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!