There are three seconds between his ‘last words’ and the gunshots. The man falls against the wall, pierced by far too many bullets. The jesus imagery is palpable. Blood drips through the floorboards as the building once again becomes silent as a tomb. It is one now, in a way. If these walls could talk-
They would speak of a group of friends who were almost legendary.
It begins like this:
A man walks into a bar.
He’s not really a man, not anymore. It’s also not really a bar, so the whole punchline thing falls flat. So does the man. Mostly because he wasn’t walking, but also because he hadnt seen a slightly elevated floorboard and caught one battered shoe on it. He wasnt walking though, he was running. Fleeing, actually, but that’s just semantics.
A not-man runs into a cafe and falls flat like a joke.
There’s no laughter, just concerned patrons who think he might be drunk, or chased, or something. (He might be drunk, but that’s not the point.) He is actually being chased though, so there’s something going for him.
There’s a man talking to a small group in the corner, who stops talking to the small group in the corner when the man falls into his world. He looks like a statue or something, but he also looks mad, so he just looks like a pissed avenging angel instead. The man who fell into the cafe gets up, apologizes, and leaves.
A few minutes later, there are shots. No one connects the dots.
Of course they don't.
Big thanks to Christina for encouraging me, and even bigger thanks to Jackie for listening to my rambling, helping with plot holes, and Yelling about this with me. You two rock my world!
Kudos (haha) to Ellie: Lemon, you encouraged me to keep on writing this, just so that you'd have more to read! Thanks for your encouragement and support while at camp. Stay awesome and be Minsafe™!
Lets start at the beginning.
A man walks into a bar.
He didn’t own the ship originally. Technically, the old man who had been a sort of mentor figure to him still owned it. Well, technically, the old man had stolen the ship from a museum, which he thought explained a lot. Of course, if you dug deep enough into the technicalities, the ship owned itself, was owned by time as both an abstract concept and an incorporated individual, and did not exist in the first place. The last one was clearly untrue, as the ship was flying near rigel 7. The first few, he thought, were things only the ship would ever know.
You could say that he was an explorer, but that would not be the right word. You could say that he was a missionary, if the mission he came from was one that served more wine than any other and permitted more ungodly acts then the average mission, but that too was not the right word. You could say he was a phantom, but that was dramatic and unnecessary. He was a man. He was a traveler. He was R.
If he was in a particularly dramatic mood, which was admittedly often, he would have thought that space was an existential horror that too few saw and too many dreamed of. Space was the kind of sight that made you want to cry with the beauty of it and run from the utter size and scope of it. However, he was unusually sober at the moment, so space was just a bastard. An endless, bastardized version of what the cosmos could be. A bottomless pit of the universe's weirdest shit and strangest phenomena. On second thought, maybe he was in a dramatic mood. It wouldn't be a surprising. Space tended to make him wax poetic, but in his defense, that wasn't something it only did to him. No, the universe didn't hate him that much all the time. Only most of the time.
He had to admit, an interdimensional ship had its perks. One of which was the air bubble.
He could throw the doors open wide and sit like a child on a bridge, his feet dangling into nothing. Space was best observed through your own eyes. Sure, you couldn't see the gamma radiation, or the immense size of a galaxy, but seeing it with your own eyes was wondrous. He leaned back, linking his fingers behind his head and letting his eyes shut as his arms touched the metal walkway that lead to the doors. Light shone through his eyelids as he lay there, taking slow, deep breaths. It didn't matter how often he did it, but stargazing always quieted his mind.
It made him existential, and probably led to his belligerent attitude 60% of the time, but it helped him to keep perspective. In the scope of the universe, we are so very, very small. He had never been particularly religious, but it was times like this when he wondered if this is what people meant when they said that they were awestruck by the power of God.
He chuckled at that. Sitting up, opening his eyes, and unlacing his fingers, he stretched his arms and stood, bracing himself against the doorway. Still chuckling slightly, he closed his eyes, letting his memory guide him as he closed the doors and walked back to the controls. He shook his head.
"I saw Troy fall, why the hell would God matter to me?" he muttered to himself. His voice was rusty, he hadn't used it in quite a while. Mostly what he had been doing was getting drunk and having debates with a computer he had found in one room or another. If asked, he most likely would not be able to find the room again. He may have been drunk, and wandering around because he was bored. It wasn't his fault that the ship was basically sentient, and had no real need for him. Well, it actually was, but he didn't mean it. Thinking back on the incident, he was definitely drunk.
The computer is ancient by 25th century standards, and is a technological marvel by 18th century standards, which is to say it's a MacBook. A possessed MacBook, to be more precise. Well, if he is being extremely precise, it's a MacBook rigged up to host the incorporeal form of a being he's not entirely sure exists. He learned not to ask much about that part of it, because he is a traveler and a drunk, if nothing else, not an IT guy.
The possessed MacBook in question was currently sitting on the ground next to a pile of blankets in the control room of the ship. Every part of that phrase is in heavy quotation marks, because he's not sure if it's actually possessed, if there's actually a ground on a spaceship, and also because the ship doesn't really have or need a control room. He used to be able to fly it, but now there's no need. To fly the ship now would be like grabbing a painter's arm and painting for them.
Abandoning his thoughts of painters and the past with a shake of his head, the man sat down next to the controls. He had, at one point, actually had a bedroom, somewhere. However, he couldn't be bothered to find it again now that it was just him in the ship. It was still somewhere, he was sure about that, but he didn't know where it was, exactly. So, he had comprised by grabbing blankets from everywhere he could find and making himself a blanket pile in the control room. It wasn't really a compromise, but it was a reasonable solution. The control room was the one place he was certain he could find in the ship. Mainly because it was the first room anyone walked into when they walked into the only entrance/exit the ship had. It was the safest bet. He was good at safe bets. Mostly.
Closings his eyes, he let his head tilt back to touch the controls. It wasn't enough to mess with anything, he wasn't a moron, but it was enough to let him relax enough to drift a little.
He wasn't asleep, not at all. He wasn't awake though, either, and he felt like he existed in a quantum state.
Floreal would have laughed at that, at him. With him, because Floreal was so positive that she radiated it. Positivity waves, making everyone around her just a little bit more happy. He wished she were still here. She was, in a way. Her own way. Floreal was with him wherever he went, just like before. The ship beeped quietly. He opened his eyes, seeing only the beams holding up the ceiling. It was a familiar sight. He sometimes wished it wasn't. Traveling was lonely and made you contemplative, and when you mixed those two things with an inferiority complex and clinical depression, it made for a very sad and bitter man.
He smirked, rolling his eyes. He imagined what a teacher would have said. DOES NOT WORK WELL WITH OTHERS written in big red letters in the teacher comments section. It was stupid, but it let him forget about his loneliness for a second.
He closed his eyes again, letting the hum of the ship's engine lull him slowly to sleep.
It was Thursday. It was also cloudy, April, and cold, but none of these facts changed the fact that it was Thursday. Thursday was a solid fact, a definite part of his universe, his own kind of routine, because Thursday was Meeting Day. Enjolras liked meeting day. No, scratch that. Enjolras loved meeting day. It was the one day a week where he didn't feel restless, didn't feel like he was going to jump out of his skin because he had the itch to do something, anything, everything.
Usually, Enjolras found facts useful at best, and a nuisance at worst, but today seemed different. Facts were great, don't get him wrong, but trying to prove what he already knew by backing it up with facts had always been the worst part of any project. However, there was always something different about Thursdays.
Thursdays were days where Enjolras planned to change the world.
It wasn't his fault, really. He blamed the old man, but in his heart he know that he was just shifting blame. The Judoon were just really, really single minded and they knew that he had done something wrong. It had been 5 years since that, and he regretted it, sure, but it was past.
Whether he bad gotten over what he did or not was debatable, sure, but what was not debatable was the alarm going off in his ship as the incoming fleet fired plasma cannons at him. The controls flashed, and he knew that the connection between him and his ship was definitely influencing the reaction. His ship was slightly psychic at the best of times, and was very psychic at the worst of times. This was effectively the worst of times.
A familiar voice said something to him, the echo of the tone making his brain ache. He didn't even hear what she had said.
R! What did you do? The voice was soft, but authoritative, tinted with worry and concern.
He sighed. He hated nonverbal conversations, and refused to participate in one when the ship was being attacked.
"That's not the question you should be asking me, Flo," he answered, trying not to sound panicked. It didn't work. "The real question is how they found us. This is a ship that, at any minute, could be anywhere and any when in the universe. How in God's name-" he was cut off by a sudden maneuver that sent him reeling.
Fine then. How did they find me? I’m almost impossible to track! And regardless, how did they get the timeline so... Odd? R closed his eyes, still seeing the flashing lights behind his eyelids.
"What do you mean?"
Either you don't know what you did, and they're chasing you for something you didn't do yet, or you did something about, oh, 5 years ago and only found you now. Which is it, you know I can't do memories.
"How did you-"
R, I've been the ship for four years, and I don't know about anything that would make the space police want to chase you through time and space for.
"Fine, but how do you know-"
This model of ship coincides with mid 21st century earth almost exactly, and the Judoon can't time travel. If they were here for him, it would be a different model. Trust me, they're here for you. he sighed again. "I hate psychic conversations."
No you don't.
She was right. She usually was. "Where are we, anyways?"
April 2018, orbiting Earth. If you want to land, best place to do it is Paris. No time travel today. He frowned, eyes still closed. "Why? You're a time traveling ship, why can't you time travel?"
Timelines. Her voice was sing-song, a child who knew a secret. you have to be in this time period today. Don't ask why, I can't tell you. he sighed again. He seemed to be doing that a lot." Fine. Land us in Paris and I'll just-" he paused, opening his eyes. "What do I do? Just, wander around Paris?"
You leave me on a street corner and go find your future. He laughed. "By wandering through paris in 2018?"
By wandering around paris in 2018, she echoed, and remember, don't get caught!
He barely had time to pull on century-appropriate clothes before the ship landed, and he was practically thrust out the door into the cloudy streets of Paris. He didn't know where the Judoon had landed, but it probably wasn't too far behind, so he decided to get as far away from his ship as possible. It didn't exactly happen as planned, because no sooner than he had lost sight of his ship, he heard the telltale whir of a Judoon teleporter. He sprinted in the other direction, down the sidewalk, through an alley, and across a fairly busy road, hoping to throw them off.
It didn't work. As he stopped to catch his breath, leaning on the front wall of a building for rent, he heard the whir of another teleporter. They must have really good tech, to be able to trace his exact location in a big city.
Internally resigned to the thought of space jail, R decided to slow down and think this through. Floreal would be proud, he thought. He turned another corner and ducked into a coffee shop, pretending to look at the menu as he searched for another exit. There wasn't one, and he made an exasperated noise. Someone in front of him turned and shot him a little half smile. R nodded in response, turning to leave. As he pushed open the door, hearing bells chime behind him, he spotted the grey outfit of a Judoon a little ways down the street. Hoping it didn't see him, he tried to look nonchalant, like he was a hipster exiting his favorite underground coffee house. Glancing over his shoulder, he saw that it was a Starbucks. So much for that. As well as bursting his hipster identity bubble, the look over his shoulder had also shown him that he was, in fact, being followed.
Unfortunately, the Judoon had recognized him, and was quickly gaining on him. Cursing under his breath, he started walking faster, weaving through bunches of people and dodging trees and street lamps. They weren't on yet, it seemed to be early evening and the sun had not yet set over the skyline. The Judoon tailing him was getting closer, and R had to stop thinking about the skyline if he wanted to avoid space jail. He turned a corner, and then another, glancing around for any way to escape. He turned another corner, a little too suddenly, and almost ran into a man crossing the street. He muttered a quick apology, using the opportunity to look behind him. He cursed internally, two more had joined the chase. Looking around for a way out, he sighed, finding none. There were two flanking him, and one behind. He was trapped.
He didn't mean to go into the cafe, he really didn't. It was just that the door was open, and there was a squadron of Judoon coming from behind and the sides. He didn't intend to get caught up in the weird decor in the lobby, or the weird island made of napkins behind the front desk, or even the group of students in the back whose demeanor suggested study group but whose body language suggested plotting. Even as he entered, he intended to exit. He didn't so much enter as skid through the doorway, probably looking possessed and drunk, glance around for another exit, and then trip on a floorboard and fall on his face. He knew the Judoon didn't expect him to come in here, but they still may have sent a scout, just in case. He stood up, knowing his ears were red. One of the students turned in his direction, a question on his face. The question was simple, probably something along the lines of 'what the hell' or 'are you okay' or maybe 'are you drunk, stranger-who-just-crashed-my-plotting?'. Well, probably not the last one, the student looked more concerned than upset.
It was a young man, from the looks of him. He was tall, and seemed to be mostly arms and legs, and everything about him seemed long and thin. He had long hair, probably about shoulder length, based on the strands that weren't pulled up in a messy bun on top of his head. He also had light washed jeans, what looked like women's flats, and the beginnings of a frown on his face. He had a name tag stuck to his red button up, the name Enjolras written on it in thick black strokes. His arms were crossed as he approached, wispy blonde hair fluttering around his face with every step.
"Are you...alright?" he asked, because right, he fell, and then got up and has been staring at this guy for like, 30 seconds now without breaking eye contact. He looked down at his shoes and noticed the floorboard, sticking up like a warning.
"Yeah," he sighed, "I um, planned to do that?" he didn't really plan on making it a question, but it somehow came out that way. "Sorry I crashed your um-" he glanced around, looking for something that would let him talk his way out of this, "party?" The man smirked.
"Activist group. I take it you're not here for the flyer committee?" his voice had a little bit of an accent, and he- Enjolras- was clearly unimpressed. He didn't blame him.
"Unfortunately not, but I could be, if you persuade me. I seem to have some time on my hands." He really didn't, because the Judoon would be coming in a few minutes, if not sooner. He felt like he should stay though, make flyers or banners or whatever the group was doing. He couldn't. People meant connections, which meant weakness, which meant loss. He was alone, and he was fine with it. Across from him, the man raised his eyebrows.
"Sorry, what was that?" he asked, feeling his ears go red. "I didn't catch it." the man uncrossed his arms, and then recrossed them. " I said, we don't have enough supplies for people who aren't already committed. If you want to help, you can work on outreach through our website."
