Rating: eventually NC17 in parts
Disclaimer: This is an AU, so it's made up. I am not the owner of Justin, JC, any of the other guys, characters from Xanadu or characters from Mannequin
Somehow JC made his way home, but he wasn’t sure how. He managed to make it in his door without injury before crumpling to the ground, barely shutting the door behind him. The mannequin had TALKED. The mannequin had a name. Justin.
“Justin. That doesn’t sound very muse-like. Muse-y?” JC said, giggling to himself. “Muse-y. He was hot. And I kissed him.” JC lay on the floor, lightly banging his head on the hard surface. “I’m going crazy. It’s only been like two days, and I can’t handle working nights.”
JC got up and crawled across his apartment on his hands and knees. He got up on the sofa and worked his cell out of his front pants pocket. “Hey…Mom?” JC sat up straight. “Oh, God, yeah. I kinda forgot what time it was. Sorry. I’m sorry. No, I’m fine. Hey…has anyone in our family ever been diagnosed with mental health issues? You know…like, well, paranoia, schizophrenia, psychosis, anything like that. Oh. Uncle Alan? Thought he was Saint Jerome, huh? Well, yeah. No, I’m fine.” JC paused, holding the phone out as his mother freaked out. “No, I don’t think I’m crazy. I mean, at least not usually. Today, well, yeah.” JC barked out a laugh. “I’m certifiable today, Mom. No, it has nothing to do with Lance.” JC paused. “Honestly. I ran into him earlier this week and we had a nice conversation. No. No, I didn’t kill him. Yes, I know you wish I would.” JC smiled. His mom was always on his side. “The new job is great, Mom. I like it. Great coworkers, great…” JC’s smiled faded as he thought of the walking-talking-Ken doll. “Look, Mom, I’m tired. I’ll let you go. I love you. Sorry again. Good night.”
JC hung up and forced himself to get off the sofa. He headed for the shower, planning on crawling into bed as soon as he could.
Unfortunately, Justin the Red Mannequin dominated his thoughts until he could barely think. Justin the Man was gorgeous. Long legs, biceps for days, beautiful eyes, and that smile. That smile could light an entire city. But Justin the Muse-y Mannequin? That was terrifying. Mannequins did NOT come to life. JC lived in a quasi-dream world most of the time, he freely admitted that. But this was ridiculous.
He dried off after his shower, and pulled on a pair of sweats and a tee. He dug through the medicine cabinet, smiling with satisfaction as he found what he was looking for: a bottle of sleeping pills that Lance had left behind. He took two, set his alarm for noon, and crawled into bed.
“You came back!” AJ sighed with relief when JC came in the back door of the store carrying the other half of the rainbow painting. “I was afraid I scared you away.”
“YOU are not scary,” JC said. “There’s NOTHING scary about you, or the window, or this store.”
“Right,” AJ said, looking at him strangely. “Need help with that?”
“No, I got it.” JC nodded at the time clock, and AJ clocked him in. “If you have other things to do, I’ll work on the window out front. I can finish it up.”
“You sure?” AJ asked. “How’s your head?”
“Oh, no worse than usual,” JC said cheerfully.
“Hey, I was wondering…” AJ followed JC towards the front window. “Mind if I roll outta here around two? I have a date, and she said she’d only wait until two-thirty for me…didn’t seem to understand that I work nights.”
“Of course,” JC said, smiling. “Just leave me some notes or something about the other windows…leave them in my locker. I’ll take care of everything.”
“Thanks, JC, you’re the best,” AJ said gratefully. “I’ll catch up with you before I go.”
“Right,” JC said, nodding. He snatched the keys for the main display and headed off, trying to regulate his breathing. He had more than likely imagined the entire thing. He probably tripped over something, hit his head on the window, and thought the mannequins were talking to him.
JC carefully set the painting down in the display, closing the door behind him. He slowly turned and looked at the red mannequin, who was pretty much where JC had left him. AJ HAD found a red and grey porkpie hat, and it sat askew on Justin’s curls. “So…you’re Justin,” JC said, forcing out a laugh as he reached up to touch the lips of the mannequin. “What does that make you?” JC turned around and looked at the other male mannequins. “Violet…you look like a Christopher. Blue? You’re Brian. Yellow…let’s name you Howie.” JC chuckled and shook his head. “Maybe I AM crazy.” He stared at the red mannequin for a long moment before closing the long drapes.
