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Thicker Than Water

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06:51, 5 June, Paris, France

For a moment, Enjolras is unsure what woke him.

There was a sound — a gunshot? — a woman crying, someone he’s never seen before. No, he’s seen her before, but where? She was scared. He was scared. What was she doing? He tries to focus, but the dream slips through his fingers, gone.

The moment is barely that before he realizes the migraine he went to sleep with is back (or still there, he doesn’t know) and with a vengeance. The light filtering through the curtains is gray and weak and yet he squeezes his eyes tight, throwing an arm over his face to blacken the light still visible behind his eyelids.

He can hear Combeferre puttering around the kitchenette, his light steps and the gurgling of the coffee machine. It takes him an inordinate amount of time before he feels able to open his eyes, still squinting away the dim light, and even longer before he is able to sit up. When he does, he is nearly knocked down again, the rush of blood sending another pulse of blood and pain, enough that he cries out.

“Enjolras?" Combeferre calls from the kitchenette. “You okay?”

Enjolras makes a noise, which doesn’t seem to reassure Combeferre, because moments later he is knocking twice and opening the door. Enjolras must look a sight, curled in on himself, the heels of his hands pressed to his temples. “Oh Enjolras,” Combeferre murmurs, volume dropping. He crosses the room to adjust the curtains, blocking out the last of the light. The room is barely dimmed, but it’s enough for Enjolras to unscrew his eyes. “Do you still have a migraine?” he asks.

Barely managing to nod, the movement setting off another pulse, but not as bad as before, Enjolras shoves back the covers, moving to get out of bed. “It’s fine,” he says. His head has throbbed nearly non stop the past week, but one glance at the clock tells him he doesn't have time to stay in bed any longer.

“Hey,” Combeferre lays a gentle hand on Enjolras’ arm. “Call in sick, go to the clinic.”

“What’s the point of a doctor flatmate if you’re going to make me go to a clinic?” Enjolras asks, stepping around him to the kitchen.

“I’m in residency,” Combeferre corrects as he follows. “And they might want to run some blood tests, make sure your levels are all okay.”

“My levels are fine,” Enjolras says, pouring himself a large mug of coffee.

Combeferre watches him, brows pushed up in worry. “Maybe lay off the coffee.”

“Weren’t you the one who said caffeine helped migraines?” Already he can feel his waning, though he’s not sure if it’s a product of the coffee or something else.

In lieu of a retort, Combeferre reaches across the counter to press a breakfast roll into Enjolras’ hand, and points to the almond butter still out from his own breakfast. “Eat something with dark greens at lunch. And drink water.”

“Yes, mum.”

Combeferre makes a face, checking his watch. “I gotta get going. So do you, if you’re going to go into work.” His tone is disapproving.

“I’ll go to the clinic on my lunch,” Enjolras concedes. If nothing else, he won’t be able to get any work done if his head keeps hurting this bad.

He peels open the roll, layering spread across the surface, and is taking the first bite when Combeferre murmurs, “Call me if anything gets worse, okay?” Enjolras nods, but Combeferre raises his brows and repeats, louder, “Okay?

“Yes! Okay.”

It wouldn’t have been so bad if Enjolras hadn’t spent the entire last weekend in bed, something he rarely did, laid up with a migraine he hasn't experienced since starting HRT, and hadn’t been able to get any work done the entire week. He has two deadlines coming up the next week and he hasn't been able to get either done, or even started. Combeferre had been needling him to go to the clinic since Tuesday, but Enjolras kept putting it off. By now, however, he’s not sure he can keep waiting.

Combeferre makes a satisfied noise, and grabs his travel mug, “I’ll see you at six.”

“Love you!” Enjolras shouts after him, just to be contrary, and earns himself a distracted but earnest, “Love you, too!”

Another glance at the clock tells him he really needs to hurry up, already having a late start getting up. Gulping down the last of his much needed coffee, he speeds through brushing his teeth and getting dressed and is out the door fifteen minutes later, laptop bag banging against his thigh as he hurries down the stairwell of their apartment.

Outside, the sun is peaking through the thick layer of clouds, though thankfully not enough to trigger anything. The pain has subsided, relegated to a quiet pulse at his temples, enough that he can ignore it.

At a cross light, his phone buzzes, a notification from one of his news apps. Félix Tholomyès, Ministre des Affaires étrangères et du Développement international, has announced his plans… The preview cuts off, and Enjolras swipes to read the rest of the article. 

 

Félix Tholomyès, Ministre des Affaires étrangères et du Développement international, has announced his plans to visit Cairo 21 July to head conversations on the subject of the French peace process initiative. He will be reporting the results at the upcoming Foreign Affairs and Development meeting in Brussels 15 September. Representatives say the conversation will continue at the European Council in Luxembourg this October.

The article goes on, but just recapping Tholomyès conservative politics and his failed conversations in the past. It’s clearly not well researched, even for a blurb, but Enjolras doesn’t have time to focus on that, filing away the information about Tholomyès for later, and checking the clock — 07:39.

Enjolras looks up from his phone in time to catch sight of a dark haired man across the street. He’s paused at the pedestrian crossing, adjusting a small sports bag slung across his shoulder, a cigarette dangling lax from his fingertips.

As Enjolras watches, the man glances briefly up the street before stepping off the curb, completely unaware, it seems, of the traffic coming fast in the opposite direction.

“Hey!” Enjolras shouts over the passing cars, afraid his warning will be for naught.

The man seems to hear him though, and stops where he is in the middle of the lane, looking up at Enjolras, perplexed. Desperately, Enjolras waves his hand at the impending semi-truck headed straight for him, “Look out!”

It’s too late though, and with a breathless cry, Enjolras turns his head away helplessly as the lorry thunders past. “Oh god,” he chokes, afraid to look, listening for the cries of other pedestrians, the screech of tires.

The sounds never come, the lorry doesn’t slow, doesn’t stop, and those around him keep walking, not bothered by the hit and run they must have just witnessed.

Enjolras takes a deep breath, preparing himself for the horror, and sees — nothing.

Traffic is continuing as normal, the pedestrian light has turned green and those around Enjolras, those who hadn’t seen the man try to cross against traffic, have started making their way across the road.

The dark haired man with the cigarette is no where to be seen.


 02:43, 5 June, São Paulo, Brazil

Over 7,000 kilometers away, Grantaire has fallen to the ground, a futile hand thrown up to ward against the sudden appearance of an oncoming truck, one that vanishes nearly as soon as it appeared.

Head whipping around, he looks for the man who had cried out to him, tall and dark, with a golden halo of curls. He is no where to be found, gone with the non-impact of the truck. The street is deserted, its inhabitants asleep as he would like to be.

“The fuck,” he whispers to himself, picking himself up off the ground. His head is pounding again. He thought maybe he’d been hit too hard, too many times when the migraine didn’t go away no matter how much he self-medicated, but now, with the appearance of hallucinatory angels, he’s almost certain of it.

He takes out his phone to text Bahorel, to tell him he can’t box the next night, when he remembers the Friday night turnouts, knows that, though he doesn't need it, he can't waste that kind of money, and tucks the phone back in his pocket.

He needs a drink, he thinks as he slings the bag over his shoulder, the weight nearly unending him in the process. His cigarette fell when he did, and gone out, but he stubs it with his toe for good measure. No, what he needs is sleep, and some water. Maybe that would stop his head from aching and his hands shaking.

He tries to put the golden man out of his mind, and by the time he’s fallen into bed he’s more than convinced his exhausted, addled brain dreamed up the stranger.