R nodded. He could take a look at the website and then be on his way. A monk in the 28th century had taught him how to code, and while it wasn't exactly the same, he'd like to think that he retained some of those skills. Either way, he probably didn't need to have advanced coding skills to do outreach. He nodded, letting the man walk away and following him after a few seconds. The cafe was boxy, with small wooden tables scattered around the interior. There weren't a lot of customers, it was mainly the student group, all huddled in one corner, papers strewn over a myriad of tables pushed together unevenly.
Enjolras led him to a small table with a laptop balanced on top of it. A man with light brown skin, startlingly red hair, and an incredible amount of freckles was sitting about 10 feet away, typing hurriedly on a computer of his own. He looked up when R passed, the light from his screen catching the bags under his eyes and making him look exhausted. He nodded, smiling slightly and R returned the gesture. He sat down at the laptop, glancing at the flyers near the keyboard. Enjolras had explained that his job was to copy the information from the flyer onto a new page on their website, and that if he needed help, to ask Feuilly, who was sitting closest to him. R figured that Feuilly was the man with the freckles. He wouldn't be needing his help.
The website was rudimentary at best, simple and easy to manipulate. R glanced around, and seeing that no one's eyes were on him, he opened the source code.
It was simple, really, to upgrade the website and make it more cohesive. He wasn't even that good at coding, and yet he had the thing looking nigh on professional in, like, 15 minutes. He didn't copy off the information from the flyer. It was for a rally, protesting the appointment of some public official who was supposedly a bigot. R had no doubt that he was, of course, he knew how to read people and Enjolras was not a liar, but the statement was somewhat outlandish. He also didn't really believe in their cause enough to put in the effort.
He drummed his fingers on the table, trying to figure out an escape route. If he could evade the Judoon for long enough, he could probably get back to Floreal and leave. She hadn't said that he couldn't come back, after all. Only that he had to leave. And he had. The rhythm he tapped out was something he vaguely remembered from his childhood, a simple tune someone had hummed to him at some point. R found that he was doodling, drawing a spaceship the loomed over a tiny rhino. It didn't look terrible, but it wasn't his best work. He crumpled it. Leave no traces that they can track, idiot. His inner voice sounded a lot like Floreal. Leaning back in his chair, he tried to peer out the windows in the front of the cafe, to no avail. Even if there were Judoon outside, he couldn't see them. Frustrated, R thought about getting up and just looking out the window for himself, but somehow he didn't think that would work very well. If he acted suspicious, the student group would be more likely to tell the Judoon about him. He didn't really want that to happen. He picked up his crumpled doodle, turning it over in his hands. He put the crumpled piece of paper in his pocket. As he did so, his fingers brushed against a small box. He grinned. A plan was forming in his mind.
Standing up, he stretched nonchalantly. Turning to the red haired man near him, he quietly asked if it would be okay for him to smoke outside of the cafe. The man replied that the owner didn't like people smoking out front, but there was an alley around the back that he could stand in, if he really needed to. R bit back a grin. He headed in the direction the man had mentioned, hand in his pocket, gripping the box of cigarettes. If anyone noticed him leaving, they didn't let on. This was even better than he had hoped. His original plan was to just smoke out front and keep a lookout for any suspiciously large people wearing space suits, but with this luck, he might even be able to avoid space jail. Might.
The alley was exactly what most people would think of when you told them to imagine an alley. It was dark, grimy, and had a kid standing in it, looking like he was going to either sell you drugs that didn't work or beat you up with a sink faucet. The alley was perfect, and the kid was a plus. He looked bored, playing with his phone like he had been told not to play with it and was being spiteful. He was perfect. R took out the box of cigarettes, only half planning to actually smoke one. He had gotten them on Kenero 3, about 300 years in the past, but the kid didn't need to know anything about that. The kid looked up and R nodded at him personably, barely making eye contact. He patted down his pockets, trying and failing to find a lighter. He swore under his breath.
"Hey kid, you have a name?" His voice was light, carefulness in every syllable. If the boy was the kind of kid that R thought he was, he would be more than willing to help him out, if he got a reward.
"Gav." the response was curt and unfriendly. The boy didn't look up.
"Well 'Gav', what would you say if I gave you 10 dollars and asked you to run to the nearest store and buy me a lighter?" The boy looked up. He was thin, nondescript. Probably stole bikes in his spare time, or at least wanted people to think he did.
"I'd say that I'd do it for 25." Damn, he was more experienced than R had thought. He smirked.
"I'll give you 30 if you hurry and tell me if you see any really tall guys in grey, with weird dark helmets that cover their faces. How does that sound?" He dug through his pockets for a wallet. The boy smiled, all teeth and chin. "Sounds like a deal," he replied, putting his phone in his pocket. R opened his wallet. He wasn't exactly up to speed on mid-2000s French currency, but there were a couple bills that had a 10 on them, and he figured that if they weren't 10 dollar bills, France's numerical system was more fucked up then he had thought. He handed the bills to the boy and reminded him to hurry. Gav shoved the money in his pocket and slouched off, disappearing into the quickly growing shadows.
R leaned against a wall, taking a cigarette out of the box, and putting it in between his lips. It was basically the same as any earth cigarette, except that these were stronger, better for you, and tasted inexplicably like pasta. He didn't really like them, but he had put them in his pocket for whatever reason, and there they had stayed. Thank God for that. He checked his watch. The boy had been gone for about 3 minutes. He didn't really expect him back at all, but figured that it was probably best to give him 10 minutes before leaving. He tilted his head back and exhaled. The street light nearby clicked on, illuminating the alley with dull orange light. The sky between the buildings was a gradient, going from dusky pink to deep blue in a short space. R had seen skies on 100 different planets, easily, but no matter where he was, the skies always amazed him. The colors and hues that the sky always managed to create made his hand itch for a brush and his brain itch for a home he didn't have. He glanced down at his watch. 6 minutes. Resting his head against the brick wall again, he closed his eyes. Regulating his breathing, he tried to relax. There was an uneasiness in his chest that had settled there when he had spotted the first Judoon, and it had only gotten worse since then.
Regulating his breathing didn't seem to be working. The unease in his chest was still there, made worse by the waiting he had to endure, just standing there until the boy got back with his unneeded lighter and lifesaving report. He let out a breath, shifting his weight. He opened his eyes, meaning to check his watch, and nearly had a heart attack. Standing right in front of him was the young boy, lighter in hand, lollipop stick in his mouth, and a dangerous smirk on his face.
R didn't jump, persay, but he definitely didn't stay all the way on the ground, or stay completely silent during his surprise visit from the lighter fairy. One could say that he shrieked, but that wouldn't necessarily be the correct term. Exclaimed, maybe. Yelled, if you wanted to be more diplomatic. Either way, R made a loud noise and put a hand over his heart like a southern belle confronted with accusations of unfaithfulness. The cigarette almost fell out of his mouth. He had the sudden urge to dramatically whisper well I never!, just to complete the picture. He managed to suppress the urge, but only just. The boy chuckled.
"Jesus kid, you're quiet. Did you get it?" His voice was about half an octave higher than usual. Still chuckling, the boy replied.
"Yeah, here you go. I saw a couple of tall guys with space helmets, but they were all headed away from here." R sighed with relief.
"What direction?" The boy shrugged.
"I dunno. Downtown, I guess." R let himself relax a little. "What, are you on the run from some cops or somethin'? Did you kill someone?" He looked a little too excited. R laughed.
"No. They're not the cops, not here. I made some mistakes a while ago and they have long memories. And no, I didn't kill anyone. I was a smart-ass, and decided to be clever in front of the wrong people. Don't be like me, Gav. You'll live longer." he accepted the lighted from the boys small, outstretched hand. "Just for the record though, don't expect 30 bucks from every guy who needs a lighter. I'm one of the nice ones, we're a pretty small club." Gav tilted his head, expression knowing. With one hand, be gripped the upper arm of his other arm. It was a nervous gesture, and as R glanced at him, he noticed that there were some faint bruises around his wrist.
A small jolt of worry and surprise hit him, and before he knew what he was doing, he had pulled out his wallet and handed the boy another 2 bills. He didn't know what they were, and he couldn't bring himself to care. His eyes locked onto the boy's. They were dark, and looked old beneath his thin eyebrows and mop of dark hair. He had deep bags under his eyes, and now that R looked at him, he looked exhausted and a little like he was on the run. R knew the feeling. He thought about putting a hand on the boy's shoulder but decided against it. He looked like he was about to bolt. R knew the feeling. He opened his mouth to speak, not really knowing what he would say, but wanting to say something.
"Gav," he started, hesitantly "if you have any troubles that you can't handle, just-" he cut himself off. "-just know that it's okay to ask for help."
He said took a scrap of paper from his pocket and scribbled a number on it. He would probably regret this, but couldn't bring himself to care. He wanted to see Enjolras again, for whatever reason, and he knew that it probably wouldn't happen, but had to try. He smiled at Gav, and turned to the door. "You're a good kid. Don't let the world take that from you." He opened the door, unsmoked cigarette still hanging from his lips.
Enjolras hadn't done anything to deserve this. The oddest thing that had happened in the last week was the dark haired man who fell into the meeting, but even that wasn't too out of the ordinary. He was still peeved about that. The man had fallen into the cafe, interrupted the meeting, didn't help with flyers, and then to top it all off, had somehow upgraded their website and made it 100 times better, all without introducing himself or anything. Well, he had given Enjolras a note, which he had not looked at, that was still sitting at the bottom of his bag. Then he just left. No goodbye or anything. He had gone out to smoke, apparently talked to Eponine's little brother and given him money, and then just walked back inside to hand Enjolras a folded scrap of paper before leaving. A few minutes later, Enjolras could have sworn he heard gunshots, or something of the kind. No one else seemed to have heard, and there were no police sirens, so he figured it was a figment of his imagination. He had ignored the small flutter of panic in his chest when he heard it, as his mind unwittingly flew to the man who had fallen. They were unrelated. He had been sure of it.
Whatever had happened last week, it hadn't made a big impact on him. Or so he had tried to convince himself.
Still, he hadn't been able to throw away the scrap of paper.
Maybe that was a good thing.
If you had asked Enjolras if he believed in aliens 24 hours ago, he would have deferred you to Combeferre, who was an astronomy minor. If you asked him now, he would have to say yes, because unless cosplay had drastically improved in the past week or so, he had been kidnapped by an alien and taken God knows where.
This week was shaping up to be a weird one.
At the moment, he was in a cell. He'd been in cells before, sure, but this one was just boring. It had no windows, just a metal door that definitely was not opening any time soon. He didn't know how much time had passed since he had been... Mugged? Abducted? He wasn't entirely sure what had happened, but he knew he was in trouble. He checked his phone. No signal.
He closed his eyes and sighed, resting his head against the cold wall. Absent-mindedly, he started dialing on his phone. He had almost hit the call button when he opened his eyes. Letting out a huff of laughter, he turned off his phone. It was useless.
Closing his eyes again, he let his head fall back again. Unbidden, he felt tears come to his eyes. He was trapped, possibly abducted by aliens in a place without cell service. He was going to die here, and no one would know where he was or why.
Combeferre would be the one to call the police, that much he knew. He knew Enjolras' routine, and when he missed a part of it, Ferre would notice. Enjolras took a small comfort in that. Even as he felt tears run down his face, he knew that someone cared about him. It only made him feel worse about being gone.
As he sat, his mind wandered. He thought back to the scrap of paper, still in his bag. Nothing else to do, he pulled the bag towards him, rooting around in it for the small, crumpled paper. It was at the very bottom, and Enjolras had to move some books in order to free it, but the momentary distraction made him feel a little better. Well, emotionally, at least. He felt vaguely motion sick, and wished that he had eaten before leaving home.
He unfolded the paper. It was small, barely big enough to contain the message it held. If you ever need anything. The handwriting was messy, all lines and loops. It was followed by an unusually long phone number, and signed only -R. He didn't really want to be in possession of the number, R wasn't really his type, and if there was such a thing as misuse of a weird pickup line, this would be it, but he almost wanted to call. Something about the man who had dropped into the meeting, dropped to the floor, and then left in a similar way to how he had come made Enjolras think that maybe when he had said 'anything' he had really meant anything. Tears still drying on his face, he sighed. It wouldn't ring, he knew it wouldn't, but if he tried and failed, R would never know, and that was a major consolation. He slowly entered the numbers from the paper, and delayed pressing call until the anxiety in his stomach threatened to overwhelm him. It wouldn't work anyways. It couldn't.
He pressed call.
There was a pause.
The phone beeped its dial tone and began to ring.
R was not expecting calls. He wasn't in the business of giving out his number, and the people who called usually weren't up for the message that had been recorded to get the caller to the right timeline. Hello caller, please state your year of residence and relative location. Please hold as we trace your time signature. If this is an emergency, press 1. If this is a courtesy call, press 2. If this is a warning call from a mob boss, the bomb was a fake and held only glitter. If this is a former companion, I'm so sorry. It was a good system, and kept him from answering calls meant for a previous owner. Or from his future. But the phone didn't ring often, because there wasn't anyone who would call. When it did ring, it was a nuisance, because the infernal thing was on the outside of the ship. Muttering a curse, he stood up from where he had been sitting on the ground, and hurried to the doors. Hooking one foot around the railing, he pulled open the door, leaning out and letting the wind push his hand towards the panel with the phone on it. He grabbed it, internally wondering why he didn't just have a cell phone, and picked up.
"Hello?" his voice was too loud, the wind outside the ship was strong.
"Is this R?" the voice on the other side was familiar, though not one he recognized.
"The one and only. "
"This is Enjolras. We met about a week ago, you fell into my meeting and then upgraded our website for whatever reason?" R didn't respond. His initial reaction was shock, because wow, Enjolras must have been in a lot of trouble for him to call.
"Hello? R?" Enjolras was starting to sound panicked.
"I'm here. What do you need, what happened?" He had meant to hang up, but the words had just flowed out like blood from a cut. He heard a deep breath from the phone.
"This is going to sound crazy, but please don't hang up. I think i've been abducted by aliens?"
R almost fell out of the ship.
"Look, I know it sounds ridiculous but i was walking to work like i always do when this guy stepped out of an alley. I'm not an idiot, i know about muggings, so i was on guard, until i looked at his face. He was enormous, easily 7 feet tall and R-" He broke off, unsettled. “R- he had a face like a rhino. I thought he was cosplaying or something, Paris can get kinda weird if you know where to look- but he grabbed my arm and pulled me towards him, and before I could do anything, there was this whirring and I felt like I was being pulled from one place to another and then I was just... Here. " R took a deep breath.