“I don’t think you’re crazy.”
“Oh my GOD.” JC slowly turned around, pressing himself back against the curtain. “Why? Don’t. Please don’t.”
“Don’t what?” Justin tilted his hat to the perfect cocky angle. “Thank your friend for me. AJ, right? He has good taste. I love his ink.”
“Right. I’ll let him know.” JC realized what he’d said, and shook his head. “Fuck.”
“Josh, this relationship is never going to move forward if you don’t stop freaking out whenever you see me,” Justin said gently.
“YOU must be the crazy one. How do you expect me to act? Have you ever seen something so completely unexpected and unexplainable that it took away all rational thought?” JC snapped.
“Well…yes,” Justin said. “The first time I saw an airplane. A real airplane, with a real engine, going up into the clouds…” He sighed. “That was remarkable. I felt elated and petrified all at once.”
“Yeah, that about sums it up,” JC agreed, running a hand through his curls. “So…how does this work? You wait until I’m in here alone and scare years off my life?”
“I’m sorry. I guess I do keep doing that, huh?” Justin said, blushing a little. “I’m sorry. I’ll be more careful. Unfortunately, though, you’re the only one who can see me like this. It’s part of the deal. One muse to one person.”
“Of course.” JC rolled his eyes. “That way I look completely insane any time I’m with you and someone walks up.”
“I’m sorry. Not my rules.” Justin shrugged. “We just need to stay away from everyone. The store’s mostly empty at night, anyway, right?”
“I don’t understand, J-Justin.” JC lightly stumbled over the name. “What can you possibly do to inspire me in this window?” Actually, when JC looked at Justin as a man and forgot about the mannequin thing, he could think of quite a few things he could do with Justin and consider it inspiration.
“We are gonna create magic in here, Josh. Your talent, with a little nudge in the right direction from me.” Justin walked over and put an arm around JC’s shoulders. “Magic.”
“Magic,” JC repeated.
“Take the idea you have in here. This is perfect. It’s just what we need to get things started. You do your thing, and…” Justin waved a hand in the air. “I’ll do mine.”
“And what does it get me?” JC asked. “Besides a room with padded walls?”
“It gets you the attention you deserve. From all the right people, for all the right reasons,” Justin said, running a hand along JC’s jaw. JC swallowed hard. “Now, why don’t we get this painting up on the wall, and then once the store empties out a bit more, we’ll work on everything else, okay?”
“Okay.” JC drew a shuddering breath. “Let’s get to work.”
They fussed around in the window for a few hours, moving things around and reposing the mannequins. At least Justin did. JC mostly just leaned back and watched, trying to keep his cool as Justin chatted about this and that. “How old are you?” JC said suddenly.
Justin blinked owlishly. “Well…older than you,” he said with a smile. “But this version of me? We’ll say twenty-three, how about that?”
“If that’s what you want,” JC said lightly, reaching up to adjust Brian’s collar.
“You like ‘em young, right?” Justin walked over and leaned his chin on JC’s shoulder.
JC’s brain flashed back to the first time he’d met Lance. Lance had been about twenty-three, all bright green eyes, pale white skin, and sweet naiveté. “I used to.”
Justin kissed JC’s shoulder. “You ready to go find some bling?”
“Bling?” JC had to laugh out loud. “You know about bling?”
“Just because I’ve been around forever doesn’t mean I haven’t been around, Josh,” Justin reprimanded him. “C’mon. I watch MTV. I used to have the biggest crush on Carson Daly.”
“Oh.” It was JC’s turn to blink. Justin had pretty much outed himself. Of course, if he was a son of Zeus, that meant he was Greek, and everyone knew they turned a blind eye to sexual orientation. JC wiped at his forehead. Thinking about Justin having crushes on men was not helping JC’s sanity in the slightest.
“C’mon.” Justin tugged at JC’s shirt. “Show me the store. I only really got to see bits and pieces when you brought me in here.”
“That was just your head,” JC said in horror. “That’s so sick.”
“Forget about it,” Justin said. “Come ON.” Justin took JC’s hand and led him out of the display. “Lead me to the shiny things.”
