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The Pangalactic Interstellar Starship Musain and the Beach Day

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Grantaire is painting in his bunk when there's a whistle outside.

He opens his door expecting Enjolras and finds Bahorel instead, with a beam on their face and a bag over their shoulder. “Test came back, atmosphere is safe for all of us and none of the surroundings seem to be toxic, so we get to have our day off outside. There aren't any locals, so we're going down to the water.”

Grantaire grins. “Are you telling me we're having a beach day?”

“Sure, if that's what you call it,” says Bahorel, as amiable as ever. “Floréal said something about a bathing suit and sunscreen and ran off to the replicator, we're disembarking as soon as we can all collect ourselves by the airlock, so go find Enjolras and get yourself ready and we'll do it.”

“Thanks for letting me know. Are you going to find Louison?”

“She's in the engine room, she probably already knows,” says Bahorel, and wanders off down the hall again.

*

Enjolras, to Grantaire's complete lack of surprise, is sitting in the cockpit. Technically Courfeyrac is a pilot too, and when there's actual flying to be done they switch off who gets to do it, but when they're just going through the expanse of space or landed somewhere, Enjolras has a tendency to lurk even when they don't need to.

“I hear we're going to the ocean,” Grantaire says from the cockpit door, and then whistles his poor attempt at a greeting. Enjolras has the translation turned off and one of Grantaire's playlists turned on, Ella Fitzgerald crooning something slow, but they turn around and give Grantaire a smile. Grantaire jerks his thumb out the door and tilts his head, asking without asking if Enjolras is coming.

Enjolras nods. It's still an awkward move from them, after all these months, but they know what it means, and everyone else on the Musain does too, by this point.

“I'm going to pack up,” says Grantaire, though he really means that he's going to find Floréal and ask if she thought to replicate him some swim trunks or if he's going to be skinny dipping on an alien planet. “Want to come with?”

After a second, Enjolras turns the translator back on. “I'm not really an outdoors person.”

“Fuck that, you're a space person, and everyone has to suffer through beach day. Come on, you get to see me without a lot of clothes on, and also everyone else is going to be there too.”

“I get to see you without a lot of clothes on sometimes anyway,” says Enjolras, with the certain exasperated fondness Grantaire is only beginning to see. “But I'll go get what I need, and I'll meet you by the airlock. I do know we're all meeting, I suppose I was just hoping for some private time. Usually we would get some on a day off.”

“We can have private time, don't sulk. The beach is big.”

Enjolras shakes their head, and Grantaire just grins and goes to find Floréal.

*

Floréal, when he finds her, has acquired a massive pair of sunglasses and a bikini. It's anyone's guess if she packed them or replicated them, because no one quite knows the extent of what she packed. She is brandishing a bottle of sunscreen and a pair of trunks at him, though, which she must have replicated, as he didn't have any to pack in Paris.

“Go get changed,” she tells him, “or we'll be the last. I'm going to find Éponine and get her to put some sunscreen on. You'll catch up?”

“Always.”

It's quick work to get changed and to slather himself in the smaller bottle of sunscreen she left for him, and Grantaire puts a shirt back on and heads to the airlock.

Everyone is there but Courfeyrac and Feuilly, and Grantaire walks over to Enjolras, greets them with a brief press of his forehead into their neck, which they've managed to figure out through trial and error is as far as they like going around their friends.

They all seem excited, from what Grantaire can tell, the whole crew of the Musain vibrating with the desire to get off the ship and stretch their legs. It's been months since their last landfall on Forest, and it will be another month before they stop in another university port, and Grantaire doesn't really get restless, with the whole universe outside his window, but he appreciates the chance for different scenery.

Courfeyrac and Feuilly, he discovers less than a minute after he gets to the airlock, are the last ones because they've been prepping it to open from the other side, and it hisses open just when Combeferre and Joly start arguing about whether to take wildlife samples before or after they go swimming (judging by Bossuet's excitement, Grantaire suspects the swimming will come first, but he's staying out of it).

“Come on outside,” says Courfeyrac when the airlock has stopped making noise. “It's a gorgeous day out there.”

