Posted from tumblr, on request. Read the rest of the fic over here if you don't want to wait for me to cross-post it.
Loosely based on the supernatural universe, with a few edits for plot reasons.
edit: this was originally posted as 6 separate fics, grouped together under the collection 'demon Grantaire'. I have since decided to combine them all into one fic with 6 chapters, which you now find here. There are no edits or new plot material, what you will find is the same as the original (with perhaps some minor grammar fixes).
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Be careful making wishes in the dark, dark
Can't be sure when they've hit their mark
And besides in the mean, mean time
I'm just dreaming of tearing you apart
Grantaire's eyes are black.
He blinks twice, long dark lashes sweeping down and then snapping open. The pupils of his eyes - if he still had them - would be focused on Enjolras, but instead their darkness just reflects his image back, frowning and confused.
Enjolras tightens his grip on the knife he's holding, feels his knuckles start to turn white.
He stretches his shoulders back, twisting the muscles in his neck as he turns his head to look from one side of the room to the other, taking in the men arranged in a half circle before him.
"Well, well, well," he says in Grantaire's voice, but without any of his inflection, "I was wondering when you were going to notice."
His posture is loose-limbed and casual, relaxed despite the restraints binding him to the chair. Nothing at all like how Grantaire would usually sit, with his shoulders slightly hunched forwards, his fingers twisting for another bottle to drink, his muscles tense for a fight.
"What tipped you off?"
Enjolras wants to step forwards, wants to sink his knife into his chest and watch the black smoke pour out, wants to make him bleed - but Combeferre speaks instead: "What did you offer him?"
The demon's eyes finally snap away from Enjolras's and over to Combeferre. "Who says I had to offer him anything?"
"A demon can't possess someone without permission to enter their body."
"Interesting phrasing," the demon says, and his lips curve into a grin that makes Enjolras take a step forwards with the knife. Courfeyrac's arm comes out to block him as the demon continues, "There's more than one way to enter a body."
"Bastard," Jehan seethes.
Combeferre doesn't flinch, his expression still perfectly calm and unaffected by the demon's attempts to provoke a reaction. He takes his glasses off for a second, polishes them on a corner of his shirt, slips them back on.
"I assume you talked to Grantaire when he was drunk."
"Isn't he always?"
"An oversight. When the body sobers, he will be able to fight back. There are many ways to expel a demon, and we have been trained. Don't think you're the first one to make their way in."
"Oh, we've been sober for a while," says the demon, and for a second when he shutters his eyes closed they flicker bright and blue, causing something unexpected to twist in Enjolras's chest before they return to darkness. "He hasn't resisted. I suppose the fact no one noticed the change for quite some time quelled any interest he had in returning control of his body. You know what doubts are like, how easily they are fed by the disdain of others until they become all-consuming."
Finally the demon's eyes return to Enjolras's, and the grin with them. "You know he was never as valued as your other members, and so did he. Really, I think it is a win-win situation for us all. He gets to hide, you lose a deadweight from your operation, and I get to — see the world."
His shoulders flex back again, the bonds pulling tight against his body where he's tied to the chair. "Just think of the wasted potential, what this body could really be. I have no loyalties, I don't care who I work for. Set me free and I'll join you, I'll be the Grantaire you always wanted him to be."
Enjolras is speechless, his mouth opens, words refuse to come out.
He can't formulate thoughts beyond no. No, they can't accept this. Whilst it's true they have worked with demons in the past - and have made their own deals and bargains and bribes - something in his chest refuses to accept this new version of Grantaire, this demon.
"Enjolras." It is Courfeyrac, still at his side. "A word."
He moves into the adjoining room with Courfeyrac and Combeferre, the centre of their group, their guiding forces. There are thin lines at the edges of Combeferre's mouth, taut, and Courfeyrac's movements are jerky, refusing to relax.
Again, Enjolras opens his mouth to speak. This time he is beaten to it by Courfeyrac, "Enjolras we can't."
"I know you have disdained Grantaire's involvement in the past, and I know you don't think he takes our missions seriously, but we can't trade him for a demon, not even if they're willing to bargain."
Enjolras closes his mouth, frowns at the words. When he transfers his gaze to Combeferre, his oldest friend says, "Courfeyrac is right. Whilst Grantaire is not - the most forthcoming in his allegiance to our cause, he has been with us since the start. He is a member of the inner circle. If you kill him," and his gaze flickers down to the knife Enjolras is still holding, "You will regret it. There will be discord - Joly and Bossuet especially. He is one of us."
He doesn't know how they reached this conclusion, has no idea how they decided that he would rather kill Grantaire's body than let a demon take over, that he would be happy to have this monster inside him.
"You're wrong," he says, and Courfeyrac visibly starts, "I don't want to kill Grantaire - or let that thing take him over. I don't want to replace him, I never have. He is one of us, just as you both are. I would not trade your souls for anything, just as I wouldn't trade his."
The lines at the edges of Combeferre's mouth are fainter, his gaze is softer as he says, "Oh, Enjolras."
And Courfeyrac says, "So what do we do? We can't expel him at the moment, not without damaging Grantaire's body, and not until we know Grantaire wants the demon to be expelled. If what he - it - said is true, he might currently be convinced it's better."
"So for now we do what it wants," says Enjolras, though his skin crawls at the idea of calling the thing in the other room by Grantaire's name. "We let it join us. We see how it thinks and what it wants, and try and find our way through to Grantaire. We must know what it offered him."
Back in the room the demon is still tied to the chair, his posture still nonchalant, loose-limbed, casual even in captivity. Enjolras's grip tightens on the knife in his hand as the black eyes meet his, and he feels the eyes of the others turn to look at him, knows they're watching his every step as he walks into the circle burned into the floor.
"I want a deal," he says. "I know what your kind is like. You give me your co-operation, you do what I say to the letter, and I cut you free. The moment you kill an innocent person, our deal is severed, and I send you back to the hell pit you came from, Grantaire's body or not."
The demon blinks up at him. "People are rarely pure, and never innocent."
Enjolras presses the tip of his knife above Grantaire's heart, hears Bossuet gasp, the sound of movement as Courfeyrac or Combeferre restrains him.
The demon grins.
Enjolras slices through his restraints.
The demon unfurls with a stretch of sinewy muscle, languid and relaxed. His body moves like Grantaire's never did, confident and easy, like the dancer he had once been, long in the past.
"I will convince Grantaire to expell you," Enjolras says, when the demon is stood upright, when they're close enough to share the same breath, when the demon's eyes lock with his and refuse to look away.
"You will try," says the demon with Grantaire's face, "But I think you'll find your life better off without him. I am a far better investment, like Grantaire if only he had cared. I can be the cynic no more. Afterall, that's what you always wanted, is it not?"
It is, and it isn't.
"I can be more than that, too," says the demon, taking another step forwards, closing the distance between them. "I can be what he always wished he could have been. I've seen his thoughts, I know what he really wanted, deep down, and oh, the things he would have done for you..."
Enjolras's jaw tightens, he clenches his teeth. Just words, he reminds himself, a demon's greatest weapon. They will lie and cheat and steal, saying anything to get their way. They are true masters of manipulation.
"I can tell you them all in great detail, can show you everything in detail. I can be so much more to you than he ever was."
Grantaire's voice sounds nothing like it has ever before; there is no gravel to it, no hoarseness from too much drink and too many arguments. It is seductive and low, tempting, unfurling like silk.
