“Okay,” says Grantaire in the horrible echoing silence that follows the weird humanoid thing that has been trying to kill him all night screaming and melting into the stone of Paris's sewers. “I think I'm starting to believe you.”
Enjolras is still filthy—from digging his way out of a grave, if his story is to be believed—and wearing the red coat that makes him look like he's some sort of circus ringmaster, but he looks shocked too. He's been the one talking about demons and tribulations and a revolution that failed, but he doesn't seem to know what to do with his own story being true. “You saved my life,” he finally says.
Great, then, the hot man from the past is just surprised that incompetent scruffy Grantaire knows how to fence, not shocked at the whole demon thing. “And you aren't delusional. I mean, I don't know if I buy the Bible thing, but something is going on.”
“And do you intend to help me with it?”
I'm just a librarian, Grantaire doesn't say, because he's not just a librarian, and he's going to have a lot of questions for Fantine when he gets back there, actually, like exactly why she's been so insistent on him filing a lot of old papers and bestiaries and mostly-ignored religious writings, and why she's so great about helping him with his swordplay and encourages his boxing. “There are about a thousand more competent and badass people you could ask.”
Enjolras wrinkles his nose, probably in distaste at his language, and then tilts his head at the direction of the slick black stain on the ground in front of them, and then shrugs. “Yes, well, you believed me. Or at least you were willing to come along.”
“Remind me to stay home with a movie next time,” says Grantaire, and thinks it's pretty obvious to both of them that he doesn't mean it.
“To witness, not prevent, surely. The words mean different things.” Grantaire blinks a few times, because they've been in the library archive for hours now, Enjolras poring over a collection that he says has been cared for and updated since he and some friends put it together leading up to their revolution-that-wasn't. “Also, please tell me you don't have any illusions that I'm involved in this.”
“Fantine. Some national or international hero. Literally anyone else. My friend Jehan could probably kill demons, he would be into that.”
“I've known about this for a long time, thought that we could stave it off, thought ...” Enjolras looks down at the library table, and it seems like he has to drag his breath out. Grantaire doesn't know what to say, because if it's true and the last thing he remembers is dying alone on a barricade in 1832 while his friends desperately worked to hide the information they gathered about the apocalypse from a corrupt police force, there's nothing he can say that could help. “Well,” he finally says, and suddenly it's hard not to remember that Enjolras is probably younger than Grantaire is, technically, and that the only connection he has to his life is a box of archived papers. “You know what we thought.”
There's not anything to say, so after what he hopes is an appropriate silence, Grantaire clears his throat. “Hey, do you have anywhere to stay?”
“I—no. I don't.”
“My apartment isn't anything glorious, but I've got a couch and a shower and no roommates. We'd be cramped, but you could stay a while.”
Enjolras looks like he wants to say he can't impose, but he also looks and smells like he's just been going back to his grave to sleep, and Grantaire really can't allow that. “I'm grateful, Grantaire,” he finally says, and it's grudging, but it's a start.
“It's not that exciting,” Grantaire says, mostly because he really doesn't want Enjolras to get his hopes up when voting is going to require valid ID that he doesn't have. “I can't imagine politicians have changed that much since the 1830s.”
Enjolras glares at him through the tears, and Grantaire winces and hands him a tissue, which he eyes dubiously. He loves toilets and gas stoves and the Metro, but apparently tissues are suspicious. “Then it's your duty to vote for the best of them, because you can.”
Grantaire holds his hands up. “Not saying I don't do it, my Nana and Fantine would both murder me in my sleep if I didn't, but I'm just saying, it's not a universal fix.”
“But still, we … what we worked for happened. Even if it didn't happen right away.”
Enjolras has a gift for making Grantaire feel guilty just by looking at him. “Yeah, I get it. Sorry. I shouldn't have pushed. I'll leave it.”
After a minute, Enjolras grudgingly blows his nose on the tissue. It's probably the closest thing they're going to get to a truce.
“You ought to have called me,” Enjolras says in thorough disapproval later on, eyeing the stitches on Grantaire's bicep like they've personally displeased him.
“Thanks, but I was a little busy running for my—ouch, fuck, don't poke it.”
“Fantine taught me how to answer the phone for a reason.”
Grantaire tugs his shirt back over his stitches so Enjolras will stop touching them. “We don't know what it is, we don't know how to, to kill it or reason with it or whatever. I'm a librarian. Running first, research after that, slaying a distant third on the list.”
“I still could have protected you.”
Grantaire opens his mouth to tell Enjolras not to be ridiculous, that he's out of time just like Grantaire is out of place in this whole impending apocalypse thing. Enjolras looks honestly upset, though, which he wasn't expecting. They haven't exactly bonded the way they're apparently supposed to, as witnesses. “I'm okay,” he says, even though he's still terrified and shaky and in pain. He's not cut out for apocalypse prevention. He's always kind of assumed that in the event of zombie apocalypse he'd be among the first wave of the undead simply from not having any survival skills.
