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Distant Stars

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He waits in front of the door that leads into the mayor's office. The mayor is busy. There are voices behind the door. Javert does not try to listen, although their voices are loud enough that he could. The mayor has official business; the inspector waits to deliver his report when the mayor is free to hear it. It is as simple as that.

A look at his reflection in the window reveals that a strand of his hair has escaped the black ribbon of silk that keeps it orderly tied back, and Javert frowns. He was forced to subdue a thief earlier, but he did not think that the small scuffle left such a stain on his usually tidy appearance; he is glad now that the mayor is detained, and almost flushes when he reaches back to pull on the ribbon, releasing his hair. This is when the door opens, and they face each other, and heat rushes to his face as he bows hurriedly and averts his eyes. There is silence from the mayor, whom he imagines shocked at such impropriety, so he stammers an apology, ribbon twined like rope around his fingers while his hair weighs heavily on his shoulders. Beneath the weight of the mayor’s gaze, he knows the shame of an escaped convict caught by the police.

#

Javert thinks he knows happiness at last when he faces Valjean in the hospital. He keeps talking about the dying woman, but Javert has only eyes for Madeleine – no, Valjean, he makes himself think with true pleasure, imagining him in chains. Soon this will all be over. Then Valjean attacks, and still he is not worried. Maybe he should have brought reinforcement, but despite his strength, the mayor – Valjean, he has to remind himself, snarling when Valjean comes closer – is more than a decade older, and raw strength alone will not be enough to escape the law now.

He likes the fight, the physicality of it, Valjean's shouts and pants and the heat of his breath against his cheek, reminding him once more that the peaceful Monsieur Madeleine is but a snarling wolf. He laughs into his face, out of breath and exhilarated to see justice triumph at last, and then there are hands in his hair, a fist connects with his cheek so that pain erupts like fire and his entire body jerks against Valjean. Arms close around him, he claws at the man’s chest, he is overcome, overwhelmed, there is no escape and his hair spreads around him like a sweat-soaked veil to smother him, and then everything is dark, only the pressure of Valjean's strong body remains, and then that too is gone.

#

The ribbon is cool between his fingers. His entire body aches. Valjean is gone. The convict has abandoned Montreuil-sur-Mer, the factory stands still, and Javert turns in his bed, burning with the bruises of the man's touch while the coarse blanket scratches against hot skin. He cannot sleep. He cannot rest. He is burning, devoured by fever, poisoned by the touches of the man’s fists that have painted his limbs blue and green and purple, and instead of sleep he only finds the memory of Valjean's strength when he closes his eyes, the animal sensation of hot breath against his cheek. His fingers clench around the ribbon, and he cannot think, can only ache and remember that strength and the weight of the man and that moment when he slipped away, weightless in Valjean's arms. He thinks he should rage, but the dark bruises on his skin ache with as much heat as the swollen prick between his legs, the throb of his pulse loud as a drum in his ears. How can he rest?

The silk is cool against his skin. When he winds the ribbon around his throat, he imagines those large, strong hands holding the ribbon instead of his own, imagines himself helpless in that fearsome embrace once more. He swallows and feels the constriction of the tight silk. He tries to breathe, twists the ribbon more, cannot breathe anymore. His heart beats loud and fast in the void of his chest. He thinks of that large hand closing around his throat, thinks of a chain wrapped around him, Valjean's breath hot on his lips as he struggles and is subdued and beaten until all his body knows is the heat of Valjean's fists and his breath and that terrible, terrible need between his legs and–

He arches, trying to suck in air that will not come as he spends himself in a shuddering climax that is as close to death as the empty release Valjean's hands gave him. In the blackness, he can almost make himself believe that this is the dark Valjean beat him into, but it is empty and cold, his spend disgusting where it glues damp fabric to his skin. Reluctantly, his fingers release the ribbon. The air that fills his lungs fills him with disgust. He presses his bruised face into the pillow until the burst of pain fills the darkness with light like distant stars, but he still feels naked and alone beneath their gaze.