Enjolras has bested demons before, has turned down their offers and plunged his knife into their hearts. He has lost friends and family to the war between good and evil, has made brutal decisions in the name of their cause, but nothing makes him feel like he does when he looks into Grantaire's eyes and sees only darkness. Nothing prepares him for the abyss and the heart-clenching fear that he might never be the same again.
"You can try," he says, "But I believe in Grantaire."
The demon throws his head back and laughs, delighted. "Oh, what he would have given to hear you say that. Perhaps I should let him out to play, some time, let him see just how much better I am at being him."
Enjolras's hand comes up before he even realises what he's doing, twists in the front of Grantaire's shirt and hauls him up onto his toes, whole body tense as he resists the urge to shake him like a rag doll. "You hurt one tiny, little part of his body, and I will show you a fate worse than hell."
Emotions are impossible in a demon's eyes, but Enjolras almost catches a glimpse of something. Grantaire's body is warm against his, and human, nothing at all like the seething darkness currently possessing him.
"Ah," says the demon, "I see why he calls you Apollo."
Disgusted and annoyed, Enjolras shoves him away, watches with a strange feeling of smugness as the demon he stumbles on the edge of the circle, the body still a little unfamiliar. "And I refuse to call you Grantaire. What are you known by?"
"Ah now that," says the demon, "Would be telling." He straightens himself, smooths the front of his shirt down, brushing out creases Grantaire's clothes are never seen without. The black eyes look down at his hands, and then when they meet Enjolras's again they are blue, jarring something sharp in his chest.
"You can call me R."
Enjolras breaks the circle, sets him free.
You can find a lovely picture of demon Grantaire here.
I'm in the details with the devil
So now the world can never get me on my level
Grantaire dances like sin.
Enjolras hates the words as soon as they enter his mind, but there’s no other way to describe what he’s seeing. Every move is sensual, every look is loaded; the demon dances like he doesn’t care if anyone’s watching - and is perfectly aware that they are.
Enjolras can’t tear his eyes away.
It’s like pushing a bruise, hard and sharp, the kind of pain you find yourself drawn to sometimes, even though you know it’s wrong.
It isn’t Grantaire dancing like that but even so Enjolras can’t help but imagine that it is, can’t help but imagine Grantaire moving like that, with confidence and grace, perfectly aware of his body and its effect on others.
He tries to imagine Grantaire, cynical, argumentative, alcoholic Grantaire, losing himself in the music, throwing his head back and letting himself go, his eyes closed and his body loose. Thinks about it, and knocks back his drink.
There’s movement in the crowds and then Joly is there, leaning in to say something, and for a second they’re both lost in the press of people on the dance floor. When the couples move and split apart again, the demon that is currently Grantaire has his arm around Joly’s shoulders, is leaning in to murmur words in his ear that make him blush.
The condensation on Enjolras’s glass leaves his fingers cold.
Cold, like the look in R’s eyes when he sees him watching. Try as he might, the demon can’t master human emotion, can’t get his eyes to reflect a soul he doesn’t have. They are blank, unfeeling and cruel when he turns them on Enjolras, but they are still blue, and human, and Grantaire.
R releases Joly with a last squeeze of his shoulder, pushes him over to where Bossuet is dancing gracelessly, smiles at him as he goes.
The other Amis are doing a better job than Enjolras at convincing the demon he can be part of their group, that he is part of their group, that they are no longer wondering how Grantaire is. Even Joly and Bossuet, his two closest friends, are putting on a show that’s so believable he has trouble, sometimes, reminding himself that they just want Grantaire back.
Enjolras is the only one who stubbornly refuses to give in, who refuses to play by the rules and do what the demon wants.
And he can see that it gets to him, that it makes something in the demon itch and want.
The others are child’s play, it could care less what they think.
What it wants is Enjolras.
As their eyes meet across the dancefloor, Enjolras knows this. Knows this and knows that he walks a fine line, that it would be easy for the demon to throw Grantaire’s body off a building and then escape from it before it hit the ground. To take out the gun they have trusted him with and plant a bullet between his own eyes. It would be easy for R to kill Grantaire; it is a demon, it is spiteful, it would do it if it thought it would create the most chaos.
But when it does, it also loses its connection to the mortal world. The minute it kills Grantaire’s body, it becomes incorporeal once more and has to find a new home. Finding someone willing to deal with a demon is not as easy as it seems, and so for now the demon stays.
R continues to dance as his thoughts turn, watches him with those soulless eyes, leans back against some unknown person behind him and draws them into his dance. The person’s hands come forwards, rest on his hips, tug their bodies closer.
Enjolras’s fingers tighten on the glass.
He wants the demon out, wants it so badly he’s considering smashing the glass in his fist now and driving one of the shards into his chest. He wants to hear the demon screech with pain and fury, but the minute he does that he hurts Grantaire, he damages his body, he risks never getting him back.
And he knows, deep-down, that part of this is his fault, that he’s to blame for being so harsh with him, for challenging him, for refusing to acknowledge that he would ever amount to something. He can see it in the way R moves, in the confidence he exudes; Grantaire could have been an essential part of their group so easily, with the right guidance and instruction. He could be as ruthlessly efficient as the demon is, as valuable, as talented.
Could have. Would have. Should have.
Enjolras finishes what’s left of his drink and sets the glass down on the table. R continues watching him, even as he grinds back against the person behind him. To Enjolras, the faces of the others on the dancefloor are indistinct, blurred, and he pays them no attention as he walks forwards.
Someone reaches out for his arm, he shrugs them off, ignores a request for a dance as he closes the distance between him and the demon. Somewhere along the line he lost his glass. He notices this absently as he grab’s hold of R’s waist, digs fingers into his skin. There is no grace in his own movements as he pulls him away from the man and spins him around, shoves him further into the press of people dancing. The demon’s face lights up, Grantaire’s voice laughs, his hands come to rest on Enjolras’s shoulders.
"Finally come to play, have you?" R asks, hissing in a sharp breath when Enjolras digs his fingers in deeper.
"You know exactly what I’m talking about." He spins Grantaire around, probably with more force than is necessary; he stumbles, his grip tightens on Enjolras’s shoulders for a second as he regains his balance.
"Dancing?" R asks, breathless, "What’s so wrong with that? I certainly wasn’t getting any complaints. You couldn’t take your eyes off me."
"Grantaire’s body is not yours," he says through gritted teeth, "To do with as you please. There are limits for humans, common decency—"
The demon laughs. “Oh, Apollo. You have no idea what Grantaire was up to when he wasn’t with you, do you?”
Again, he tries to imagine Grantaire like this, tries to imagine him dancing with others and letting himself go. He’s not prepared for the sudden wave of anger that crawls up through his chest and digs its claws into his heart, refusing to let go.
"I may have… upgraded a little, done some more training, took better care of myself, but do you think I could do this if Grantaire’s body didn’t already know how?"
The demon’s words are like silk again, wrapping around him, pulling him closer as its body presses against his. He’s never been this close to Grantaire before, hard muscle and sharp hipbones and cologne that makes him think of warm fires and whiskey and burnt sugar.
He feels himself slipping, feels the demon’s grip on him tighten.
His own grip shifts, pulling rather than pushing, and it becomes impossible to tell where his body ends and Grantaire’s begins.
"Just give in," R says, "Let go. Accept that Grantaire is gone, and everyone else is better off without him."
"Oh, Enjolras, don’t make me do something drastic," says the demon, and its eyes stutter and turn black suddenly, its grin turns malicious. "You know how easy it is for people to have accidents when they’re drunk, to fall over, break a bone…"
"Don’t you dare," Enjolras growls.
"Then make it worth my while," the demon says, "Dance with me."
