To be blatantly honest, Kath had thought her internship would consist of getting coffees, taking notes at meetings, and picking up dry cleaning. In reality it was projects with a boy from Georgetown and yes, taking notes at meetings. She and Specs had signed up for NYU’s Washington semester. Spending three months in D.C. where her dad’s last name held little sway was welcome. Doing it with one of her best friends was exciting. Being an intern with CNN was thrilling. Missing Jack and her boys was not.
Georgetown Boy did not help any on that front. One of their tasks was putting together content for social media. Well, making exclusive content for social media. Which meant they spent a lot of time on their own social media accounts coming up with ideas. Meaning she saw a lot of pictures of him and his friends who looked just as loud and rambunctious as her own. Causing her heart to ache for them as she frowned at the pictures of the Woman’s March he’d pulled up.
He noticed her frown and raised an eyebrow in dry humor. “Don’t tell me you’re a conservative,” he drawled. And if his hair was more of a sliver blonde than a gold blonde then she would definitely have nicknamed him Draco.
Kath rolled her eyes and scrolled through her own Instagram to find the pictures of the march in New York. She, Smalls, and Sarah all stood with their arms linked and carrying suffragette style banners. She slid in her office chair to the left so he could see the monitor better. “You want to rethink that statement?” Katherine teased.
He snorted but the corner of his mouth twisted up in a smile and he grabbed her mouse so he could click through. “I haven’t seen much from the New York one,” he admitted as he smirked at some of the more clever signs Kath had snapped pictures of. She had learned that he was terribly fond of wordplay. Especially smart wordplay. Kath had started polling the groupchat for puns and yet he always managed to one-up her when she least expected.
“That’s because the media focused on the one here in D.C.” she explained, knowing he already knew that but unable to help herself from turning something into a teachable moment. “It was a really good turnout. A lot of people still came down here but we still had a big crowd. Some great speakers too. Besides, we get to have all the attention for Pride so it evens out.”
Another snort as he let her have her computer back. Something else Katherine had learned in the past two weeks working with him: sarcasm was appreciated.
“If you don’t mind my asking…” And here it came, the over politeness Kath knew was bred out of being forced to sit through charity golf tournaments and museum galas. A habit she had finally learned to turn on and off at will once she got to college because polite young ladies got ignored and rowdy boys were perfect practice to unlearn it on. But he was always sincere in his charm, at least when directed at her, so she found it easier to stifle her knee jerk reaction to someone sounding like her father. Easier, she was still working on it. He continued, “Why did you get so upset when I showed you my pictures?”
Katherine felt her nose wrinkle without meaning to. Letting out a sigh she turned to face him, a tiny part of her brain saying how unfair it was anyone could look that good in a suit in seventy percent humidity. “I might be a little homesick? I don’t really miss New York, the metro here is so much better, but I do miss my friends,” Katherine admitted.
“I thought your one friend came with you? The one at State, we saw him at the press briefing.”
“Well yeah. But I have more than one friend. Do you not?” she teased, getting rewarded with an eyeroll. “Besides, I left my boyfriend and the disaster bis that we are something is bound to happen and I won’t be there to bail him out. Or vice versa.”
He blinked at her as he nodded. Katherine felt her eyebrows pull together, had she been talking to fast? She did that sometimes. He words pouring out as rapidly as her thoughts. Realizing that her speed shouldn’t be the problem Kath quickly ran over what she had just said and blanched. She’d just outed herself and Jack to some guy she barely knew and had to work with five days a week, eight hours a day, for the next three months.
Desperately trying to backpaddle, Kath’s mind started swirling. “I did NOT mean to say that. Pretend I didn’t say that,” Kath blurted in a panic. Thankfully as the interns they had been stuffed into their own office, no matter how small and cramped, insulating her outburst from anyone else.
He threw up his hands, palms towards her as if to show her he was unarmed. His eyebrows were slowly rising into his curls. (Again, how did they look that good in this weather? Katherine’s hair hadn’t left a ponytail holder since she got here.) “You’re totally fine. I’m not going to say anything to anyone. Besides, nondiscrimination, equally opportunity so if anyone is a dick about it you’ve got rights.”
Katherine quirked her lips up into a smile. She was reminded again of her friends, Davey springing to mind at the mention of rights.
“Besides,” he continued, “I’m demi and I’ve got a boyfriend. It’d be pretty hypocritical of me. Also may have a very minor arrest record so I can’t even judge on the bail comment.”
Katherine grinned, shaking her head as she started to laugh. “Enjolras, we really need to hang out more.”
“Nice work you two. Really nice. Feel free to head out and I’ll see you Monday.” Kath nodded to her boss, unable to contain her grin of pride as she turned to head back to their little office. Enjolras was right on her heels and with two long strides he was walking next to her. She turned to him and saw her own smile mirrored. He nodded and they headed down the hall in companionable silence.
They logged off their computers and Kath was slipping off her heels in exchange for her rainboots as Enjolras shrugged a rain jacket on. “Hey Katherine?”
She looked over towards where he’d paused, backpack half on. “Yeah?” Kath asked.
“Do you have any plans for tonight?”
Katherine blinked, they rarely talked about their personal lives and she was thoroughly caught off guard. “Umm… No? My roommate and I were going to watch To All the Boys I Loved Before for like the sixth time?”
Enjolras bit his lower lip and Kath could tell he was biting back a comment. She narrowed her eyes, daring him to say something. “That’s, uh, wow. Big plans.” She raised a slow eyebrow, giving him the same look that normally made Albert, Racetrack, and Finch fess up to where ever they’d left Elmer as they ran from self-inflicted trouble. Enjolras shook his head, rubbing at the back of his neck and staring at his shoes. “If you and your roommate want to do something different, my friends and I are going to this open mic night at a coffee shop we pretty much live at over in DuPont. You’re more than welcome to join,” he’d raised his head to meet her eyes as he’d finished. Kath had to consciously try not to swoon at how blue his eyes were. It was ridiculously unfair how pretty this boy was! And she spent all her time around pretty boys, she should be used to this by now! Jack was her boyfriend for cripes sake! And yet…
He was still staring at her. Waiting for an answer, right. Kath shook her head, getting rid of the last of her mind’s tangent, before answering. “An open mic night? Yeah, that sounds awesome. I’ve been meaning to explore DuPont Circle a bit more, my new favorite bookstore is over there but that’s about all I know about. And the Nando’s and Shake Shack. But um, yeah! I’ve gotta check in with Specs though.”
“My roommate. Sorry, my friends all have dumb nicknames,” Kath rolled her eyes.
Enjolras chuckled. “It’s because of the glasses? Remind me not to let your friends around my friends. Specs being the exception of course. But yeah, uh text me when you guys decide and I’ll send you the name of the place? It starts about seven.”
Kath nodded, she stood and slipped on her own raincoat. “Ok, yeah. Sounds good.” Enjolras nodded at her before heading out as she packed up. Pausing she looked back at the door he’d just left through and thought over the conversation. Had she just made a friend? She was pretty sure she’d made a friend.
Kath plugged her headphones into her phone and swung her bag onto her shoulder as she dialed Jack. He picked up on the first ring and Katherine couldn’t help but smile at his voice coming through her headphones as she rode the elevator down to the ground floor.
“Katherine! I wasn’t expecting you to call so early! Normally you wait until suppertime. Is everything ok? You’re ok? Did something happen?”
Shaking her head she laughed at his protective concern. “I’m fine Jack, really. Nothing happened, no one’s hurt, the White House is still standing.”
Kath couldn’t help but snort at that. “Was that a threat or an omen?”
“Ok,” Katherine laughed, waving at the security guard on her way out the building. “No, I called because I wanted to talk to you! Aren’t I allowed to do that?”
“I mean, I guess?” She could practically picture him shrugging with that goofy half-smile as he walked towards the arts building for his studio time. “Though why you’d want to when you could go rule the free world I’ll never know.”
“You can’t see it but I’m rolling my eyes,” Kath informed him as she waited for the walk signal. “Besides, I’m an intern at CNN. I’m not taking over the country from there.”
“Not with that attitude you won’t!”
Katherine threw her head back as she laughed, drawing some stares and glares from the other pedestrians. “Ok, sure. Look, I love you. I like talking to you. I wanted to talk to you. Is that so hard to understand?”
“Kath, I’m still trying to figure out how I managed to get you to go out with me in the first place. So yes, it is.” Katherine rolled her eyes and opened her mouth to cut him off but Jack was Jack and he plowed ahead, keeping her from saying anything. “But man am I glad you did cause I love you too. Now what’s up?”
“Well my boss complimented Enjolras and I today!”
“Enjolras is the other intern right?”
“That’s a weird name. Who names their kid Enjolras?”
“You regularly hang out with people who go by things like Racetrack and Spot and answer to Cowboy. I didn’t even know Spot’s real name until second semester freshman year. So I don’t think you have any ground to stand on, pot.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Ok, ok. I got it. I wasn’t trying to call the kettle black but whatever. Besides you forgot the best one.”
“David ‘the Walking Mouth’ Jacobs.”
Katherine couldn’t stop her smile. And she didn’t want to. Talking to Jack made her so happy. He was her best friend, just hearing his voice made her heart lighter. “Except only Spot calls him that, the rest of you heathens call him Mouth or Davey.” The verbal sparring was always fun too.
“Touché, most forcible female.”
“Did you just quote Bandstand at me?”
“You definitely did! You goof. Ok, I’m getting on the metro soon so I wanna tell you this quick before I’ve gotta go,” Kath said as she hopped on the escalator down into the station, pulling out her keys with her card. “So, I think I made a friend?”
“Oh? I mean, who wouldn’t want to be friends with you Kath. Despite your abrasive personality you’re a great person.”
“Gee, thanks,” she let the sarcasm drip from her voice as Jack’s laughter filled her ears. “Anyway. Enjolras asked me if I had plans for tonight and then invited Specs and I to join his friends at some open mic night.”
“That sounds fun. You going to read some of your stuff?”
“What? No. I don’t even know if I’m going yet. And even if I am I would so not be doing that. Just no.” She knew he couldn’t see her but Kath couldn’t help but shake her head, as though she could shake the idea from her mind. The lights flashed on the platform to signal a train was coming. “I’ve gotta go.”
“Ok, text me. And Kath? Go. Have fun, make friends. I love you.”
Katherine smiled as the train rushed into the station. “Ok. I will. Love you too.” She hung up and was switching over to her music for the ride home when a text popped up. It was from Jack, a string of heart and heart eyes emojis. She sent back hearts of her own as she hopped on the train.
Kath pushed open the heavy door of their little apartment with a huff. Specs looked up from where he’d already changed into pajama pants and a t-shirt on the couch. “Are you watching The People vs OJ?” She asked as she caught sight of the tv.
“I can’t watch Madam Secretary anymore, work ruined it,” he said in a voice of pure melancholy.
“Not even the one with Corey Cott?”
Kath gasped and clutched at her pearls, something she was actually able to do thanks to putting on the strand her mom gave her for Christmas the year before when she got dressed that morning. “No.”
“Tragic,” Kath said as she dropped her bag and worked off her rainboots. “We should do something to distract you from this travesty.”
Specs looked at her, an incredulous eyebrow raised. And that’s why they were friends, both maintained a healthy dose of skepticism to balance out their wild optimism. He paused the show and turned so that he was facing her fully. He made a motion with his hand, a slight fluttering roll of the wrist that signified that she should go on.
“Well you know how I work with that guy Enjolras?” Specs nodded at her and Kath continued. “He invited us to some open mic night he and his friends are going to.”
“Katherine, neither of us are legal. There’s no way we’re getting into a club,” he said, an edge of disappointment in his voice.
“It’s not at a club! It’s at a coffee shop. He said it’s their favorite. In DuPont Circle.”
Specs titled his head, considering it for a few seconds before starting to nod and Katherine found herself bouncing on the balls of her feet. “Yeah, sure. Why not?”
“Sweet! I’ll text Enjolras and get the address. He said it starts about seven so you can probs watch another episode or two,” Kath said.
“Just the one cause while I am comfy I refuse to leave the house looking like this,” Specs said as he turned back to the tv and Kath turned to walk down the short hall and into their little shared bedroom.
“But you look cute!” She called across the small space to him.
“But I’ll look cuter by putting effort in!” Was the response from Specs.
Kath may fake being exasperated by them, but she really did love all her friends. If she didn’t have their teasing and jokes she knows that her loving jabs would have turned cold, hard, and mean years ago. Her sisters were like that, while their comments were all in jest they still carried an edge to them that was missing from her friends’. She’d also noticed that those same comments completely lacked any humor when directed at people they didn’t care about. So Kath always thanked her lucky stars that she’d been saved from becoming that. Even if Jack always told her that it was her own doing and they’d never be friends with her in the first place if it wasn’t.
She sighed, trying to get out of her head. A place she seemed to be disappearing more and more into lately. Getting out and meeting new people would help with that. She was sure of it.
Katherine turned to her closet and rummaged through it until she pulled out the denim skirt she was looking for, throwing it on her bed. She was trying to figure out where her favorite sweater had gotten to when Specs padded in. He gave one look at her practically being swallowed by her closet before turning and leaving. She figured that was best as she stumbled backwards a few seconds later, the sweater in one hand and her docs in the other. She changed quickly, hanging her dress pants and blouse up to wear again another day.
By the time she’d finished perfecting her smoky eye and had gotten her curls wrangled into an artfully messy bun (the whole time cursing the humidity that seemed to permanently exist below the Mason-Dixon Line) Specs had started digging through his own closet as he got ready for their big night out on the town.
“This good? Not too much?” Kath asked as she gave a twirl from the doorway.
“You look good,” Specs said with a smile. He held up two printed, button-up shirts for her to see. “Which one? I’m wearing these jeans.”
Kath looked down to his legs before meeting his gaze with feigned innocence. “Well obviously.”
“Katherine.” He was trying to be annoyed but she could tell by the way he pressed his lips together that he was rapidly failing.
She smirked and leaned against the door jam. “As Charlie always says, ‘What would Tan France do?’”
“An amazing French tuck. Now seriously, which one?”
Kath giggled at the speed of his comeback before crossing the small room to stand in front of him. “Is this one patterned with squirrels?” she asked as she examined the shirt.
“Yes. A little too nutty?” He asked, and Kath was not going to reward that with a smile. It was a terrible joke and damn it. Too late. Laughter was already bubbling its way out of her throat.
“I hate you,” she giggled. “Wear the frickin’ squirrel shirt.”
He smirked, winking at her as he passed her the shirt to hold. Hanging the other one back up Specs tugged his t-shirt off over his head. She passed him the shirt back and he thanked her as he slipped it on and deftly started doing up the buttons.
“What shoes are you wearing?” Katherine asked as she examined the ones he had lined up at the foot of his bed.
“I was thinking high tops. Why?”
“Nah, do the boots. Make Tan proud.”
Specs laughed but grabbed the boots, settling on the carpet to tug them on. “You ready then?” he asked as he pushed himself back up to his feet.
“Yup! Got the name of the place right here too! The Musain?” Kath read the text, shrugging and passing Specs her phone.
He pushed his glasses further up his nose as he frowned at it. “Huh. Never heard of it. Sounds french? Hopefully they’ve got food because I’m starved.”
“Here here,” Kath said. She slipped her phone into her pocket as Specs handed it back and turned to go grab her purse from their little living room. Specs was waiting for her in the hall, key in hand to lock up behind them.
Offering an arm he smiled at her. “Shall we?”
Her stomach fluttered in anticipation. She returned the smile and linked their arms. “We shall.”
Pokes at the fourth wall: "Is this thing solid? No? Cool." Also yet another chapter without Les Amis, sorry! They'll be making an appearance in the next one. I swear!
This update schedule though. Wow. Don't know if I'll be able to keep it up but let's all marvel at it for now.
The Musain was much larger than it looked on the outside. When she and Specs ducked in she was surprised that the narrow storefront gave way to a long, open room with high ceilings. At the end stood a small stage, along one wall was a long bar with shiny cappuccino machines behind it while the opposite wall was home to a series of large comfy looking booths. Scattered between were small tables and low couches and over-stuffed armchairs.
Katherine looked around, hoping for a glint of Enjolras’s bright hair in the low light. She didn’t see anything but she did spy a small staircase just behind the bar. Turning towards Specs she nodded toward it and they headed upstairs to a small balcony that led to a loft space with a large table ringed with sofas and chairs that was directly above the front door. Katherine hadn’t noticed it originally but now realized that it had the best view of the stage.
She took a few steps forward and eyed the group of people that were settled around the table. She noticed Enjolras at the same moment that he glanced toward her. Raising a hand in a half wave and giving a smile she hesitated with Specs at the top of the stairs as Enjolras turned to say something to the boy he was talking to before pushing himself to his feet and walking over to them.
“Katherine, I’m so glad that you were able to make it. And Specs, thank you for putting your plans aside to be here,” Enjolras said.
Specs laughed, and Kath knew he didn’t realize that Enjolras knew exactly what their plans had been with that laugh. “It’s no big deal, really. Thanks for the invite.”
Enjolras nodded and turned to lead them over to the group of people. He settled back on the couch, slinging an arm around a boy with dark curls, before turning to continue his conversation he’d been engaged in before coming to meet them. Kath glanced around at the group as she and Specs settled into the couch across the table from him.
The boy with the dark curls shrugged Enjolras’s arm off with what Kath thought was a fond if exasperated look as he leaned towards them. “Excuse my boyfriend. For as much as he wants to end all society’s woes he’s got the worst social skills. Grantaire,” he said as he extended his hand to shake. Kath took it and was surprised by how rough it was and noticed as he shook Specs’s that it was splattered with paint. She was reminded abruptly of Jack as Grantaire continued talking. “But you can call me R.”
There was a mischievous tilt to his lips and Kath couldn’t help but laugh as she made the connection. “So you take French I’m guessing.”
Grantaire gave her a brilliant grin. “Not since high school but you’ll find we’re quite the group of Francophiles.”
“Well that’s better than a group of Frank N. Furters,” Specs quipped.
That made Grantaire laugh, a deep sound that seemed to encompass his whole body. Enjolras glanced over briefly, a ghost of a smile, before he turned back to his discussion. “It’s not quite Halloween though. Remind me to invite you guys though.”
Katherine felt the ball of nerves that had settled in her stomach back at the apartment loosen at that. The past two Halloweens had been spent at midnight screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture show. She had fond memories of both; how scandalized and sick David looked at the sight of his sister in what amounted to little more than lingerie and Romeo pressing a bag of props into her hands and people whispering callouts to her so that she could join in during the show her first year while the last was memories of getting dolled up and decked out and laughing as she effortlessly did the Time Warp with Jack. At this point, Rocky Horror was a part of her Halloween tradition and it was Specs’s too.
He’d sat up straighter and smiled back at Grantaire. “We’re going to hold you to that. I’m Specs by the way.”
Grantaire laughed again, just as deep and warm as the first time. “And I thought my nickname was a little on the nose.”
“Nah, yours is clever,” Specs argued as he joined in the laughter.
Katherine felt herself relaxing as Grantaire turned his attention to her. “Katherine.”
“Ah! The work wife!” Another boy said, joining in on the conversation. “R is obviously the wife wife.”
“Obviously,” Grantaire agreed.
“I’m Courfeyrac but that’s a bit of a mouthful for most people so feel free to call me Courf,” the boy said, giving them both a dazzling smile.
“I can see what you mean about Francophiles,” Kath giggled.
“Oh, if you think that’s bad just you wait.” Courfeyrac hopped from his armchair to sit next to Kath on the couch. “Would you like a drink? Coffee? Hot chocolate? Tea?”
“Virginial blood?” Grantaire interrupted with a smirk.
Katherine laughed but before she could say anything Specs was talking. “You do not want to support Kath’s coffee addiction,” he said, mock seriously. She turned to scoff at him.
“Oh now I very much do. How do you take it?” Grantaire asked, already rising to his feet.
“Oh that’s really not necessary, thank you,” Kath tried to wave him off.
“I insist. You’re not convincing me otherwise. Besides, we get a discount,” Grantaire said with an easy shrug. Kath shared a look with Specs, she was flattered but her instincts about strangers and unattended drinks were kicking in no matter how nice and harmless Grantaire seemed.
Specs knew exactly what she was thinking and rose to his feet. “I’ll come with you then, her order can be obnoxiously complex if you don’t already know it.”
Kath shot him a grateful look as Specs followed after Grantaire who had simply shrugged and turned to head downstairs. She turned back to Courfeyrac and immediately found herself in a conversation about her internship, her journalism major, and her involvement with her school paper. Kath felt herself relaxing even more as they talked, his genuine interest making it easy. The night’s performances hadn’t even begun yet and already Katherine was glad she’d come.
Courfeyrac was telling her a story involving a Jack Russell Terrier, a foreign embassy intern, and the high possibility that he was banned from Portugal when Grantaire and Specs returned. Specs passed her a large mug filled with foam and some downright delightful latte art as he placed a plate with two large muffins on the table. He accepted his drink from Grantaire before sitting down. The other boy frowned at Courfeyrac as he reclaimed his own seat. “There is no way you’re actually banned from Portugal. That’s just absurd,” Grantaire interrupted.
Courfeyrac rolled his eyes at Katherine with a smile. The sort of look she knew meant both “here we go again” and “you’re in for a treat” simultaneously. Mostly because it was the look David or Charlie gave her whenever someone got Jack started on Santa Fe.
“Look,” Grantaire continued and beside her Courfeyrac seemed to settle in for a rant, “I’m not saying that it’s impossible. Far from it! I’m just sating that it’s not in the cards for you. Now Bossuet? Bossuet, I believe. It’s just his luck to be permanently banned from Argentina. Besides, Portugal and Argentina are two very different places.”
“What’s this about my name and my luck?” a boy from the other end of the table called. Katherine assumed that this was Bossuet. Another boy pressed into his side raised a cane like a drum major’s mace and began to loudly hum Don’t Cry for Me Argentina as the girl on his other side cackled and lovingly patted his bald head.
“Only that the only thing worse than the one is the other,” Grantaire called back.
The smaller conversations that most of the group had been involved in broke up as everyone’s attention was drawn to Grantaire and Bossuet and their verbal sparring match. Katherine caught Enjolras’s eye as he shifted to better see both. He seemed to wince, an unspoken apology for whatever was about to happen next. Katherine just shook her head, delighted by what was sure to be an excellent story if everyone else’s actions were any indication.
“R, I know your arguments hold water, but you must admit that I can’t possibly be blamed for either of those,” Bossuet laughed.
The mischief that Katherine thought she’d spied earlier returned full force to Grantaire’s expression. Anticipation seemed to ripple through the group at that and Katherine noticed quite a few people casting furtive glances at Enjolras as well. As though his reaction was bound to be as interesting as what Grantaire had to say. She glanced over at Specs, catching his eye, before they both turned their full attention to Grantaire who had leaned closer.
“Now,” Grantaire began, addressing Kath and Specs while simultaneously engaging everyone’s attention, “what I’m about to tell you involves political intrigue, foreign travel, and underage drinking. Lots of underage drinking.”
“Grantaire,” Enjolras said lowly. A warning or reprimand, Kath couldn’t tell.
“Oh please. You’re making this out to be the plot of some Bond movie,” Bossuet protested.
“Embassies are technically foreign soil,” the boy Enjolras had been talking to pointed out, adjusting his glasses in the process.
Grantaire smiled brilliantly. “Thank you, Combeferre. Now as I was saying, this story contains twists, turns, and banishment. Let us set the scene: Marius – hopeless, lovesick, linguistic major Marius – had to go to some function at an embassy for class,” Grantaire gestured toward a boy who blushed furiously and was getting his cheek patted by a pretty girl with some of the biggest eyes Kath had ever seen. She made the mental note to ask her about what kind of mascara she used later as Grantaire continued. “Now these sorts of events are open to the public, for a price of course, and Marius being a tragically kind person posted it in our group chat. Aka the first mistake.”
Katherine didn’t think it was possible for someone to blush deeper and yet Marius managed it. Courfeyrac leaned over to whisper quickly to her and Specs. “Don’t worry about Marius, he’s the butt of a lot of well-meaning jokes. He has much thicker skin than the red ears imply. And we all know R means nothing by it.”
Katherine nodded quickly.
Grantaire was still talking. “Now, a significant number of us, myself and Bald Eagle over there included, fork over the cash and put on our finery for a night of good old-fashioned D.C. schmoozing. Aka networking or mistake number two.”
Bossuet performed a truly impressive face palm at that and Enjolras let out one of the most long-suffering sighs she’d ever heard. He seemed to be gearing up to say something if his posture was anything to go by. Kath hadn’t known Enjolras long, and she didn’t pretend to know him well, but she was very familiar with the way he had sat up straighter suddenly. She’d seen Jack, David, Sarah, Charlie, even herself all do it just before they proposed protests or rallies at school or movie nights and video game tournaments. The others seemed to register this too, their focus beginning to shift toward Enjolras.
Only Grantaire seemed to ignore it, continuing his story unfazed. “So we get there and-” Enjolras’s mouth opened to cut Grantaire off but before he could the sound of someone tapping on a microphone filled the space.
Grantaire stopped abruptly, not even launching into the tale proper as everyone resumed their drinking and pastry munching and turned back toward the stage. Katherine leaned forward to grab her muffin and Grantaire leaned across the table to meet her. “It really is a good story, let me know if you ever want to hear it some time,” he said lowly.
Katherine smiled. “I will,” she said with sincerity. Katherine loved a good story, she wouldn’t want to be a reporter if she didn’t. And while she doubted that whatever Grantaire might say would be the truth, she was sure it would be entertaining. Plus, it showed she’d done something right, otherwise Grantaire wouldn’t be offering to spend more time with her. Katherine’s nerves completely disappeared. Things were going well.
Courfeyrac motioned for her to get up and she hopped to her feet, sharing a puzzled look with Specs. Courfeyrac and another boy quickly grabbed the couch and turned it around so that it faced the stage. Katherine moved to regain her seat, coffee mug at her feet and muffin in her lap, as the first performer took the stage.
After about six performers – a mix of spoken word, slam poetry, and musicians – they announced a brief intermission and encouraged the audience to sign up. “I’m going down if anyone would like to join me,” someone called to the group.
Specs nudged her, and Kath shot him a glare. “Go on,” he muttered.
“I didn’t bring anything,” she whispered back quickly, hoping that’d be enough of an excuse to get him to drop it.
“Bullshit.” Specs gave her a Look. “I know for a fact you have a notebook filled with story ideas, to-dos, grocery lists, protest chants, addresses, and poetry in that purse of yours.”
Katherine knew she’d been called out. Quickly she nudged her purse slightly under the couch and further out of his reach. “Nothing worth being heard,” she hissed.
“Then sing,” Specs said as if it were obvious.
Katherine stared at him. Specs knew her well enough to know that was almost as serious a request as asking her to read her poetry. There were her words, which she gave freely, and her voice, which she used to amplify others. She hated using either for herself and especially in tandem. To give words or voice to her own emotions terrified her. That’s why her poetry remained under lock and key. Singing was the same way; when she sang she was just Kath, at her most vulnerable. She hated feeling vulnerable. Christmas carols or the school fight song were one thing, what Specs proposed was another.
“C’mon Kath, you’re good! And no one here knows you, not really, so what’s the harm?” Specs nudged her again with a soft smile.
Kath sighed and looked toward the stairs where the pretty girl was chatting with who she assumed was the person who said they were going to sign up in the first place. They seemed to be waiting as Grantaire tried to bully another girl into signing up, what Kath could even tell was a loosing battle. She turned back to Specs with a dark look. “I’ll only do it if there’s accompaniment and only that one song.”
“Well that’s a long shot but deal,” Specs spit into his hand and held it out to her. Katherine spit into her own palm and shook before rising to her feet to head over to the stairs.
The girl noticed her first, giving her a bright smile and asking, “Are you going to perform too?” with such genuine warmth and curiosity that Katherine was caught off-guard.
“Maybe,” she replied hastily. “Uh, it depends on if there’s anyone to accompany me and if they know it.”
“Oh, you’re a singer too!” she said excitedly. “I’m Cosette, sorry, should’ve said that first,” she giggled, and Katherine couldn’t have stopped herself from smiling if she wanted to.
“Katherine,” she offered. “And, uh, I do write some poetry too. I’m just not fond of sharing it. I much prefer news writing.”
“Not everyone is quite open enough to share their inner selves, and that’s ok. I’m Jehan, by the way. I take it you enjoy writing though?”
Katherine blinked, Jehan’s shirt was extremely busy and the pattern was starting to give her a headache after looking at it for just a few seconds. “Um, yes. Yes, I love writing.”
“Well Katherine, you’re among kindred spirits,” Jehan said with no trace of irony.
“I think we’d better go,” Cosette said, standing on her tip toes to peer back at the others. “I don’t think any success has been made on the Eponine front.”
“A pity, but Katherine here has said she’s a possibility.”
“Emphasis on possibility,” Kath pointed out but she followed them down to the end of the bar where the emcee stood with a sign up sheet on a clipboard. He passed it to Cosette and then Jehan with an easy smile before turning to Kath. She swallowed before speaking. “Do you have any accompanists for singers?”
“We do. Guitar or piano?” he asked kindly.
“Um, anyone who might know My Grand Plan from The Lightning Thief?” Katherine’s earlier nerves had returned tenfold. She was sure that the answer was no, it was an off-Broadway show based on a children’s book and not even the most popular song. The odds of anyone knowing it to begin with, nevertheless be able to play the instrumental part without music? Astronomical.
“I’ll ask,” he said before approaching the booth nearest the stage.
Katherine bounced on the balls of her feet as she waited. She noticed Cosette and Jehan share a glance but neither said anything as they stood with her. Katherine watched as the emcee motioned back to her before nodding and nodding again and heading back over.
“Our pianist actually knows it, said to tell you she’s a big Annabeth fan too. So if you’re fine not rehearsing…” he trailed off and the offered clipboard was question enough.
It’s not like Specs was down here, he’d never know that someone actually knew the song. But the spit shake was binding so she took the pen and signed her name.
Someone else signed up immediately after her and Kath breathed a sigh of relief as she went to sit on the stools beside the stage with Jehan and Cosette. At least she definitely wouldn’t be last. There were seven of them sitting in the stools by the time the emcee closed sign ups; two poets to go before Cosette, then Jehan, then Kath, and two more musicians.
Katherine continued to be impressed by everyone’s talent and soon Cosette was sitting down at the piano for her turn. She sang a beautiful rendition of Lost Boy as she played, and Kath was so impressed she momentarily forgot her own nerves. She clapped enthusiastically with the rest of the crowd as Cosette gave a graceful curtsey. As she exited the stage, Cosette clasped Jehan’s hand when they passed each other before coming to sit on the stools again.
“That was amazing,” Kath whispered quickly. She’d spent the summer before as an arts intern at The Sun so she’d gotten quite good at being a critic. Cosette had been fantastic.
The other girl ducked her head, suddenly shy. “Thanks,” she whispered back as they turned their attention to Jehan.
While she didn’t quite follow the grander idea completely, Katherine was still thoroughly impressed by Jehan’s verses and skill. She was so swept up in snapping along with everyone else as he bowed that she’d forgotten she was to perform next. It wasn’t until a girl rose from the booth and headed towards the piano that Kath remembered. She jumped to her feet and hopped on stage. Jehan whispered “Break a leg” in her ear as he passed. Katherine shot him a smile in response before taking her place behind the mic. She’d asked the emcee not to introduce her, and so after giving a nod that she was ready the pianist began to play.
Katherine closed her eyes, ignoring the dialogue at the beginning of the song and getting ready for her entrance. Taking a deep breath, she sang.
The flip side of the song being relatively unknown was that to Katherine it also felt deeply personal whenever she did sing it. Even just in the shower or lip synching along on the subway. And now? Singing it in front of a café full of people? It felt like baring her soul.
“I’ve always been a smart girl,” she finished and finally opened her eyes.
The applause started and Kath instantly felt herself blush. She nodded, dropping into a quick but practiced curtsey – leftover from finishing school classes her mother had forced them all to attend – and then fled back to her stool.
The last two musicians performed and Katherine clapped excitedly for both. Soon the emcee was thanking everyone and inviting them to enjoy the rest of their night here at Musain.
Katherine practically bolted back up the stairs to where Specs was waiting with a grin. She refused to say anything, flopping down next to him and downing the rest of her coffee.
You cannot convince me otherwise that Katherine and Annabeth wouldn't either be best friends or hate each other. They're just too similar. Also, while I love being meta I wasn't going to make her sing Watch What Happens (even if this was inspired partially by this awesome video of Kara Lindsay) but My Grand Plan has extremely similar vibes to it and also just fits my characterization of Kath here sooo well. Cosette sings Lost Boy by Ruth B which I also have a lot of feelings for and is very mildly meta in this instance.
This is probs gonna be the last update for a few days as I know I won't be able to maintain this daily update schedule. Twas impressive while it lasted.
Courfeyrac and the other boy were making to turn the couch around again, so that the seats encircled the table once more. Kath grabbed her purse and threw it over her shoulder, picking up her now empty mug and the muffin plate as well. She gave Specs a look, but he was talking to Courfeyrac as he moved the couch and didn’t notice.
Katherine wanted to bolt. No. Katherine needed to bolt. She needed to go back to their tiny apartment and call Jack. Or Spot, he was sometimes a better option than anyone else in these situations. Yes, she needed to go home and call Jack and if he didn’t pick up try Spot.
She grabbed Specs by his elbow, going up on her toes slightly to whisper in his ear. “I’m going home, you don’t have to come with me though.”
Specs turned, a frown already turning to concern. “Oh shit, Kath I’m sor-”
“Nope. Not your fault. I agreed. Just, I’m leaving,” she said resolutely.
He nodded, picking up his own dishes quickly. “I’ll come with. We can watch a movie.”
She smiled at him, grateful, and turned to find Enjolras. She saw him getting up to talk to Jehan, likely about the performance, and she moved quickly to intercept. “Enjolras!” she called to catch his attention, halfway to him. He nodded at Jehan with a slight smile before changing course and walking over to meet her. “I just wanted to say thanks, for the invite. It was really fun! Specs and I had a blast. We’ve gotta head out though so I’ll, uh, I’ll see you Monday.”
Enjolras frowned slightly, just a creasing of his brows and if Kath weren’t already fully in flight mode right now she might’ve tried to decipher what it meant. As it was she was already gone mentally. “Ok. Well I’m glad you came. Um, be safe heading home,” he said.
Katherine nodded, shooting him a smile and a wave before walking as fast as she could without looking awkward towards where Specs was waiting at the top of the steps. Giving one last wave over their shoulders they descended the stairs, dropped off their dishes, and left the Musain.
She called Jack as soon as she got in the door, leaving Specs to lock up behind them. He knew her well enough not to be offended. They’d talked about it briefly on the train back – once she’d been removed enough from the situation to talk about it – and he’d apologized again while she waved him off. While expected, she hadn’t thought her reaction would be quite so immediate or intense.
As she closed herself in their room she stuck headphones into her phone, kicking off her docs as the ringing filled her ears. After another minute Jack’s voicemail picked up, a cheery reminder that it was a Friday night and like any other person he was probably having a good time. Kath sighed but hung up, not begrudging Jack his fun but kicking herself for not thinking of it sooner. She tried Spot but odds were he was at whatever party Jack was. She called Sarah and hoped the other girl would pick up, she did after the third ring and Kath nearly started crying at the sound of her friend’s voice. For over an hour Kath talked as Sarah patiently listened and it was another hour and a half before Kath was feeling better and Sarah had caught her up on some of the boys’ antics and her own classes. Katherine promised to call again soon, and not when she was on the verge of an emotional breakdown.
Going out to the living room, Kath was unsurprised to see Specs had fallen asleep watching Parks and Rec. She felt a pang of guilt and turned the tv off, going back to their room to grab his comforter off the bed and drape it over him. She went to bed herself, now thoroughly exhausted and drained.
The next day Kath woke to pancakes and a very cheery Specs. They were heading to a Nats game and if Kath had learned anything about Specs in the past two years and change of being friends it was that he loved baseball. An avid Yankees fan he was already wearing his hat and Kath raised an eyebrow.
“Haters gonna hate,” Specs replied with a shrug. All she could do was laugh at that.
They got to the game early so that Kath could buy a baseball hat for Jack, he had a collection that they all were feeding into at this point and he rotated them regularly, even being bold enough to wear the Red Sox one Sarah had picked up for him around Manhattan. They were looking at the selection, Specs smirking at anyone who glared at him, when she noticed them. On the other side of the shop was Enjolras and his group of friends from the night before. Kath ducked her head and prayed that the Phillies hat she’d stolen from Jack’s collection was enough to shadow her face.
Kath however didn’t exist in a Marvel movie and while the hat was red it still stuck out amid the plethora of Nationals merchandise. Specs had also seen them and waved.
She braced herself for impact as Courfeyrac waved back and started weaving his way toward them. “Well what’re the odds!” he said as he reached them.
“Hey Courf!” Specs greeted as they performed a stunningly intricate handshake and when did they manage to make that up?
“Hello there Katherine!” Grantaire grinned, saluting her with a bottle of beer.
Katherine grinned as she waved, knowing that it was definitely more of a grimace than anything.
“I wasn’t expecting to see you here,” Specs said.
“Isn’t the world funny like that?” the boy who had been humming and sitting next to Bossuet the day before asked with an easy smile.
Katherine looked at the large crowd of people now crammed into a small corner of the store, where other people were now trying to get out of. Her mom-friend instincts kicked in and she realized that they needed to get out of the way. Now. She turned quickly back to the rack, grabbed the hat she’d been considering for Jack, and headed to the register. Thankfully the others trailed after her and soon they had all exited the small store.
“Monday?” Enjolras asked dryly as he came to stand beside her.
She rolled her eyes. “It’s a small world after all,” Kath singsonged. She was rewarded with a snort from Enjolras. The two watched as his friends naturally arranged themselves in a loose circle out of the way of the crowd coming into the stadium.
“I am sorry if we offended you in some way last night,” Enjolras said, watching as Specs sassed some of his friends over the Yankees cap.
Kath shrugged. “Honestly not your fault. I don’t really like to sing in front of people and I just overestimated my courage is all.” Enjolras nodded but didn’t push further and Kath instantly found herself endeared to him for that if nothing else. “So,” she looked around at the group, “you going to introduce me or am I expected to just badger Courfeyrac and Grantaire with questions. I can definitely do that, just want to know the protocol is all.”
Enjolras’s eyes widened, obviously just realizing he’d overlooked that the night before. Katherine smirked but wound up having to bite her lip to keep from laughing as a blush colored his cheeks. “Er, right,” he said and cleared his throat. Nodding across the circle to Grantaire he began to point out each of his friends. “So you’ve met my boyfriend Grantaire, to his right is Joly and then Joly’s partners Musichetta and Bossuet who really is banned from the Argentinian embassy.” Katherine raised her eyebrows and Enjolras just nodded gravely before turning his attention back to the task at hand. “Next to Bossuet is Bahorel and then Feuilly then you have me and you-”
“No shit Sherlock,” Kath said dryly, a reflex that she completely blamed on Racetrack.
“Fuck you Watson,” Enjolras replied, amusement clear in the twist of his lips and Kath found herself laughing as he continued. "On your other side is Jehan and Cosette who I believe you did meet last night. Then Marius, Cosette’s boyfriend.”
“The unfortunate boy who gets teased incessantly by Grantaire,” Kath filled in.
Enjolras snorted at that. “Grantaire is equal opportunity about that sort of thing. I actually am on the receiving end the most,” he admitted wryly. “Marius just makes himself an easy target sometimes. I am more than guilty of ripping into him once or twice.”