JC lead the way to the jewelry department, stopping to allow Justin to ooh and ahh over things he liked, or hadn’t seen before. “If I had an apartment, I’d have one of THOSE,” Justin said in awe, running a hand over a giant television screen. “I guess I’d need a big apartment, for a screen that big, but wow.”
“You’re definitely twenty-three,” JC said, laughing. “Come on. Let’s find you some bling.” JC slowly opened the display case and pulled out a few gold chains. “What do you like?”
“This one.” Justin picked out a thick gold chain and let it spill through his fingers. “I remember once, I was on this ship, and they brought up a chest of pirate gold. It was nothing like this, though…just coins and plates and goblets. This…” Justin let out an envious sigh.
“You don’t need stuff like that,” JC said bravely. “Uh, you’re golden enough without it.”
Justin’s sunny smile beamed. “Thank you, Josh.” He put the chain back. “But we’re not dressing me up. We’re putting the gold at the end of the rainbow.”
JC picked up the chain and put it around Justin’s neck. “I think you should…” He froze as he felt Justin stiffen under his touch. “Fuck,” he murmured.
“Uh, JC?” AJ stood and stared. “Why’d you bring the mannequin all the way out here just to try on jewelry? I didn’t know we were putting any on them.”
“We’re not. I mean, we weren’t. I mean, I, uh, needed to make sure it fit?”
“Whatever.” AJ shook his head. “I’m outta here. I left notes by your locker, but I think you probably could just do whatever and it’d be fine.” He started to walk away, then came back. “Are you SURE you’re okay, JC? You…”
“Fine.” JC leaned against the jewelry counter nonchalantly, one elbow resting on the mannequin’s shoulder. “Peachy. Have a good time.”
“I will.” AJ gave JC one more strange look and headed towards the back door.
“Fuck ME,” JC moaned, turning and burying his face in his arms on the jewelry counter.
“Is that a request?” A voice murmured in his ear. If JC wasn’t so busy being embarrassed, he would have been incredibly turned on.
“Stop.” JC stood up and took a few deep breaths, feeling Justin’s hand rub at the small of his back. “Stop that, too.”
“Okay.” Justin took a step back, frowning. “I’m gonna…I’ll just go back to the window.”
“Fine.” JC heard Justin walk away. He took a few more deep breaths, then concentrated on gathering large pieces of jewelry and other luxury items.
When JC returned to the display, Justin was sitting on the floor, playing with his hat. “I’m sorry,” he muttered. “Even after all these years, I guess I’m not that good at this. I’ve never…I’ve never had to be something like this…something so lifeless. “
JC put everything down and sat next to him. “I’m sorry, Justin. I shouldn’t have snapped out on you.”
“No.” Justin held up a hand. “Like I said. I’m not used to having to play a part like this. I mean, I usually have to create a persona, but this? I have to be a living doll, pretty much.” He shrugged. “No instruction book for that. Usually, when I’m helping someone, it’s so much easier. In the past, life was always simpler. I could just show up and say, hey, I’m here to help you out, and then I help someone design an opera house or paint a chapel ceiling or write a poem about huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
“What?” JC gasped.
Justin waved a hand in the air. “Never mind. People just accepted things so much easier. No argument.”
“I’m sorry I’m making it so hard on you,” JC said, timidly reaching out and putting a hand on Justin’s knee.
“You are, aren’t you? You’re actually sorry?” Justin’s eyes widened. “You’re just that good of a person. I show up here, throwing YOUR world for a loop, and you apologize for freaking out.”
“Don’t apologize, Josh. It’s okay. I’m sorry I have to do this thing to you…but it’s for your own good, I promise.”
“I should be used to it,” JC said with a shrug. “I was always different. I mean, besides the whole gay thing. I always was a step to the side, a little off beat from everyone else. I really should be used to people thinking I’m odd.”
“You’re not odd. You’re special,” Justin said. He took JC’s hand in his and played with his fingers.
“You know, my mom always said that to me,” JC whispered. “But it sounds a lot better coming from you.”
Justin laughed. “Yeah, I have that affect on people.” He looked at JC for a long moment, then brought JC’s hand to his mouth, gently brushing his lips across the palm. “Let’s finish up your end of things here. Then we’ll go up and work on the other windows. You go home at the end of the night, and then I’ll work my magic here before the sun comes up.”
“Magic again,” JC said, shaking his head as he stood up.
Justin stood with him. “It will be. You have to believe, Josh.”