It would be wrong to say that a part of him had wanted it. A part of him had feared it. A part of him had always been aware of the possibility. Of course he was aware of the possibility – a guard would have to be a fool to walk among these convicts every day and not think of how at the smallest opportunity, they might try to overwhelm him, take his weapons, keys, beat him, kill him, or do worse.
Javert knew all these things. A dog could not walk among wolves day in, day out without being aware of fangs and claws that wished to tear and rend. And yet, now that it had happened to him, now that he knelt on the cold, damp stone of a cell, tasting his own blood in his mouth, he remembered a dream he had had the night after he had seen this convict climb beneath a fallen mast and lift it with impossible strength.
He had not wanted to ever remember it. He remembered the shame of it, his sweat cooling as his disgust mounted, and had forced himself to never think of that dream again. For a long time, he had not even allowed himself to let his eyes dwell on 24601, lest the baseness of his nature overwhelm him again.
And now here he was, cowering before the convict like a dog before its master, beaten and bloody and afraid, because even a guard who had not been at Toulon for very long knew what sort of revenge a convict dreamed of.
“Dost thou truly want this?”
He could not help but flinch with hot shame at the familiar address. He had not thought that anyone would speak to him like that ever again, not after he donned this uniform, not after he left behind his father's shame, the gutter he had shared with this convict. The convict was smiling, and Javert swallowed, carefully probing the cut that split his lip with the tip of his tongue.
The truth that even now constricted his heart with unspeakable shame was that he did want this. Maybe he was going mad. Maybe he had been wrong, and there was no escape for him from the filth that had brought him forth. What other explanation could there be for this? When they had overwhelmed him, when 32142 had beaten him and spit on him and snarled into his face what they were going to do to him, he had seen 24601, and he had remembered his strength and called out for him with the despair of one who had nothing left to lose. Maybe it was that even then, the memories of his dream had still clung to him.
He took a deep breath. “I do,” he said, listening to the fast, loud thuds of his panicked heartbeat. 24601 was strong. He had been rough, in his dream. Javert knew it would hurt. It would be shameful and degrading, a convict using him like the animal they all were, and the thought made him tremble and harden so that he clenched his hands in helpless humiliation.
“I can see that.”
The convict's laugh was low and rough, and his hands were rough too when he pulled Javert to his feet and forced him down onto the wooden plank that served as his bed. “Why me?”
Javert was quiet for a moment, trying not to shiver as he was stripped of his uniform. “I remembered thee,” he said, and the convict's hand tightened in his hair in warning. “I remembered you,” he said obediently, humiliation heavy on his tongue at how easy this slide into ignominy came to him. He was ashamed. It was true, there was no denying the sickness and the shame that twisted in his stomach, the fear and the disgust that made his heartbeat resound like a drum in his own ears. And yet, with every heartbeat, his own sick desires rose, as if the fear and the anticipation was a pleasure in itself.
“I remembered you,” he repeated softly, nodding very slowly to himself. No, this was right. It was only just that he should taste humiliation to the very dregs of this cup he had chosen. For this had been his choice. He did not doubt that he could have chosen death as well. It would not have taken more than a few choice words to make them start beating him again. “I remembered your strength. I was there when you lifted the mast.”
“Thou likest my strength?” The convict seemed to consider that for a moment, then laughed and pulled off his red blouse, and the linen trousers he wore beneath. “Ah. Thou thinkest that it will protect thee from them. Maybe it will. If thou art good.”
Javert would have bowed his head even lower, sickened by the thrill the words sent through him, but the convict's hands still gripped his hair. They loosened the ribbon that tied back his hair, and the convict gripped a handful of the dark strands. He did not handle him roughly – but he did not need to, Javert knew what it was he wanted, and bent to his task with quiet shame. The convict's fingers trailed through his hair with a gentleness that made him shiver with fear. Almost it was worse like this, to wait for the pain and the humiliation that would certainly come.
“Good,” the convict said softly, his voice rough with more than disuse now. “Get me wet. Thou wilt make it easier for thyself, boy.”