Katherine looked at him in surprise and Enjolras shrugged but offered nothing.
“Anyway, after Marius is Eponine then Combeferre, Eponine’s little brother Gavroche, and Courfeyrac. I don’t think I need to introduce you to Specs,” he finished.
“No, I think I’m good there,” Kath laughed.
“Before we all head off for food and our seats I’d just like everyone’s attention for a moment,” Enjolras called. It wasn’t loud, he had raised his voice just enough to be heard over the noise of the crowd. Though just barely. Yet, all conversation stopped and everyone turned to see what he’d say next. Katherine was impressed and shocked. She’d never seen anything like it, ignoring teachers or professors calling a class to order. She’d seen David and Jack take command before, but it was never so instantaneous and complete. A chill ran down her spine. She shoved these thoughts to the back of her mind though as Enjolras kept talking. “I neglected to do this yesterday, but this is Katherine, we work together, and her roommate Specs?” he trailed off, shooting Specs a questioning look.
“Yeah, Specs is fine,” he confirmed with a shrug.
Enjolras nodded. “They’re both here for the semester from New York, interning,” he finished lamely.
Everyone’s attention shifted to Kath and she wasn’t quite sure what to do so she waved, a wide sweeping motion. “Hi.”
“You sang last night! You’re very good,” Joly said excitedly. Kath felt herself blush and with that whatever hold Enjolras had over them all broke as people began talking over each other as they complimented Kath. Specs shot her a knowing look and she subtly flipped him off.
Katherine found herself in a conversation about mythology in children’s and young adult novels with Joly, Musichetta, and Grantaire as they joined the people heading for the stands. Joly had recognized the song and engaged her in her thoughts on Annabeth that had led to a much larger discussion. Grantaire had an encyclopedic knowledge on myths it seemed, at least to Kath, and Musichetta seemed to be able to give Charlie a run for his money on books read in a year. It was pleasant, and she was excited to discover their seats were right behind hers and Specs.
The game breezed by and when they were invited to tag along for dinner Kath and Specs agreed eagerly. So last night hadn’t ended well and today could have been just as bad but Kath found herself at ease around Enjolras’s friends now. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it just yet but something about them reminded her of home.
Mini chapter because it's Mean Girls Day (Wednesday, October 3) and I am hyped!!! Also you'll totally see why that's relevant.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
After debating the merits of the restaurants by the ballpark and finding them lacking, they all ended up at an Irish pub in Georgetown. If Kath had been hungry when they left the game, she was starving now. While they waited for their food the discussions that they’d started on the train and subsequent bus ride and walk there continued. Kath and Specs had already established their Hogwarts houses and now the topic had turned to what fictional characters they all were.
“Well the triumvirate is obvious,” Grantaire said.
Kath raised her eyebrows at Enjolras, looking for a clarification. “He means me, Combeferre and Courfeyrac,” he muttered with a sigh and Kath couldn’t help but giggle at Enjolras’s fond exasperation.
“Well since you asked,” Grantaire was saying and Kath had missed who asked and what. “They’re so the plastics. I mean, c’mon. Enjolras is Regina, Combeferre is Gretchen, and Courfeyrac is Karen.”
“And you’re Cady in this situation? Or Aaron Samuels?” Musichetta teased.
“I’m Janis, duh,” Grantaire looked scandalized and Kath was actually shaking with laughter. “It’s because I have a big lesbian crush on you,” he informed Enjolras with a lopsided smile.
Hi. Yes. Now that you've read it please listen to World Burn from the Mean Girls Musical and tell me parts of it aren't Enjolras in different context.
Mention of current events re: recent Supreme Court nominations and (unfortunate) confirmations.
Monday at work was an interesting experience for Kath. She walked in to find Enjolras pulling his lunch bag out of his backpack to stick in the fridge. He smiled at her and for the first time in her life she stumbled in a professional environment. They were friends? She was positive after the baseball game and dinner on Saturday that they were friends. Except she was just so used to him being formal with a side of puns and sarcasm in this space. So used to the careful politeness that had previously permeated all of their interactions. She genuinely wasn’t sure how to interact with him now.
“Hey Katherine,” he said with an easy smile.
Kath grinned and relaxed. Worrying about it was stupid, she had a great time this weekend. Sure Friday was… well, it was. Saturday had been great though and she was finally starting to feel at home in D.C. thanks to it. “Hey Enjolras,” she said.
The rest of the week flew by, Katherine and Enjolras swapping stories about their friends – who they decided should not ever be allowed in a room together for the sake of their sanity – as they worked on projects and tagged along to interviews and press briefings. She got to see Specs again at work when they went to another briefing at State.
The weekend came and Kath and Specs went back to the Musain, and they all met up for a dachshund festival on Saturday. Katherine’s favorite part wasn’t the race, even though it was adorably amazing, it was that she got to pet all the contestants. Specs took about a million pictures of her surrounded by dogs and she’s not sure who was more grateful for that, her or Jack who he sent them all to. Jack spammed everyone’s social media with them under the caption “Look at this gorgeousness! And then there’s also my girlfriend too.” Katherine just loved that there was proof she befriended about a hundred dogs.
She had fallen into an easy routine and even though she felt like all she did was work she was often going with Enjolras to the Musain after. She and Specs had been there often enough that the staff had started extending them the same discount as the others. Katherine loved getting caught up in discussions of politics and social issues with Combeferre and Courfeyrac. She had learned quickly that Enjolras’s friends were also an informal social justice group. They often organized rallies and protests and had an expansive online presence. Katherine felt right at home.
She was even sharing the techniques that they were using in New York and learning new ones. More than once she’d spent a conversation live texting David and asking questions and clarifications on his behalf. So maybe all of Kath’s friends shouldn’t be introduced to Enjolras’s, but David and Charlie really should.
Katherine was at work on Thursday, trying desperately to keep from falling asleep at her desk, when her boss came rushing into their cramped office. “You two need to come see this, quick.”
She glanced at Enjolras before jumping to her feet and heading out into the main room where everyone was gathered around a tv. “I don’t know when this happened, we just got a tip and now look.” On the screen were hundreds of protesters and the caption “Anti-Kavanaugh sit-in at Senate building.”
“Oh my god,” Kath said as she watched. Everyone in the office seemed blindsided and she turned to Enjolras who was frantically texting all of a sudden. “Is this normal?” she was asking him but everyone had heard and as one everyone seemed to say no. Katherine blinked and turned back to the tv.
“I can’t get a hold of anyone,” Enjolras muttered. Katherine glanced over and he was worrying his lip, brows furrowed as the camera panned the crowd.
That’s when it dawned on her. “Wait, you think that they’re there?”
“Well I don’t think they’re in class. I don’t have the desire to scroll through the hundreds of messages in the chat to know for sure but it’s a pretty good guess.”
Kath blinked and turned back to watching the news coverage with renewed interest, looking for any sign of Enjolras’s friends.
“Oh thank god for Feuilly,” she heard him mutter. At her curious look Enjolras explained. “He’s heading to work so he couldn’t go but he sent me a list of who said they were going.” Enjolras passed Katherine his phone and she glanced at the names before turning back to see if she could see anyone.
“I think that’s Eponine,” Katherine nudged him a second later as the camera panned to show someone who looked like it definitely could be Eponine sitting on the floor and holding a sign. There was a boy who might be Grantaire on her one side and a girl who looked like Musichetta on her other with a boy that could be Bossuet next to her.
“Yeah, that’s them. I don’t see Courf or Ferre though. Or Cosette. But they might not have gone inside,” Enjolras muttered. His eyes were now fixed on the screen. Katherine swallowed and did the same.
She could tell that Enjolras was worried, but she could also tell he desperately wanted to be there too. She couldn’t blame him because it was really hard for her not to grab a notebook and go. Whether to join them or interview them she hadn’t decided yet, regardless all her instincts where screaming at her to get her butt to that senate building.
Huddled as they all were, Katherine could feel Enjolras stiffen suddenly next to her. She glanced over at him but he only jerked his chin back to the television screen. Kath let out a little gasp as she noticed the Capitol Police walking in and beginning to escort the protesters out. They walked up to each one and lead them off the screen. “Are they arresting them or just making them leave?” someone asked and Katherine wondered the same thing. She watched as another protester was approached and asked to stand by an officer, a purple band was placed on the woman’s wrist and she was then lead away.
Katherine glanced over at Enjolras, there was a determined fire in his eyes as he watched the police getting closer and closer to where Eponine, Grantaire, Bossuet, and Musichetta were sitting. “Those bands mean they’re arresting them. They’re not being cuffed but they’re definitely getting arrested,” he said lowly. Katherine was the only one who heard and she felt her blood chill. Sure she’d been arrested before, much to her father’s displeasure, but something about this all seemed off.
“They’re going to need someone to bail them out,” Katherine said as on the screen Bossuet was now getting up, still chanting and holding his sign as he was put in the line.
“The others are supposed to be outside, they should be fine, and they’ll follow them to the station. I think they’re going to be charged with trespassing or disturbing the peace or something like that,” he seemed angry about it and Katherine was surprised.
“Isn’t civil disobedience kind of your thing?” she whispered. “Why do you seem so upset?”
He let out a small huff of air. “This whole thing is a bit out of the ordinary,” he admitted, “and I kinda hate that I can’t do anything because I’m here.”
Katherine nodded. “Text Combeferre and tell him to let you know where they’re taking the protesters and that you’ll meet them there. I’m sure that Grantaire would appreciate seeing you after being bailed out.”
Enolras laughed at that and Katherine gave him a quizzical look. “He wouldn’t actually. He’d probably be pissed if I paid his bail.”
“That… sounds about how my boyfriend would react too actually,” Kath capitulated. “Still, if you at least meet them there you’ll feel better. Even if you don’t pay anyone’s bail.”
“Musichetta and Eponine would appreciate it.”
Kath shrugged her shoulders in a sort of “well there ya go” gesture. They all watched the protest coverage until their boss found them and told them they could go home. Enjolras practically bolted from the elevator when they reached the lobby, barely turning around to say “Katherine! Meet us at the Musain,” over his shoulder.
She wasn’t exactly sure how long the paperwork might take or how many protesters there were or even where they all were but Kath figured that she had enough time to go home, change into jeans and a t-shirt and fill-in Specs and still beat them to DuPont Circle. This turned out to be true as Specs and her chatted with Joly and Marius, who were not able to skip class, and Feuilly, who’d just finished his shift, while they waited for everyone else.
Kath bummed the Musain’s good wifi – and she knew for sure they’d become regulars when the staff had given Specs and her the password for that – and video chatted her boys in the meantime. Pulling one of the big leather wing backed armchairs into a corner of the loft Kath curled up and stuck her headphones in.
“Katherine!” Jack called as soon as the call connected. He was beaming and waving at her, taking up nearly the entire screen. Katherine laughed as he was pushed back and she could see Charlie and David on either side of him.
“So what’s going on down there?” David asked. He was rolling his eyes at Jack’s antics.
“Yeah, are you guys alright?” Charlie added.
Katherine pulled her legs up and rested her phone on her knees. “It’s a little nuts? But I’m fine. Specs is fine. Some people we've been hanging out with got arrested at the protest today and others were going to pick them up. They should be back soon. Hopefully.”
“So what exactly happened?” Charlie asked. “I mean I’ve seen the news and all.”
“Yeah, wasn’t Amy Schumer arrested?” Jack asked.
Kath sighed. “Yeah, honestly I don’t really know myself. I’m hoping that when they come back we’ll know more. They were protesting Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Beyond that,” she shrugged. “And yeah, that was definitely her and she was definitely arrested.”
“You seem…” David furrowed his brow and twisted his lips to the side. “Well, just not yourself.”
“Kath you’re really mellow,” Jack frowned at her, just this side of a pout.
“She’s kinda melancholy,” Charlie observed.
“Yeah. Normally you’d be chomping at the bit about this kind of thing,” Jack added.
“Nice idiom, Cowboy,” she laughed. “I’m fine. Really. Honestly the only thing that I’m bummed about is that I wasn’t there. That I didn’t know about it until it was already happening.”
“That seems about right,” David smirked.
She stuck her tongue out at them, because Katherine is a mature young lady. And she couldn’t flip him off because she was using both hands to hold her phone.
“So Katherine, what exactly are you planning?” Charlie asked.
“I have work tomorrow so I can’t actually do anything. But if they vote to confirm him then on Saturday there’s the actual vote and you can bet your britches that I’ll be there.” Katherine nodded with determination.
“If you’re protesting Saturday then we could be there. Get a train Friday right after class and we could crash on the floor,” Jack said.
“Who exactly is ‘we’?” Kath raised an eyebrow.
“Yeah, cause I’ve got an interview for a winter internship,” David gave Jack a Look, halfway between exasperated and fond. But that was pretty much the look they all gave Jack.
“And you and I are helping Medda out by ushering her matinee,” Charlie added.
Jack’s face fell and Kath felt bad that they’d so succinctly crushed his hope. She also felt her own hope fall, the possibility of them coming on an impromptu visit had thrilled her, no matter how fleeting it was.
“Ok, well we’re still coming down and sleeping on your floor eventually. Or at least I am. I don’t know about these goofs,” he nudged the other two in the ribs.
Katherine smiled. “We all know I’ll see you guys next weekend when you come down over break. Your train tickets have been bought for weeks now.”
“Yeah, I know,” Jack smiled, a soft genuine one.
“Please tell me you’re not going by yourself,” David had his worried face on and Katherine missed having him around to mother her.
She rolled her eyes and smiled. “Of course. I’m pretty sure that Enjolras and his friends are going to start planning as soon as they get here.”
“You’ve really gotta introduce us to your new friends when we visit,” Charlie told her. He was fiddling with one of his crutches, passing it back and forth from hand to hand.
Katherine felt her smile freeze, she hadn’t called them her friends just yet. Sure she thought of Enjolras as her friend but she wasn’t sure if he thought of her the same or if any of his friends did. But then Kath remembered where she was, why she was killing time by videochatting. Ok, yeah, they were Kath’s friends too. Her smile turned genuine. “Don’t worry, you will.”
Kath could hear voices coming up the stairs and she glanced over the back of the chair. “Do you have to go?” David asked.
She turned back to her phone and gave them a guilty smile. “Kinda.”
“Go, have fun, start a revolution,” Jack grinned.
“Don’t die,” Charlie said with a mock serious expression.
David looked over at the other two in exasperation before turning back to look at Kath. “Bye Kath.”
“Love you!” Jack called and waved.
“Bye guys. Love you too Jack,” she waved back before hanging up.
Kath stuck her headphones into her purse and dragged the chair back to the table. “You on the phone with Jack?” Specs asked as she came to sit next to him.
“And Charlie and David. You still cool with them coming down next weekend?” she asked.
“Of course? Why wouldn’t I be?”
“Just checking,” she said. She shot him a grateful smile.
Grantaire flopped himself down next to her. “Hey there, Red. Just got out of the big house, what’s new with you?”
“Red?” she asked.
“Never got that before? Well that’s a surprise. I can come up with some others if you’d rather,” Grantaire shrugged.
“Um, well normally I just go by Kath.”
“Well I’ll call you Kath if you finally just call me R, deal?” He raised an eyebrow at her.
“Sure R,” she said with a twist of her lips.
“Fantastic, Kath. Now, as I said earlier- just got out of the big house, what’s new with you?” R winked and picked up his oversized mug of hot chocolate.
“So how was being arrested?” Katherine asked, taking the bait.
Grantaire sipped his hot chocolate before smiling at her over the rim. “Well Kath, I’m so glad that you asked-”
“Ok, so obviously not all of us are going to be able to make it but those of us who can should go to the protests at the Capitol tomorrow,” Enjolras interrupted, commanding everyone’s attention. Grantaire smirked and saluted her with his mug before turning his attention to Enjolras. “Ok, so it’s partially being organized by the Women’s March so we should get in contact with them.”
“I still have contacts so I’ll reach out,” Musichetta offered.
“Great,” Enjolras nodded. “And should they vote to go through with the confirmation vote we should plan to protest Saturday too.”
“We can probably get signs through the Women’s March but if not we ought to make our own,” Joly offered.
“Well I still have mine,” Eponine said, placing a poster board on the table. She had written “WE know what a witch-hunt looks like and this ISN’T it” in black glitter. Kath had a new level of respect for her; it was super clever, and she had managed to hold onto it the entire afternoon. And the glitter was a nice touch.
Kath watched as they started planning in earnest. “Are you going to advertise this?” she interrupted and then immediately regretted having interrupted as everyone turned to look at her. Kath shoved her nerves down though, she’d done this before and these were her friends. “Like, I know I’m not from the area so that might contribute to it, but I didn’t even know about today.”
“Katherine’s right, we really need to make sure we publicize this as much as possible,” Enjolras nodded.
“We need to make sure that whatever we put out aligns with the main organizers,” Combeferre added.
Katherine smiled, so she wouldn’t be able to help the next day and the reason they were even having these conversations in the first place was extremely upsetting but she really felt like she was accomplishing something. Like they were accomplishing something.
Two days later Kath stood outside the Supreme Court, in her Hamilton “Young, Scrappy, and Hungry” shirt and holding a “Nevertheless, she persisted” banner with Cosette. They were chanting and Enjolras was keeping an eye on the police because the last thing anyone needed was to be arrested. Again.
They were anxiously waiting as the votes came through, watching the results on Marius’s phone. When it turned out that he’d been confirmed Kath was crushed. And then she was pissed.
As the protest started to wind down, Katherine began to feel her exhaustion hit her. She walked over to Specs where he’d commandeered an electric scooter and just about collapsed against him when he told her to hop up and hold on.
“You two heading home?” Grantaire called out.
“Yeah, metro first but home next,” Specs planted his foot on the ground to keep them balanced.
“Where exactly is home for you anyway? I mean, while you’re here,” Cosette asked.
“Arlington,” Kath answered. She’d propped her chin on Specs’s shoulder, the taller boy causing her to crane her neck slightly in order to actually speak.
“We’ve got a place in Rosslyn, why don’t we all go back there and crash. Get some food?” Bossuet offered.
“We could all just go back to the house,” Enjolras offered. Katherine raised an eyebrow. The way he’d said it made it sound like the House. Like it was a proper noun rather than merely a place.
“Ugh. But then we’d have to walk the bridge and up the hills,” Musichetta whined.
“Bike shares? Scooters?” Courfeyrac teased, coming up behind Musichetta to bump lightly against her hip.
“Tired and too angry to be expected to exercise,” Musichetta shot back.
“Ah, but we have booze,” Grantaire chimed in and Musichetta turned to grin at him.
“Now that changes everything,” she said.
Katherine couldn’t help but laugh, burying her face in the top of Specs’s backpack. She felt sore and sweaty and completely drained. The whole world seemed to be spiraling to pieces around them and she felt powerless to stop any of it. Yet here was a group of people who probably still felt the same way, except they had enough hope left to tease and joke and offer up food and alcohol as a way to unwind and regroup. She thanked her lucky stars that she had befriended them because she wasn’t quite sure what she would have done today without them.
“So? You in for the trek to Georgetown?” Grantaire asked. Katherine turned her head and opened her eyes to see that he’d come to stand next to them.
“Kath?” Specs asked over his shoulder.
She squeezed him a little and gave a sleepy blink to Grantaire. “I need my faith restored in my country somehow. Might as well.”
“Hmm, Enjolras is the patriot, I just help wash the pain away,” he said and mimed taking a drink.
“Close enough,” Kath replied with a shrug.
“So where’re we headed?” Specs asked and Kath felt the scooter start to inch forward. She had closed her eyes though, trusting Specs to drive and maybe think for both of them for the next couple minutes while she let herself really process the day for the first time.
Someone responded but it was lost on Kath and she made it to Georgetown in a daze, just following the group and clinging to Specs. He didn’t mind though, they had become close back in freshman year and regularly fell asleep cuddled up together on the couch in the office on a production night. She’d also led him back to his dorm after a night partying and Kath playing mom more than once. He was more than willing to return the favor when she was so out of it like today.
She was in such a daze that Kath only noticed that they had stopped in front of a beautiful yet narrow three-story house. The brick and ivy reminded Katherine of the brownstones that she had grown up around. The whole neighborhood reminded her of where she’d grown up actually. She wondered if this was a little bit too nice for college students.
“It is but the boys are loaded,” Eponine said and Katherine realized that she’d wondered out loud. Katherine blushed and winced at Eponine but the other girl just smirked at her. “Chill, it’s a valid question. If it weren’t for student housing I’d be crashing here too. As it is I’m pretty sure my brother is and they’re all not telling me.”
Katherine smiled and nodded as Eponine passed her and Specs to jog up the short front steps and through the door. “You coming?” Grantaire asked from the doorway once she had passed.
Specs tugged her up the steps and into the house. Kath paused in the narrow front hall, glancing around at the staircase leading to the upper levels and the coats and bags hung on the wall.
Grantaire closed and locked the door before turning to her and Specs. “Just drop your bags, feel free to ditch your shoes and come on.”
Katherine added her backpack to the pile in the corner and slipped her converse off, placing them under the bench with the rest of the shoes that were lined up. She followed into the living room where people were already lounging on couches and sprawled across the floor. Twinkle lights had been stretched across the ceiling and gave the room a warm glow and strange shadows. She loved it.
Inching her way into the room she saw another doorway with light and voices spilling out of and Kath headed toward it. She found herself in a brightly lit, ultra-modern kitchen where Enjolras was standing in front of a stove wearing an apron. Gavroche was perched on the counter, eating popcorn out of a glass bowl and talking to Enjolras about the vote. He noticed Kath and gave her a lopsided smile. “Hey there Katherine!” he called to her.
Enjolras turned and nodded at her. “Don’t feel the need to loiter in the doorway. Do you want some dinner? I’m making pancakes.” Katherine raised an eyebrow. “They’re uh, fast and easy and you can make a lot of them? And carbs are very necessary with the amount of alcohol that Grantaire is intending to consume.”
She sat herself down on one of the stools at the island. “Well in that case, yes. Food please.”
Enjolras flipped some pancakes and motioned at Gavroche to hand him a plate. He piled a trio of perfect pancakes onto it before placing it in front of Kath. He then handed her a fork and went back to his cooking. Katherine gave Gavroche a startled look, the boy just shrugged. “He’s obnoxiously perfect,” Gavroche commented. Kath dug into her pancakes, they were perfect.
Once people were sufficiently fed – or at least on the way to being sufficiently fed – with Enjolras providing a steady stream of breakfast foods, Grantaire broke out the alcohol. He found Kath where she was still in the kitchen, talking about Parks and Rec with Enjolras and Gavroche. He placed a bottle of hard cider in front of her with a “You look like you could use this.”
Enjolras raised an eyebrow at Grantaire. “You know she’s underage?”
“You know she looks like the world just kicked her puppy and then shat on it? Besides it’s not like I’m giving it to Gavroche. Kath’s an adult. And can legally vote. And is righteously pissed. And a college student. So…” Grantaire shrugged.
Kath picked up the bottle and raised it to Grantaire in a toast. “And I could use a drink right now. Thanks R.”
Grantaire smiled at her. “You’re very welcome Kath!”
“Hey R, someone brutally murdered my puppy, do I get a rum and coke?” Gavroche smirked and tossed a piece of popcorn into his mouth.
“Nice try kid,” Grantaire said as he walked out. He stuck his head back through the door. “But ask me again in about two hours.”
Enjolras shot a dark look at his boyfriend’s back and Katherine snorted. Gavroche shrugged and hopped off the counter, taking his bowl of popcorn with him. Enjolras finished flipping the last of the pancakes and turned off the stove before coming and sitting next to her. She offered him a sip of her cider, but he waved it off.
They sat in silence for a few more minutes, voices and laughter filtering in from the living room. “You really do look like someone kicked your puppy though. And shat on it,” Enjolras mentioned. Katherine nearly choked on her sip of cider. He smirked at her and Katherine shook her head as she laughed. “Honestly though, you ok?”
“Do I look ok?” Kath asked, sarcasm dripping from every word.
He winced and bumped their shoulders together lightly. “Look, the world sucks.”
“Oh really, please do elaborate. That wasn’t completely obvious.”
Enjolras gave her a look. “Can I continue?”
“I don’t know, you’re not really off to a stellar beginning,” Kath shrugged. “But yeah, sure, whatever.”
“As I was saying, the world sucks. Except it doesn’t have to. There’s about a month until midterms and the people’s voices will be heard. Was today a loss? Undeniably. But it’s also a rallying cry. The nation will realize that those in power don’t actually care about them, that we must help each other in order to succeed,” Enjolras told her.
Katherine tilted her head as she stared at him. “Really? You’ve got that much faith in people? They’re the ones who voted for those jackasses in the first place.”
“Through a lack of education and misinformation,” Enjolras said.
“Which is why a free and unbiased press is necessary to keep the people informed. We’re responsible for making sure that everyone has a voice and a chance to tell their story,” she said. Katherine was tired, when she was tired she started in on rants about the importance of the first amendment.
“You’re kidding me right?” Grantaire asked. He was leaning against the doorway, smirk on his lips and a bottle of wine in his hand. “You’re both sitting here arguing with each other over the fact that you agree completely on how to save the world.”
“Are we?” Katherine asked.
Enjolras started laughing. “I think we are.”
“Ohmygod I need a nap,” Katherine said as she laughed, pillowing her head in her arms.
“Yeah, that’s just called sleep by this point in the day,” Grantaire joked.
“You and Specs are more than welcome to stay here for the night if you want,” Enjolras offered.
Kath smiled. “Thanks.”
“Hey Kath?” Specs asked, sticking his head in from behind Grantaire. “Have you checked your phone recently? Because I just got a call from a very worried from Spot Conlon of all people.”
Kath felt her heart stop and her stomach fall. “Shit.” She frantically raced back to the front hall to dig through her backpack and find her phone. There was about a million texts, missed calls, and voicemails. All of which amounted to her very sweet boyfriend and amazing friends worrying about her. She let herself fall back to sit on the floor. She called Spot first, if he had bothered calling Specs then he really was worried.
A small crowd had gathered to see why she had run through the living room. Eponine sat herself on the floor in the doorway and she raised a questioning eyebrow at Kath as she took a swig of her beer. Jehan settled next to Eponine and leaned over to whisper something in her ear.
“Pulitzer?” Spot said as he picked up.
“Heeeeey Spot,” she said sheepishly.
“Who’s Spot?” Joly whispered to Specs.
“He’s the King of Brooklyn,” Specs whispered back.
“Oooooh! Don’t saying the k-i-n-g word around Apollo!” Grantaire giggled.
Enjolras shot Grantaire a glare. “Do you really have to call me that?”
“Katherine? Are you ok? We’ve been trying to check on you for hours now,” Spot said.
Kath winced and turned away from the group of people distracting her in the doorway of the living room. “Yeah, I’m really really really sorry about that. We’re all fine. They were arresting the people on the steps but we were behind the barricades. I just completely forgot to check my phone after. I am so so soooo sorry. Please tell me you stopped Jack from buying a train ticket and coming down here to check on me?”
“Yeah, no. I didn’t. But Davey did. So don’t worry about your idiot. You’re ok though?”
“That’s a loaded question,” she told him wryly.
“Point. But I don’t have to come break you out of jail? Or beat up your new friends because they let you get hurt?” Spot asked and Katherine couldn’t tell if he was kidding or not. But that was Spot.
“No, honestly I’m fine. Just completely spaced,” Kath assured him.
“Alright, I’ll let the others know. You should still call Jack though. And text Davey-boy. He hasn’t been able to shut up and I don’t want to put you through that.”
Katherine snorted. “Ok, deal. Tell everyone how sorry I am? Please? And I promise to facetime soon.”
“You’ve got it. Thanks for checkin’ in Pulitzer. I’ll talk to you later,” Spot said.
“Thanks,” she said in relief. “Bye Spot.” They hung up and Kath immediately called Jack.
He picked up on the second ring. “Kath? Kath? Are you ok? I’ve been freaking out. I could be there by tomorrow morning if you need me. I would have been there already but Davey talked me out of it. I’m also ninety-eight percent sure Crutchie stole my wallet. And then gave it to Race. I may have to cancel my credit card and close my bank account so maybe I’ll get there by like tomorrow afternoon.”
“Jack, Jack, relax,” Katherine laughed. “I’m fine. Really. It’s all my fault, I was so wrapped up with everything that I didn’t remember I’d promised to call you when I left.”
“You’re fine though?” Jack asked and Katherine could hear his earlier frantic worry just completely disappear.
“I’m fine,” she assured him.
“Ok. Good. How are you? Like not in the physical sense since you’re not in jail and you’re not in the hospital.”
Katherine glanced over her shoulder and the peanut gallery did seem to be present. “Um, would we be able to talk later? About that?”
“Of course,” Jack said. “Let me know when you’re ready. You know I’m always here for you.”
Katherine bit her lip, she was trying to contain her goofy smile. “Thanks Jack. I love you.”
“Love you too,” Jack told her. “I’m really glad to hear from you. Now go relax, you must be exhausted.”
“A little,” Kath admitted. “I’ll call you tomorrow,” she promised.
“Ok. Night Katherine.”
“Night Jack,” she said and hung up. She finally let that goofy smile overtake her face.
She stared at her phone for another second before shooting a text to David letting him know she was alive and had already called Jack and Spot. He sent back a paragraph about ten minutes later saying how glad he was to hear from her finally. And then another ten minutes after that. Spot hadn’t been exaggerating, texting David had been the right choice.
She got to her feet and turned to see them all still standing in the doorway. “Um, well, my friends no longer think that I’m dead?”
“I’ll drink to that!” Bahorel said and they all went back into the living room.
Specs raised an eyebrow at her and Kath shrugged, yeah the world was ending but she had some great friends at least. Great friends who might just be superheroes.
Yeah, I'm not 100% happy with this one but I really need to just move past it.
Katherine dug for her sunglasses in her backpack as Enjolras handed her a Nalgene bottle of water with a “Just return it tomorrow.” She nodded, too tired and mildly hungover to speak.
“Thanks for letting us crash here for the night again,” Specs said as he took his own bottle from Courfeyrac.
Kath grimaced and accepted the pain killers that Combeferre offered her. She may have had a little too much the night before in what had started as an attempt to drown her sorrows had quickly turned into an amazing party. She was suffering from a mild hangover as a result. Katherine fully intended to walk home, fall back asleep, sit in the shower until her head stopped hurting, and drink a butt-ton of coffee. Black.
The walk home could’ve been worse but the ministrations from her friends had helped. The fact that they’d also allowed her to fall asleep on an actual bed in some spare room the night before too. Specs had been smart, he’d paced his drinking and now he was pretty much fine; sipping his water as a way to beat the heat more than anything else. Kath kinda hated him. But he had plans to skype with his mom that afternoon so she understood why he wouldn’t want to be miserable and had planned accordingly.
She loved Specs’s mom. Katherine had dinner at their house multiple times and had felt like part of the family for every one. She got sent care packages at school whenever Specs did and after the first couple meetings the items had gone from generic snacks and decorations to Kath’s favorite candies and quirky scarves and socks. Katherine had a love of both.
However, communicating with anyone’s parents was completely off the table for today. Specs had already agreed to say she was out when in reality Kath fully intended to be curled up in bed, alternating between sleeping and watching Disney movies on Netflix.
By the time that they’d reached their apartment both of them had finished their waters. Specs had plucked the bottle out of her hand, pushing her towards the bathroom. “Go shower, I’ll stick these in the dishwasher and get your coffee started.”
Still not quite capable of speech, Katherine shot him a grateful smile.
About an hour later Katherine’s head was feeling better, her nausea had just about disappeared, and their apartment was likely out of hot water. She slunk into the kitchen and dug around in the cupboard until she found her favorite mug. Jack said she wasn’t allowed to call it that though. He said that it was a bowl with a handle and snarky saying. Katherine was reluctant to admit he might, might, have a point. It fit three full cups of coffee. Kath did have to admit that if it didn’t it wouldn’t be her favorite mug. She filled it and retreated to the bedroom.
Around dinner Specs poked his head in. “You look like you’re sick,” he commented. Kath was swathed in multiple blankets and hunkered down in a veritable pile of pillows, so yeah she could see what he meant.
“Well I was pretty hungover.”
“Yeah, I know. You drank a lot last night. Do you even remember any of it?”
Kath rolled her eyes. She didn’t blackout, she would fall asleep after a certain wee hour of the morning, but she never drank so much she couldn’t remember what had happened. “Of course I do. My favorite part was when Grantaire and I realized we both knew some of the same camp songs and we started serenading the rest of you.”
Specs snorted and came to lean against the doorjamb. “I liked when you both realized you knew just enough swing dancing to be dangerous and cleared out the living room so you could try and recreate Bandstand.”
“That went better than anyone expected, and you know it.” Kath knew she was getting defensive, but she and Grantaire had nailed that one lift and Specs couldn’t discount that.
“You didn’t see Enjolras’s look of panic though.”
“Yeah… Kinda glad that I didn’t…”
“He looked like he was about to witness a car crash on the highway and he was going the opposite direction.”
“Yeah, didn’t need to know that either Specs.”
“And that he could see there was a baby in the front seat.”
“Smoking a cigarette.”
Kath blinked at him. Specs was laughing at her, way too hard. She raised an eyebrow and waited him out. “Are you done?”
“Maybe,” Specs said with a shrug.
Katherine raised the other brow to match the first.
“Yeah, I’m done. Anyway, I came in here to see if you wanted to go get dinner. We, uh, only have peanut butter and kinder bueno apparently.”
“That’s…” Kath trailed off with a frown. “I really can’t figure out whether that’s depressing or amazing.”
“Which is why I thought we could go out for dinner.”
Katherine looked down at her cocoon. “Give me a minute to extract myself and put on real person clothes.”
“Real person clothes?”
“You know those sweatpants that Jack owns? With all the paint stains that legitimately accidentally made a bunch of various pride flags?”
Specs twisted his lips up into a smirk. “That also have about eight holes in them, one of which is in the crotch?”
“Those would be the ones,” Kath confirmed. “I, uh, may have stolen them from him before I left New York. And may just be wearing them. Also one of Jack’s shirts that I’m ninety-eight percent sure he actually stole from David.”
“How do you know that?”
Katherine wriggled free so that Specs could read her shirt. It had different sided die on and read “Roll With It.” Kath looked down at it before looking back up at Specs dryly. “It’s a pretty good guess.”
The next morning Kath woke up, bright and early to head to work. Specs got to have the federal holiday off. Working for the government had its perks apparently. He’d yelled at her to be quiet and let him sleep as she got dressed. Although it was more of an unintelligible grumble than anything. She grabbed Enjolras’s cleaned water bottles from the dishwasher on the way out, giving herself a mental high-five for remembering.
She managed to make it through the week without incident. She didn’t even flush with embarrassment when she gave Enjolras back the Nalgene bottles; just thanked him for the impromptu party and apologized about the swing dancing.
She was more than ready for Friday though. Kath was anxiously counting down the minutes until she could leave, something that Enjolras totally picked up on.
“Are you ok?” He asked as Kath clicked her pen for the millionth time.
She grimaced. “Sorry. My boyfriend and two of my best friends are visiting this weekend and I’m supposed to meet them at the train station after work.”
“Ah, that makes sense.”
“Yeah… I’m a little excited.”
“I can tell,” he said wryly. “So what all are you guys doing while they’re here?”
“The basic sixth grade field trip cause this is Jack and Charlie’s first time here and we’re all actual children.”
Enjolras laughed. “You’re kidding?”
“Nope. It’ll be fun, I’m really excited to just spend the time with them. I can’t tell you how much I miss them.”
“I can tell,” Enjolras told her. He gave her a small but sincere smile. She thought it was sweet of him to show interest in her life. “If you have no other plans for tonight you should come to the Musain.”
Katherine was touched, she had been procrastinating asking Enjolras if she could bring the boys to the Musain tonight. For him to invite them all? Well it warmed Kath’s heart. And then made it stop.
“You, uh, do realize what that means?” She asked.
Enjolras gave her a puzzled look. His eyes widened then and suddenly all the color drained from his face. “Shit,” he said quietly and with just as much feeling as he had put into his rally speech the other day.
Katherine nodded slowly. “Yup,” she said, drawing it out and then popping the p.
“How much am I going to regret this?” Enjolras winced.
“I’m not sure? I mean, they’re definitely all going to get along famously.”
“But at what cost? Our sanity?”
“It might be worth it?” Kath offered.
Enjolras grimaced, likely imagining all the havoc that could be wreaked if Grantaire, Bossuet, Joly, and Musichetta were allowed to run wild with the version of Race, Finch, Albert, Elmer, Blink, Mush, and Spot from the stories she had told. Which were definitely the craziest ones. Although Enjolras’s stories about pretty much every single friend of his that she’d met were definitely not the tame ones either.
“Look,” Kath said, “they’re really nowhere near as bad as what Specs and I have made them out to be. Plus, David, Charlie, and Jack are the best behaved.”
“That’s discounting all the civil disobedience? And protesting and organizing and rallying and-”
“And that does not count because it applies to both of our friend groups,” Katherine finished with a smirk.
Enjolras matched her smirk and shrugged. “Well in that case…”
“You two can head out if you want and we’ll see you Monday,” their boss said, passing by their office. Kath glanced at the clock in the corner of her computer screen and realized that they could’ve left five minutes ago.
Katherine bolted to her feet and then looked over at Enjolras guiltily. “Go, have fun and I’ll see you for dinner in a bit,” he told her as his smirk twisted into a smile.
She threw her stuff into her bag and gave Enjolras a quick hug before rushing out the door. Katherine was really glad she was wearing her loafers so that she could run to the metro. And also run out of the office without looking back because her brain hadn’t registered that she’d just hugged Enjolras until after she was already letting go and walking away. Two weeks ago, Katherine would’ve freaked out about that, but she was way too excited to see her boyfriend and her boys. Plus, they were friends now. Friends gave each other hugs when they were happy, she’d learned that from Racetrack.
GUESS WHO'S GONNA VISIT NEXT CHAPTER??? Yeah, I'm gonna have fun writing that if I don't die from the character juggling.
Katherine got a text from David saying that they were at the station and where should they meet her just as she was getting off her train. She paused on the platform long enough to type out a quick reply telling them to stay at their gate and she would come find them before rushing toward the escalator. She was heading up it at a decent pace until about halfway when someone who obviously wasn't from the area was standing there on his phone and she had to wait. Kath bounced anxiously on the balls of her feet as the escalator finally finished its climb and deposited them at the turnstiles. Sidestepping the tourist, she headed toward the open gate; her bag bouncing against her hip as she maneuvered to tap her card and slide through as fast as possible. She veered through the crowds and charged into the station and up the next escalator, finally on the same level as the trains. Katherine took off towards the gates with a smile, keeping her eye out for three familiar faces.
She saw them before they saw her, clumped together by the railing. She could pick Jack out by the faded and beat up Yankees cap that was his favorite and the black backpack covered in buttons; most of which he had made himself and they would sell for fundraisers. Knowing Jack, if someone liked one enough he'd be willing to sell it right off his bag. She couldn't see his face but part of her knew he was smiling with an arm slung around Charlie's shoulders so that the elbow patch on his favorite flannel was showing. He loved that shirt and wore it all the time, Medda actually stole it the winter before to give to her costume department so that it could be fixed up and last him longer. That's how the elbow patches came to be, also how the fraying cuffs and hem had been stitched up and stray strings cut. They all teased him that with the patches he looked like even more of a hipster now.
Charlie was leaning into Jack's side, putting his weight on his brother rather than his elbow crutches. He was bundled up in a sweatshirt a size too big and a beanie pulled over his fluffy blonde hair. Bright green headphones hung around his neck, the cord disappearing into his sweatshirt pocket. As she walked up Kath watched as he stuck his hand into his pocket and pulled out his phone; swiping at the screen to likely change whatever song was still leaking out of his headphones. He'd packed his backpack for the weekend too, a nyan cat covered monstrosity that she still hadn't figured out if he had bought for the memes or because he actually wanted to own a nyan cat backpack.