“Next time, you'll call me.”
“There is not going to be a next time, because I intend to spend the next decade shut up in my room with cloth over all the reflective surfaces and a ring of salt around the walls.”
“Salt isn't a bad idea,” says Enjolras, like that's the only important thing Grantaire said. “I've heard about the properties of that.” After a second, he stands up. “I'll make you tea. I've figured out the stove. It will help.”
That's more a pronouncement than it is anything else, but Grantaire decides to let it stand. He doesn't want to tease Enjolras about his first attempt at using the stove right now, or tell him about how people of the twenty-first century take their tea. “Look, I'm sorry. I should have called you. Even if I'm dubious about my role in all this, you're a time traveler, you're pretty clearly involved in whatever kind of freaky shit is going on.”
“Even if you aren't a witness, Grantaire—and that's if, I still think you are—could you perhaps remember that you're the only person I have? Fantine is kind enough, but you're the one teaching me and giving me a place to stay. I would like it if you kept coming home.”
Grantaire finds that he has to swallow before he can answer that, and Enjolras is turned away, bustling in front of the kettle, standing up stiff and straight. “We can fix that,” he says, when he trusts his voice. “The whole thing where I'm the only person you know. There are people I know you might like. And I'm not planning to die, because as I said I'm planning to lock myself in my room and hide under the bed for the foreseeable future, but you'd like them and you'd have them. Just in case.”
Enjolras is silent for a long time, and finally nods, his back still to Grantaire. “I'll look forward to meeting them.”
“R, it's good to see you!” says Bossuet the second he drags Enjolras through the Musain door, and that's the other reason he chose them for Enjolras. Even when he's sort of a dick about their big plans for the world, they're always genuinely happy to see him, and he's always happy to see them. “We've been wondering where you were for the past few weeks. Who's your friend?”
“Friend from out of town,” says Grantaire, because he's managed to talk Enjolras into something resembling normal attire. Although he insisted on a tie, and neither of them knows how to tie one like a normal adult so that's a bit of a mess. “He's moved to Paris, I'm showing him all the sights and all the very best people.”
Courfeyrac beams at him. “Well, then, you've come to the right place.”
They spend two hours at the Musain. They all get along with Enjolras like a house on fire, especially Courfeyrac and Combeferre, and it's a little bittersweet, Grantaire has to admit, because they're all much easier with Enjolras than he is, but it's good anyway. Enjolras relaxes with them and doesn't talk about the end of the world. Even politics are preferable to that, Grantaire has discovered.
“I've got to go,” he says eventually, tapping Enjolras on the shoulder and bringing him out of a delighted conversation with Feuilly. “Early shift at the library tomorrow, and my arm is sore. I'll see you back at the apartment?”
Enjolras frowns at him. “Don't be stupid. I'll come with you. I still can't navigate the Metro very well.” He still says “Metro” like he's suspicious of the very word, let alone the concept.
“You sure? You can stay, Jehan doesn't live too far away, I'm sure he'd give you an assist.”
“I'm going with you,” Enjolras says, way too firm, firm enough to get a few people looking at them. “Just give me a minute to say goodbye.”
It takes five minutes, and Grantaire lurks awkwardly to the side for most of them even though he could just as easily be having warm little conversations with everyone like Enjolras is. He doesn't know quite what to do with himself, though, so he stays away and just gives a wave around when Enjolras finally comes over to him, ready to go at last.
It ends up being a good thing Grantaire didn't convince Enjolras to stay, since they run across a vengeful ghost on the way home and he's had plenty of near-death experiences for one week.
“You could have told us he's the Enjolras who stopped the apocalypse before it could start in 1832,” says Combeferre in a perfectly conversational tone, like what he's saying makes any sense at all. “We've been debating telling you about our efforts for months now but no one was sure you would believe us.”
“I … no, you know what, I can't even pretend I'm surprised about this. Of course you guys are trying to stop the apocalypse as well as injustice. Why wouldn't you be?”
“Enjolras says you're his fellow witness.”
Grantaire shakes his head. “Not in a million years, no. You know exactly how useful I am with this kind of thing.”
“Look, maybe I'm just the person he ran across so I could introduce him to all of you. That seems kind of logical.”
Combeferre frowns. “You'll have to take that up with him. He's decided it's you, and judging from how careful you're being not to gesture too much, you've gained some notice elsewhere too.”
“Please tell me I didn't get all wrapped up in the apocalypse just because Enjolras decided and a bunch of demons figured they would listen.”
“Call it that, call it destiny, but keep yourself safe, Grantaire. We'll all help you. It's a relief to be able to keep you in the loop, actually.”