" Where is here? Do you know"
"I don't know, I think I'm moving though, I'm feeling almost motion sick. I don't know why I called you honestly, I should have called the police, or Ferre, or-" he cut Enjolras off.
"Ok. I don't know why you called me either, I honestly don't know why you called me either, I thought you'd lose my number the second you found a recycling bin. I'm glad you did though, because I might just be the only one who can help you." It sounded pretentious, and he knew it, but R decided he couldn't care at the moment. There was a pause before Enjolras responded.
"Great. The one call I can make and it's to the crazy guy. Fine. I'll play along, what do I do?" R suppressed a grin, even though he didn't really need to. "You don't need to do anything. I can track your phone and find you. Just keep it on, and keep it near you. I should be able to get right in, and you can just leave with me. No mess, no problem." He did his best to sound calm and collected. He wasn't, but Enjolras didn't need to know that."Really? It’s that easy." Enjolras was skeptical. "Just keep my phone on and nearby and you'll, what, come rescue me in a rocket ship? A flying saucer? I'm young, not an idiot." Enjolras sounded mad. "I can't believe this! I'm kidnapped by weirdos, and my one chance of escape is a delusional stranger with a flying saucer. I should have called someone else." he sounded like he wanted to hang up.
"Stranger? Sure. Delusional? Maybe. But a flying saucer? Please. You'll see. Hold on a sec, don't hang up." He heard a scoff from the phone, but he ignored it. Pulling the black receiver away from his ear, he leaned back inside, leg straining and sore. In the rush of the conversation he had stood, frozen, halfway out of the ship. "Floreal! I need you to trace this call. Exact time and place, or as close as you can get it. Within minutes and feet, not miles and hours, got it?" Floreal beeped from the control panel, instead of answering telepathically. She was probably already tracking the call.
He pulled the phone to his ear, letting the curly cord stretch."You still there?" there was a sigh from Enjolras. "Not sure why, but yes. I'm here. What did you have to do?" R grinned. "Trace your call. Don't worry, I'll only do it the once, if you only remember me from the meeting." He could practically hear the furrow of enjolras's brow. "What does that even-" he was cut off by a loud metallic clank "-I think I have to go. They're coming. If you're going to rescue me, you'd better do it fast, because I don't know what they're going to do to me." his voice was panicked, and R wanted nothing more than to tell him that it would be okay. He didn't. Instead, he cleared his throat. "I'm just gonna stop and grab some pizza and I'll be on my way."
"Be serious," Enjolras chided. R chuckled. "I-" he was cut off by another metallic clank. Panic rising in his throat, he clenched his hands, one making a fist and the other making the phone creak slightly. "Enjolras? Enjolras, are you there?"
The line buzzed, crackled, and then went dead
Once again, huge thanks to Jackie and Christina, you two rock my socks off! This one is weeks in the making, but I pushed through and finally got it done! Also, thanks to Ellie for the motivation to write more in the first place, this chapter is all because of you!
Im not entirley sure where this is going but enjoy the cliffhanger until i get over executive disfunction enough to write it.
EDIT: Now with good spelling and grammar! Huge thanks to Christina for editing, you’re wonderful!
He had been arrested before. He knew what police interrogations were like. This was similar, but with the added benefit of rhinos.
There was no benefit to the rhinos.
To say that R was stressed would be an understatement. It was understandable that he would be pressured, given that he was the sole person in charge of saving someone, but this went beyond that. This was more than stress. This was flat out panic.
The phone offered no noise, no comfort. His mind was racing, heart feeling like it was going to beat out of his chest. Floreal was nowhere to be heard. He didn't even know if she had had enough to trace the signature of the call. He hoped she had.
The wind rushed past his face. It was cold, which was to be expected. He wasn't exactly sure where and when they were, but it was somewhere with wind and air, he was 60% sure of that. It was dark, and he couldn't see anything. He looked down at his hand. it was still clutching the black phone, knuckles white from clutching it tightly. The light from within the ship was the only light around, making him feel isolated and alone.
A voice in his head told him to step inside. It sounded like Floreal. A lot of his more rational thoughts sounded like Floreal. That was probably not a good thing. He stepped inside. Floreal was basically his conscience now.
R, I'm not your consience. I'm your co-pilot. Oh. So the voice had actually been Floreal. That was a danger of psychic ships, he supposed. Accidental co-opting of the inner voice.
Snap out of it, doofus. We have a Situation on our hands. he could hear the capital letters in her voice.
Stop being so melodramatic.
"Sorry." He answered aloud, not wanting to stand in the silence anymore. "You know what I'm like."
Bad in emergencies? yeah, I know. that's why I'm the ship and you're the... She trailed off.
"Mess?" R supplied, a small smile pulling at the corners of his face. It didn't stick, and his face resumed its stony expression.
I was thinking more along the lines of passenger, but whatever floats your boat, I suppose. R shrugged. Floreal sighed.
Either way, thats not the point. the point is that im not sure I can pinpoint he exact time and place of that call. I've got it within 10 miles and about 3 hours, but I cant get much more specific than that. R frowned, again feeling the panic of the situation.
"What if we went back in time?" he closed the open door. "Wait, no, that wouldn't work. Could you rewind my timeline? is that possible? Can you make me go back in time a little, amd then you stay here and pinpoint the call while it's still going on? " He felt like a child.
R, if I try to do that, I will cause 13 paradoxes and you will die of an aneurysm. We're not going to do that. Frustrated, R hurried over to the center console, footfalls heavy and impatient.
"What can we do then? I can't believe you would just do nothing, Flo," He paused for a breath, eyebrows furrowed and shoulders tight. "That's just not your style."
If Floreal had had a face, she would have smiled. Instead, she just broadcast a smug sense of pride.
Well, I couldn't have executed my master plan with the door open. I don't want space mice. Before r could ask if space mice were real, the engines kicked into motion, the sound reverberating around the room.
I always have a plan, R
R wanted to bolt. The ship in front of him was too big, too armed, and too much, as he wanted to run from it. There was only one problem. There was nowhere to go.
Floreal had been able to fly within 10 miles of the Judoon ship, and finding large objects in space was very easy. Sometimes it bothered him that space was mostly space. This would have been one of these times, had it not been for Enjolras.
Finding someone in space was the easy part. Finding their time was more difficult. Floreal had managed to determine a 1 hour window, but a lot could happen in an hour. they had aimed for the beginning of the hour, just to be safe, but R was still nervous. The call had been dropped, and sure, Enjolras could have just hung up because he didn't want to let on that he had an escape route, but what if it wasn't that? R hoped he was alive. It was definitely his fault. Enjolras wouldn't have been in this situation if it weren't for him. aliens didn't just kidnap revolutionaries for no reason. At least, not in his experience. There would have been a lot less revolutions if that was there case.
Even through his shoes, he could feel the cold floor. Granted, his shoes were ancient, worn thin and made of flimsy fabric, but it was also probably because he was hyperaware of his every movement. Floreal had said that he had 3 minutes to scope out the ship from the outside while she scanned it for human biosignatures. It was probably an attempt to calm his nerves, but it wasn't really working. He was spacing out just as much as he was staring at the ship, jolting back into the moment with the same amount of shock every time. It was a viscious cycle.
R, your three minutes are up. It's time.
Enjolras was having a bad day. Abduction, Abandonment, Aliens, and now this. The rhino headed aliens had brought him into another room (just as grey and uniform as the other one, what a surprise) and were interrogating him.
He had been arrested before. He knew what police interrogations were like. This was similar, but with the added benefit of rhinos.
There was no benefit to the rhinos. He had called the police animals before, pigs and wolves and sheep, and they were, of courses, but that had been for the cause, and had also been a metaphor. This was just absurd.
"What is your association with the time traveler known as R?"
"Why did you assist in his evasion?"
"Where is the time traveler now?"
"For every answer you do not provide, you will be penalized. What is your association with the time traveler known as R?"
"One penalty has been added. Why did you assist in the evasion of the time traveler?"
"Two penalties have been added. Where is the time traveler now?"
"Three penalties have been added. How did the time traveler escape?"
"Five penalties have been added. Where-"
"Why did it go up that much!" Enjolras looked up from the nondescript table. "I am reserving my right to no comment, you have no right to penalize me for that. I did not consent to this, you have abducted me and commenced illegal questioning without an attorney present. I know my rights, this is illegal and inhumane."
"You are the last known associate of the time traveler. You will answer our questions."
"I will not." Enjolras refused to look the alien in the eye, instead staring resolutely at the plain wall behind him. The room was square and plain and boring, and the single judoon in the room with him was tall and plain and boring too. Despite the terrifying aspects of the whole debacle, Enjolras was managing boredom. it was insredible. He sighed.
"Define penalty," he said, bored.
"Penalty is defined as one death." The boredom was gone, replaced by panic.
"You can only kill me once." Somehow, he managed to keep his voice steady. Still staring resolutely at the wall, he heard a sound like laughter. It made his blood run cold.
"Not you." The judoon was not laughing, at least not that enjolras could see. the sound was laughter, yes, but it was so alien and strange that the hairs on the back of Enjolras' neck stood up.
"Every penalty means we kill someone you know." Enjolras stiffened. He would die for his friends, but having their blood on his hands was uacceptable.
"Repeat your questions from the beginning." His voice did not shake. The Judoon smiled. It had hideous yellow teeth, all too huge and human for the rhinoceros face they sat in.
"What is your association with the time traveler R?"
"None. He stopped in at my meeting a few weeks ago. I haven't seen him before nor since." His hands did not move from their place on the table.
"Four penalties. Why did you assist in his evasion?"
"I wasn't aware that I did. I didn't preform any favors for him, nor did I give him somewhere to hide, at least on purpose." his body was completely still
"Three penalties. Where is the time traveler now?"
"I don't know." His breathing was steady.
"Two penalties. What is your association with the time traveler R?"
"I already told you, I don't know him." His demeanor was calm. there was no use panicking, it would only get him and his friends dead. His voice did not shake. His hands did not move. His body was completely still. His breathing was calm.
There was a noise like time and space being torn. Instinctively, Enjolras went to cover his ears, forgetting the chains around his wrists. His hands stopped short of his ears. The noise continued. The judoon stood, chair knocking over and clanging to the floor. He reached for a weapon at his hip. Enjolras turned.
A door creaked open on the oddest sight Enjolras had ever seen. A blue police box was sitting behind him, about 7 feet tall and four feet wide. Its windows glowed with warm light. Silhouetted against this warm light was a figure, stocky and wild-haired. In the figures hands there looked to be a clunky, long barreled weapon of some kind.
The figure stepped out of the light of the police box, and the door swuung shut behind them, almost like it was being closed by someone else. It was R.
He opened his mouth, a cocky smile on his face. A wave of relief swept over him. The wave, however, only lasted until R started to speak. R looked right at him, smile large.
"Sorry I'm late, dear," he drawled, "traffic was awful." Enjolras sighed. Goddamn it, he thought, I'm going to die here. He looked pointedly at the ceiling. Faintly, he heard R laugh.
The rhino fired.
The Judoon did not miss. The shot arced over the table, over Enjolras' head, across the room, and right to R. Enjolras didn't even have time to cry out. Neither did R.
The shot did not find its mark.
The shot seemed to bounce off of an invisible shield, sending up sparks. R stood in place, unflinching. He smiled, looking almost feral in the fading sparks. The Judoon fired again, another shot arcing across the room, only to not find its target. Looking panicked, the alien fired again, and again, and again, but none of the shots hit the man he was aiming for. Sparks flew, hitting the floor and the walls and the prisoner, but the man within the invisible barrier did not flinch. He did not move. His smile slipped from his face.
Finally, the rhino headed alien seemed to run out of ammo, and he stumbled backwards, arms askew and feet unsteady. It opened a previously unseen door and exited the room, calling out in a guttural, single syllabic language as it did.
R stepped forward. The two were alone now, if only for a few moments. At some point during the action, Enjolras had managed to turn towards him, and was now staring at the other man with a look that could only be described as awestuck.
"Give me your hands," R said, putting the weapon he held in his arms to his shoulder. Enjolras pulled his hands closer to him. "Relax Apollo. It's a lazer gun, i'm just going to cut through the chains. Besides, if i need to shoot someone, I disabled the kill mode. It can only stun." Enjolras tentatively stretched his arms out. R aimed the lazer gun at the chains, carefully avoiding the rest of Enjolras' body.. Pulling the trigger, he fired a red laser at the chains, leaving a few inches between Enjolras' handcuffs and the cut. The chain broke with a clang, and the two halves fell against the table and Enjolras, respectivley. Enjolras stood, eyes fixed on the ground.
"Thanks, R." Enjolras' voice was quiet. "I didn't think you'd come." R smiled.
"I'm a lot of things, Apollo, but im not a liar. It took some time, but i made it." R lowered his lazer gun. Faintly, he heard the sound of approaching footsteps. He turned towards his ship, eyes darting between the door and the ship. "Let's get you home, ok?" He started to walk towards the ship. Enjolras did not follow him.
"Wait." Enjolras was still quiet. "The...aliens. They said that I had incurred penaties. they were going to kill one person for every penalty. One friend," he paused, still quiet and mostly still. The footsteps grew louder. "I still had two panalties." R turned back, nodding.
"They do that. Don't worry Apollo, your friends are fine." Enjolras frowned. "You're positive?" R nodded again.
"They bluff. There's no way thay know who your friends are, let alone being able to kill them. The Judoon are ruthless, but they're rule-followers, all of them. Law of the land is that you can't kill, and they won't." He started walking towards the ship again, nonchalant.
Enjolras replied before he really thought about it. "Promise?" He sounded like a child.
R paused in the doorway of the ship, not turning.
"I promise. Are you coming?" Enjolras looked at him, perplexed.
"With me? I'm here to break you out, after all."
"I-" Enjolras didn't move. The footsteps came closer, loud and pounding. "-I don't think I'll fit?"
R finally turned. He chuckled. "You'll fit. Don't worry." He turned back. "And Apollo? I would hurry. You'll find that I'm a much better companion than the Judoon." Enjolras took a few hesitant steps towards the police box. Outside, the Judoon came closer still. Enjolras took a few more steps. The judoon must have been within feet of the door. He was close enough to touch the box now. R stepped inside, holding the door open behind him. There was a crash as the heavy metal door smashed against the wall. Enjolras closed his eyes, and stepped inside.