David had his head bowed over his phone and would've noticed her walking towards them if he hadn't. She figured he was probably engaged in his family's groupchat, promising his mom that they'd be safe and to text when they got to Kath's apartment and promising Sarah and Les to tell her hi and to take lots of pictures. Sarah had shown her the Jacobs family groupchat before, it was a hilarious mess filled with gifs from the kids and a zillion questions from their parents that they were expected to answer asap or else you got a phone call. Not because they were worried about you, just because they wanted to check in and be involved in their kids' lives. Katherine thought it was adorable and a vast improvement on her own family's. David had on the fleece lined denim jacket that his parents had given him for Hanukkah the year before. She could tell that he'd brought his backpack too, spotting the lighter blue straps against the denim, but he had a duffel bag slung over his shoulder and resting against his hip. As she drew closer Katherine realized that Jack had its twin.
She grinned as she positioned herself in their blind spots, managing to successfully sneak up on them in the noisy train station. "Boo."
David's head whipped up and Jack nearly fell over as he and Charlie both whirled toward her. Her cheeks were starting to hurt from smiling and there was mix of exclamations from the boys before they were pulling her into a hug. She laughed and squeezed them back. They released her, and Jack swooped in to pull her into a kiss. She was still smiling when they broke apart and saw that it was matched by Jack.
"I see you all dressed for the weather," she said and motioned towards their long sleeves. Katherine had worn a sweater and tights to work and planned on changing into a warmer sweater before they went to dinner.
"I double checked the weather this morning and I'm glad I did," David was saying, "it's supposed to dip into the fifties tonight."
"Yeah well, why not? The government is acting like it's still the 1950's," Jack grumbled.
Charlie nudged Jack in the calf with one of his crutches. "We made a pact, no politics. We would come to D.C. and see the sights and visit Kath and not talk politics," he teased.
"I don't know how long that's going to last," Katherine laughed.
There was a spark of excitement in David's eye and she knew him well enough to know that those sudden jitters of him tapping his fingers on his jeans was from excitement. "Does that mean you're going to officially introduce us to your new friends?"
"Yeah, I wanna know if this guy you work with is really as impossibly hot as you say," Jack added with a wicked smile.
Katherine rolled her eyes. "I really am going to regret this," she sighed over dramatically, getting a nudge in the ribs from Charlie's elbow. She stuck her tongue out at him and poked him back because they were absolute children. She sidestepped quickly though to dodge Charlie's next attack, spinning slightly away from them. "Well I've got three metro cards with money already loaded on them, do you want them or are you walking from here to Virginia?"
"Is that a challenge? Cause I could do it. I've got a phone for directions and Virginia can't be that far," Jack joked but followed after her as they headed back towards the metro. Katherine smiled to herself, she'd missed this.
Specs had beat her back to the apartment and pushed the furniture to the edges of the living room already. It turned out that the duffel bags contained air mattresses courtesy of the Jacobs and the boys' pillows so that they wouldn't have to actually sleep on the floor. They dumped their bags where the coffee table normally stood and practically tackled Specs who murmured that he was really glad that he'd already changed out of his suit, so it wouldn't be wrinkled from under the press of limbs.
Katherine went to change out of her work clothes as they said their hellos and caught up with Specs. She was just tugging on her docs when her phone pinged with a text from Enjolras saying that they were all at their usual table at the Musain. She texted back that they were on their way and she'd be seeing them all soon as she went back out to the living room.
"I think that they're excited to meet you, I just got a text from Enjolras," Kath wiggled her phone as she leaned against the wall by the door. Jack hopped to his feet from where he'd been finishing setting up the air mattresses, and wow Katherine either took longer than she thought to change, or they got those up quickly. She noticed Jack's Yankees cap again and spun around, holding up a finger over her shoulder as she made her way down the short hallway back to the bedroom. Grabbing the Nats hat off the dresser, Kath replaced the Yankees one with it. She grinned at Jack's bemused look. "Now you look like a local."
"Yeah but now I've gotta break it in," he teased back before fiddling with the brim.
"You can do that on the way, I'm hungry," Specs said, ushering them all out the door and locking it behind himself.
Jack, David, and Charlie were just as surprised with the Musain as she had been the first time. Katherine led them to the counter where they ordered soups and sandwiches and the girl promised to bring their orders all upstairs for them. Katherine continued to lead the way as they trooped up to the loft which was already overflowing with people. But on a Friday night when no one had work or class it was always overflowing with people.
Courfeyrac noticed them first and he shot to his feet to meet them halfway to the table. "Are these the famous friends?" he asked with a crooked smile and conspiratory eyebrow raise.
"You make the front page one time," she muttered with a good-natured smile. "I never should've told you that story."
"I disagree, it was an excellent story and the photo wasn't bad either. I can see why you want to be a journalist, you do good work."
"Courfeyrac," she scolded, scandalized. Katherine had never anticipated that anyone would actually bother to google it. Apparently, she was wrong.
Courfeyrac shrugged and tried to sneak past her to draw the attention of David, Charlie, and Jack and likely change the conversation. "You said we could, I was curious. It was really good Katherine, be proud."
She frowned and would've considered continuing the losing argument had it not already been too late, Courfeyrac was drawing the boys' attention. He was walking a step behind her as they made their way to the table, introducing himself and welcoming them to D.C. and the Musain. Katherine tried and failed to keep from blushing as Courfeyrac chattered on about how much Kath talked about them and how great she said they were.
There was a shuffling as people moved to make space at the table, allowing for Katherine and Specs to sit next to the boys rather than forcing them to split up and take the spare seats. Katherine appreciated the little kindness.
"So, introductions!" Courfeyrac was saying as he flopped back down into his own seat. "I was thinking we should all go, get it over with once and done, and then we can interrogate them individually at our leisure."
"Ugh, must we?" Grantaire groaned. Sitting next to him Eponine flicked her wrist to point at him with practiced disinterest, seconding the statement.
"What do you have against it?" Courfeyrac shot back.
"It reminds me of summer camp. And first days of school. I'd thought that growing up exempt me from these sorts of things at the very least!"
"Oh, so last weekend summer camp was fine and this weekend it's not?" Bahorel teased. Katherine couldn't help but laugh as Grantaire shot him a deadly glare.
"Combeferre, Enjolras?" Courfeyrac asked as he turned to his friends and hopeful allies. He reminded her of a puppy with those big pleading eyes and part of her hoped that they gave in just because that was a pout to warm even the coldest heart. Part of her also hoped they crushed this idea because Corfeyrac's reaction was bound to be pure entertainment.
Combeferre glanced up from his book. He pushed his glasses further up his nose and merely said "I plead the fifth."
Courfeyrac's face scrunched up briefly and if she had known him better Katherine might have been able to guess what exactly that expression meant. As it was it had been too fleeting, and they were still too early in their friendship for her to be able to tell. It had completely disappeared as he turned his pout on Enjolras.
Enjolras's eyebrows drew together ever so slightly, just enough to leave a crease between them.
Sitting next to her, Jack leaned over slightly to whisper in her ear. "I'm guessing that's him, cause whoa."
Katherine had to stifle a laugh, but she nodded and turned back to where Enjolras and Courfeyrac were still having a staring contest.
Finally – after what felt like an eternity, but she knew could only have been a couple seconds – Enjolras spoke. "As much as he probably doesn't believe me, I actually share Grantaire's sentiments." Out of the corner of her eye Kath could see Grantaire punching the air and then abruptly getting shoved sideways by Eponine. "However, I do see the practicality in it."
There was a collective groan and Grantaire flipped Enjolras off.
"We'll make it as painless as possible then!" Courfeyrac said above the grumbles. "Just say what you preferred to be called, any nicknames you're ok with being used, and pronouns."
Courfeyrac started and they made their way around the haphazard circle that constituted the seating arrangement around the table. It reached David and got to Charlie without incident, until Charlie shocked the assemblage that is.
"My name's Charlie, he/him/his, and I also answer to Crutchie. But you don't have to call me that if you don't want to."
In the silence that followed Jack leaned over and said lowly, "You might wanna explain that one, kid."
Charlie laughed and told them the story, one Kath had heard before and pretty much accumulated to "taunts lose their meaning if they think you like the taunt." Charlie had come to accept it as a nickname his friends could use and a dare for anyone else. Kath always admired that about him, even though she preferred to just use Charlie. Something he understood.
Jack went and said that they should all just call him Jack and soon it was Kath's turn. She felt a little silly but Specs had done it too, so she figured she might as well. "Katherine or Kath, she/her/hers."
"See, that wasn't bad!" Courfeyrac exclaimed. There were various curses and then everyone went back to their own previous conversations.
David had been eyeing Combeferre's book and he finally leaned forward to ask him about it. The two ended up in an intense conversation about civil war amputations and Kath decided two things: she was right about them getting along and it was time for her to stop listening in because it was starting to get gross.
Eponine had recognized the obscure band on Charlie's shirt and come over to talk to him while Jack leaned across the table to talk, and shamelessly flirt, with Enjolras. Courfeyrac smirked at her and Kath shrugged. "I knew you were harmless because the two of you tease-flirt the same way. It's kinda funny."
Courfeyrac laughed and leaned against her a little more from where he was perched on the arm of the couch, obviously trying not to miss a moment of that interaction.
Stay tuned for the most ambitious part of this crossover.
The pact about not talking politics lasted longer than Kath expected at dinner. They were all finishing up their meals when Enjolras finally brought it up.
"So, Katherine tells me that you all lead a social justice group at your school?"
"Lead is a strong word. Group is a strong word," Jack had a cocky smile but Kath knew he was just deflecting. Trying to maintain his promise. Soon to be failing to maintain his promise.
"We definitely organize and advocate for equality and other issues, but our main goal is information. Making sure people know their rights and are informed about what those mean for their daily lives and how policy makes an impact," David jumped in.
"So, you're kinda watchdogs?" Courfeyrac smiled; it was questioning though, and Katherine could tell that he meant it as asking for clarification.
"Not really?" Jack hazarded, and he was wincing. Oh man was the boy wincing.
"We wear a couple different hats," Katherine chimed in, saving the boys. She'd been over this with Enjolras before, but she guessed he wanted to talk more in depth about it with them here. "One is definitely organization and outreach, specifically for protests and other events. Our main goal however is education. We work within the college community to get students informed about the issues that affect them in an unbiased way and on a broader scale across the city to help make sure people know and understand their rights as American citizens and what and how changes in policy affects those rights."
"Well that's noble," Grantaire smirked. Katherine hadn't noticed him listening in on the conversation earlier but over the past few weeks she'd come to realize that whenever Enjolras spoke, Grantaire listened. Often times it was to try and poke holes in Enjolras's lofty ideas, and more than once it was simply to tease him.
"It's basic citizenship and common sense," Charlie told him. "An insane number of people are just ignorant or misinformed and most don't bother to change that. With the talking heads dominating the news cycle many who would are too reluctant to try. We're just trying to fill a gap that people have been utilizing to seize and maintain power."
"And here I thought we weren't going to talk politics this weekend," Jack muttered, giving Charlie a pointed look.
"How exactly are you doing that?" Combeferre asked. He'd been listening with interest from the moment Enjolras posed the question.
"How else with our generation? Social media," Jack said.
"We run accounts on various platforms where we share articles or videos that give great information without commentary on domestic and foreign news. We also maintain a database of links for all kinds of government documents, press releases, and things we've shared. A link to that can be found on all our accounts. When that fails we put together our own bullet points and have links to those too," David explained.
"We also post a right a day in plain English so that people can actually understand it," Jack added.
"But we don't just post in English. We have members who speak multiple languages, so we have posts in Spanish, French, Italian, Arabic-" David was saying when Charlie interrupted.
"And all are coded to be disability friendly so that anyone with visual impairments can use any aids they might have and still have the same accessible experience."
Enjolras nodded, absorbing the information. "So, I'm guessing it all has a New York focus then?"
"In a way. We cover federal policy, but we do also include state and New York City specific news and laws," Katherine shrugged. "Our followers are from there and they need to be informed of that too."
"Do you have a large following? How do you handle being accused of being fake news or a partisan interest group or malicious interferes?" Combeferre asked. This was what she could tell they'd all really been wanting to talk about.
"We have a pretty impressive one. Our friends who help maintain it make up a decent chunk but overall, it's not bad. We've been told that professors have been recommending us to students and even some high school teachers," David sounded nonchalant but Katherine remembered the day Les had texted them saying that his history teacher had been at a conference the day before where a colleague had told him about their twitter. That he'd loved it and immediately followed them and suggested that all his students do too, even writing what their different cross-platform accounts were up on the board. David had practically jumped up and down he was that excited.
"It's been hard to avoid being shut down as a partisan 'fake news' organization," Jack made some exaggerated air quotes and a ridiculous face as he said that. Katherine giggled and she caught Grantaire's eye as he snorted. "But being strictly non-partisan and having an association with the school and a couple local papers have helped."
"How did you manage that?" Enjolras's fair eyebrows rose and Katherine had to stifle a laugh at the look of almost comical surprise on his normally regal features.
"A majority of us are active in the school's LGBTQ+ group and poli sci and journalism associations, all of which gave their support when we first started up and have endorsed us. A couple profs who like us too have vouched on occasion," Jack smirked. That had been his baby, getting different groups on campus to realize the importance of what they were doing and help out when they'd first started up freshman year. And impressing the famed head of the political science department into endorsing them. Jack still had a picture of Dr. Roosevelt shaking his hand as the background on his phone.
"The newspapers are my doing. My family has a connection with The New York World and some of my other really close friends have connections with The Tribune and The Journal and I have a great professional relationship with The Sun," Katherine admitted.
Enjolras blinked at her, he opened his mouth as though to ask her to elaborate but then closed it and gave her a look that clearly said, "We'll talk later."
"Ok, now I'm curious and I really want to follow you. What's your twitter?" Courfeyrac had his phone at the ready and looked at them expectantly.
Katherine glanced over at the boys, a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth as they grinned back at her. They'd done this enough at rallies and protests –advertising themselves sure, but more importantly giving people resources – that the four of them could be perfectly in sync based off a single look.
As one they said, "Newsies with a capitol N, of, capitol N, capitol Y."
Grantaire burst out laughing, causing the others to finally look over at what was going on at their end of the table. "Newsies? Because you're spreading the news?" he got out between chuckles.
"And because we fight for equality and representation just like the Newsboy Strike of 1899," David shot back. Katherine had initially thought the name was weird, but she'd become fiercely protective of it too. Jack had come up with it half as a joke and David had seen the deeper meaning and potential, arguing convincingly for it to stick. And when David argued for something he rarely lost.
"Hey, don't knock it 'til you rock it," Specs scolded. He'd been talking with Musichetta and Joly about something at the other end of the table but just like any of her friends would defend the Newsies of New York accounts at any time.
Grantaire held his hands up in a placating gesture but didn't stop laughing. "I'll give you credit for being unique," he said.
Courfeyrac had been scrolling through and he stopped to look at them with respect. "This is legit. Wow. You guys have a serious operation."
"Thank you," David said with pride. Jack just shrugged off the compliment, as he did with most compliments, and Charlie beamed. Katherine couldn't help but smile too. They were proud of their little brainchild and how successful it had become.
"You mentioned you do organization too? For protests and marches and rallies?" Enjolras asked.
"Yeah, we keep tabs on groups like Black Lives Matter, the Women's March, and all and share any events they might be having in New York and surrounding areas. While the media might frame them as partisan you have to admit that human rights advocacy groups are by nature non-partisan. They're advocating for human rights," Charlie stressed dryly.
Jack smirked and nudged his brother. "Yeah, and we always have at least a small contingent that goes. There's a bunch of us who all run the Newsies accounts and you can guess that we're all pretty like-minded politically, so we'll make sure that there's a decent number of people there if that means that we all go ourselves. We're also happy to give tips to protesters or direct questions to the right groups or people."
"So, you as a group do more physical activist work as well but you don't really organize it yourself?" Combeferre phrased it odd but Katherine got what he was trying to say.
"We go to events, yes. We provide a platform to advertise human rights-based events, yes. Do we organize our own? No, not really. After the last presidential election we did one. We boycotted The World." Katherine felt her cheeks flush. Courfeyrac at least knew this story, he'd admitted to reading it earlier.
He nodded and turned to Enjolras and Combeferre. "Kath told us about that the other day, remember? How The World was the only paper being subscribed to on their campus and was really terrible in how they covered the aftermath of the election? They organized a boycott and the sales dropped until they had to issue an apology and the school started subscribing to other papers too."
It was an oversimplification of what actually happened; and left out the immense amounts of drama that Kath dealt with while it was going on but Courfeyrac had a decent grasp of it.
"Yes, I remember you telling us about that," Enjolras nodded.
“I’m really interested to hear about how you manage it, especially with so many people,” Combeferre said.
“Oh that’s all Spot,” Jack laughed.
“Intimidation makes for great organization,” David agreed. Katherine rolled her eyes. In reality the secret was delegation. Lots and lots of delegation. They matched people up to the tasks that best fit their talents and interests and yeah, Spot intimidated them in getting their stuff done on time.
“There’s a group out of Baltimore that we communicate with, but their organization is much more similar to ours,” Enjolras said. He looked thoughtful, like picking their brains on the Newsies of New York was the most interesting thing he’d done in months. And certainly the best way to spend a Friday night.
“What exactly do you guys do?” David asked cautiously. “Because Kath has been telling me about you and your methods and all but I’m not quite sure I know what you do.”
“Buckle up, buttercup!” Grantaire laughed. Enjolras shot him a dark look but as usual Grantaire ignored his boyfriend. “This is going to instigate a rant of epic proportions.”
Do you know what this means? Next chapter is for Les Amis de l'ABC! I'm probs going to work on it a little longer than normal just because I want to make sure I get it right. Please take the fact that the past three updates have been nearly back to back as a consultation. Also huge shoutout to Carbon65 for helping me to overcome my immense fear of juggling so many characters at once and giving me quality advice. Go read all her Newsies and Les Mis fics. Go read all her fics. They're so amazing. Her Bake-Off AU gives me life.
Katherine watched as Enjolras sat up a little straighter, taking on a certain air before he spoke. She'd noticed that about him when they'd first met, his natural seeming ease and confidence. He had no qualms about picking up a phone to make a call or introducing himself. Not that Kath did either, it was just something about the way he did it that she couldn't quite pin down.
She'd initially decided that it had something to do with their professional environment, that maybe if they were just friends or even classmates Katherine would be able to figure out what it was about him. Now that she and Specs had been neatly integrated into Enjolras's friend group Kath had hoped it might reveal itself. It didn't.
When he was around his friends that ease and confidence wasn't just present, it was obvious. When he spoke about things that he cared about there was a passion in his words and a sharpness in his tone that made people listen. The confidence and dictation had initially made Katherine think he might have been a theater kid in high school. Except there was nothing else about him that screamed Theater Kid. Not like Charlie and Elmer. It was obvious from the minute she met them that they had been super active in drama club. Enjolras didn't even remotely give off that vibe. Although the mental image of him having to play Conrad Birdie in some high school production did make her giggle at how absurd it was.
She knew that the boys would pick up on it, they were good at reading people. She fully intended to pick their brains after this, Enjolras and his orator skills were just part of a long list of things she wanted their opinions on.
Around her the spell that Enjolras normally cast when he spoke was taking effect. Grantaire moved slightly so that he could have a more direct view. Combeferre pulled out his laptop and began pulling something up, likely to add information to whatever Enjolras was going to say. Although, Katherine had gotten to know Combeferre well enough to suspect that he was just scrolling through instagram, she didn't feel confident enough to suspect he had a tumblr, and waiting Enjolras out. Courfeyrac had resettled on the arm of the couch next to Kath where he once again perched himself. He grinned at her and shot a curious look toward the boys, obviously more interested in their reactions than Enjolras and what he was going to say. Although Katherine noticed that Courfeyrac could still watch Enjolras from where he was sitting.
The boys had focused in on Enjolras. David had his brows furrowed, curious but also constantly analyzing. Charlie looked relaxed and he had taken a cue from Courfeyrac it seemed, waiting like he would for a good show. Jack seemed skeptical but, he wasn't immune to a good story and especially not a good story-teller. She knew Jack had a tendency to command a room and tell his own tales and that he had a respect for anyone with that same skill. It's how they both got over their mutual egos and became friends that first semester. So even though he might be putting on a tough face, Katherine knew that Enjolras still had Jack's full attention.
While the rest of the group didn't seem to be tuning in, or at least not yet, the conversations at the other end of the long table did seem to quiet. Voices dropping to just above a whisper.
"Well I'm not sure how much Katherine has told you but we're not all from a single school like you, rather we met through a conference here in the city," Enjolras started with the same tone that Katherine's father used to tell the story about how their great howevermany granfather came to the US and started with almost nothing but managed to build a media empire to her and her siblings every Christmas. She tried not to resent Enjolras for that.
"Which is the most boring possible way to start an explanation about the revolutionary cult you're leading," Grantaire interrupted. He wore a positively wicked smile and winked at Katherine when he caught her eye. Enjolras had flushed and opened his mouth to refute that statement but Grantaire was on a roll and it was nigh impossible to stop him once he started. "You run around saying that those in power are to face a reckoning and that you yourself are the avenging angel and yet you start a tale at a conference? The words underwhelming and downplaying don't even begin to cover such an act. Since when does the great Apollo not laud his accomplishments in front of us mere mortals? The god of poetry and yet he is faltering in reciting the story of his own life's work."
There were some snickers from what Kath thought was Joly and Bossuet's general direction. She glanced toward them and noticed that they were indeed trying to suppress smiles and that the rest of the group had now been drawn in to the events at her end. She might have only been around a few weeks but Katherine knew the entertainment value of Enjolras and Grantaire facing off was almost impossible to beat.
Pursing his lips, Enjolras turned to address his boyfriend. "I was trying to be concise and chronological but since that obviously isn't good enough for you..."
Grantaire shrugged. "My only claim was that you are boring our guests and that you could do better." He batted his eyelashes with feigned innocence.
Enjolras left out his breath in a huff. He rolled his eyes but his mouth had twisted up in an expression she had come to recognize as fondness. He got it whenever she asked about a particularly ridiculous picture on his instagram or when he talked about his boyfriend. She liked that he made that face around his boyfriend too. Kath just thought it was cute.
"Then I'll rephrase and restart, would that be sufficient?"
Grantaire acted as though he was in deep thought but then nodded and motioned for Enjolras to continue.
"Thank you," Enjolras said dryly.
"That was tame," Courfeyrac muttered in Kath's ear and she had to bite her lip to stifle her laugh.
"We call ourselves the ABC, a way to be inclusive of all and create a large umbrella under which to fight for a wide variety of causes. While not militant and non-violent we're not opposed to the use of force when necessary," Enjolras was explaining and Kath saw David's eyebrows raise. "We've found that it has yet to be necessary in any conflicts we've been involved in." David relaxed at that. Enjolras continued to explain that the ABC was a group of like-minded human rights activists and that they mainly focused on issues of race, gender, sexuality, and religion.
He nodded at Charlie as he explained, "Human rights should be non-partisan, and we fully believe that they are, however the current political climate disagrees. As such we tend to have a decidedly liberal slant to anything that we do."
Enjolras explained that they had a social media presence as well, but conceited that it was nothing on the scope of the Newsies, and that they used it to spread awareness of protests and advertise their own. That since they represented a variety of schools in the metro area they were able to work to educate students about issues across the city as a united front.
"So you actually organize your own protests?" David asked when Enjolras paused for a breath. He had been talking for a while now and Katherine felt a little dazed. He hadn't given a speech like that since the weekend before at the Kavanaugh protests. And even then it hadn't been quite so long. A rallying cry rather than a monologue.
"Not recently, we've attended many as the ABC however. There has been numerous large-scale rallies and marches here in D.C. in light of the current administration. We have mostly advertised and assisted with those. We have organized some smaller ones at our various schools. The last large protest we organized was a rally in conjunction to a march that was held in Baltimore by another student run organization there," he explained.
"You're definitely much more on the ground than we are. I mean, we go and I've committed my fair share of civil disobedience but our primary focus is definitely information and education," Jack said.
"We believe in that too, but we think that attention needs to be brought to these issues first. That lawmakers and even other citizens need to see that people care and that people are upset by these actions," Combeferre added.
"What I'm most impressed by is how fast you are. Kath was telling us that you were at the senate offices last week? That one seemed like it popped up out of nowhere," David told them.
“We’ve got contacts in a couple organizations that let us know when there’s something,” Courfeyrac said.
“You really mobilize fast,” Charlie sounded impressed.
“We tend to put real life before class,” Enjolras said seriously. He had a determined expression and Katherine thought that anyone else would seem silly saying it but Enjolras just seemed… well, majestic. Regal. A true leader.
Katherine shook her head slightly, getting rid of the last of the mind’s side tangent. They had all continued to talk while she’d been zoned out and it had turned into a true discussion at this point.
"If you really want we can put you in contact with that Baltimore group. I've got Penny's number if you give me a second," Courfeyrac was tapping at his phone.
"No, Penny's not doing coordination anymore. Something happened with her mom and she's between phone plans," Eponine chimed in from down the table.
"So, this number isn't good?" Courfeyrac frowned.
"Not right now. She might be using it again in a couple weeks though," Eponine shrugged. "In the meantime, Inez is running coordination. Here," she passed a napkin with a series of numbers and a twitter handle written on it. "That's their official twitter and that's Inez's number."
“Thanks,” David smiled and picked the napkin up, gesturing at Eponine with it. She nodded turned back to where she and Musichetta had started braiding Jehan’s hair at some point.
“So, are we the first other student activist group you’ve had a, for lack of a better term, summit with?” Combeferre asked. His lips twitched up in a quick smile. “Or at least been in contact.”
"Well there is that one from Midtown?" Jack offered.
"When they're not arguing and the guy that they put in charge isn't being everyone's dad they're pretty impressive," Charlie added.
"They do more activist work than we do," Kath nodded. At Charlie's raised brow Kath laughed and amended it with, "When they can actually agree on anything."
"That one kid writes more than you, Kath," David said.
Katherine wrinkled her nose, that was a bit of a touchy subject with her, but she didn't like to let that on. "Yeah but his are all op-eds."
"Yeah... They're too opinionated to even try to do what we do," Jack said, a little bit of competitive pride leaking into his voice.
"Sounds like Enjolras would fit right in," Grantaire smirked. Enjolras just sighed, not rising to the bait.
Yeah... not the happiest with the ending? But I think that this went better than I expected. I've got one more chapter out of this meeting of the minds yet. Also 20 points to the Hogwarts house of your choice if you got the other two musicals referenced.
"Do you have any big plans for the midterms coming up?" Courfeyrac asked. They had finally moved on to other topics as Katherine drank cup after cup of coffee. She suspected she would be wired for the next two months after so much caffeine, unless the baristas had switched her to decaf at some point, but it certainly didn't feel that way. Now they were all huddled in the doorway of the Musain, finally being asked to leave, as they adjusted coats and scarves. Bundling up against the slight and sudden chill. Their conversation had finally circled back to the inevitable though.
"We always have big plans for election season," Jack waggled his eyebrows and gave a wickedly mischievous grin. Katherine rolled her eyes at the theatrics.
"You know, that's the only thing that’s a bummer about being here in D.C. rather than at home right now," Specs said thoughtfully.
They had all finally begun to shuffle away from the Musain and in the general direction of the metro. Around them people headed to and from bars and clubs whose open doors spilled light and music out into the night and dark clad bouncers watched the street with bored expressions. Katherine held Jack's hand in her own but had also looped her free arm through David's where it crooked from his hand shoved into his coat pocket. On Jack's other side Charlie walked close enough to bump shoulders, sending a slight shock-wave down the line every time he did. Grantaire and Enjolras walked in front with their hands similarly linked and Specs had fallen into step with them, glancing over his shoulder as he spoke to address Katherine and their friends.
David gave him a puzzled look, Katherine could see it out of the corner of her eye even in the shadows cast by streetlights and neon.
He never has to verbalize the question though, Courfeyrac does it for him. Trailing just a half step behind the line of New Yorkers is Courfeyrac and Combeferre with Eponine wedged in between. The other members of the ABC spill out behind them and a few have ducked off, calling out farewells as they stepped into the bars they passed. She hadn't quite been paying attention, reveling in having Jack's hand pressed in hers and some of her other favorite people around her, and so she's surprised to notice that those three are the only ones left of the ABC contingent that had been behind them. She guesses that Marius and Cosette had run off to go somewhere private for the short remainder of the evening and that Joly, Bossuet and Musichetta had taken that as their cue to do the same. Jehan, Feuilly, and Bahorel make up the others who had disappeared into the bars as they walked. A piece of her is surprised that they hadn't all stayed and yet another is surprised that those that had did at all. They had no obligation to visit with Specs and Katherine's friends from home and yet they did.
"So," Courfeyrac was saying, "what's so great about New York during election season that you'd rather be there?"
Specs spun on his heel and began walking backwards with an ease that only came from practice. A half remembered, late night conversation came to her and she recalled him telling her about his years in high school marching band, how if he'd learned nothing else from the experience it was how to walk backwards with grace. "Well Courf," Specs used the nickname that Katherine had still been too nervous to commit to lightly, a teasing smile already in place, "New York is just infinitely better any time of year but I hate not getting to perform my usual duty as a Newsie right now."
"And what would that be?" Enjolras asks with an almost dry humor but it's not fooling anyone as a mask of his genuine curiosity.
"Normally I run the team that pulls together candidate info cards. Everyone takes a candidate, from local to federal, and finds out their stance on every issue and any campaign promises they might be making, education, experience, and track record in office. Then we make info-graphs, design 'em to look like baseball cards, and publish them in the weeks leading up to the election," Specs explained proudly. It was his baby and he'd run it like a well-oiled machine the past two years. While ineffective that first year while they were still starting, it had gotten an extremely positive response last year. Kath knew that his favorite part was tracking something down when someone else had been unable to and just straight up calling PR teams or even candidates themselves to get answers.
"Clever," said Combeferre.
Specs beamed and inclined his head. "Unfortunately, I had to hand the reigns over to Racetrack and Albert and hope they don't muck it up."
"Things are going well," David sounded guarded and she and Specs shot him twin looks. "They are."
Katherine shook Jack's hand slightly, just enough to draw his attention. As soon as he glanced over Kath put on her best pout.
"Believe it or not there hasn't been a problem," Jack whispered. "They might not have the same finesse as Specs but when it comes to badgering people there's no one better."
Kath snorted and let it go. She didn't doubt that one bit.
"What about you? Any big plans for November?" Charlie asked.
"Well I think that all depends on what happens," Enjolras said, trading conviction for honesty. "Regardless we will be ready to fight if needed." Some of that conviction had returned. "In the meantime, we've been going door to door to promote voter registration and education. Handing out flyers with polling places listed and urging people to actually vote."
"We organized a mass absentee ballot registration earlier in the month at our respective schools," Combeferre added. "Tomorrow we're actually hosting 'Political Parties' at a couple."
Katherine glanced behind her with a raised brow and Combeferre met her look with a self-satisfied smirk.
"They're info sessions on the different candidates and issues that are surrounding midterms. We're also giving people a time and place for them to sit down and fill out their absentee ballots and we're providing postage and a place to mail it from. We've got bins to collect them and then will be taking them all right to the post office," he explained.
"That's really smart." Jack got this look; the same one he did when he was seriously considering going skinny dipping with Spot and Race at two a.m. on a Wednesday in January. It also doubled as the face he made when he thought that something was worth pursuing. It was a determined expression that was just a shade off from thoughtful and two steps removed from wistful. As much as she hated this look, because it had led to quite a few bad ideas and hypothermia risks, it was significantly better than wistful. She'd termed this his Brooklyn Look, because it was almost always brought on by something relating to Spot Conlon, and the other she'd deemed his Santa Fe Look. Brooklyn was far superior to Santa Fe, at least in Kath's opinion. Full disclosure, she'd never been to the latter.
"What're you thinking?" David asked, noticing Jack's Brooklyn Look too.
"Jack?" Charlie nudged him with his shoulder. "Care to share there, Jack?"
"Just that it sounds like something we could throw together," he had a slow smile growing across his face and Katherine could almost see the gears spinning in Jack's head. Almost smell the smoke.
"Just make sure that you credit the ABC of D.C.," Grantaire called out from in front of them and Katherine didn't need to see Enjolras's face to know that he was rolling his eyes.
"We're helping to get people to the polls too," Courfeyrac chimed in, ignoring Grantaire's outburst. "Volunteering to escort people and a few of us have cars that we're using to drive people too."
Eponine let out a wicked sounding cackle. "And I get to drive Enjolras's car around all day, since he was to work."
He turned to glare back at her in response. "Don't make me give my car to Bahorel for the day."
"Hmm, I don't think you will," Eponine purred. Her teasing was rare, preferring cutting remarks and sarcastic jabs, but when she did it was almost an art. "Remember the last time that Bahorel was left behind the wheel?"
Enjolras stiffened, almost faltering in his step. "You make a compelling point," he muttered.
They all laughed at that, reaching the metro and descending into the station. Finally, they managed to steer the conversation away from politics and activism again, talking instead about their plans for the next day.
Jack was excitedly listing all that he wanted to see, from Amelia Earhart's plane at Air and Space to the Batmobile that was currently at American History. He said that he fully intended to recreate the "on your left" scene from Captain America: Winter Solider and that they would be visiting all the monuments on the Mall. All of them. Charlie just raised an eyebrow at all of that and said he was on a mission from Medda to see the Degas ballerinas and take bad candids of Jack. He admitted that he really wanted to go to the Conservatory though. David's only requests were the Hope diamond at Natural History and the portraits of the Obamas at the Portrait Gallery.
"Oooh, are you guys going to visit Watergate at all?" Courfeyrac asked as they waited for the train.
"Like the Watergate Hotel?" David asked.
"Yeah. I mean it's a hotel but it's still kinda cool to say you were there. Plus, the Kennedy Center is like right next to it," Courfeyrac grinned. The train rushed into the station and conversation paused. They got on to the nearly empty car and sat down. While Katherine had to unlink her arm from David's for the escalator down, she hadn't let go of Jack's hand and had no intentions to. She had led him to a pair of seats near the door as the others settled around them.
"You know what's kind of random but actually really cool," Grantaire said once they were all seated and the train had started moving again. "The Deep Throat garage. You know, where Bob Woodward would meet with his source 'Deep Throat', his FBI informant on the Watergate story."
"Wait, you actually can go there?" Specs asked. He had an excited grin and had leaned toward where Grantaire sat to better hear.
"Of course! It's just a parking space in this rinky little garage in Rosslyn. It's a working parking garage yet, I mean no one is going to willingly give up parking around here, and there's supposed to be a plaque put up eventually but in the meantime it's just like a paper taped to this cinder block column in the back corner of the lowest level of some garage," Grantaire had gotten a bit of a manic glint to his eye. His voice was filled with humor and a touch of irony as he described it. "The state of Virginia or city of Arlington or something put up a sign outside of it but like it's not flashy and if you're not looking for it it's super easy to miss."
"Where is this?" David had leaned in too. Katherine knew that he loved Bob Woodward, had bought and read his newest book the day it came out. Kath knew this because he'd been live texting her about it the entire day.
"Like two blocks up from the Rosslyn metro stop," Grantaire shrugged.
"Kath," David turned to her, eyes wide, "Kath we have to go."
"Can we go now? I mean, you guys have to get off at Rosslyn anyway," Specs said.
"I'm always game for obscure historical places. Particularly in mildly creepy parking garages," Grantaire grinned.
"That sounds awful," Enjolras informed him.
"Pshaw," Grantaire shoved his boyfriend lightly. "You've been there before. You know you love it. The whole: shining light on corruption and taking down the government from the inside."
Enjolras's mouth twitched up at the corners as he shrugged. "Yes, but that's not how you described it."
Grantaire rolled his eyes. "To answer your question, I'm more than happy to take you now if you want."
"I'm in," Specs said immediately.
"Me too," David added.
Everyone seemed to glance at Kath at that. She blinked. "Of course I'm in. Is that really a question?"
There was a round of laughter at that. "I guess we're going to the Deep Throat Garage," Jack laughed.
Eponine called them all a bunch of nerds but told them to have fun as she got off at Foggy Bottom to go back to her dorm. They spent the rest of the ride into Rossyln talking about the Watergate scandal and Katherine was having so much fun, even though she had to admit that Eponine had a point about them being nerds. Rosslyn was quite as they made their way to the garage, Grantaire leading the way. They were all practically running down the steps to the bottom of the garage they were that excited. The sound of combat boots, converse, and nikes hitting concrete and metal echoed through the cramped space. They laughed and there was the feeling of excitement in the air as they descended. Katherine was half focused on not tripping and half on how much fun she was having. Running down the steps of a parking garage.
They reached the bottom and practically fell out of the door. There were no cars and the garage looked absolutely empty. The only thing that Katherine could see was an office chair sitting next to a valet booth. A hush had fallen over the group. Jack let Charlie down; he'd asked Jack for a piggyback at about a quarter of the way, something he rarely if ever did. Kath made a mental note to ask about taking the elevator back up.
Grantaire had paused to make sure no one got left on the stairs before he turned and headed off toward one end of the garage. They'd just about reached the wall when he stopped in front of a column. There was indeed a piece of paper that had been tapped up, multiple layers being used to hold it in place and wrapping around the entire column. With an overly dramatic flair, he gestured toward the parking spot directly behind it. "Ta-da."
"This is both exactly and nothing like what I expected," David admitted.
Katherine let out a laugh at that, he was one hundred percent right. They all huddled around the column, reading the paper that was apparently the place holder for an official plaque commemorating the site. Combeferre ended up telling the story of how Woodward would come to the garage and why he picked this spot and how he would signal that they were to meet. Kath was completely wrapped up in the mini history lesson, they stood there talking about investigative journalism and spy techniques and government corruption and leaks for at least an hour. Finally, Katherine yawned and she checked her watch.
"Um guys? As much as I'd hate to break this up it's really late," she said with a wince. There were goodbyes and handshakes as they headed out, promises to try and meet up again soon and luck wished to all for their endeavors to change the world. It had been a good night. A great night. And Katherine couldn't stop smiling the entire way back to the apartment.
So I'm not sure if this was clear but if you live in the US you need to make sure that you vote in the midterm elections. It's not just your right, but your duty! A representative democracy only works when everyone is represented!
Warnings for this chapter, a lot happened news wise in the past couple weeks and most of it has been pretty terrible. That being said I couldn't not include it. I don't directly name them but I do talk about the different tragedies and it's some heavy stuff. If you want I can put a summary at the end so you don't have to read through it all, just drop me a line and I'll do so.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The rest of the weekend was a whirlwind of museums and monuments and corny pictures and really good food. Just the Newseum alone could take up a whole day and they had to squeeze it into an afternoon. Kath was thrilled to be able to spend so much time with her friends but when they finally got on their train back to New York on Sunday night she was exhausted. She was pretty sure that she'd done more in the roughly two days they were there than she had in the entire month and half that she had been. Kath deserved a nap.
Kath was still in need of a nap when she showed up to work on Monday.
Enjolras raised an eyebrow when she walked in and flopped into her desk chair.
"It's October. It's supposed to be cold. This weekend was October weather. Why in the world is it hot again?" she complained.
"Welcome to the swamp," Enjolras replied dryly. She glared at him. "I'll beat you to it: Fuck you, Watson."