Shame was bitter on Javert's tongue, the lewd thickness in his mouth reminding him of the place he had thought to leave behind. Had his mother knelt before the convict that had been his father like this? He had thought that there had been another path open to him, but in the end, change was impossible. The gutter that had spewed him forth would swallow him again. Men did not change. This shame was in his blood, and he could feel it beckoning to him even now, with the convict's cock in his mouth as he knelt on his pallet. To give in to that call, to give up his long fight to claw his way out of the gutter he had been born in... There was a strange sort of peace in the acceptance of that. No more would he have to fear a fall, for he had already fallen.
He shuddered as he drew back, licking the convict's cock almost eagerly until it gleamed wetly with his own spit. The sight of it was obscene, and his stomach turned and twisted with what he told himself was fear, even though even now he was just as hard as the man he was abasing himself for.
"Enough, boy," the man said, and Javert sat up – not defiant, but also not quite willing to simply accept whatever this man would choose to do to him. He had chosen this, but that did not mean that he would simply accept any and all humiliation, no matter how fast his heart beat at every word the convict spoke.
"My name is Javert," he said, and his voice was almost firm. The convict smiled and used the pad of his thumb to wipe some of the spit from his lips, and Javert could not help the shudder that ran through him once more, and the way his lips parted for a soft gasp. The convict pushed two fingers into his mouth – still not rough, and there were no threatening words, instead it felt gently controlling as his rough, calloused fingers pressed against Javert's tongue, the bitterness of his cock mingling with the taste of dust and the sea's salt.
"Javert. I'm Jean Valjean."
Javert licked at his lips when the fingers were pulled out at last, and he followed when the convict – Valjean, he told himself – made him stretch out on the thin mattress on the wooden plank that served for a bed in the cell. He did not know what to think. The man was strangely quiet. He had thought him an animal – simply an impressive one. That was why he had called out for him when he had thought all hope lost. He had thought that by now, he would have been bent over that bed, or taken on his hands and knees like an animal, which was all these convicts were. He thought that by now, there would have been pain and blood and tears – but instead, Valjean's rough, strong hands were gentle on his skin. They were strangely warm in the cold cell, and even though he trembled, he was no longer certain if it was simply from fear.
"Relax, Javert," the man said. There was a different look in his eyes now, more familiar – the hunger of the wolf bent over his prey, only his claws did not rend and tear. Despite the darkness in his eyes, he kept one hand in Javert's hair to slowly stroke the dark, matted strands – almost admiringly, Javert thought dimly. Then a finger pressed against him, slid inside, still wet with his own saliva, and he closed his eyes, flushing with shame at the indignity of it.
"No. Look at me, Javert," Valjean said with sudden urgency. "I won't hurt thee, but thou hast to look at me. I want thee to look at me."
Javert's cheeks burned with humiliation as he opened his eyes reluctantly to meet the convict's gaze. He could not bear it – if only the man would do what he was supposed to do, if only he would be rough, be cruel, force him and hurt him – but this was worse, so much worse. He could not bear the intimacy of it, Valjean's fingers moving inside him, so slow and gentle until he felt that he was breaking apart. It felt like all he had once thought good and right was undone by the gentle hands of one who ought to beat him while his eyes held him captive, saw all his shameful secrets, every gasp, every flinch – every jerk of his swollen length against his stomach.
Then Valjean's body covered his, and almost it was a relief. At last, he thought, holding his breath, though his eyes were still fixed on the convict's in obedience. This was what they had both been waiting for. The man would take what he wanted, and as Javert had asked for this, the pain and the humiliation of it would be just. He had chosen this over death, he reminded himself again. He deserved anything Valjean might decide to take from him.
"Don't look at me like that." Now, for the very first time, there was the roughness of anger in the convict's voice. Javert's lips parted as he felt the slick cock press against him, impossibly large as it forced him open. It hurt, and he tensed, his fingers clawing at the mattress, but even so... "Don't look at me as if I'm some sort of animal. I've not hurt thee so far."
Javert shuddered, helplessly pinned beneath those eyes, split open as the man moved above him, inside him. He had never known such vulnerability before – each traitorous heartbeat resounding not only in his own ears, but also against the convict's chest. Each hitch of breath, each shudder giving away his body's greatest, most intimate secrets to the greedy eyes of the convict above him.
