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Just Like A Tattoo (I Can't Get Rid Of You)

Chapter Text

Covington Place was a quaint little area, a safe distance away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The shops and restaurants there-- mom-and-pop bookstores like The Ladies Book Club, artsy coffee shops like The Morning Drawfee, and family-owned bakeries like Lepetit’s Patisserie-- were frequented primarily by a warm and loyal handful of locals. The most notable thing about Covington, was that nothing in Covington ever changed-- and that’s exactly what Willie liked about it.

Willie Muse was born and raised in the apartment over the unmarked flower shop on the corner of Scout drive and Lily lane, known locally as “Lily’s” (or, possibly “Lilies,” as no-one had really ever seen it written down.) The building, its pinkish facade weather-worn and dulled with age, had stood on that street corner since before Covington was ever established, or so went the story. The only thing that kept the place from looking completely abandoned was the floral arrangement that decorated the windows and front porch.

The store, which looked more like a house than a store, was rumored among schoolchildren to be haunted by the vengeful spirit of the man who built it, or inhabited by an evil witch who brewed opium poppies to intoxicate children, and masked the scent of their burning flesh with aromatic stargazer lilies.

“Or perhaps it’s both, my pretties,” Willie would surmise casually from his rocking chair, crossing his legs and adjusting the lapels on his bright white linen suit. “A lonely little witch must have someone to keep him company, no?” Then, as he’d rehearsed so many times before, his eyes, made to look sunken with makeup, would widen suddenly, and he’d jerk his head violently sideways as if responding to a call the children could never hear. “I must be going,” he’d say, as if scared, “yes, I must be going and so must you.” He’d remove the tiny white top hat from his head and use it to shoo them away. That is, if they had not already run screaming much sooner than that.

“All in a day’s work.”

“You know, if you stopped scaring away anyone who ever came in here, we might actually make a sale,” spoke Nathan casually from behind the register.

“Bitch, please,” Willie dismissed, “the only reason anyone even comes in here at all is this whole spooky show schtick I put on.”

“Alright, you’re the owner. I just like flowers,” he smiled genuinely. Willie, ever-bitter, rolled his eyes.

Just then, the bell at the door rang to indicate a customer had dared to enter, and Willie scrambled to assume his haunting position in the creaking rocking chair to entertain (or horrify) today’s youth.

To Willie’s disappointment, the figure that entered was not an easily-scared little brat, but rather a man about his own age, unlike anyone he’d ever expect to see step foot in Covington Place.

Willie estimated the man was at least 6 feet tall, with basically every last inch of him covered in tattoos or piercings. But nothing about him was more piercing than his stunning green eyes that Willie didn’t dare to meet for more than a second, matching perfectly in hue to his dyed hair, which had grown out to hint that he had golden brown locks underneath it. For an instant, Willie wondered why a man with such a beautiful body would feel so compelled to cover it up. He snapped himself out of it and hoped he hadn’t stared at the man for too long.

Green-eyes didn’t seem to notice Willie’s conspicuous little ogle, and for that he was endlessly grateful. Nathan must’ve noticed, though, if the way he cleared his throat and said, “I’m Nathan!” to break the silence was any indication.

“I’m Jacob, I’m your new neighbor,” the green-haired man introduced himself, extending his arm toward Willie in what was clearly an invitation to shake hands. At that, Willie’s face fell. If there was any two things in this world that Willie hated besides children and the wrong person getting out of RuPaul’s Drag Race, it was neighbors and new things. So you might say Jacob was getting off to a pretty rough start.

“Willie.” He looked pointedly down at Jacob’s large hand, refusing to take it. Instead, Nathan intervened to shake the man’s hand in a friendly greeting.

“We’re sorry,” said Nathan. “He’s not…”

“Don’t speak for me, Nathan. I don’t like new people in my town.”

“Well, I’ll be darned, you dirty dog,” Jacob drawled, his snake-bitten lips forming a wide, enchanting smile, “I guess this here town ain’t big enough for the two of us, pardner.”

While Nathan and Jacob laughed together at the joke, Willie only rolled his eyes.

“What kind of business you running next door, then? Weenie Hut Junior?”

More laughter.

“Something like that. Heh. It’s a tattoo parlor, actually.”

Willie fumed. The last thing he needed was more shitty millennials like Jacob coming around Covington.

This is gonna be great! Jacob and Nathan both thought with great enthusiasm.

Oh, this is gonna be great , Willie seethed.

Chapter Text

Willie and Jacob sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S--

“Bitch I will haunt your ass.”

“You can not deny you were checking him out. And all his tuh-toos.”

“I fucking hate the way you say tattoos, Nathan.”

“What’s wrong with the way I say tuh-toos? You don’t like the way I say tuh-toos?” Nathan taunted, laughing, “you don’t like Jacob’s tuh-toos?” he drew out the tatted man’s name in a sickly-sweet, sing-songy tone.

“Don’t say Jacob like that.”

“Now you don’t like the way I say Jacob ? I can’t talk about Jacob or Jacob ’s tuh-toos?”

“How about you just never talk?”

Nathan laughed and continued to arrange the vase at his desk, still chanting “Willie and Jacob sitting in a tree...” under his breath.

Right next door, in a building that had been empty for years, Jacob, Julia, and their team prepared for tomorrow’s grand opening of their tattoo parlor.

“Are you sure you’re set on the name, Jacob?” asked Julia in an exasperated last-ditch attempt to make Jacob change it.  

“We’ve been through this, Julia. It will be called Dirty Daddy’s, named in the honor of my own dirty daddy, who called his store Dirty Daddy’s after his dirty daddy before him. I come from a long line of dirty daddies and I will NOT do my dirty daddies dirty on this dirty daddy day!”

“I just don’t see why anyone would come to a tattoo parlor with ‘dirty’ in the name!”

“They’ll come.”

“Speaking of doing the dirty,” Hannah interrupted in a mock-seductive low voice, “how’d it go with the boy next door?”

Jacob rolled his eyes. “You mean the nice dude with the beard or the asshole in the tiny top hat?”

“He gets better when you get to know him,” Julia assured him. Growing up working at her parents’ bakery across the street before she boldly went where practically no Covington resident had gone before (college) where she met Jacob, she knew the ins and outs of Covington Place like the back of her tattooed hand.

“Something tells me he doesn’t really want me to.”