Kath's glare intensified. "It is way too early for this shit," she muttered.
By the end of the week the weather had changed again. "Ok, now I'm freezing." Katherine had almost been shivering on her walk from the metro this morning. She really hadn't been expecting this sudden shift in weather and hadn't grabbed one of her heavier coats. She glanced over at Enjolras as she stomped her feet, trying to warm up faster. "What? No clever response?"
Enjolras just frowned. "This caught me by surprise too," he admitted. "I literally walked out the door this morning in just my suit."
Katherine couldn't help herself, she started laughing. "Wow we're a mess."
"Indeed," Enjolras hummed.
Katherine found herself doing homework over the weekend. She was taking classes, even if it didn't seem like it. She had settled in at her favorite coffee shop, laptop open and the soundtrack from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe blasting through her headphones. Pretty much not moving or talking to anyone except to order more coffee. She was elbow deep in JSTOR working on a paper Sunday afternoon when her phone pretty much blew up.
Kath watched as notification after notification from facebook messenger popped up in the lower right-hand corner of her laptop screen. As text after text came in on her phone. She tried to read what they said but it was happening too fast. Too many people at once. With a sigh she opened her phone and scrolled through her texts until she found her conversation with David. It had two new messages: a link and the request to read it and get back to him asap.
Katherine read the article. And then read it again. And one last time for good measure.
"Well fuck a duck."
She replied to David and then jumped into the fray of the group messages that had been the source of the notifications overload. The Newsies chat – which was currently named ‘Why did Specs and Kath ditch us during the Midterms???’ – was a mess of curses and outrage. David was attempting to reign it in to some semblance of order so that a plan could be made as to how they as an organization were going to handle and respond to it. It wasn't working. Kath decided to put an end to it, utilizing her admin privileges to temporarily kick everyone else out before inviting them back in. It was what they did to get everyone to shut up and listen. With mixed results. Today it was thankfully effective. Once they were all back in the chat she typed out a quick and succinct message.
So I know this is A LOT. And I'm also upset but this is the business chat, any and all side comments and personal opinions can be put in the literally dozens of other chats we have. Might I suggest "Jack Kelly is a disaster" as one? Now, what exactly are we doing about this?
Right on cue, the ‘Jack Kelly is a disaster’ chat went wild and Kath muted it for the time being. David responded with a list of steps to take next and possible posts. She, David, and Jack ended up coordinating what they would do over the next couple minutes and delegating responsibilities. Kath was already so entrenched in her essay that while she loved digging her teeth into something like this, she had no time to sit down and research Title IX and its history. Luckily, Smalls had volunteered to do it and create a fact sheet.
Once everything seemed pretty well-handled, Kath decided that it was time to tackle the ABC chat that she had been added to a couple weeks prior and was just as busy. She still felt a little bit of pride every time she got a notification for it, just for being included. Right now though? Right now she was a tad annoyed by the deluge. Kath wasn't sure if they had separate chats, she figured they had to have some, but it seemed like she had been added to the main one which acted as a combination of planning for social lives and social justice, meme sharing, and just general snarky remarks. Currently, it had the same fire and outrage as her friends' from home. It was also mixed with dates and times and contact numbers being shared for protest coordination.
It was a headfirst dive into a protest half planned. Kath would have been lost if she weren't so used to the chaos. Even so, it was a different kind of chaos than she normally dealt with. Katherine left the chat open and watched as the messages continued to show up. It seemed as though there were three or more separate but related conversations happening at once and she was decidedly plopped in the middle of all of them. Even without the full context or details, the righteous fury was a bit infectious. And she was already fired up.
Katherine watched as Courfeyrac sent yet another gif and then Bossuet sent one and then a paragraph from Enjolras came through and everything else stopped.
I am just as outraged as you are at this, but we must remember that there is strength in numbers. There seems to be a large protest organizing on Monday and I think that anyone who can, should attend. While I will not be there in person, I will be in spirit. For now, we must rally the people for they are counting on us to miss such an unnecessarily cruel proposal and for it to pass without so much as a whimper of backlash. We CANNOT let that happen. We have to support our fellows who will be affected by this. I urge you to share articles like the one by the Times. Grantaire has already agreed to make flyers and posters, we can meet at the Musain to distribute them. We will not be silenced. We will not let this injustice stand.
It was a text, and not even the longest one she had ever seen or admittedly sent herself, but it was powerful. Katherine heard Enjolras when she read it.
Katherine was halfway to packing up when she remembered that she was under a deadline, her essay needed to be finished today. With a sigh she sank back onto her stool, putting her notebook back onto the tabletop. Glancing back at the chat she noticed people sending ETAs or coordinating meeting up closer to distribution locations. Katherine felt bad as she typed out a message.
I have an essay I need to finish so I won't be able to help. I am SO sorry. Please let me know if there's anything else you might need.
There was a bunch of likes to that and Joly sent a very sweet good luck, but it was Enjolras's response that she was most surprised by.
He liked the message and then texted her individually saying that it was totally understandable and that he had already seen the posts from Newsies and he was sure she had already done more than enough.
Kath was surprised, she hadn't realized that he had started to follow the Newsie accounts and was even more shocked by the thoughtful and kind words. She thanked him and again offered assistance in anything else. A few minutes later an almost timid text came through asking if she'd be willing to put something together for the ABC's twitter and facebook page. Nothing major, just the information from the flyers they were making and share the protest event. He explained that normally he'd do it himself, or Courfeyrac or Combeferre, but they were all on the way to find a print shop. Katherine agreed and soon she was being sent the log in details, a very sincere thank you and told to look for an email from Grantaire with the files.
She shared the event for the protest the next day, a few articles that she saw her friends had found, and once she got the files used them to make a post with some quick bullet points. It looked really good thanks to Grantaire's eye-catching designs.
She was used to Jack's distinct style and was thrown off a bit to see something familiar but so completely different. Where Jack was all fine lines and shading, clever images that told a clear message; Grantaire was bold silhouettes and bright colors, the art was louder but the message was more implied and allowed for slogans to compliment it perfectly. Jack's always reminded her of political cartoons, Grantaire's could pass for propaganda.
She posted it and sent the tweet, letting Enjolras know that she was handing back the reigns of the accounts to him and returned to her essay.
Monday rolled around and Enjolras had beat her into the office again. They both wrinkled their noses at the fact that no one was covering the protest that was right down the street. At noon they flipped their tiny office tv over to the local station and practically cheered when they saw footage from the protest, especially when the camera showed Cosette, Eponine, and Jehan with a large banner proclaiming "Support your sisters! Not just your cis-ters!"
Sadly, the five-minute story seemed to be the only coverage. "You were right about this desire to just slide it through," Kath sighed as she spun in her chair to face Enjolras.
His lips pressed into a tight line. "It's what this administration has been doing all along. Find something to throw everyone into a frenzy over, right now it's their frankly ridiculous response to the refugee caravan, and then quietly slide something despicable through."
"It's as clever as it is disgusting."
"At least it's just a proposal? They haven't yet changed the definition of gender."
Enjolras nodded but he didn't seem to have his heart in it; that was fine, Kath was known for her optimism among their friends. Jack might be a dreamer but he had a real cynical streak and David could have the highest hopes but at the end of the day he was such a realist it wasn't even funny. Only Charlie could relate to her and even then, it was a different kind of optimism. Charlie didn't hope for the best, well he did but he wouldn't ever admit it. He always, without fail, planned for the absolute worst and was pleasantly surprised by whatever the outcome. Always finding a positive somewhere. Kath couldn't always find that positive, but she did have hope that the best possible outcome would come true. And right now? That was still an option.
Luckily, she knew a bunch of people who would fight tooth and nail to keep that best possible outcome an option.
On Wednesday she and Enjolras were sent home early as the New York office was evacuated.
Thursday Kath went in and everyone's focus was on what had yet to be described as domestic terrorism. Friday it was finally called that and the man responsible was arrested.
When Kath walked out of the office on Friday afternoon she was exhausted. It had been so much, too much, going on this week. Terrible things were happening, and she felt useless. She hadn't been allowed to help in the way that she wanted to. Her fingers itching to type up an article while she was stuck taking notes in a meeting. She took her frustrations out on her blog, writing more posts in the couple days than she had since she got to D.C. Writing even longer articles that she then submitted to the Op-Ed section of her school's paper. Even with all that she doubted that she was making a difference for the first time in years.
"This sucks," she told Specs as they watched tv together Friday night.
"But you love Halloweentown? You got so happy you did everything short of tap dancing when you found it for free on demand."
Katherine rolled her eyes. "Not that, this movie is a masterpiece. The current state of things."
"Ah yes," Specs had gotten somber, completely at odds with the upbeat music of the film.
"But it's Halloweekend and I'm not about to just let the man keep me down." Kath gave a rather forceful nod of her head.
Specs burst out laughing, nearly choking on the coke he'd been sipping on. "The man?" he repeated incredulously.
"Yes, the man. You know, the system!"
"Oh I do, you jive turkey," Specs was shaking with giggles.
Kath threw a pillow at him, successfully making a direct hit to his head. Specs gave her a lovingly overly dramatic middle finger in response.
Katherine slept in late the next morning and when she woke up she wished that she could wake up again, that this all would just be a dream. The news kept coming though, proving exactly how real it was. Kath called Sarah and David immediately, making sure they were alright. David admitted that it scared him, Sarah that she was angry beyond belief. Mostly though they were in shock. They all were.
Monday was weird for Kath, she had spent so much of her weekend just numb so that the routine of her internship seemed abnormal. Enjolras looked just as defeated as she felt, his face pale and perfect curls mussed.
"Rough weekend?" she ventured when he walked in.
"I'm not religious but I feel like the apocalypse is coming," he muttered.
Katherine quirked an eyebrow. "Who said you have to be religious to believe the world is ending?" she tried to quip, but it wasn't quite dry enough and so fell flat. Her heart just wasn't in it.
Enjolras gave a thoughtful nod, setting his backpack onto the floor under his desk. They worked for a while in silence, only the click clack of typing and the ambient noise of the office between them.
"Um, Katherine?" he ventured after a while. Kath paused in the email she was drafting to turn around and see what he wanted. "They gave you off on Wednesday too, right?"
"Yeah," Katherine's lips quirked up at the memory. "Apparently college kids are still kids and should take full advantage of Halloween as a holiday."
Enjolras returned her smile and nodded. "Georgetown goes all out, the neighborhood not just the school, so we're hosting a party Tuesday night into whenever Wednesday. You must be sober during trick-or-treat and in costume if you plan to hand out candy."
"We'd love for you to come. Specs is invited as well, of course. I was going to text him later myself actually."
Again, Katherine blinked.
Enjolras misinterpreted her shock. "Don't feel obligated to come or put together a costume if you don't wish to."
Katherine grinned and told him a phrase that she'd heard circulate between her friends. "In parties, as in all things, consent is key?"
Enjolras closed his eyes and took a deep breath. She couldn't tell if he was embarrassed by her, for her, annoyed, or amused. He started to slowly shake his head. Soon he was shaking completely with laughter.
"Are you ok?" she asked.
"I think this is mostly stress based but yes. That was also ridiculously funny."
Katherine smiled. "I can't take, nor do I want to, all the credit. I'll come to your party though."
"Thank you." Enjolras said as he wiped tears from his eyes.
Katherine understood, right now if she didn't laugh she might cry and happy tears were definitely better than the alternative.
Real life news that's mentioned in this chapter:
The New York Times article on the proposal to redefine gender under Title IX which can have huge ramifications for those who identify as transgender or non binary.
CNN's coverage of the caravan of refugees that are currently in Mexico and trying to seek asylum in the US.
CNN breakdown from a few days ago about the bombs mailed to democratic politicians and supporters. Recent CNN article on suspect, arrest and charges as well as a recap of the events.
CNN coverage of the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. New York Times article on the funerals of the victims.
CNN coverage of bombs, shooting in Pittsburgh, and shooting in Kentucky that was not touched on in the chapter.
I'm going to do a special Halloween chapter to be up this weekend as a way to balance some of the heaviness of this one out. In the meantime I highly recommend looking at some pictures of puppies, especially if you read all of those articles.
A week late but I hope it was worth it. Midterms chapter should be up this weekend then, I promise!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Specs raised an eyebrow from where he stood in the doorway with a mug of tea.
“Quit silently judging me. Just verbally judge me like a normal human being,” Kath scolded him.
He snorted. “There’s so much wrong with that sentence hon. So much.”
“Well out with it already,” she fired back.
Katherine looked down at the ironing board she had indeed dug out from the back of their pantry and the currently hot iron she gripped in her hand that had also been liberated but from the coat closet rather than the kitchen. “Your point?” she returned her gaze to Specs.
“It’s just that we’ve been here nearly two months and I’ve literally never seen you iron. You wore a dress shirt once and haven’t since because you refuse to iron.”
Kath sniffed before he could go any further. “My mother bought me that shirt and I never liked it.”
Specs gave her a look that was so dry it could be a new climate. “As I was saying,” he continued, “you’ve never ironed even once the entire time I’m living with you and now not only do I find you ironing but I find you ironing a t-shirt?”
Katherine looked down again, at the orange t-shirt that was indeed stretched out in front of her. That she had indeed been ironing while watching Hocus Pocus when Specs walked in. “Well yeah, it’s called an Iron. On.” She tilted her head to one side and then the other to stress each syllable.
Specs blinked at her. He stood in the living room doorway holding his mug and slowly blinking. As time stretched on and his position remained the same Kath began to fear the worst. That after two years of friendship and two months of cohabitation she’d finally done it. That she’d finally broken Specs.
Just as Kath was beginning to panic Specs slowly opened his mouth to speak. “What. The. Fuck?!”
“It’s not like they just make Camp Half-Blood patches and I am not about to just sew one. So I bought iron-on paper and printed the design and carefully cut it out whilst watching Addams Family and now I’m carefully putting it on whilst watching Binx deal with a hormonal teenager for two hours and change,” she explained.
Specs sighed with such deep exhaustion that she feared he had temporarily become David and she Jack. “Why?” he asked but she got the feeling it was more out of obligation than real desire.
Katherine carefully set the iron down before rubbing at her forehead. “I needed a costume for tomorrow night and this was literally the easiest option,” she admitted.
“I’m going to be Rachel Elizabeth Dare from the Percy Jackson books. I’ve already got the hair and the jeans I may have pilfered from Jack are both baggy and paint splattered. Making the Camp Half-Blood shirt is rather easy. I just need to carry a blue hairbrush and I’m golden,” she shrugged.
“Somehow,” Specs said slowly, “that makes only slightly more sense.”
Kath stuck her tongue out at him. She went back to her ironing, following the instructions that had been on the back of the package to the letter.
Specs just shook his head, coming to sit down and watch the movie with her. “How much did you spend?” he asked after a couple minutes.
Setting the iron down so that it and the shirt could cool Kath went to sit next to Specs on the couch. “It was like fifteen bucks? Around there? A little less.”
“I went to a craft store,” Kath told him, leaning against his side so that she jostled when he lifted his mug to sip his tea.
“Where did you find a craft store?”
“When did you find a craft store?”
“While I was at work. Went there before coming home. What’re you going to be for Halloween?”
Specs made a noncommittal grumble. “I don’t know. I brought a Superman shirt? I could wear it under a button down? Be Clark Kent?”
Kath oohed her approval.
“Not gonna lie, kinda wanna be T’Challa though.”
Katherine sat up straight and grinned. “Yes! Yes! I will help you with that!”
Specs laughed. “How? Buy an adult sized Black Panther costume on your dad’s credit card and overnight it?”
“Not what I was thinking of but that’s not a bad idea…”
“Kath, no.” Specs was laughing though so she didn’t totally dismiss it as an option.
She grabbed her laptop from where it sat on their coffee table, opening up a new tab and doing a quick google search. She scrolled through the results before glancing back at Specs, studying him with pursed lips. “You wouldn’t happen to be able to grow a slight beard in the next twenty-four hours, would you?”
Specs just gave her a look.
“Hmm, yeah, didn’t think so. It was worth asking. I could probably buy some mascara and watch some cosplay videos and make you one.”
“You’re insane,” he chuckled. “Wait. Could you really?”
Kath shrugged, she’d never actually done it, but she’d seen a tutorial on tumblr once and you could find a how-to video on just about anything on youtube. “In theory,” she admitted.
“Just like how ‘in theory’ you can drive?” Specs was deeply skeptical, she could hear it.
“I can drive in theory!” she argued.
“Well I ain’t getting in a car with you,” he mumbled.
Katherine glared at him, you accidentally crash a golf cart with Racetrack one time and suddenly you’re not trusted to operate motor vehicles. She lived in New York! When would she ever need to drive! And it’s not like it was her fault they crashed, Race had tried to grab the wheel from her and it’d made her swerve. The golf cart wasn’t even scratched!
She stopped clicking through the images and sat up straight. “Oh! What about this?” Katherine passed him the laptop with the image now full screen.
“I don’t have a scarf?”
“I do! I have lots of scarves! And one that is close enough to that to pass. Wear an all-black suit and we can make the scarf lay just right. Maybe pick up a bracelet with big beads like the ones they use to control the vibranium?”
Specs was nodding, she could see the pieces clicking together in his head. “And mascara to make me a fake beard?” he smiled at her and Katherine beamed back. “Guess I’m going to be the King of Wakanda for Halloween.”
“Yes!” Kath pumped the air as Specs laughed at her. She loved when a plan came together.
It took some trial and error and about half a pack of makeup wipes, but they’d managed to get Specs a fake beard and mustache by the time they had to head to Georgetown on Tuesday night. He kept adjusting his scarf in the mirror over her shoulder as Kath ran some mousse through her curls, trying to give them a bit more volume. “Stop it, it’s fine,” she glared at him in the reflection. He looked sheepish and held up his hands in surrender.
He ended up fiddling with the beads on his wrist. “I can’t believe you found this.”
“I told you, craft store.” She grinned and turned to face him, sticking the blue brush she’d picked up on the way home too into her back pocket.
“Apparently it’s a magical place where everything’s possible,” he waggled his eyebrows and backed out of the tiny bathroom.
“That’s what Medda taught me at least!”
They laughed as Kath shrugged on her coat before heading out the door. It was actually fairly warm, and they’d be walking to Georgetown, but it was still just a tad too chilly for her to be wearing just a t-shirt.
Grantaire opened the door when they knocked, a bottle already in hand. “Happy Halloween!” his voice boomed, and Kath couldn’t help but smile. “Ah, your highness,” he said and gave a deep bow to Specs as he walked in before turning to Kath. “And a demigod? No! The great Oracle of Delphi! My my, we are lucky hosts tonight!”
She giggled and gave him her coat when he held out his arm for it. He was dressed in a rather realistic Jack Sparrow costume and Kath thought that it was just so he could keep a bottle in his hand all night. “I’m surprised, I thought I’d be explaining myself all night,” she told Grantaire.
“Not with this crowd, bunch of nerds the whole lot of them. Present company included. Now might I get you a drink before the rum’s all gone?”
Katherine laughed as Grantaire smirked and led her into the kitchen. The twinkle lights in the living room had been augmented by strands of purple and orange along the walls. Fake spiderwebs stretched across the corners of the room and there was a cauldron set up that seemed to be emanating the soundtrack from Rocky Horror.
People were laughing and lounging on the sofa as Courfeyrac badly lip synched to the music, trying to convince Eponine to dance with him. She rolled her eyes and reluctantly let him pull her to his side. When it got to be Janet’s part of Dammit Janet she pushed Courfeyrac to the side and completely owned it. Katherine laughed and whooped along with everyone else as Grantaire continued to tug her toward the kitchen.
She hadn’t been paying attention as she was rushed through the living room but here in the stark light and industrial appliances with the black and orange streamers hanging from the ceiling Kath could see the costumes.
Specs was there, laughing with Combeferre who had on a white t-shirt with black letters that said “Error 404 Page Not Found” on and Katherine snorted. Cosette was handing a red solo cup to Marius who was the Steve Trevor to her gorgeously accurate Wonder Woman. Grantaire caught her staring at them and leaned over to whisper in Kath’s ear.
“She’s a cosplayer. And a fantastic one at that,” he said, nodding at Cosette.
“I can tell,” Katherine whispered back, impressed. Grantaire gestured for her to take a seat at the island as he walked around it to where they had a makeshift bar set up. He gestured broadly at the alcohol, an expansive motion, before turning back to her with a questioning brow. “I’ll take a glass of your finest boxed wine,” she jokingly ordered.
Grantaire picked up a plastic cup and uncapped a sharpie with a flourish. He scribbled something on it and grabbed the box of white. He pushed the cup across the counter to her when he was done, and Katherine spun it to read what he’d put on it.
“Red?” she looked back at Grantaire in confusion.
“R-E-D. Rachel Elizabeth Dare. We’re going by characters tonight.” He then passed her his own bottle which had been given a plain white name label with Jack Sparrow scrawled in sharpie. She rolled her eyes but smiled as he winked and walked away.
Someone sat on the stool next to her and Kath turned to see who it was. She stopped short of saying hello, freezing as she took in Enjolras in his costume. “Happy Halloween,” he said wryly.
“What?” Kath said like the intelligent girl she is.
Enjolras wrinkled his brows in confusion. “Glorious Samhain?” he tried.
Kath shook her head slowly, finally finding her words – a much harder task than it should be for being a writer. “You’re a…?”
Enjolras rolled his eyes and his seemingly perfect posture slumped for the first time that Katherine had ever witnessed. “A newsie,” he admitted sheepishly.
She opened her mouth, but no words came out. She was really doing well with that tonight apparently, and she had yet to even touch her wine.
“It was all Courfeyrac’s fault,” Enjolras continued hastily. “He bought the hat and threw it at me the one day after I’d said how much I admire your organization.” He blushed, the tips of his ears where they poked up on either side of his cap from between his curls were bright red.
Katherine stared at him for another few seconds before finally organizing her thoughts enough to say something. “I’m genuinely flattered.”
Enjolras’s lips twitched up and he gave her a quick nod. He went to say something but was interrupted by Graintaire sneaking up behind him and tackling him in a hug. There was an unintelligible garble of complaints mixed with half joking platitudes. Kath took that as her leave.
She wandered back into the living room and over to the loveseat that had Musichetta, Joly, and Bossuet tangled together on. Her eyes adjusted to the dim light and she managed to figure out their costumes. “Star Wars?” she jerked her chin towards the trio.
“Finn,” Musichetta pointed at Bossuet. “Poe,” she pointed at Joly. “And Rey!” She finished with a flourish of her wrist directed at herself.
“Thanks!” They all chorused.
Joly leaned forward, jostling Bossuet and Musichetta on either side of him. “Grantaire offered to paint my cane to look like a lightsaber but it’s not accurate for Poe so I wouldn’t let him,” he told her confidently, his voice loud over the music.
“Does it matter?” Bossuet asked. “You’d get a lightsaber cane out of it!”
“I could get one of those anyway?” Joly looked immensely puzzled by the concept that Grantaire painting him a lightsaber cane was off the table.
“Eh, true. R would do it,” Bossuet said with a shrug.
“But what wouldn’t R do?” Eponine asked, coming up behind Kath.
“Well I can’t argue with that.” Bossuet raised his cup to her before taking a long drink from it.
Eponine’s reply was a Cheshire cat like smile. Katherine squinted at her costume, it looked like a dress made of paint chips pilfered from home improvement stores. She must’ve noticed Katherine’s confusion because Eponine’s smile grew. “I’m Fifty Shades of Grey.”
Everyone groaned at the pun, but Katherine laughed too. It was clever.
Suddenly someone tackle-hugged her and Katherine had to stagger to keep from toppling; causing her to move away from the trio on the loveseat and further into the center of the room. An already seemingly tipsy Courfeyrac squeezed her before stepping back to look at her costume, giving Kath a full view of his. It consisted of fishnets, booty shorts, a corset, and sparkly mouse ears from someone’s trip to Disney World.
“What are you supposed to be?” Kath was concerned. Or maybe just confused. No no, that was definitely concern she was feeling.
Courfeyrac’s smile stretched impossibly wider. “I was just about to ask you the same thing!”
Giving him another sweeping look Kath nodded. “You first,” she insisted over the pounding beat of some techno pop remix of Phantom of the Opera.
His grin turned wicked and Kath’s stomach sank, suddenly worried about what she might have accidentally gotten herself into. Courfeyrac made a sweeping gesture encompassing everything from his headgear to the very beat up pair of vans he was sporting with the fishnets. “I’m a sexy mouse. Duh.” He informed her.
Katherine relaxed before breaking out giggling. “Oh my god, you really are Karen. Wow.”
“Why thank you!” He preened, causing Katherine to laugh more. It reminded her suddenly of something Race would do. She’d have to remember it for him for next year. “Now, you are…?”
“Rachel Elizabeth Dare. From the Percy Jackson books.”
“Ah! That explains the orange. You’re very orange,” he told her with such sincerity that Katherine felt bad giggling. The song faded into the next one and Courfeyrac’s eyes widened, the music catching his attention. “Katherine! Dance with me!”
She held up a finger as the opening of Time Warp played, downing the rest of her wine that she’d been only sipping up until that point. Placing the plastic cup on one of the bookshelves with a couple others she ran back to join him. The alcohol was starting to go to her head as she did the Time Warp again and again. She was grinning and giddy by the end of the song but continued to dance with Courfeyrac for more songs than she kept count of. Eventually collapsing onto the couch next to a girl in a very tight Catwoman costume.
“Katherine! Happy Halloween!” Bahorel called as he walked over, passing the girl a cup and taking a drink from his own. He was in full drag and Kath was impressed. He looked amazing.
“Happy Halloween! You look fantastic.”
Bahorel laughed. “Thanks! This is my girlfriend, she helped pick out the dress.” The girl next to Katherine held up her cup in recognition and Kath smiled at her.
“I still say that you should enter a show or something,” Grantaire said, appearing at Bahorel’s elbow.
“Ooooh! Yeah! That’d be so fun!” Courfeyrac nodded vigorously, almost dislodging his ears. Grantaire laughed and quickly adjusted them for him.
They all laughed as Bahorel began vouging for them to some song about a Halloween party that Katherine thought might be from a new musical or something. Definitely something that Jack or Racetrack had played for her before, but she couldn’t place.
Eventually, Katherine caught Enjolras’s eye from where he stood talking to Feuilly – who had been wrapped in bandages from she guessed the house’s first aid kit as an impromptu mummy because the last time she’d seen him he’d just been in jeans and a t-shirt – on the other side of the room. He shook his head at the antics and jerked his head toward the kitchen. Katherine extracted herself from the couch and excused herself from the conversation.
She found Eponine and Combeferre standing very close together in one corner while Marius glared at Gavroche. The Batman clad teen was sheepishly putting down a bottle of vodka before bolting. Jehan, dressed as Puck she had been informed when she’d asked earlier in the night, cackled as Marius gave a long-suffering sigh. Cosette floated in, grabbing a handful of pretzels and Marius’s hand before leaving again.
Katherine settled in what was quickly becoming her usual stool. She watched as Enjolras walked over to her, trailed by Grantaire. The song changed and Jehan’s face lit up. He shuffled past them, likely to go dance. Katherine’s puzzlement must have shown on her face because Grantaire laughed as he settled behind the island again, back to makeshift bartender as he refilled all their cups.
“It’s from Mean Girls, the musical. Jehan was in charge of the playlist and as long as it could be considered Halloween it was allowed. There’s a lot of showtunes though,” Grantaire said, leaning on the counter.
Katherine laughed and nodded. “It’s fine, I’m kinda used to it. Plus, Rocky.”
“Rocky,” the two boys chorused in agreement.
“I, uh, just wanted to thank you for coming,” Enjolras suddenly said.
“Wow Enj, awkward much?” Grantaire teased. He just winked and took a swig from his bottle of rum as Enjolras glared.
“It’s true. I don’t say this, and I should: I appreciate our friendship Katherine and I’m very glad that you and Specs both came tonight. It’s been a long two months but meeting you two and learning that there are other people who look at the world the same way and are fighting the same fight in their own unique way has been refreshing and invigorating. Especially ahead of the election. So, thank you for your friendship,” he finished lamely, blushing as he realized that.
Grantiare squinted at his boyfriend before making a big show of examining all the liquor levels in the bottles behind him. “Are you drunk? And not tipsy or buzzed or anything like that, I mean really and truly sloshed because the great and mighty Apollo just admitted some very real and very human feelings.”
Enjolras gave him the most unimpressed look and Katherine couldn’t help but giggle at the exchange. She wasn’t afraid to admit that she was decidedly tipsy. “No, I’m just being honest,” Enjolras frowned at Grantaire. “I’d already told Specs earlier, but you were dancing and I didn’t want to interrupt,” he said as he turned to her.
Katherine smiled, it really was very sweet of him and she knew that Grantaire’s teasing was his own way of thanking her for joining their friend group. Kath had gotten to know the two of them pretty well and she knew that Grantaire pointing out how much Enjolras was sharing was his way of thanking her for getting Enjolras to share. At least that’s the Kath’s wine addled brain explained it.
“Honestly,” Katherine said into the comfortable silence that had fallen between the three of them, “I’m really glad I met you all and that you kinda adopted us for the semester. I’d be lost without someplace productive to put my passion and anger into.”
Enjolras nodded, raising his cup and knocking it back. Grantaire raised his eyebrows at that and turned to look at Kath. “Looks like we’re drinking to that,” he laughed before raising his bottle and taking a long swallow himself. Katherine smiled and did the same.
The dull roar from the other room died down and Bossuet stuck his head in. “Hey you two lovebirds or whatever the hell is going on over there, honestly though I don’t want to know! And Mr. Cynic, Mr. Revolution, and Miss Free Speech, we’re about to hit midnight so we’re having a Halloween toast! Get in here!”
Combeferre and Eponine rushed into the other room, both blushing furiously and Katherine was sure that she’d be extremely intrigued if she’d known them all longer but for now just thought it was funny. She slid off the stool and followed them, Enj and R on her heels.
“Raise a glass!” Someone called out and they all obeyed.
“To glitter and girls and boys and freedom and Halloween!” Courfeyrac crowed.
“To record early voting turnout,” Combeferre added as the toast continued around the loose circle that had formed.
“To the Village Voice! May she rest in peace,” Specs said seriously and then giggled, betraying exactly how drunk he was.
Grantaire skipped the rest of the circle and interjected. “To any passing fad! To being an us for once instead of a them!”
Jehan hummed and grinned. “To Huevos Rancheros and Maya Angelou. To Sontag, to Sondheim, to anything taboo. Ginsberg, Dylan, Cunningham, and Cage. Lenny Bruce. Langston Hughes!”
There was laughter as more people got the reference. Kath thought it was funny and there were some definite parallels between Rent and the people in front of her and at home. It was an appropriate addition.
“To RBG!” Eponine added forcefully. “May she continue to be an inspiration, and may she never leave the Supreme Court!”
“To women’s empowerment!” Cosette added.
“To true acceptance and equality in all forms,” Musichetta had a fire in her eyes, her red solo cup raised in one hand and lightsaber in her other.
“To changing the world, one way or another,” Enjolras jutted his chin up, the weight in his words not lost even with everyone’s inebriation.
Katherine waited for someone else to chime in and she realized that they were all looking at her, giving her the last word and Katherine knew exactly what she wanted it to be. “To the First Amendment,” she said with confidence.
A clock somewhere chimed midnight and they all cheered as they drank to that.
The costumes are as follows:
Katherine- Rachel Elizabeth Dare the Oracle of Delphi from Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Specs- T'Challa aka the Black Panther and specifically this outfit
Enjolras- A newsie
Combeferre- Computer error page
Courfeyrac- A "sexy mouse" in a homage to Mean Girls
Grantaire- Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean
Musichetta- Rey from Star Wars
Joly- Poe Dameron from Star Wars
Bossuet- Finn from Star Wars
Cosette- Wonder Woman as portrayed by Gal Gadot in the 2017 movie
Marius- Steve Trevor as portrayed by Chris Pine in the 2017 Wonder Woman movie
Bahorel- Stunning drag
Bahorel's Mistress- Catwoman
Feuilly- a very last minute mummy
Jehan- Puck from a Midsummer's Night Dream
Eponine- "Fifty Shades of Grey"
Gavorache- Batman (that may or may not have been stolen. With him you never know)
As soon as Katherine woke up on the First of November she felt sick. Not from the roughly twenty-four-hour Halloween party that the Triumvirate House threw; Kath had not been drinking the whole time and definitely nowhere near enough that she would be hungover. No, Katherine was sick because she woke up and it hit her that the midterms were on Tuesday and it was Thursday.
The alarm clock went off and Katherine jumped at the noise. She relaxed with a groan and Specs chuckled from his bed on the other side of the room. The noise stopped, and Kath heard the rustling of his sheets as Specs crawled out of bed. “You good there?” he asked as he walked past to go to the bathroom.
“No,” she mumbled. Kath pressed the heels of her hands into her eyes and took a deep breath, holding it and counting to ten before releasing it. Finally, with monumental mental effort Katherine heaved herself into an upright and standing position. Digging her toes into the carpet, she stretched. Hearing her shoulders pop slightly as she pushed her arms up over her head.
When Specs walked back in he saw her standing between their beds attempting to hold a tree pose. “Kath, you’re starting to concern me. Are you starting to lose it? The school said that they can help you to find a counselor if you need one,” Specs said carefully.
She cracked one eye open and frowned at him. “What makes you say that?”
“Well I’ve now walked in on you ironing and doing yoga within the same week. These are so far out of character that I took a picture of you standing like that and sent it to Jack asking what he thought I should do before I said anything, and I only said anything because I know Jack’s still asleep.”
Katherine’s frown deepened, and her balance started to go so she started to wobble. She dropped her foot and flipped Specs off.
He responded by rolling his eyes and heading to his closet to put his suit on for the day. Katherine flopped back down on her bed in a heap, staring blankly at the ceiling. Her vision was suddenly filled with two different ties and she was forced to blink rapidly to refocus on them.
“The one on the left,” she told Specs when she could finally actually see them.
“Thanks. Are you going to actually get dressed anytime soon?”
She grumbled but she sat up. Kath put on the first dress she pulled out of her closet. She put on her pearls, grabbed a pair of heels to throw in her bag, and slipped on her converse. “I am dressed,” she informed Specs, flinging her arms out to prove it.
“Yeah… You might want to do something about… That.” He gestured vaguely at her head, wrinkling his nose up and screwing up his mouth.
Kath groaned, loudly and with feeling, and marched off to the bathroom to fix whatever it was her hair was doing and brush her teeth. After spying the beginnings of a nasty pimple on her forehead she reluctantly did her makeup too.
Specs bought her a pastry when they stopped for coffee on their way to work. It was chocolate and warm and Kath could’ve kissed him for getting it for her. She settled for hugging him instead.
She walked into their tiny office which had been decked out in tiny paper ghost cutouts earlier in the week to find Enjolras was now taking them down. She frowned at him from the doorway, they’d spent an entire afternoon cutting those little guys out and putting them up. Her heart kind of hurt to see them go. Enjolras noticed her loitering and gave her a quizzical look.
“Are you ok?” He asked with concern.
Kath stepped in and tilted her head, confused. “Well yeah?”
“You look really… Well you don’t look…” he grimaced, trailing off.
Kath dumped her stuff on her chair and took off her coat. “I woke up feeling terrible.”
“Not hungover,” she added quickly. “Just… I don’t know. I was just super anxious.”
“Ah yes,” he said with a nod, turning back to taking down the decorations. “The impending sense of doom. I know it well.”
It wasn’t quite dry enough to be a joke but at the same time Kath couldn’t take it seriously. Yet she knew it was accurate. She was feeling an impending sense of doom.
“Well this sucks.” She said passionately. Enjolras hummed and passed Kath her coffee.
By Tuesday Kath was feeling, well not better but good? She and Enj had pitched an idea for an Instagram takeover that their boss had okayed, and they’d spent the past three days at work preparing for it. They met up early Tuesday morning outside the office, bundled up against the rain. Katherine had dressed for the weather with slim pants and rainboots and her long, waterproof trench coat with a big lavender umbrella. Enjolras had a bright red umbrella and a black raincoat. He had boots on too. Not rainboots, but they were sturdy and expensive looking so she was sure they were going to hold up in the weather.
He passed her a cup of coffee with a “Good morning.”
“Thanks, I feel bad now that I didn’t bring you like a bagel or something. Though there’s really no good bagel places around here.”
“You’re such a New Yorker,” Enj told her with wry amusement.
“Well I’m sorry but not everyone can be,” she joked with a shrug. Feeling very awake despite the early hour and dreary weather. It helped that the coffee Enjolras had gifted her was now her third. She held it up to take a sip and gave him a soft smile. “You really didn’t have to bring me this by the way.”
Enjolras shrugged and they started walking. “You’re paying for more Chinese food than should even be considered tonight, it’s the least I could do.”
“Specs and I are hosting an election night watch party, providing the takeout was literally the least we could do; since we can’t buy the drinks,” she countered.
Enj wrinkled his nose, screwing up his face in a sort of pained expression. It was the closest she was ever going to get to seeing him concede though, so Kath was going to take it.
They had fun doing what their boss had dubbed a “Social Media Special” on voter turnout. Taking pictures of the hours long lines at some polling places, and the people who were determined to cast their ballot and not afraid to brave the weather to do it. Going around from Maryland to D.C. to Virginia and back they covered the polls. Speaking to election officials and voters as they were leaving. Kath just loved being able to do interviews and actual reporting. It was such a relief and a happy return to what she’d been desperately missing. Enj just seemed energized by the sheer number of people they were seeing. He had happily volunteered to play cameraman for the interviews and she could see him grin out of the corner of her eye every time someone mentioned that they were hoping for a change.
When they returned to the office after their day on the road, having edited and posted their material as they went, they were congratulated on a job well done. Their boss even handed them both a bag of leftover Halloween candy. Katherine had to admit, she was confused but touched.
She barely beat Specs back to the apartment, just setting her umbrella out to dry when he walked in the door.
“We need to clean,” was what he said upon seeing her.
“I was getting to that,” was her snarky response. Specs blushed. He then admitted that he was just still hyped up from his day and the party tonight and it was just manifesting itself poorly. Kath gave him the pass and made him agree to do the bathroom if she tackled the rest. Obviously getting the better part of the deal in that situation.
Soon they were spreading an undeniably obscene amount of Chinese food across the kitchen counters and the small dining table. They had CNN set up on the tv, MSNBC on one of their laptops and Fox News on the other so that they ran the gamut of election coverage. Though they’d both already agreed that they were putting on ABC should Fox just get unbearable.
Someone knocked on their door and Kath slipped past Specs to answer it.
“I come bearing bad coping mechanisms!” R trilled and held up the reusable grocery bags he carried. Katherine laughed as she stepped aside to have him come in. Her laughter doubling as Enj followed with a thoroughly annoyed expression.
“He’s been awful the entire way here,” he mumbled to her as he stepped over the threshold. Katherine raised an eyebrow. Enj winced and shrugged before amending his statement. “More grating on my nerves than usual.”
Kath let it drop. She was positive that he was telling the truth and that having a buffer and some booze might help. Well, she was positive about the former. The latter was highly questionable.
It turned out that the only space available to put the – frankly, mildly concerning amount of – alcohol that R brought was in the kitchen sink. When Bahorel came the hard ciders he brought joined. As did the spiked eggnog that Marius had brought with a genuinely wicked grin.
“You’re the type to put up Christmas decorations the day after Halloween,” Kath accused him.
Marius’s smile grew, and Kath knew deep in her gut at that instant that she had been correct. Even when he proceeded to blink innocently at her. “I don’t know what you might be insinuating.”
“Uh huh,” Kath narrowed her eyes, “I see why you and Cosette work so well together now. You absolute monster.”
