; you have my word as an ex-angel.' There was no smiley face, but hopefully his dry humor came across nonetheless.

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Jessie hesitated, scrunching down into her chair as she studied her phone. She was twenty-six years old, she reminded herself. She was a completely adult woman, even if she didn't always feel that way, and it wasn't weird to have friends or to go to the museum with a friend or to just... to just go out and do things. She was tired of always being so cautious and so scared. Just because Aquaria tended to get them both into trouble didn't mean she was doomed to meet monsters or villains every time she left the house. 


yeah that sounds fun

let me give you my actual phone number though

aquaria doesn't understand human relationships

she watches a lot of tv

i don't want her getting weird ideas


She typed in her contact information and sent it.  i'm free after three on Monday and Wednesday and all morning Friday

whatever's good

i can meet you wherever

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Ray let out a little breath. He had no idea about Jessie's internal issues but even with powers, he was well away that meeting some strange dude after talking on messaging service, even having met face to face once before, was a fraught topic. Mindful of the nuances, he offered a public enough place that didn't require Jessie sharing more information than she wanted to about her life.


'Well, you already know my shop, why don't we meet in front of there and we'll head up to the city together?' The advantage of running his own business meant making his own hours and Ray didn't have to look at his calendar to know about the appointments he'd already scheduled for the week. 'Wednesday sounds good to me. I can finish up my last client before lunch and then close up for the afternoon. I'll put your number in my phone. Just text me if you want to cancel or reschedule.' Ray paused and then added, 'Night, Jessie. And, in Aquaria's defense, human relationships are super weird and complicated. See you Weds.'

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