"Such a shame, I wonder how Grantaire would feel about breaking—"
White noise fills his head, he sees red. He digs his fingernails into the demon’s sides and growls, “One dance.”
Delighted, the demon lets his eyes flicker back to blue. “One dance is all I need.”
Enjolras grits his teeth, and nods once, sharply.
He’s never considered himself a dancer, never been interested in that sort of thing, but his natural athleticism and the muscles he’s developed from years spent hunting demons allow him to keep up with Grantaire. At first he is awkward, halting, but then the demon’s eyes flash black and his resolve strengthens. He has to do this, he has to let the demon think its winning, has to let it think it has a chance of changing his opinion.
The tight-rope wavers, his balance shifts.
Give and take, a game of poker with Grantaire’s life. He can’t let the demon see how angry he really is, or he will destroy Grantaire’s body out of vindictive malice. He has to make this convincing.
He shifts his hands, brings them up to Grantaire’s neck instead, curves them around and sinks his fingers into his hair. A distant part of his mind notes that his hair is soft before he clamps down on all thoughts of that nature. The demon grins and curves his body into his, slides arms around his waist so their bodies are pressed completely together.
A hand trails up his spine, fingertips feather-light, and a shiver follows them, making him flex his shoulders back.
R grins and leans closer, tilting his head so they’re almost touching.
His other hand drops lower, traces the edge of Enjolras’s jeans, fingers skimming over the fabric as he hooks a thumb in a belt loop. Enjolras feels his breath stutter, can’t help but imagine what this would be like if it was actually Grantaire.
His heart thuds loudly in his chest, he bites down on his bottom lip, the pain sharp and clear against the thoughts that threaten to form in his mind. What if? Grantaire’s eyes are blue and bright, reflecting the club lights around them and he feels himself slipping.
Enjolras had no idea that dancing could be like this, what it would be like to be so joined with another person that you can feel every little move their body makes, and when the demon takes a step back, further into the crowd, Enjolras follows.
He takes a decision, and pushes Grantaire back away from him, then turns around. He doesn’t let himself think about what he’s doing - if he did, no doubt he wouldn’t see it through - just presses himself back against Grantaire, lifting an arm to curl around his neck.
It always surprises him how tall Grantaire is; the amount of time he spent slouched and hunched over is deceptive, and so he slides an arm around Enjolras’s waist with ease and tugs him closer. Grantaire turns his head and the demon grins against the curve of his ear. “Now you’re getting it,” he murmurs, low.
Enjolras fights the shiver that threatens to run through his body, loses.
He tilts his head back on Grantaire’s shoulder, the minute height difference meaning he has to look up at him. Their bodies fit together in a way that shouldn’t be so easy, they move like they were made to be together, giving and taking, battling, refusing to back down.
Enjolras can’t tear his eyes away from Grantaire’s, or stop the hitch in his breath when he realises just how close they really are. Would it be so wrong, he thinks, to imagine that this is really Grantaire? That he is here, and this is his choice?
The distance between them disappears.
The demon leans down—
The song ends—
Enjolras twists to meet him—
And their lips just brush as he says, “Thanks for the dance.”
He walks away and doesn’t once look back, feeling the demon’s eyes on him the whole way. When he gets to the bar he orders another drink, and the glass is cold.
I just gotta get you off the cage
I'm a young lover's rage
Gonna need a spark to ignite
They work well together, he and R.
They kill vampires and demons and shapeshifters, take on more than one vengeful spirit and a misguided witch. R seems to know what he's thinking before he does, moves into position within the blink of an eye, corrects his mistakes before he even realises he's made them, makes him better, stronger, faster.
He no longer goes hunting without R, would find it strange to not have that presence constantly there, forever watching. Whilst Grantaire had been a burden, making sarcastic remarks as he slouched along, picking fights when he was bored, casually shooting holes in his plans (but never offering solutions), R is the perfect hunting parter.
There is a certain benefit to be had, Enjolras thinks, from making deals with a demon.
Since the night at the Corinthe, when they danced together and for a moment Enjolras had almost forgot himself, R has been spending more and more time with the rest of their group when they're socialising. Every day he fits tighter into their friendship group, drawing the others closer, becoming Grantaire.
Enjolras spends more time alone with him than anyone, more time debating the truth of what's right and wrong in a world where a demon helps him to save people.
His meetings with Combeferre and Courfeyrac are fruitless, the costs too high, the solutions only temporary. It's impossible to remove the demon when they have no idea how he got there in the first place, what deal he made to bind himself to Grantaire's soul.
He soon realises he's the only one who can find out what they need, the only one who can get close enough.
At the end of their next meeting, R catches his eye across the room in the Musain, reads his expression, and glances across at the door to the fire escape. Enjolras nods once - avoiding the sharp sting of guilt, that he and R can communicate so easily non-verbally - and heads out. It takes a few minutes for R to join him, a burst of noise as the door opens then muted silence, as it closes.
Out on the fire escape they're in their own little world, away from the others. R gives up all pretence at being human, his eyes bleeding black, and he grins as he walks up to stand next to him at the railing.
"What is it you humans say? Nice weather?" he asks, which fully deserves the flat stare Enjolras gives it. "Or we could just skip to the good bit," he says, and steps closer, one hand moving suddenly to curve around his body, trailing down Enjolras's spine. A shiver follows the movement just like it did at the club, and Enjolras flexes his shoulders back to fight it as the demon's hand moves lower, slips under the back of his shirt.
His fingers tighten on the railing and his instinct is to move away, but instead he just tilts his head up towards the demon's, refuses to look away or back down. This is how their interactions go now, ever since the dance. Enjolras gets occasional flashes of memory sometimes, when he closes his eyes. Sees Grantaire's face so confident and sure, feels their bodies pressed together.
The hand moves around to his front, knuckles skimming across his abdomen and then lower. "And just what," says R, leaning closer, "Is this?"
His hand drops suddenly and Enjolras hisses in a sharp breath through his teeth, then Grantaire is pulling the gun out of his jeans, tutting under his breath. "Oh Enjolras," he says, "Will you never learn?"
He pulls it away and flips out the chamber to see how many bullets are inside. When Enjolras makes a move to snatch it back, he holds it frustratingly out of reach, "Ah, no, I don't think so. I'll be looking after this, for now."
Belatedly, Enjolras realises he can step back now he's no longer caught in the circle of his arm, and does so, leaning back against the railing instead. R shucks the bullets out, drops them into his pocket, saying, "Now that's sorted with, I presume there was something you wanted to talk to me about?"
Enjolras takes a breath, taps his fingers in an uneven beat against the railing. "Do you miss it?"
The demon frowns, says, "What?"
His laughter is coarse, not at all like Grantaire's. "Miss eternal damnation? Why would I miss being tortured and ripped apart on a daily basis? People think hell is a furnace, they're wrong. It's ice, chilling you to the bone, splinters of cold lodging themselves in your veins."
Enjolras feels a shiver at the words, cold raising the hairs on his arms. He stops tapping the rhythm out on the railing, pushes a hand into his pocket instead, pulling out a packet of cigarettes.
"You don't smoke." It should bother him, that the demon has noticed this.
"I don't do deals with demons, either," he points out, wry.
"How things change." Grantaire's eyes are still black, but he's starting to be able to tell when the demon's trying to convey emotion, he's starting to read the little signs and slight changes. And right now, R is - he's intrigued.
Enjolras lights the cigarette.
The smoke is unfamiliar, but he's spent years watching Grantaire do this. Inhale, hold, exhale. The demon gave up all vices when he took over, has no need for alcohol or cigarettes, so he watches with a strange sort of fascination.
