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Title: Beautiful, Unusual (The Prettiest Thing) - Part 1/6
Disclaimer: Not my boys, although I kind of love them like they were.
Pairings/Characters: James/Logan
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: ~4,300 this part (in total over 25,000)
Warnings (overall): language, crossdressing, slight angst

Summary: Logan likes doctors and scientists and smart people, but what he really likes is girls—so that's what James is going to give him.

Author's Notes: Written for the [livejournal.com profile] palmwoods Harvestfest. This...kind of got away from me. I wanted to post it all at once but there is still a bit of adding/editing left to do so I'll post Part 1 today and hopefully the rest over the weekend (but since it's Christmas, no promises).

Also after I wrote this and re-read the prompt I realized I may have taken it in a different direction than desired? But I'm still really happy with how it's turned out. Oh, and I'll also be writing a side-story to show what Kendall & Carlos were up to the whole time. :)

The title, of course, comes from "Time of Our Life," which became the official theme for this story after the first time I paid attention to the lyrics. So thanks for that, Logan ;)

And forever thanks to [livejournal.com profile] shisou_eimin for her help with this ♥♥♥

Prompt: (#25) "James/Logan: Halloween. James sets out to seduce Logan. He dresses up as a girl with some sort of costume that includes a mask and a way to hide his masculinity (i.e. gorgeous muscles). He plays the part perfectly and wins Logan over, discovering in the process that it's not just his looks that make him amazing--he has a lot to offer personality-wise, too, when he lets down his diva wall. What happens when Logan realizes it's James is up to you, it doesn't even have to be a happy ending (though that would be nice). Bonus points for James trying to sound smart and dancing with Logan (and not awkwardly like in BTProm), and Logan feeling bad for James for being such a "tall" girl."



----

Part 1


James knocked on the door of apartment 4J, glancing up and down the hallway as he waited for it to open.

"Hey James!" Camille greeted with a smile a moment later.

"Are you alone?" he asked immediately.

She chuckled softly. "You said you needed to see me privately, right? So yes, I'm alone. What's this all about?"

After looking both ways once more, James moved through the doorway, tugging on Camille's arm as he went. She closed the door and let herself be half-dragged into the living room.

"Well?" she asked expectantly, hands on her hips once James released her.

He looked around the room for any hidden eavesdroppers before leaning in close to whisper, "I need you to make me a girl."

Then he pulled back and stood up as tall as he could, crossing his arms over his chest and staring at Camille, daring her to make fun of him. Not that he actually thought she would, or anything.

Camille's hands dropped to her sides and she stared back in confusion for several long seconds, expression morphing into suspicion as she finally asked "Why?"

"For Halloween," he said.

Her face brightened. "Oh! Okay! What did you have in mind?"

"What do you mean?" James asked.

"Well it's Halloween. You can't just be…Jamie," she said with a wink, and James scowled.

"No, I don't want to look anything like that. I want to be pretty. Well. I want to stay pretty," he corrected. "And…I don't want anyone to recognize me."

Camille's eyebrows shot up at that. "Anyone who?"

"Anyone," he repeated. "You'll know, because you're helping me, but that's it. No one else."

"Not even—"

"Especially not even," James said. "The guys cannot know about this."

Now it was Camille's turn to cross her arms, leaning back slightly to fix James with a scrutinizing look. "Did you guys make some sort of bet?"

James fidgeted for a second, wondering how to answer that. He didn't like the idea of lying to Camille, but if he told her the real reason for all of this she'd probably give him some sort of ridiculous advice like 'You should just talk to him.'

But James knew. This was the only way this could work. He just…couldn't explain that to anyone. People tended to look at him funny when he tried to explain things, anyway. Except for Logan, who usually just sort of smiled and shook his head. James still didn't know whether that meant Logan actually understood, but he figured his genius friend always understood things.

He was counting on it, actually.

"Um…" James said. That was all he could come up with.

"Oh, I see," Camille said, shaking her head but keeping her eyes focused on James. "You want me to help you but you don't want to tell me why."

"It's…a secret," James tried. And it was. Sort of. It was his own secret, but that counted, right?

Camille studied him for a moment, and James tried to maintain eye contact though a part of him wanted to run away. He had to force himself to keep facing forward.