The judoon entered the room to find only severed chains, toppled chairs, and one very blue, very tall, and very shut police box.
There was a noise like time and space being torn.
The judoon looked at the room. They saw only severed chains, toppled chairs, and nothing else.
The box was gone.
Enjolras opened his eyes.
He couldn't comprehend what he saw, and closed them.
Rubbing at his face, he tentatively opened his eyes again. The scene had not changed.
He was standing on a ramp of sorts, made of a metal mesh. Behind his were the doors he had just stepped through, looking the same as before. In front of him was a round room, the size of a large classroom. It was brightly lit, with large bare bulbs hanging from the ceiling and casting warm shadows of everything inside. Six concrete pillars held up the sloped ceiling, and as Enjolras followed their defined lines, he realized that the room was not round, but an oblong sphere, with a metal mesh, same as the ramp, creating a flat floor. The middle of the room was mostly taken up with a control panel of some sort, or so he assumed, with Aa center cylinder that reached up to the ceiling. the control panel was on a raised platform that echoed the shape of the panel itself, roughly octagonal in shape, and about 15 feet wide. the room was built in such away that Enjolras was looking up at the center shape.
As he looked around, he realized just how odd the room was. It was almost like he was in an egg, laying on its side. The walls were smooth, the only interruptions in the smooth surface being the masses of wires and rope like cables the all hung like a web, connecting above the controls. Blinking hard, Enjolras realized something that should have been apparent the instant he entered.
The ship was huge.
This was impossible.
Suddenly feeling like his head wasn't quite screwed on right, he clutched it the first thing he could. Fourtunatley, he found something. Unfortunatley, it was R's shoulder. he quickly let go and leaned against the doors instead.
"What," he breathed, voice trailing off. R smirked, a small laugh escaping his smiling mouth.
"Yeah." hHe replied, knowing.
"This... This was not what I-"Enjolras stood up suddenly, extending his arms in front of him and taking his first step forward into the ship's control room. He looked like a robort, arms waving methodically, and feet landing with careful purpose. R laughed.
"You won't find an edge. The ship isn't built like that." Enjolras ignored him. He moved forward, still moving strangely. He did not find a wall, or NY kind of resistance. As he got within feet of the controls, R bounded forward, quickly grabbing his shoulder in a mirror of what Enjolras had done moments prior. "Don't touch anything. I don't want to end up in Brazil when I'm aiming for paris." Enjolras did not reply. R did not let go of his shoulder. Enjolras lowered his arms, letting them hang limply at his sids. His eyes were dinner plate wide. R led him to a chair built into a railing encircling the platform. Enjolras sat, stiffly. R leaned on the controls opposite him, arms crossed.
Silence fell. It stretched like taffy, thick and full of things no one really wants to know about. Enjolras closed his eyes, falling into the chair with a soft thump. he covered his face with his hands, almost like he didn't want to see the sights before him. The engine hummed. The silence stretched on. Neither man spoke.
Finally, a chime echoed through the room. Enjolras removed his hands.
"That's telling us that we've arrived." R's voice was steady, and he looked at enjolras with a calm expression.
"Arrived?" Enjolras sat up, raising one eyebrow.
"We are now outside the Cafe Mustain in Paris, France. I dont know your address, sorry." He tilted his head. "Actuall, no. Im not sorry. That would be creepy, so im not sorry I don't know your address. " enjolras looked down at his feet. Through the metal grate, he could see all manner of wires and glowing panels, probably hooked up to the rest of the ship.
"Your ship," he started, not looking up "it's... bigger." He furled his brow. "on the inside, I mean." R chuckled. "Yeah. That's what everyone says. It's always bigger on the inside. No one ever says that it's smaller on the outside. Weird, huh?" His voice was amicable, friendly. Enjolras still did not look up.
"Who are you?" he asked, reverent.
"No one special. I'm a traveler, that's all." Enjolras huffed, eyes traveling along a wire like it's end would give him answers.
"No, really. Who are you?"
"I told you. I'm no one."
"Where... where did you get this technology? It's incredible!"
"I stole it." Enjolras' head snapped up. R smirked.
"It was a gift from an old friend. He was retiring, and i had nothing better to do."
"Why did you rescue me?" The smile left R's face. He shrugged.
"Really? That's it? I called you and asked for help and you managed to find and rescue me?"
R shrugged again. "It wasn't nearly that simple, but I suppose. You seemed like you were an interesting person, like your story was worth watching unfold. I merely untied a knot or two in your lifeline. Nothing incredible."
"You were able to not be hit by like, 20 space bullets." R barked out a laugh.
"That was the ship. Force field. Shes a good ship, knows how to protect me." Enjolras bristled.
"She? How old fashioned. I see the tradition of treating women like property and asserting it through inanimate objects is still alive and thriving, at least where you're from." R laughed again. There was no humor in it.
"Don't worry, Apollo. It's not exactly my choice here. If I were to call the ship by any other pronouns, she would probably never fly for me again. Her name's Floreal."
R nodded. "Yes, the ship. She's my longest and best companion, associate, co-pilot, and friend. AI, you know. Best out there."
"Oh. uh-" Enjolras looked up at the cylinder in the center of the control panel. "-Hello, Floreal. Thank you for taking me along, I'm in your debt." R snorted.
"How chivalrous. Besides, she's not in there, she's in here." Enjolras looked at him, expecting to see a panel, or a circuit board, or something. Instead, R was tapping his temple.
"She's....a figment of your overactive imagination?"
"No. Shes psychic. If you think a hello, she may even answer you. Might not, though. She can be flighty." Enjolras nodded, clearly just humoring the other man.
"Alright. Moving on from the, uh, psychic ship,"
No need to be so dismissive. Enjolras jumped, whirling around to find no one therre.
I don't have a physical form.
"Uh, sorry? I guess I can't really say I don't believe ridiculous things anymore, huh."
I don't think so. Enjolras shrugged.
"There goes my retort for dealing with the moderate right." R laughed.
"Flo, can you verify what I've said? I have a feeling our guest doesn't really believe me."
Sure! Enjolras, we are currently sitting outside the Cafe Musain, around the back so no one will notice us. You can step out those doors and go back to your previous life, if you so wish.
"I-I can? I thought for sure you would ask me to not say a word about what happened, or something."
Floreal said No one would believe you at the same time as R scoffed "Find me one person who would listen to your story." Enjolras nodded hesitantly, grabbing the armrests.
"Alright....I can just leave?" He sounded doubtful. R nodded, standing up. "I'll even open the door for you." He walked to the door, Enjolras following him hesitantly.
R opened the door. Just as he had said, the outside was indeed the back side of the Cafe Musain. Enjolras met R's eyes.
"Thank you," He said, and meant it.
"No problem," replied R, not meaning it at all.
Enjolras didn't move, instead staring out the open door like he didn't believe he was really home. R breathed in.
"Apollo- Enjolras," he started, halting. Enjolras looked at him. His eyes were very blue. "You, you don't have to leave. If you don't want to, I mean. I promise, it's not all like this. Space is...amazing. It's beautiful, and there's so much there to see. I can show it to you. If you want." He sounded very vulnurable. Enjolras didn't break eye contact. He wanted to say yes, to close the doors, to see all of space and to learn moree about everything, but-
He could aaccept. He wanted to accept. R clearly meant it. It was a tempting offer.
He almost said yes.
In another world, maybe he would have accepted. He would have smiled, and nodded, and r would have beamed. He would have closed the doors, and they would have dissapear Ed with a sound like a tear in space-time, and everything would have been exploration and enchantment. In another world, they would have left together.
It was not another world.
Instead, Enjolras dropped his gaze and leftt out a breath he did not know he had been holding. R's look of excited curiosity slid from his face. Enjolras did not see it. One footstep at a time, Enjolras exited the ship. He did not say a word. Watching, R was silent.
Enjolras left without a word. R closed the door softly behind him, and leaned against it, a puppet with its strings cut.
Outside, Enjolras looked back.
There was a noise like a rip in space-time.
The box was gone.
Sorry for the long tine between updates! Chapter three is on its way, i pronise. Chapter is unbetaed and only mostly free of spelling and grammar errors, so apologies for that.
Shoutout to my friends for supporting me, autocorrect for making this less of a mess, and Wikipedia for being the backbone of my research for everything in my life.
“What, are you going to steal my brain for your weird alien ship?”
“What? No!” R rubbed his temples, face hidden behind his hands. “I- no. I’m not going to steal your brain.
Despite the rumors, alien abduction did not radically alter your life.
The History Channel had lied.
Enjolras' life had not changed since he had been abducted by aliens with rhino heads. It hadn't been radically altered since the man with wild eyes had rescued him. It certainly hadn't been radically altered since he turned down the offer of travel.
That's the thing about alien abduction. It doesn't change your life. It only changes you.
Enjolras had changed. It wasn't something most people would have noticed, but those close to him had. Combeferre had sat him down two days after he had gotten back, and asked him what had happened. Well, his exact words were more along the lines of what the hell happened, you've been looking at the sky and down alleys like you're expecting a mugging, but same difference. Enjolras had taken a deep breath, and told him everything. He expected some kind of skepticism, but Ferre had just nodded, and smiled, and nodded more. At first, Enjolras had thought that he was just humoring him, but then he finished his story. When he thought about it, Ferre's response was unexpected, but also completely predictable. I knew it! Enjolras still chuckled at it.
Combeferre had noticed what was different about him. Combeferre had believed him. Those were two things that kept him grounded. The third thing was a picture on his phone. It was kind of blurry, out of focus, and off center, but it depicted a man with dark hair and strange clothes, pointing something that fired a laser at a space suit. What was inside the space suit was not visible, it wasn't a perfect picture. It was, however, proof that the man existed. It worked to ground him, keep his mind from doubting himself. Sometimes.
It wasn't enough.
His daily routine was boring. Wake up at 6. Shower. Get dressed. Put laptop in bag. Grab keys. Leave apartment, lock the door. Grab coffee down the street. Catch a bus to work. Work until 5. Catch a bus home. Dinner. Write some emails, or research for the cause. Go to bed.
Wake up at six, morning routine, lock the door, board the bus with coffee in hand, greet the doorman with a nod, say goodbye to the doorman with a nod, get on the bus, eat, evening routine, repeat.
Same things, day in, day out.
Enjolras hated it. It had been three months since he had met R, and it was like he was shown a gift and a future and something to strive for, and then it had all been taken away. Well, that wasn't exactly true. He had turned it down.
The worst thing was, he didn't even know if he regretted it. R was infuriating, and if his first encounter was anything to go by, aliens were absolutely terrifying and hostile. He knew it wasn't true of all of them, but it still had made him reluctant to go with R. Some days he wished he had gone with him. Some days he wished he had never met him at all.
The routine was still boring, the coffee still hot, the job still necessary. The emails were tedious, the bus was gross, the doorman was still there. The bag was still packed every morning, dinner was still takeout or something he threw together without much thought, his keys were always in the same place. Everything was the same.
Until it wasn't.
The sky was lightening outside his window, and there was a bird singing somewhere nearby. He grabbed his bag, feeling it’s weight, and determined that no, he hadn't forgotten anything. About 2 months ago, he had ripped the lining of his bag, and discovered that he could put things in the bottom of it, below the liner. He had packed three days worth of clothes into three tiny bundles and shoved them in the bottom. He had also added some toiletries, like a toothbrush and hair ties. The last thing he had put in the 'secret compartment' was a phone. It had cost him 15 dollars, but he had put a pay as you go plan on it and had added one number to it. He had not turned it on since he put it in the bag. It had been a paranoid decision that he had made and always half regretted. Still, he hadn't removed any of his supplies.
Hoisting the bag onto his shoulder, Enjolras stared absently at his phone. Feuilly had sent him an article about possible reforms to prison labor systems in the United States, and while he was skeptical about it actually passing, or even being a good plan, it could be a good start on worldwide prison reform. Operating on what amounted to autopilot, Enjolras grabbed his keys, still looking at his phone. They were cold, as usual, just two keys and a faux leather keychain for some kind of bird sanctuary. He didn't even remember where he had gotten the keychain from, but it did its job well. Pocketing the keys, he turned the handle of his door. He opened the door, stepping through it and into the tiled grey hall of his apartment building.
Except he didn't. He was not in the familiar grey hallway of his apartment building. He was not standing on the boring grey and black laminate tiles of his apartment building. He wasn't anywhere he recognized.
Hurriedly, he put his phone away. The room he was in could barely be called a room, if only because there were no walls that he could see, no ceiling above him, and only the floor beneath his feet. Ambient white light came from nowhere, illuminating nothing at all.
Without looking behind himself, Enjolras reached for his door. He grasped the knob, too shocked to notice that it was not the round, old doorknob he used every day. Still staring at the room around him, Enjolras wrenched open the door and stepped backwards through it. He closed it swiftly behind himself, leaning against the door as if he had just kept out some unspeakable evil. He closed his eyes, breathing hard. This had to be bullshit. It was some sort of prank, surely.
Calming his breathing, he opened his eyes, and then immediately wished he hadn't. Instead of his cramped but comfortable apartment, he was standing in another large room. This one was admittedly much smaller than the other one, probably about 30 feet tall and 15 feet wide and deep. There was nothing in it, save for one very large mirror, taking up the entire wall opposite him. It took up the whole wall, and seems to be framed in some sort of ornate silver frame, just as large as the mirror itself.
The mirror was filthy. Enjolras couldn't see anything reflected in it. Overcome by curiosity, he reached into his bag, pulling out a cleaning cloth. He didn't wear glasses, but Combeferre did, and never had a cleaning cloth on him. Stepping forward cautiously, he walked towards the mirror. He wasn't afraid, he wasn't sure he'd ever really been afraid of this place. He walked to the mirror, putting a careful hand to its surface. It was really there. He cleaned off a small area at around eye level, not really sure why. When it was done, he looked at himself in the now reflective glass. A face stared back. It was not his own.
Time did not pass regularly in the strange place Enjolras found himself in. He had tried to mark minutes, seconds, hours, anything, but it didn't work. More often than not, the markings would disappear whenever he turned his back.
Doing anything was a futile game.