Willie’s coldness came as a surprise to Jacob. Even though some people found his punk aesthetic off-putting or intimidating, he was used to being able to charm the pants off of pretty much anyone with his big, warm smile and his genuine Georgia charm. Was Willie playing hard to get? Or did he really not like Jacob? As much as he scolded himself for it, Jacob was definitely intrigued by the challenge.


“We should invite them over,” Hannah suggested. “Music, friends, booze, ink, what could possibly go wrong?”

“I believe those exact words are the reason Jacob has a tattoo of a dragon with Morgan Freeman’s face on it above his butt,” said Julia.

“It’s a wyvern, you unthinkable fool, and I love him,” Jacob defended himself.

“Jacob, go back over there and invite them over!” Hannah pushed.

“Why me? You’ve both known them for years!”

“Because you’re the one who’s gonna fall in love with flower boy!”

“You’re impossible, and I hate you both with the fire of one thousand suns.”

“Yeah, yeah. We love you too. Go get ‘em.”

And so he went.


As Jacob approached the flower shop, he was met with an unsettling feeling-- a feeling notably unlike the usual unsettling feeling one typically experiences upon approaching Lily’s-- he was nervous. He suddenly feared rejection, as if he was asking Willie on a date. God damn it, Hannah. You just had to put that idea in my head. Once he garnered the courage to approach the house’s creaking porch, he noticed the double-sided sign in the window had been turned to indicate the shop was closed.

He was considering nope-ing the fuck out before he embarrassed himself when the door swung suddenly open. Luckily, it was Nathan and not Willie.

“Hi there!” greeted Nathan.

“Uh, hi. There’s, uh, a thing, at, uh, next door. I-it’s late notice but, well, we’re having a- a party, kinda, or like, a get-together, I guess, and I- we- I wanted to know if you. You and. Well, you guys , wanted to. Come over, I guess.”

Nathan smiled knowingly. “Sure, I’m free! But good luck getting Willie over there. He’s upstairs if you want to go ask him.”

“Could you--” Jacob started, but Nathan was already walking, smirking, toward Dirty Daddy’s Tattoo Parlor.

God, is everyone trying to get me and that dick together?

Rolling his eyes, Jacob knocked tentatively at the door Nathan left unlocked behind him. No answer. Sighing, he walked in.


The floor of the flower shop creaked beneath even his lightest step. The place was kept almost-uncomfortably cool (partly for the flowers and partly for what Willie called Spook-factor, which would receive a blatant eye-roll from Nathan), causing goosebumps to form all over Jacob’s tatted skin. If the showroom was eery with the lights on, it was unspeakably more-so in the dark. The only light illuminating the bouquets and pots of flowers shined in through the partially-boarded, partially shattered windows, which Willie either broke on purpose or intentionally never repaired.

Across the wooden floor Jacob crept slowly (for any walking immediately became creeping upon such a floor as this) toward the stairs.

“Willie?” he called. No answer.

The stairs he climbed were even louder than the floor below and as they creaked Jacob wondered if they’d even sustain the weight of a person climbing them, though the several broken and splintered boards indicated perhaps they couldn’t. He ascended carefully and called Willie’s name again. No answer.

The upstairs terrified Jacob in a way much less tangible than the first floor had. While the shop was spooky by design, Willie’s residence above it was eery in its emptiness; there were no family photos, no decorations, no flowers, even-- just a long hardwood hallway with chipping paint on the ceiling and peeling floral paper on the walls.

In the hall were three doors, and suddenly Jacob was reminded of a riddle he once heard,


The power is out. There must be a flashlight in your garage. You open the garage door but what you know to be there is all gone. Instead, there is an empty room. The room has three unmarked doors. You choose the center door. There, you see three more doors. You choose the left one. Three more doors. Right. Three more doors. Left. Three more doors. Center. Three more doors. Three more doors. Three more doors. Center. There. A Man. (Willie’s visage manifests in Jacob’s imagination.) He threatens your life. “You may choose how you are to die,” says he, “guillotine, lethal injection, or electric chair.” What do you choose?

Though he knew that Lily’s isn’t haunted, and that Willie’s not a witch, there was a sinking in his gut that made Jacob feel like he was preparing to face his own death.

“Willie?” No answer.

Again, “Willie?”

No answer.


He opened the first door hoping to God it’d be the electric chair (‘cause, duh, guys, the power’s out.) but it was an empty bedroom. The bed was made with military precision that contrasted the pink floral pattern of the quilted blanket. It seemed as though the room hadn’t been used in years. Curious.

The next, a bathroom. The shower curtains hung open and showed the first hint Jacob had seen that someone actually lived there: a metal shelf hanging from the showerhead stocked with peach shampoo and conditioner and a worn bar of Old Spice soap in the dish. The was a cup on the sink with one (Jacob counts one) toothbrush and a tube of toothpaste.

He opened the third door and--

“What the fuck, you fucking fuck!” Willie yells, scrambling to cover himself.

Jacob blushed and looked away quickly, but the view he saw was unmistakable, and it was etched on the back of his eyelids.


His first impression of Willie’s appearance had certainly been… misleading. Under the dark red eyeshadow circling his eyes from his brow to his cheeks, under the tiny white top hat, under the creepy white suit painted red to look like blood, under the…

Jesus Christ, Jacob, stop thinking about his...

“Willie! I’m sorry I-- I called your name and you didn’t-- I didn’t mean to--”

“Oh my God, Jacob, get out!”

Jacob hurried out the room and shut the door behind him, but still lingered there.

“When you’re, um, dressed… we’re throwing a little party next door if you wanna… come.”

After a beat, the door opened and Willie peaked his head out.

“Will there be wine?”

Chapter Text

After the excruciatingly awkward walk from Lily’s to Dirty Daddy’s, a very embarrassed Jacob and a very grumpy Willie were welcomed warmly by some of the other twenty-somethings that lived and worked on Covington, some of whom were already kind of tipsy.

“Jacob! Allow me to introduce you to Caldwell from the Drawfee shop, Andy and Tony from Dorkly, you know the novelty toy and comic store across from Lepetit’s? And Brian and Emily work at the video game place next door,” said Hannah. “And of course you met Randy, Tristan, and Justin earlier.”