"Okay," Camille finally said. "But James, this won't be easy. You're…well, you're too…" She waved a hand at him.

"Manly?" James supplied with a smug grin.

"Weirdly…yes," she answered. James scoffed at her, offended by his manliness being called 'weird,' but she just rolled her eyes. "James, you're like the prettiest guy I know, right?"

"Of course I am."

"So passing you off as a girl should be easy. But we know it's not."

James drew himself back up and puffed out his chest a little, haughtiness in his voice when he answered. "That dress was just all wrong for me."

Camille laughed. "It really was. We're going to have to get creative this time. And we'll have to go shopping. Are you free tomorrow?"

"After we get back from the studio, yeah. Usually around five or six."

"Okay, then that's when we'll go. I'll come up with a game plan before then." She wasn't looking at him anymore, eyes already focused into the future, ideas running through her mind. James recognized the look, because he saw it on Kendall all the time.

"Awesome," he said, though he knew she could only half-hear him. "Thanks for doing this, Camille. I'll uh, let myself out now and see you tomorrow?"

"Sure," she answered absently, then turned around and started off down a hallway. "This is gonna be fun, James!" she called out as she went.

Well. James wasn't sure he believed that, but this was necessary. He had to know how Logan felt—had to know how Logan could feel, if he just allowed himself the possibility. He had to know if James Diamond—the…probably imperfect person he was on the inside, not the flawless-but-maybe-too-male person on the outside—could be everything Logan Mitchell wanted.

And how James saw it, this was the only way.

——

It had actually been Carlos's idea. Well, sort of.

It was late September, and they were stuck in the apartment because it was raining. James didn't like bad-weather days in L.A.; they just seemed wrong, somehow. And it was a day off, with nothing forcing either of them out into the bad weather so in the apartment they stayed.

Everyone else was gone. The Knights were having a family-bonding day, which basically meant they were going to a restaurant no one else liked, which made Carlos pout a lot but Kendall promised to take him somewhere for dinner so he was better then. Logan was off at some college lecture, and he had asked them if they wanted to go before he left. Carlos wanted to know what the lecture was about and if there was food involved; the answer to the first question was something long and complicated, the answer to the second was "No," so Carlos lost interest. James considered going for a moment but thought he might end up falling asleep, and falling asleep during some lecture was not a good way to impress Logan.

So James and Carlos spent the middle part of the day playing video games and lamenting the lack of pie in the apartment. When that got boring they played dome hockey, and when that got boring they decided to order some chili-cheese fries and see if the red-shirted girl was by some miracle working there again.

They were sitting around waiting for their fries to be delivered, staring sadly at the rain coating the windows and about to die of boredom when Carlos turned and asked "So, got any ideas for a Halloween costume yet?"

James shrugged. "Haven't really thought about it. You?"

"I dunno. Something cool. Something that will make a girl notice me, maybe."

"Any girl in particular?" James asked, cocking an eyebrow at his friend.

Carlos gave a sad little shrug and looked back out the window. "Not really. What do girls even like, James? What could I dress up as? And don't say you," he added, glancing back.

"Well, girls do like me," James agreed, tilting his head.

"Yeah but that doesn't help me any." Carlos sighed, sinking further into the couch. "It's like, it doesn't matter how hard I try…none of them ever stick around. If they ever cared in the first place."

James frowned. Rainy days always affected Carlos like this, and James never liked it. He opened his mouth intending to remind Carlos about his dinner with Kendall, hoping to cheer him up, but what came out instead was "Yeah well, try knowing the perfect person for you and being as hot as I am and still not catching his attention."

Carlos looked up at James, wide-eyed. "You like a guy?"

"Why do you look surprised?" It wasn't like this was the first time.

"I dunno, you don't usually talk about guys, I guess? Is it someone I know?"

"It doesn't matter." Now James was feeling all grumpy. Stupid rain.

There was a knock on the door then, and the prospect of chili-cheese fries had Carlos up off the couch and bounding to it in an instant. James watched him go, and could hear the slight disappointment in his voice when their delivery person was, once again, not the red-shirted girl.

"Didn't you get her number?" James asked once the door was closed and Carlos was on his way back to the couch.

"Yeah, but I kind of…lost it?" Carlos sat down with a huff. "She wrote it on like this tiny little piece of paper…whatever, we're not talking about me, we're talking about you and your guy."