There was a burst of laughter from Marius and whoever else had overheard the exchange. Kath didn’t know for sure who that was though; she’d already turned and marched far far away.
They were all crowded on the limited furnishings and spilling onto the floor. Shoveling food into their mouths and making last minute predictions as the first of the polls closed.
Jack facetimed her from the Newsies’ own watch party. They were in Medda’s theater, MSNBC projected from the light booth, and breakfast foods from Jacobi’s. Katherine knew the Jacobi’s pancakes and those were Jacobi’s pancakes. She smiled at Jack as his own face split into a grin.
“Kath!” he cheered, followed by a chorus of her name and nicknames at various volumes. Katherine giggled.
“Jack!” she replied, eliciting her own chorus from the ABC. They both ended up cracking up as Specs squeezed into the frame. He waved and Jack waved back.
The screen went momentarily blurry and then Charlie was grinning at them. “Katherine! Your interviews today were awesome!” he told her.
She’d barely gotten out a thanks when Jack’s phone was passed – or more likely stolen – again. Sarah was the next person to fill the screen with her smiling face. “Hey guys! Happy Election Day! I hope you’re having fun getting to be in the thick of it!”
Again, they were barely able to respond before being handed off again. This time it was David. “We miss you, but man are we proud of you guys. Look at you, just absolutely owning it.”
Katherine giggled. “Davey, are you drunk?” she teased.
“No!” He looked momentarily scandalized. “Well maybe, but not with liquor. We made the local news as one of the best blogs covering the election!”
“No way!” Specs jumped to his feet he was that excited. Katherine blinked, momentarily speechless.
“Holy shit!” she said once she was able to think semi-coherently. “Congrats guys!”
“It’s not just us!” Jack yelled, pushing his way back into the frame. “Your posts! I’ve been tweeting out the links every time you posted something new. An outside perspective into the issues. Went viral.”
“Jack!” she scolded.
“Oh c’mon Kath, you put them on the internet anyway,” David raised a dry eyebrow.
“But we don’t do that! No personal opinions.”
“They’re not really opinions though. Have you even read them after hitting post? They’re incredibly analytical,” David countered. “You get introspective at times but even that isn’t really an opinion so much as analyzing it from an individual perspective.”
“Are you dizzy?” Katherine asked him seriously. “Because that was some serious spin.”
“Oh take the achievement!” Sarah yelled from out of view.
“Yeah Kath! Take the win!” Race yelled too, and Kath felt her mouth starting to betray her with a smile.
“Only you, Pulitzer,” was Spot’s distinct scoff.
Katherine finally relented. “Ok, fine. Thank you.”
“Well that was like pulling teeth,” Specs mumbled, and she elbowed him in the ribs. As he yelped they were passed around the rest of the party, saying quick hellos and exchanging congrats on a race well covered.
Kath then did the same with her phone, letting the ABC say hi to Jack, David, and Charlie. It was nice and Katherine loved getting to see her friends. It was way too early to celebrate anything but getting to pat themselves on the back for jobs well done? That was a nice feeling. Even though she now desperately wanted Jacobi’s pancakes.
The rest of the night passed in a blur as the results rolled in. They all began drinking when they saw exactly how close the Texas senate race was and by the time Beto conceded they were all very mad and very drunk. They all yelled at the tv every concession from a Democrat when only 99% of the vote was in and the margin was about 1% between them. They demanded recounts and couldn’t understand how the candidates weren’t.
By the end of it they all dreaded the hangover they had coming in the morning. They also celebrated the House going blue and the historical elections; like a record number of women, two of which were the first Muslim women and one the first Native American woman. It definitely wasn’t the blue wave people had been anticipating but it was a start. It was a solid start.
Impending sense of doom convo based loosely off a real one that I overheard. Go check out all the history makers from the 2018 midterms.
I think this is the longest chapter to date? I contemplated breaking it up but then decided mmm, better not. More Hamilton and Hairspray references! Also fun facts, uploading this on the Smithsonian's free wifi at the National Portrait Gallery. I'm going to go pay my respects to the Obamas as soon as this goes through.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The whole office knew about what had happened at the White House. Katherine was shocked, Enjolras incensed. Everyone seemed mad. When she'd talked to Specs about it he'd said dryly that he had never wanted to be a White House intern anyway, this just solidified it.
When it came out that they were pressing charges no one was surprised.
"It's ridiculous," Enj was saying as they sat having lunch at their desks. "I mean, the first amendment means that the question can be asked, whether you like it or not, and an answer is expected. Now you can choose not to answer but you cannot throw a reporter out because they bothered you. Not in the White House. Not as the President of the United States."
Kath hummed her agreement. He'd been saying similar sentiments for a while now, even launching into a full-blown speech over the weekend when they'd all been enjoying the sunshine with a picnic on the Mall before the bad weather they were calling for could sweep in. It's not that she didn't agree with him, Kath wholeheartedly did, she just had heard it all before and was enjoying her sandwich.
"What's next?" Enj continued.
Katherine shrugged and tried to say "I don't know" but with her mouth full of ham, cheese, lettuce, and bread it came out more as a mumble of varying pitches.
"It's a slippery slope, Katherine. A slippery slope."
"You're correct but I feel the need to point out that slippery slope analogies don't always hold water."
"In this type of situation? I doubt lawyers would be getting involved and that support from so many other outlets would be coming in if they didn't think they had ground to stand on."
Kath shrugged and sipped her water. "Well yeah, I'm just saying."
Enj nodded and returned to his own lunch. She smiled and turned to check her phone, freezing when she saw the screen. Enjolras noticed and quirked an eyebrow. When she didn't respond he asked, "Is everything alright, Katherine?"
She blinked down at the screen and nodded, involuntarily making some kind of strangled noise.
"Um, Katherine? That wasn't very reassuring."
"My dad," she looked up at him, knowing that she was pale and that the smattering of freckles on the bridge of her nose probably stood out in stark relief. She had felt the blood drain from her face when she saw the text and she doubted it had returned. Not if her lightheadedness was any indication.
He gave her a nod, waiting for more. His brows were drawn in concern though and if this conversation were happening two months ago she probably would have swooned to see his face so perfectly crumpled. Now, she'd just laugh internally at thoughts of R waxing poetic about it and Jack looking at her with wide eyes as he mumbled curses and strings of "dammit Kath you weren't kidding. Wow."
The random train of thought helped to dispel some of her rising panic. Katherine swallowed before explaining. "My dad, he's going to be in town on Friday for business and he wants to take me out to lunch. He's said that I could invite you too if you want."
Enj's expression smoothed into a small and surprised smile. "Well that's very kind of him, I'd be happy to." He paused before adding quickly, "as long as that's fine with you."
Kath shrugged, still recovering. "Well yeah," she told him, "my life is always easier when there's someone else around when dealing with him. Though you may want to reconsider your answer and I won't be offended if you do."
"What do you mean?"
"Well," Katherine sighed. "We don't exactly get along. He, uh, well he actually owns The New York World?" She winced.
Enjolras blinked, processing and connecting the dots. She could see it in his face. Finally he met her gaze, those almost too blue eyes trained directly on her. "Pulitzer," he said slowly. "You're Katherine Pulitzer, as in the Pulitzers? The Pulitzer dynasty who own The New York World and about a hundred other local news outlets? The family whose ancestor is who the Pulitzer Prize is named for? You're that Pulitzer?"
Katherine flinched. She hated hearing it all laid out like that. Had hated it when Jack had said it with his voice dripping betrayal and hurt. Had hated it when David had said it in shock and confusion. Hated when Spot had said it laughing and disbelieving. Katherine especially hated Enjolras saying it now, a little acidic and just a touch disgusted and surprised. She just nodded.
"Yeah... But I don't exactly get along with my dad, he's a shrewd and borderline cruel businessman and our politics really don't line up. He's a great editor though and excellent journalist. He's just also a dick and my dad. But all of my accomplishments are my own. I use a pen name and have worked my butt off to get here, refusing any help he's offered to the point that he no longer even offers help, just critiques all my life choices," Kath admitted.
Enjolras nodded, he seemed to soften slightly. "I'm sorry that your relationship is strained, and I can see why you would react in such a way to him offering to take you to lunch."
Kath released a breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding. "Thank you. The invite still stands, whether you want to come or not and I totally understand not because he is Joseph Pulitzer."
Enj chuckled at the face she had made, and Katherine relaxed more, he obviously wasn't judging her on the sins of her father. "You're right, he is Joseph Pulitzer and I have principles, but I also see the connections he has and the irony of making him pay for my lunch. Plus, if I pass this up I am going to be getting such reaming out from Combeferre."
Katherine laughed and nodded. "Fair enough. Remind me to tell you about the first time Jack had dinner with us."
"What kind of friend would I be if I left you to deal with him alone?" He smiled. "And Jack and I are facebook official, I'll ask him myself."
Katherine groaned but got up to go track down their boss and ask about them taking a long lunch on Friday. Enj followed after, chuckling the whole way.
The world could be ending and Katherine would never know. She was huddled in a blanket fort expertly constructed in the Triumvirate House living room.
After getting the approval for a long lunch and being told to just take the afternoon Friday, they went back to their office to work on a project. Enjolras started questioning her about her father and Katherine told him everything. How her father was a brilliant journalist, wicked smart and insanely cunning, but how he was also a ridiculous cheapskate when it came to his employees, penny pinching and cutting costs where ever he could to increase profit margins. She also told him about his old-fashioned ideas about marriage and immigration and gender. She did give him credit where credit was due, he was a staunch advocate for women's equality – and Kath was proof of that, he'd never discouraged her from anything on the basis of being a girl – and he was a huge advocate for diversity in the workplace, believing in a true meritocracy and the idea of hiring the absolute best people for the job no matter their race, gender, or sexual orientation. That surprised Enj, he'd noticed it but never truly realized it.
"He's an enigma," Katherine said with a shrug.
They also talked about what it was like for Kath growing up with him and in his shadow and about the falling out she had with him in high school and subsequent tense relations as she went through college. Enj was shocked by how he'd treated her friends and the disdain with which he had talked to her about her involvement with the Newsies. Katherine had just taken it all in stride and so she hadn't quite realized how awful he'd been until she was telling someone who hadn't been involved. It was weird and eye-opening and Katherine was more than a little shaken by the realization.
That's about when Enj invited her to come over for dinner, to just come home with him after work. Kath had nodded and given Specs a heads up. He had texted back that he was meeting up with some other interns for pizza and bowling that night anyway and so she was to have fun.
She suspected that Enj had notified his friends and roommates because when she walked in there was a soft chorus of hellos from within a positively huge blanket fort. She would be lying if she didn't say it impressed her. Enjolras gently took her bag and coat from her as she stood in their entrance hall, staring at the living room in shocked delight. When he came back he pressed a change of clothes into her hands that she noticed he'd grabbed from the stairs. "Do you want me to show you where a bathroom is?" Enj asked gently.
"Nah, I remember. Can I use one of the upstairs ones though? Just because they're bigger. And my bag...?" She spun, trying to locate where he'd put it. Enj handed it back to her from the hook on the wall. "Thanks."
He nodded and gestured toward the stairs.
Katherine laughed as she changed into the worn Atari t-shirt which she guessed was Grantaire's. It was about two sizes too big and hung loose and long. The pants seemed to be women's yoga pants and she guessed that they had been left by Eponine or Cosette or Musichetta. Judging by the fact that they fit her though Kath had to discount Cosette and her petite-ness. Katherine carefully folded her dress and stockings, placing them on top of her heels in her bag, and dumped her jewelry into a small side pocket.
When Kath walked back down the worn wooden steps she was barefoot and comfortable, her curls had been scrapped back into a bun and she'd washed most of her makeup off.
She replaced her bag on its hook and went to peek in the fort. "We're in here!" someone called as she bent down and Kath straightened before heading towards the kitchen.
Katherine's usual stool was left open at the island and she took it with a smile. "Thanks," she told the boys who were sitting beside her or cooking.
"After what you told me today I figured you might want some home cooked food and relaxation. They all agreed to help provide it," Enjolras said. He was setting dishes out on the island as Courfeyrac and Grantaire danced around each other at the counter and the stove. Combeferre was sitting next to her, a book propped open on his lap and he pulled a piece of leftover Halloween candy from his sweater pocket when Kath glanced over, passing it to her with a smirk and a glance from over his glasses.
Katherine giggled and accepted it. Tearing the paper off easily she stuck the Starburst into her mouth. Gavroche appeared from the basement door, covered head to toe in dust bunnies and dirt.
"What have you been doing?" Enj asked with a raised brow.
"The usual," Gavroche responded, which Katherine didn't think was much of an answer.
He came to sit down at the large island but Grantaire had caught sight of him. "Nope, no no. I just cleaned in here. You are not sitting your grimy little ass on my nice clean stools. Shower and change of clothes and then you can get your teenage boyness on the furniture."
Gavroche made a face but turned to go upstairs. "You're not my mom R," he grumbled.
"Yeah and be thankful for that. Also, be thankful that we haven't ratted you out to Ep yet. She'd have all our heads if she knew you've been ducking social services," Grantaire wielded a wooden spoon at the boy's back.
Gavroche turned around with a raised brow. "As if she doesn't already know. With Zelma at school there's no reason for me to hang around. They don't want me anyway. It's not like I'm skipping school and it's better than spending up to five nights a week on the floor of her dorm room."
"Just go, Gavroche." Enjolras's voice was stern, if still fond. Flinging his arms up in surrender, Gavroche finally listened and left.
Kath knew a little bit about the foster system, not a ton and she wouldn't ever offer up her knowledge as facts, but enough of her friends had dealt with it that she knew the stories and knew how easy it was for Gavroche to be ducking social workers and how bad his family really was if they weren't being caught for their mistreatment. She admired the kid's bravery, and her respect for Eponine and her siblings grew immensely. Something Katherine hadn't realized was possible with how much she'd already respected them. She suddenly promised herself she’d try to get to know Eponine better, she was obviously a badass.
Enj finished setting the island and followed after Gavroche to get changed. Combeferre popped a Starburst into his mouth, folding up the wrapper and sticking it in his book to mark his place before grabbing his and Kath’s glasses and getting up. “Would you like some wine with dinner?” he asked.
“I feel like I’m always drinking your wine,” she protested.
“Actually, it’s my wine,” Grantaire told her, his eyes crinkled up as he smiled.
“Well in that case…” Katherine teased. “No thank you, actually. Maybe later.”
The boys all nodded.
“We have water, milk, orange and apple juice, coke, sprite, and fresh squeezed lemonade,” Combeferre listed as he stood with the refrigerator door open.
“I’ll take a lemonade,” she said. Kath had to bite her bottom lip to contain her goofy smile as Combeferre nodded and took the pitcher out and poured her some with a flourish. She accepted the glass with a thanks as he continued to fill his own and then the other four glasses.
Enjolras returned with Gavroche behind him. Enj took the seat on Kath’s other side as Gavroche went around the island to help; holding out a serving plate for Courf to start putting what looked like roasted chicken on. Grantaire continued to stir the pots on the stove while Gavroche brought the chicken over. Courfeyrac was moving his dishes to the sink. He came to sit on Combeferre’s other side. Gavroche continued to help R as he finished up making the pasta and sauce.
The two finally finished up and brought it over, spooning it out right onto everyone’s plates. R finally settled into the stool on one end of the island next to Enj while Gavroche took the seat at the other end. Years of society training meant Kath hadn’t yet dug into her chicken alfredo, while the boys had all begun to eat. Enjolras didn’t say anything but he definitely noticed her pick up her fork a beat and a half late.
The conversation at dinner flowed easily as Kath marveled in how good the food was. The boys all talked about their classes, with R going in depth about how enthusiastic and passionate his professor got when trying to explain Bob Fosse to them, in his stats class. He said it was a tangent to end all tangents and that was saying something coming from him. They also all quizzed Gavroche on what he learned that day; Combeferre eventually just quizzing him on stuff for a biology exam the next day.
She thought it was cute how they all looked out for the younger boy. It really reminded her of how they all treated Les back home. You could always find Les on campus the night before a he had a big test, one of the Newsies always helping him study. They’d also figured out who was the best at helping him with which subject. For government and history he always had a wide variety of Specs, Spot, Smalls, or David (even though being his brother meant those study sessions tended to end in arguments). Math meant Racetrack or Finch (physics too, even if their youtube videos made that seem like a bad idea). Kath and Charlie did English, Jack motivation/moral support/brainstorming and Spanish. Sarah and Mush handled biology and chemistry respectively (with Sarah tending to be exasperated although not as riled up as David). Albert got the kid through music even though it was at first a struggle for Les, it was a real credit to Albert because by the end of that semester Les had fallen in love with it and joined the band as a drummer. They all knew that Albert was going to be the best music teacher after that.
Katherine felt right at home. It was hard for her to admit but, talking to Enjolras about her father had made her emotionally raw and mentally drained. This helped. This made her feel better. This made it easy for her to just sit and be Kath. She knew this had been Enjolras’s goal in inviting her over. He’d succeeded.
After the meal, Combeferre stayed to do the dishes while the others herded Katherine into the living room and the blanket fort. There were even pillows and even more blankets inside it. The sheet that was the roof was thin and white with small blue polka-dots on it, allowing the twinkle lights to sparkle through. The tv had been encompassed in the fort, Disney movies already cued up on Netflix.
They watched Hercules and she and R sang along the whole time, getting Courf to join in on Zero to Hero. Kath had a sneaking suspicion that R's coke had a splash of rum in it with how he kept warbling into falsetto and laughing.
After Hercules was Coco, during which Grantaire returned with a tray of ice cream sundaes in mugs. Kath noticed that they'd given her the one with the most whipped cream and sprinkles. She looked at it carefully in the dim light of the fort, wrapped in a blanket cocoon. "Is this? A bi pride sundae?" she asked incredulously, turning her mug this way and that.
There was laughter and R just smirked. The sprinkles were definitely pink, blue, and purple. Her friends were ridiculous and she loved them.
She had decided that they'd been given a heads up from Enjolras a while ago; the blanket fort being built when she got there was a big indicator. Katherine was used to caring, goofy, borderline revolutionary college boys and they didn't just make a blanket fort on a week night. Well normally. Those tended to be weekend activities and if not coincided with someone needing the benefits of said fort. In this case it was obviously her. Still, none of them prodded why she was ever so slightly out of it, why Enj made the call to have her come hang out and watch Disney movies. For that she was grateful. She also decided that she wanted to explain why this was so kind of them.
Kath licked the last of her ice cream from the spoon and settled deeper into her blanket and pillow pile. "Thanks," she started slowly, "for, um, having me over for dinner and this and the movies and ice cream and sprinkles." Her lips curved up in a soft smile. "I really really appreciate it. My friends and I do similar stuff for each other and I'm really glad that you guys have become a support network while I'm here and honored to be included as your friend and a part of your work."
"Katherine, of course you're our friend! You were our friend the minute Enjolras came home talking about the awesome person he was working with and how he desperately wanted her to stop walking on eggshells around him because he thought she was utterly badass," Courfeyrac laughed.
Katherine turned to Enj with raised eyebrows.
"You were trying so hard to be professional and I thought you found me intimidating. You wouldn't be the first," Enj muttered, definitely shooting a sideways glance at Grantaire. "But I had read your articles from The Sun and all after meeting you and you just seemed so much more than what you were presenting. I wanted to get to know that girl who was more. She seemed like someone I'd be friends with."
"And he was right," R added with a laugh. "He was practically freaking out at the Musain before you and Specs got there that first time. He asked all of us to be on our best behavior and you'd think that you were the former first lady the way he was acting!"
Kath laughed and gave Enj a look; his cheeks had turned red and he was staunchly avoiding her gaze. Deciding to let the teasing drop she turned to R and smiled broadly. "I wish! Michelle Obama is an inspiration. I would be lucky to be even half the woman she is!"
They all laughed and Gavroche grumbled something about how he was trying to watch the movie.
Katherine softened again, back into the lazy and genuine thanks she had been giving out before they'd gotten off track. "Still, thanks for this. My dad texting me out of the blue is never a good thing for my nerves or my blood pressure, so it was nice to just hangout and relax and eat your really good food."
"Well we don't just undergo massive construction projects for just anyone," Combeferre said dryly from the far end of the fort.
They all laughed and settled in to finish watching the movie.
Once the movie ended Grantaire and Enjolras gallantly saw her home. "No rush on returning the clothes," R said as he leaned against the wall in the hallway outside her apartment.
"Thanks," she said, swinging the door open. "For everything."
"Aw c'mere," R opened his arms and Kath dove in for a hug. He gave a great hug, the perfect amount of pressure and no sense of urgency to let go. It reminded her of Spot's hugs except R smelled like a mix of oil paint and soap and a hint of rum from earlier. And he was taller than Spot, though not much. "Now," he murmured, "I don't know why your dad stresses you out and I don't need to unless you want me to, just know that I get it and I'm here for you Kath if you need me."
Katherine gave him a watery smile when she pulled away. "Thanks," it came out a little roughly.
R just nodded, his expression serious but kind.
Enjolras twitched his lips up into a small smile as he glanced between them, finally settling his gaze on Kath. "I'm not afraid to beat him up if need be. I will burn all my bridges at lunch if I have to, don't think I won't," he told her. His lips had twisted into wry amusement, but Katherine heard the truth in the words. He'd go to war for her if she asked. He'd do it even if she didn't. He'd have to get in line on that front.
Katherine pretty much told him as much. "Thanks, I really do appreciate it, but you're not the only one who's been threatening to beat up my dad," she gave a dark chuckle. "Besides, it's not necessary. I can fight my own battles."
Enjolras nodded, giving her a smile. Grantiare laughed as he turned to head back to the elevators. "Oh I bet you can!" he called over his shoulder. "C'mon Enj! She's a strong independent woman who don't need a couple of Francophiles to protect her!" Enjolras laughed at that, pulling Katherine in for a quick hug himself and following after Grantaire down the hall.
On Thursday morning Katherine and Specs woke up to snow. And immediately started cursing. They did not want to deal with a blizzard. They knew how to deal with snowstorms, they were New Yorkers and had survived the Snowpocalypse a couple years before, but they didn’t want to.
Kath pulled on her snow boots – and hated that her mother had been right about needing the L.L. Bean product in Virginia in November – as Specs cursed and looped his scarf around his neck. She put on her winter coat, the sleek waterproof dark purple one that was so long it almost reached her knees, had down filling and fleece lining, and a faux fur-trimmed hood. She wrapped her Gryffindor scarf around her neck a few times (thank you David!), pulled on her fleece gloves, and put on her matching black earmuffs. Katherine Pulitzer was prepared for the worst the weather could throw at her.
She was shaking the last loose pieces of snow out of her curls when Enjolras walked in. He wore a prim black peacoat, military cut and detailed with four large pockets on the front. A light gray beanie that Kath knew was his boyfriend’s pulled low over his curls. He stomped his feet and Katherine’s eyes were drawn to his shoes, the same expensive boots as election day. He tugged off the red knitted scarf from around his neck with a huff.
“It’s shit outside,” he muttered darkly.
Kath pointed at him and narrowed her eyes. “No. Don’t. This? Is obnoxious but it is nothing.”
Enj raised his eyebrows. “Of course, Ms. Yankee,” his voice was nothing but sarcasm when he said that. “You do know that I’m from Boston?”
Katherine froze. “Wait, really?”
Enjolras smirked. “I mean, we moved here in middle school but I do know how to handle a little frozen water falling from the sky.”
She relaxed, shaking her head at him. “I would still rather be stealing lunch trays and attempting to sled down Capitol Hill than trudging to work today.”
“Hmm. Grantaire got up with me this morning so that he could go ‘throw solid precipitation at Joly and Bossuet’ when they left for class.”
“That’s cruel. Funny, but mean.”
“Yes well, that’s my boyfriend,” Enjolras’s smile was small but genuine. Kath thought it was fricking adorable.
By the time they left the office the snow had long since stopped and the weather went from inconvenient to downright yucky in Kath’s opinion. It was raining and cold and she just wanted to get inside. Quickly.
She got home and immediately put on her coziest sweater, Under Armor leggings, and her Kirkland socks. She settled in on the couch with her laptop. She took the post-it off her webcam and waited, only a few seconds later she saw a call coming in from Jack. Even though she couldn’t see anything because the screen was so blurry from motion, Katherine could hear Jack.
“KATH!” he yelled. “IT’S SNOWING! THEY CANCELLED CLASSES FOR THE REST OF THE DAY!”
She laughed and finally the screen focused on Jack and Racetrack with their heads smashed together to fit in the frame. Mostly she just saw the red, white, and blue pompom on the top of Race’s beanie and the red plaid and faux fur of Jack’s trapper hat.
Racetrack whooped and Jack threw his head back and laughed.
“Where are you?” Katherine asked, although she wasn’t really sure whether they could hear her or not.
“Huh?” Jack asked, pushing Race away from him for a minute.
Katherine laughed, her suspicions confirmed. “Where are you guys?”
“Central Park,” Jack grinned.
“We’re at war Kath! War!” Racetrack said, popping up from behind Jack.
“Ok?” she laughed.
“HIT THE DECK!” Someone yelled and suddenly there was a muffled sound and movement and then Katherine’s screen went black. A few seconds later Jack was back, grinning wildly. He held his finger up, telling her to wait a second, and the screen went blurry again as Jack ran with his phone in his hand.
He stopped and Katherine could see him again, snow covered and smiling as he presumably hid behind a tree. “Ok, we’re good.”
“What is going on?”
“Snowball fight. Spot nailed me with one in the back of the head with one and then Racetrack retaliated and then it just spiraled. Brooklyn vs Manhattan,” he explained.
“Of course,” she said with a shrug and sarcasm. “You know. The usual. What about the other three boroughs?”
“Umm…” Jack stalled. “I’m extremely positive that Smalls is a double agent.”
Kath snorted. “Of course.”
“It’s really coming down here so we’ll probably start working on shoveling Medda out soon. That way it’s easier once it stops,” Jack said, dropping his goofiness a bit.
“That’s really sweet of you. I’m so glad you’re having fun.”
“Of course,” Jack’s lopsided smile was back. “How’s D.C.? Because this is probably going to get nasty quick. Is it bad down there? Because I know it started there long before it got here.”
Katherine looked over her shoulder out the window where it was still rainy. “It’s honestly just ick out. Like the snow has long since passed and everything has melted and now it’s just wet and cold.”
Jack made a face. “Ew.”
“Pretty much,” she laughed.
“Well at least you’ll be coming home soon and it’s not like it won’t snow again?” Jack tried.
Kath gave her the most deadpan look. “Joys.”
Jack started cracking up. “It’s the first snow of the year! You can’t be this sick of it already.”
“But it wasn’t snow here!” She protested, scandalized. “It was just a pain.”
“Well maybe we’ll have a white Christmas for you.”
“I would love that!”
“I know you would!” Jack laughed, and a spray of snow hit him. “Gah, hold on.” He ran again, and she waited for him to get to a new hideout. He ducked down behind what she could tell was a park bench. “Ok, this should be good for a little bit longer at least.”
Kath shook her head at him. “Well I have one thing that I want to talk about and then I’ll let you go deal with Spot Conlon.”
“You say that as though I can’t handle Spot Conlon,” Jack said in mock offense.
“Well, them Brooklyn boys are big,” Kath joked.
Jack glared at her and she started cracking up. “So. Funny.”
Katherine giggled. She loved teasing him and loved when she was rewarded with a dopey smile like the one he was giving her right now.
“I love you,” Katherine told him.
Jack’s smile brightened, making his eyes crinkle. “I love you.”
Katherine grinned back at him. She really missed being able to be with him, but this helped a lot. “So,” she started. “I have something I need to tell you.”
“What’s up, Kath?” Jack looked worried.
“So, my dad is in town tomorrow and he’s decided he’s taking Enjolras and I out to lunch.”
Jack winced. “I am so sorry Katherine.”
“It’s fine. I told Enj about him and he’s more than willing to come with and be my buffer.”
“Good.” Jack nodded. “I’m glad.”
“He also offered to beat him if needed,” Kath felt herself smiling at the memory.
“As he should.” Katherine laughed at how resolutely he said that. “No really though, I’m glad that you won’t be alone with him.”
“Thanks. It’s definitely going to be an interesting time, but I’m actually not worried about it. I swear that I’ll let you know how it goes,” she promised.
He gave her a hint of a smile. “You better. Thanks for telling me, I know we’re both busy but I’m always here for you Kath. Always.”
“I know. Thank you.”
“I love you, Katherine Plumber.”
Katherine beamed at him using her name. Not her dad’s. The one that she had chosen for herself and made into something special. “I love you, Jack Kelly.”
He beamed back at her. Blowing a quick kiss before being hit by a snowball. Katherine cackled as she hung up, letting him have fun.
“You look lovely today,” Enjolras said as she took her coat off on Friday morning.
“Thanks. I figured that if I should at least look the part of the perfect daughter,” Kath said with a shrug.
Enj snorted. “Well that’s fun.”
“Hm. I can be petty, I have every right to be.”
“You really do,” he agreed, turning back to his computer.
About eleven thirty they both packed up and headed to the National Press Building. Enjolras had worn one of his nicer black suits with a blood red tie today and Kath definitely dressed up for lunch too. She had put on her nicest dress, a dark pink one with a flowing skirt to her knees, long sleeves, and pearl embellished neckline. She had carefully pinned her curls back and put on her favorite vintage inspired heels. The kind she could walk ten miles in and never even break a sweat. Specs had been more than a little annoyed that she’d hogged the bathroom though doing her makeup, but her eyeliner was on fleek and her lipstick pristine so they both agreed it had been worth it.
Katherine hit the button for the tenth floor maybe a tad more aggressive than she intended. She winced but Enj thankfully pretended not to notice. He was the real MVP.
Pulitzer was waiting for them outside the National Press Club when the elevator doors opened. He turned and watched them step out, giving Katherine a nod and a tight smile. She returned it with a grimace of her own.
“Hello Katherine,” he said stiffly. “I’m so glad that you were able to make it.”
Katherine didn’t know what to say to that so she just blinked and let the awkwardness hang for a few seconds before clearing her throat and turning Enjolras. “Father, this is my friend and fellow intern Enjolras. Enjolras, this is my father Joseph.”
The two shook hands and Kath couldn’t help but notice her father sizing her friend up. Enjolras stood tall though, shoulders back and winning smiled never slipping as he withstood Joe’s scrutinization.
“Thank you so much for inviting me. It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Enjolras said with a winning smile.
Joseph met his smile with one of his own and Katherine could tell that Enj was charming her dad already. Her dad turned and swept into the Club, having the young woman behind the desk hold the gates open for her and Enj behind him. He nodded at her and continued up the stairs leaving Katherine and Enjolras to follow.
They were shown to a table and Katherine couldn’t help but ogle the décor. The walls were covered in framed front pages and even the menus and placemats were made to look like newspapers. Katherine loved it. So much.
“I think I’m going to look at the buffet first,” her dad told the waiter when she came back with their drinks. Katherine took a sip of her coke and shared a glance with Enjolras. Curious, they followed after him to check out the buffet themselves.
Ultimately, they both got food from the buffet and her dad ordered something off the menu. He let them start eating before starting in on the invasive questions. Which Kath was thankful for since the chicken and garlic mashed potatoes was absolutely delicious.
“How’s your food?” Her dad asked as he sipped his whiskey on the rocks.
“Very good. Thank you again for inviting me. It’s very kind of you and I appreciate it very much.
He smiled at Enjolras before turning to Katherine and raising his eyebrows. “And Katherine?”
“Fantastic. It’s really good,” Kath said, swallowing a bite of potatoes.
“You could come here for lunch anytime when you’re a member. All you have to do is become a credentialed member of the press,” he said. He wasn’t quite aloof or arrogant, but the phrase was more of a tease, a snarky remark, than the proud father tone any other dad would use. An “if” rather than a “when” and she bristled slightly at that.
Enjolras noticed, meeting her gaze from across the table. He turned quickly to engage Joe in conversation again. “So how long have you been a member?”
“Oh I don’t even remember. I’m rarely in Washington so I don’t come often.”
Enjolras hummed and took a drink of his water. Katherine ducked her head, focusing on her meal and letting the two make small talk. Enj explained that he was a political science major at Georgetown with a concentration in political theory and a philosophy minor. That his parents were both professors though his mother now worked with a think tank rather than teaching. His involvement with a “student led political group that focuses on human rights issues” which was a very fancy and polite way of saying that he led a ragtag group of student revolutionaries. Her dad was intrigued by it and asked follow-up questions that he danced around expertly. Katherine was more than a little impressed by that.
“Well Katherine,” Joe said, haughtily, “your friend here certainly seems to be going places. I hope that you two stay in contact with each other at the end of the semester.” Which Kath knew was code for ‘this boy would make for an excellent match for you and you should highly reconsider your relationship with Jack’ and she knew that because it was the same tone he’d used when trying to set her up with Bill and Darcy in high school – which, gag, ew, no, Bill and Darcy were like her brothers and those had been some extremely awkward conversations. Joe turned his attention back to Enjolras after giving her that look. “Your political involvement is especially impressive. Your friends might be able to learn a thing or two, Katherine.”
She was not going to let that slide. Nope. Katherine was no masochist like R constantly joked he was but she might just be a glutton for punishment. “Well you see,” she started, setting her fork down and meeting her father’s gaze, “Jack, David, and Charlie were able to come visit the other weekend and we had a lovely conversation about how the Newsies of New York operate compared to Enjolras’s friends with the ABC.”
Joe blinked and Enj seemed to be picking up on what Katherine was doing. He’d been charming beyond compare up until this point but now, now there was a wicked glint in his eye. A knife blade instead of a smile. His torch was lit and Enj seemed to think it was time to burn some bridges. “Oh yes,” he drawled. “It was a wonderful discussion, Katherine and her friends have provided us with some truly fantastic tips for organizing and distributing information.”
“Oh?” Joe blinked between the two, startled.
“Oh yes. In return we were able to provide them tips on protesting and get them in contact with some friends in Baltimore. They made the news a year or two ago, maybe you’ve heard of them? Nicest Kids in Town?” Enjolras blinked innocently as Joe’s face paled.
“Yes, I have,” he managed to choke out.
“Oh, they’re great. We work with them a lot. And I think there’s been talks of a larger collaboration?” Enjolras looked at Kath, waiting for her to land the killing blow.
She gave her father a predatory grin. “Oh yes, David and I were just talking about this. The Newsies, ABC, Nicest Kids in Town, and Children of Liberty – you remember them, the group from midtown? Alex and I keep getting our articles nominated for the same awards – we’re working on creating a joint report on gun regulations. We’re trying to plan a large scale protest that will coincide with a petition to congress to stop allowing the NRA to fund campaigns for officials who will then be voting on gun legislature. I don’t know the legalize, that’s more Courfeyrac and David and Aaron and Seaweed’s departments, but essentially getting it ruled as a conflict of interest or something to that effect.”
Her father did an excellent impression of a large mouthed bass. Staring at the two of them wide-eyed with his mouth slowly opening and closing. Katherine was more than a little smug.
Joe finally regained his composure, after taking a long drink of his whiskey and clearing his throat. “And when do you intend to do that?”
“I was thinking just in time for Christmas. You know, what says spreading holiday cheer better than stopping senseless violence?” Enjolras asked innocently.
“I couldn’t agree more.” Katherine gave him a Cheshire smile and turned back to her food.
When they’d finished Joe was obviously conflicted. Enjolras checked all the boxes for the type of person he normally loved, except that Enj was also the exact type of person he wanted Katherine to stop associating with. They stood outside looking at the Willard to say goodbyes. He shook Enjolras’s hand and exchanged business cards before turning to Katherine.
“What are your plans for Thanksgiving?” he asked her robotically.
“Well I hadn’t really thought about it,” Katherine admitted. “Specs is staying here, he’s got to work a little on Friday.”
“My boyfriend is staying as well although my other two roommates are going home. I believe a friend and her siblings are going to stay at our house too, I haven’t gotten confirmation though,” Enjolras said. “You both could come over for dinner if you choose to stay,” he addressed Kath.
“You’re not spending the time with your parents?” Joe’s eyebrows had risen into his greying hair, Katherine couldn’t tell if it was because of the fact that Enj had admitted to having a boyfriend or his question.
“They’re taking the time off to visit my father’s family in France, they said I could come with but with my internship I just didn’t think it was worth the hours on a plane for the short time there,” Enj explained.
Joe hummed and returned his attention to Kath. “Well, your mother and I would really appreciate it if you could come home. We both agreed that we’ll pay for your train ticket.”
“How kind,” Kath said dryly.
Joe cleared his throat and Katherine had to take a bit of pride in the fact that she’d caused him to flush somewhat in embarrassment. “Yes, well, if you’d like to come as well; you’re more than welcome, Enjolras.”
Enjolras and Katherine blinked at each other in shock. “Well that’s very kind of you,” he managed to say after a second of recovery. “I do believe that my friends would much rather that I stay here though.”
“Well how many people are you hosting for the holiday?” Joe had pulled out his phone and started texting. Kath was more than a little confused by her father’s behavior.
“Well myself, my boyfriend Grantaire, Eponine, and her two younger siblings Gavroche and Azelma. Katherine and Specs if they’d like to come too.”
“We easily have the space for five. If you’d all like to spend a few days in New York, you can.” Her dad nodded at his phone as though it had just confirmed this.
“Well thank you, I doubt that we can all afford the train tickets though,” Enjolras said.
“Well of course we’d pay for those as well,” Joe said immediately. Enjolras looked at Katherine, obviously trying to get her opinion on it. When they didn’t say anything for a few seconds Joe looked up at them. “I just thought that if you’re so set on this collaboration you might like getting to meet a bit in person.”
Katherine’s mouth fell open in shock. Her father, Joseph Pulitzer, was encouraging her work as an activist.
“Oh Katherine, don’t look so surprised. I might not approve of your involvement, but I have to admit you and your friends do good work. Now that it’s no longer directed at me I’m willing to admit it’s excellent work. I saw the recognition you got for what you were doing leading up to the midterms. If you’re going to commit yourself to this I’d rather it be through legal means than you getting arrested again,” her dad told her as though it was an obvious fact.
“Um, thank you?” Katherine wasn’t sure how else to respond.
“I’ll, uh, ask them if they’d like to go and I’ll let Katherine know to tell you,” Enjolras promised.
“So Katherine?” Joe asked.
“I guess I’ll be coming home. I have off starting Wednesday.”
“So, a train Tuesday night? Let Katherine know your decision by Sunday and we’ll buy your tickets,” Joe said resolutely. “It was lovely meeting you, Enjolras. And as always, lovely to see you Katherine dear. I’m very glad to see you doing so well here in Washington.”
“Thank you,” Katherine said startled. Her dad gave her an awkward hug before nodding to both of them and turning to get into a black sedan that had been waiting for him, off to his next meeting.
“Katherine,” Enjolras started as they watched the car pull away. “What the fuck just happened?”
“I have no fucking clue,” she told him honestly.
What happened at the White House was a CNN reporter was kicked out by Trump and then accused of sexually assaulting an intern even though video footage shows otherwise. Also CNN is now suing the White House and the last I saw a judge had sided with CNN. Just give it a google and you'll find out more, CNN is kinda smug with their reporting of it. I also neglected to mention the shooting in California and the wildfires, though you can bet that offscreen it's the shootings that have prompted this collaboration on gun control. I just couldn't fit it in and it was already REALLY long. If you can, consider helping out by donating to victims of the fire because these two tragedies have hit the same community within a couple days. Now more than ever we need to be looking out for each other. Also shoutout to Pigeon for helping with Kath's snow fashion!
