Double Life

The nightlife of the town had just started rearing its head when the white cab pulled up in front of a popular Irish pub, depositing two girls onto the curb. The long redhead rocked back and forth on the balls of her feet while her companion, with short auburn hair, paid. As the car drove away, the two linked arms and started walking

"Are you sure you want to do this, James?" The short-haired girl asked, glancing at her friend.

"Sherlock, when have I not been sure of something?" James replied confidently.

"…Do you really want me to answer that?"

"Oh, shush," the two turned into a cramped, but surprisingly well kept and brightly lit, alleyway. A sign stuck out from above a large metal door. Completely white except for the letters NTP in calligraphy on it, a black mustache swung beneath it.

The door opened with a mighty creak when pushed, revealing a brightly lit and colored shop. The walls and ceiling were painted with multiple fandom references, with the front desk alone looking as though it was built out of dirt blocks from Minecraft. Behind that two teens stood, one furiously smashing buttons on an old GBA while his coworker looked on.

Looking up from her friend's game, the girl shot an award-winning smile at the two newcomers.

"Welcome to Nerds' Tattoo Parlor. You guys walk-ins, or do you have an appointment?" The clerk took out a small laptop form somewhere behind the counter and started tapping a few keys lightly.

"W-well, I should have an appointment," James said, gulping audibly. The clerkgirl shot her a wicked grin.

"First time, eh? Don't worry, it won't hurt…much. Anyway, you're…Gio? That's the only person I have listed for a 9:30."

"Yeah, that's me."

"Okay, just go over to Joe. He's the ridiculously tall one in the corner over there. Just tell him Kitty sent you," she gestured to a man with a mess of black hair in one of the three workspaces, who was bent over a desk and writing something. "You have a picture of your tattoo?"

"Yeah, it's right here."

"Show him that, he'll take it from there."

James and Sherlock nodded their understanding. Cautiously venturing over to the busy artist, the two girls glanced at each other, before one muttered, "Did you sit in a pile of sugar? Because that ass is pretty sweet."

James made a slight choking noise while Sherlock cleared her throat loudly. Joe slowly stood straight and turned around, a puzzled expression on his face.

"Did you—" he paused, blinking at them and adjusting his glasses. "Sorry, did you say something?"

"Ah, no. You're Joe, right?" James asked, distractedly glancing at the man. He was taller than the two had first figured, and his black bangs covered a good majority of his eyes and face. He nodded, bobbing his head awkwardly.

Sherlock offered him the picture of the tattoo, along with an explanation.

"She's getting the tattoo," she gestured towards James, " And I'm moral support. I'm not…yeah."

Joe took the drawing and with another awkward nod, he walked off behind a pair of doors.

"Does he seem familiar? I feel like we've met him before."

"Me too…so what was that sugar comment about, hm?"

"I just want to mess with him a little…although that ass."

"So we're going to continue this, you're saying?"


"Duh, twice the fun."

"Alright…shh, he's coming back."

The twin doors opened back up and the familiar, yet strange, tall man came back out, holding a thin sheet of paper with the tattoo on it. He beckoned James over.

"Where do you want it?"

"Shoulder, please," she said, rolling up her sleeve. Tattoo artist Joe nodded, and carefully applied the pre-ink.

"Does that look good?" He asked, gesturing towards a mirror above his workplace, where James could see what the tattoo looked like.

"Not as good as what I'm seeing," Sherlock said quietly from behind them, glancing back at "the ass"—which both James and Joe could see from the mirror. The tattoo artist coughed suddenly and colored slightly.

"Well," James said brightly, "shall we get started?" She sat in a comfortable leather chair and kept her sleeve rolled up. Looking away while Joe prepared the equipment, she tried to continue the conversation.

"So, have you ever been asked to stop before?" She winced at the sting to her shoulder as Joe started.

"You mean stop a tattoo? No, not that I can remember."

"Not what I was going for, but…" Sherlock chuckled as her companion smiled innocently at the poor man. The red in his face darkened slightly, but he continued inking.

"Is Joe short for anything?" Sherlock asked curiously. "Not to be…intruding."

"It's short for Joseph," the tattoo artist responded quietly, still focused on the artwork.

"You're a good artist," she commented, watching him work.


"I can only imagine how much practice you must have with those hands," James nonchalantly added with a smirk.

"I, uh…" his face, if it was possible, turned even redder.

"You're probably a pretty good dancer with those legs, too. You know the horizontal?"

At this, Sherlock burst out sniggering, while Joe turned yet another shade and began to sputter out, "I-I'm not—" and, "that's a bit—"

"Speaking of, I don't have a library card, but do you mind if I check you out?" The short-haired girl added, raising her eyebrows slightly.

"Jessica, it's me!" The artist blurted out, removing a hand from inking to reach up and flip his hair off. The shaggy black wig fell to the floor and both girls let out noises of exclamation.

"Joe Fisher? From high school?" James asked, her jaw dropping.

"It's not my fault I fell for you, you tripped me!" Sherlock said on instinct, looking confused, shocked, and ready to laugh at the irony of the situation.

"This is great, oh, this is brilliant," James chuckled. "So there was something familiar!"

"Uh…" Sherlock started, blushing slightly. "This is a bit awkward."

"Only a bit?"

"Oh, shut up," the trio sat in an uncomfortable silence for a moment; the only sound the hum of the tattoo equipment.

"So what else are you going to be doing tonight?" Joe asked Sherlock conversationally. "Besides me, of course."

"I-I was going to walk around town with James," she blushed furiously, hiding behind her hair. Now it was Joe's turn to chuckle.

"Really? No dancing? It's a shame. I'm quite good at that one, if the offer's still up."

"Oh, I certainly wouldn't mind if Sherlock ditched me to go dancing," James added, smirking at her friend, who was beginning to resemble a tomato. "Feel free to change your plans accordingly, Holmes."

"Oh my god, shut up," the girl said, covering her face with her hands. Joe wiped off the last of the ink on James's arm and stood straight.

"Wow, this looks great!" The girl said happily, examining her arm before Joe carefully applied a bandage and gave her instructions on how to take care of it. "Awesome. Okay, I'm going to go pay. Sherlock, you mind getting my picture? I'd like to keep it."

"Oh, uh, sure…" the older girl, slightly confused, watching her friend amble off. She turned to Joe, who merely raised an eyebrow. "So, about that dancing…"


James walked alone down the street to a restaurant inhabited mostly by other college students. Walking in, she chuckled to herself. Paying and getting out of the tattoo parlor without Sherlock noticing had been an cinch, especially since her friend had been so engrossed in staring at/conversing with Joe. Where it went now was all up to Sherlock…although since she had no money to get home, what happened might have been just a little helped along.