No, Valjean was an animal, but not the animal he had taken him for. Not a starved wolf who would tear and rend and devour him – this was worse, in its own way, to bear your throat to the beast in surrender and feel jaws close around your neck, to fear the bite that did not come, to live with the ecstasy and the terror of your surrender to the beast that did not want your death or your pain, but instead your... your pleasure...?
A sob escaped him as Valjean filled him beyond what he thought he could bear, each slow thrust filling him with a terrible pleasure to great for words. Tears ran unhindered from his eyes that were still raised obediently to the convict's face, even though he was blinded by his tears. It had not been supposed to be like this. He had thought that he would be torn apart, but instead of devouring his heart, he felt that Valjean had torn down all the walls he had erected around that small, secret part of himself that had only a few years ago tried to crawl out from the filth he was born into. And instead of the humiliation and pain someone like him deserved, instead he received pleasure, and a terrible, torturous kindness that made him writhe and gasp for breath when his throat felt so tight that he could not breathe anymore. Tears he could not stop were dripping down his face as he kept his eyes on Valjean's, saw the hunger in them, and the pleasure, and that terrible strength and rage bred by this place inexplicably held back by... something.
Something held back this beast, while at the same time, he had not been able to control himself...
He gasped for air, his hands leaving the mattress to curl hesitantly around the strong shoulders above him. Valjean's skin was wet with sweat, and he could feel the muscles tense beneath the skin, unyielding like iron. He moved slowly, still bringing unbearable pleasure with every thrust, and in the end Javert's climax was drawn from him like his tears, like the tide that ate away at the shore, a force that swept him up in the wave and drowned him in the salt of his tears and Valjean's sweat, and when it was over he found that he was still crying, his head resting on the convict's strong chest.
The hands in his hair seemed almost hesitant now, as if the caress was an apology, even though the intimacy of another's touch on him still felt shockingly raw and sore, a tenderness that split him open like the cut of a knife.
"Why me?" Valjean asked at last, when the cold wind from the barred window threatened to freeze the sweat on their bodies.
Javert opened his mouth, then fell silent. "I remembered your strength," he said, but he could feel Valjean's impatience. Was that reason enough? Was that all of it? Could that be reason enough for a man to do what he had done? "I... I hoped,” he said at last, reaching up to wipe at his eyes in embarrassment. Valjean caught his hand – not ungently, but there was strength in his grip, and he refused to release him.
Javert swallowed. Valjean had already taken everything, how could he still want more? And yet, even now, it was impossible to draw away. If he wanted his tears, let him have those too, if his pain had not suited the man. "I hoped you would be..." Reasonable, he supposed he should say. Sane. "Merciful," he said at last, his cheeks heating in embarrassment once more, but he did not look away. He had learned his lesson. This wolf did not want his blood. This wolf desired his deepest secrets, and there was something strangely thrilling about offering himself up to this convict's mercy, as if he were baring his chest for the knife.
Valjean kept toying with his hair, though his eyes were dark, turned towards the small window from where the crash of the waves against the shore could even now be heard like a dull roar. "Merciful," he said, as if to taste the word. "I suppose that is as good as any word for it. They turn us into beasts here, in this place. Clothe us like beasts, feed us like beasts, work us like beasts. But no one would turn towards a beast with such a look in their eyes. A man would not beg for help from a beast when all he can hope for is more pain, or revenge."
Javert listened to the man’s heartbeat, weary all of a sudden. What Valjean spoke was the truth. Men like the convict were all beasts. So was Javert, in the end, as he had proven at last. Why then... this strange thing? Why would a wolf hesitate instead of going for the kill?
“Thy plea... I remembered that I am a man,” Valjean said hoarsely, and Javert remained motionless, feeling the gentle movement of fingers through his hair. “Not a beast. Thou didst that. And now thou wilt go, and put on thy uniform, and tomorrow I will see thee again, and say 'you,' and nothing will have happened, and I will be a beast once more, and dream of the times when I was a man.”
Javert did not say anything, for what was there to say? Instead he closed his eyes, tears still flowing down his cheeks as if somehow, the moon or the tide or this man had pierced a dyke in him, and did not move for a long time while he listened to the heartbeat that was as loud as the distant roar of the sea.