“Right, right. Nice to meet you all. If you’ll just excuse me for a second…” Overwhelmed and still processing the events of earlier, Jacob hurried away to the back room to gather his thoughts. Julia, always by his side, followed closely behind.

“What’s wrong, dude?” she asked once they were safely sequestered away.

“Nothing,” he dismissed, then added quietly, “just thinkin’ about Willie’s dick!”


“Nothing, nothing’s wrong. I need a drink.”

“Falling hard already?”

“No!” he answered, too loud, then, quieter, “no. Let’s just go back.”

As they walked back to the party, Julia offered:

“Whatever you say, man. We’ve got plenty of drinks out here if you’re interested. I know you like Dellos.”

“I’m gonna need something harder than that.”

“That’s what she said!” Fuck, did Willie hear everything but his own fucking name being called? And is he already tipsy?

“Wow, you’ve certainly loosened up quickly.”

That’s what she said.”

“Is it?” Jacob’s voice must’ve gone up an octave in challenge.

“Yes, Jacob. Some women are lesbians. Also, pegging. Don’t be racist. Jacob is racist!” he accused.

“How much wine has he had?” Jacob whispered to Hannah.

“Not much. This is kind of just his personality.”

“And you want us to get together, why exactly?”

The question was rhetorical. As much as he wished he could deny it, he was starting to warm up to Willie’s bratty-but-in-a-cute-way sense of humor.

“Alright, fuckers. Who’s getting ‘Dirty Daddy’s’ inaugural tattoo?” Hannah challenged. No one stepped up. “What, no one’s drunk enough? There’s gotta be something we can do about that… Randy?”

Randy, owner of Smooth Randy’s bar on Covington, was known to be a master bartender with his own award-winning cocktail menu. His secret menu drinks named after all of his friends, inspired by their names, personalities, likes, and dislikes.

They didn’t have the ingredients or tools for a Bloody Nathan (a blended watermelon rum sangria with a lime garnish that perfectly resembled a Bloody Mary but contained absolutely no tomatoes), a Shandy Brewart (beer and grilled lemonade elevated with maple syrup and rosemary), a Caldwell Tamarind (tamarind nectar, simple syrup, bourbon, orange liqueur, and lemon, because “Black-and-Tanner would be too easy, Caldwell, don’t be silly”), or a Hennessy Grant (Hennessy, sprite, and just so much cherry grenadine) and he didn’t think they’d be interested in a Blulia LePetit (which was literally just lemonade with blue food coloring, because Julia didn’t drink but he didn’t want to leave her out,) so his full abilities as an artist were somewhat limited.

They did, however, have lots of vodka, boxed red wine, champagne, rum, and-- for god’s sakes Hannah-- Jager, and a whole bunch of sugary mixers, so Randy expertly pretended to know what the fuck to make and concocted some fucked up adult version of Jungle Juice and poured a glass for everyone but Julia, who politely abstained.

In the meantime, Brian packed and lit a pipe, which he hit and passed to Emily at his side.

“I swear to god, if you stink up my parlor before my opening--” Jacob started, but he’d soon forget to give a fuck when the weed was passed his way.


Once sufficiently cross-faded, Willie abruptly (and unsteadily) stood up from his chair.

“Julia! Pierce my nipples!” he declared, with a ceremonious grandiosity that was certainly uncalled for. “Or,” less confidently, “my nipple. Which nipple is the gay nipple?”

“Both, if you’re doing it right,” Jacob slurred.

They made unprecedented eye contact. If either of them blushed, the drunken rosiness of their cheeks protected them from ridicule.

“I’ll pierce both, then.”

Julia, the designated piercer, rolled her eyes, but obliged the drunken request and prepared the device to pierce both of Willie’s gay nipples.


Willie removed his shirt with an excruciating slowness that Jacob could’ve sworn was deliberate. Jacob couldn’t keep his eyes off of the expanse of Willie’s unblemished, un-tattooed skin. As a tattoo artist, he craved to use that body as his canvas, to navigate the plains and valleys of his flesh with ink and talented hands and make a masterpiece of him. As a very drunk, very high, very bisexual man, Jacob had other plans.

Willie broke Jacob out of his trance when he asked, “is it gonna hurt?”

“Yes.” Jacob answered, though the question was clearly directed at Julia.

“I was asking Julia, idiot.”

“Julia wouldn’t know.”

“And you would?”

Jacob just raised his eyebrows and shrugged before turning his back and pouring himself another drink.

“Julia, do it.”

And she did.  

That was the first, but certainly not the last impulsive decision made that night. Once Julia had decided to go to bed (after all, it’s not much fun being the only sober person in a tattoo parlor full of drunk assholes), things got a little out of hand. Among some dancing, some drinking, and some smoking, Nathan and Caldwell got matching tattoos of a mug with a smiley face, Justin got Garfield’s face on his shoulder, and Tristan almost got knuckle tats spelling G-A-R-F on one hand and I-E-L-D on the other, but even at their drunkest, Hannah and Jacob knew better than to let that happen. Past that, the night was a blur.


The next morning, a very angry Willie Muse stormed into Dirty Daddy’s with a bone to pick with the owner.

Chapter Text

“I’m going to fucking kill you, you fucking bitch!”

“Good to see you’re in high spirits as always, Willie,” Jacob smiled bitterly. “What’s wrong, regret piercing your nipples?”

“No. Well, yes, but I took those out. I’m angry about the fucking tattoo!”

“What? I don’t remember tattooing you last night…”

“Me neither! But I woke up with this!” and with that, he turned around and pulled his pants down completely, effectively mooning Jacob in effort to expose his new tattoo.

Jacob’s eyes opened wide at the sight.


“Okay. I see why you might be… dissatisfied.”

Dissatisfied?! I’m dissatisfied with the winner of RuPaul season 10. I’m not dissatisfied, nip tits, I’m FURIOUS! Look at my goddamn ass!”  

“Oh, I’m looking at it. Could I maybe… stop looking at it?”

Willie pulled up his pants.

“You are going to fucking pay for this ass, Jacob Andrews!”

“Alright, listen. Let me try and fix it.”

“Just cover it up!”

“I can’t just cover it up. But we can work with it.”

“You want me to trust you? You’re the one who gave me this… this ridiculous tattoo! Why would I want that on my ass?”

“I don’t know! Come into my office, let me see what I can do.”


Reluctantly, Willie followed Jacob.