"Our blood runs cold," R continues, picking up the thread of their conversation, though his eyes never leave the cigarette. "That's the strangest thing, about being human. Feeling warm."
It's the closest Enjolras has ever come to knowing the demon itself, to what it might be like under the all the manipulation, stripped of its attempts to be Grantaire. He had always thought that it was trying to get close to them to rip them apart, to find out their insecurities and bring them to life, but he wonders now if it's not something more, if perhaps it too is yearning for - something.
Enjolras exhales slowly. Turns to face R. "Come here."
R frowns, turning his head towards him, and Enjolras makes a frustrated noise, reaches out to curl a hand around his shoulder, pull him so they're facing eachother.
He lifts the cigarette to his lips, takes a deep drag.
The demon's pitch black eyes watch him, following the movement, and Enjolras shifts the hand from his shoulder so it's behind the demon's neck instead, Grantaire's dark curls brushing his knuckles. He pulls R down towards him, feels his pulse flicker under his thumb as he tilts his head.
Grantaire's mouth parts obligingly for his.
His lips are soft.
Smoke curls its way from his mouth to the demon's. He feels his body relax, softening, watches his eyes close as he inhales - and then snap open again suddenly, horrified.
Enjolras clamps his hand down tight on the back of his neck, breaks the skin with his nails as the demon struggles.
"No," he whispers, his voice croaks. The black starts to bleed from his eyes.
"Yes," says Enjolras, and holds on.
Grantaire's body struggles, presses against his, his eyes fluttering. They close fully once - twice - and then when they open they're blue. The blue of the sky at midnight, vast, dark, unknowable - and confused.
"Enjolras?" says Grantaire.
Relief floods his body, warm and delighted and happy, and he grins, pressing his forehead against Grantaire’s. It worked, it actually worked. He relaxes his grip on the back of his neck, hears him hiss in a sharp breath of pain, Grantaire’s own hand coming up to replace his, pressing against the marks he left behind.
"What the fuck?” His voice is still rough, but it’s also his. It isn’t a demon pretending to be human - not for now, at least.
He should feel guilty but he doesn’t, because emotion is clear on his face, and demons can’t feel. R has never quite mastered being human.
They’re still pressed together, Enjolras’s head tilted up. It would be easy to close the distance between them and kiss him properly, a thought he sees mirrored in Grantaire’s own face, in the way his gaze drops to his lips for a few seconds. He remembers the feel of those lips brushing against his, surprisingly soft.
He turns his head and pulls away.
"We don’t have much time. The effects are going to wear off soon."
He flicks what’s left of the spell-laced cigarette over the railing and flexes his fingers. He doesn’t know what to do with his hands now he’s not touching Grantaire, and ends up pulling them back through his hair, tugging on the strands.
"I need to know what deal you made with R — the demon."
He’s looking directly at Grantaire when he speaks, so he sees the flinch before he has time to school his expression into something more neutral. “R,” he echoes, not a question. “Right.”
Enjolras feels like he’s taken a step off the edge of the fire escape, no longer on solid ground. “I didn’t mean — he’s just - it - that’s what he wanted to be called.” This doesn’t matter, why are they talking about this? “What did he offer you?”
Grantaire turns away from him, curls his hands in the edge of the railing. His whole body is tense, which should be his first clue, but Enjolras is too caught up in finally having him here, of making progress, to find out what he’s said wrong.
"We’re not mad that you made a deal," he aims for reassurance, "Everyone has - there are times when—" Why can’t he make a coherent sentence come out of his mouth? "It doesn’t matter, whatever it is. We can fix it, we can break the curse. Just tell me what the deal is for, Grantaire, and I’ll solve it."
Grantaire mutters something, so low the words are stolen by the wind.
"I said, what makes you think I want to be saved?"
White noise fills his thoughts, a rush of static.
He can’t have heard that right, he must be mistaken. Memories of R saying the same thing when they’d first realised it was him, surface in his mind. The black of his eyes and the vengeful curve to his lips as he’d said Grantaire had wanted to be possessed, and Enjolras had been so sure, so confident that he was wrong…
"I made the deal for a reason," Grantaire says, still looking out across Paris, curling his hands further around the railing. "The terms are impossible. I don’t want to be saved."
"But you can’t,” says Enjolras, and cuts himself off. You can’t do that to me.
"It’s my body, I can do what I like."
But it’s not your body, Enjolras wants to say, not when R’s in control. It’s giving a demon free reign to do whatever he likes, it’s letting evil run free whilst you hide, it’s putting your friends in danger because —
What did the demon offer? Why did Grantaire take it?
"Grantaire—" he reaches out, places a hand on Grantaire’s shoulder - and is violently shrugged off as Grantaire’s body whips around sharply, his eyes dark with anger.
"You don’t get to touch me," he says, low in his throat, "I know what you’ve been up to. I’ve seen it all."
Enjolras’s blood runs cold, his mouth opens to speak, no words come out.
Grantaire’s smile is bitter.
"That’s right," he says, "I know what’s happening. I know you’re going out hunting with him, I know the others are spending time with him, I know you’re treating him like he’s one of you. Most of the time I’m not watching but sometimes - sometimes he wants me to see. Sometimes I can’t look away."
He turns his body away, crosses his arms over his chest, unfolds them and paces; he seems unsure of whether to stand still or not, what to do with his body since Enjolras touched him.
"It’s like watching through several layers of glass, hearing through cotton wool. Fuzzy around the edges, but I get the gist. I’ve seen how you look at him - me - whatever. How everyone does. You’re happy he’s here, he’s a better version of me. He does everything I never could."
"Shut up,” Grantaire hisses, and glares, and Enjolras bites his tongue. “You weren’t even aware something was different - none of you were. I let him in nearly a month before anyone realised that something was up, and it would have taken even longer if Jehan hadn’t noticed I was suddenly right-handed.”
An oversight, Enjolras thinks, fighting down the guilt that he hadn’t noticed either.
"You’re better off without me, so why does it matter what I promised?"
"We’re not," Enjolras tries to protest, but the words sound false even to his own ears. "Alright, fine, so maybe we are. Maybe he is better at fighting and hunting and he doesn’t drink or smoke or gamble or pick fights with me just to be contrary and he isn’t a cynic who constantly sees the worst in what we’re doing—"
“But he’s not you.”
Grantaire sucks in a sharp breath, clenches and unclenches his fingers into fists. His gaze is wary as he asks, “What does that even mean?”
"It means I would rather have you, cynicism, alcoholism and pessimism all, than some demon from the underworld who thinks just because he can hunt and kill and charm I’m going to do whatever he wants."
"Jesus Christ, you’re fucking awful at this, do you know?" Grantaire says, his voice hoarse, and there’s something hopeless in his expression.
"Combeferre and Courfeyrac didn’t want me to do it."
"They said I was the wrong person to talk to you, that all we do is argue and that if I talked to you, I would just end up angering you further and making the situation first. So of course I just stole the spell, laced the cigarettes, and did it anyway."
That startles a laugh out of Grantaire, whose body finally starts to relax, the muscles loosening. Enjolras attempts a half-smile.
"So if you can just tell me what the deal is—"
Grantaire’s expression hardens again, his body goes rigid. “No, Enjolras.”
"Because I said so, alright? Just drop it."
