Combeferre has been blushing an awful lot of late, Enjolras notices. He really doesn't mean to ask, and he's got loads of schoolwork to tend to, anyways, so the topic is untouched for a good few weeks, during which there appears to be an increase in the protests Combeferre's been attending, and a decrease in his hair round the sides; when he dyes the freshly-formed mohawk bright pink and repierces his septum, Enjolras has to ask. "So, who's the lucky guy?" "Could you not, for once in your life, quote vines at me?" "Aight, smartass. Is it a lass then?" "It's... a they..."
There's that blush again. That's serious, then. "They...?" "Uh, you'd love them, actually - they're French and they teach kids French and study international relations, they're really lovely." "They're rebellious too, I gather?" "Hm?" "The hairstyle...?" "Oh." He reaches insecurely to pet the curly mess on his head, essentially becoming his cutest form yet. Enjolras decides it could've been way worse. "When can I meet them?"
He doesn't meet them for another week. It's partly due to the briefing paper he has to turn in for his Foreign Policy class, and partly to the fist fight he gets in over being called a pansy - of all things, a pansy! (He shaves his head in a fit of, he doesn't know, dysphoria, and studies his reflection for a full hour, blood dripping down his chin, before putting a Transformers plaster on his slightly ripped up left eyebrow and hitting his nose back into its original shape.) When eventually Ferre drags him to hang out with the infamous Courfeyrac, one Tuesday afternoon, Enjolras is overcome with curiosity, mostly as he doesn't know what to expect. He meets a great lot of people, in fact - a polish war veteran Feuilly and his perhaps partner Bahorel, a skinny Czech punk; a Moroccan unlucky fellow called Laigle, or Eagle, or Bossuet, Enjolras doesn't quite catch, who's missing part of a finger and doesn't seem to stop smiling; a short anxious boy by the name of Joly who's apparently a really recent addition to the setup and is getting in an argument with a German lady who seems to have offered him a place in her feminist, all-girl commune. Enjolras considers jumping to the dude's aid, but Joly is all smiles, "I understand that you and your friends wouldn't see me as a man, but if your place means to be for women only, I would be uncomfortable to impose," way sweeter than the terf probably deserves. Courfeyrac themself is a charming person with a harsh Bordeaux accent and a pierced nose who immediately apologises to Enjolras for keeping his roommate out late so often. "I'm glad he socializes," Enjolras laughs it off, and soon gets dragged in a conversation with Marius, who knows next to no English but turns out to be from Italy as well (Enjolras’ Italian is a little rusty, and he’s always been self-conscious about it, but the conversation flows nonetheless.) They're all hanging around that specific space because Bahorel is supposedly working, even though everyone takes regular turns holding up the sign for the tattoo parlor around the corner he's supposed to be advertising. Eventually, they're joined by Jehan, an interesting Irish lad with the bluest eyes, and a man who introduces himself as R and keeps eyeing Enjolras weirdly from a corner. Feuilly offers that Enjolras and Combeferre stay with the group in their squat that evening, and after almost no convincing they concede; the squat isn't that far, and Enjolras does his best not to show his concern at the way these people are living.
Hanging out with the punks becomes a common occurence before long; by the week, Enjolras has a mattress to himself in a corner of the largest room, and given that there's electricity, and even Wi-Fi, he often finds himself in the squat instead of the library. There are other people he meets over time - like Éponine, who volunteers at a shelter and has biting smiles; Cosette, who lives on a boat by the river with two elderly men whose general activities seem to be equal amounts arguing with each other and dancing with each other; Irma, who says she works with R and much like him never actually appears to be working. R is still a perplexing concept of a person: Enjolras learns that his actual name is Grantaire, that he's lacking a huge amount of teeth purely because he loved sweets as a kid, that he has conflicting opinions on Tolkien despite the nickname, and that he used to do many things but "stopped caring". He doesn't seem to be contributing much to the squat; Enjolras doesn’t really understand what he's doing there.