“Pull your pants down and lay on your stomach.”  

“Damn, buy me a drink first.”

“Yeah, ‘cause that went so well last time.”


Willie hissed in pain as Jacob went to town on his ass.  

“I knew you were a pain in the ass but this is not what I expected.”

“Can we kill the one-liners?”

“Can you hurry up back there?”

That’s what she said.”



“I’m almost done.”

“Just tell me what it says.”

“You’ll see.”




“Are you done yet?”

“Yep. All done.”

“Show me!”



Willie looked in the mirror to see his old tattoo still present as ever, only now the bold print letters were accompanied by a loose script.  

“You son of a bitch.”

















Chapter Text

Willie and Jacob didn’t speak for days after the… mistake happened.

Jacob contemplated apologizing, but couldn’t bring himself to even look at the other man during waking hours.


When he closed his eyes, however, he couldn’t stop himself from seeing Willie.

Against his will, Jacob’s mind pieced together the stolen glimpses of that gorgeous, tempting body he was never supposed to see ( which did NOT , Jacob insisted, make it just so much hotter that he got to ).

He spent sleepless nights imagining what it’d be like to finally give in and fold himself into the other man.

There were visions of tattooed skin and pierced nipples, kisses and more shared in darkness, sweet nothings and dirty, dirty somethings whispered in hot, charged breaths between them.

Perhaps even worse than the filthydirtysexywrong daydreams were the wholesome ones. In the darkness, the white ceiling of Jacob’s bedroom was a movie screen, showing previews of romantic movies with him and Willie as the starring roles. Smiling across the dinner table in a fancy-ass Italian restaurant. Or making him dinner, maybe. Or bringing him chocolates (“I would’ve brought you flowers, but, uh…” he kisses Jacob quiet. “They’re perfect, you idiot.”). Waking up next to him, admiring how the rising sun through the window bounces off his glowing, bare skin, and kissing him to wakefulness. (“Don’t wake me up, bitch.” “Sorry. You just looked so pretty.” “Fuck you, bitch.” “Brat.” Fondly.)


Of course, fucking Jacob always had to want the things he could never have. Growing up in a clean-cut and conservative Georgian household, Jacob’s craving for catastrophe broiled underneath his skin from a young age. From his first tattoo-- three thin lines which wrapped around his bicep: pink, purple, and blue of the bisexual pride flag (because fuck you, Bill and Helen, it’s not a goddamn phase )-- to his first boyfriend-- an older boy named Damien with a pierced lip, a shitty attitude, and an ambiguously arson-y past-- to his decision to throw away a full ride to Stanford to move to New York City in pursuit of his dream to become an artist.

He was 19 years old and apprenticing in a Manhattan tattoo parlor (under an artist that went by the pseudonym ‘Dirty Daddy,’ by which Jacob, for some reason, wasn’t the least bit put-off) when he met his best friend, a blonde F.I.T. sophomore named Julia Lepetit. Julia and Jacob instantly clicked as soon as they noticed that they were wearing practically the same outfit-- a black tee shirt topped with a denim jacket, and black jeans, with a plaid flannel wrapped around the waist. Julia already had her first tattoo, the tri-force Jacob recognized from The Legend of Zelda, and came to Daddy’s parlor with a sketchbook full of expertly-drawn portraits of very handsome, chiseled men intensified with dramatic shade and light, and some eldritch horrors whose eyes struck fear in Jacob’s heart (which, of course, endeared him to her all the more). By the end of their consultation, they had designed a tattoo which both horrified and intrigued even the hardened Dirty Daddy himself: a thick band of eyes, wandering and focused, with irises of all different colors, that appeared to be imbedded in Julia’s bicep.

Over time, Julia and Jacob’s bond grew ever-stronger, and 10 years (and dozens of tattoos and piercings) later they were moving to Julia’s hometown of Covington Place as partners in crime and in business, still accidentally wearing practically the same outfit, like, at least once a week.


Those same 10 years were less eventful in Covington Place, which the local teens, who dreamed futilely of moving onto bigger and brighter things, dubbed “The City That Always Sleeps.” It was rumored that Covington natives were cursed to live and die there, like flies caught in a spider’s web. The children who played in the pristinely-trimmed lawns grew up into teens who worked in their parents’ stores, learned the ways of the trade and took over when their elders retired. Their kids would play in the pristinely-trimmed lawns and thusly the cycle started over.

Of course, little things changed every once in a while. Miller and Heller’s sold typewriters and other gadgets before Brian and Emily blasphemed and modernized the now-video game store. Smooth Randy’s was briefly a speakeasy. The Morning Drawfee used to be called “Hugh’s” before Caldwell got his hands on it. As the clock ticked on, the faces and names of Covington place shifted, albeit reluctantly.

That is, all but the old flower shop on the corner of Lily and Scout. No, Willie refused to change a damn thing but the soil in the pots and the bulbs in the lights. Willie liked the way things were; he liked normalcy (or the weird, twisted version of normalcy he had intentionally concocted for himself at Lily’s). Which is why he was furious when fucking Jacob with his fucking tattoos and fucking piercings and fucking pretty eyes and fucking gorgeous smile and fucking... arms had to fucking ruin everything, god fucking damn it!


So, despite himself, Willie laid awake that same night, just one door over from Jacob, and the same damn film played in his movie theater mind.