Enjolras doesn’t. “What’s so bad you can’t tell me? I don’t care, Grantaire, I just want to know the terms so I can break them and send him back to hell where he belongs. Nothing is impossible, we can fix this, I promise, we can sort it all out I swear to you—”
"You don’t get it, do you?" Grantaire demands, anger darkening his eyes, "It’s you.You’re the deal, you’re the promise. Having you is what I wanted and knew I couldn’t get because I wasn’t smart enough, wasn’t strong enough, wasn’t valuable enough. But the demon is, he’s what you want.You might have this idea of me now, but it’s not me. Don’t you see? I can’t win; you like me and it’s not me at all, it’s him, because you could never want me.”
Enjolras’s heart thuds in his chest. It sounds abnormally loud to his ears, a noise he can’t drown out. Grantaire’s words twist and rearrange themselves in his mind but he can’t think of any other way to pull them apart and put them back together, because it doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t, it…
"See?" Grantaire says softly, and his gaze drops away from Enjolras’s and away as he turns his body. "I can’t be saved."
Enjolras has never really thought about his feelings, never really stopped to consider what it is that feels like a jagged knife edge whenever he thinks about Grantaire. Those thoughts are too painful, too sharp, and he doesn’t have time for extraneous emotions when he has a world to save and demons to kill. There isn’t time for something like this and yet —
And yet he’s standing on a fire escape, with the wind tugging at his coat and sending icy chills across his skin, as Paris spreads out beneath them and the sky fades into night, and all he can think about is the man stood in front of him and the way he makes him feel.
Enjolras has never really felt anything so strongly before in his life.
He reaches out, and this time when he curls his hand around his forearm, Grantaire doesn’t flinch, doesn’t move at all until Enjolras gently coaxes him around. Then the thudding of his heart starts to get louder and adrenaline starts to fill his veins as he stumbles forwards to close the distance and —
"Oh, Enjolras," says R, "Will you never learn?"
His eyes are black, black and empty, and all Enjolras can hear is I let him in nearly a month before anyone realised.
He struggles but R grabs on and holds him tight, a parody of their earlier embrace. Only now it’s R who clamps a hand down on the back of his neck to hold him close, fingers digging into the skin. With his return comes the supernatural strength, and Enjolras has no doubts he could wrench his head to the side and break his neck, if he wanted.
He stops fighting to free himself, goes rigid and unmoveable instead, tilting his head up to R’s and meeting his eyes in a challenge. He knew this moment would come; you can’t exactly drug a demon and expect there to be no consequences, but he had hoped for just a bit more time.
More time to talk to Grantaire, more time to work out what his words meant, more time to know if it was really him at all.
"Now that," says R, "Was incredibly stupid."
"And so was keeping my gun," says Enjolras, who moves his arm swiftly to grab hold of it from Grantaire’s pocket, jams it up against his side below his ribs.
The demon glances down, his lips curve into a smile. “You sure about that?”
There’s a burst of noise as the door to the fire escape opens. Courfeyrac steps through, visibly startles when he sees them so close together, then asks in a neutral tone, “Everything good out here?”
"Perfectly fine," says Enjolras, not looking away from Grantaire. "Right?"
There’s a pause, and then the demon releases him. “All good.” In a second his eyes have returned to normal, to Grantaire’s colour, his expression relaxed and cheerful as he turns to Courfeyrac, throwing an arm around his shoulders as he follows him back inside. Enjolras slips the gun back away and frowns after them.
You’re the deal, Grantaire’s voice says in his mind. Having you is what I wanted and knew I couldn’t get.
But had that really been Grantaire at all?
Bonus fanart of R grinning at the end here
I've got the scars from tomorrow and I wish you could see
That you’re the antidote to everything except for me
R has a new method of torture, a new way of making this whole situation worse.
When the others aren’t looking, when there’s a moment of silence, when their eyes catch across the room or they suddenly find themselves alone together, the demon lets Grantaire out.
Or no, he doesn’t - or he does — Enjolras isn’t sure.
What happens is this: his eyes still turn back to normal, the black fading away as they turn blue and human, and he looks at him with emotion. Real, human emotion. That makes something twist in his chest and his breath catch and every time - every damn time - he thinks it’s him, it’s actually him, that Grantaire has somehow broken free.
And then R laughs and the black seeps back and Enjolras has the overwhelming urge to break things.
"Haven’t you found anything?" he demands of Combeferre and Courfeyrac, pacing the floor so much Courfeyrac’s already run out of jokes about wearing holes into the carpet.
"We found something," Combeferre says, dry, "You used it."
Enjolras glowers, replies, “Well it didn’t last long enough anyway. R fought it.”
"Or so you think," says Courfeyrac, giving him a look, "But with no one else there to see what happened, we only have your word to take for it, don’t we?"
He feels like a child being scolded - and what’s worse is that this isn’t the first time. Since he admitted what had happened on the fire escape, how he had stolen the spell and used it to speak to Grantaire, Combeferre has done nothing but look at him reprovingly.
"You’re letting your heart control your head."
"My heart has nothing to do with this."
"Your emotions then," Courfeyrac corrects with a roll of his eyes, "You botched our chance at speaking to Grantaire and working out how to reverse the deal. Did he say nothing about what the terms were?”
It’s you.You’re the deal, you’re the promise. Having you is what I wanted and knew I couldn’t get.
"No," says Enjolras, looking away.
"There’s still one option we haven’t tried yet," says Combeferre. He pushes his glasses further up his nose, looks thoughtful.
"No," says Courfeyrac.
"What?" says Enjolras.
The silence after he speaks leaves Enjolras’s ears ringing. He’d never even considered the possibility that they would do an exorcism because there’s so much chance that it could go wrong, that the host won’t survive. It has such a huge mental and physical toll that it’s always a last resort.
But haven’t they reached that point?
"No," Courfeyrac says again, getting up from the desk to cross the room and place a hand on Enjolras’s arm, "You can’t. He could die, Enjolras.”
"I know!" Enjolras snaps, shaking him off, "I know.”
What makes you think I want to be saved?
"Surely death is better than this - than possession - than watching a demon take over your life." Courfeyrac and Combeferre both give him a strange look at that, and he says, "If he’s conscious, or aware of what’s going on — look, it doesn’t matter. What I’m saying is, there’s no other option, is there?"
"Enjolras," Courfeyrac tries again, "You can’t do this."
There’s something people say about him, Enjolras knows, something that formed the basis of his reputation and the reason why demons know his name before they even leave hell. It came from his earlier days, when he was first setting out, when it was kill first and ask questions later.
Mercy has never been an option, probably never will, and it’s to this side of himself that he appeals now, stealing himself against the hurt at what might come.
Sometimes, you have to be terrible.
"I can," he tells Courfeyrac, "And I will."
It takes a week for them to collect everything together, for them to gather all that is necessary, for Enjolras to grow ever closer to R. The hardest part is the lie, is pretending that he doesn’t care, that there isn’t something undeniably charming about the demon and the way it acts. It has a natural charisma, a way with words.
It draws people together like a spider weaving a web, makes them all forget what Grantaire was like before.
And Enjolras can feel himself falling for it, has a few instances where his smiles are genuine, where his laughter is real, where he thinks of the demon as Grantaire - and forgets that he’s not.
The worst thing about it, he decides, is how normal Grantaire feels. His touch should be cold, but it’s not. It’s warm as his hand brushes his shoulder, his arm, slipped under his shirt across his stomach when they were dancing, around his waist and up his spine when they almost kissed.
The thoughts come more and more frequently, these days.
And then they’re at the club again and Grantaire is dancing, and Enjolras can’t tear his eyes away. If they try to get Grantaire back - if they manage to do it - he won’t dance like this again, won’t be this confident. Won’t look at Enjolras with that loaded expression and that curve to his lips and demand his attention like no one has before.