Within the month, evenings start getting more and more political. Jehan still sings, but the songs are less often about missing his baby daughter (and gods, is Enjolras still mortified to hear those, unable to imagine even having a child at this point in his life, what to speak of losing one) and more about fuck the Tories; Bahorel takes less time scrawling miscellaneous sarcastic messages on the walls and more asking Enjolras to look up orgs and resources for immigrants on his "internet machine"; Courfeyrac manages to get themself fully in the university marxist society club with Ferre, and the two come back from meetings with fresh ideas and seemingly unending smiles; one evening, not among their most sober ones but definitely the most energetic, Les Amis de l'ABC is formed. (Courfeyrac swears it has a clever double meaning, and everyone decides to trust them on that one.)
Enjolras really does his best to listen more than talk, and only joins in discussions when he feels his knowledge is needed, but despite most of the squatters (save for Courfeyrac and Éponine) being older than him, they all grow to look up to the angry lad with the steely gaze. That is, all except Grantaire, who seems to have a problem with every single thing Enjolras says. In all honesty, Enjolras doesn't mind an argument, never has, and he does his best to consider Grantaire's remarks, but he has the ugly feeling that the guy just genuinely dislikes him and it can't be helped. Still, the situation remains under control and the two manage not to get in a fight up until The Day The Key Is Lost.
The Day The Key Is Lost has the potential of going down in history as the wildest day Enjolras has had in his life. The previous night sees absolutely everyone in the squat as well as a few newcomers, which is memorable in itself as a lot of the lads have other places to stay and it's not all in order for them all to be in at the same time. It's also not in order for Enjolras to stay at the squat overnight, but Combeferre has asked him to have the room, and Enj assumes there are certain levels of things he doesn't want to see or hear involved, so he doesn't exactly mind. Courf turns up at the squat a bit after midnight, which is unexpected, but at that point Enjolras is half-asleep, so all he does is send a "u ok?" text to his roommate before practically passing out. He wakes up to yelling. "Feuilly, you let Courfy in, da?" "I tell you, Rel, fucking key wasn't in door, someone took it before!" "How did ye lose the foking key ye foking cunts?" That last bit comes from Jehan, who’s usually more for poetry than profanity, so Enjolras gathers there's a serious problem. "We lost the key?" he turns to Marius, who graces him with a nod and points towards where Feuilly and Montparnasse are having a fit. (Enjolras doesn't, like, hate Montparnasse, or anything, but the guy is so disconnected from reality, it's unreal.) "Ye lads realize we're locked in, then?" "I can fix door," Bahorel eagerly offers, causing for a choir of "no"s. Bossuet tries to make a joke and thus gets yelled at by Éponine while Joly is clutching at his shoulder all terrified, which makes Feuilly walk over to the couple and tell Joly something unintelligible in a reassuring tone. (Enjolras makes a note to himself to figure out what language it is that Feuilly, Bahorel, Éponine, and Joly all speak, cause he's sure they're from four different countries.) Mont keeps going on about how they need to get a new lock for a good half hour, during which everyone pretty much keeps repeating their own two lines in a maddening cacophony; after briefly discussing possible courses of action with Marius, Enjolras tries to get everyone's attention. "Can everyone calm down? Those of you who have work to get to can get out through the window, and the lock can-" "Oh, look at Mister Privilege over there, worried about our broke asses," Grantaire cuts him off almost immediately, in his usual hungover slash already drunk sneer. Enjolras rolls his eyes on impulse. "Look, just because I don't work doesn't mean-" "But it does! Exactly it does! You've got no idea- you're just a tourist, innit? Just a rich lil chap passing time with a bunch of honest people-" "Tone it down, R..." "No, I won't tone it down! I'll be fucked if I tone it down! Why are we tolerating this, honestly?" he gestures wildly towards Enjolras, a grimace of distaste on his face. "Why am I not an honest person?" Enj asks, in the calmest tone he can manage despite seeing red. "Don't mind him, he's drunk," Feuilly tries to pitch in, but Grantaire decides to mimic him, "Oh don't mind him, darling Enjolras, he's just silly old Grantaire, drunk off his tits as usual." "I don't care if you're drunk," Enjolras deadpans. "Makes two of us, then." "Why am I not an honest person? If you can tell me that, pray do." Grantaire tips his bottle in Enj's direction and takes a long swig. After a while, it appears this was his answer. Enjolras lets it go.