"No we're not."

"Yes we are!" Carlos insisted, opening the box and handing James a plastic fork. "What's he like?"

"He's…" James hesitated, shoving a fry in his mouth to stall. How was he supposed to describe Logan to one of his best friends? "He's hot. And…funny? And—" Smart, was the next word on the tip of his tongue, but that was saying too much.

"No," Carlos interrupted before James could come up with something else. "I mean, what does he like?"

"What?" What did that have to do with anything?

"Dude," Carlos said through a mouthful of fries. "The Halloween party that Kendall is totally going to talk Gustavo into letting us have? If you know what he likes, you can dress up as that and then make sure he comes to the party, and he won't be able to resist you."

James frowned again, considering this, and took another bite of food. Doctors, he thought. Logan likes doctors. And scientists. And smart people. But that doesn't matter, because what Logan really likes is girls. His eyes went wide.

"Oooh, you just thought of something!" Carlos said excitedly.

And he had.

"Hey Carlos?" James said nonchalantly, scraping some cheese off the side of the box with a fry.

"Yeah buddy?"

"You just might be a genius."

Carlos grinned, and James grinned back.

Girls, James thought as he stabbed more fries. Logan likes girls.

But now, that thought didn't fill him with the same sort of hopelessness it always had before. Now…James had a plan.

——

"Why can't I be a pirate?" James watched himself in the dressing room's full-length mirror as he lightly swished the skirt back and forth.

"Because pirates don't wear long skirts," Camille explained, and through the reflection he could see her eyeing him critically. "And you need a long skirt. Plus if I give you a sword you'll be swinging it around everywhere and totally blow your cover."

James huffed and crossed his arms. "I'd make a hot pirate," he muttered.

"Pirates also don't wear masks," she went on, "and if you don't want to be recognized then you definitely need a mask."

"I know, I know," James sighed. They'd been over all of this already. But some of the clothes she'd been having him try on reminded James of pirate movies, and being a pirate—even a girl pirate—might have actually been fun.

And okay, if James was being totally honest, this whole thing had been kind of fun so far anyway. A little. It was mostly Camille's fault; she was just fun to hang out with. And she had gotten really into the whole 'dress James like a chick' thing, with a constant drive and enthusiasm that was catching. She never seemed to tire of dragging him into one more thrift store or costume shop or second-hand boutique, making him try on skirts and blouses and dresses and…other things that James never thought he'd be wearing willingly.

James still thought he looked more ridiculous than anything else in the women's clothing Camille made him put on, but he trusted her to know what she was doing and work some sort of magic on the finished product.

"Since the skirt's gonna cover my legs that means I don't have to like, shave them or anything, right?" he asked, side-eyeing Camille as she circled around behind him.

"I guess you don't have to," she said without looking away from his clothing, "but it would be a good idea."

James made a face. "Why?"

"Because what if you're dancing or just sitting down and part of your leg is exposed? If it's all hairy you're going to give yourself away. You need to be your character, James."

At some point along the line Camille had decided James would be playing a 'character' for this Halloween party. It was a good idea so James let her run with it; he did need a name and some sort of backstory if he wanted to pull this thing off.

But beyond that, he wasn't planning on lying. Not any more than he needed to to make Logan think he was a girl. Because he wanted Logan to like him, not some role he was playing. He didn't want to make himself perfect for Logan; he wanted Logan to realize he already was.

Or something. At this point James was too preoccupied with the whole becoming-a-chick thing to worry about the rest of his plan. It would all fall into place at the party.

"If I shave my legs everyone's gonna make fun of me, Camille," James told her, and he definitely wasn't pouting when he said it.

"What makes you think that?" Camille asked, meeting his eyes in the mirror.

…Okay maybe he was pouting. "Because they already have."

"What? You've shaved your legs before?"

"No," James said, turning quickly to face her and trying to ignore the weird way the skirt twirled when he did. It was threatening to give him prom flashbacks. "When they were doing that reality show before and trying to kick one of us out of the band I kind of…said Carlos shaves his legs. So he would get kicked off. And then he said the same thing about me, and said I have 'girl legs.'"

Camille stared at him for a second. "James," she said finally, "that's the point. We want you to have girl legs!"

