“Rewrite this,” Enjolras orders sternly, slapping a thick packet of paper on Grantaire’s desk. The other man lets out an incoherent string of curses, groggily lifting his head and squinting at Enjolras. Enjolras bristles when he catches a strong whiff of B.O. wafting off of Grantaire, who is clearly hungover. “While you’re at it, take a shower,” he adds, scoffing as he gazes down at Grantaire.
He’s a shabby man, there’s no doubt about that. His hair is flat on one side, matted down and smelling strongly of booze. On the other side, his curls seem to point in every direction, and he’s got dark, over grown stubble on his jaw. His firm, well defined jaw. Grantaire’s eyes are sandwiched between his caterpillar eyebrows and the heavy bags underneath his eyes. His eyes, colored like muck on the bottom of a pond, search Enjolras’ face for some sort of clue as to what he had just said. “I’m sorry, what?” He asks, his voice deep and groggy after being passed out for the last few hours.
“The lyrics for the new single. Rewrite them.” Enjolras gestures to the papers he had just dropped on his desk.
Grantaire’s face contorts into a frown. “Why?” He asks with a hint of agitation.
Enjolras sighs. He had anticipated a fight. “It’s too sappy. Les Amis doesn’t produce shallow music, we produce meaningful, relevant songs. Make it about… civil disobedience or something.” Of course, Grantaire laughs at that.
“Oh yeah, ‘cause the kids just love Thoreau. What’s next, Robespierre? Les Amis is a boy band, genius, not the next Public Enemy.” Grantaire gathers the papers up, his expression hard to read. His tone is mocking, but he’s not wearing the usual shit eating grin. He looks just a bit hurt. “These lyrics are good, okay? They’re anything but shallow.” Grantaire’s eyes flit down, unable to meet Enjolras’, which strikes him as odd.
“Les Amis is very influential, their music should support meaningful ideals,” Enjolras has turned away from Grantaire now, exasperated. “Hell, they just finished a World Tour! Think of the change we could instigate!”
Now Grantaire laughs. “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, Apollo.” He straightens up the papers, looking at them fondly. “I want to show the boys my lyrics. We’ll let them decide if they like my work.”
“I’m their manager! I don’t like the lyrics! When I say rewrite them, it’s not a request, it’s an order.” Enjolras breathes heavier now, realization flashing across his face as he watches Grantaire tense up. He had gone too far.
“Get out,” Grantaire says, his voice weak.
“I-I didn’t mean I don’t like the lyrics, your work is good, I just--”
“I said get out,” Grantaire repeats, “please.” The ‘please’ is soft, as though his voice might break if he speaks louder.
Enjolras stands in silence for an awkward second, unsure of if he should say anything to Grantaire. Would a sorry suffice? Probably not, he had just insulted Grantaire’s work. Despite his low self-esteem, his work was the one thing Grantaire took pride in. And Enjolras just ruined that. Finally, Enjolras speaks again. “The lyrics are good, Grantaire. Just not for Les Amis.” No response. Enjolras sighs and trudges out of the room. So much for a general consensus.
It’s a week later when Enjolras hears from Grantaire. They had planned to go over the finalized draft that Tuesday, before their awkward “fallout,” if you could even call it that. Enjolras had just assumed that was called off until they worked stuff out. He’s surprised when he receives the text at 10:00 AM that morning. “u late? @ the studio” it reads, accompanied by 12 different emojis. Enjolras nearly drops his phone as he first reads it, juggling the fragile thing in his jittery hands.
After shooting back a text, Enjolras rushes to the studio to meet with Grantaire. It’s a private studio, just completed a month earlier. Les Amis’ popularity came with many perks. Enjolras unlocks the side door, quickly keying in the security alarm code before it goes off, and makes sure the door shuts securely behind him. The lights are dim, in fact most of them are off because very few people are working. The door latches shut loudly, the click echoing through the empty building.
Enjolras hears footsteps rounding the corner, causing his heart to speed up. He sees Grantaire, standing at the end of the hall with a snarky smile plastered on his face. “Way to be punctual,” he says loudly, making a show of looking down at the non-existent watch on his wrist, “you’re thirty-eight minutes late.” Grantaire looks good. Well, he looks better. He seems more radiant than he did the previous week. His hair looks soft, and Enjolras kind of wants to touch it, but of course that’s absurd. The loose tank top he’s got on shows off his built arms, and his facial hair is trimmed back in a surprisingly flattering way. The best part is he no longer has bags under his eyes. He looks healthy, and Enjolras takes note of the warm buzzing in his heart he feels when he acknowledges this. He had been worrying about the other man.
Grantaire is staring at him with an expectant expression. Enjolras realizes he should probably address his tardiness. “Oh yeah, sorry,” he begins, walking forward to meet Grantaire. “I forgot. Um, I guess that’s pretty obvious, huh?” He says pathetically, trying to relieve some of the tension between them.
“Yeah, I can tell you were rushing by the way your shirt’s inside out,” Grantaire comments, eyes raking over Enjolras.
Just great, now Enjolras is blushing. “Shit,” he mumbles with a strange frenzied frown, “whoops.” Without really thinking it through, Enjolras yanks the shirt over his head and flips it right side out. Grantaire just stands there, a bit stunned while Enjolras pulls the shirt back on and brushes out the wrinkles. “There we go, all good.” Enjolras forces a smile towards Grantaire, who looks a bit in a daze. “Fuck. That was weird, sorry,” he squeaks in a moment of realization.
“No problem,” Grantaire manages to say. His voices cracks. “I set up in the second practice room,” he adds, turning and gesturing Enjolras to follow him.