Enjolras was not a nihilistic person by nature, but wherever he was seemed to encourage nihilism by its very nature. Every action was meaningless, because it only led to more actions that had just as much affect on the place as any other, which was none.
It was infuriating.
Time did not pass, he never got hungry, his eyes never seemed to close from sleep, and although there very well could have been a bathroom behind one door or another, Enjolras never needed one.
As the time didn't pass, he wondered if he had died.
As he lay on the ground, he wondered if he was in hell.
He asked the empty air.
It provided no reply.
As R rounded a corner in the long, boring hallway, he had a sudden urge to call himself a satellite and just be done with it all.
There was a reason for it, of course, thoughts like that were not the usual brand of intrusive thoughts that populated his mind. The reason itself was standing in front of yet another door, clothes wrinkled, hair unkempt, and looking all the more like the Archangel Michael because of it all. He sighed inaudibly, resigning himself to a fight. He leaned against the wall, crossing his arms. He fell, because entropy was a bitch and the multiverse was egging it on.
As he fell, he knew it was getting ridiculous. His body struck the floor just as a thought did.
Someone really wanted the two of them in the same place.
There was a thud behind him, and Enjolras whirled. A stocky man with dark hair was laying on the ground, arms crossed and face grimacing. It took him a second to register who it was.
The man looked at him, smiling easily.
"I'd ask what's up, but at the moment, it appears to be you, Apollo." Enjolras crossed his arms in a huff, eyes rolling.
"Is this your fault? I said I didn't want to come with you and you trap me in hell?" R took full advantage of his place on the ground, and laughed with his whole body, shoulders shaking and limbs pulling together until he was almost in fetal position on the ground, shaking with laughter.
The sound echoed around the room, making it seem far less empty and boring.
Finally, R's laughing subsided. He sat up, eyes crinkling.
"Sorry, I shouldn't make light of the situation. It's just," he broke off to giggle, "You're the last person I'd expect to see here, but you're also the one I know would need it most. And no, this isn't me."
Enjolras sighed, slumping against the wall opposite R. He had no reason to believe him, but he did.
"Fine. How do I get out, then?" R shrugged.
"You don't." Again, Enjolras sighed. Of Course.
"Fine. Tell me about it then, you seem to know the layout of my own personal hell scape much better than I do."
"It's a lesson in futility. This thing is called the Multivarium, and it's basically the theory of multiple universes expressed through doors. Behind every door is something, even if it's nothing. If you open a door, there's another universe where you didn't open the door. if you leave it closed, there's another where you opened it. So it goes, on and on and on forever. Except, not really, because there's a million universes where you die."
Enjolras took his arms from his knees and replaced them with his face. His voice was muffled.
R laughed again. "So," he started, "how long have you been here?" Enjolras didn't remove his face from his knees.
"Probably forever? Time is difficult to measure when you don't sleep, eat, drink, or see anything other than plain walls and unassuming doors."
Somehow, R managed to understand his words, and nodded again, even though Enjolras couldn't see it.
"Well, yeah. How are you supposed to learn your lesson if you die three days in because you don't have water?" R's voice was teasing. It seemed strange in this place.
Silence fell. It was comfortable, in a strange way. Enjolras realized that in that moment, there was no one else he would rather be with, if only because he didn't want to drag his friends to hell with him. After a moment, he frowned.
"Wait. You said that this place was infinite, right?" He paused, looking at R. "How did you find me?" R opened his mouth like he was going to reply, and then closed it, not knowing what to say.
"I don't know," He admitted, quiet. "Sometimes the universe does things in odd ways."
Enjolras snorted with laughter.
"That's the atheist's 'God works in mysterious ways', isn't it," he laughed, putting his elbows on his knees and his face in his hands. R chuckled in return.
"Maybe, Apollo." Enjolras frowned again.
"You keep calling me that. You know it's not my name, right?"
"Maybe I do, maybe I don't." Enjolras huffed.
"Can you give me a straight answer?" R laughed at that one.
"I can give you two answers, I suppose," he raised an eyebrow, grin wide, "and if you want to talk, let's talk. I'll give you two answers to any question you ask, and you'll have to decide which one is true." Enjolras a closed his eyes, exasperated.
"You're impossible," he sighed, "fine. Why are you here?"
"My parents decided that there wasn't enough suffering in the world, and decided to create some more. I was made out of pure starlight and rainbows and whiskey. There, two answers."
Enjolras frowned again.
"Do you take anything seriously?"
R smiled in a way that made Enjolras think that if he had been holding a drink, he would have taken a sip.
"I try not to."
Enjolras rolled his eyes.
"You're impossible." He repeated.
R chuckled. "I try, Apollo."
Enjolras groaned. "Of all the people," He trailed off, the thought not important enough to finish.
"Hey, that reminds me." All of a sudden, Enjolras' voice was harsh, not the exasperated sigh of before. "How the fuck did you find me!" It wasn't even a question, more of a manifestation of anger. R couldn't even reply, because Enjolras seemingly wasn't done.
"If this place is infinite, how did you find me? And for that matter, how did you ever even meet me in the first place? Is my life just that much of a cosmic joke?" His face significantly more red, Enjolras looked up at R, who quickly looked away.
"Look. Whatever you think I did to find you, I didn't. I don't have a tracker on you, I'm not watching your every move, I'm not following you, none of it. I literally do not remember how I got here. I was most likely kidnapped and taken from my ship, and placed here with any memories I had of getting here removed. It wouldn't be the first time something like this has happened to me." He still didn't look at Enjolras. "I met you on accident. I was running away, as usual, and your meeting was the only option. When God closes off all exits, he opens a Cafe door, I suppose. I gave you a number on a hunch. I picked up on a hunch. I found you through detective work and time travel. This time though? I have no clue how I found you. It shouldn't make sense, should it? This place is infinite, so I shouldn't have ever been able to find you. But I did. So now, you have to choose. I'm going to stay right here and close my eyes for as long as I can. If you want to leave, go. I won't follow you, at least not on purpose. You don't have to be stuck here with me." His eyes were still not on Enjolras. He closed them, head thumping against the wall behind him. What with his luck, he expected there not to be a wall at all. There still was.
He heard rustling in the still air. Enjolras, gathering his things to leave, probably. He had been carrying a bag, and presumably didn't want to leave it behind. R kept his eyes closed, and his breathing steady. He didn't care if a stranger left him alone in a nihilism creating extradimensional hell made of plain doors and walls, even if that stranger was one of the prettiest people R had seen, and who's blind faith in justice seemed to be stronger than his own will.
On second thought, R cared a great deal about being left alone. His eyes snapped open. There was a plain ceiling, with no discernable light source. The walls were white, plain and boring as ever. There were still doorways, changing whenever observed. This time, there were three doors, each looking the same as the last. He could feel the floor beneath him, wooden and solid. He took a deep breath.
On the other side of the room, Enjolras sat. Arms still folded, clothes still wrinkled, frown still there.
The suspense was always unbearable.
Walking into a room and not knowing what you would find was on the same level as a haunted house you know nothing about. The problem with this personal hell Enjolras was living in, was that a haunted house was scary. It lived up to your anxieties and fears of something creepy being behind every door. This place had no such reprieve. Infinite doors, infinite possibilities, infinite disappointments.
One door had behind it a single shelf, lined with 7 green bottles of various sizes. All were empty. All were unlabeled. R had grabbed one of the bottles as Enjolras closed the door, not realizing that it was empty. He had been disappointed, but the action had given Enjolras purpose. Even a small change like opening a door to 7 bottles and closing it to 6 was a change.
He had opened the door again, careful to not take his hand off the doorknob, and found that there were once again 7 bottles. They examined the shelf again, and R dismissed it as being the same, but Enjolras had noticed that the new seventh bottle was just the tiniest bit thinner than the original.
Usually, Enjolras would take hope in large events. Laws being passed, hate groups being dismantled, acceptance by certain groups, elections of the right people, things like that. The little things were to be applauded, but never celebrated, and certainly never the basis for hope.
The rules of before did not apply in this place. Enjolras had two options here. He could take joy in the little changes he could cause, and celebrate them as if they were the most important things in the world. He had seen the other option up close, and chose the first.
R opened another door, probably hoping for some kind of surprise, or an escape of some kind. There was nothing of the kind. Instead, a single dim lightbulb sat on the floor of the small room, screwed into a basic electric circuit embedded in the floor. The room was mostly dark, the only light source being the warm, dim light of the light bulb.
There was nothing else in the room. On the far wall, which wasn't really far at all, there was another door, looking the same as the countless other doors they had seen. Next to him, R sighed. Another disappointing reveal. Still, Enjolras mused, this was the first electric thing that either of them had seen since entering the place. It probably didn't mean anything.
The time stretched on and yet didn't stretch at all, and the continuous line of rooms quickly became monotonous. A single tree, bare of any leaves or fruit. Ten empty books, their pages a light blue and their covers a solid green. A room where the walls were all made of jagged rock. A door to absolutely nothing. A flood of bouncing balls. A room with no exit door, no floor, and no ceiling, just an endless sea of water lapping against the doorway. A small pile of shoelaces in a large room. A room with walls that changed color whenever one of them spoke. A room that the two of them could only just squeeze through. A room with jagged rock walls. Star shaped plastic, hanging from the ceiling in a pattern R said was called Aguine, the Archer. A single red leaf, which crumbled to dust when they touched it. Keys from a keyboard scattered around the floor, all the letter R in different sizes. Twenty-seven tiny shirts, all with different symbols printed on them in red. A room with no gravity. A single, dim light bulb with basic circuitry, embedded in the floor. A room with jagged rock walls. A room to nothing. A room made of what seemed like liquid paint. A room with noxious air, where they needed to hold their breath for several long seconds as they crossed the room, and then several more as R fumbled with the doorknob. Seven green bottles sitting on an empty shelf. Forty-four rocks, all identical. A room that changed colors as you talked. A parade of infinity, showcased behind countless identical doors.
It wasn't until they came across the endless water for the third time that Enjolras began to be suspicious. He knew the basic concept of infinity, and knew that within any room, there could be millions of tiny changes that would make the room a new one. He knew that neither him nor R could tell if they had been in a room before, because the doors were all identical, and no one could tell what was behind a door until they opened it. He even knew that he could have imagined that the bottle was thinner. However, despite all of this thinking, there was one thing he somehow knew for sure. The two of them were in a loop of rooms. Some only looped once or twice, like the room with a single leaf, or the one with the tiny shirts, but others seemed to be appearing more and more often. They would move through rooms in a constant motion now, only stopping to investigate if a room was interesting. Mostly, they were silent. At first, Enjolras had chattered about Before, trying to fill the silence. That was another thing. Enjolras’ life was now in two parts, the Before and the After. The Before was college, Paris, Earth, everything that had happened before the rhino headed aliens had taken him from an alley. The After was everything else. The weeks between his escape, the time between his capture and his phone call to R, however long he had been in this strange, infinite place, they were all the After.
He didn't know if he disliked the After.
It was funny, he supposed. If anyone in his circle of friends was the most likely to be abducted by aliens not once but twice, it was probably not him. He figured Combeferre would be the most likely. Combeferre was the most likely to be abducted because he had lost his wits and decided that by the end of his stay at school, he would earn two titles. Or one title, twice. No one was entirely sure about that.
That was a convoluted way of saying that Combeferre was double majoring, getting his doctorate in both medicine and astronomy. As Enjolras had said before, he had lost his wits.
He had said all of this to R, who only responded with a small, quiet laugh. R was often quiet. Enjolras didn't know if that was normal, or because of his presence. He did not voice that particular thought. Enjolras didn't know if R liked him, or if he resented being forced to travel together. Enjolras wouldn't have left him when he had the chance, it was bad enough being alone because there was no one else. Choosing to be alone after seeing who else was in there with him would have been difficult, to say the least. He also did not voice this thought.
There was no real way to test his theory, but Enjolras still held to its legitimacy. It was almost impossible that they had found anything at all, but he supposed that in all of infinity there had to be some sort of chance that this could happen. It was infinity, after all. There was always a chance.
They were in a loop of rooms. He had been skeptical before, but now, he was almost sure of it. The room they were in currently, a room about ten feet wide, ten feet tall, and ten feet long, had jagged rock walls instead of the usual smooth ones. It seemed like they had passed through it several times, but Enjolras had always thought that something had changed. Now, he wasn't sure. As R paused for a moment to look at the craggy, crystalline rock, Enjolras quickly rummaged around in his bag, pulling out one of his various pens. Clicking it so he could write, he crouched, pen hovering above the solid, non-rock floor. Carefully, he wrote one word on the floor in very large letters, right in the middle of the room so he couldn't miss it. R noticed, but didn't say anything. He didn't say much in general. Silently, they moved on, into a room with shifting sand that crunched under their feet.
The endless stream of rooms continued, each one just as disappointing as the last. Occasionally, Enjolras would ask a quick question, like “Is that green flames?” Or “Is there a chance that one of these doors will lead to my apartment” or the most frequent, which wasn't really a question, but rather a disappointed “Really?” Breathed behind R’s left shoulder where Enjolras constantly seemed to stand whenever he opened another door. R would shrug as an answer to any and all of these questions, rarely saying anything. It wasn't an unfriendly silence, but it was about as comfortable as a bed of nails. Aside from whatever sounds their feet made when stepping, the only noise that continued was their breathing. It was eerie.
Finally, as Enjolras was considering laying down on whatever floor the next room provided and staying there until something in this godforsaken place changed, R spoke. His voice was rusty from disuse, but it was still wonderful to have any reprieve from the silence.
“Look.” It wasn't an amazing start, but R continued. “I know you're hoping that this place will give us a way out, but it's just not going to happen. In all of infinity, sure, there's a chance that there's an exit, but it will take forever for us to find it.” He paused, looking grave. “And I mean that literally.” Enjolras nodded. He understood what R was saying, but it didn't change the fact that there was a chance. It was small, and flawed, and probably wouldn't amount to anything, but he didn’t care. He was too. R shrugged, turning back to the door in front of them. “Don't say I didn’t warn you.” He sighed, putting his hand on the doorknob. It turned, just like every other one had. The door opened, just like every other one had.
On the other side of the door, there was a room. The room was about ten feet long, ten feet wide, and ten feet tall. Exactly opposite them was another door, looking just like the one R had just opened.
The walls were made of jagged, crystalline rock.
