Disclaimer: While any book series by me would likely end up involving ghost writers, as I am terrible at actually finishing projects, I don't own Animorphs.
Author's Note: This is just a bit of an exploration of a random idea I had about how voluntary hosts might adjust (or fail to adjust!) after the war. I'm really just putting this first chapter out there (although I do have a couple more written) to see what people think and whether it's worth continuing, so please do review and let me know if you think it would be worth carrying on with.
"This your first tattoo, then?"
Carla nodded nervously, glancing around the interior of the tattoo parlour. She'd been in one once before, with her uncle, but she'd been a very small child at the time. It was nicer than she'd expected: pictures of the previous work of the artist decorated the walls, and everything looked clean. That was reassuring.
"So, just an S? What kind of design?"
Carla shrugged. "Don't really care, 'long as it's small." She could not afford much, and besides, anything bigger than half an inch or so would struggle to fit.
"Well, I'm happy to work with you on that. I've got loads of different styles of text you can use, and we can always add some little details around it-"
"I just want the letter, thanks," Carla said quickly. "Plain black is fine."
The guy opposite her seemed to deflate a little at that. His taste wasn't only displayed on the walls: she could see tattoos running up his arms as well. They were nice though, unique. Not like her uncle, she remembered, who'd mainly gone for as big as possible in order to look tough. Carla guessed he'd been hoping for something a little more artistic than a single black letter, but that would be all he was going to put on her.
"Well, you can have a think about it if you want, for a few days. Then you can come back and discuss it, and then once I've made the transfer we'll be good to go."
Carla nodded. "I just want a small, plain black 'S'. That's all. Should be nice and quick, right?"
He nodded. "Sure. You haven't told me where on your body you were thinking."
Carla tensed. This was the part she had been dreading.
"If you're hesitating because it's somewhere embarrassing, don't. I've done enough tattoos by now to have done a few in fairly private places. We've got a separate room, if you felt more comfortable getting it done in there. I'm afraid we only have guys here, though, so if that's a problem you might have to go elsewhere. But I can recommend you a good female artist."
Carla shook her head. "I don't need any of that. I want it on my ear. My right ear, that is."
The tattoo artist frowned at her, bewildered. Carla tried not to look like she was holding her breath. Would he work it out? When he spoke, though, his voice was professional. "OK. Well, I can see why it'll be relatively small, then. Whereabouts exactly on your ear?"
It was easier to gesture this than explain it, so Carla pushed back her hair and pulled down the top tip of her ear, folding down the flexible cartilage to expose the skin behind. "There," she said, pointing.
"There? You sure?" He was frowning at her, clearly bewildered.
Carla nodded. "Yes."
"Erm, but…" he hesitated. The professionalism he'd been showing so far was ebbing, a sure sign that she'd managed to surprise him. "No-one will see it."
"You must have done other tattoos that people usually don't see. Besides, I don't want anyone to see it."
"You could put it somewhere where it'd be covered by your clothes."
Carla shook her head. "No-one can know it's there." She watched the man's eyes carefully, searching them for any hint of suspicion. It seemed that the location of her tattoo was odd to him, but he didn't seem to suspect who it was commemorating. Good.
The artist shrugged. "OK. Well, if that's what you want."
With no further ado, the artist moved on to arrange a suitable date, and Carla felt some of the tension leave her shoulders. This was risky, she knew, but she had to do it. Or at least, she had to do something to commemorate her… Carla still didn't know what the right word was. Friend? Surrogate parent? Sister? Soulmate- platonic, of course? None of them adequately described the relationship she had had with Silrin. No human relationship had the level of intimacy that existed between a Yeerk and a host, voluntary or otherwise. Losing her… it was like losing a part of herself.
Carla shook her head slightly to clear it, returning her focus to what the man opposite her was saying. "Sure, that works fine," she said, and stood up quickly, eager to be alone… well, eager to be away from other humans for a while, anyway. She still couldn't get used to being alone. "I'll see you then."
I have literally never had a tattoo done (not very tolerant of pain and not very decisive, neither of which are good qualifications for having one!). I tried to do a bit of internet research for this chapter but if anyone has any personal experience and spots any mistakes or anything that doesn't seem quite right, please do let me know.