Grantaire doesn't want to be involved, but he doesn't want his friends keeping secrets either, and he doesn't want Enjolras disappearing from his life, deciding that Combeferre or Fantine or Jehan is a better candidate for whatever he imagines the relationship between them to be and leaving him for something more comfortable than a couch. “I need to start carrying my fencing foil around town,” he finally says, because he can't articulate anything more than that and Combeferre has always had the uncanny ability to hear unsaid things anyway.
“The demons' weaknesses do seem to be for archaic weapons,” says Combeferre, thoughtful. “We should start having seminars.”
Grantaire nods and looks down at the cart of books he's stalled on shelving. “You should tell Fantine, about everything. I think she knows more than she's been telling me, and she would appreciate knowing.”
“You could tell her yourself.”
“Probably not the time. You do it, and I'll talk to her later.”
Combeferre nods and wanders off into the stacks, probably to find her, and Grantaire leans his head against a bookshelf for a full minute before his phone buzzes, Enjolras complaining that so much of the internet is in English, and he texts back some commiseration and gets back to work.
It screams when he kills it, and Grantaire drops the iron bar he fought it off with and allows himself three seconds to stand there and shake before he goes over to Enjolras and shakes him until he blinks and gives Grantaire half a second of a bleary smile before he seems to realize he's on his back in an alley and in some kind of pain. “The monster, where is—”
“It's fine, I killed it. How badly are you hurt? Do you feel dizzy?”
There are a few seconds when Grantaire is sure he's going to have to drag Enjolras to the hospital, and considering Fantine's surprisingly shady contacts haven't managed to get back to them with valid ID and a healthcare plan, that's going to be a problem, but then Enjolras relaxes and meets Grantaire's eyes head on. “My head is fine, just sore. I might have cracked a rib. Are you injured?”
“No, just freaked out.” He gets an arm around Enjolras and manages to lever them both to their feet through some miracle. “I'll call Combeferre and Joly. They're training to be doctors, they'll check you out.”
“And you,” says Enjolras, firm as ever, but he doesn't seem to have much else to say, so Grantaire starts walking, wondering if he should pick up the iron bar again and try to use it as a cane. It wouldn't be too effective, but it would be a nice security blanket. Enjolras is silent, jaw clenched, for most of the walk, while Grantaire is hoping it's dark enough that any blood on their clothes won't show, and then just before they turn onto Grantaire's street, he says, very quietly, “Do you believe me yet that you're the other witness?”
Grantaire opens his mouth in automatic denial, and then he shuts it again, sighs, and rethinks his answer. “I think that we've somehow got the demon collective thinking I am, and maybe that means the same thing. Even if I tried to pawn this whole thing off on our friends I'd end up dead. The only way we come out of this is together. You, me, Fantine, everyone else.”
“Then we'll do it together,” Enjolras says, sounding way too smug, and it's everything Grantaire can do to resist the urge to let him trip on a crack in the sidewalk. He rolls his eyes instead, and supports Enjolras the rest of the way home.
They're most of the way through a Francis Cabrel record that Enjolras keeps making dubious faces at (but can't complain about because he's worse when Grantaire goes through too long a period of playing him music in English) when Enjolras interrupts Grantaire's explanation of existentialism by kissing him.
“I did not think Camus would get you hot,” Grantaire says when Enjolras pulls away, mouth on autopilot even though Enjolras looks like he could probably use some reassurance and his whole brain is stuck in a loop of the last few seconds, how soft Enjolras's lips are and the music playing in the background.
“I don't want to assume.” Enjolras's cheeks are cherry red, but he's meeting Grantaire's eyes straight on. “But Courfeyrac said that you may well be amenable, and if we're going to be in this fight together, I don't want to lose time. Whether or not you think you're a witness, I've chosen to throw my lot in with you.”
Grantaire kisses him, because he can't make himself say anything stupid and insincere and he can't manage honesty either, not without blurting out how scared he is and how much he doesn't want to lose Enjolras and might even convince himself to be the witness the world needs if it means not letting Enjolras down. “So you're saying Camus does make you hot,” he says when they part again, because he can't help himself and Enjolras is sitting there flushed and stunned and it's weird to see him wordless.
The record ends with the usual gentle static of the needle coming to the center of the side, and the silence seems like it stretches out. “I haven't heard a thing you said about Camus,” Enjolras finally says, letting Grantaire pull him away from saying more frightening things about standing together against the end of the world. “But you can explain it to me later.”
“You have some other ideas for what to do right now, I'm guessing?”
Enjolras grins, surprisingly impish, and lifts his hand to Grantaire's face. “A few. I don't think the world is going to end tonight.”
“You know you've jinxed it now,” says Grantaire, but he kisses Enjolras anyway. If they're going to get a call in ten minutes saying all four Horsemen are riding down the streets of Paris, Grantaire is going to keep this as long as he gets it.
Seven years of trials still sound horrible, but as long as Enjolras is with him through them, it won't be all bad.