The practice rooms are right down the hall, and a strong beam of light pools out of the one open door in the hall. The practice rooms are all good sizes, with a piano in every room and large, wall length windows facing out. Despite their newness, Grantaire has already trashed his designated practice room. Sheet music is tossed about, and spare pens and pencils litter the floor. The piano bench is not at the piano, but rather on the opposite side of the room with more stacks of paper on it. Grantaire beckons him in, searching the floor for a spare guitar pick. “I should have one in here,” he murmurs under his breath, squatting and running his hands over the wooden floors.
Enjolras spots the fabled guitar pick a few feet away from the guitar stand, blending in easily with the floor due to its color. “I think I see it,” he announces, shutting the door behind him and finally walking into the room. Grantaire sits up to watch him, following his path and noticing the pick.
“I can get that,” Grantaire lifts himself up and beats Enjolras to the pick, grinning in his victory. “Thanks Apollo.” He clears off a spot on the piano bench and encourages Enjolras to take a seat while he slings the guitar strap over his head. He plucks a few strings, adjusting the tuning keys on the headstock of the guitar.
“What, you didn’t tune while you waited on me?” Enjolras asks, a bit irked. Grantaire had had nearly forty minutes to prepare for him, yet he was just now tuning.
He scoffs, rolling his eyes. “Yes, I tuned, but I’m tuning again because I know how much of a perfectionist you are,” Grantaire explains, finishing up and strumming a g-chord. “Happy?”
“I’m not a perfectionist, I just--” he stops himself before another argument ensues. “Sorry, whatever, let’s get going.” Enjolras is tired and on edge. Being around Grantaire makes it a lot worse, and he’s not quite sure why that is. Grantaire nods, somehow getting the message that Enjolras isn’t in the mood fight.
“Okay, so I mapped out the chorus and I was thinking something like this,” he begins strumming gently in a complex time signature, humming along to represent the vocals. Watching Grantaire like this is strange. Of course, it’s not the first time Enjolras has seen him playing guitar, yet every time he’s still enraptured by the man. He’s no longer infuriating. His callused fingers move across the neck of the guitar and he allows himself to smile. It’s not a smirk, but an actual, pleasant smile while he plucks out intricate chords and runs. He finishes too soon, and although it’s only the chorus Enjolras kind of wishes it was longer. “They’ll repeat that four or five times, probably. Depends on how long we want it to be. How does it sound?”
“It’s good,” Enjolras concedes. “We’re thinking between three or four minutes for the run time, so you can adjust accordingly. I take it you also have the verses and the bridge?”
“I was just about to get to that,” Grantaire says as his hands fiddle with the guitar. “So you’re cool with the chorus?” Enjolras nods stiffly in response. “You can relax you know,” the words shock Enjolras. He hadn’t realized his discomfort was so obvious. “I’m not upset with you.”
Enjolras adjusts his position on the bench, looking up to meet Grantaire’s eyes. Grantaire looks just as uncomfortable as he does, but his eyes are kind and his smile is welcoming. Enjolras’ heart feels heavy. “I really wasn’t trying to insult you.”
“I know,” he says with a hint of sadness in his voice. “Okay, so the bridge is more upbeat, kinda like this,” and Grantaire is strumming again, as though their awkward exchange had never happened. Of course, the bridge is brilliant, and so are the verses, but they had yet to directly bring up the lyrics.
Grantaire is now explaining the bass line and the drum part, but Enjolras has stopped listening. He’s lost in his thoughts, his eyes trained on Grantaire’s lips. Of course, Grantaire realizes Enjolras has zoned out and stops speaking. Enjolras wishes he wasn’t so easy to read. “You good Apollo?”
Enjolras bristles at the use of the nickname. “Grantaire, we need to talk. About the lyrics.”
That shuts Grantaire down quickly. “Um, I was going to see what the boys thought about them. We could just try them out.” He’s nervous now, Enjolras can tell that much.
“I just don’t get it,” Enjolras begins, never breaking eye contact. “You’ve never been attached to any of the lyrics you come up with. What’s so special about these lyrics?” The dark haired man says nothing in response. “Maybe we can edit them together. Do you have a copy?”
Grantaire does. He reluctantly grabs a paper and sort of shoves it at Enjolras. “Here’s my shitty work,” he grumbles, panic in his eyes.
“Okay, we can start at the chorus. You’ve got: I want to be the one that makes you smile, I want to be the one that you can trust, I want to be the one you’re thinkin’ of, I want you to feel safe with me the way I feel safe with you. So I was thinking we can keep the ‘I want to be the one’s, but we can alter it to be, like, I want to be the one to speak out first, and go into revolution or something.”
Grantaire snatches the paper back. “Can you maybe not do that?” He asks, his face bright red. “These lyrics are, um, personal.”
Enjolras frowns, watching Grantaire’s face morph into a mortified mess. “Are these about someone? Someone you like?”
His eyes widen, pupils flitting back and forth anxiously. “Never mind,” he spits out unconvincingly, standing up to pack up his stuff. “So the music is fine, right? I’ve got to go somewhere, so… see ya Thursday I guess.” He’s out of the room suddenly and Enjolras’ mind is still reeling. Grantaire likes someone. That sends a shock of pain through his heart. Jealousy, perhaps? Enjolras shakes his head, putting it off as just surprise. Grantaire’s only love seemed to be his music and his liquor.
Still, a part of Enjolras was curious. Grantaire never really discussed his feelings, and if his suspicions were correct, Grantaire put his heart into those lyrics. That would explain why he was so reluctant to change them. He wants to see the lyrics again, read back through them a surmise who they might be about, but Grantaire had taken the copy with him.
He’d see him again on Thursday, though, when they meet up with the actual members of Les Amis. Perhaps they could fill him in on some gossip and help him figure out who Grantaire was crushing on. For some reason Enjolras felt he needed to know.