Chapter Text

It was a little while before Willie worked up the courage to go back there, but soon enough he found himself breathing deeply and parting the doors of Dirty Daddy’s once again. Jacob’s eyes involuntarily lit up when he saw the other man, face clean of makeup and outfit completely devoid of fake blood for the first time in a ridiculous amount of time.
Willie brandished a crumpled piece of paper with an indecipherable drawing.
“Tattoo this on me,” he demanded. “You owe me.”
“You want a…. bird with a long, thin penis?”
“That’s not what that is!”
“Right… it’s a fart cloud with a piss stream?”
“Bitch, no!”
“Oh, obviously it’s a hand turkey with a--”
“It’s a lily, you assfuck... turd... bitch… PISS SNOWCONE!”
“Whoa, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, no need for such language!”
“You are. You’re a piss snow cone. The ice is piss and the syrup is also piss.”
“Now wait just a minute!” Jacob started angrily, “is the piss ice, like, frozen piss that’s like shaved and made into a snowcone consistency then topped with more piss or is the ice just like liquid piss topped with more liquid piss so it’s just a paper cone full of piss?”
“What? I don’t know.”
“‘Cause if it’s just piss in a cone it’ll just gonna leak right out, isn’t it? Then you get piss in your shoes and it’s a whole thing.”
“No! The piss is ice. It’s ice piss. You’re a ball of ice piss in a cone.”
“Oh. Okay. Pretty gross, dude.”
“Not as gross as just like… a cone full of piss, though.”
“I cannot stand you.”
“Do you want me to tattoo your tissue on a stick or not?”
“It’s a fucking lily! We can’t all be great artists!”
“Aw, shucks, you think I’m great?”
Willie looked down and shuffled his feet nervously.
“Pretty good for a cone full of piss, I guess.”
“That’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me,” Jacob joked, his eyes wide in mock-sincerity. “Why don’t you let me draw up something I know you’ll like, okay?”
“Can we cancel the steak motif on this one?”
“Sure. Not a single steak to be found.”
“And no puns.”
“You’re really stifling my creative abilities, here.”
“And no piss.”
“What kind of tattoo doesn’t have at least a little piss?”
“And no nipples.”
“What if they’re like really small nipples?”
“No nipples!”
“What about just one nipple?”
“No. Nipples.”
“Okay, fine. Something you’ll like, I promise. I’ll have something for you in the next few days.”
“Fine. I don’t know why I’m trusting you… you…. shart quesadilla….”
“Well now you’re just getting lazy.” He was met with a middle finger. “Give me your phone number.”
“What? Why?”
“So I can text you when the design is ready.”
“I don’t want you stinking up my phone!”
“I promise I will shower before I text you. There will be no stank.”
Thanks for that image, Jacob.

They exchanged numbers. Jacob put Willie in his phone as “Willie”, and Willie put Jacob in his phone as “Prom King Of Shart Mountain” (“Aw, they elected me king?” “Fuck you, bitch” “Brat.”)


Jacob was too distracted watching Willie leave to notice Julia peer around the corner with an accusatory grin on her face.
“Hey Jacob,” she startled him, “just a little tip for flirting… maybe next time don’t talk about piss so much?”
“First of all, I wasn’t flirting. Second of all, what do you know about flirting? Not like you’re seeing anyone.”
“Am too!”
“You mean the hairy guy who lives in the woods and never talks to you? The Venn Diagram of that loser and a literal cryptid is a circle.”
“He is not a cryptid!”
“Listen, I know what they say about big feet, but I do not think actual Bigfoot is what they had in mind.”
“You’re the one with a crush on a necromancer!”
“Come on. He’s like, a witch at best.”
“So you have a crush on him.”
“Whatever you say. Have fun designing his tattoo for free.”

Chapter Text

Jacob was up late working on Willie's tattoo design when his phone pinged. 


Willie: knockoff woody from toy story 

Jacob: ...I'm sorry?

Willie: scrappy doo but if ppl liked scrappy doo even less than they already like scrappy doo

Jacob: Willie, it's 1:45 AM. 

Willie: shitstorm mcfuckturd

Jacob: That's not even anything

Willie: ur not even anything

Willie: a not-classy crossover of brad majors from the original rocky horror and riff raff from the shitty remake

Jacob: What would be a classy crossover of those two things?

Willie: not u idiot jizzpants 

Jacob: What is happening?

Willie: i'm workshopping dumbdick

Jacob: Ah, that explains it? 

Willie: shark volcano

Willie: no

Willie: shark

Willie: no shaft

Willie: shaft

Willie: ugh

Willie: ****shart

Jacob: Shark Volcano is a cool band name. 

Jacob: Should we start a band?

Willie: no fuck u shart

Jacob: We should... shart a band? Sounds gross. 

Willie: i hate you

Willie: ross from friends

Jacob: Now that's mean

Willie: glee after season 4

Jacob: Now you're just listing things that aren't good. 

Willie: yeah like u doofus

Willie: anime 

Jacob: You take that back you unthinkable know-nothing dongus

Jacob: Anime is God's gift to this wretched plane of existence. 

Jacob: May our lord and savior, Crunchyroll, forgive your broken, mortal soul.

Willie: oh god u are too hot to be a weeb 


Jacob's heart did a whole fucking flip. 

Willie regretted pressing 'send' immediately. 

Okay, play it cool Jacob. 


Jacob: I'm hot BECAUSE I'm a weeb. 

Willie: gross

Jacob: Anime is GOOD, William

Willie: ew don't call me william 

Jacob: LIAM

Willie: NO 

Jacob: ...Bill?



Jacob: If I'm such a ballsack squared, why are you up at 2:18 AM talking to me?

Willie: cause i can't stop thinking about how many ballsacks you are

Willie: which is up to 3 now 

Willie: ur a ballsack with a ballsack with a ballsack 


Emboldened by Willie's earlier flirtation and by the fact that it was now well past 2 AM, Jacob pressed his luck a little. 



Jacob: Yeah? I can't stop thinking about you, either. 

Willie: that's NOT what i meant

Jacob: Really? 'cause it sounds like you can't stop thinking about my ballsack. 

Willie: ur worse than anime

Willie: ur country music

Willie: and not the good pop kind like taylor swift and carrie underwood 

Willie: i'm talkin tractor fuckin cousin cousin kissin COUNTRY country

Willie: and i hate u 

Jacob: I know. Goodnight. 

Jacob: Brat. 

WIllie: bitch 

Chapter Text

The exhaustion was visible in Jacob’s eyes as he sheepishly rapped on his neighbor’s front door not long after the store’s opening.

Confused, Nathan opened the door.

“This is a store, you know. You can just, like, come inside.”

Jacob blushed, wiping sweat from his brow, slowly and firmly as if to rid himself of the palpable shame.

“Right, yeah. I’m fuckin’ tired, man.”

“Go to bed late last night?”

“You could say that.”

...but you’d be wrong, thought Jacob, but he couldn’t admit he hadn’t slept a wink for fear of further interrogation. Between designing the tattoo Willie wanted, designing about a dozen other tattoos he wanted Willie to have, and-- though he’d deny it relentlessly-- designing their entire future together in the l o o p y t i r e d h o r n y wee hours of the morning, Jacob’s mind was running far too fast for sleep to ever catch up with it.