Katherine and Enjolras had gone their separate ways after that. Enj to go meet up with Grantaire for a date and Kath to go call Jack. She hopped on the metro and got off at Capitol South, deciding that she wanted to spend at least some of her afternoon doing something fun and knowing that the free wifi from the Library of Congress reached out to the steps.
Sitting in the sunshine it wasn't too chilly as she put her headphones in and waited for the facetime to connect. Jack was in the apartment he shared with Charlie, she could just make out the canvases leaned against the wall behind the couch as Jack readjusted his laptop on his lap. "So?" Jack asked once he was comfortable. She sighed and told him everything. Starting with getting off the elevator and walking into the National Press Club and ending with watching her dad get into the black sedan and driving away.
Jack listened patiently, making faces at various points that were almost distracting. She finished and waited for him to reply. Jack just stared back at her. He began to nod and then he was nodding and shaking his head and just staring at her in disbelief.
"Well Kath," he finally started, "that was not what I was expecting."
"You're telling me." Katherine sighed and stared off at the Capitol.
"So, you'll be home Tuesday night?" he asked excitedly.
She laughed, of course he took one of the most confusing hour and a halves of her life and focused in on the really important part of it. That she'd be home in a couple days. That he'd be able to see her in person in a couple days. Katherine had been trying so badly to figure out what her father was playing at that it hadn't hit her she'd be able to see Jack. She'd be able to hug him and kiss him and go to Rockefeller Center to go ice skating with him.
"I guess I will!"
"So, Black Friday ice skating? And dinner at Medda's on Thanksgiving?" he asked.
"You mean the same thing we've done the past two years?" she teased.
"Well yeah," he admitted.
"I've still gotta do family lunch. And especially if Enjolras and Grantaire and all are visiting."
"Well duh. They can come too of course. You know Medda's saying."
Katherine smiled and said it with him. "The more, the merrier."
"Exactly," Jack grinned. "If they're going to be here we should get started on planning, maybe Wednesday or Saturday after the holiday?"
"Someone should reach out to Liberty’s Kids."
"Kath," Jack gave her a dry look, "that's the PBS show and you know it."
Katherine just shrugged.
Jack rolled his eyes. "I'll text George. I think he was going home for the holiday, which is ironic because you're all coming here, but enough of them are from here that it shouldn't be a problem if a bunch are going home."
"Thanks. Enjolras is probably going to talk to them tonight so I'll let you know what the game plan is tomorrow."
"Sounds good. I'll talk to Davey and Sarah, let them in on the loop. And Spot, he'll be pissed if he's not included." Jack made an exasperated face. They didn't really have any formal leadership positions but everyone kind of agreed that Jack, David, Katherine, and Spot were in charge with Charlie, Sarah, Specs, and Racetrack acting as their seconds if they wanted to use mob terms. Katherine kind of liked the mob terms, she thought they was hilariously ironic when applied to her dorky friends.
"Yeah. Sarah's still friends with Eliza, right?"
"If you're asking do they still get together once a month to go fabric shopping in the fashion district and turn her dorm room into a mess in the name of art? Yes."
"I haven't talked to Sarah in a while," Katherine frowned, suddenly annoyed with herself.
"Don't worry about it, she's been super busy. They opened up an Etsy shop and are doing amazing with it. Between that, classes, and Newsies stuff she's hardly had any free time. Mrs. Jacobs said the other day that she can't wait for the holiday break, so she can finally see her daughter again, even though she only lives a few subway stops away."
Kath snorted. "Sounds like Sarah. She still grad school hunting?"
"It's taken a bit of a back seat for now."
"She's got time," Kath said. A pigeon was wandering rather close to her foot and Katherine frowned at it. "I have no food," she informed the bird, earning a laugh from Jack and some weird looks from the tourists wandering up the steps past her.
"Well I'm glad that you'll be home and excited that you might be bringing Enjolras and Grantaire with you," Jack said.
"And Eponine and her siblings. Oh no," Katherine looked at Jack in horror.
"What?" he asked, suddenly concerned.
"Gavroche and Les."
Jack's eyes widened as he realized what she was imagining. "Well," he said slowly, "it'll be interesting at least?"
"David's going to get an aneurysm."
"Bold of you to assume he doesn't already have one." Katherine raised an eyebrow and Jack relented. "Yeah, no, you're right. This is cause for concern."
"Ok, well you warn David and I'll try and figure out my dad's ulterior motive," she sighed.
"Maybe he's actually trying?" Jack winced at Katherine's deadpan look. "No, it felt wrong saying it. Yeah, I don't know. I'll ask the boys, we'll figure it out."
"Thanks. I'm going to go then, I want to go to Air and Space when there's less crowds," she admitted sheepishly.
Jack laughed. "I see how it is," he teased. "Ok, have fun Kath. I'll text you later. I'm glad that it wasn't completely awful."
"Thanks, me too."
"Love you Katherine."
She smiled. "Love you too."
Kath walked down Capitol Hill after that, spending a few hours wandering Air and Space at her leisure. Specs and she had agreed to getting takeout and watching movies tonight, he was in charge of ordering the takeout and Kath picking it up. She'd pulled to the side outside the Wright Brothers exhibit to text him and coordinate. Apparently, he found a place that served donuts and fried chicken. Katherine was intrigued by the prospect of donuts and fried chicken. He sent her the menu and she said she'd pay for them to get the assorted dozen as long as he covered his own chicken order. She told him what order of chicken she wanted and a few minutes later Katherine got a venom from Specs and a text telling her when they expected her to pick it up.
She laughed at the pin he'd dropped for the place, it was about a block from the National Press Building where she'd been a few hours earlier.
Katherine finished her loop of the museum and debated the easiest way of getting to Astro Donuts and Fried Chicken. She finally settled on just walking down the Mall to the Smithsonian stop and taking the train up to Metro Center and walking from there. Katherine nearly missed the place, it was such a hole in the wall, but with most people getting off from work there was a line out the door that Katherine joined the back of. She had her debit card ready by the time she finally got to the young woman behind the register. "Hi, how can I help you?"
"Hi. I'm picking up an order to go? It's under Plumber, P-L-U-M-B-E-R. Katherine."
"Yup, we've got it ready for you," she replied with a smile.
Katherine returned it and passed the girl her card, not even waiting for her to say how much it cost. "Don't tell me," she told her.
She laughed and nodded, swiping Katherine's card and turning the screen for her to tap through the confirmation. "Have a nice day," she said as she handed Katherine her card back. Kath nodded and moved to the side to wait for her food.
Her name was called, and she stepped up to the counter to take the big bag of chicken and box of donuts. As Katherine walked back towards Metro Center she caught people giving her sideways glances and suddenly couldn't wait to be in New York in a couple days. No one looked at you funny when carrying an obnoxious amount of food on the subway there.
Specs was already in his sweatpants and a t-shirt when she walked in, Netflix ready on the tv. "I've come up with some options for us," he said, as Kath set the food on the table.
She dropped her bag and took her coat off. "Oh? Like what?"
"Well Julie and Julia."
"No. I love that movie, adore it in fact, but I am not disrespecting Julia Child by eating fried chicken from the same place we bought a dozen donuts."
Specs snorted. "Fair enough. Peter Rabbit?"
"Eh, not feeling it," she called as she headed down the hall to change.
"What about Marie Antoinette?" Specs yelled from the other room.
Katherine pulled on the holey sweatpants that were Jack's and nerdy t-shirt that was taken from Jack but was definitely David's as she considered. "Yeah! That'll be fun!" Katherine looked down at herself, this was her comfiest outfit and they weren't even her clothes. She hadn't told Jack that the reason a small part of his closet was missing was her. She was starting to wonder how long it took to develop kleptomania as she pulled on an NYU sweatshirt that also belonged to Jack.
Specs had grabbed plates and poured them both glasses of iced tea, he was taking out his chicken when she walked in. He gave her a look and raised an eyebrow. "Is any of what you're wearing your own clothes?"
Kath stuck out her tongue. "Bra and underwear."
"You have a problem."
"Yeah, I'm starting to think so too," she admitted. Katherine grabbed her own food and headed toward the couch. "But I'll just take them home with me Tuesday and sneak them back at some point."
"I'm sorry, what?" Specs had stopped in front of the couch, giving Katherine a very confused and borderline annoyed look.
"Oh crap! I haven't told you yet!" Kath squeezed her eyes shut as she grimaced. "So, I had lunch with my dad today, right?"
"Yeah, which is why we're decompressing with takeout and sugar."
"From the same place, how innovative." Katherine quipped. Specs didn't seem amused. "Ok, I'm an idiot and a terrible friend. So, the whole lunch can be described as an experience."
"Capitol E, trademark symbol," Specs said with a nod.
"So, I'll give you a full debrief later," she promised, "but for now the important info is that I apparently am going home for Thanksgiving and my dad invited Enj, R, and the Thenardier siblings to come with."
"Well that's news." Specs finally settled on the cough next to her and Katherine nodded. "So, I'll be on my own?"
"I'll be leaving after work on Tuesday."
"Well I'm glad we didn't have plans," he teased.
"Sorry," Katherine tried again.
"It's fine, I'll get over it. I heard that the African-American History Museum is supposed to have really good food for Thanksgiving dinner, I'll just see about going there."
Specs waved her off. "It's fine. My mom and I are going to skype, the Smithsonians will still be open. I'll be fine Kath, I can handle being all by myself for a couple days."
"M'kay," Katherine said, looping her arm around his shoulders in a side-hug.
They got about halfway through the movie, and the box of donuts, when both of their phones lit up where they were sitting on the coffee table. They shared a glance and Specs leaned forward to grab them, passing Kath hers.
"Text from Grantaire?" he asked as he swiped it open.
"Yeah. Groupchat saying we should go the Renwick Gallery with him tomorrow," Katherine said as she read it.
"Well what else were you going to do tomorrow?" Katherine asked with a laugh.
Specs looked around the small apartment. "I was thinking about maybe vacuuming..."
"Liar," she accused, and Specs laughed. "I'll ask him when and where he wants to meet."
They made plans with Grantaire and after the movie ended they flipped over to some new documentary about dogs. After a while they were both dozing off and wandered off to flop into their respective beds.
Walking from the metro the next morning they could see R at the end of the street, standing off to the side of the ramp to the museum in jeans, the gray beanie that Kath was right about Enjolras stealing from him, and a green army jacket. A gaggle of middle-aged white women had surrounded him and as they walked up Katherine could hear them thanking R for his service and saying how brave and courageous he was. She could see he had his lips pressed together to stifle a laugh, but he never said anything, just nodded.
Finally, Grantaire caught sight of Specs and Katherine as they approached the group. "Excuse me, ladies," he said with a wide smile. "My friends are here, and I would really like to be able to spend my free time with them."
The women all cooed and began to move on as Katherine stepped up next to R.
"What was that about?" she asked, jutting her chin after them as they made their way toward the White House.
"It's the coat. I bought it from a surplus store and tourists mistake me as someone who is actually a member of the military all the time. I figure if they're dumb enough not to be able to tell I'm an art student then they deserve the entertainment I get in them thanking a gay socialist and conscientious objector for his service to their misrepresentation of patriotism," R said with a shrug.
"That's hilarious," Specs said.
"Now I get you and Enjolras as a couple," Katherine said sarcastically, she had narrowed her eyes and was studying him with mock severity.
Grantaire saw and started cracking up. "Yeah well, at least someone does," he joked.
They had fun wandering through the Renwick, Grantaire explaining what the different pieces were supposed to represent. Katherine especially loved the Burning Man exhibits. There was a huge cathedral made of wood at the top of the steps that took Kath's breath away. She took a lot of pictures and ended up spending most of her time in there when she circled back, letting the boys play with the giant mushroom exhibit.
When they were done they found her in there, sitting on a bench and studying the writings on the wall in front of her.
"You ok?" Grantaire asked, his voice pitched low in the large and solemn feeling space.
"Yeah," Katherine whispered back. "It's just so cool. All of it. Burning Man."
Specs smiled and continued to walk around the space while Grantaire took a seat next to Katherine. His shoulder brushed hers, his thin hoodie creating a little bit of friction against her cardigan. "I really want to go one year," he admitted.
Katherine blinked, focusing on his face in the low light. "Really?"
"Yeah. I think it'd be awesome, living completely off the grid and being entirely self-sufficient in a community that celebrates art and self-expression? And taking all your worries, your insecurities, grief and heartache and just letting it go? Throwing it into a fire so that you can be reborn like a phoenix from its ashes?" Grantaire shook his head but there was a smile playing around his lips. "It's every cynic's dream to be proven wrong, Burning Man does that. It's literally a utopia, a place that shouldn't exist and yet for a week a growing number of likeminded individuals create their own society and find peace?" He met Katherine's gaze and let out a self-conscious and self-deprecating chuckle. He must've realized how honest he was being with her because his smile turned into a smirk. "Plus, I hear the acid trips are insane."
Katherine rolled her eyes, if Grantaire wanted to turn it all into a joke then that was his choice. She was just happy he trusted her enough to tell her that at all. "You would've made an excellent hippy," she told him, taking on a regal air.
"Eh, I don't know. The hippies cared about a lot of things and I just care about nothing," he shrugged, Katherine could feel it.
"Nah, most people thought the hippies only cared about one thing, themselves, when in reality they cared about a lot and deeply," Kath replied.
"I don't think that's accurate."
"Well, I've only seen Hair once," Katherine admitted.
Grantaire started laughing, pulling her into his side in a hug. "I'm not sure about the hippies but I think you've got a pretty good read on me," he whispered into her curls.
Katherine smiled as he pulled back, nudging him with her elbow. "You remind me of some friends of mine," she admitted.
"Well I'm sorry for them," R laughed lowly.
Katherine rolled her eyes. "It's a good thing."
"Well it looks like you get to spend just short of a week with me, you have time to change your answer," R told her as he rose to his feet.
"In that case, if you manage not to strangle my father I'll crown you a national hero."
"What if I do strangle your father?"
Katherine feigned thinking about it; making a big show of pursing her lips, gazing at the ceiling, and tapping her chin. "I'll crown you a national hero and make you heir to his estate."
Grantaire threw his head back and laughed, a low deep sound that warmed Katherine to hear. He continued to chuckle and offered her his hand to pull her to her feet. Katherine stood and smiled as he lifted her hand to his lips and gave it a kiss. He then threaded it through his elbow and rose to his full height, walking them towards the exit like they were an old timey couple. Katherine loved it.
Specs came up on her other side and looped her arm through his. The two paraded Katherine down the stairs. They had their most regal airs on and Katherine couldn’t help herself, she started humming. R shot her a look and began humming with her. After a few seconds Specs joined in. By the time they reached the bottom they were all singing “Hello, Dolly! Looking swell, Dolly! Glad to see that you’re still growing; you’re still going strong!”
They took a pause to put their coats on. Then continued to perform on their way down the front steps. The boys dancing and jumping around her and Kath twirling around them. Katherine felt like they were in a movie musical or something. Not Hello, Dolly! but maybe Singin’ In the Rain. It was goofy and fun and a great way to spend her Saturday.
Grantaire landed on the sidewalk and turned to Kath, grabbing her waist and mouthing that on the count of three she should jump. R lifted her up – with a little help from her own jump – and set her down on the sidewalk next to him.
“I got that on video,” Specs said, waving his phone.
“Good!” R crowed. “Wanna go see what’s up at the tainted symbol of the free world?” he asked.
“I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that we don’t really have a choice,” Specs laughed.
“I mean you do, but if I go rogue it’s your fault,” R warned. He started walking toward the White House, getting about six feet before spinning around and spreading his arms out. “And you’ll be responsible for explaining it to Musichetta and Enjolras!” he called back at them.
Katherine shared a look with Specs. “We better-”
In front of the White House was a small clump of people. Some were protesting Trump, some were protesting the people protesting Trump, most were trying to take pictures and avoid or see what the protesters had to say.
Katherine followed a few steps behind Grantaire as he weaved his way among the people. She could see him making faces out of the corner of her eye as she looked at the different signs. Kath thought that it was funny; every time he scrunched up his mouth and nose the sun would glint off the small silver hoop that pierced his right nostril.
Specs scoffed in disgust at a counter protester and walked off towards Grantaire where he was laughing at one protester's shouts. Katherine went to join them and R slung an arm around her shoulders, leaning in to whisper in her ear. "He's got the spirit, but he could use some help on the follow through."
Katherine snorted and pushed Grantaire off as he started to laugh. He turned and stopped short. "Combeferre?" he asked.
Katherine turned to where he was looking as well, to where Combeferre was indeed standing in front of a protester slightly to their left, his phone held as though he was filming and engaging with the man. Katherine took a few steps closer and was able to make out the some of the words on the man's sign, including "White Privilege is a Myth."
Katherine blinked, a white guy holding a sign saying that? Well it wasn't exactly unsurprising, but it was frustrating.
Combeferre finished talking to the man, lowered his phone and walked over to where the three of them were clumped together. "I wasn't expecting to see you here."
"Likewise," Grantiare said with a grin. They performed an intricate handshake, something similar to what the boys greeted each other with at home. When they were finished, Combeferre turned to Specs and they did a slightly different handshake. Katherine found herself repressing an eyeroll. She hadn't expected this type of thing from Specs and Combeferre but this was the true definition of the phrase 'boys will be boys.' Especially when Combeferre turned to Kath and offered her a simple hug, which she happily accepted.
"So, you gonna explain..." Grantiare trailed off and gestured vaguely between Combeferre and the man who was still standing with his sign.
"Research," Combeferre replied easily. "How are we supposed to know how to counter their arguments if we don't know their arguments. And it never hurts to open up a personal dialogue."
R raised an eyebrow. "Except when you're putting yourself at risk."
Combeferre hummed. "I can't decide if that was more Ponine or Enj coming out of your mouth," he said wryly. Grantaire gave him a dark look and Ferre softened. "Do you see all the police here? No one is going to try anything dumb."
"I'm actually inclined to side with R on this one,” Specs interjected. “The cops normally don't see you and me and think 'that guy's gonna get hurt!' We both know it's normally 'that guy's going to hurt somebody!'"
Combeferre's expression flickered. "Nothing happened. It's fine," he reasserted.
Grantaire put a hand on his upper arm, forcing Combeferre to look at him as he spoke. "For my own sanity can you at least take someone with you next time?"
Ferre smiled, one side of his mouth pulling up. "Deal." R nodded and gave him some personal space back, Katherine thought she heard Combeferre mutter "softie" when he did that.
They all started walking away from the White House and the crowds in front of it. Grantaire led the way, going on about some grilled cheese place that was nearby and how they all had to try it even though it was the absolute bougiest thing. He was rambling about how he tried to get Enjolras to go one time and then gave a veritable play-by-play of the experience.
Combeferre leaned over to Katherine as they walked, lowering his voice he asked, "Would you mind keeping that between us? If Enjolras found out that I did something like that he'd have my head and if Courf finds out I won't be able to even go to the bathroom without a shadow."
Katherine nodded. "Of course."
He smiled. "Thanks, Katherine." A beat passed and Combeferre spoke at a normal volume. "So, I hear your family is playing host for the holidays?"
Katherine laughed at his phrasing. "Enj texted that he, R, and the Thenardier siblings were willing to come and so I texted my dad and he replied with an email with train tickets."
"He told me about the offer," Ferre raised his eyebrows, asking a question without verbalizing it.
"Yeah, I have no idea what's going on," Katherine admitted with a dark laugh.
"Well it should prove educational if nothing else."
"That's an optimistic view," Katherine said with a smile. "Here I thought I was the only crazy person around here, hoping for the best."
"Kath!" Ferre was mock-scandalized and loud enough to draw Grantiare and Specs's attention from a few paces in front of them. "How are we ever going to change the world without hope?" He smirked and even though she didn't know its origin, she could tell he was referencing an inside joke of some kind. Grantaire gave a long-suffering sigh causing them all to start laughing; so hard that Katherine was wiping tears from her eyes when they ended up at Grantaire’s GCDC restaurant.
Bit of a filler chapter while I write my way out of a corner. As much as I'm having fun with the nod and references I am NOT turning this into a Hamilton crossover too. Heck no. Not happening. Worry not. They will be mentioned but no Hamilton or Hairspray characters will ever appear on screen because this is fun but none of us want that to happen.
The Julie & Julia argument was a real one my roommate made about eating Chinese takeout.
Katherine had taken her pink dress to the dry cleaners and picked it up after work on Monday. She’d sent a list of family activities with dress codes as well as Newsies activities to Enjolras, Grantaire, and Eponine and spent most of her work day answering Enj’s last minute questions for what to pack. After checking the weather, her only suggestion was to make sure it was warm.
Tuesday, they left right from the office, heading to the train station both with a small rolling suitcase and backpack. They found the others, all of whom just had duffle bags and backpacks, and made their way to the train. It was crowded with so many people going home for the holiday and it turned out that her father couldn’t get six seats together, just three pairs. Eponine sat with her sister who could’ve been her twin if her features hadn’t had a certain daintiness that on Eponine was sharpness. Azelma was porcelain to her sister’s cut diamond. The younger girl seemed sweet and had thanked Katherine profusely for the impromptu trip.
Gavroche had been given to Grantaire and both were sworn to behave though whether they would was anyone’s guess. Katherine ended up next to Enjolras and she was surprised when he pulled out an iPad and passed her a pair of Bluetooth headphones.
“What’s this for?” she asked.
“I thought we could watch a movie. Unless you don’t want to?” He winced, it was obvious that he’d feared he’d overstepped.
Katherine put the headphones on and grinned at him. “So, what’re we watching?”
“I downloaded Spotlight from Netflix,” he said sheepishly. Katherine couldn’t help but laugh, motioning that he should start the movie.
When they got to Grand Central Kath took charge, rounding them all up and ushering them out to where her father had a large black SUV waiting to pick them up and take them to the huge brownstone her family lived in on the Upper East Side.
“You know Kath,” R started as he climbed in, “I knew you were rich, but this just seems unnecessary.”
“I normally just get a cab or take the subway,” she admitted, also hating the pomp.
“Your dad is trying to impress us,” Eponine observed coolly, eyeing the driver.
“He’s definitely up to something,” she grumbled.
When they got to her house Katherine’s mother was waiting with the door open to usher them in, that wasn’t surprising as she loved guests and unlike her father she thought Katherine’s friends were lovely people. She gushed over them, asking about the train and traffic and taking their coats to hang in the hall closet. Introductions were made and her mother’s questions changed to schools and majors and activities. Kath waited her out before asking about her siblings, apparently the older ones would all be arriving tomorrow. In the meantime, they had their pick of the guest rooms.
Katherine left her mom to give them the tour and headed up to dump her stuff on her canopy bed before tracking her dad down. Just as she suspected he was in his office, reading through copies of the city’s other papers and listening to NPR. She opened the door and sat down in the leather chair in front of his desk, not asking or waiting for his permission. Joe didn’t move his head but did glance at her from over his glasses with a raised brow.
“What’re you playing at?” Kath asked.
Joe set the paper down and sat further back in his chair. “I don’t know what you mean, Katherine.”
She flung her hands out and waved them, gesturing vaguely.
Joe gave her an unimpressed and unamused look. “You must realize that we can’t all be lucky little girls like you who were taught sign language and I will remind you that I don’t speak it,” he said dryly.
That made Katherine’s blood boil. She raised her middle finger at him. “How about that one?” she asked before jumping to her feet. “Ass.”
With that Katherine stormed from the room, slamming the door behind her. She hadn’t gotten any answers. Though she wasn’t going to speak to him when he was being a prick.
Katherine found herself in her room, still in the yoga pants and sweatshirt she’d worn on the train and hanging up her clothes with David on speakerphone. “He’s just… ugh!” she ranted at him about her father.
“I know Kath. I have met him.”
“I know, I’m sorry.”
“It’s fine. You wanted to know what the plan was for tomorrow though, right?”
“Yeah,” she grabbed her phone as she wandered into her bathroom, putting her toothbrush and other hair supplies and toiletries away.
“So, Jack’s been messaging with Enjolras and Sarah with Eliza and I guess the game plan is this: Meet at Jacobi’s for eleven tomorrow. Enjolras is bringing his laptop or something and skyping in some of the Baltimore folks. Then it’s him, Grantaire, and Eponine from the ABC, while I’m taking Eponine’s little brother and Les to the Met-”
“Oh yikes, I’m sorry.” Katherine winced as she imagined that.
“Eh. I’ll be fine. Her sister is supposed to be coming too, to help wrangle I guess. I was a teenage boy once, shouldn’t be too hard.”
“Famous last words,” she said dryly.
“You’re right. I just jinxed it, didn’t I?”
“Yu-u-up,” Katherine drew the word out into three syllables and smiled.
“Great.” David sounded tired already, she didn’t envy the day he had ahead of him. “Ok, then from us is Sarah, Jack, you, and Spot. Last is the midtown group. They’ve got that kid Mark, the international student? Apparently, he knows, or at least knows of, the ABC? Or they know him? I don’t know. It’s whatever. Sarah can explain it. Anyway, it’s him and then Alex, Aaron, and the Schuyler sisters.”
Katherine froze, her hand raised to put her packet of birth control pills in the medicine cabinet. “I’m coming with you tomorrow,” she blurted out forcefully.
“That is going to be a shit show tomorrow. Those four want to kill each other on a good day! I’m not getting involved in that. Besides, Alex is obnoxious and I am not going to be a pleasant human if he gets all- like- you know!”
David snorted and Katherine glared at the phone. “You mean himself?”
“I’m just saying. Anyway, if you don’t go then who will? You’ve been working with the ABC all semester.”
Kath shrugged which she knew was ineffective over a phone call, but she couldn’t help herself. “Jack and Enj have done a great job organizing it thus far. And I can take the boys and Azelma and you can go. Or Charlie. Or Race. Send Racetrack.”
“We are not. I repeat absolutely NOT sending Racetrack. You think it’s going to be a shit show anyway, even if you’re not going to stir up Alex, and you want to send Racetrack Higgins to make it better?”
“At this point?” Kath asked, with only a hint of sarcasm. “Couldn’t hurt.”
“I’ll text Jack and Crutchie, see if he can go. You can come to the museum tomorrow but you’re explaining this to the ABC.”
“Deal. I’ll see you tomorrow? Where should I meet you?”
“The museum steps at ten.”
“You’ve got it!” Katherine promised. “Thanks, Dave.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. You owe me Kath.”
“I know. Bye!”
Katherine studied herself in the mirror. The dark red curls escaping the messy bun she had done on the train. The darker circles under her eyes that had become a near permeant feature since she started college. The light dusting of freckles on her nose that were just barely noticeable, even this close up. The smudged eyeliner and mascara. The flecks of gold and light blue in her hazel eyes. She blinked and pulled her brows together, looking at her reflection with determination. Taking a deep breath Katherine nodded and turned to find her friends.
She managed to find them in the rec room, Gavroche and R raiding her family’s movie collection while Eponine studied the singing fish that hung on the wall with mild amusement.
“Hey,” Kath said. She was loitering in the doorway and she knew it.
Enjolras looked at her from over the back of the couch, shooting her a smile. “Hi. Your mom is delightful.”
Katherine walked in and flopped down next to him as she cackled. “Delightful? My mother? Did you really just use the word ‘delightful’ to describe my mom?”
“Yeah Enj, that was weird,” R said from where he was lying on his stomach on the floor to read the titles on the lower shelves.
“What?” Enjolras had gotten defensive. “She is!”
“It’s just that…” Kath trailed off. How do you explain to someone what was weird about them calling your mom delightful? “That normally carries connotations of food. Or sex.” Guess being blunt it is.
Enjolras paled. “Oh.” Was all he said as he blinked rapidly. Katherine just sat there nodding awkwardly and staring back at him.
A howl of laughter rose up from the floor and Kath looked down, startled. Grantaire had rolled onto his back and was clutching his stomach as he laughed outrageously. It was infectious. Eponine snorted and soon she was laughing too. Then Gavroche and Azelma. Soon Kath was giggling and Enjolras was blushing and his shoulders shaking too.
Katherine took a deep breath, her stomach aching, as she tried to sober up. Eventually the laughter petered out. “So,” Kath started slowly. Five pairs of eyes focused on her. “I wanted to tell you guys that I won’t be at the meeting at Jacobi’s tomorrow.”
“What?” Enjolras looked blindsided. Well, he was blindsided so she figured it made sense.
“I’m much better at spreading information than planning and organizing. Especially for this kind of thing where we’re planning to plan. I just get antsy and it’s no fun for anyone.” Katherine shrugged, a sort of ‘what can you really do?’ gesture.
“That sounds like bullshit. And as someone who tells some really good bullshit, I should know,” R observed sarcastically. He was still lying on his back on the carpeting.
Katherine glared at him. “Your two cents in noted but unappreciated.”
R let out a low whistle. “Only two cents? Wow. I’m not worth a dime? Or does Miss Fancy Pants not carry change? I bet you don’t even have a nickel.”
“I have a nickel!” Kath said, outraged.
“We’re getting off topic,” Enjolras interrupted. He sounded exasperated and when Kath glanced over sheepishly she noticed he was rubbing at his temples like the beginning of a headache was coming on. She felt a twinge of guilt as Enj sighed and met her gaze. “Kath, where is this coming from?”
“Ok, so this is going to sound really stupid,” she prefaced.
Eponine snorted, coming to sit on the floor in front of the couch. “You do know who you’re talking to, right?” There were some offended grumbles but none of the boys contradicted her and Kath and Azelma both giggled.
“True. Alright. So.” She took a deep breath and let it all tumble out. “Alex and Aaron have this weird ‘friendly rivalry’ and it can turn the littlest thing into a near fist fight of an argument sometimes. Like Jack and Spot act like they’re willing to go to blows sometimes but it’s all just show and ego for them. These two worry me. One of them is going to kill the other someday.” Kath paused and shook her head. “And Alex and I have a… We’ll call it a professional rivalry. And we just kinda annoy the piss out of each other? And turn into twelve-year-olds? It’s embarrassing and stupid but you put me in with that and a bunch of other hotheads-”
“That’s a polite description of Enjolras,” Grantaire muttered and earned himself a glare from his boyfriend.
“-and you get the worst kind of revolution,” Katherine finished.
“Unsuccessful, bloody, and French?” Grantaire quipped. Enjolras nailed him in the head with one of Katherine mother’s decorative throw pillows.
Kath thought about it and shrugged. “Yeah, I mean excessive use of the guillotine does seem to symbolize what would come of that.”
R snorted and Gavroche collapsed on top of him as he fell into a fit of laughter too. They rolled on the ground in hysterics as Eponine rolled her eyes and lifted her phone. If Racetrack were here the bet would be whether she was texting Combeferre, a groupchat, or posting it on her wildly popular twitter. Azelma just smiled at the antics, amusement dancing in her eyes as they darted around the figures in the room. Enjolras just raised an eyebrow at Kath before rolling his eyes in defeat.
“Yes, turning on your fellows and causing senseless death does seem to be the opposite of what we’re aiming for.” Enjolras’s words were serious but his tone was sarcastic.
“Mm, glad you concur,” Kath teased, bumping her shoulder against his.
He shook his head. “Really though, if you think this is best-”
“Oh, it is,” Katherine assured him quickly.
“Then I will trust your judgement and we will continue as planned,” Enjolras said. He was resolute and Katherine admired him.
“What’re you going to do instead?” Grantaire asked lazily.
“Go with to the Met,” she said.
“What?!” R sat up suddenly, forcing Gavroche to half fall, half roll onto the floor. “I want to go!”
“Grantaire, we need you,” Enjolras began to say.
“I’ll go,” Azlema chimed in quickly. Everyone turned to look at her. “If Grantaire wants to go to the museum I’ll go to the meeting. I’m taking a constitutional law course right now anyway, it might be helpful?”
“You and just about everyone else,” Katherine joked darkly. She earned herself an icy glare from Eponine and Kath immediately regretted thinking before speaking.
“If you really want to,” Enjolras said cautiously. He was wary of Eponine. Rightfully so, she had mama bear instincts and protectiveness like a mofo when it came to her sister. Or at least that’s what Kath had been told. It was also looking to be true though.
“I do,” Azelma said firmly.
“Then I’ll let everyone know the change of plans,” Enjolras blinked, visibly surprised when Eponine didn’t object.
Grantaire whooped. “Metropolitan Museum of Art prepare to be my bitch!”
“You’re going to make this miserable, aren’t you?” Gavroche asked.
“You bet your plebian ass I am,” R grinned broadly.
“We’re to meet David and his little brother at ten,” Kath told him.
“Sweet.” Grantaire looked positively thrilled. That was until he caught sight of Enjolras, who was study him through narrowed eyes. Grantaire’s face fell and he winced. “Look, you know that my going was a bad idea. I’d just start finding flaws and nitpicking and it would spiral into some rant about the hopelessness of fighting a behemoth like the NRA even with four Davids to spit on Goliath’s boots.”
Enjolras seemed to deflate slightly, nodding. “Which in some situations can be helpful but if the meeting is to be as volatile as Katherine seems to expect than that wouldn’t be the wisest.”
“Exactly.” A sliver of Grantaire’s excitement returned.
“I know you’ll enjoy the museum.” Enj smiled kindly. R returned it and Katherine knew that was the end of that.
“Well this will be fun, in the meantime though it’s late and I’m beat,” she informed them.
“There is a stupidly plush bed calling my name,” Eponine said, rising to her feet.
They all followed her lead and soon were wandering up to their various bedrooms. Katherine bid her goodnights and made her way to her own. She closed the door, set her alarm, and collapsed into a dreamless sleep.
I fixed it! Wrote my way out of a corner! Happy Thanksgiving! This will probably wind up posted two days after the day they're set. I'm hoping for two more to go up this weekend, just cross your fingers that happens!
If you're familiar with any of my other newsies fics then you'll know that rec room has some significance. Mostly that Kath IS a burgeoning klepto and that fish is the best gift ever.
When Katherine first began to distance herself from her father in high school she’d gone through a stereotypical rebellious teen phase. Except more along the lines of a John Hughes movie or Kat from 10 Things I Hate About You, less Hot Topic or anything portrayed by Winona Ryder. This mostly meant picking up a penchant for loud music, feminist theory, and an attitude of ‘what’re you going to do about it?’ The latter two had proved useful as she’d grown and matured. The first just made her a menace.
Sarah had very quickly informed Kath that the blaring punk rock was fine except for the fact that it was interrupting her much needed sleep cycle their freshman year. Kath had learned to suppress the habit around roommates after that. At home though? Well Katherine was just obnoxious.
At fifteen she'd done what anyone would do to piss off their parents but not incur her mother's wrath for ripping open walls or risking electrocution with wiring. She'd bought a bunch of heavy-duty Bluetooth speakers online and proceeded to sync them up and place them strategically around her room. When she was getting dressed in the morning she could make the panes in the antique windows rattle with it. Every time Spot came over he informed her that there was no way her set up should be even remotely functioning, that she was lucky her wannabe MacGyver plan had worked. Kath would just tell him to shut up and enjoy the surround sound.
Katherine hadn't grown out of the habit though, and she was already annoyed with her father, so as soon as she woke up at 8:30 she started blasting a Spotify playlist that consisted of loud guitars, drums, and white guys singing about how much the government and society sucks. Ironically enough, it was one that David had shared with her. They had similar tastes but in the absolute weirdest ways.
She had just finished brushing her teeth when there was a banging on her door, barely discernible over the noise. Kath flung the door open, mentally preparing for a screaming match with her dad. Instead she was met with an exhausted looking Grantaire in flannel penguin pajama pants and a worn white t-shirt, both of which looked as though they'd been shot up by a paintball gun. His dark curls were sticking up every which way and there was a shadow of a beard on his jaw.
"Th'fuck, Kath?" he mumbled. He managed to focus on her but just barely. He had to be still mostly asleep.
Katherine winced. She'd forgotten that he and Enjolras had offered to split the room next to hers. She just woke up and went about her normal routine, not thinking of the consequences on her friends. While Katherine had learned that Enjolras could sleep like the dead – pictures of him falling asleep on top of Marius on the couch and both of them being decorated with markers by their friends was proof of that – Grantaire apparently couldn't. "I am so so so sorry."
Grantaire just waved her off. "Jus' turnnit down." He walked back down the hall and closed the door. Katherine grimaced after him before bolting to shut the music off.
She'd pulled on jeans and a sweater, her docs and a scarf, and managed to bribe her hair into being pinned back by the time she wandered down to the kitchen for nine am breakfast. Her mom was pouring glasses of orange juice at the small wooden table where platters of eggs and bacon had been set out.
"I didn't know who all was eating breakfast here and who was going to that deli you like so I just did a buffet," she told Kath, handing her a glass.
"Thanks, Mom," Katherine said with a smile. She gave her mom a quick, one-armed hug before getting a plate and piling on the food. “Jack should be coming by in a little bit to take Enjolras, Eponine, and Azelma to Jacobi’s. Grantaire and Gavroche should be down soon. We’re heading to the Met to meet up with David and Les.”
“There’s coffee in the pot,” her mom told her, noticing that Kath had been looking for it. “That sounds good. Do you have money? To pay for the admission? You should cover their admission. And take your student ids, you’ll get a discount.”
Katherine hid her smile behind her freshly poured mug of coffee. “Yes Mother.”
“Whoa,” Gavroche said, having seen the food and paused in the doorway.
“Good morning,” Katherine’s mother smiled at him, holding out a plate.
Gavroche grabbed it from her and immediately began attacking the bacon. “I don’t need to dress up for this. Right?”
“Nope.” Katherine looked at the oversized Georgetown sweatshirt and jeans he was wearing and knew Les would probably be dressed in the same, except his would be an NYU sweatshirt. Gavroche nodded and sat himself down at the table next to her.
She took a sip of her coffee and nearly wound up snorting it out her nose when she saw Grantaire wander in. His curls were still rumpled but he’d shaved and gotten dressed. In jeans, a wooly green cardigan, and a t-shirt. A t-shirt that read “Men have made a lot of bad art.” That was the source of Katherine’s near coffee inhalation. Exhalation? If it’s coming out of your nose it was technically an exhale, right?
Grantaire noticed her sputtering on her coffee and smirked. “Morning.”
“Morning,” she returned weakly. She raised her eyebrows at his shirt and gave him a look that clearly said, “you will explain that later.” R just laughed and dug into his eggs.
Grantaire made polite small talk with her mom, complimenting her on the cooking and thanking her for having them and going through the extra trouble of feeding them. Katherine had thought that Enjolras was charming when he wanted to be, he had nothing on Grantaire who effortlessly chatted and earned himself a position firmly in her good graces.
“We should go.” Katherine had checked her phone for the time and was surprised by how late it had gotten. She downed the rest of her coffee and rose to give her mom one last hug.
“Your coats are all in the hall closet,” she said.
“Thanks Mrs. Pulitzer,” R smiled, giving her a wave as he and Gavroche trailed after Katherine to the front hall. She passed out their winter wear and soon was hustling out the door and hailing a cab.
“Alright,” she started once they had all squeezed into the back of the yellow car and she’d told the driver where to go. “The shirt. I want to know about the shirt.”
Grantaire laughed. The one that always made Katherine warm to hear, it was deep and full and seemed to almost bubble up from his toes. “Tell me it’s wrong,” he challenged.
“It’s not! I’m just surprised to see you wearing it.”
“It’s a power move,” R explained with wicked delight. “Wearing a shirt like this? To the Metropolitan Museum of Art? I couldn’t resist.”
“Ok, but R,” Gavroche interjected from where they’d squished they boy between them in the middle seat. He was all awkward teenage angles but no lank just yet and was still small, so he fit the best. “Aren’t you a man? And an artist?”
“And I make bad art,” he said. Katherine couldn’t help but laugh at the self-deprecation. “Hey, at least I’m self-aware.”