They entered, looking around at the now familiar rock walls. R headed straight for the other door. Enjolras stayed frozen in the doorway, eyes locked on the floor.
Right in the middle of the room, there was one word, written in a familiar, sloppy handwriting.
When a revelation is made, it changes the lives of those involved. A discovery, a previously unknown fact, now known to a select number, that changes people. Changes lives. Hell, a big enough revelation can send entire cities into a frenzy, entire worlds into chaos. The previously unknown truth is dangerous and precious.
The revelation that the rooms were repeating and that Enjolras and R were stuck in some kind of unchanging loop was not life changing. It did not send their lives into chaos. There was no city to be frenzied, there was no world to be shocked. It was just the two of them, stuck in the same situation as before, but now it was more boring.
The loop was predictable, always the same order of rooms, always the same rooms. The endless ocean, where he would see the water and close the door, and then immediately open it again. The room to nothing, where they don't even enter, but just close the door and open it again to get the next room. The color changing room, where they don't even test out the limits of the chameleon-like walls. The jagged rock walls. The single light bulb. The hallway, where doors would appear and disappear, all leading to the same number of rooms, all in the same order. The ocean, the nothing, the color changing, the rock, the light bulb. The water, the in between room, the nothing, the in between room, the color changing, the in between room, the rock, the in between room, the light bulb. An in between room stood between each of the looping rooms, like a pause between words. They would sit in the in between rooms for no amount of time at all (or years, time didn't flow correctly here) and the next door they opened would lead to exactly what they expected.
R knew the routine like the back of his hand. Actually, he didn't know the back of his hand that well, so it might be more apt to say he knew the routine like he knew a bottle. However, that was slightly morbid and self deprecating, so he said nothing at all. It often went like that.
He was stuck inside his own mind.
The routine went like this: The two of them would start in the hallway, illuminated by the light from nowhere, shadowed only by metaphorical things, because there was nothing in the room apart from doors. They would open one door, and if it was one of the rooms they could walk through, they would do so. If it wasn't, they would close the door and go to the next one. Repeat as needed. The hallway interrupted the flow of rooms, acting as a barrier between one room and the next. If it was a room they couldn't walk through, they would close the door and open it again, finding the next room behind the same door.
It was the exact kind of monotony that R had hoped to avoid for the rest of his life. When he had been offered the chance to leave boring behind and experience something new every day, he had jumped for it. Even after his mentor had stopped, R had kept going. Every day, a new world. Every time he opened the doors to the ship- to his ship- it was something new and exciting and an escape from to daily crawl of life back on earth. Throwing himself into the idea of new-ness was the only surefire way to keep his feelings.
He doesn't look back at where he's been. The past was a novelty to be explored, but his own past, wherever he’s been before, he doesn't go back.
Somehow, R had been making mental notes about how many loops they had gone through. 18, 19, rest to break up the monotony, 20, 21. His counting had been fairly good, until he had lost count at 37. If anyone had asked, his best bet would have been around 45, but they could have been at 190 or 38 for all he knew. Or cared.
Cycle 45, R decided he had had enough. They had exited out of the lightbulb room, and Enjolras had lingered in the hallway, clearly bored. Neither one of them had any idea how long they had been in the Multivarium for, since Enjolras’ phone didn’t work and R made it a point to never wear a watch. They hadn't exchanged more than 100 continuous words since R had found Enjolras, although in the beginning, Enjolras had talked to fill the silence. R didn't know what to say, so he didn't say anything.
Infinity was not supposed to be this boring.
Infinity was supposed to be exciting, new, thrilling, and a million other buzzwords time traveler salesmen would use if they existed, which they probably did.
R sighed, and leaned against the wall, letting himself go limp when he felt its solid support. Enjolras didn't notice, or if he did, he didn't let on. He was walking over to the opposite wall to open the next door when R decided to stop him.
His voice was low and quiet, and even the single word seemed to be the loudest thing in the world after god knows how long they had spent in silence. Enjolras turned, surprised to hear anything, let alone R’s voice.
“It's useless. We’ll only find the rocks, and then the room to darkness, and it will never end.” He was right of course, because he had gone through the cycle at least 35 times before. At this point, he was only following because he didn't want to be left behind. Enjolras’ hand left the door knob.
“What else can we do?” He sighed, resigned. “If we stay here forever, there's no way we can escape. If we keep going, maybe we can force the cycle to be broken. We won't know until we try.” R groaned, sinking to the floor, where he put his arms onto his knees.
“We have tried. 37 times.”
“What else can we do?” Enjolras repeated, still resigned. He opened his mouth like he was going to say something, and then closed it, rethinking himself.
“Take a seat. I know we don't get exhausted here, but all this walking must be tiresome.” He laughed. It was completely humorless.
Enjolras leaned against the door, letting his head tilt back and his eyes close.
“Did you ever say the purpose of this place?” He asked, eyes still closed. R nodded, his own eyes closing. “Uselessness,” He said, a tone of finality in his voice. “In all of infinity, nothing you can do matters. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” He sighed. Enjolras sighed. Enjolras sank to the ground, mirroring R’s position, his knees to his chest, his arms balanced on top.
They sat and neither one of them talked. The silence was not new in any way.
“Who are you?” Enjolras’ question surprised even himself.
“I'm nobody.” R’s voice was very quiet.
“Bullshit.” Enjolras still had his eyes closed. “You have a ship that can teleport through space and you know about aliens and weird infinite prisons. The only nobody you are is the Odysseus kind.”
R laughed at that.
R opened his eyes, only to stare at the ceiling.
“So, what's your revolution?”
“What do you mean?”
“What’s your cause, what are you fighting for? What are you fighting against?”
“Freedom, I suppose. Freedom to be, freedom of religion, freedom of love, that sort of thing. Fighting against the system, corruption, bigotry, you name it.” R nodded, eyes still fixed on the ceiling.
“Is world peace on your agenda?”
If Enjolras noticed the sarcasm, he didn't let on. “Eventually. Paris first, then France, then everywhere else.” R snorted.
“Good to know you're thinking small.”
Enjolras huffed. “I suppose you think the world is fine the way it is then?”
“No, not at all,” R’s tone was light, matter-of-fact.
“Am I not thinking small enough for you? Would you rather I focus on something else?” Suddenly angry, Enjolras’ head tipped forward, eyes blazing. R chuckled.
“It's good to have hobbies.”
“This- this is not a hobby, it's a push for change, it's a union of people, it's the flames of a people's revolution!”
“That's nice.” R still had his eyes fixed on the ceiling. Enjolras opened his mouth to respond, but R cut him off.
“Do you know how many planets are in the universe?” Enjolras closed his mouth, taken aback.
“No, but what does that have to do with-”
“There's millions. Trillions, even. More than any human brain could comprehend. Suffice it to say, there's a lot.” Enjolras just looked at him, puzzled.
“Have you ever given direct aid to a community?”
“Yes, our group has supplied victims of natural disasters supplies, and we support local shelters and food banks.” Enjolras still sounded confused.
“I- our support gave to those in need? I don't think I understand-”
“Even if you feed one starving family, there's always another one the next block over. You rebuild a town destroyed by a hurricane, a bigger one will come in a few years.”
“The fact that we cannot feed every hungry person does not negate the food we can give. The aid we can provide doesn't just go away when more is needed.”
“It’s useless. No matter how many you can feed in one part of the world, there will always be someone starving somewhere else. No matter what change you make somewhere, it can always be undone. Whatever you teach can be re-taught. Eventually, even the aid you can offer is useless, because even if you can get a starving child off the streets, even if they live for 80 years because of your efforts, 80 years is nothing. It's 80 years out of the thousands of years of human history, it's 80 years out of the millions of years of life on earth, its 80 years in the 12 billion years that the universe has existed. It doesn't matter.” His breathing ragged, R stopped, still looking straight into Enjolras’ eyes. “There's no rhyme or reason to the universe, there's no justice in entropy. The empire of the tyrant king is made of the same dust as the empire of the benevolent one.”
Enjolras was silent for a moment.
“80 years might be nothing to the universe, but it is everything to the starving child. Even temporary change is still change, and even if things go back to how they were before, why should that stop anyone? It's proof that things can change if enough people unite and force the change.” R closed his eyes again, suddenly looking pained. He slumped, and his head fell forward onto his chest.
“You know what I miss?” He didn't move. “Eating. I'd give a lot to be hungry right now. I mean, I understand why we aren't, but it's so odd to never have to take care of ourselves.” Enjolras huffed.
“So do I consider myself the winner of this little debate, or is this a really strange introduction to a point?” Enjolras’ question wasn't really a question at all, just an attempt to be wry. R continued on as if he hadn't heard.
“Before this place, I used to think about food a lot less. I'd eat on whatever planet was closest. It was never something I really thought about. But now, I’d give a lot to eat something. A steak, a carrot, even a banana would be fine.” He trailed off, wistful. “If I saw a banana right now, I’d start weeping.” Enjolras was silent, looking concerned.
“I- I guess I miss food too? What does this have to do with the use of revolution?”
R didn't respond. He was staring at the door behind Enjolras with a vacant look in his eye. Great.
A silence stretched out, tense and uneasy. Enjolras warily regarded R, and R vacantly regarded the wall above Enjolras’ head.
It happened so fast, Enjolras didn't even register the movement until R was already halfway across the room. Gone was the vacant, wistful expression, replaced by a look of determination Enjolras didn't think R was capable of. He stood up as fast as he could, trying to get out of R’s way as he strode across the room towards the door.
“R, what are you doing?” His brows knitted together, concerned about his companion.
R looked at him, but it didn't even seem like he was registering his presence.
“R!” Enjolras waved his hand in front of R’s face. “R, what are you doing?” Finally, his movement seeme to bring him out of his trance. R blinked, and he fortunately seemed to focus on Enjolras. Unfortunately, the only thing he said was “Bananas, Apollo. The bananas will help us escape.”
“R, please sit down. I think this place has gotten to you.” R shook his head.
“Bananas, Apollo.” A smile spread across his face. “I can’t believe i didn't think of this sooner.” He gestured with his arms towards the door. “Potassium.”
“What about it?” Enjolras replied, still wary.
“The rocks! Enjolras, they have potassium in them!”
“O-kay,” Enjolras said, stretching out the word. “How does that help us escape?”
R looked his right in the eye, beaming. “The water! Enjolras, Potassium reacts with water, and it creates an explosion! If we can create an explosion, we might be able to get out of this hellhole!”
The truth of his words dawned on Enjolras, and he too stared at the door.
“Are you sure? How can we create the explosion if the rocks are in one room and the water is in another? They're not even connected.”
“That doesn't matter. I need to make sure that the rock is what I think it is.”
Enjolras’ frown left his face, replaced by surprise.
“How do you do that?”
“You'll see.” R responded with a wry smile.
The rock seemed to be important. R had proclaimed about as much as he led the way into the room, and seemed to believe his words as he tested his theory. Enjolras didn’t approve of his scientific methods, because he believed in caution and reason.
That was to say, R licked the wall.
Enjolras had been understandably confused and concerned, because the guy who had the best plan to get them out of their infinite prison was licking an unknown rock attached to the wall. Then, when R smiled and declared that it definitely was Kalvite, Enjolras had been concerned and optimistic.
They had kicked at the crystalline structure of the rock until several fist sized chunks fell off the wall. R had picked them up, still smiling, and led the way out of the room.
Enjolras had wordlessly followed as R led him to the next room, where he unscrewed the lightbulb and handed it to Enjolras. R placed the rock in the place where the light bulb had been, cramming as much of it in as possible. Enjolras looked down at the lightbulb in his hands.
It wasn’t even dusty. The room was dark, lit only by the light from the in between room through the open door
“What are you doing? What is that rock?” His voice was maybe a bit more harsh than he had intended. R didn't even look up.
“It’s called Kalvite, it's an amalgamation of a bunch of stuff. Some stuff you wouldn’t recognize, some you would, but most importantly, potassium.” R continued to try and cram the rock into where the light bulb had been.
Enjolras thought back to his chemistry classes. Potassium wasn’t very rare, but it wasn’t found in a solid form.
As he watched R work, he realized what he was doing.
“The water! R, that's incredible!” R smiled, only looking up for a second.
“We can put water in the light bulb, and then pour it of something thats covering the rock! That way, we’ll have time to get away from the explosion! R, that's genius!” R finished shoving the rock into the ground, and looked up at Enjolras.
“Uh, yeah. We’ll do that.” He rubbed the back of his neck, looking sheepish. “I, uh, didn't actually think about that. I was just gonna hold the water in my hands and throw it at the rock. Your way sounds...much safer.” Enjolras couldn’t help but snigger.
“That sounds like a plan with far too many ways to go wrong.”
“It really does, doesn’t it?”
Enjolras looked down at the rock. “Is it conductive?” R shrugged.
“No clue. Either way, this should do something, and I’m hoping that something is separating the potassium from the rest of the rock.” Enjolras shrugged in response, looking down at the light bulb. He twisted the metal cap at the end, taking it off easily. He threw the rest of it to the floor, hearing it thud without seeing it.
R stood, leaving the rock behind. Enjolras followed, moving towards the door. Together, they entered into the in-between space, the act as natural as anything. Enjolras opened the next door, not stepping through it. He knelt down, placing the glass bulb into the water. It was cold, almost freezing, but Enjolras didn't remove his hand. The bulb filled with the cold, clear water, and as the water closed over the mouth of the bulb, Enjolras removed it from the water. He carefully lifted it up, not wanting to spill any. R closed the door behind him, and opened the other door, finding the nothing, and then closed that one. Enjolras stood still as R opened the two doors on either side of him, hurrying back and forth in order to get to where they needed to be. He felt like the eye of a storm.
Finally, R opened the door to the now dark room where the light bulb had been. The ambient light lit the floor of the room, where the rock sat, unchanged. R entered the room, carefully using the sleeves of his shirt to avoid touching the rock, and removed it from the socket. Carefully, he held it in one hand, and left the room, closing the door behind him.
Enjolras held out the bulb to him.
“I have an idea.”
R accepted the bulb, and held it away from himself and the rock in his other hand. Enjolras swung his bag off, and reached inside, grabbing the first piece of clothing he could find. It was an old shirt from a band he had liked in high school, a tee with white lettering on the grey fabric. He balled it up and put his bag back on.