Jacob pussyfooted behind Nathan as they walked through the store-- uncharacteristically cautious, as if not to leave more than one set of invisible footprints behind on the creaking floor.

Willie spun around in his chair with undaunted grandiosity, ready to proceed as rehearsed, but stalled when his and Jacob’s eyes met.

“Oh. It’s just you,” Willie pouted, but his efforts to perform ambivalence toward the other man were tiring.

Jacob smiled weakly.

“Here, your majesty.” Several sheets of paper folded together to conceal their contents.

“If this is like… a horse made out of slime… I’m gonna fucking murder you.”

“First of all,” combative as ever, “that’s a great idea.”

A long pause.

“And second of all?”

“What? Oh. Now I’m just thinking about slimehorse.”

“You’re a… shit…. Snickers.”

“Willie, we need to talk about these nicknames.”

“Fuck you.”

“You can’t just do a cuss and slap on a food item.”

“Yeah? Well, you’re a…. cock...”




“A cockquito, if you will.”

“I absolutely won’t.”

“A cunt…”

“This is the same--”



“A clitoris--”

“Just look at the fucking tattoo design, you hopeless bumblefuck.”

“Your insults are not better than mine, you… you… fuck, this is really good, Jacob.”

“Must be really good, I didn’t know you even knew my name at this point.”

“Shut up, Andrew.”

Filling the entire page was a stylized watercolor painting of Lily’s-- faded in the edges like a vignette. In the flowerpots in the broken windows were its namesake flowers, pouring down the pink wooden facade of the building and spilling onto the yellowed lawn in front of it. A bat silhouetted against the full moon in the night sky left a spooky aftertaste in the otherwise serene image, just the way Willie liked it.

Willie didn’t really know what to say.

“It’s kind of… a lot?”

“Yeah, I got carried away.”

“It’s awesome, but…”

“Yeah,” he reached to take the page away from Willie, but his hand was batted away.

“Can I keep it? Like, to put on a wall?”

Jacob smiled and nodded.

“There’s more.”

Willie looked at the next page.

“Jacob this is a penis in a party hat.”

“His name is Bethany.”

“His name is--? Jacob you understand that I am not getting a tattoo of a... wildly anatomically correct penis… in a party hat? Is this… did you have a photo reference? Jacob, whose penis is this?”

“His name is Bethany.”

“And he was born to party.”

“Born 2 party.”

“That’s what I said.”

“There’s a number 2.”


“It’s just that you spelled it wrong.”

“I spelled it wrong… when I said it?”

“Yeah. It’s ‘Born 2 Party.’”

“Born to party.”

“You’re not hearing me.”

“Born two party,” Willie enunciated the ‘two’.

“Yeah, his name is Bethany, he’s a fiesta penis, and he was born 2 party.”

“Right, what’s next, a sphincter in a sombrero?”

“Don’t be crass, Willie.”

The next design was the real mama-bear of the bunch. The not-too-elaborate-not-too-penis-in-a-party-hat design. A dainty line-art drawing of calla lily with a bow around the stem.

“I was thinking it might be cool in white ink, if you’re going for something softer. Or I can do it in full color. Or if you liked the watercolor look, I can do that. Or we can just go black. Or whatever you want.”

God, does he always ramble like this when he’s nervous? Has he ever been this nervous? Why is he nervous, again?
“It’s perfect.”

“I mean, it’s no Bethany, but…”

“It’s perfect.”


Silence fell on the cold parlor, tension heavy in the air.

Nathan coughed.

“Can I see it?”

They each let out a breath they didn’t know they were holding.

In that moment Jacob realized this might be the hardest tattoo he’s ever done.

He was exhilarated.

Chapter Text

Just as he did every Thursday night, Willie went to the grocery store at the end of the road, and just as he did every Thursday night, he shopped for one. And (just as he did every Thursday night) he returned home, locked the door, hung his hat and coat, ascended the stairs, put his groceries away in the kitchen, and went to get undressed. But this Thursday night, for the first time in five years, Willie stepped inside the master bedroom instead of the one he now called his own, and sat on the bed.

The lids of his eyes shut tightly together as he bared the chill that befell the entire room. When he dared to open them, Willie could’ve sworn he was five years younger.

Despite the cold, the pale visage that appeared before him was wearing gym shorts and no shirt.

“You’re not real.”

“Why do people always say that when they see the ghost of someone they know? It’s like, either I’m not real, and you’re talking to no one, or I am real, and you’re wrong. How do you win?”

“What should I say, then? What should I say to the only man I ever loved, who died and left me alone for the rest of my life?”

“Now that kind of unnatural, expositional dialogue is just lazy writing, Willie, you should know better than that.”

“What the hell am I supposed to say to you?!”

“I don’t know,” he whispered, the words dragged with the weight of five long, lonely years. Then he cracked a smile. “What about, ‘damn, Matt, you’re still so buff! How do you do it?’” Willie exhaled a gentle laugh despite himself.

“You haven’t changed.” Fond.   

“But you have.” Pensive.

“No, I haven’t.” Obstinate.


Willie stood up and paced the floor, refusing to make eye contact with the man who made him a widower.

“Change can be good, Willie.”

“Yeah, what’s so good about it?” he grumbled.


Willie watched the expression his lover’s face as Matt looked around the room. The ghostly countenance contorted in scrutiny, then fell upon a realization.


“That bed. You’ve never made a bed that neat in your life.”

“Generous of you to assume I’ve made a bed.”

“I made that bed. 5 years ago today. Didn’t I?”

No reply.

“Didn’t I?!”

“I don’t recall.”

Matt’s eyes swept across the room once more. All of the bulbs in the overhead lighting fixture were alit but one.

“I asked you to change that lightbulb.”

“I’ll get around to it.”

“The latch on the window is still broken.”

“Did you haunt me just to nag?”

Ghost Matt swiped his hand through the air and all the drawers fell open.

“All my clothes.”


“I’ve been gone for 5 years.”

“You think I don’t know that?”

“5 years and you haven’t changed a single thing about this room?”

“I like it how it is.”

“Have you changed anything about Lily’s?”

Willie’s ashamed silence and bowed head told all.

Matt let out a deep sigh of resignation.

“You know what, Willie? Do whatever you want. You can do whatever you want with your house, with your store. But you can’t stop the world around you from changing. You can’t stop yourself from changing.”