“That you are,” she giggled.
They got out of the cab and Katherine couldn’t help but stretch after having her limbs folded up to speed through New York traffic. Gavroche was doing the same, Grantaire was staring up at the museum in wonder. She couldn’t help the small smile at the sight of him pulling out his phone to snap a picture of the building with its grand steps and columns.
Gavroche noticed too. “R, what was that for? It looks like a museum. So like half of DC.”
“Because it’s a New York museum,” Grantaire replied with an eye roll and a ‘duh’ in his tone. “If I’m going to be a tourist then I’m going to do it right.”
“Whatever.” Gavroche shook his head and headed up the steps.
As she walked up, Katherine noticed Les and Charlie standing a little ways to the side near the top of the ramp. She tugged on the sleeve of R’s coat, steering them in that direction. Gavroche noticed the subtle shift and course corrected where he was ahead of them. He stopped and the top and waited, falling in on R’s other side as Kath walked over to the pair.
“Charlie! What’re you doing here?” she was grinning, pleasantly surprised. She pulled the shorter boy in for a hug which he eagerly returned.
“We all figured Davey’d be better for today, especially since you’re here, so we switched,” he explained. “Plus, Les and I don’t wanna kill each other half the time.”
“It’s a little less than half,” the younger boy corrected.
“Les! Come here,” she told him, spreading her arms for a hug. He laughed and obliged, letting her squeeze him and ruffle his hair. “You’ve grown!” she scolded. He had the lank that Gavroche lacked and was about an inch taller than Kath already. The top of his head had been eye level for her the last she’d seen him.
“Well yeah,” he laughed. “That’s kinda what a kid does, grows. Mama says I all do is grow and eat.”
“And she’s not wrong,” Charlie laughed.
Katherine smiled. She’d missed them. More than she’d realized, even if she practically had just seen Charlie. “Introductions!” Kath remembered, as Gavroche hovered at her elbow. “Les, this is Gavroche, Gavroche this is Les. You’re both about the same age and the same level of holy terrors. Please don’t get us kicked out or arrested today.” There were laughs and grumbled. “And this is Grantaire,” she motioned to him and he waved at Les. “You guys already know Charlie.”
“Yeah we do, how’s the classics minor?” he asked and they all started to head inside.
“Hell. I don’t know why I thought it’d be fun. Marketable, yeah there was a logic behind that one but fun? If I could go back and slap myself I would,” R said.
“I know the feeling. The whole Shakespeare concentration is proving to be a pain in the ass. I should’ve just gone with a basic English degree, so I can go insane working on my library science masters but nope. Had to make life harder,” Charlie shook his head.
Katherine had weaved her way to the counter first, quickly ordering the five student tickets and passing over her dad’s card. She passed out the stickers and helped Charlie in herding them to the coat check.
“How much do I owe ya Kath?” He asked, digging in his pocket for his wallet.
“You don’t,” she said, handing him a map.
“Yeah, I kinda do Kath,” he insisted.
“My mom said I wasn’t allowed to let you pay for anything,” Les told her.
“Well your mom should know better. Now where to first? R? Any burning desires?” She turned to him, he’d been watching the whole thing with amusement.
“Many, but I doubt they can all be sated here. Let’s start with the iconic though, the temple?” He suggested.
“Good choice.” Katherine led the way towards the other end of the lobby and the wing they wanted to go to.
Grantaire fell in step with her. “Nice topic change,” he whispered. A laugh danced just behind his eyes and Katherine shrugged. “You and Enj are a lot more alike than I think either of you realize.”
R fell back slightly after that, to walk with Charlie, and Katherine was left blinking. That had come out of left field to her. What did he mean by that? By bringing it up in conjunction to the topic change? Or was he talking about her insisting on paying for her friends? Katherine didn’t know and she doubted she’d ever find out. Especially know that he and Charlie were discussing which Shakespearean tragedies could be prevented with which character switches. And which would result in the funniest outcomes.
The day at the art museum was fun. Gavroche and Les did indeed get on like a house on fire and she was positive that David would be banging his head against the base of one of the marble statues at their antics had he been there. As it was, they weren’t hurting anyone or risking any property damage so they let them goof off. It was definitely entertaining.
By midafternoon they were all starting to get hungry though. “Mama said you can all come back for snacks,” Les offered as they went to get their coats. “She kinda guessed that you’d be having a debrief there anyways.”
Katherine laughed. “This is why I love your mom.”
They took the subway to the Jacobs’s apartment. Katherine and Charlie assisting with the tickets for Grantaire and Gavroche. When they got on the train R wrinkled his nose.
“You know Kath,” he leaned in to say. “You were right about our metro being better.”
Katherine burst out laughing. “I know. But this is my city and I love it so be nice to our public transit.”
Grantaire held up his hands in mock defense, settling farther back on the bench.
The apartment was already filled with people when they got there, scattered between the living room and the kitchen. Mrs. Jacobs had been right about it being a post-Jacobi’s debrief. Enjolras and Gavroche’s sisters were all seated on the couch as Jack sat so far forward on the armchair she thought that it might be better if he just didn’t sit in it at all. David was sitting on the floor, using the coffee table as a regular table as he ate a bowl of cereal and Katherine loved the boy like a brother, but he was an odd duck some days. Spot and Sarah seemed to be doing something in the kitchen with Mrs. Jacobs, though she couldn’t tell if it was meal prep for tomorrow or just making food for the hell of it.
Les walked right through everyone with a loud, “Hello! We’re going to play Fortnite in my room!” as he pulled Gavroche behind him. Katherine laughed and decided to check out the kitchen and promise of food first before finding out the full scoop from Enj and Jack. Charlie and Grantaire had the same thought.
It turned out the kitchen was a mix of both meal prep for tomorrow’s lunch – everyone did family lunches and then had a big feast at Medda’s for dinner – and baking for the fun of baking. Spot and Sarah could make some crazy good cookies when they wanted to and it seemed liked they wanted to. Katherine snatched a snickerdoodle from the cooling racking and bit into it. She was rewarded with warm cookie goodness and stole another one before Spot could glare at her.
Once the three of them had gathered enough snacks and said their hellos, and for Kath been hugged profusely, to Mrs. Jacobs they went to join the group in the living room.
“So how’d it go?” Katherine asked as she sat next to David on the floor.
He sighed, letting go of his spoon so it slipped slightly into the cereal bowl. “You were right Kath. It was a mess.”
Katherine was a mature young lady, she was able to repress the desire to say “I told you so.” But just barely.
“So what happened?” Grantaire asked.
Enjolras closed his eyes, he looked like he was psyching himself up. That wasn’t a good omen. “The words ‘hot mess’ do not even begin to describe it,” he said finally.
“Yeah, Kath’s preferred term of shit show is really the closest thing,” Jack added.
“So are we no longer doing this?” Katherine felt her heart sink, maybe that had been her father’s plan all along: let them implode thanks to explosive personalities.
“No,” Enjolras said resolutely, “it’s still happening. We’re just going to try and limit who all will be involved in the actual cross group organizing and pick representatives who are less likely to let personal emotions overshadow discussions.”
Jack scoffed. “That’s a nice way of saying ‘being a giant dick.’”
“That bad?” Katherine whispered to David.
“That bad. Spot actually stopped a fight. I’d be surprised if Mr. Jacobi lets us in anytime soon,” David whispered back. Katherine shook her head.
“Well,” Grantaire said from around a mouthful of cookie, “at lease it’s over with.”
No one could argue with that. Though admittedly, no one seemed inclined to argue at all anytime in the near future.
Hey guys! I hope you had a good Thanksgiving and a relaxing day after. There seems to be a lot of you reading this (which wow, did not ever expect that. THANK YOU!!!) and I'd really love to hear your thoughts. Drop me a comment or come yell at me on my tumblr @thelittleredheadedmusician any time. Doesn't even have to relate to newsies, les mis, politics, current events, news, hamilton, hairspray, revolutionary/political musicals in general! Just come say hi. :)
Thanksgiving was easily Katherine’s least favorite holiday. Her siblings were great and she loved them, but the holiday was normally used as a try-out for their significant others. A parade of the Northeast’s Upper Crust’s favored sons and daughters. During which her father silently, and sometimes not so silently, judged them. This would be the third year in which Katherine would be bringing Jack, a new record in the family, and neither were exactly looking forward to the lunch.
Her friends from the ABC were guaranteed to make it a little more bearable. Grantaire and Enjolras had been helping Katherine’s mother and sisters in the kitchen since they got back from the Jacobs. They talked about DC, her mother having grown up there, and Katherine learned that she had actually spent much of her childhood in the Triumvirate House, at that time it had been her best friend’s home. The boys were shocked and thrilled by the news that the world was so much smaller than anyone could dream. Katherine just shook her head at the odds even Racetrack wouldn’t have gone for.
The morning of Katherine rose early; and didn’t blast her music like the day before. She showered quickly and put on her pink dress, matching her earrings to the pearl embellished neckline. She took a curling iron to her hair once it had dried, taming it into large and perfectly round ringlets that fell loose around her shoulders. Katherine spent a good half hour perfecting her makeup. Thanksgiving lunch in the Pulitzer house was a formal event and wearing anything less than heels would be frowned upon.
Enjolras and Grantaire were both already dressed in suits, though their jackets had been shucked and draped over the kitchen chairs, when she went to start setting the table. It was her task every year and had been since she was ten. Eponine and Azelma trailed after her, offering to help. They too wore dresses though nothing trendy and by the cut Katherine would guess they were a couple years old. Not that she’d ever judge, though she was sure some of her brothers’ viler dates would.
The three made a good team, putting out plates and silverware with efficiency. Gavroche was sent in with a folder for Kath. He’d even managed to find a nice, if a bit big, button down and dress pants. The folder contained name cards and her mother’s meticulously thought out seating chart. When you were hosting just short of thirty people at a single table it had to be.
By the time they were all done the rest of her family and their guests started filing into the living room from elsewhere in the big house or showing up at the door from their own places in the city. Katherine was not one to cook, she didn’t like it and wasn’t good at it, so she was placed in charge of the door. It was a task she thought more suited to the Hades’s Fields of Punishment than anything. Her brothers had a tendency for dating the meanest women. Kath hated greeting them.
When she opened the door to Jack though? Well Katherine had to appreciate that this job might just have some perks. He looked dapper in a suit and tie, the one Medda had bought him for his high school graduation and he wore for almost every major event. Kath loved it, he looked good. Like an old-fashioned movie star, especially with the goofy newsboy hat that she’d given to him and all the Newsies after they first started.
He swept her up in a hug as he rushed in from the freezing cold outside. “The poor schmucks at the parade today,” he muttered into her ear.
Katherine giggled. “R wanted to go originally, we managed to convince him to just watch it on tv.”
“Good.” Jack passed her the bouquet of flowers he’d brought as he took off his coat. “Those are for your Ma.”
“As usual. You bring my mother flowers but not me,” she teased. Jack just stuck his tongue out at her. With him arriving Katherine’s duty was done so she hung his coat and led him back to the kitchen.
Once there her mom predictably gushed over him and the flowers and her sisters began asking invasive questions. Katherine glared at them and pulled Jack along with her to the rec room where her friends were avoiding her family until dinner. Katherine thought it was smart of them.
“Jack attack!” R called as they walked in. “A very merry gobble gobble day to you!”
Jack laughed. “A very merry gobble gobble day to you as well sir!”
Katherine shared a look with Enjolras, a shared thought of “why did we ever let them become friends?”
Someone, probably her sister Lucy, had wisely set the parade to record so they decided to restart it and watch the whole thing, rather than just the last half hour. Katherine’s favorite part was and always would be the performances. They all cheered when The Prom performed their kiss.
Too soon, Katherine was herding them all into the large formal dining room with its long, imposing table and her even more imposing father already seated at the head. Conversation was stilted and as formal as the room. Her father putting his skills to use as he questioned everyone who didn’t bear the last name Pulitzer. Enjolras and Grantaire managed to both breeze through it with ease when Joe directed his attention on them. Azelma was shy but kind, earning a small and rare smile from Joe. Gavroche had the benefit of being a teenage boy, his biting remarks written off as mere teenage rebellion. Eponine’s responses were like a switchblade, at first innocuous but in a blur they turned sharp and deadly. Katherine couldn’t help the enjoyment she got at seeing someone so totally disarm her father at every turn. Jack just made him flustered, something that was especially easy after Eponine having already disarmed him.
The food was good. It was always good. And plentiful. But Katherine knew that no one would be stuffing themselves on the stuffing. And leftovers would be left rather than taken with the guests. That’s just how things were. Her friends had all been informed of this the day before and at their odd looks Jack had insisted that Katherine was indeed not kidding, yes it was fucking weird as hell, and not to worry because they’d be heading to Medda’s as soon as the clock struck two with as much of Mrs. Pulitzer’s barely touched food as they could carry plus whatever Medda had made and all that everyone else was bringing to eat their fill.
Which is exactly what happened. The Pulitzer meal ended exactly at 1:45 pm and while everyone else was saying their goodbyes Kath was rushing her friends to go get changed while Jack began packing up the food. Kath threw on her yoga pants – Under Armor cold gear because it was freezing cold out – and her favorite sweater on in record time. Kirkland socks and snow boots too. She met Jack in the kitchen and started packing the filled Tupperware into bags. The others came down not long after and soon they were all bundling up and running out the back door.
Kath’s breath came out in a misty cloud when she laughed, thrilled to be leaving the stuffy formality of her blood relatives behind. She couldn’t help herself, she began skipping and then sprinting down the block towards the subway. She could hear Jack let out a whoop and the sounds of feet pounding sidewalk behind her. The cold November air was like glass shards as she breathed. Turning her lungs to ice. Her nose was numb. Her neck hot under her scarf and curls.
She barely slowed when she reached the steps; half falling, half leaping down them. She whirled when she reached the bottom, watching as her friends raced after her, wrapped up in hats and gloves and scarves and winter coats. Weighed down with food and more food. They were smiling and laughing and joking though. Teasing her as they too reached the steps.
The subway ride was spent trying to catch their breath and Jack trying to text Medda with numb fingers and next to no signal. She made him give up as they neared their stop, knowing that the walk to her theater wouldn’t be far.
Medda always set up a huge table on the stage, that way no one could be told they couldn’t come for lack of space. She would invite all the kids she fostered over the years and anyone who worked for her who wouldn’t be going or didn’t have a family to go home to for the holidays. Over the years it had turned into an open invitation for her kids’ friends and the families they’d built themselves. It was a loud and rowdy potluck that definitely had a median age closer to the legal drinking age than anything but Medda was more than happy to be the matriarch of the patchwork group.
The stage door was unlocked and with a monumental effort Kath managed to shove it open. Her arms being full made the task much more difficult than normal. Jack laughed at her struggle but Enjolras was gracious enough to try and help. She held it and let Jack take the lead, making a face at him as he passed. They wound their way through the halls and onto the stage where a crowd had already gathered.
“Jack Kelly! Man of mystery!” Medda called out at the sight of them, tugging down the scarf that Jack had pulled up to cover the lower half of his face. “You’ve been watching too much tv, making out like a masked vigilante,” she teased.
“Well I’m wearing a warmer mask than most of them wear costumes, so I think you’re a little off there, Miss Medda,” Jack teased her back.
Medda laughed, throwing her head back as she did so, and directed them to put their food down. Jack ran off to a dressing room to get changed out of his suit, leaving Katherine and her D.C. friends the sole focus of Medda’s attention.
“So,” she started with a warm smile, “you’re some of the folks who’ve been taking care of our Katherine.”
Kath felt herself blush, she wasn’t sure when exactly, she suspected it might just be the first time they’d met, but Medda had adopted Katherine in her heart. She belonged with her and in the theater just as much as Jack and Charlie did. Hearing it though still sent a little thrill to her heart.
“She’s a pretty tough cookie, far more than capable of taking care of herself so I’m not exactly sure what you might be referring to,” Grantaire said.
Medda grinned at that, giving him an approving look. “Right you are. Let me take your coats. I’m Medda, I own the place so the least I can do is a little work around here.”
Introductions were made as layers were shed, Katherine and Medda taking everyone’s coats to be piled on the seats in the orchestra. The house lights were one and the theater sparkled. Katherine couldn’t help but smile and stare as she walked down the steps from the stage.
Medda must have caught sight of the look on Katherine’s face. “We’re happy you’re home too.”
“Two more weeks and then I’m back for good,” she told Medda.
“You excited to come home? Or would you rather stay there? From what I’ve heard and seen you’ve got a pretty great little family down there now too.”
Katherine laughed, she hadn’t thought herself a member of the ABC or a part of the family that its members had built for themselves. Having Medda say it made it sound absurd, she was a Newsie and her family was here, on that stage. But she realized that Enjolras and Grantaire and Eponine and her siblings were on that stage too. She fell quiet, puzzling it out.
“It’s ok not to have an answer you know,” Medda said gently.
“It’s- it’s not that. I just- well, I never thought of it that way before.”
“In what way?”
“That I’d become one of them, for the time being at least,” Kath admitted.
“That’s the funny thing about found families, everyone thinks that you find them when in reality they find you.” Medda gave her a smile, the wisdom of her words settling around Kath like the dust that settled in the stage lights.
“I am going to miss them,” she admitted. “But I’ve already got two families, what’s a third?”
Medda laughed. “Smart girl, you can never have enough love. Plus, holidays are times for bringing families together. I don’t think you gained another my dear, but rather expanded one you already had.”
They watched as Jack came back, the Jacobs siblings behind him with more food. The four immediately descended on R, Enj, and the Thenardiers, laughing and joking. Racetrack and Charlie noticed the group next, wandering over and taking Spot with them. Soon most all the Newsies had gathered around to talk with them. Medda was right, expanding families seemed to be exactly what was happening.
I realized after posting that I likely disappointed on the crossover front, I just couldn't do the required witty dialogue today and this chapter wasn't getting written/posted another day due to some real world scheduling on my end. I might do a one shot of the dinner at Medda's itself and another of The Shit Show over winter break though. In the meantime! If it's musical theater crossover shenanigans that you're looking for might I suggest the fancomic Roommates and its sister comic Girls Next Door. You might have to scroll quite a bit to get to the beginning but the main cast includes characters from Phantom of the Opera, Labyrinth, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Les Miserables with some guest appearances from a WIDE variety of media. If you like protagonists and meta and fourth wall squishy-ness I highly recommend.
Edit- The Shit Show has been written and can be found here!
It rained today and to me rain means swing music.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
All too soon the time in New York was coming to a close. Katherine went skating in Rockefeller Center with Jack on Friday, snagged half-price tickets to see Phantom of the Opera with a bunch of her friends on Saturday, and crowned Enjolras, Grantaire, and Eponine all honorary New Yorkers when they told somebody off for stealing their cab.
A small group of Newsies came to Grand Central Station to see them off on Sunday afternoon. And for them a small group meant the Jacob siblings, Jack, Charlie, Racetrack, and Spot. As they stood around saying goodbyes Katherine couldn’t help but smile.
Over the past couple days Gavroche and Les had been nearly inseparable – and the source of many headaches – while Grantaire and Charlie had become extremely close, Spot and Eponine had a weird sort of mutual respect and she thought that Race was hilarious. Sarah had become fast friends with everyone and insisted that they come back to New York soon, and bring the rest of the ABC with them, while Jack and David had spent the entire time saying how alike Katherine and Enjolras were – not that either of them could see it – and Enj saying how strikingly similar Jack and David were to Courfeyrac and Combeferre. Though Kath insisted that Courf and Ferre were similar to Jack and David.
Katherine's phone alarm went off and final hugs and goodbyes were said. Promises of planning a visit to D.C. were made and another to New York. They began to rush towards the platform, Katherine's phone still warning that it was time to board their train.
It was a shuffle getting everyone on, their seats had switched from the train in and Katherine found herself next to Graintaire while Eponine and Enjolras were a little ways down the car and Azelma and Grantaire were catty-corner.
They settled in and the train started to move. Once they were speeding South Grantaire dug around in his backpack, emerging victoriously with two bottles of nail polish. One black and one hot pink. He pulled the tray down and set the bottles on it. Katherine gave him a questioning look.
"Put 'em up," R said, tapping the tray.
Katherine raised an eyebrow.
"Oh c'mon. I'll be careful. Now, you're a pink person. Nothing gendered, just you look good and weaponize a lot of pink."
Katherine laughed as Grantaire shook the bottle. "Weaponize?"
"Like Elle Woods or Stuart Semple."
Kath rolled her eyes but let Grantaire paint her nails an obscenely vibrant pink. He texted rapidly between coats and Katherine watched a play that Charlie had copied onto a flashdrive for R. A production of Much Ado About Nothing with David Tennant and Catherine Tate. She was thoroughly entertained, sharing earbuds with Grantaire and smiling every time he laughed. Which was often.
By the end of Act I her nails were drying and Grantaire had started in on his own. It was a dark, matte black and Grantaire painted with ease, even on the moving train and with the glares of their fellow passengers. Katherine thought that was unfair, this was obviously a talent and there was hardly any fumes.
"Does this make you Anish Kapoor?" she asked with a smirk.
Grantaire laughed outrageously, earning them some more glares. "Cute," he told her once he managed to reign it in.
Kath shrugged, a little smug about her joke.
About midway through Act II R paused it and turned to her. "Katherine," he started seriously, "you're coming dancing with us tonight."
"What?" she asked, caught off guard.
"Well since we'll be getting there a little after dinner Joly, Bossuet, and Musichetta decided they wanted to celebrate being back by going out. Courf and Bahorel agreed to come to. So, I got a hold of Specs and he's said he's down. All that's left is you."
"You do know I can't get into most clubs," Kath said dryly, seeing the major flaw in what R obviously thought was a genius plan.
"We'd not going to a club," he replied smugly. "Besides, they'll let you in here. Mark your hands to signify you can't drink but let you in."
Katherine sighed. "What about Enj and the others?"
"They're invited but unlike yours, their presence isn't mandatory."
"Specs already laid out clothes for you."
She felt her mouth drop open. "What?"
"Well it's kinda a surprise but there is a dress code."
"And I don't get to know it, but Specs does?"
"Well yeah, he's my co-conspirator."
Kath huffed and made a face. She turned her focus back on where Beatrice was entreating Benedict to kill for her. Out of the corner of her eye she could see R making a self-satisfied face.
When they got off at Union Station there was a mad rush and a commotion, temporarily separating them from each other. They managed to meet up again outside by the metro entrance. Katherine smiled in the warm air, so different from the past couple days in New York.
"Alright," Grantaire was saying. "You are coming to the Triumvirate House in an hour."
Katherine rolled her eyes but smiled good naturedly. "Ok."
"Sweet. Now go, get your dancing shoes on," Grantaire waved her towards the metro. Katherine laughed, waving goodbye to them and descending the escalator.
When Katherine opened the door to her apartment the first thing she saw was Specs lounging on their couch dressed in his squirrel printed button down, khakis, and his boots. "Tan France eat your heart out. Look at that french tuck," she said by way of greeting.
Specs laughed. He jumped to his feet and swept her up in a hug. "Missed you."
"Missed you too," she hugged him back.
"Go get changed, it's on your bed, you can tell me all about home as you do that."
"Wow, pushy," she teased but grabbed her bags and headed towards the bedroom.
What Kath had dubbed her silly skirt and a plain black t-shirt laid on her bed. "Where did you find this?" She couldn't remember packing it and it was the type of skirt you remembered packing. Knee length layers of sparkling silver tulle and a thick elastic waist that gave her the silhouette of a 1950s starlet.
"It was in the dry-clean only bag at the back," Specs was leaning against the doorway and looking rather proud of himself.
"Huh." He'd also picked out a scarf for her. A huge silky one that was swirls of pink and black. "What is with you boys and putting me in pink today?" she joked and held it up.
Specs noticed her freshly painted nails and laughed. "Because you look good in it?"
"It does go nicely with my complexion," she sniffed.
"Ok, yeah, that was a little too high society for me."
Katherine laughed and began getting changed and filling Specs in on the trip. She pulled on a pair of spandex shorts before settling the skirt just right above her hips. "Converse?" she questioned, holding the shoes that Specs had laid out up.
Shrugging, Kath tugged the black hightops on. "Is the look supposed to be fifties?" she asked as she examined herself in the mirror.
"The text I received was, and I quote, 'think sock hop.'"
"Fifties. Guess the hair should be a high pony? Hot pink lipstick and a cat eye since you're all so insistent on the pink."
"I was just in charge of the clothes," Specs held up his hands and shrugged on a letterman jacket. He'd gotten it for track in high school and while he rarely wore it he still liked to. The dark blue matched the blue of his shirt and the yellow brought out the squirrels. Katherine thought he looked good, but she still needed to tease him a little.
"Well at least we both look like extras in Bye Bye Birdie now," she met his eyes in the mirror as she did her hair.
Specs made a face. "I can tell you've been with Jack and Race, you're using Birdie as an insult."
Kath thought about that as she did her makeup. "It really doesn't make sense since Charlie actually did that one in high school."
"But they all went to high school together," he pointed out.
"Right, Race did lights and Jack did crew. I guess they have a valid reason then."
"Eh, they're still nerds."
"Oh undeniably," she laughed. She fixed her scarf one last time, making sure the knot she had tied at the back of her neck didn't make it lay funny. She had to admit, it did look really good. "Ok, ready."
Specs passed Kath her trench coat, she'd already stuck her id and debit and metro cards into a lanyard hidden under her scarf. Specs was in charge of their keys, since he had actual pockets.
There was a small crowd already gathered on the sidewalk outside the Triumvirate House. Kath could make out Musichetta waving at them as they approached, in tight faux leather pants and bright yellow top. Katherine was relatively sure that with the exception of Halloween and the protests she'd only ever seen her wearing sky high heels. Now she wore black motorcycle boots. They were covered in straps and buckles, but the thick rubber sole was flat, only a slight heel that was more like Katherine's Docs than Musichetta's usual footwear. She had a big furry ivory coat on and Katherine was in awe at her fearless style.
"You look cute!" she told them, gesturing for both Katherine and Specs to twirl.
"Thanks, but this was all Specs," she laughed.
Musichetta nodded. "Ya done good, kid." Specs just laughed.
Everyone's attention was drawn to the steps were R was half falling down them, pulling Enjolras after him.
"Combeferre and Eponine and her siblings are being lame and watching movies," Grantaire informed the assembly. There was some slight booing. "But! I convinced our fearless leader!" He held up their linked hands triumphantly and Katherine laughed. Enj looked less than thrilled but a smile was tugging at the corner of his mouth.
"To The Wharf!" Bahorel called and began leading them downhill toward M Street and a bus stop.
Katherine let herself get swept up in the group, winding up next to Grantaire and Enjolras. She studied their outfits out of the corner of her eye and finally couldn't help herself. "Enj, you look like you stepped out of Grease," she giggled. He had on dark skinny jeans, a white t-shirt, and a leather jacket. It was a more than accurate description. "And R you could pass for Mr. D."
"You're such a Percy Jackson nerd." Grantaire laughed but didn't try to defend the Hawaiian shirt he was wearing. One she was pretty sure she'd seen Gavroche in a couple times.
"What's the t-shirt say?" she asked. Between the movement and the streetlights Katherine couldn't read it. She had managed to make out the word "Wanted" and the picture of a cat.
Grantaire grinned and turned so he was walking backwards in front of her, though with considerably less grace than Specs managed. "It says 'Wanted' and then there's a cat," here he gestured to the cat as though he was Vanna White, "and then it says 'Dead and Alive, Schrodinger's Cat.'"
Katherine snorted. "Funny."
"Thanks, Joly gave it to me."
"I did what?" Joly called from near the back of the group.
"Gave me one of my favorite shirts," Grantaire said.
"Oh! I did! Which one?"
"Oh yes, that one's good." Joly nodded and Katherine giggled. He looked very proud of it.
They reached M Street and managed to cross to the bus stop that Katherine and Specs had just used to get there. It was a Sunday night, but the sidewalk was still crowded, people coming and going from the restaurants even though most of the stores were closed. They gathered around the sign, trying their best to stay out of the way.
"Joly, is that a lightsaber on your cane?" Katherine asked when a flash of silver caught her eye.
Joly grinned. "Yes! R painted it for me! Isn't it marvelous?"
Katherine looked at it as he held it up, it sparkled under the glow of the lights. The top of the cane a metallic silver with black markings and the rest a glittering blue. "It is really cool," she told him honestly.
Joly seemed to swell with pride. "And Bossuet thought R wouldn't do it."
"I did not!" Bossuet argued. "Just said that you could've had it for Halloween."
"But it wouldn't have gone with my costume on Halloween," Joly smirked. The two dissolved into a lighthearted back and forth that was more flirting than arguing.
Katherine turned back to Grantaire who was leaning against the bus stop sign and watching the whole thing with a smile. "It's really good," she nodded towards Joly.
"Thanks, but it was nothing." R shrugged, straitening up. Katherine went to argue but he cut her off, raising his voice to say, "Bus!"
There was a bit of a flurry as everyone grabbed for their metro cards. They loaded onto the bus and soon they were off. Katherine still had no idea where they were going, and everyone refused to tell her. The only thing she managed to learn was the Cosette and Marius were meeting them there.
Courfeyrac and Bahorel led the group onto the metro and then off the metor at L’Enfant and down and around a bunch of blocks until they reached the waterfront. They stopped at the door to a bar, flashing their ids to the bouncers before being let in. Jehan was next, he had to let them mark the back of his hands with sharpie before he was let in. Then Musichetta, Bossuet, and Joly. Katherine and Specs were motioned to go next, with Enjolras and Grantaire being last. She and Specs were both marked and soon he had grabbed her wrist and was tugging her through the door. It was dark inside, the lights at the edges of the room giving off a soft golden glow that was swallowed by the wood that seemed to be on every surface. Their friends were at a large table in the corner, not far from a small stage where a live band was setting up. Marius and Cosette sat there, greeting everyone as they came up.
"Did Feuilly decide not to come then?" Cosette asked, noticing Enjolras and Grantaire making their way over.
"He has a project due tomorrow and his wifi at home was really spotty so he couldn't work on it," Bossuet said. There were nods and noises of understanding.
"Well, we ordered appetizers; drinks are on your own." Cosette smiled as a pair of waiters arrived, each carrying two huge plates.
"Cosette, I see why Marius loves you so," Grantaire purred. He fluttered his eyelashes and made a kissy face at her.
She just laughed and waved him off. "Papa always gives me more money than I actually need when he brings me back after breaks, thought I'd treat my friends a little." Cosette shot a knowing look toward Enjolras. "Besides, it's someone else's turn by now."
"Now Katherine, doesn't that sound familiar," Specs said sarcastically.
She just made a face at him and grabbed one of the onion rings off the plate. The bar began to fill up around them. Katherine continued to snack and ordered a water when the waiter came around again, as did almost everyone else. Only Courfeyrac was different, asking for a root beer. Katherine still wasn't quite sure what was going on. They had come to a bar and yet not even Grantaire had ordered a drink. Everyone was dressed in finery, but they all had pieces or silhouettes that spoke of decades past. The people around them did too. Some coming in dressed as though FDR had just announced that the war was over, others looked like they'd be more at home in East Egg than Washington. Most looked like her friends though, dressed nice in modern clothes that had a vintage flair.
"So R," she said as she leaned over to where he sat next to her, "you care to explain... anything?"
R bit his lip and glanced around at the nearly filled bar, and Katherine found that surprising for the Sunday after Thanksgiving. "Not yet," he said, a mischievous light in his eye.
Kath sighed but resigned herself to the mystery. The band warmed up, a small brass band that made Katherine smile just to hear them play scales. At seven o'clock on the nose the lead trumpet stepped up to the mic. "Good evenin' folks," he said with just the barest hint of a southern drawl. Katherine only caught it because a couple days at home meant that the accent was out of place to her ears. "We're going to get started so if you'd like to take your places we'll kick it off with a classic."
Grantaire tugged Kath to her feet. She looked at him in surprise as he grinned. "You wanted to know what was going on? Well, we're dancing. Swing dancing."
Katherine laughed as she recognized the song the band was playing, a rendition of Sing, Sing, Sing, and let R pull her onto the dance floor. He was an excellent dancer, spinning her around with ease and finesse. He twirled her and pulled her back in, grabbing her waist as he spoke in her ear over the music. "You wanna try some lifts?"
Katherine threw her head back and laughed. "Of course!" R grinned back at her and soon he was grabbing her around the waist and swinging her up and then to one side and then the other. People around them clapped as Katherine landed, laughing and glad she had worn her converse and the shorts.
She danced with Grantaire for two more songs before Specs cut in. He wasn't as effortless as R was, but they'd gone to the swing lessons that Medda had hosted over the summer together, so they were used to dancing with each other. He twirled her and dipped her. They managed a few simple lifts, but nothing like the more complex stuff she and R had been trying near the end of the last song. It was a nice break though and Kath loved getting to dance with Specs. He was always a great dancer, even if his swing was a tad rusty.
Katherine laughed as they passed Courf trying to coach Enj, who looked awkward and uncomfortable. Grantaire had stolen Cosette away from Marius and was practically throwing the slight girl around. Her bell like laugh could be heard from even across the dance floor as R lifted and dipped her.
Katherine and Specs had made their way to the edge of the floor after a couple songs, both needing a drink. Specs passed Katherine her glass and she was taking a sip when an older man approached them.
"Excuse me, miss," he said kindly, tipping his cap, "I couldn't help but notice that you really seem to know what you're doing out there."
Katherine giggled, shaking her head. "Not really, my partners have been the ones doing all the work." It was true, when R had danced with her all she had to do was keep her balance, jump when needed, and find a point on the wall to focus on and he had pretty much done the rest. With Specs too she'd done little more than follow his lead and be aware of their surroundings.
The man smiled at her. "I'm an old timer, miss, I learned this when I was only a bit younger than you, I know how hard what you've been doing is. And you've been making it look easy. You're quite impressive."
Katherine blushed, she never received compliments for her dancing. Years of tap thanks to her parents had made her good but not anything to sneeze at and the ballroom and swing classes she'd taken in college were just for fun with her friends. She would hardly consider herself worthy of random praise. "Well, thank you," she said with a smile.
"If it's not too much to ask, may I have the next song? I can't flip you around like your fellas have been doing but I can still swing with the best of them."
Katherine giggled and glanced at Specs. He shrugged and gave her an encouraging smile. "Sure." She gave him her hand and he led her back onto the dance floor. He spun her around, true to his word he certainly could still swing with the best of them and Katherine found herself breathless and a little dizzy by the time the song ended.
He walked her back to their table and tipped his hat again. "Thank you, that was marvelous."
"No, thank you! I'm going to have to catch my breath for a song or two after that!" Katherine admitted. He chuckled and nodded before wandering back to sit with a woman who looked about the same age. She smiled at Katherine and nodded, Kath returned the gestures before collapsing into her chair.
"Well that was impressive," Enjolras said as he slid into the chair next to her.
"You saw that?"
"Yes. I decided to take myself out of rotation," he said dryly, "so I've just been watching."
"R hasn't come to snatch you up?"
"He's been spinning Musichetta like a top."
Katherine hummed and sipped her water. "Let me take a break for a song and then I'll dance with you."
"That's really not necessary. I'm not quite cut out for this sort of thing," Enjolras grimaced and Katherine raised an eyebrow.
"What's with the face?"
"What face?" he asked, suddenly defensive.
"The one you just made at the thought of me dancing with you."
Enjolras sighed. "It's not you-"
"It's me?" Katherine smirked as he gave her a flat look.
"Fine," he said with a huff. "My parents made me got to cotillion classes when I was younger."
Katherine sat up straight. "I had to go to etiquette classes!" she exclaimed with a laugh.
"Oh they were hell, weren't they?" Enjolras grinned at her, happy to commiserate in a shared childhood misery.
"Dante knew nothing when he wrote the Inferno," she agreed with a grin. "So are you telling me you can...?"
"Waltz," Enj admitted miserably. "I wish I could do this, especially since Grantaire loves it so much but..." He trailed off and shrugged, looking out at the dance floor.
"Well, I'm sure R would be more than willing and able to teach you."
"But he's so good, he should be dancing with someone like you who can keep up."
"Enj, I can barely keep up. Besides, that's all you need to do, just keep up and R will do the rest."
Enjolras gave her a skeptical look. She stole a fry and waved it at him menacingly. Enjolras narrowed his eyes. "Why are you like this?"
"I could be asking you the same thing," she said primly. When Enjolras sighed Katherine softened. "Ok, look, I'll dance with you, just easy stuff, for a song or two and then we'll get R to takeover."
He raised his eyebrows, even more skeptical than before.
"I know how to waltz to you know, I'll teach you the stuff that's the most similar. Really all you need to worry about is the rhythm, this is in four or two and it's swung rather than being straight eighths in three."
Enjolras gave her a quizzical expression. "How do you know all that?"
"Albert. He's going to be a music teacher. And Medda. Her dance teacher friends are very thorough."
Enj shook his head but he smiled. "Alright, let's try it."
At the beginning of the next song Katherine pulled Enjolras out onto the floor. She showed him the basic steps and how to spin and dip her and then let him go. He was a little stiff at first, and mostly relied on Kath to lead, but soon he was getting the hang of it and getting comfortable. He gave Katherine a spin and when he put his hand on her hip again he was grinning. As they danced his confidence grew and Katherine laughed as he dipped her. The song ended and they clapped for the band before they launched into the next one and Enjolras grabbed her hands to dance again. They made their way across the floor to where Grantiare was with Jehan, both laughing more than dancing. R's face lit up as he saw them.
The song ended and Grantaire turned to Jehan and Katherine. "Would you mind if we switched partners?" he asked, his gaze landing on Enjolras.
Katherine gave the couple a smile and put her hand in Jehan's. They danced for a song, though it was mostly swaying and unabashed spying on Grantaire and Enjolras. "They look like they're having fun," Jehan said as they sidestepped another couple.
"Good. They're too cute not to. They deserve it," Katherine said with maybe a little too much force. She'd gotten to know the boys over the past couple weeks and she knew they were crazy about each other.
Jehan hummed; and kept humming. A tune that wasn't what the band was playing but reminded Katherine of it. It was familiar and tugged at the back of Kath's mind. Suddenly it hit her. "Is that from Bandstand?"
Jehan beamed. "Yes! You said, 'they deserve it' and with the music and the line it reminded me."
Katherine smiled back. "I like that show. I think you'd really like some of my friends from home, they're theater nerds too."
Jehan's eyes sparkled as they spun. "It's such a unique form of storytelling. And it requires so much talent and combines so many arts. Without any one aspect of it the show falls apart." Katherine smiled as Jehan took on a dreamy expression before focusing on her once more. "R said you got to see Phantom yesterday. Was is as spectacular as everyone says?"
"It was definitely worth waking up at dawn and standing in the cold for the tickets," Katherine joked. Jehan gave her a wry smile. "You would love it," she said honestly, and he really would. "The costumes are insane and the people on stage are just so talented and the chandelier?"
"I'd like to see that the most."
"It really is spectacular."
Jehan nodded and they danced for a few more seconds in companionable silence, only the music and the sounds of the other people around them in between.
"Jehan," Katherine said after a little while, "have you ever been to a Broadway show?"
"Oh no. I've been to The National Theater a few times though. I saw Beetlejuice here and Mean Girls last fall and I have tickets to Beautiful in a few days. So, I've seen the tours and the out of town tryouts but never a show when it was in New York," he smiled at her. "Besides, seeing them before Broadway is a bit of a treat, don't you think?"
Kath and Specs had gone to Beetlejuice the week before it closed, and she had to admit that it was kind of fun getting to see it before they had it all finalized. Knowing the story from the movie but not knowing what, if anything, they might have changed. Going in essentially blind had been so neat to her. She knew what Jehan was talking about and could see the appeal. "Yeah, it is. I saw Beetlejuice too."
