“Seriously, Enj, enough about the meeting. How was your date last night?” Courfeyrac finishes his drink and signals the bartender for another.
“It was…” Enjolras looks away.
Enjolras knows Théo is an asshole, okay? He knows it. But he’d wanted to do something normal for once, wanted to go out and spend an evening with someone who thought he was attractive, wanted something other than the endless, platonic mix-and-match outings his friends take him on. Everyone’s so damn careful to spread out their date nights, so he doesn’t have to be alone, and he’s tired of it.
He knows that the pressures and expectations for relationships are societal bullshit… and yet, that doesn’t stop him from wanting one. Surely love, romantic love included, is a revolutionary force, after all?
Enjolras finds himself looking at a small group clustered around the pool table in the corner. A girl about Enjolras’s age, or maybe a little older, with an undercut and a black leather jacket is tucked up against another girl, whose floral dress and blonde curls somehow don’t clash with her sturdy army boots. The third member of the group—a guy with dark, wild hair—is laughing at the girls as he lines up his shot.
“Enjolras,” Courfeyrac says, waving a hand in front of him. “Your date? Who was it? Anyone I know?”
He can’t say Théo. He just can’t. Courfeyrac is going to give him sad puppy eyes and tell Combeferre when he gets home, and Combeferre is going to gravely ask Enjolras if he really thinks Théo is a healthy choice and he can’t.
Enjolras’s eyes linger on the trio by the pool table. The guy must have finished his turn, because the blonde girl gives the other girl a quick kiss before taking up her own cue. Meanwhile, the guy is fiddling with his cue, rolling it between his fingers. Jesus.
“Okay, man, what is going on with you tonight?” Courfeyrac says. “You can talk me, you know, right?”
“Sorry,” says Enjolras. “It’s just…”
Courfeyrac’s eyes follow his toward the pool table.
“Oh,” he says. “Cute, curly one with the green sweater? That’s who you went out with last night? Dude, why didn’t you say so, oh my god, if you wanted to meet up with him again, we could have cancelled—”
“Please tell me you didn’t stalk him here.”
“So why didn’t you introduce us when they came in?” Courfeyrac shakes his head with an indulgent smile. “C’mon, I’m not that embarrassing.”
“It’s not,” Enjolras starts, as the boy nods at his two companions and begins to cross the room.
“Ha!” says Courfeyrac. “Look, he’s coming over here.”
Enjolras opens his mouth to protest—he’s fairly certain the boy is heading for the bathroom—but it’s way too late.
Courfeyrac has already slipped off the bar stool and bounded into the boy’s path.
“Hey there!” Courfeyrac chirps. “This one won’t tell me anything about what you guys got up to last night, so I’m counting on you.”
Enjolras’s face burns as he scrambles to follow Courf.
The boy pauses, a half-smile on his face, politely confused.
“Not you, too!” Courfeyrac says, despairing. “The date! How was it!”
Enjolras tries to convey his shame and horror via eye contact, but he probably lands somewhere between “deranged” and “desperate.” He stares helplessly at the guy Courfeyrac has accosted, too mortified to speak.
“It was great!”
Enjolras’s jaw drops.
“Grantaire,” the guy says, extending a hand toward Courfeyrac, who shakes it with enthusiasm.
“Courfeyrac,” he says. “I’m so happy we ran into you; Enj was like a stone. And I feel like I should apologize on his behalf if he was like that last night, we’ve honestly tried with him but sometimes he gets awkward when he’s nervous—”
“I had a really good time,” Grantaire interrupts.
Enjolras wants to die.
A cute guy (a really cute guy, okay, with kind brown eyes and reddish stubble and a dimple in his chin Enjolras wants to kiss) is pretending he went out with Enjolras, just so he can save face. God, he probably thinks Enjolras is making up the date altogether, this is the worst.
Courfeyrac’s grin widens, and he not-so-subtly pokes Enjolras in the side.
“Where did you guys go?” Courfeyrac presses. He’s full-on bouncing on the balls of his feet at this point, Cupid in the form of an excitable terrier.
“It was improv night at a comedy club one of my friends works at,” Grantaire says smoothly. “The owners are queer as fuck, so the gay jokes are actually funny, and the groups aren’t just white guys being sexist.”
Shit, Enjolras thinks. That sounds like an amazing date.
Courfeyrac’s eyes, somehow, grow even wider. “Oh my god,” he says. “You’re perfect. Where have you been?” He turns to Enjolras. “I totally understand why you don’t date—why you didn’t, anyway. You knew this guy was going to come along, because, wow.” He turns back to Grantaire. “You’re so his type, I’m a little jealous.”
Grantaire ducks his head, peeking at Enjolras through his lashes. “Well, you’re my type, too, ange.”
Courfeyrac emits an honest-to-God squeal.
“It was really fun,” Enjolras stammers, before Courfeyrac can comment on the pun that, oh my god, Grantaire only used because he doesn’t actually know Enjolras’s full name.
“I’m glad you enjoyed it.” Grantaire bites his lip; there’s a faint blush across his cheeks, maybe, but it’s hard to tell in the dim lighting.
“Did he talk to you about something other than work and anti-capitalist activism?” Courfeyrac presses.
“I can honestly say it never came up,” says Grantaire, sending Enjolras a wink.
Unfortunately, “human rights lawyer” is a hard job description to mime behind Courf’s back.
“You are a god among men,” Courfeyrac says gravely.
“Oh no,” Grantaire protests. “That title surely belongs to Apollo here.”
“And after the improv show?” Courfeyrac asks in a sly tone.