"Well I don't want people laughing at me!" James shot back, crossing his arms.

She sighed. "They're not going to laugh at you, James. They're going to be totally jealous of how pretty you are. Okay?"

He frowned at her for a second before reluctantly saying "Okay." He had to trust her, right?

Camille beamed at him, and that made him feel a little better. "Good, now try on this top."

After James had tried on what had to be every piece of clothing that would fit him in the whole entire store, they took a trip through the shoe section and Camille gasped. "Put these on," she said, shoving a pair of boots at him.

He did, and James thought it was pretty cool that they fit until he saw the way Camille was staring at him in them. Like…a vulture? Was that the bird that looked at things all creepily?

"Change of plans," she said, and her smile was bright but there was a definite air of 'evil genius' in her expression. "Take those off and bring them; we're finding more things for you to try on."

James did as he was told—it was the only safe option—and soon realized that no, there was actually a freaking ton of clothes left for him to try.

All told it took them about a week to get the outfit together. They also got him a wig ("I want hair that's pretty like yours," James had said, and Camille had blushed and found him something longish with tight waves, a few shades lighter than her own dark brown) and colored contacts ("Your eyes are too unique, James," she had said, and picked out a nice blue-green for him), and when Camille had him all dressed up and put makeup on him James quite literally did not recognize himself.

"…That's me?" he asked, staring in disbelief at a full-length mirror in Camille's apartment.

"It is," she said, grinning. "Now onto phase two."

"…Phase two?"

"Yep. I've done the impossible and made you look like a girl, now you have to do the impossible and try to act like one."

From then until the day of the party, most of James's free time was spent with Camille in what she called "rehearsals." She had so many things to teach him, and while she didn't make him wear the full outfit for it she did make him wear the skirt and button-up shirt with the long, slightly poofy sleeves so he would "get used to them."

…And okay, so maybe James didn't exactly hate these sessions. Camille treated it like he was studying for a role, and when James thought about it that way too it made him proud of himself when he got something right. It wasn't easy, either: learning to talk in a weird girly voice and then learning to make it not sound weird; learning how to hold himself completely differently when he walked; learning to control his facial expressions and not look so…what was the word Camille used? Pretentious? He'd have to ask Logan what that meant later. But anyway, it was hard, learning how to be a chick.

Probably the worst part was the dancing. When Camille brought it up James was excited; dancing was something he could do, and dancing with Camille should have been fun. And at first it was, because at first she let him dance normal, and instructed him to pay careful attention to the way she was moving. They went through one slow song, James feeling really weird dancing in a skirt, and then she said "Okay, now show me what you've got."

"What?" James asked as the next song started playing and she repositioned his hands.

"You have to be able to dance like a girl, James," she told him, placing her hands on his waist.

James looked down at her, blinking, his arms resting on her shoulders. This was all kinds of weird.

"I'm too tall," he said.

She raised an eyebrow at him. "Tall girls can't dance?"

"Well, I mean, sure they can, but…" James trailed off, and felt his lips turn down in an involuntary pout. "I feel silly."

"Hey, at least I'm not making you dance a fast song, alright? It would take you another month to learn how to do that like a girl."

"I'm a great dancer!" he shot back immediately.

"Yeah, but that's part of the problem," Camille said, and tried to sway him a little with her hands on his sides. He didn't budge. "You would have to unlearn everything else first, and that would probably mess up your band routines too, and…it would just be a mess."

"I don't think they even play slow songs at Halloween parties."

"Well I'll make sure that they do, okay?"

James's pout deepened. "What even makes you think I want to dance with anyone?"

"You're going to go a whole night with music playing and not dance at all?"

"Not if I can't dance the way I want to! Camille I feel ridiculous like this, I'm so much taller than you!"

She made a face like she was thinking hard about something. Then she tilted her head to the side. "Well I could always ask Kendall to come help you."

James took two fast steps backward and gave her his most offended of expressions. "That's not even funny!"

"I thought it was," she said with a smirk. "Look, James, I'm not going to force you to dance at the party, but you might want to, okay? And if you do, won't you want to know how?"

He was back to pouting when he had another prom flashback—but this one wasn't so nightmarish. "Can I learn the fancy dancing you were doing at prom?"

