JC managed to sleep until noon the next day, but made no attempt to delude himself. He was going downtown and seeing his window.
HIS window. JC snorted at the thought while washing his hair, and ended up with a nose full of shampoo and water. He sneezed repeatedly, cursing Justin in his mind. Damn beautiful eyes and beautiful body and beautiful smile. Before, JC’s main problem was that he always fell for the straight ones. Now, that problem had morphed into falling for the ones made of plastic.
JC took his time dressing, pulling on a pair of tight dark blue jeans that accentuated his long legs, along with a grey sweater that brought out his eyes and a blue-grey scarf draped artfully around his neck. This time he wasn’t going to look like an idiot if he ran into people he knew.
JC’s eyes widened as he approached the store. The crowd in front of the window was twice the size of the group on the first day. He politely excused himself and shoved his way to the window, wondering what Justin had done THIS time.
He wasn’t disappointed. The mannequins were dressed in eveningwear, long gowns and tuxedos. The mannequins sparkled with diamonds and gems from the jewelry department, and a few of the more outstanding lamps from the furniture department were positioned at the side. What shocked JC, and everyone else, was the champagne. He’d brought in some empty bottles to use as props, but these weren’t empty. Justin and another of the male mannequins held the bottles, pouring into the glasses of the women nearest them, and liquid was actually pouring from the bottle into glasses that never overflowed. JC’s mouth dropped open as he realized the glasses held by other mannequins had tiny bubbles constantly popping into thin air.
“YOU.” A hand grabbed his arm and JC jumped. “You’re the one that did this, right?” A woman asked. “I saw you the first time.”
“Uh, yes, I work here and I…” JC babbled, but the applause of the crowd roared over his voice. “Thank you,” he said shyly, then added a bit louder. “Just remember…everything in this window can be purchased in the store. Please, if you like the window, check it out, okay?”
“How do you pronounce your last name? Chasez?” A man said, adding the “z” sound to the end.
“Chas-say,” JC corrected automatically. “And how did you know my name?”
“The sign.” The man pointed at the window, where a tiny sign in the corner said, “Window designed and decorated by JC Chasez.”
“Oh, my God,” JC whispered.
“I’m Tom Frank, from the Chronicle. Mind if I do an article on you? These windows are spectacular,” the man continued.
“Uh…” JC said, but allowed the man to drag him aside.
“Have you always done windows? Been to art school? Tell me about yourself.”
“Well…” JC wiped a hand across his forehead and tried to collect his thoughts. “I’m twenty-eight, I’ve never been to art school, but I’m an artist. Struggling artist, as the cliché goes. I paint and sculpt a little, write some music…” JC shook his head. “But I’m not like good, or anything, I’ve never been shown or presented to the public…”
“I’d say you’re pretty good, Kid,” Tom said, smiling. “How’d you get into windows?”
“It’s funny, really,” JC said, and went on to tell about literally running into the store’s owner. “And, so, he gave me a job, and I got into it, and here you go.”
“Gonna tell us the secret?” Tom smirked.
“Of course not,” JC said, smiling. “For all I know, Illustra sent you as a spy.”
Tom laughed out loud. “Good one.” They chatted a few moments longer, then Tom said, “Can I take your picture?”
“Really?” JC asked, nervously running a hand through his hair.
“You look fine, Kid. I’d love to get one in front of the window, but I don’t think that’s happening anytime soon,” Tom said, motioning towards the ever-growing crowd.
“How about here, in front of the Fatone’s sign?” JC suggested. “I really want them to get good publicity. They’re a nice family, and their store is still great.”
“Sounds good to me.” Tom dug out his digital camera and took a few shots of JC by the large Fatone’s sign. “Great. Let me get your contact information, just in case anything else would come up.”
JC gave him his phone number, made sure his name was spelled correctly, and shook Tom’s hand. He shook his head as he watched the reporter lope away. “Ridiculous,” he said to himself. “An article on me?”
“JC.” JC slowly turned around at the familiar voice. “Wow.”
“Hello, Lance,” JC said, trying not to sigh. “I’m beginning to think you’re stalking me.”