He watches and he clenches his fingers around his glass and he feels like he’s coming apart at the seams.
The others leave in ones and twos, disappearing together with cheerful goodbyes and drunken laughter, their arms slung around each other and their happiness genuine, until suddenly they’re the only two in the club.
They dance again, face-to-face this time, their eyes locked. Grantaire’s eyes are midnight blue in the darkness, but he can no longer tell where the demon ends and he begins.
They go home together.
Back at the safe house, where Enjolras has never brought anyone and the shadows chase each other across the floor, he follows Grantaire into the kitchen. Watches as he downs a glass of water and leans his hip against the counter. The only light comes in from outside and in the darkness he’s all angles and shade.
"Goodnight," says R, with that grin that says he knows every bad thought he’s ever had. And Enjolras nods and takes a step away, two, thinks about how soon that confidence will be gone, and never come back.
"Fuck it," Enjolras says, "Just—"
He reaches out, curls his fingers in the fabric of Grantaire’s shirt and hauls him across the distance between them to kiss.
Grantaire hisses in a sharp breath against his lips, makes a noise at the back of his throat. His hands hover uncertainly at his sides for a second and then move finally, fingers digging into Enjolras’s waist as he pulls him closer, removes the last inches of space between them.
The kiss is filthy from the moment it begins, hard and fierce, tongues and teeth, muttered oaths broken off against each other’s lips.
Enjolras lets Grantaire push him back against the counter, feels the sharp pain of the edge against the base of his spine. He drops his hands lower, still curled in Grantaire’s shirt and tugs, hears the satisfying sound of buttons popping.
Grantaire lets out a low laugh, breaks the kiss to murmur something against his jaw that makes a shiver run down his spine. Then, louder, “Damn, I didn’t think you’d be so—”
"Shut up," Enjolras speaks over him, reversing his grip so he can slide his palms over the flat, hard muscles of his abdomen instead, slipping under his shirt. "I don’t want you to talk." He digs his fingers into hard skin and swallows Grantaire’s gasp as he seals their mouths together.
It’s impossible to ignore the way his body is reacting, the way his blood hums and his chest feels tight. Or the way Grantaire’s body is reacting, pressed against his, and suddenly he’s wearing far too many clothes.
"Off," he demands, shoving Grantaire’s shirt off his shoulders as he bites a line of kisses down his throat. R shucks it off, drops it carelessly onto the floor as Enjolras turns him around, pushes him into one of the chairs at the table.
He climbs up on his lap, hisses in a sharp breath as his jeans pull tight and the world shifts, takes a moment to steady himself with a hand on Grantaire’s shoulder.
R just looks up at him, pupils blown wide and lips red and parted, and there’s something oddly vulnerable about his expression, something unexpected. Enjolras’s hands shift down his arms, tracing the bare skin, until they find his hands and slip between his fingers.
“Enjolras,” Grantaire says.
"It’s okay," says Enjolras, squeezing tight and then letting one hand go, "I know what I’m doing."
And then there’s the snap of metal and artificial light floods the kitchen.
Grantaire’s eyes blink once - twice - and then black overtakes as the demon rears forwards, “What the fuck—”
But it’s too late. The handcuffs Enjolras slipped around his wrists keep him tight to the chair as Jehan slips in and fixes the salted devil’s trap on the floor. In the darkness everything was shadows, now it’s all part of a plan as R rages. Courfeyrac holds R down to the chair as he struggles, as Enjolras climbs away and rubs the back of his hand over his mouth, tries to forget, tries to will away the feel, the touch, the taste.
Combeferre chants the words to the exorcism, holds the book up as he says the words. Jehan finishes the trap, Courfeyrac lets go, R remains trapped and handcuffed to the chair.
His struggling lessens, his expression hardens. He tests the strength of the handcuffs, but whilst he could easily snap the chain, he couldn’t get out of the trap. The vulnerability Enjolras had glanced is gone, no trace whatsoever as he hisses, “He’s going to die, you know. He’s going to die when you complete this and it will be all your fault. You’re going to killhim, he won’t survive this.”
Combeferre’s voice doesn’t falter. Jehan and Courfeyrac hover on the edge of the trap, their gaze alternates between Enjolras and the demon.
"He’d do anything for you, all he wanted was you, and this is how you repay him?"
He digs his fingers into his arms where they’re crossed over his chest, ignores the sinking feeling in his gut. Refuses to respond, to rise to the bait.
"Of course, he never thought you’d deign to notice him, knew you’d never sink that low. But this is cruel, even for you. Throwing his life away because of a demon? You’re heartless, Apollo."
At the use of the old nickname his nails pierce skin, he grits his teeth. Combeferre reaches the last verse.
"You’re worse than the things you hunt," R spits, and his voice cracks. His body shakes. Convulsions rip through him, shaking the chair. The trap holds him in place as his head tilts back and his hands spasm.
Jehan lets out a little sound, taking a step forwards into the trap, Courfeyrac glances across the room at him. Enjolras continues to stare forwards.
Combeferre reaches the last word.
Grantaire starts to laugh.
It starts out softly, a gentle sound, shaking shoulders, then grows in pitch and volume. It’s not human. Grantaire’s head snaps back down, and his eyes are black.
"That’s not possible,” Combeferre says.
"Oh it’s possible," says R, and snaps the chain of the handcuffs. He pulls his arms around as he sits forward, and grins directly at Enjolras. "If only your Leader had the guts to go further."
He stands up with a casual grace and unzips his fly. His jeans fall low on his hips as Courfeyrac swears and there’s a tattoo on his hipbone, an unfamiliar one, something tugging at the back of his mind—
"To prevent exorcisms," Combeferre says, and R grins.
Enjolras’s attention snaps to the trap, the only thing keeping him safe, sees Jehan’s foot in the salt. “Jehan, no—”
But it’s too late, Jehan steps back and Grantaire throws his arms out. The light overheard blows. The window shatters glass across the room. Combeferre’s body is flung backwards into the table and somebody screams and it’s too late, shit, they messed up, they can’t go back from this, oh God.
Grantaire flings his arm out and Enjolras is slammed back against the wall. His head smashes back into the brick and for a second he sees stars, black spots dancing across his vision.
Through the haze he just makes out Courfeyrac, lunging forwards with a knife, dodging one blow and then another, stepping into R’s blind spot suddenly and turning —
Then the horrifying, sickening crunch as Grantaire grabs hold of his arm and twists, snapping the bone. Courfeyrac flops like a ragdoll, goes limp and is discarded like a toy.
Enjolras fights against the cloud descending over his brain, tries to struggle into a sitting position as the demon turns its attention back to him. He crosses the room in a flash, blinking in and out of existence as Enjolras tries to remember how to breathe. Something rattles in his chest.
Grantaire’s face looms in front of his suddenly, the demon crouching. In his hand he holds Courfeyrac’s knife, his stance is casual.
His eyes are vicious and black and cruel, nothing human left in Grantaire’s face. He’s given up all pretence of trying to be anything other than the demon he really is, and it makes Enjolras’s skin crawl, makes his blood run cold.
"I thought taking his body over and having you would be the worst thing I could do, turns out I’m wrong." The knife glints in the moonlight, the edge draws along his cheek. He feels his skin start to give, a trickle of blood. "But I was wrong. You’re never going to stop fighting for him, never going to surrender fully to me, so I’m going to have to sever his last tie to the mortal world."
The knife flashes, the point digs in to Enjolras’s chest, sharp, a twinge of pain causes him to draw breath.