Irma, shockingly, declares at some point that she has to get to work. Montparnasse jumps off the window to help her out (they're living on the second floor, so it's a bit of a jump indeed), and the next thing everyone knows is that he's stood outside, yelling at the owners. Which, no one really knows how that happens, but Marius guesses they've made quite a bit of noise, and given the owners of the building live across the street... Eventually, Mont climbs back in and announces that they're "all good, they can't touch us, bruv" but that they "gotta tone the drugs and noise down cause the cops". Sadly, Feuilly picks that moment to go take a piss, which immediately means Bahorel, left unsupervised, starts "fixing" the lock.
Enjolras waits for Joly and Boss to get going as well and safely makes his way out the window with their help, promising to swing by later and bidding his farewell to everyone. His ride on the tube is spent running Ferre the details through texts and trying not to think about whatever in the living hell Grantaire meant back there.
"But Courf was alright?" is all that Ferre asks after Enj retells the whole day once in their room. Cute. "They were making tea, last I saw them." "Good. Wait, so Parnasse got in a fight with the cops?" "Just with the owners. The cops were just... there, I guess." "I leave them lads unsupervised for one day!" Ferre says incredulously, mostly to himself. They concede that Combeferre is cooking dinner and they're bringing it over to the squat at seven thirty, and Enjolras throws himself on his bed, unable to sleep but not with the right mind to do anything productive, anyways. Once he manages to dream, green eyes seem to glare down at him from every direction.
He wakes up to five consecutive messages from Joly, which is odd as they rarely, if ever, text - not out of dislike for each other, Joly just seems to invest all his attention exclusively in Bossuet, so Enjolras is mildly alarmed as he squints at his phone.
hey buddy u ok?
just to let u knw taire is... weird 2 get used 2 and i cld tell he got on ur nerves today
but i promise none of us think u're an outsider or imposing or a 'tourist' whateva he meant by that! we can see u always tryin to help us out and we appreciate u v much!!
taire is just... his own person hes been let down by too many ppl and his trust issues have been cozy on the roof since forever which isnt an excuse but...
but also if u want me to talk to him i can do that for u! he might not listen 2 me at first but he doesnt listen to anyone but yea i can tell u he's not Evil he's just trying to do what he thinks is best and hes.. Messy
Enjolras feels inadequate to reply without caffeine in his system, so he begrudgingly leaves his bed. Once he's put a clean T-shirt on and fixes himself a cup of coffee, he rereads all the texts before typing a reply.
yo man im fine !! slept all day hahah
im happy if what you're saying about how you guys are accepting me is true! i'd hate to impose on you in any way, and i really believe we could achieve great stuff with this energy
as for grantaire, im not with the opinion that people can't hate me or anything, so yes he's disturbing me a tad but i think i can handle it :)
dude no im sorta new to this group too but i can tell everyone loves u!!! dw abt that! and u're bringing us genuine hope so like
r u sure u dont want me to talk to taire? im not actually in the squat rn but i could if u need me to
no mate im good
gonna talk to him myself one of these days
and thanks :))))
u and ferre comin round tonight?
(its fine if u dont!!)
we totally are!!
anything u guys need?
uhhh i hear we're running low on socks... but like, lmao
some juice wld be neat actually? if u can afford it ofc! theres always alc drinks but i think sette is coming over too and she doesnt. do the drinking
Enjolras actually wants to cry.
dude u dont drink either do u
i mean i Shouldnt but
im getting you the Biggest juice i can find
An idea occurs to him, one he's been meaning to bring up anyways and now regrets not doing so sooner.
btw not to get all up in your business but do u bind?
need a new binder? i grew out of one but its like, not torn or anything just small for me? idk if a size S would fit you?