“If we put the rock inside this, and then pour the water on top, then we can have some time to get away from the explosion.” R nodded, extending the rock out to Enjolras. Enjolras grabbed it using the shirt, and used the corners to create a pouch to keep it in. R smiled, headed for the next door.
“This just might work, Apollo.”
Enjolras nodded as R again opened and closed the two doors, moving back and forth like a storm until they were where they needed to be.
“We’re using the room with nothing in it, right? It seems only natural.”
Enjolras nodded, eyes fixed on the cloth pouch he had made.
“We can open the other door hide behind it, just as an extra precaution. We may get wet, but we may also get out.” R hummed in response, opening the doors in front of and behind Enjolras. Water sloshed out over the floor. Enjolras hurried over to the doorway into nothing. He placed the shirt at the spot where the hinges would have been, thinking that it would probably be the weakest place. As he hurried away, R strode forward, bulb of water outstretched. He carefully poured it over the shirt, dropping the bulb after the water was all gone. As Enjolras hid behind the door, R ran, taking cover closer to the wall. Enjolras peered out from behind the door. He didn’t see anything.
Enjolras wanted to say something. He opened his mouth to say something, something like ‘I hope this works’ or ‘I hope we’re safe here’ or even ‘R, I’m glad I’m stuck here with you’, but before the words could tumble out, the rock exploded.
As the dust cleared, they saw something new, and that in and of itself was a miracle deserving of praise. There was no praise to be had, however, because the two were more preoccupied with cautious apprehension, which was fair. As two faces peered around their makeshift shelter, the air was still not clear, but something had finally- finally- changed.
Enjolras looked at R.
R looked at Enjolras.
Neither of them knew for how long.
They both looked at the empty, black hole left by the explosion.
It was a strange thing, the change. So little had changed in so long a time, neither of them really knew what to do when it did. The white dust settled on R’s unkempt curls, on Enjolras’ shoulders, on the simple bag sitting between them.
Enjolras moved first. He moved closer to the hole, tentatively. R watched him, waiting to see if he would leave him behind. He half expected that Enjolras would.
He didn't. Enjolras stood in front of the hole, showing no signs of moving closer. Despite the recent explosion, the room was clinically cold. R moved towards Enjolras, standing next to him and watching the hole in the wall with him. Neither of them dared take their eyes off of it. The room was silent, save for their breathing, which almost matched up the longer they stood in front of the opening. Almost, but not quite.
If either of them had been a little different, Enjolras would have brushed his hand against R’s. If either of them had been a little different, R would have stood close enough that their shoulders would have touched. If either of them were a little different, they would not be standing in front of a newly made doorway in an infinite prison.
Without saying a word, they stepped forward together.
One old, ratty tennis shoe, one nice dress shoe. Two pairs of pants, two people, one bag, and the bated breath of not quite strangers who did not know how long they had been trapped stepped into the dark. Into the unknown.
They emerged silently, and without dying. This was undoubtedly a good first sign.
The room that they emerged into had white walls, a white ceiling, and no discernible light source. There was no door behind them, and no doors on any of the four smooth, white walls. The cycle of room after room after room after room was finally broken. Exactly opposite the two of them stood something that made R smile for the first time in what could have been years.
Across the barren room stood a single thing.
A blue box.
Of course, it wasn’t just any box.
Across the room stood R’s ship, just as unassuming and out of place as it had been in the alien ship Enjolras had been imprisoned in.
R could have fallen to the ground and cried. He could have run and hugged the ship, yelling to Floreal that he was back, saying it would all be okay now and that he didn’t know how he had left. He could have grappled Enjolras and-well. Could have, not would have.
What he did do, however, was let his smile take over his face, and turn, beaming, to Enjolras. Enjolras looked like the sun, as per usual, but now he looked ecstatic and relieved in addition to godlike and untouchable. Enjolras bounced from one foot to the other, celebrating like a child who had won at an arcade or something. He even went so far as to pump his fist in the air. R smiled wider, chuckling silently to himself. Enjolras seemed to notice his movement and quickly stopped his celebration, going slightly red. R pretended that he hadn’t seen anything, and gestured towards the ship. Still smiling slightly, Enjolras took one small step toward the ship, and then another. His stride lengthened until R almost struggled to keep up with him.
They reached the ship quickly. Enjolras reached out a hand to touch it, to feel if it was real, but stopped short. If they had gone through all this only to end up hallucinating a way of escape, R didn't know what they would do. Lose all hope and finally give in to the infinity of the Multivarium, probably.
Enjolras’ hand stopped, mere inches from the ship, and hovered there for several long, silent seconds. R noticed that their breathing was not synced like before. For some reason, that seemed to bother him more than the possibility of not getting out. Enjolras sounded panicked, almost as if he didnt believe that the Multivarium would give them this escape. He was right, of course. The Multivarium hadn’t given them this gift. They had given it to themselves.
R reached out and placed his hand on Enjolras’ shoulder. Enjolras imidiatley turned to look at him, hand still frozen, not touching the ship.
“Enjolras,” he started, letting his voice be soft, and his smile warm. “It’s going to be alright.” Enjolras inhaled, giving R a small smile in return. He still looked like the sun. R removed his hand, not taking his eyes off Enjolras.
Enjolras’ hand moved forward, alone on a slow journey to find the truth. That was probably a really dramatic way of putting it, but R considered this a dramatice situation.
Enjolras’ hand touched the smooth wooden outside of the box, laying flat against the blue paint. His sigh of relief was not unwarranted, and R allowed himself a small exhale. Almost as if Floreal was waiting for a signal, the door swung open. Enjolras looked over at R. R had not stopped looking at Enjolras. Their eyes met. Enjolras smiled. R closed his eyes, blinded.
Ducking his head, R turned towards the door, and motioned for Enjolras to lead the way inside.
The tardis was exactly the same as it had been before. Egg shaped room, mesh floors you felt uncomfortable stepping on lest you fall through, hanging wires that sparked if you flew in any kind of exciting way, the whole thing was just as R remembered it. God, he had missed the place.
Dazedly, he and Enjolras walked up the ramp to the control center, and Enjolras flopped down on the cushioned chair/bench/occasional bed as if he had done it a million times before. After a beat, R joined him.
Floreal’s voice suddenly flooded his mind.
R! Are you hurt? Where have you been? Why is Enjolras here? How did you leave the ship?
R smiled, glad to have her back in his head.
“I’m fine, all over, probably destiny or some shit, and you would probably know better than me at this point.” Beside him, Enjolras nodded.
“What he said.”
If Floreal had had a physical body, she would have shaken her head and crossed her arms.
Do you know how long you’ve been gone? R shrugged.
“I was about to ask you the same thing, Flo. We had no way of telling time in there. It may have been weeks, or months. Or days, I suppose.”
R, you were gone for over a week. R nodded.
“Sounds about right. We didnt get tired, or hungry, or anything there. It was just endless rooms and doors.” Enjolras hummed in agreement. R looked over at him. Enjolras was sprawled over half of the seat, legs straight out in front of him, arm hanging over the side, head lolling back, eyes closed. R suddenly became very aware that their arms were touching, pressed up against each other as they sat squished into the chair.
How on earth do you keep bringing him back here? He knew she was speaking directly to him now, no longer to the both of them. He thought back very hard at her:
Not my choice. Floreal sighed, somehow.
He turned you down once, are you going to offer again?
I… dont know yet.
You need some company, R.
I have you!
Someone you can look at. R huffed out loud at that, deciding that he didnt care if Enjolras wondered why he was furrowing his brow and huffing it supposedly nothing.
Don’t deny it, I know that you would be looking at him.
Alright! Stopping this line of questioning at this point, thanks. R glared at the control center.
“Floreal, can you determine who kidnapped us and locked us in that place?”
To his surprise, the question didnt come from himself, but from Enjolras, whose eyes were still closed. Floreal hummed, and R couldn’t tell if it was psychic or from the ship. Enjolras’ arm was still pressed up against his own. It was very warm. R shook his head to clear his mind, ignoring Floreal’s snigger in his head.
“It couldn’t have been the Judoon, could it?”
No. This is way beyond them.
“The judoon?” Enjolras still had his eyes closed. R nodded, even though he knew Enjolras couldn’t see him. “They were the ones that abducted you.” Enjolras opened his eyes.
“So I’ve been gone what, 9 days?”
Yep. Floreal sounded preoccupied. Enjolras turned his head to R, not lifting it off the back of the chair. “Can I use your phone?” R nodded vaguely. Enjolras was probably going to use the phone to call certain points in time, and explain his disappearance.
With a jolt, R realized that Enjolras didnt know. This was only his second time in the tardis, and R had never told him. He used to have no reason to. He turned to Enjolras, who was still looking ah him, expression expectant. R wasn’t sure how to phrase it, so he just said the first thing that came to mind.
“This ship is a time machine.”
R expected silence, disbelief, maybe even incredulity, but it didn’t come.
Enjolras’ voice was quiet, subdued, and tired.
“You just...believe me? You’re not going to ask for proof?” Enjolras closed his eyes and sighed.
“R, i just spent probably a week straight just walking through infinity with you. You could tell me that i was secretly a robot the whole time and I would probably believe you.” R ducked his head, hiding a smile. He probably wasn’t hiding it at all, but that didnt really matter. R nodded, wanting to show Enjolras the phone but not wanting to get up. The chair was comfortable, but the fact that their arms were still pressed together was a plus. He closed his eyes.
“The phone is outside, on the door of the ship. Just tell Floreal the date and time and she’ll get you through.” He felt enjolras move, and opened his eyes once he had gotten up. Silently, R watched him move towards the doors, suddenly reminded of the last time Enjolras had waked towards the doors.
R realized that he really didnt want Enjolras to leave again.
Enjolras didnt really believe him. Oh, he believed that the ship could travel through time, that was no big deal to believe. He didnt think the phone was really on the outside of the ship. Sure, it said that there was a phone, but the box also said POLICE on it in big, bold letters, and R was no cop.
He may not have even been human.
The thought struck him as he pushed on the door, and as it moved, he allowed himself to think about it. R could be an alien. R could be a nonhuman entity from a planet Enjolras would never see.
That stuck with him as he fumbled for the phone, not wanting to step outside the box. Behind him, R was silent, probably talking to Floreal or something. His silence seemed to fit him like he was used to it, but uncomfortable with it. He wondered why.
When do you want to call? Floreal’s voice asked, coming from nowhere and everywhere. He almost dropped the receiver.
“Oh, uh, April 26th, about 7 in the morning, please.”
Enjolras dialed his boss’ number, quietly hoping that she wouldn’t pick up.
“Hello, thank you for calling-“ Enjolras cut her off.
“Louise? This is Enjolras. Sorry, I know this isn’t my usual number, I’m borrowing a-“ he halted, not sure exactly what to say. “-a friend’s. I’m sorry, I wont be able to make it in for a while, something’s come up.” The woman on the other end was quiet, but when he finished, she spoke.
“Enjolras, are you okay? You sound… odd.” Enjolras resisted the urge to laugh.
“I’m fine, I promise. I’m safe, its just a personal emergency. I wont be able to come in until the 7th. I’ll see you then.” Enjolras heard her typing something, probably letting whoever needed to collaborate with him know he would be gone for a few weeks.
He hung up, not waiting to hear her response.
“Floreal, can you keep the date and time? I want to call someone else.”
Sure, go ahead. Enjolras gripped the black receiver, leaning around the door to dial again. The phone rang for a few moments before being picked up.
“Ferre, it’s me.”
“Enjolras? Whose phone is this? Are you okay?”
“I’m fine Ferre, I’m just borrowing someone’s, mine is dead. Look, i just wanted to let you know that I’m going out of town for a while, probably until next Saturday or so.”
“Enjolras, what’s going on, whose phone is this?”
“I can't tell you right now, its a long story and I don’t have a lot of time. I’m safe, I’m traveling right now. I’ll be fine, just-“ He paused, wanting to say so much, but not knowing how. “-can you take care of the meeting tonight? And probably next week’s too?” He heard Combeferre sigh, but knew the answer.
“Of course. Look, Enj, I won't press you right now, but i expect to hear a full explanation when you get back.” Enjolras nodded, knowing Combeferre couldn’t see it.
“You will. I’ll be alright. Take care Ferre.”
“You too.” He sounded uneasy. Enjolras didn't blame him.
He turned, putting the phone back on the hook and closing the panel. He needed some time to think about what he would say, how he could tell Ferre about his trip. As he closed the door behind him, he noticed a movement at the top of the ramp. R was leaning against the railing nonchalantly, looking almost bored. Enjolras raised an eyebrow at him, crossing his arms.
“You know,” R’s voice sounding anything but nonchalant. “I could use someone who thinks like you in here. You had some quick thinking in there.” Enjolras smirked.
“What, are you going to steal my brain for your weird alien ship?”
“What? No!” R rubbed his temples, face hidden behind his hands. “I- no. I’m not going to steal your brain. I… do you want to stay here?” His voice was muffled, still not nonchalant. “Not like, continuously, or anything. Just, sometimes. If you want to go somewhere. I-“ He sighed, looking up from his hands. Their eyes met.
“Do you want to travel with me?”
Enjolras remembered when Combeferre had explained the multiverse to him. A million universes, each created when a choice was made. A billion worlds, all affected by change. It reminded him of what R had said about all the worlds in the universe.
It reminded him of the last time he had stood by the same doors. R had asked him to come with, and he hadn’t. If it had been a different universe, he would have.
This was a different universe.
Enjolras took several steps up the ramp, feet silent as he moved. He stuck out his hand to R, who hadn’t moved.
“I can think of nothing I would like to do more.”
R took his hand, and they shook on it.
As his hand dropped back to his side, the engine whirred, the now familiar sound of the ship roaring to life.
R’s hand had been very warm, he realized.
As the ship moved, or teleported, or flew away from wherever they had been, R turned away, towards the control panel.
Enjolras didn’t move, eyes following him.
R’s smile could have rivaled the sun.
I’m sorry for the late update everyone! I was planning on having this one out by the end of September, but as it turned out, that didn’t happen. School started, so i have a lot to do, and i dont have as much time for stuff like fics and art.
Anyways, big thanks to Jackie and Christina for letting me yell about this!
I probably won’t update in november, I’m doing nanowrimo, but ill try to have something out by the end of October.
I’m hoping to get out one update a month (excluding November) until its done.