Camille blinked, then gave him a mischievous smile. "I dunno, James Diamond, can you?"

He didn't even have to think about it. "Hell yeah I can."

But Camille made him master the basics first; the silly swaying back and forth that teenagers liked to pass off as actual dancing, and the simple holding-hands-and-moving-in-an-easy-pattern kind of slow dancing before they worked their way up through some more complicated moves. She would demonstrate the girl's part of a dance to him first, and make him practice it over and over before they tried it together. And she made it look so easy and it wasn't, not at all, but she was pretty when she danced and dammit James was going to dance pretty like that too.

So he didn't give up, and he didn't lose focus, and when he got back to the apartment after these sessions and one of the guys would ask where he'd been he would say "Working out," because that's more or less what it was. What it felt like, anyway.

James hated that he wasn't getting to spend as much time with his best friends since he was spending it all with Camille, but he did see them at school and the studio and in the mornings and at night so it wasn't so bad, really. And this was just till Halloween, anyway. After that things would go back to normal, except if James played this right and there was any chance Logan could ever feel the way James wanted him to then…maybe things would be even better than normal.

——

The time until the Halloween party (that Kendall had indeed talked Gustavo into having for them) seemed to crawl along in an exhausting whirlwind of skirts and high-pitched voices but when the day finally dawned James felt like he was so unprepared he might as well have just asked Camille for her help yesterday. He texted her almost as soon as he woke up.

'camille i cant do this what the hell made me think i could do this'

James clutched his phone until it buzzed in his hand.

'James you will be the prettiest girl in the land and everyone will want to dance with you and get your phone number and you'll be breaking so many hearts when you tell them you're only in for the weekend.'

He wanted to smile at that but what if she was wrong?

'what if ur wrong?'

Then he waited, and waited, and waited, and—

'Then you tell everyone you lost a bet with me and this was your punishment. If they laugh at you I'll kick their butts, James.'

The corner of James's mouth twitched up a little and he wondered why Camille was so awesome. She had done all of this for him and after that first day never again asked why.

He also wondered if getting her help in trying to seduce her ex-boyfriend made him kind of a jerk, but…too late for that now?

'thanks camille, ur the best cousin ever ;)'

That was his established 'role': Camille was going to say James was her cousin from out of town, visiting L.A. for Halloween weekend. He was a first-year college student and he was majoring in drama (Camille said it should be something he knew about already, but she shot down his idea for music 'cause she didn't want him trying to sing like a girl). He was 18 years old and his name was Jade.

And he liked smart boys who wanted to be doctors and had really nice smiles and hopefully didn't mind being the shortest person in a relationship.

(James's name as a girl had been a point of argument between him and Camille. She had suggested several girly names that started with 'J' but he shot them all down as being silly—he wasn't a princess, 'Jasmine' was not appropriate—or too plain—who cared if 'Jane' sounded sort of like 'James'—so then he had said they should try focusing on his last name instead. But Camille absolutely refused to let him call himself 'Sapphire,' which had resulted in a bit of a fit on both their parts until one or maybe both of them had shouted out 'Jade!' And that, luckily, fit everyone's criteria and how awesome were they to have come up with it?)

It occurred to James he should probably have a more concrete plan than 'spend the whole night with Logan' but he knew Logan, right? So he could just figure things out as he went along. His main objectives were simple:

1) Make Logan want him (as Jade)
2) Find out if Logan really did want him (as James)

The first one should be easy. James had seem himself in costume and yeah he was a tall girl but you know who else is tall? Models, that's who. James could be a fucking model. And the boots Camille was making him wear only barely had heels so at least he didn't have much extra height to worry about.

The second one, though…how was he supposed to find out if Logan had ever thought about him in a more-than-friends sort of way? He would have to improvise on that one.

But even if the answer was 'no' James could change Logan's mind, right? Once he fell for James as a girl…he would see how amazing and perfect dude-James was too, right?

If not, this was going to be a really crappy night.

When his phone buzzed again, James looked down to see another message from Camille.

'And don't you forget it. We're gonna rock this party, Jade'

James grinned. They would. Camille had done a great job on his costume, had taught him everything he needed to know…and within the next 24 hours James would be in a relationship with the only person worth being in one with.

What could go wrong?


Part 2

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