"Oh isn't it funny? Dark comedy for sure."
"I really liked it," she agreed. "Jehan? How would you like to come to New York over the summer? You can stay with me and we'll go see a bunch of shows, I can get tickets through my dad."
"Really?" Jehan looked thrilled by the prospect.
"Yeah. We'll stagedoor and Medda knows like everyone so we might even be able to go backstage at some of them."
"Oh yes, Katherine I would love that," Jehan looked at her earnestly and Katherine resolved that she was bringing Jehan to New York if it was the last thing she did.
The song ended, and they clapped for the band. Jehan then lifted her hand and kissed the back of it before disappearing off into the crowd. Katherine laughed. She turned and found herself face to face with Courfeyrac who smiled and pulled her in to start dancing as the next song began.
Katherine danced with Courf and then Specs again, before finding herself back with Grantaire. He gave her a wicked smile and the band paused before launching into their next song.
"This is a special request, from the musical Bandstand we present You Deserve It!"
R blinked at her in surprise, Katherine just shrugged as she was equally caught off guard. Something told her that this was Jehan's doing but Grantaire was already whipping her around the floor as they tried their best to recreate the complex choreography by memory.
By the end of the night Katherine was exhausted but happy, leaning against Specs as they took the metro back into Virginia. She knew she would be sore tomorrow but in the meantime? Katherine thought it was the perfect ending to an extra-long weekend.
This bar is made up though there are many along the spot I chose for it and numerous jazz clubs in DC. The swing dancing and Kath being asked to dance by an older gentleman is based off my sort of sister who can lindy hop like no other.
Catherine Tate and David Tennant's Much Ado About Nothing can be found here on youtube (until it gets taken down I'm sure) and it truly amusing.
Grantaire's shirt in this chapter and the one at the Met are both real and can be found here and here. All other clothing (unfortunately) is mostly products of my imagination.
I did get to see Beetlejuice while it was here! And I really enjoyed it! I'm really excited for the cast album.
"Tell me again why we have to go to these?" Katherine asked, looking out at the networking event.
"Because we have business cards to get rid of?" Specs hazarded.
"Because calling it nepotism is frowned upon," Enjolras said dryly. Katherine and Specs both looked at him. Enjolras stared back. "That's what it is."
She shared a look with Specs that effectively communicated the thought of "He's not wrong" between them.
Because the last couple chapters have been looooong have one that's extra short.
Katherine flung the door open as soon as she got it unlocked. She tugged her keys out and let it slam behind her, thrilled to see Specs’s backpack sitting by the couch.
“SPEEEE-EEEECS!” She yelled into the apartment, knowing he was here somewhere, and flinging off her coat. “SPECS!”
“Wha-AAAT?!” He yelled back, throwing the door of the bathroom open. Kath could hear the sink was still running.
“It’s almost our last week here,” she panted, having run from the elevator.
Specs blinked at her. “And?”
“And- it’s almost over.”
Specs just continued to blink at her. His mouth was open, lip tugging up in annoyance as his eyebrows pulled themselves impossibly together and upward.
“It’s almost over and we’ll be home soon. No more D.C. Or ABC. Or free museums. Or people trying to start a conversation with you in the elevator. Or clean subways with cell reception. Or- or- or…”
Specs saw her distress because he came over and wrapped her up in a hug. “Let’s be real,” he said, chin resting on the top of her head, “you’re not going to miss random people trying to start conversations with you in the elevator. Especially before you’ve had your third cup of coffee.”
Kath pressed her face into his shoulder. “You’re not wrong,” she mumbled.
“What?” Specs laughed. “I heard ‘mmhmm-mm.’”
Katherine pulled back far enough to repeat herself. “You’re not wrong.”
Specs laughed, hugging her tight again. “I have an idea. Go get changed, put on those awful sweatpants that you still haven’t given back to Jack and then come here.”
When he let her go Kath shot Specs a look; she did as instructed though, pulling off her work clothes and putting on Jack’s sweatpants and a t-shirt from the school paper. Katherine returned to the living room where Specs had pushed all the furniture to the edges of the room and set up his speaker. With a smile he hit play on his phone and the apartment was filled with a synth riff that Katherine instantly recognized.
Her whole body bent backwards slightly as she threw her head back and laughed. She straightened and looked Specs dead in the eye. “What’s this?” she asked.
“I think you know exactly what this is,” Specs replied, shimming his shoulders in time with the music. “It’s catchy, Billy Joel always gets white people turnt, and the history nerd in me loves it.”
Katherine rolled her eyes. “I know what the song is, it’s We Didn’t Start the Fire. What are we doing?”
Shaking her head, Kath began to shake her ass as she made her way over to Specs. They danced terribly and shouted the lyrics they knew. Eventually they were just jumping in time and trying to sing along. The song ended and Kath tried to catch her breath as it started back up again. She let out a breathless laugh and Specs grabbed her hand, pulling her in a circle around the living room. They listened to the song so many times on repeat, jumping and shimmying and just dancing like fools, that they managed to learn all the lyrics.
They ordered pizza and where still half screaming along to it when the food showed up. When they were eating the pizza. And as they took the box to the trash room, Specs bringing the speaker with him.
By the time Katherine was so tired that she couldn’t even stand anymore she had to admit that she was feeling much better than when she’d walked through the door that afternoon. She fell into bed still humming and smiling.
Specs is an AMAZING friend, ok? Also, may or may not be inspired by me dancing around my bedroom to We Didn't Start the Fire on loop.
“Grantaire said that you’re to rehearse the highlighted parts for tonight,” Enjolras said by way of greeting on Friday morning, holding up two sheets of paper marked up with green highlighter. She took them with a confused glance. Katherine’s name had been scrawled on the top of each and what looked like the lyrics to La Vie Boheme from RENT had been printed out.
“Why am I Maureen?” She asked after a cursory glance. “And what is this for?”
Enjolras just shrugged, spinning his office chair to face her. “It’s open mic night at the Musain, he’s plotted something.”
“I’d gathered the latter bit,” Kath said dryly. She slipped her winter coat off and settled into her chair to switch out her docs with her heels.
“It’s your last Friday with us, you have to come,” Enj implored.
Katherine raised an eyebrow and smiled. “No, next week is my last Friday. Can’t get rid of me that easily.”
“But you already said that you’re packing next Friday,” Enjolras reminded her with a smug look. It was true, Specs’s mom was driving down on Saturday morning with his aunt’s minivan to move them both back to New York so Friday night was dedicated to frantically cleaning and throwing things into boxes. “And so, we planned a spectacular going away evening for tonight.”
Katherine spun her own office chair so she could give Enjolras a look. “That wasn’t necessary.”
“So are you,” Enj’s lips twitched into a smile, “it’s why we’re such good friends.”
Katherine smiled, she really couldn’t do anything but smile at that. Enjolras returned it before they both turned back to their computers, they had one last project to finish before their internships ended the next week.
“Hey Katherine!” Specs called from the direction of the bedroom when she opened the apartment door. “I need fashion advice!”
“Why?” Kath relocked the door before dumping her stuff on the table.
“Because we’re the guests of honor for the ABC’s party tonight.”
“Warm,” she suggested, thinking of the cold that was already starting to settle in with the sun having gone down and the trek to the Triumvirate House from the bus stop on M Street.
Specs gave her his most unamused look and threw a flannel at her head. Kath caught it and threw it back at him. Specs laughed and held it up. “This might actually work. So, did you get cryptically highlighted lyrics today too?”
Katherine laughed. “Enjolras gave them to me. How did you get some?”
“R texted me to meet him and Eponine at the Whole Foods at Foggy Bottom before I went home after work, gave it to me then. I get to be Benny. Apparently, he said that he thinks I’ll have fun with it.”
“You so will,” Kath told him. Specs shrugged, having slipped on the flannel as a part of the movement. She smiled at him before turning to her own closet and tugging out her jeans and an oversized sweater.
She started to get changed and Specs turned up the song that was coming from his speaker, blasting AJR and their revolutionary anthem so that it filled the small space. Katherine laughed as she laced up her boots, watching as Specs danced in the space between their beds. He sang along, pointing at her as he did so. Katherine stood and shimmied on her way to the bathroom to fix her makeup, earning a laugh.
Walking into the Musain now was familiar. The baristas waved to them and the emcee nodded as the made their way to the loft. Some of their friends weren’t there yet but the ABC’s usual table and couches was fairly crowded. There was a cheer when they noticed Katherine and Specs walking over and the two being the hams they were began to bow and twirl, soaking up the attention. That just egged them on though and soon Bahorel was wooping and someone was whistling and there was feet stomping and laughing and absolute chaos.
Katherine shook her head and settled into the seat between Grantaire and Enjolras. She hadn’t really had much of a choice as R had slid down the couch, smushing Eponine in the process, to make room for her.
“You’ve made it!” R crowed, slinging an arm over her shoulders. “Did you get a chance to look over your lines?”
Kath rolled her eyes and pulled the folded pages out of her purse, holding them up for him to see. “I did.”
R lit up, his eyes sparkling and his grin stretching impossibly wider. “Excellent. We’re on last tonight.”
“We’re?” Kath raised an eyebrow at him.
Grantaire mimed locking up his mouth and throwing away the key. Kath turned so that she was facing Enjolras. She turned her questioning look on him instead. Enj sighed, “We’re all in on it and not allowed to talk about it. But you really don’t need to worry.”
“That is oddly reassuring believe it or not,” Kath replied.
The conversation began to flow easily around them and Katherine let herself get swept up in it. After a while she got up to get a coffee before settling in again as the open mic night started. Too soon Kath was being tapped on the shoulder by Grantaire and told to grab her lyrics. As the ABC tromped down the stairs Kath noticed that a small drum set was quickly being set up.
"We have a very special treat for you all tonight," the emcee was saying as extra mics were placed and they all started to settle themselves around the stage. "As you can see, Courf even talked us into setting the old drum set up." From behind the drums Courfeyrac smiled and twirled a stick. "So, without further ado, La Vie Boheme!"
Cosette had sat down at the piano and began to play the opening chords. Katherine had been subtly positioned so that she was between Enjolras and Grantiare, Specs on R's other side. Jehan started, looking at Specs and asking, "Who died?"
A gasp came from Joly and Bossuet. "Evita!"
Specs went on to completely overact the Benny part, snarling at them all in mock disgust. Kath ended up clamping her hand over her mouth to keep from bursting out laughing. The other people in the Musain were laughing and clapping. Grantaire grabbed the mic that was in front of the three of them then. "Dearly beloved," he started and Katherine just grinned and grinned.
They made their way through the song, Kath performing her highlighted lines as directed, and overall sounded pretty damn good. Having gotten to know them all Katherine could appreciate the artistry and thought that went into divvying out who was tapped to sing what. R had changed the names to reflect the members of the ABC that fit best and when they got to “the Sex Pistols, 8VC” it had been changed and they all yelled “ABC!” It flowed right into the B part and again R had perfectly picked who would get what lines. As everyone screamed “Anarchy!” Kath found herself half singing and half screaming “Revolution, Justice, screaming for solutions, forcing changes, risk and danger, making noise and making pleas” into the mic with Enj.
As they finished the crowd in the Musain all clapped and cheered. Katherine clasped her hands with Enjolras's and Grantaire's as they all bowed, waving and heading off the small stage.
Katherine settled herself back into the couch, high on the rush that them all singing had brought her. It wasn't perfect, and it hadn't sounded anything like the version she normally listened to on Spotify, but it had been fun and it was her friends.
"How long did it take you?" She asked R as he hopped over the back of the sofa.
"What ever are you talking about?" He asked in a poor imitation of a Trans-Atlantic accent.
"To plan this," she wanted to be a reporter, Kath was not going to let him off that easily.
R smirked and glanced around quickly, like he was suspicious of being overheard, before leaning in to whisper, "Since the toast on Halloween."
Katherine leaned back to look at him in amazement. Pride glinted in his eyes and his smile like the light off the ring in his nose. "I'm impressed," she admitted.
"Well thank you. I normally live to disappoint but I figured I owed this to you. Plus, look at Specs, he was born to play Taye Diggs being a well-intentioned ass."
Katherine gave him a look. Only Grantaire would shrug off a compliment and insult himself while changing the subject at the same time. It was close to what Jack did though much more seamless which told her it was a lot more practiced. Jack might have had a self-deprecating streak, but he was much more likely to be brash fake bravado than what Grantaire had given her.
Before she can scold him though Bossuet and Joly come to pull Grantaire into a conversation and possibly a conspiracy theory. Katherine can't be positive but they're undoubtedly discussing the E Coli outbreak in romaine lettuce. Katherine is only half listening as the couch dips next to her and she turned to find Combeferre.
"You know what's really ironic?" He asked, there's a humor in the tilt of his eyebrows above the glasses and he nods slightly at the three beyond Katherine.
"What?" Katherine takes the bait. Curiosity killed the cat, but Katherine Pulitzer is well informed and knows that the rest of the saying tells you that satisfaction brought it back.
"I've been trying to grow E Coli all semester in lab and just flat out been unable to and yet..." Ferre trailed off and Katherine laughed.
"And yet you can't buy lettuce without getting it as a free side," she finished for him.
"I'm considering buying some and just using it," Combeferre told her seriously. It was ruined by his conspiratory wink.
Kath snorted. "How is there an E Coli outbreak and yet you're incapable of growing any?"
"I asked that exact same question. Turns out my media was too salty." Combeferre smiled, it was small and just this side of a smirk and Katherine was forced to give him the most unimpressed look she possibly could. It didn't last very long though because she ended up cracking up. "I'm not kidding either!" Combeferre assured her as he too started laughing.
Courfeyrac walked over, probably curious as to why they were both bent double. He perched himself on the table and looked down on Kath and Ferre with amusement.
"Care to share?" he asked with an easy smile.
"I was telling Kath about the unfortunate situation with my E Coli," Ferre said, sobering up and managing to sound extremely professional.
"Aw yes," Courf nodded, "truly an unfortunate predicament."
"Indeed," Ferre began to nod as well.
"Indubitably," Courf added.
Katherine rolled her eyes. From experience she knows that Courfeyrac and Combeferre can go back and forth like this forever. Only Jack and Charlie rival them in their ability.
Thankfully the world was smiling upon her because Courf stopped nodding and turned to Kath. "I actually wandered over to tell you that we're going to be heading out soon," he said.
"We are?" Katherine looked to Combeferre, hoping for a clarification.
"Well yeah, the Musain is going to kick us out eventually," he told her, as though it's the most obvious thing in the world.
"But eventually isn't now," Katherine felt the need to point out.
"But I didn't decorate and buy a frankly unhealthy amount of alcohol for nothing," Courf said. He hopped off the table and began to walk away, presumably to round up the others.
Katherine turned her questioning look to Combeferre who just smiled innocently. Kath loved Ferre, he was brilliant and kind and grounded and passionate and the biggest little shit. Katherine was friends with Charlie Morris, she knew sarcastic little shits and Combeferre was one of them. It was just normally under a layer of genuine compassion.
"You suck," Katherine informed him without malice. Combeferre just blinked at her innocently.
They worked their way to Georgetown and Katherine was surprised when they all started getting off the bus much sooner than expected. "Where are we going?" she questioned as she followed her friends down a side street, Specs at her side.
"To Baked and Wired! You never mentioned it and you have to go," Joly told her excitedly.
"Baked and Wired?" Katherine was confused. Very confused.
"It's a cupcake shop! The best cupcakes in Georgetown," Musichetta said seriously.
"But I thought that was-" Kath started saying.
"No! Don't!" Musichetta tried to stop her but it was too late, the words were already leaving Katherine's mouth.
There was a collective groan. Katherine didn't even know that the whole ABC could hear her, nevertheless that they were listening.
Enjolras spun on his heel and began to walk backwards, impressive considering it's dark, they're going downhill, and nearing the canal with its construction fencing. "Georgetown Cupcakes is an abomination," he started, voice ringing out clearly and venomous.
"Here we go," Grantaire said.
Enjolras elected to ignore him and continued. "They are tiny, vastly overpriced, and frankly less than mediocre. The icing is decent but the cupcakes themselves are dry and lack flavor. The lines are insanely long and cause traffic problems and the people waiting in them are rude and/or drunk bringing a blight upon the neighborhood and its already crowded sidewalks. The only people that actually enjoy Georgetown Cupcakes are tourists who have been sold a falsity in the hype caused by national television and drunk sorority girls who feel the need to exercise their status and are too inebriated to notice that the cupcakes are actually lackluster."
"Please, tell us how you really feel," Grantaire said dryly.
Enjolras glared. "It is a con and a nuisance and I refuse to let such injustice stand when there is true artistry and confections worthy of their cost only a few blocks away." With that Enj turned back around marched across the bridge.
Katherine was used to Enjolras's speeches and Grantaire's rants and more often than not their interweaving’s but that? That wasn't out of character, but it was surprising. "I didn't know he felt so strongly about cupcakes," she muttered, thinking aloud.
"He doesn't," Bossuet replied. "He just hates Georgetown Cupcakes that much."
Baked and Wired was crowded when they got there but Katherine and Specs are wedged through the door and into line while the rest continue the line outside; and it only grew as more people come down the street or up from the restaurants and bars and movie theater that line the river. Katherine was trying to take in the shop; the high ceilings and other room with a coffee bar and what looked like seating in the back and there's art but more importantly the long counter displaying cupcakes bigger than Katherine's fist, brownies, lemon bars, whoopie pies, and more. Her amusement at the decor, exactly what she expected from a place with the name Baked and Wired, was interrupted by Cosette shoving a small laminated menu into her hand. Katherine hadn't noticed but it would seem that she and Marius had slipped in first and would be overseeing the process. Kath looks it over, half laughing at the names and half drooling at the variety. As they near the counter a girl starts calling out for people who haven't ordered yet and are ready. Making a gut decision Katherine catches her attention. Cosette is animatedly placing her own order but she had noticed Kath. "To-go," she says quickly and Kath picked up on her meaning.
"Hi," Kath started, a little breathless and a little overwhelmed. "Can I have a Chocolate Doom to-go please?" The girl nodded and scribbled on a paper before handing it off and pointing Kath further down the counter to the register.
"Uh, Unicorn Poop?" Specs said behind her. "Also to-go."
"What?" Kath asked, they were waiting while Marius paid for him and Cosette.
"It sounded funny and was the rainbow one," Specs shrugged. Their friends had been able to come in and were placing their orders too. Kath nodded, the rainbow was a big appeal but chocolate. She swiped her card and tapped at the screen, being handed a white box in return.
There wasn't really anywhere for Kath to go after that. The seating areas in were full and the crowd was just growing. Katherine saw Marius leading Cosette through the crush of people and elected to follow them outside. It was colder, but she could actually breathe. There were little metal tables and chairs set up and Cosette had perched herself on one, Katherine decided to do the same. As they waited for the others Katherine and Cosette chatted. The other girl asked about her internship and how she'd liked being in D.C. and what her plans for the next week were while Katherine asked her about cosplay; how long it took to make something, did she compete, did she sell prints of some of her photos. By the time Katherine had followed her cosplay account on Instagram and Cosette made plans to get dinner with her later in the week everyone had gotten their treats and were ready to go.
They all trooped back up to M Street and then continue to cross it and go up the hill before cutting sideways through the mostly residential blocks and toward the university and the Triumvirate House that's just before it. Katherine couldn't help but notice that the route carefully avoided ever nearing Georgetown Cupcakes. She can't help but smile at that thought. When they reached the House Courfeyrac is the first to race up the stairs and unlock the door; letting it swing open and the crowd behind him to enter. Katherine is mostly unsurprised to find Gavroche sprawled out on the floor of the living room, furiously playing Fortnite. "Les! Cover me!" he practically shouted into his headset and frantically started jamming buttons. If possible, Katherine is even less surprised to hear that he's playing with the youngest Jacobs sibling. Technology can be a wonderful thing, she mused.
"Gav, really?" Eponine had positioned herself in front of the television with her arms crossed.
"Ugh. I've gotta go Les, they're back. I'll text you if I can get on from R's account," Gavroche pushed himself up and set about turning off the game. Eponine just rolled her eyes, satisfied for now. Grantaire was pouting at Gavroche in faux annoyance as the boy ignored him.
Twinkle lights were plugged in and Katherine noted with amusement that the living room had been covered in a fine layer of tinsel and garlands. A small plastic Christmas tree and menorah stood side by side on the table in the front window that was normally used as overflow from the bookshelves; which seemed to have been rearranged in light of the holiday cheer. Katherine followed after Enjolras who was making a beeline for the kitchen. She paused on the threshold as he flipped the light on. Kath gasped. The light revealed a banner, obviously painted by Grantaire's hand, that read "We'll Miss You!!!"
Enjolras shot her a shy smile as he started taking plates out of the cupboard and forks out of the drawer. "I did say we were throwing a going away party."
Kath lowered her hands from where they'd flown to cover her mouth and ran to hug him. He let out a soft "oof" as her weight hit him. She pinned his upper arms as he held the plates in one hand and forks in the other out to the side. Katherine didn't really care if she was accidentally stabbed by a fork, she was still wearing her winter coat and that provided protection from fork stabbings. Mostly, Enjolras had just been caught completely off guard by her sudden display of physical affection.
"Thank you," she said, muffled by his shoulder. Why were all her guy friends so tall? Well not all, but most. She needed to go home and hug Spot and Charlie, make herself feel a little less aware of her height.
Enj chuckled and she could feel it. "For what?"
"Being my friend. This. Seeing my need for direction and pointing me in one. I would've slowly died this semester without you. Gone crazy from wanting to do something but unable to because I didn't know the area. You offered to be my friend and then you shared your friends and then welcomed us with open arms when we wanted to help and gave me the ability to act in a constructive way on my frustrations," she explained, her face still pressed into his shoulder.
"Katherine," he said gently but firmly, forcing her to pull back and meet those pretty blue eyes, "how many times do I have to tell you that I stalked you on the internet, decided you were way too cool to be my friend, and then tried my damnedest to make it happen anyway? You're a scary impressive person who's done some scary impressive things, I'm just glad you decided you liked me. Besides, you’re crazy smart and would’ve found another group or something if you hadn’t found us."
Kath let him go, mostly so she could put her face in her hands as she laughed. "Why are we like this?"
"I don't know," Enj replied with a smirk. Kath shook her head and shrugged off her coat before taking her usual stool. Courfeyrac had wandered in and down into the basement, Grantaire and Bahorel trailing after him. There was the sounds of cursing and soon they were returning with bottles of alcohol, cases of beer and hard cider, and boxes of wine. They started setting them up on the counter as Enjolras went to distribute plates and napkins for the cupcakes.
Kath closed her eyes in bliss as she bit into her cupcake, it was perfect. She was halfway through when Grantaire noticed. "Want a drink to wash that down?"
Kath could only nod as her mouth was stuffed with cupcake.
R grinned and Bahorel began to laugh. "What do you want?" R had started to get her a glass.
"Milk!" Kath tried to say but with all the cupcake in her mouth it sounded more like "Mmmk!"
R snorted but he understood, pouring her a huge glass and setting it down in front of her. Bahorel joined her at the island and gave R a grin and batted his eyelashes. Grantaire replied by rolling his own eyes and getting Bahorel his own glass. Kath would've laughed if she hadn't been so preoccupied chewing.
Kath decided that while she was sad that she would miss her new friends she wasn't going to focus on that. She was going to see them again, she was determined. And when Katherine was determined, things got done. Anyway, there was an entire petition to plan and a protest to schedule and Washington and New York weren't really that far apart.
"So, what would you like to do tonight?" Bahorel asked. He had the same talent as waiters in that Katherine had just taken her last giant bite of cupcake. She stared at him, cheeks puffing out filled with food. He noticed and started cracking up. "I'll take that as a ‘finish your cupcake’ first," Bahorel snorted.
"I told you they were good," Enj said smugly before drifting off toward the living room.
Katherine rolled her eyes at his back, he could be such a drama queen.
While she ate her cupcake and drank her milk Bahorel and Grantaire cracked jokes, ate their own cupcakes, and finished turning the kitchen into a make-shift bar. People filtered in and out around her, giving hugs as they passed and chatting briefly. Eventually Katherine's milk turned into Kahlua and cream. Well Kahlua and 2%. She'd seen Grantaire setting the bottle out and motioned for him to just pass it to her, adding some to her glass.
Eventually, Musichetta came to shoo them all out to the living room where Courf was trying to start a game of Never Have I Ever. Katherine had to get more drink if they were going to do that. She settled next to Specs on the floor. There was a plush area rug covering the original wood floors that over the past few months Kath had discovered was comfier than the couch and cleaner too as it was always meticulously vacuumed by Combeferre whereas the sofa tended to be overlooked. Specs leaned towards her slightly and she leaned to meet him, putting their weight on each other.
The game quickly dissolved into just talking. Enjolras caught her eye at one point and smiled. She could tell it was because he was proud he'd guessed right for tonight, yeah Katherine liked to dance and party and have a great time, but this laid back and relaxed atmosphere was exactly what she needed. She could see Specs was the same way, having settled in to a conspiracy theory discussion with Joly and Feuilly. She'd seen him dominate beer pong and knew that busting out his dad dance moves to Mr. Brightside was a guilty pleasure. She could also tell that spinning ridiculous stories and just enjoying their friends made him thrilled.
As the night wound down people started to trickle out, back to their dorms and apartments. Hugs were given and promises to keep in touch made. Katherine had to fight back tears more than once.
As usual, Kath was back in the kitchen watching the boys clean up. R looked at her and Specs and then the clock. "You guys going to crash here?" he asked.
Katherine wrinkled her nose, an unintentional gesture. "We really should go home."
Specs raised an eyebrow at her and turned to R. "We're staying here if you'll let us. I'm not walking home tonight, I'm exhausted Kath. And lazy."
She laughed and nodded. It was a fair point.
"I'll go raid the left and found," Courf said and headed off towards the basement.
"Left and found?" Kath asked.
"It's, uh, a long story," Enjolras said sheepishly. Katherine took that as enough, she had more than her fair share of lengthy stories.
"So," R started now that everything had been more or less cleaned up, "what'd'ya think?"
"You guys sure know how to throw a party. A variety of parties," Specs joked.
"It was fun," Kath confirmed.
"You don't look happy," R noted dryly.
"Cause I'm gonna miss you," she sniffed. Katherine didn't cry. It wasn't really any good reason, but Kath normally didn't watch Titanic or The Notebook and end up having to buy a new box of tissues. She'd had people scream in her face and call her names, she'd been terribly embarrassed, she'd even had her heart broken and nothing. No tears. She would cry when she felt the world tip out from under her but that had only ever happened once. Or when she was frustrated, that had happened a handful of times. If she was crying or going to cry, then it was normally for a damn good reason.
Katherine came to the conclusion that this was a damn good reason.
Katherine woke up the next morning, still wearing the extra-large t-shirt and loose basketball shorts that Courfeyrac had returned with from the basement for her. Specs had been given a t-shirt and pair of sweatpants too. They'd been sent to some of the spare bedrooms and it was the light slicing through the small window that had woken Kath. She went to check the time on her phone, only to find that it had died some time during the night. She slipped it into the pocket on the shorts and padded barefoot to the kitchen. When she walked in she was hit with an overwhelming sense of deja vu as Enjolras stood making pancakes at the stove.
"Isn't cooking shirtless a little dangerous?" She asked, loitering in the doorway. Enj startled and turned to face her. "And nice hickey." Enj gave her a dark look. "The pajama pants are fun though. Are those baguettes?"
He let out a long-suffering sigh. "Yes."
Kath nodded; she'd used up her pre-coffee sass, so she just sat down and propped her head up on the island.
"You ok?" He asked, turning to check on her with his spatula still aloft.
"Hmm. Caffeine," she muttered. Taking a pancake off the griddle Enj turned to grab her a mug out of the cupboard before pointing her in the direction of their Kuerig. Kath muttered something that might have been "thanks”, but she really wasn't sure it could be described as English.
She was inhaling her second cup in companionable silence with Enj when R walked in, looking thoroughly rumpled. He pecked Enj on the cheek and set about putting a kettle on for tea. He then grabbed the stack of pancakes that Enj was still adding to and started to put them on plates to be eaten. R passed Kath a plate and utensils. "Syrup? Butter? Whipped cream?" R asked, already making a beeline for the fridge.
"Kinky," Enj deadpanned.
Kath nearly shot coffee out of her nose.
"What did I just walk in on?" Specs asked from the doorway.
"Whatever you want," R told him with an incredibly suggestive eyebrow waggle. Kath could see Specs's mind working through about twelve comebacks before just shaking his head and coming to sit next to her.
"Yes! Pancakes!" Courf was way too perky for Kath before her third coffee of the day.
"Thank you, Enjolras." Ferrre was much closer to the level she could handle.
Breakfast was nice and it wasn't quite the contained chaos of a morning at Jacobi's but it still felt like home. She found herself fighting back tears again as she gave the four boys tight hugs before she and Specs went back to their apartment to start packing.
Lots of notes:
- The song Specs is listening to by AJR is Burn the House Down and it's my anthem.
- How many times have I listened to La Vie Boheme lately? Too many. I have a fairly complete idea of who would sing what in R's version if anyone is curious. The one I suggest you reference for this chapter can be found here as it is a combo of both parts.
- The E Coli problem is a real one my friend has been having and yes it is because the DNA they're supposed to use is too salty and yeah we both think that's hilarious.
- Georgetown Cupcakes is a scam, please please please check out Baked and Wired if you're ever in DC as they're AMAZING.
I have one more chapter to do and then this crazy thing is over! Wow. Let me know your thoughts/feelings/hopes/dreams as I'd love to hear them!
Katherine’s last week flew by. She tried to savor it, really she did, but in a flash it was Friday and their boss was making a speech about her and Enjolras’s hard work and how thankful everyone was to have had them all semester at the morning staff meeting. They were taken out for lunch and each were given a little gift bag of CNN goodies. Including a mug that looked like it could replace Kath’s current favorite by the size of it.
As they saved the last documents of their project and sent it off to their boss that afternoon Kath looked at Enjolras in shock. That was it. They were done.
He blinked back at her, a little bewildered himself. “I, uh, guess we should go make sure that it sent?”
So they left their little office and went to see their boss who assured them that their emails had been sent and then said that they were free to leave if they wanted, to just stop by and say good-bye and turn in their badges before they left.
In a haze Kath walked back to their shared office.
In a haze she began packing her bag, putting in her steno pad and the pack of pens that they’d given her.
In a haze she started to take down the personal touches that had accumulated in the past three months.
Taking down the little strand of purple LED lights.
Putting away the little stuffed mule from Darcy because she was stubborn and it was his school’s mascot.
Untacking the pictures of her and Jack, the boys at a rally, Sarah backstage at Medda’s theater, Jack and Spot racing across the Brooklyn Bridge with Charlie and Racetrack on their backs. Of Bossuet and Grantaire after discovering that picture and insisting on trying it across the Francis Scott Key Bridge with Joly and Musichetta respectively. Of Specs and her in front of the Capitol with Courfeyrac, Marius, and Cosette photobombing. Of her dancing with R and trying to teach Enj. Of the whole ABC and her at Halloween. Of her friends, new and old, at Medda’s on Thanksgiving. Of Enjolras, Combeferre, Courfeyrac, Grantaire, Specs, and her at breakfast that last Saturday.
By the time Kath was sitting heavily down to switch her shoes she couldn’t remember any of the details of the past few minutes. Just that she could leave the office for the last time and now? Now practically all she had to do for that was put on her coat and walk out the door.
“Katherine?” Enjolras asked gently. He was snapping the clasps on his backpack closed. “Are you ok?”
Kath nodded. She didn’t trust her voice to speak and her vision was a little blurry from built up tears.
Enjolras must have noticed because the next thing she knew he was kneeling in front of her, a tissue in hand and a worried expression on his face.
“Thanks,” she muttered, accepting the tissue and using it to dab at her eyes. They had to see their boss one last time and Katherine preferred to do that without her mascara running.
“The worst part about good experiences is when they come to an end,” Enjolras said sagely.
“That from a book? It sounds vaguely Dumbledore-esque,” she said.
Enj straightened, a small smile playing around the edges of his lips. “Fortune cookie,” he admitted wryly.
Kath giggled. That had helped her feel a little bit better. Distracted her just long enough to stave off the worst of her sudden feelings.
“You got everything?” Enj asked and slipped on his backpack.
“Yeah,” Kath said, sliding her own bag onto her shoulder.
They walked together down the hall and stood just outside their boss’s office, not wanting to interrupt. They were invited in, thanked and quickly hugged one last time, and had their badges collected. With that Katherine’s time at CNN was done. With Enjolras at her side Katherine headed to the elevators and then out the door.
“Am I going to see you at all before you leave?” Enj asked once they got to the sidewalk. He slipped an expensive pair of sunglasses out of his pocket and onto the bridge of his nose.
“I don’t think so. Specs got invited to some office party and he’s taking me with tonight and then his mom was hoping to get here before lunch tomorrow and we’re only like half packed.” Kath winced at the image of their apartment. It currently looked like a warzone. A warzone in which professional attire and suitcases had been used as artillery and ammunition.
“Understandable.” Enj nodded, as though it all made perfect sense. “But I will see you later in the month.” That sounded like a promise, vaguely like a threat, and definitely not the question she knew it actually was.
“Yes,” Kath said forcefully. She’d made up her mind then and there; Alexander be damned she was going to be involved in this massive joint venture and she was going to see Enjolras and all her friends in the ABC again as soon as possible.
Enj’s mouth twisted up into a satisfied smile. “Good. And I don’t know when your break is or if you have plans already or even if you’d want to, but you’re welcome to come spend it with us.”
Katherine’s heart swelled, and she could feel herself grinning like a dork. The biggest, stupidest, goofiest grin she had was turned on Enjolras full force at that exact moment. “Yes, I would love that.”
“Good, good,” Enj was returning her dorky smile with one of his own and Katherine hadn’t quite realized he could look dorky before, but the stupid boy managed to pull even that off. He held his arms open sheepishly, questioningly, and Katherine dove in to hug him. She squeezed him tight around the middle and Enjolras did the same, pressing his hands into her shoulders as his arms crossed each other across her back.
“I’m going to miss you,” she admitted.
“I’m going to miss you too.”
They pulled back and Enjolras swiped quickly at his eyes. Katherine swallowed and forced herself to laugh. “Stop that, you’ll make me cry too,” she half joked.
Enj just shrugged. “I’m secure enough in my masculinity to cry in public, sue me.”
“Oh no, you’ll win.”
They both laughed and Enj quickly dug a post-it out of his pocket. He handed it to her with a, “Here. Eponine and Jehan got Grantaire and now me hooked on this show, Smash, it’s been off the air for ages but there’s a song from it that feels particularly applicable. I know you listen to music on the metro and I wrote the name of it down if you’d like to listen to it on you commute home instead.”
Kath looked at the slightly crumpled yellow sticky note. “The Goodbye Song, Smash cast” had been written in Enj’s careful cursive. “Thank you. I- I will.”
Enjolras just nodded and turn to look down the street quick, watching for his bus. It wasn’t there yet but they could both see it stopped at the next intersection. “I, uh-”
“You’ve gotta run,” Kath finished for him.
“Yeah. Have fun at the party tonight. Please tell Specs I said goodbye and to keep in touch. And promise you’ll text me. Or Snapchat. Or carrier pigeon for all I care. You’re too good a friend for me to lose, Katherine.”
She felt a tear slip out at that. “We can def be pen pals,” she tried to tease. “And we’re so skyping biweekly.”
“Twice a week or every two weeks?”
“Yes,” Kath said with a laugh that he returned. “I’m so glad we met. It’s been great, honest.”
He smiled, grabbed her in a quick last hug and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek. “Bye Kath. Text me when you’re home safe.”
Katherine definitely started crying at that. “Ok,” she got out as he ran to catch his bus. It only got worse as she stuck her headphones in and listened to the song.
Kath ducked into a Starbucks bathroom after that. Crying in a Starbucks bathroom was not a good look. But crying on the subway was a worse look. She cleaned herself up and pulled sunglasses out of her bag, leaving them on to hide her puffy eyes and ruined mascara from the world for the whole ride home.
Specs was already getting changed when she walked in. “You have a headache?” he asked at the sight of the sunglasses.
“I, uh, kinda got, um, overwhelmed and may have, kinda, sorta, cried in a Starbucks,” she winced.
Specs just silently walked over to her and pulled her into a hug. “I know the feeling, I almost broke down in the office today,” he admitted.
“D’we hafta leave?” Kath muttered, pushing the words together and hoping Specs wouldn’t hear her secret wish of the semester never ending.
“Unfortunately,” he said, hugging her tighter.
She reached out to return it. “Damn.”
Kath hoped that she’d guessed right on the cotton dress and scarf as she walked with Specs past the rowhouses. Her father’s office parties were normally formal and usually held in a ballroom at one of the city’s five-star hotels. She had no idea what to expect from the one Specs was taking her to, out in the residential area behind Capitol Hill that she’d never been to before at his boss’s house. It had turned out that Specs didn’t either.
They showed up and Specs was welcomed warmly, and Kath was too after a quick introduction. The house was beautiful, food was delicious, and Specs’s colleagues were the nicest people. They told her all sorts of office gossip and about some of the trips they’d been on as Foreign Service Officers. Too soon they were saying goodbyes and walking back through the gorgeous little neighborhood to the metro stop.
“I really don’t want to finish packing,” Specs moaned as they waited for the train.
“But you’ve gotta,” Kath said.
“Can we do one last procrastination?”
She narrowed her eyes.
“It involves food.”
They got off at Farragut West, walking two blocks up and over to some crepe place that was open all night that Specs had learned about from Eponine. They settled in and the melancholy that had settled around them seemed to momentarily lift in the face of the place’s weird purple tinted lights and Bohemian Rhapsody blasting speakers.
They ended up laughing and talking, comparing their last days and the absolutely sweet gifts that they’d been given. Specs had received an elegant little notebook with the Department of State seal and a card with notes from everyone in the office. Kath couldn’t help but coo at that. They rocked out to the playlist that was made up of some of the best hype songs ever. By the time they had to leave or risk having the metro close on them Katherine was feeling better. Not good, and she still wasn’t happy, but better.
She’d had an amazing three months. Been on the frontlines of history being made and helping to make some herself. She’d gotten to challenge herself in a professional setting and put a very impressive blip on her resume. She’d fallen in love with a city filled with art and culture and history and people who were way too friendly for her native New Yorker-ness but were wonderful nonetheless. She’d made some amazing friends. Some truly spectacular friends. She was going to miss it – she hadn’t left yet and already she was missing it – but Katherine wouldn’t trade it for the world.
You can hear The Goodbye Song featuring Jeremy Jordan, Katherine McPhee, Krysta Rodriguez, and the cast of Smash (this is from Hit List so technically Leslie Odom Jr. and Phillipa Soo should be in the ensemble on this too) here or on spotify and yeah it's a Big Mood for me right now and Kath this entire chapter. (Also go watch Smash on NBC.com if you've never seen it. If you need convincing just google the cast.)
Welp folks, that's it! This is officially the length of a novel and I wrote it in a little under three months while working full time and taking two classes and doing fun things to write about. Wow. I cannot believe that. I genuinely hope that you enjoyed and I would LOVE to hear your thoughts so please please please drop me a line here or hit me up on tumblr @thelittleredheadedmusician! I'm considering a one-shot or two in this verse sometime in the future so if there's anything you'd like to see let me know! Regardless, thank you all for reading what began as a fun and ridiculously self-indulgent little thing and turned into an epic. I really do hope that you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.