Come talk to me on tumblr! I’m @nonbinarypersephone
“You’re going to meet the first friendly alien you’ve ever seen, dressed in sweatpants and a-“ he laughed, “is that a-a Brandi Carlile tank top?” Enjolras’ face went red, and he stared down at his shirt, his ears pink. “Look-it was a gift, and it was the first thing I grabbed.”
The day was going great, until every screen inside the control room of the TARDIS flashed on at once, and a young man’s voice started pleading for help. Such as it was, the day still had potential to be fine, but Floreal was definitely shaken, as was Enjolras. He had been half heartedly arguing about the difference between the dada art movement of the 1910s and the seeming reoccurrence of dada in the late 2010s, a discussion that had, of course, spiraled into the free will of mankind and humanities ability to create new things versus reusing and recycling the old. It was oddly comforting, to be able to have a conversation like that, and not something like whether trans people deserved to have basic rights. It was honestly refreshing, and although R was a stubborn bastard who had a retort for everything, he only laughed when Enjolras told him so, and concluded that he must have at least one good point in with the rest of it, so there. As infuriating as the argument had been, Enjolras found himself missing it now that it had been interrupted.
That being said, it seemed to be an acceptable interruption, as the voice that had cut off his admittedly long winded complaint that R was reducing all of human consciousness into a nihilistic ideology instead of the individualistic diverse thing that it was seemed to be in distress and in need of help. It was a man, presumably, dressed in teal robes, violently gesticulating as his crackly voice came out of various speakers all around the control room. His curly hair bounced around and obscured his surroundings, so all Enjolras could make out was that he was in a room with stained glass windows, their bright colors refracting light that hit his face at odd angles and made him look more otherworldly than he already looked. The crackling of his voice subsided somewhat, and Enjolras could understand more of what he was saying.
”When I was elected, nobody told me about this... of course i’d heard of the legend but its so colossally stupid i never thought... if you can hear this, i need your help. My people and my planet are in danger, and I cannot help them alone. I have been informed that we will be destroyed... i cannot let this happen. Please, if you are receiving this, help my peo-“ he was cut off before he could finish, and the picture suddenly vanished, replaced by static. The harsh hiss of static filled the egg shaped room, and R looked away from the screen that he had been staring at. He was sitting across the control panel from Enjolras, his arms still positioned like they had been as he gestured while rambling about the folly of man or whatever he had been talking about. Enjolras’ own hands were still planted on the edge of the control panel, his shoulders still hunched like he was going to make a point. Enjolras looked at him, eyes wide with surprise. R looked back, one eyebrow raised in a silent response. The statice suddenly shut off, and he heard Floreal’s voice in his head.
I- I don’t know how that transmission got through. R smiled, an appeasement, and his hands lowered from their gesturing.
“It’s ok Flo. We weren’t really doing anything important anyways.” Enjolras nodded, his eyes focused on the spot where the central hub met the tube that hung from the ceiling. He didn’t know where Floreal resided, but that seemed as good a place as any. “He seemed to be in some trouble though, can you trace the signal so we can help?” Enjolras blinked, startled, but R didn’t notice, already getting up from where he had been sprawled on the seats, and walking towards a cable draped casually over the railing that encircled the control panel. He had been ready to argue over helping the stranger, he already had several points lined up, but R seemed to be a step ahead of him, following the cable down below the grating, probably to plug it in somewhere. He looked like he was talking to Floreal, but Enjolras couldn’t hear either of them. He still couldn’t get the hang of talking to Floreal nonverbally. R, of course could talk to her like a pro. He pushed his thoughts aside and squatted down on the floor, peering through the grating to find R, who was messing with a tangle of wires and expressively talking without words. The combination of his messy curls and the shadows from the mesh of the floormade his skin seem darker than usual, and the lights coming off the bottom of the control panel cast his face in a strange yellow light that accentuated his large nose and deepest eyes.
“Need any help?” The question was rhetorical, Enjolras knew he wasnt adept enough at even the basic level of technology needed to assist, but anything was better than standing around doing nothing. R glanced up at him, the light reflecting off of his dark eyes making them seem almost yellow, and shook his head. “Sorry Enjolras, i don’t think so. Unless-“ he glanced away from Enjolras, “Floreal, do you have anything he can do?” They both waited for a response, Enjolras still hovering on the flor, R still messing around with the tangle of wires. Floreal’s voice rushed into his mind without warning.
Actually, Enjolras, I do have something you can help me with. You got a better look at the transmission than i did, can you help me narrow down the places to search? Enjolras nodded, and Floreal hummed happily in his head. He walked over to the seats, and gingerly sat down, not entirely knowing where to start. “Do you mind if I talk out loud?”
Sure, as long as you don’t mind if i don’t.
“Ok. So we know that its a human planet, or at least humanoid, i guess?”
Good start, keep going
“Uh, he has stained glass behind him, so they have to be advanced enough to control fire and create things like architecture.”
I could have guessed as much by the fact that the transition was sent, but keep going.
“Oh. Right. Well, uh, he was talking about being elected, so some planet that isnt controlled by a monarchy, one that has some kind of democracy. If i was asked to guess, I’d say a fairly old planet, because he was talking about a legend, and how he hadn’t believed it. Culturally speaking, there would have to be a considerable gap between the creation of the story and now, base on how he was talking about it.”
Alright, that narrows it down, it cant be a recently colonized planet, then.
“Was he speaking English? If so, i would think that him speaking English would narrow the field a lot.” Below him, he heard R stop tinkering, and Floreal seemed to be hesitating in responding.
Well... no. He wasnt speaking English. That was- that’s on me. I kind of... automatically translate all languages I have access to into a specified language which just so happens to be English right now. Her explaination was rushed, and Enjolras stared straight ahead trying to process it.
“So you... got inside and just,” he paused, trying to find the words, “made me understand every language? Without asking?”
”I could lecture you about how invasive that is but I have a feeling you already know, so. Consider yourself reprimanded, I guess.” He was right, it was an invasion of his privacy, but he let it slide, feeling too focused on finding whoever needed help to argue with a robot.
Im not a robot, you know.
“Wait- youre not? What are you then?” The words left his mouth before he could really think about it. “Sorry, you don’t have to answer that. That was really rude, sorry.”
I’d rather you say it out loud to me than to think it where I can hear you. If Floreal had had shoulders, her tone indicated that she would have been shrugging. It’s a long story. I’d tell it to you later, but it’s not really mine to tell. Enjolras knit his brows together.
”Then, whose-“ he cut himself off, glancing down to R, who still hadn’t resumed working on his tangle of wires. Their eyes met for a split second, and Enjolras felt a sudden surge of sadness when he saw the regret in R’s eyes. “Nevermind. It’s none on my business.” He cleared his throat, suddenly very aware that R had very loudly started untangling the wires again. “Where were we?”
You were getting very excited about his language..
“Yeah. Ok, so, do you know what he was speaking? That should narrow it down as much as if he was speaking English, right? And- and it has to be something that you know, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to translate it, right? Does that narrow it down enough?”
I- yeah, actually. Nice job, rookie. That should be enough for me to compare against the planets in this area, and narrow down the search enough to send out a message that might get us somewhere. Enjolras smiled, grateful that he could help.
below him, R sighed, and dropped something that made a loud clank, making Enjolras jump.
“Floreal, i cannot fathom what we did to fuck this up, but i cant undo it. If you don’t help me here, I’m gonna Gordian knot this clusterfuck, and none of us want that.” R sounded frustrated. Enjolras stifled a laugh, and got up from the seat. He knelt at the railing, and stuck his torso between two bars. Leaning over the edge, he tried to see what R was doing. “Can I try? I’ve always had a knack for untangling things.” R shrugged, and motioned at the wires, exasperated. Enjolras pulled his head back from over the edge, ignoring the moment of lightheadedness as the blood did whatever it was going to do, and stood up. He slung one leg over the railing, and carefully placed his foot on the edge. His other lag followed, and he made his way down to the underbelly of the control room, feeling like a child on a jungle gym with no parental supervision. R scoffed, probably becasue he could have used a better was to get down, but Enjolras ignored him. Carefully picking his way over various coils of wires and cables, he made his way towards R.
”So what, exactly, has got you so frustrated that youre willing to revert to an Alexander the Great level of diplomacy to fix it?” R just gestured at a bundle of multicolored wires, laying at his feet. Enjolras picked it up, careful not to unplug anything it was attatched to, and started picking at it. R had not exaggerated, it was an awful mess of a knot, but Enjolras had seen worse. He pursed his lips in concentration, pausing only to look up and ask R a question. “Can I unplug everything, or would that send us careening into the nearest sun?” R shrugged, and looked pointedly upwards, probably asking Floreal.
You can unplug most of it, but the purple one three over from your right- no, the other one- yeah, that one, and the dark orange one should stay plugged in. No- just, how about you touch a wire, and I’ll tell you if you can unplug it or not.
Enjolras nodded, and let Floreal guide him on which wires to unplug. Once she had completed the task, he set about undoing the knot. His fingers pulled and pushed at wires, gradually loosening the tangle of plastic and metal. R just watched him, silently. The only sound was the gentle hum of the engine, and the movement of Enjolras’ hands as he worked on the knot.
Finally, after about 10 minutes of working, Enjolras grinned, and let out a small aha! of success, and handed the recently untangled fistful of wires back to R. R blinked, surprised, as if he didn’t know what to do with the wires, and looked up at Enjolras, who’s proud expression couldn’t be hidden by the bad lighting. He nodded at Enjolras, eyebrows raised.
“Nice job, Apollo. We might find some use for you yet.” Enjolras rolled his eyes, but the proud expression on his face didn’t leave. For a moment, the two of them just stood there, quietly reveling in the satisfaction of a task finished, but Floreal inturrupted them before either of them said anything that could have made it awkward.
I hate to interrupt this touching moment, but last time I checked, we had a mystery to solve, correct? R, can you plug in those cables for me, and please don’t forget to wind the other ones, id rather not have you threatening mechanical harm in the future. And Enjolras, you should probably change your clothes. There’s a bathroom off to the right, up the stairs and the third door on the left. Your bag is hanging on the wall at the top of the stairs.
Enjolras looked down, his lip curling when he saw the dust and dirt and grease on his shirt. He sighed, and turned to climb back up to the control room proper. R cleared his throat, and Enjolras turned his head, expectantly. “Uh, you have something-“ he pointed to Enjolras’s ear, and Enjolras nodded, glancing down at his hands, which were streaked with dirt and grime. He probably should have thought through wearing a nice button up on a spaceship, specifically this spaceship. He sighed again, and started to climb up to the railing again, ignoring the overly loud clamor that R was making as he plugged in the required cables and wires. Floreal’s directions proved correct, as always, and he found his bag off to the right, at the top of a concrete staircase, hanging on a hook that seemed to grow out of the wall. He also found the bathroom, and quickly changed into more casual clothes, trying to imagine what could make someone ask for help from anyone who could hear them. He didn’t know much about space, but he knew that something like that could be dangerous.
Grantaire tried to focus on plugging in the cables that Floreal told him to plug in, and not on how awkward and stupid he has sounded in the past five minutes. It didn’t work. He had just started beating himself up for not even moving while Enjolras worked, when Floreal’s voice entered his head, distracting him.
That one doesnt go there, do you want my thermostat rerouted into my temporal capacitor? And before you move on, unplug that one- yes, that one, the one your right hand is on, that’s the navigational backup, and you have it plugged into the secondary chameleon circuit, that hasn’t worked in centuries. God, R, you haven’t been this out of it in ages.
Sorry Flo. He thought at her, sheepishly. I’m still... getting used to another person in here, it’s quite the learning curve.
mmhmm. Floreal’s thoughts in his head were doubting, one metaphorical eyebrow raised. I’m sure its that. I’m sure that you would be this disoriented if it was anyone else. I’m positive that this has nothing to do with-
shut up. I don’t want to talk about this right now, we have something more important to focus on. He cut her off before she could start teasing him and make everything more awkward than it already was. What else do i have to do before you can track this signal, I need to go shower, it’s filthy down here. He heard Floreal telepathically scoff, and he prepared himself for the deluge of things he had to do before he could track the signal down, and see if the planet really needed help.
Ive been tracking the signal ever since Enjolras left. This is all just stuff you’ve needed to do for months, and haven’t gotten off your ass to do, so... he sighed, and pushed all the wires away from himself, giving up on trying to fight her. He carefully walked around the coils and piles of stuff, and hoisted himself up onto the floor of the control room proper, using the grating in the floor to his advantage. He heard Enjolras’s footsteps on the stairs, and scrambled to get his legs onto the floor, dragging himself up and ignoring the way that the metal dug into his skin and hurt. He had barely gotten onto his feet when Enjolras emerged from the hallway, dressed more casually then R had ever seen him. Grantaire eyed his outfit, suppressing a laugh.
“You’re going to meet the first friendly alien you’ve ever seen, dressed in sweatpants and a-“ he laughed, “is that a-a Brandi Carlile tank top?” Enjolras’ face went red, and he stared down at his shirt, his ears pink. “Look-“ He let out a soft laugh of his own. “It was a gift, and it was the first thing I grabbed.”
She's a lesbian folk icon, R, leave him alone.
Floreal inturrupted what was almost certainly shaping up to be a long winded argument, and all R could do was shrug.
"I guess." He replied, noncommittal. "Flo, is there anything else you need me to do in order to get us to this place? I need to shower and look marginally more presentable before we arrive." He heard her hum, probably stalling, before she sighed.
No, I suppose not. Go ahead, Enjolras and I will keep each other company.
ignoring the slightly panicked look on Enjolras' face, Grantaire shot him a thumbs up and ambled towards the stairs, not really listening to whatever Floreal and Enjolras were talking about. As his foot hit the first step, he heard Enjolras speak, his voice low and somewhat unsure, which was new. Also, kind of endearing, which wasn't new.
"So is now a good time do talk about the invading my brain thing, or should we wait till an even more inopportune time?"
Floreal's laugh was so loud, it was almost like she wasn't communicating psychically.
WHAT'S UP I'M BACK WITH A SUPER LATE UPDATE! hahaha seriously tho this story is still like. a Thing I'm just busy and unmotivated and ADHD as hell. anyways I woke up in a cold sweat and realized I could post unfinished stories because I can do whatever the fuck I want! anyways, enjoy! floreal is right tho, Brandi Carlile is a lesbian folk icon and id also wear her talk top to meet an alien.