“Leave me alone.”

“It’s time to grow up, Willie. You know what you have to do.”

“What the fuck does that mean?”

As Matt’s form faded into nothing, his ghostly voice echoed:


“You have to fuck the boy with the green hair.”


And that's when Willie woke up. 

Chapter Text

Meanwhile, in the notably-deserted Dirty Daddy’s Tattoo Parlour, Jacob furrowed his brow and took a long sip of his peach-pear LaCroix before returning to his absentminded doodle of a man who looked coincidentally similar to a certain neighbor of his.

Julia, the industry’s leading expert on The Many Moods of Jacob Brooks Andrews, could sense the gears turning in his brain from across the room. She turned down the music that typically blared in the shop and crossed the floor to console him.

“Jacob, I can hear your seething emo-ness over Gerard Way’s”

“My Chemical Romance isn’t emo, and I’m wounded at the very suggestion that my very own best friend, whom I trusted, might think it could be.”

“‘Emo’ is as much a vibe as a specific musical movement and I’m not getting into it with your stubborn ass about this again.”

“That’s because I’m right.”

“Agree to disagree.”

“Because I’m right.”

“Tell me what you’re angsting about this time, Andrews.”

“You have to promise not to say ‘I told you so.’”

Julia understood immediately.

“Ah. Well, my dear,” she condescended lightheartedly, “I could not have more clearly and repeatedly told you so, so you must understand that that’s hard for me.”

“Could it be that I was the fool all along?”

“Could it have been any other way?”

Jacob groaned and returned to his drawing. Julia eyed it and rolled her eyes.

“You know you can just ask him out. Your life doesn’t have to be some hackneyed, slow-burn fanfiction. Turn the green light off, Gatsby. Text the motherfucker.”

“I don’t think Gatsby was the one who controlled the light.”

“Whatever. You know I can’t read.”


A comfortable silence fell over the two friends, save for the sound of graphite on paper as Jacob pressed the dwindling tip of his pencil into the page, darkening the contours of his subject’s features with unnecessary pressure. When the pointed end of the utensil snapped and rendered it useless, Jacob tossed the offending thing across the room in frustration. He crossed his arms and Julia consoled him wordlessly with a hand on his shoulder. Though he said nothing, his gratitude went without saying. Such was their epic platonic bond.


The silence was shattered by the sudden sound of a plastic vibrating against linoleum. A text.

Willie: u up?

Jacob looked at Julia as he tilted the screen into her field of view. She raised her eyebrows as if to ask, “what are you waiting for, you coward?” (Jacob’s mind may have supplied the ‘you coward’ part.)

He texted back.

Jacob: it is 1:45 pm.

Willie: so ur up?

Jacob: no, sorry.

Willie: call me when you’re up.


“What do I do?” Jacob panicked.

“I don’t know, call him?”



Willie was still in bed when the chorus of TLC’s 1999 hit “No Scrubs” filled the air, signaling an incoming call from The Prom King of Shart Mountain.



“Can I ask who’s calling?” Willie jested, postponing the nerve-wracking inquiry he called to pose.

“You told me to call you, like, 30 seconds ago.”

“I’m sorry I don’t recall.”

“It’s Jacob.”

“I don’t know a ‘Jacob.’”

“Is this a prank call?”

“You called me.”

“Right. Jacob Andrews, your neighbor? With the green hair? Tattoos? Piercings? Pretty smile, rockin’ bod?” he joked, getting antsy. As much as he loved to shoot the shit, the text from earlier left him inexplicably shaken, and he didn’t really have the patience for Willie’s impishness. At least until he knew why Willie insisted they talk on the phone, out loud, like it’s 1994 or something.

“I’m sorry, if I recall correctly my next-door neighbor is an elderly man named Fuckstorm Dadbod, the third. He has four fingers on his right hand and suffers from erectile dysfunction. Good guy, though.”

He resigned to play along.

“And why are you so intimately familiar with the reproductive health of your elderly neighbor?”

“Hey, I get around.”

“Did I call you so you could brag about the hot geriatric sex you’re having on the reg'?”


“No. Sorry. I got nervous.” What? Don’t tell him that!

“Nervous? Why?”

“No reason.” Good save .


“So, Jacob, uh, you wanna, like,” he scratched the hairs at the name of his neck, suddenly uncomfortable. It was as if the skin he’d worn his whole life was just a half-size too small, stretched taut across his bones and littered with goosebumps and insecurity. He didn’t notice how long the pause dragged on until Jacob interrupted:

“Like…?” Jacob prompted, too eager.

“Don’t interrupt me, bitch.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I was gonna ask if you wanted to get dinner or something but if you’re gonna be a no-good cyberbully about it, you can forget it.”


Jacob thanked God or whoever was listening that Willie couldn’t see his face light up with unbridled excitement.


“You mean,” he all but crossed his fingers, “like a date?”

His eyes widened and Julia gave him two affirming thumbs up.

“I was thinking more like an opportunity for you to apologize for being such a Pisspuddle McBratbaby.”

“That’s very generous of you.”

“I think I’ve made it very clear that I’m a remarkably good person.”

“Remarkably so,” he mocked.


“So, dinner or what?”

“Yeah, I’m down.” Way to play it cool, Jacob.

“Cool. Okay. Let’s do that, then.”





“So are we talking tonight, or…?”

“I hadn’t thought it through that far.”

“I can be free tonight.”





“You gonna pick me up at 8? What’s the plan?”

“That, yes.”

“You haven’t been on a date in a long time, have you?”

“I do… dates… sometimes.”

“Convincing. Don’t worry, I’ll go easy on you.”


Willie didn’t even want to think about what that meant. Sure, he spent just about the rest of the afternoon thinking about it, but he didn’t want to.


“See you tonight, Fuckstick Dadbod.”

“I thought it was Fuckstorm.”



It was as good a “goodbye” as any. They both hung up, brimming with nerves and excitement for their not-a-date.

Chapter Text


“I have a table for two for…” the waitress trailed off, her features contorting in confusion and frustration. “David!” she scolded the host at their podium, her voice a perfectly audible stage-whisper, “did you write down ‘Fuckstorm Dad-bod, III?’”


“That’s what he said his name was, what was I supposed to write down?” 


Jacob flushed and almost-playfully slapped Willie’s arm. The florist shrugged. 