"I’m going to kill you," says R, "I’m going to kill you, and I’m going to make him watch every moment of it. And when I’m done with it - when I’m done with you, he’ll never want this body back. He’ll never be able to look at these hands again, not without knowing what they’ve done."
Enjolras closes his eyes.
Burn everything you love, then burn the ashes
Something sharp and cold stabs deep into his chest.
His eyes snap open and he rocks back in his chair, throwing his arms wide to try and regain his balance. As he does so he catches sight of someone - blonde, tall, himself, what the fuck - turning to glance back over his shoulder at the disruption.
Combeferre had called his name, stands talking to him - to the other Enjolras - who just glowers back over his shoulder at him, distinctly unimpressed.
He experiences a sharp wave of vertigo and curls his hands around the table to try and regain his senses. As he does so, he realises that his hands are not his own, that they belong to someone else. When he looks down and turns them over, he notices bitten nails and rough skin, and it takes a moment for the dots to connect and him to realise that he’s seeing this through Grantaire’s eyes. That somehow, the demon has pulled him into Grantaire's mind.
There’s movement in his peripheral vision and suddenly Joly is there, sliding into a seat opposite at the table, reaching out a hand to place over his, over Grantaire's. “Don’t read into it,” he says, voice gentle, “He doesn’t mean anything.”
He wishes he didn’t know who Joly was talking about, but he does. It’s him, the other him, dismissing Grantaire with a glare when all he’d done is startle in his chair.
He looks away from Joly — and finds himself in an old warehouse.
The shift in memories is disorientating. His body jars when his feet hit the floor. “Shit,” he swears, fumbling the hip flask of holy water which has materialised in his grip, somehow managing to put the cap back on with one hand whilst he punches a vampire square in the face with the other.
Fighting in another person’s body is surreal, even if he knows he’s not fully in control, that this is a memory. He’s making moves he wouldn’t think of, coarser and blunter than his usual style, but no less effective. He manages to get a wooden stake in the heart of one vampire before the other Enjolras shouts, “Courfeyrac!”
He’s the closest person, so he sees Courfeyrac almost go down as a vampire materialises from the rafters, is the fastest to react and aim his stake for his heart. Only his grip is slippery with the holy water from his flask and his attempt goes wide and the vampire’s fangs slide out and it leans down to Courfeyrac’s neck and Courfeyrac screams —
And then Enjolras himself comes out of nowhere, wrath personified as he grabs hold of the vampire’s head and turns, snapping its neck. Then before Enjolras-as-Grantaire can say anything he’s rounding on him, snarling, “Couldn’t even stay sober for one goddamn fight, Courfeyrac could have been seriously injured—”
His mouth drops open in shock, what the hell, he’s not drunk, but then he sees Enjolras’s eyes go to the flask in his hand before he whirls away to tend to Courfeyrac, and his stomach sinks. “It’s not…” he starts weakly, but no one’s around to hear him.
The third memory and the fourth and the fifth, they’re all the same, it’s Grantaire making mistakes and Enjolras being unforgiving, unable to acknowledge anything other than that he's a complete waste of time.
It’s R showing him what he's like through Grantaire’s eyes, one last way to torture him before he kills him.
And he can’t even blame the demon because it’s all true, these are his memories too. He knows these things happened, remembers vague details and other parts, only at the time he never thought of himself as so dismissive, so absent, so — cold.
They’re in the middle of another, where assignments are being given out and he knows Grantaire wants one, wants a chance to prove himself so badly, but Enjolras’s eyes just slide on pass him, not even stopping to consider, when suddenly everything freezes.
It’s jarring and sudden and unexpected. The figures around him don’t seem to quite know what to do either, like R himself is surprised.
He turns and — he’s in his own body in the back room of the Musain.
It’s empty, like it never is in real life, of all sound and movement and conversation. Grantaire stands by one of the tables, in the process of putting down a bottle when Enjolras notices him.
Enjolras is back in his own body and Grantaire is - he's —
He's looking up, through hair that hasn’t been that mussed or that haphazardly curled in months, with blue eyes and a rueful smile as he says, “Apollo.”
Something stutters and jars in Enjolras’s chest.
Grantaire’s eyes slip away from his, a nervous gesture, and then return as he rubs a hand self-consciously over the back of his neck. “I’d welcome you, but I’m sure you’ve been here before.”
He should be worried, he realises this distantly, but he’s not. He’s calm. “Grantaire—” he starts, and then leaves empty air between them helplessly. Words don’t come.
How can he say anything, after what he’s just seen?
Grantaire’s fingers trace the neck of the bottle. He takes a breath. “I don’t blame you. Not now - I don't think I ever did. I took the offer because I wanted to. I know you think there were other options, that I could have said no, but it was the right thing for me, at the time.” Their eyes meet again and this time, finally, Enjolras understands. “And now this is what I have, and it's not so bad, really.”
He gestures to the room around them, the room he has manifested, Enrjolas now realises, to keep himself safe. Safe from the world R is creating, the things he is forcing him to do, to watch, to know. He thinks of Grantaire on the fire escape saying I’ve seen it all.
The bland serenity of the room makes something itch under Enjolras’s skin.
He should fight, why won’t he fight? Why isn't he fighting to regain control of his body?
"You can come back," he says and steps forwards, reaching for Grantaire’s hands, catching and bracketing his wrists instead when he takes a step back. "There’s still time."
And Grantaire shakes his head. Is gentle, as he says, “No there’s not. But it’s okay, Apollo, I don’t mind. I know what has to be done, and I’m okay with that.” Enjolras was trying to reassure him, now he has the curious sensation that he’s the one being reassured. “You know what you have to do to end this, Enjolras.”
"You can’t,” Enjolras starts to say.
"I can," says Grantaire, twisting his hands so they slide over his, so their fingers lock together. "It’s okay, I’ve let go. Now it’s your turn."
Enjolras tries to fight against it, against what he knows is the only solution they have left, tightens his grip on their joined hands, but can’t deny the words. Can’t deny the truth of them or what it means.
"I’m sorry," he says, and Grantaire smiles.
It’s soft and sad and gentle and he just has to close the distance between them. It’s barely a brush of lips, an exhale of breath, and then the world fades away.
He opens his eyes to shattered glass covering the kitchen floor and the smell of blood. To Courfeyrac’s laboured breathing from across the room and Combeferre's prone body slumped on the floor, still lying where he landed when he was thrown into the wall, and Jehan’s defiant last stand.
At some point when Enjolras was out, some time between closing his eyes and meeting Grantaire’s subconscious, Jehan had dragged R away from him. Most likely when Grantaire had been able to pull him into his safe space, when his memories had frozen for that brief second.
Someone has made a good attempt at cutting off the anti-exorcism tattoo on Grantaire’s hipbone, which now drips blood thickly over torn jeans.
R has Jehan against the fridge, one hand curled around his throat as Jehan chokes and gasps, his feet kicking where they scrabble for purchase on the ground.
Enjolras draws himself to his feet slowly, crunches glass under his boots.
He draws Combeferre’s blade from his unconscious body, spins it in his grasp and then wraps his fingers around the hilt. His body unfurls and straightens, his eyesight grows sharp.
Jehan sees him over R’s shoulder and his eyes widen, then R glances back at him too, and grins. “Welcome back, Sleeping Beauty.” He's barely finished speaking by the time Enjolras sinks a hand in his hair, twists hold of the curls and smashes his head forwards against the fridge over Jehan's shoulder.
Jehan gasps in a hoarse breath and collapses to his knees as R releases him, watches with wide blood-shot eyes as Enjolras drags the demon across the floor and shoves him back against the counter with the knife to his throat.