ENJOLRAS WHEN I TELL YOU YOU'RE GOLDEN
that would be?? So nice? wow
yeah? ill bring it with me then :)
i feel so bad ive been meaning to ask for a while but i forget a lot
are u kidding me dude its super fine
omg i cant believe this
u're the best!!!!
dont even mention it mate :)
anyways, we should be down there at around half past seven
ohh i wont be there before nine
if u dont want to stay long u can give the Precious Gift to boss?
ill see how it goes but i hope i'll still be there by nine
see u tonight then :))
yeah bud :))
Combeferre has made enough lasagna to feed a small army. The two stop at a Tesco to get some juice, sweets for Irma and Babet, a bag of tobacco, some ciders, and ten pairs of socks, and their walk to the squat is spent wondering if the door has been fixed yet. Combeferre is hopeful, and Enj less so; when they knock on the door and Feuilly shows his face at the window before throwing them a bedsheet to climb on, Enjolras throws his roommate a smug smile.
It turns out Claquesous had a spare key all along, but because he was asleep and in his room up until the early afternoon, Bahorel had managed to destroy the door completely by the time anyone remembered about that, and now the demolition machine himself is working on creating a new locking mechanism pretty much from scratch. Enjolras does his best to convince him to come upstairs and eat something, but the man is dead set on righting his wrong as soon as possible. After almost an hour, he enters the main room with the proudest smile on his face. Three different people simultaneously hand him three different beers.
After the disaster day, everything falls back into its previous routine, except that now Grantaire makes sure to leave the squat for the duration of Les Amis' meetings. Somehow, that's worse; Enjolras doesn't want to blame himself for the drunk's absence, yet he can't work out what else could possibly be causing this, and the thought that he's keeping a person from partaking in an organization made to better the lives of people in his situation is... not so nice. He asks Irma if she knows anything, as she seems to be close with Grantaire - she just shrugs, says that he makes his own decisions and that she wouldn't worry about it, but of course Enjolras does. Ép, too, states that she's not Taire's secretary; according to Jehan, Grantaire "holds too much grief inside himself to see this justice that you swear by as more than a treacherous dream", which finally disturbs Enjolras enough to decide on confronting the man.
After the next meeting, Enjolras tells Ferre he's going to get to campus late and pulls up some academic article about contemporary vampires he never read throughout; he assumes Grantaire might take a while to get to the squat, so why not get some light reading done? (He's past the stage where he mourned his long-lost ability to consume non-academic texts. Academic texts are the new black, yo.) He's on article number three of his "Unfinished/Need a closer look" list when he hears Grantaire slurring down a cheerful greeting to the three other people in the room. Enjolras turns to face the man, catches his eyes widen for a second, wishes he had listened to his social anxiety and just ignored the whole issue, but it is an issue and it's an issue he has to resolve. He nods at the man, briefly, before gesturing at the kitchen-y corner. "Nicked ya a wine earlier," he smiles, or at least he hopes it turns out a smile. Grantaire grins and gives him a thumbs up, starts towards the corner before stopping in his tracks and squinting at Enj. "Wait, nicked? You stole something?" "Not gonna fund your habit of poisoning yourself," Enjolras shrugs. Taire is still squinting suspiciously, but he's also sort of reaching for the bottle. "Riiiiight... Since when are you getting me wine?" Enjolras thinks to shrug again, but he wouldn't do bad actually speaking his mind this time. "Since I've made you uncomfortable enough to flee your home. It's an apology, if you'll have it." Taire raises an eyebrow at that, picks up the bottle and opens it with something akin to disinterest while looking real deep in thought. He takes a swig, opens his mouth as if to start saying something, but settles on taking a second swig instead and pointing towards the door. Enjolras picks up his tobacco and follows him outside. (Mont has asthma, so no one smokes in the main room, and the staircase is a preferred location due to the window and due to it not being the kitchen/Rel and Feuilly's room.)