“We got drinks at—” Grantaire begins, just as Enjolras blurts, “We went for a walk.”
Courfeyrac raises his eyebrows.
“We went for a walk,” Grantaire explains hastily, “and then stopped and got another round of drinks when we came across a little hole-in-the-wall place that seemed cool.”
“Courf,” Enjolras jumps in, before he can ask a question that will either blow their cover or render both of them profoundly uncomfortable, “Maybe you could…?”
“Right, right!” Courfeyrac says. He claps Grantaire on the shoulder. “I’ll be at the bar, missing my beloved, who has a med school exam on Monday and thus tragically declined to come out with us. I’ll leave you to it!”
Enjolras waits until Courfeyrac is safely installed at the bar again, then tilts his head toward the far wall. Neither of them speaks until the entire width of the room is between them and Courfeyrac’s too-interested ears.
“Sorry,” Enjolras says, and, somehow, now that Courfeyrac is out of the way, the full humiliation of the situation crashes down on him, wave after wave. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to drag you into it at all, he just saw you walking over and decided…”
“No worries,” says Grantaire.
Enjolras raises an eyebrow, skeptical.
“Did you honestly think it would be a problem for me to pretend—for all of two minutes, it’s not like this was some grand drawn-out thing—to have gone on a date with you? You’re, uh, super hot, so, like, glad to have helped get your friend off your back about dating, or whatever.” Grantaire shuffles his feet.
Grantaire’s jeans, Enjolras notices, are tight; he’s got a nice ass, strong thighs.
With the words super hot ringing in his ears, Enjolras musters up the courage to say, “I did have a date last night, actually.”
“Oh shit,” says Grantaire.
“Our fake date would have been a lot better,” Enjolras says. “The guy’s a total dick, and Courf knows that, so I didn’t want to… yeah.”
Grantaire frowns. “If he’s a dick, why did you go out with him?”
Enjolras runs a frustrated hand through his hair. “All my friends are in relationships, and I wanted to go on a date for once, and he was there, and. Ugh.”
“I know how that is,” Grantaire offers.
“But you’re—nice, and attractive and have amazing date ideas,” Enjolras says, before he can stop himself.
Grantaire shrugs. “I guess not everybody agrees with you on all, or, uh, any, of those points?”
Enjolras is abruptly indignant on Grantaire’s behalf. “Where are you finding these idiots? As in, stop looking there, obviously.”
Grantaire huffs a laugh. “Thanks, I think?”
“So…” Enjolras clears his throat. “That comedy place? Is it real?”
“Oh, yeah,” says Grantaire. “It’s where I actually was last night. Figured I’d come across as more believable if I was, you know, telling the truth. Plus that way if Ep or Cosette came over—” he gestures toward his two friends, who have apparently continued the game without him “—they wouldn’t call me on it.”
“That makes sense,” says Enjolras. It’s a dumb, obvious thing to say, not at all the witty banter probably expected by someone who frequents improv nights.
Silence falls. Between them, at least—there are still the sounds of a couple dozen people talking around them, the music, the door opening and closing.
Enjolras really, really wants to ask him out. But that’s too weird, isn’t it? To ask out a stranger who was only plucked from anonymity thanks to Courfeyrac’s overeager assumptions? Wouldn’t that be creepy, be taking advantage of Grantaire’s good natured handling of the situation? It’s one thing to say he was with Enjolras last night; it’s another to actually be with him some night.
(But Grantaire is so warm and solid, in front of him, right there, right now, and Enjolras wants to get his fingers in those curls, and would Grantaire think it weird if Enjolras rubbed his cheek against Grantaire’s stubble, like a cat… )
“Hey,” Enjolras starts, right as Grantaire says, “So I was—.”
They both stop.
“You go ahead,” says Enjolras. He’s expecting Grantaire to say, so I was thinking we’d both go back to our respective friends now and forget this ever happened, yeah?
“Uh, so I was wondering—and you can say, no, obviously, if it’s too awkward or you don’t want to, or whatever—but I was wondering if maybe you wanted to join me and my friends? For another game of pool? And Courfeyrac, too, of course.” Grantaire smiles a small, hopeful smile.
Enjolras doesn’t believe in god(s) or guardian angels or lucky stars or any of that, but the random whims of the universe are certainly working out for him tonight.
“Yes,” he says, too fast and probably too loud.
Grantaire’s smile breaks into a full-fledged grin.
It’s a good look on him.
“Cool,” says Grantaire. “Yeah, that’s—um, cool.” He bites his lip (again). “So, what were you going to say?”
Enjolras thinks about chickening out—about saying that he was going to ask if he and Courf could join them—but he thinks Grantaire deserves honesty, given that he’d been willing to lie for Enjolras from the start.
“Would you like to go out with me, sometime?” he asks, making sure to look Grantaire in the eye. “On a real date? I don’t know any comedy clubs or dive bars or anything like that, but I promise I only laugh at gay jokes that are actually funny.”
“That sounds… really, really good,” says Grantaire. “I’d like that. Yeah.”
Enjolras grins back at Grantaire. (Grantaire, who is cute and wears green sweaters to bars and is willing to help out random strangers and knows about queer, feminist comedy clubs. Grantaire, who wants to go out with him.)
“Um, shall we?” Grantaire asks, jerking his chin toward the pool table.
“Yeah,” says Enjolras. “Let’s just grab Courf? And maybe… not tell him that we didn’t actually go out at last night? At least, not yet.”
Grantaire laughs, takes Enjolras’s hand, and tugs him toward the bar.