“Well, this is a public place,” Lance said with a grin. He was alone this time, looking incredible in a dark blue suit. “I had to run out for a few things over lunch and thought I’d check out the competition. That’s amazing.”
“Thank you,” JC said. “I can’t take all the credit, though.”
“No, you never could. You’re one of the most generous people I know,” Lance said, and JC actually blushed.
“So…Nick’s not with you?”
“No, he’s at work,” Lance said. “He’s just a co-worker.”
“Ah,” JC said, nodding, although he didn’t believe that for a minute.
“Listen, JC, I was wondering if we could get together for coffee or dinner or something,” Lance said.
JC’s knees almost gave out. “What?”
“You know…food…beverage…” Lance actually looked uncomfortable, which made JC smile on the inside. A LOT.
“Well, my schedule is so crazy, working nights. I’ll have to let you know, okay?”
“Please do. My number hasn’t changed,” Lance said. “Even if it’s late, just a quick coffee before you go in? We could go to that all night café you like over on Sycamore.”
“I thought you hated that place.”
“I can stand it for you,” Lance said. He held out a hand and JC shook it. “See you around. Call me.”
“Will wonders never cease?” JC whispered to himself as Lance walked away.
During his next few nights at work, JC ordered himself to stay away from Justin’s window. There was nothing that needed his attention…nothing so serious that AJ couldn’t go in and fix it. And there WERE things that needed fixing, but always involving Justin. His button came undone, or a shoelace was untied. JC has a sneaking suspicion that these weren’t just “accidents,” but he wasn’t going in that window.
“So…I feel like I should get your autograph or something,” AJ teased one night as they straightened up the mannequin storage area.
“Shut up,” JC muttered. Everyone on the night shift had teased him for the article in the paper. Joey had actually called him at home, thanking him for the kind words he’d said regarding the store. Tom Frank had done his job honestly and correctly, not only spelling his name right, but quoting him almost word for word.
“Ya coulda mentioned me, though, since I trained you and all,” AJ continued.
“Oh, man, AJ, you’re right. I should have.” JC was horrified.
“God, JC, I’m kidding. I didn’t do shit in those windows and you know it. I definitely didn’t create what you did in there.”
“I didn’t create it, either,” JC mumbled, sitting down and toying with a woman’s wig. “AJ…what’s your dream job?”
“Me?” AJ thought for a moment. “Owning my own tattoo shop. Maybe getting a TV show. I just love creating permanent art on people.”
“I love creating art, too, but not like that.” JC shuddered at the thought. “I’m supposed to be getting inspired…I mean, I thought working on the windows would inspire me to paint or something, but it’s not.” JC frowned. Everything Justin had promised so far was true, except the idea that JC was made for something bigger and better.
“It’s only been a few weeks, JC.” AJ stretched. “I’m gonna catch a catnap, if you don’t mind. Do you have any ideas about what you want to do tomorrow?”
“No,” JC said with a sigh. “I’m just waiting for the magic to hit me.”
JC slowly walked into the window, closing the door behind him and making sure the large drapes were closed before he slowly turned around. His eyes widened as Justin remained immobile, his handsome face cold and expressionless. “You’re gone,” he whispered. “Fuck.” JC sat down hard on the floor, staring at Justin for a long time. “I’m sorry, Justin. I’m sorry I yelled at you, or treated you like crap. I just…I think…I think about you too damn much, is what I do,” JC said with a laugh. “You’re one amazing muse.” He buried his face in his arms and rested them on his knees. “I don’t think I can do this without you.”
“Yes, you could,” Justin said, coming over to sit by JC. JC’s head popped up. “I didn’t…I didn’t want to hurt you anymore…make you uncomfortable or unhappy. That’s not why I’m here.”
“You don’t hurt me, Justin,” JC said honestly. “It’s…complicated.”
“Yes, it is,” Justin said.