“That’s… I’m so sorry. That’s us. My uh… date… did that… I’m so sorry.”


“Date,” Willie mocked, “gross.”  


“Welcome to Schmando’s, I’m Karina and I’ll be your server today,” she introduced herself and listed the specials, including the soup du jour, Schmidt’s Famous Chicken Noodle Soup, and recommended they save room for Nand-O’s Fried Oreos for dessert. They gave her their drink orders, and as she walked away to retrieve them, the awkwardness set in. 


Jacob was the first to break the silence. 


“So, do I finally get to have a real conversation with you?” 

“Not if you’re going to be a weirdo about it.” 

“Is it weird if I wanna get to know you?”



Silence again. 


“There’s nothing you want to know about me?” Jacob prodded. 

“I know enough. You’re a tall, green man who gives people tattoos and piercings for a living. Like, if a green bean went to prison.” 

“Yep. You’ve got me all figured out. Tall, edgy, and full of beans.” 



Frustrating, ridiculous silence. 


“What about you? What’s your deal?” 

“I am… a ghost.” Something about the whispered confession felt like there was some truth to it, like it was a metaphor for the hopelessness of the human condition or some shit that Jacob super did not want to acknowledge. He joked instead: 

“That’s hot. Do you have any siblings, Casper?” 

“Why do people always ask that on first dates? So what if I have siblings? What would you do with that information?”

“You know, if I had any sense, I might be worried that you only value information that is useful to you in some way.” 

“Good thing you don’t have any sense, then.” 

“Guess I don’t. ‘Cause I still want to learn more about you.”

“I have 19 siblings. And counting.”


“No. Only child.”

“Ah, what was that like?”

“I wouldn’t know. That’s not true, either.” 

“Right. So, you have somewhere between 1 and 18 siblings. I’m learning so much.” 

“2,” he resigned, “brothers.”

“Is that the truth?”

“Why the hell wouldn’t it be?” 

“You’re really gonna make me work for it, aren’t you?”

“That’s what she said.” 

“So this is your schtick, huh? you’re some kind of gay Michael Scott?” 

“You take that back right now.” 

“Guess that makes me Holly.”

“You’re Jan, at best.” 


They placed their orders with Karina. After an unreasonable amount of coercion, Willie resigned to participating in a real conversation with his date. They exchanged stories for a while, how Jacob met Julia, how Willie got into the flower business, typical get-to-know-you kind of shit. They were starting to enjoy each other’s company. 


After a couple of drinks, the conversation took a bit of a serious turn. Willie spoke, for the first time to another human, about the death of his husband. 


“It was five years ago, yesterday. We were hiking through the Wiley Woods, not too far from here. There’s this clearing. If I didn’t know better, I’d say it was a perfect circle, about 50 yards across. Surrounded by towering, leafless trees from dying to already dead. You could just about always hear the wind, or something worse, howling at you, like it’s warning you to leave. It wasn’t romantic, even a little bit, but it was us.” 


Jacob could just about trace the steps as Willie went from bent to broken, weaving the twisted tale of how his late partner died. He spoke of Matt fondly, solemn as he recalled the hard times and wistful as he recalled the good. 


“He was adventurous, far more than I ever was-- care-free, but never careless, you know? Cared more than any bastard I ever met and still hadn’t a care in the whole world. How’s that fair? Anyway, we were picnicking. His idea, not mine. Me, I prefer to eat indoors, you know, like a person? But Matt was… adventurous, like I said.” 


Jacob had never seen Willie speak of anyone with such a fondness. Jealousy flirted with a dark corner of his mind, but was overcome with compassion. He understood, perhaps despite himself, that the widower could never love him like he loved his husband’s ghost. It was the first time Jacob dared to admit to himself that he wanted him to. 


“The forecast didn’t say it was going to rain. I know because Matt always checked. He liked to be prepared for everything. And he was! I guess, except…” his voice trailed off.


Jacob hung onto every word of the widower’s tragic soliloquy as though it played in front of him on a silver screen, anticipating patiently the big reveal of the mysterious antagonist that took the life of our hero Matt Grote. He kicked himself for treating Willie’s honest lament as some sort of performance for his entertainment, but the storyteller made it so easy to get lost in the theatricality of it all. Willie continued: 


“Well, it did rain. Hard. The kind of rain that floods into all the happiness in your life and just drowns it out. I was miserable; anyone would be. But not him. He said some shit like, ‘I’m just happy to be with the love of my life,’ what a dick.” 


“That’s sweet,” Jacob spoke for the first time, and it seemed to remind Willie that he wasn’t alone, atop a wooden stool under a single spotlight, rehearsing a monologue to the ghost of an audience. 


“You would think so, weirdo.” 

Jacob smiled.


“He only left the clearing to piss, so I was worried when he didn’t come back after a few minutes. I went to look for him, but it was too late. I’ll spare you the gory details, but I’ll tell you this: dead bodies are a lot heavier in the rain.” 


Surprise, surprise: there was silence. 


“Do you know what did it?” Jacob’s curiosity got the best of him. 

“What living thing can sustain itself in a forest of dead trees? Wendigo, maybe. Werewolf?” 

“You really believe in that stuff?”

“I don’t believe in much of anything anymore.” 

“I’m sorry for your loss.” 

“Don’t be.”


Another excruciating silence befell the two men who could not look each other in the eyes. Jacob reached his hand across the table and laid it over Willie’s. Willie looked up at him. He sighed and turned over his hand to properly hold Jacob’s. The silence was comfortable for the first time. 


“It was a car crash,” Willie finally admitted. Jacob’s head tilted in confusion. “Hit by a drunk driver.” Jacob jerked his hand away as soon as he registered the confession. 

“Are you kidding me?” he stood in anger. “Who the fuck lies about that? Why would you make all that up?” 


“It wasn’t raining.” Willie spoke softly. 

“What’s that got to do with anything?” 

“In the movies it always rains. It means sadness. Mourning. The universe took away the only person I ever loved and didn’t give enough of a shit to fucking rain .” 

“So you made up an elaborate, ridiculous lie… because it didn’t rain on the day he died?” 

“His story deserved a better ending. So I gave it one.”

“Something is seriously wrong with you, Willie,” Jacob shook his head, but, for some reason, he was smiling. 

“You love it,” Willie joked. 

“I might.”