*

As long as Grantaire lives, he's never going to be tired of seeing the scenery of other planets, and this one isn't an exception. They're on a beach, sand and gravel in colors not found on any beach he knows of and the water pure and clear but a lot more green than he's used to, just like the sky is, because that's the light their sun scatters, according to Musichetta.

He can't see any animals or beings by definitions he recognizes, but the rocks at the edge of the beach are covered in climbing vines that Combeferre seems intrigued by, and there are fungi that Joly and Bossuet seem excited about.

Everyone else, Grantaire included, turns their attention to the water. There are waves at odd intervals, in odd patterns, probably something to do with the two moons, each of which have their own satellites. The air is hot, hardly any humidity at all, just plain roasting, and Grantaire isn't surprised when Floréal is the first one to drop her towel and sunglasses in a heap and go running for the water. She's always hated the heat, complains that Paris on hot days is a misery and refuses to enter Feuilly's private quarters because he keeps them warm due to home climate.

Floréal whoops when she hits the water and goes under right away, and then it seems like everyone is charging after her, going in a rush.

Enjolras lingers at the back of the pack, though, and Grantaire doubles back halfway to the shore to get them. “If you don't want to swim, that's fine,” he says quietly, grabbing Enjolras's arm.

“I do. Or wade, anyway, the water composition won't keep Jehan or Bahorel or me buoyant, we would need water resistance paraphernalia for that. I just ...” Enjolras seems to give up on explanations and gestures out at all their friends, shrieking and laughing and already splashing each other, the shallow water where they are already churned up into foam. Even Louison, who's still unsure around them sometimes, is in a pitched battle with Bahorel over which one of them should get to stand on a smooth rock sticking out of the water.

Grantaire gets it, he thinks, or at least his own version. “Yeah. It's great that they're happy. But funny thing is, we can gloat over that up close too.”

Enjolras gives him a look he has no idea how to interpret, something that could be exasperation or surprise or a hundred other things, and then lets Grantaire start towing them down to the shore.

*

In the end, as with any beach trip, all of them end up sprawled on the sand, gritty from it sticking to them while they're wet, exhausted and hot and ready to nap. Joly and Bossuet are exploring the intriguing fungi and Bahorel is surveying the terrain, but Grantaire is sandwiched between Enjolras, reading something on their tablet, and Floréal, with her sunglasses back on and her arm flung over him while she relaxes. He's got his sketchbook out, making little drawings of the crew in the water, but it's hard to do with them so close so mostly he's just staring out to sea.

“It's nice to have a day off,” Enjolras finally admits, sounding grudging, like it's some kind of argument they've been having all day.

“You aren't even taking the day off, you're working literally as we speak.”

“You know what I mean. I love space, but I sometimes forget how days like this feel, and it's good to remember. And I'm not really working.”

Grantaire leans into their side, taking care to keep his head off their shoulder even if that feels like the most natural position to cuddle in. “What are you doing, then?”

“Making plans. An itinerary. There are places we have to go, for our study, but there are places I want to show you, too, and we can arrange that. I want to take you to where I'm from, and to the colonies people have terraformed, and to some of the planets with chemical bases and compositions that mean we can't visit them out of space suits, because everything about them is so different. I think you would like drawing those ones.”

“I'm along for the ride. Or piloting the ride, depending on the day.”

“You two are awful,” Floréal abruptly says, sitting up and shaking her shoulders out. “I'm going back in the water, you plan your plans and get it out of your systems.”

Her jog down to the water gets some attention, and soon enough half the crew is following her in again, for a more leisurely swim this time.

Grantaire stays where he is, leaning against Enjolras's side even though they aren't exactly easy to cuddle with. “Is there a planet where squid rule? I always thought cephalopods could take over the world.”

After a second of assessing whether he's serious or not, Enjolras starts talking about a planet they went to once where all the cities were under the sea, and where they had terrariums instead of aquariums and didn't understand how intelligent life could survive breathing only air.

Grantaire leans against their shoulder, listening equally to them and to the waves against the shore as the tide rises, and wonders just what might be out there in this ocean.