“I don’t know what to think or say…I just know you’re on my mind all the time,” JC confessed. “We can’t…I mean…”
“Let’s not talk about it right now,” Justin said. He cupped JC’s chin in his hand and tilted forward. JC sighed as the red lips met his. The kisses were chaste for a moment, then grew to something more passionate. JC’s hand wandered through the mess of curls on Justin’s head while Justin’s fingers threaded through JC’s wavy hair.
JC was first to pull back. “Whoa,” he said weakly. “I think I’m suddenly feeling very inspired.”
Justin grinned, nipping at JC’s chin one more time before standing up. “Me, too.” He shifted things around a bit in his pants.
JC’s eyes widened. “So, you have…you’re…”
Justin laughed out loud. “If you’re asking do I have a dick, Josh, the answer is yes.” The corner of his mouth fell into a smirk. “Would you like to see it?” JC’s eyes fell to the general area of Justin’s cock as he licked his lips. Justin laughed again. “I’ll take that as a yes. Not yet. We need to tear all this down and fix it back up into something fabulous.”
“Speaking of fixing things,” JC said, standing up and crossing his arms over his chest. “Did you make things happen to get me back in here this week?”
“Um, what are you talking about?” Justin busied himself undressing the other mannequins.
“You know what I’m talking about.” JC started undressing them as well.
“All I know is that your friend AJ is not as gentle as you, and his hands aren’t as soft,” was the quiet reply.
“Oh.” JC blushed a little, not liking the thought of AJ’s hands on Justin. “Um, question. Do any of them…” JC motioned to the naked mannequins piled up around them.
“Like me? Nope.”
“God…it must be…”
“Boring? Hell yes. No wonder I want you in here all the time, right?” Justin laughed.
“I wish…” JC said, then stopped.
“I wish we could go out and do something. Together. Out of here.”
“That sounds nice,” Justin said, wrapping his arms around JC’s waist and putting his head on JC’s shoulder. “Where would we go?”
“Dinner. Someplace nice. Then a club, so you could get your groove on, shake those fantastic hips,” JC said, shimmying back against Justin a bit.
“We’d go back to my place and…” JC’s face lit up as he whirled around. “Hey! I could take you to my place. No one ever comes there, and we could hang out, and…”
“And what’s your excuse for taking a mannequin out of the store, Josh?” Justin asked gently. JC’s face fell. “But I love the rest of it. It sounds great. Maybe someday.”
“Maybe,” JC repeated, pulling away from Justin. “Let’s get this undone. I have a few ideas.”
“See? You don’t even need me,” Justin said enthusiastically. He kissed JC’s cheek.
“Yes, I do. Too much,” JC said. Justin wrapped his arms around JC’s slender waist.
“Josh…please believe me when I say I feel it, too. I’m just as scared as you are. I was sent here to be your inspiration. I wasn’t supposed to fall for you.”
JC stared at him. “Fall…you feel it, too?”
“Yes, Josh.” Justin rubbed noses with him. “I’ve never felt this way for anyone I’ve helped.”
“I’ve never fallen for someone this fast,” JC admitted. “You must have VERY good magic.”
“I’m not doing anything to make you fall for me, Josh,” Justin snapped. “I’m not Eros.”
JC giggled. “You’d look cute in a set of wings, though.” Justin pinched his backside and he giggled again. “Oh, speaking of dates…Lance asked me out.”
“He did?” Justin almost squeaked. “Good for you, Josh.”
“Wait…good for me?”
“Well…he broke your heart. Nice to see he’s still interested.” Justin’s smile didn’t reach his eyes.
“I didn’t say yes,” JC said. “Did you want me to?”
“Only if it’s what you want,” Justin said. He buried his face in JC’s neck for a moment. “I’m here to help you get what you want, Josh. If you want to get back with Lance…”
“I used to think I did,” JC said. “I mean, he broke my heart and I’m pissed as hell, but I loved him. And underneath it all he’s smart and attractive. But…when he asked me out…I didn’t, I wasn’t interested. I mean, it was flattering and everything. But I know it’s just because of the windows. He’s interested in what I could become, not what I am.”
“What you are is wonderful, Josh.” Justin pressed his forehead to JC’s. “And if he can’t see that, he’s a dumbass.”