“We already have one unruly beast.” Javert looked over his shoulder as he moved to the edge of the bed. “Why should we be inflicted with another?”
“Cosette is eager to see the little ones housed well,” Jean said, propping himself up on the pillow he had slept upon. “Come now. What is one more feline companion to care for? Why, it may even calm Orri a little.”
Javert crossed to the basin on quiet feet. “Or it could make him wild with jealousy,” he countered. “I know I would feel such, if I had to share your affections with another of my kind.”
“I am sure there are no more of your kind anywhere else in the whole world, my dear,” Jean laughed, watching for the blush that would begin at Javert’s collarbone and spread upwards to the tips of his ears.
Even after eight years together, his partner still could not receive a compliment well. Jean did not mind it, of course; he continued to compliment anyway, and he enjoyed seeing Javert blush. It was such a youthful reaction, a reminder that Javert had never been loved as a young man as he was now loved, never had the opportunity to hear such things before. How different Javert’s life would have been, if only someone had seen fit to love him. Then again, Jean was not too proud to admit that he was glad for it, selfish as it was, for now Javert was here, with him, and he could imagine no other life for himself. It was not as though people to love had been forthcoming in his own history either, save for Cosette.
Javert only grunted in reply, swirling his razor in the water of the basin with one hand and applying the soap to his face with the other. Jean admired the quickness of Javert’s blade, held in such a steady hand that he had shaved one cheek smooth up to the edge of his sideburn in mere seconds. Before he could apply the blade to the other side, Jean clambered from the bed and moved behind him. Javert stayed his hand as Jean leaned his own bearded cheek against Javert’s back and held him close. Javert breathed slowly and Jean pressed even closer, to content himself with counting the beats of that beloved heart as Javert carefully brought the razor up once more and finished his task. When he finished, he put it down besides the basin and brought his hands up to cover Jean’s where they were pressed against his chest.
For a moment, there was silence, save for that heartbeat ringing in Jean’s ear, then Javert exhaled sharply and turned in his arms.
“You may adopt another damned kitten, if it means so much to you,” he said. “You do not need to try and win me over like this.”
“I was doing nothing of the sort.” Jean had to crane his neck to look Javert in the eye when they stood this close, and he brushed his lips against Javert’s still damp chin. “I only wished to touch you.”
“Sentimental old fool,” Javert muttered, but then he leaned down and kissed him, lips soft from the soap, and for another glorious moment, there was only the silence and Javert’s fingers tangling in Jean’s hair. It was too early for such things; Javert was usually moody in the morning and he would be late if they lingered here for much longer, but Jean was not going to stop him. Javert was devoted to his job, although it had a different face now, and Jean was loathe to stand in the way of duty. So, with a gentle hand, he pushed Javert away and smiled.
“You will be late,” he said. “And Orri needs his breakfast.”
Javert quirked his lips and said nothing further, turning to don his uniform. But when he appeared in the kitchen ten minutes later, he let his fingers brush against Jean’s as he took the coffee that he was offered, and he kissed Jean again on his way to their front door.
He paused when he got to the gate, and turned to address Jean. “I meant it, Jean,” he said. “Adopt another kitten, if you wish it. Both Orri and I will get used to the idea.”
Then he spun on his heel and walked away. Jean watched him disappear around the corner and then returned inside. Orri, perhaps having heard his name, had wandered from the kitchen and wound about Jean’s feet until he relented and bent down to pick him up. The cat purred and pushed his head against his shoulder.
“You would not mind a companion, would you?” Jean asked him. “A little one to look out for? You remember how terrible it was to be on the street, I’m sure.”
Orri fixed his eyes on him, dark and so intelligent that sometimes Jean was sure he understood what was being said, no matter how ridiculous Javert said the fancy was. A torn ear, freshly damaged from some street fight or another, twitched, as Orri considered Jean’s latest remarks, and seemed to find them wanting, for he growled low in his throat. Jean chuckled.
“Well, regardless of your opinion, there will be another, my boy. You will learn to live with it. You might even win a few of your scraps with a partner in crime.”
Orri yawned, his ire forgotten, and leapt lightly to the floor, stalking into the library to take his usual place by the fire. Jean smiled and followed, going to his desk to write a note to Cosette. She was not due a visit for a day or two, but he wished to tell her the good news, and perhaps, if he was lucky, she would decide to come today.
He dispatched the note with the first gamin he spotted on the street, and went to the bedroom to dress for some time in the garden. If Cosette did decide to come, it would not be until the afternoon.