Enjolras has a reputation.
It’s not a nice one.
There is a reason demons are scared of him, a reason why they know his name in the underworld and tell tales of what he can do. He’s more feared, in some cases, than their own kind — truly terrible, in a way demons don’t ever expect humans to be.
It’s to this part of himself that he retreats now, desensitising himself, building walls. It’s like cutting off the part that makes him human, setting it aside to reach for the greater good. To be able to do what he needs.
Something registers in R’s expression, the confident smile slips.
Demon’s eyes, Enjolras now knows, can show fear.
"I'm giving you one last chance," he says, leaning close. "Let Grantaire go."
"No." The demon's breath stutters when Enjolras pushes the knife closer, almost breaks the skin.
"Let him go."
"No," R regains his strength, wraps hands around his biceps, shoves him away and into the table. Pain flares up Enjolras's spine as the edge smashes into the base of his back. He swipes out with the knife, is parried, R flexes his hands and an unseen force slams him back against the wall. The world goes black for an instant and then R is on him, fingers like claws in his shoulders.
Enjolras wrestles to try and escape, but there's only so long you can last against inhuman strength, to do what has to be done to end all of this. He gets the knife up between them, gets the blade pressed to Grantaire's sternum, then R twists and they're on the floor and glass is digging into his skin as they fight.
"Why do you even care?" R demands, his features wrenched into an inhuman expression. "You don't even like him. He's a waste of space, a waste of time." His knees bracket Enjolras's hips, he gets the knife in two hands, holds it above his heart. Enjolras grabs hold of his fingers to peel them away, digs fingernails under his skin, tries to force them away from the hilt of the knife as his mind races.
It should be ironic, that the demon wants to be human and have a body so much that he's willing to kill for it. They don't understand, Enjolras thinks, they don't get it. There's so much more to being human than a body.
"I'm so much better," R hisses, "I can do far more than he can, I can be of use."
And Enjolras laughs. It's not a happy sound.
"Go on then, do it," he says, through gritted teeth, "Kill me."
R’s whole body shakes, his muscles strain with the effort of trying to fight Enjolras's grip on the knife, push the point of the blade into his chest. He looks the furthest from triumphant Enjolras has ever seen, he looks —
"I know what stories they tell about me," Enjolras says, "But you demons, you don’t get it, do you? What makes us human is other people, our connections.You could never be human because you can never make that connection, and no matter how long you live you will never be accepted, we will never accept you.”
"Stop talking," hisses R, tries to lean his weight on the blade again. Enjolras holds strong, feels it give only a fraction of a centimetre as he grits his teeth.
And suddenly the realisation seems all too clear, like a light dawning and he understands, he finally gets it.
"Go on," he says, "Kill me. It won’t change a thing. You'll never be human."
R snarls and Enjolras is able to grin as he says, "You kill me, and they'll come for you."
He doesn’t have to elaborate to explain who; they both know. Enjolras is feared, it is true, but he would be nothing without the others, nothing without the rest of the Amis.
They are together, a unit, and the failure for making all those parts feel valued weighs on him. He can take the fall for that, knowing that the others will find justice. It is his penance, his burden to bare. His death won’t stop the others from trying to remove R, and it might possibly offer Grantaire some peace.
"You might be immortal but humans? We're persistent, we don't give up. I don't care if I die, if that's what my part in this has to be," his muscles shake with the effort of holding R long enough. "They're going to keep trying, to keep working, and one day they're going to remove you - and believe me, you'll wish you never left hell."
He locks his eyes with those inhuman black ones. "So go on, kill me."
The point of the blade presses harder, breaks skin, seeks for home. He feels the trickle of blood and looks death in the face and says, “I will still always choose Grantaire.”
He closes his eyes.
Relaxes his grip on the blade, stops fighting.
“No,” it’s Grantaire, but it’s not him, a voice that is wrecked and fraying and tearing. The hands holding the blade shudder, it drops, clatters to the floor and spins away, disappears in a shadow as Enjolras blinks open his eyes.
Grantaire still astride his legs, still with a hand fisted in the front of his shirt and curved forwards, but the eyes — something about the eyes —
"Grantaire?" his voice catches, sounding far too hopeful to his own ears, because there’s no way, it couldn’t have —
The voice is different, a tone to it he hasn’t heard in the longest time and fuck he doesn’t know what’s happening but suddenly he’s closed the distance and they’re kissing and his hands are fisted in Grantaire’s - Grantaire’s - stupid messy hair and he doesn’t know where one body ends and the other begins but he doesn’t care because, “It’s you.”
Grantaire doesn’t lean away, just keeps their foreheads pressed together, breathing the same air as he repeats, “It’s me.”
"How did you — what happened?"
"You couldn't fucking leave well enough alone, could you?" Grantaire asks. His hands move, catch one of Enjolras’s in his as he drops them to his waist, links their fingers together.
"What do you mean?"
Enjolras looks down at their hands, runs his thumb over the back of Grantaire’s hand. It feels so much more real, though it's the same hand he's always had.
"Well, it thought that killing you would mean I have nothing left to live for," Grantaire answers, "And he was right."
He looks up, but Grantaire is still focused on their hands, “But see, that doesn’t mean that I want you to die. You’re the only good that’s left in this world, Apollo, I can’t be the reason you’re not in it. I refuse to let anyone take you away, not without standing at your side.”
He gives that little rueful smile again, and makes Enjolras wants to kiss him again, so he does. When they part for air, Grantaire adds, “And I think it terrified him, that you could turn death into a victory, that you wouldn't stop fighting, even for me.”
Enjolras's suprise is genuine, he hadn't thought about scaring R away. He'd just done whatever he could in the circumstances. He hadn't thought Grantaire would finally fight back, that he would wrestle for control purely because Enjolras was willing to die.
"This is what they forget about you," Grantaire says, quiet, reverent. "That whilst you’re cruel and unforgiving, you’re also human. You feel things, you like people, you believe in them even when they don't believe in themselves. You don't give up."
He gives a little half-smile. "It just sometimes takes them a while to believe it too."
Enjolras lifts his free hand, traces the line of Grantaire's jaw, slips his hand to curve around his neck, thumb against his pulse. It beats, strong and alive, steady. He knows this is supposed to be the moment for some grand statement, some important line to sum everything up, but words haven't exactly served them well, recently.
And he's not ready to say those words, not yet.
So instead he leans in to kiss Grantaire again, when there's a groan from across the room.
"Hate to break the moment," says Combeferre, holding a hand to his side as he hauls himself into a sitting position. "But, some help?"
Somehow, they all pull themselves back together.
Courfeyrac is in a cast for several weeks, uses it as an excuse to get out of doing any real work, pouting and fluttering his eyelashes at Combeferre until he sighs. Combeferre and Jehan's cuts heal, scars are added to the collection.
Grantaire learns how to function again, a stranger to his own body.
Sometimes, people who know what happened, people who have heard the story or saw him when he was R, ask, “How do you know?” How do you know that the demon’s really gone and Grantaire’s in control? How do you know that it’s not just biding his time?
And Enjolras, if he deigns to reply, just gives them a hard stare and says, “I just do.”
But sometimes, he lies awake at night, listening to the sound of Grantaire’s breathing next to him, and he wonders. He thinks about never seeing the black smoke leave his body, of an anti-exorcism tattoo branded into skin. Thinks of Grantaire, faster now and stronger, still as quick to anger, and bolder, how his eyes sometimes look black in the darkness; thinks of the marks the demon left behind.
How much can you ever really know someone?
Everyone has demons.
Some of them are just better at hiding.