"Very egocentric," Grantaire notes as he's rolling a spliff. "Mm?" "You. Deciding you're the reason I get lost." "Am I wrong?" "Are you ever wrong?" Enjolras appreciates this reminder of how Taire is. It doesn't diminish the desire to punch him, but Enj has really been seeing rather few of the guy lately, and he finds he's missed him. Still, sentiments like this have always bugged him simply because he doesn’t feel they apply to his messy person. "Ask my professors. Hell, ask my relatives, even Combeferre. I'm not perfect, Grantaire - is that really the point?" "There is no point," Grantaire grins, rolls his eyes once he sees that Enjolras is unimpressed. "Aight, yeah, I'm avoiding yer little circle of light and hope. Thought you'd be glad, eh?" "Why? You provide solid points that the rest of us would take a while to get to, and you know I'm a slut for political participation, wouldn’t want to deny anyone that. I admit that you get on my nerves, but that's a problem for me to work on, like, I have to be more accepting and more open to information, not, uh," he waves vaguely at the space between them, "not kicking you out of your own space just because we disagree, right?" "It's not just… you, really?" Grantaire grimaces as the words insecurely leave his mouth, almost as if he wishes they hadn't. He struggles for a moment lighting his spliff, and Enjolras stays quiet. They haven't had a conversation this civil, possibly ever. "I've just done my fair share of that shit, aight?" Grantaire eventually offers. "Like, activism, that shit. Mostly in my late teens, uni kinda killed my desire to do anything, but I've seen the movements rise and fall, I've fallen with them and… I proper don't see a point to it?" "It?" "The whole 'let's save the world' gig. Like, fighting back, sure, but this whole... fucking crusade you've got going, I don't see that working." "I'm sad to hear that."
Silence settles between them for a good minute as each is trying to mentally construct their next line. Grantaire speaks first. "I'm sorry for calling you a tourist, that was fucked up. I misjudged you." "You did?" "I had me a good family back in the day, y'know? My dad, he's as conservative as they get, right, and mom too, but they both had proper jobs and we were sort of... really rich. I knew there were people that were starving, but I had no idea that was happening in London... for a very long time, I had no idea." He sounds regretful. It's a new look on him, this somber form that his face has taken. "Of course, I was furious when shit started hitting the fan at home and I started learning stuff. I didn't know how to fix any of the scary messed up shit in the world, so I offered my fists and my mind to any organization, hell, any group of mildly motivated punks I found. And it... it doesn't work, it never worked. Maybe it didn’t work for me, I don’t know, but… I can’t do this to myself again.”
Enjolras nods, and perhaps Grantaire senses that he’s planning on saying something, perhaps Grantaire doesn’t want him to say anything, because he hands him the spliff, so Enjolras just nods again, tries to stare at the streetlamps outside without also staring at the other man’s curls (which are just obstructing his view out the window, it’s not like Enj wants to look at them dawn and dusk or anything). He understands, if he has to be honest. Sure, he wishes he could change things, and the knowledge that there was a spark in this person before is heartbreaking but also challenging, he feels an urge three times larger than usual to make Grantaire see; and at the same time, he’s pretty sure Grantaire just as well might be seeing more than he can himself, albeit from a differing standpoint. It makes sense, too, the guy’s almost visceral reaction to Enjolras at first – if he’s come from privilege, of course he’s going to see Enjolras exactly as another privileged guy doing a school project on poverty. “I think I was a tourist, at the beginning at least,” he says, and Grantaire starts nodding, stops himself, looks at Enjolras like he’s in between laughing and crying, which, Enjolras is absolutely not cool with anyone crying if it can be helped; he bites down on a smile, and soon enough the two are giggling, and soon enough – full-on laughing. “You kinda were.” “Again,” Enjolras is trying not to choke at this point, “I’m not perfect.” “Sure you are.”
Grantaire looks just as confused at what he’s said as Enjolras feels about it. There’s something darkening his eyes, too, and it might be just the alcohol, but it might… not be. “You don’t like it, do you? When people tell you that.” “It’s unrealistic.” “You think you can change the laws against squatting and you’re talking about realistic?” “They’ve been changed before, right?”
They’ve had this conversation before, Enjolras is sure he even said the exact same thing, word by word. Grantaire’s response at the time? “Yeah, not by the likes of you.”
Grantaire’s response this time? “Fuck it, I bet you’re right. I bet you can change the laws.”
“That’s not what you said last time,” Enjolras whispers; he has no idea why his body has decided to start leaning forward. “I had no idea. I’ve never met anyone like you.” Grantaire is way, way closer to Enj than he was just now. “Everyone is unique, they say.” “Fuck you, you know what I mean.” They’re almost nose to nose. Enj fakes a confused look. “I’m not exactly clear on the details here, mate.” “Let me make ‘em clear, eh?”
“CHILDREN, VE ALL USE STAIRCASE! GET ROOM!”