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The Tops R in the Kitchen

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They keep it quiet, at first. Or they mean to.

It was very new, fresh and unexpected and strange, and they both wanted to figure it out before telling all their friends.

Enjolras hadn’t walked back with Grantaire that night (they’d been meeting up because Musichetta had written an article for the local paper that Enjolras was meant to deliver but Bossuet had gotten himself and Joly sick and she was tasked with taking care of them. Naturally, Grantaire volunteered to be the messenger) with the intention of kissing him.

He’d been surprised, Grantaire, when Enjolras had volunteered in the first place. But Enjolras had been working so hard for so long to scrabble into a place close to Grantaire that didn’t consist of yelling all the time. Grantaire was smart, had a skull full of knowledge that Enjolras just… well, simply put, he would be happy to drink all of it in forever.

(It wasn’t all straight – or not so much – facts, not like Combeferre. He loved Combeferre, he was Enjolras’ best friend, but he wasn’t looking for another Combeferre. Grantaire would argue even if he didn’t believe in something, play the devil’s advocate. Why? Enjolras didn’t think he’d ever have an answer. It was fascinating)

But then Grantaire had opened the door (his hands were shaking. Enjolras didn’t know why. Was he that intimidating? He should really try to assuage that image of himself in Grantaire’s mind) and asked Enjolras if he wanted something to drink…

He couldn’t remember how it happened at first, or what had been the inciting moment. He remembered that they had sat together on the sofa, and he’d been watching Grantaire. Just watching. They’d been close, and Grantaire was tense as a drawn bowstring. He’d wanted to dissolve that tension.

Then he’d kissed him. Grantaire had gone still at first, and Enjolras had pulled away with apologies already crowding his mouth. He’d opened his mouth, but before he had a chance to say the first worst, Grantaire had made a noise from the back of his throat and they’d been kissing. He’d ended up in Grantaire’s lap somehow, and then Grantaire had been carrying him back to his bedroom and…

Well, things had escalated.

“What is this, Apollo?” Grantaire had asked, deep into the night. They’d been lying together for a while in silence, broken only by the distant hum of cars drifting by and the rattling of the A/C (Enjolras was pretty sure something was broken in it).

Apollo. Back to Apollo. He’d been calling Enjolras by his name for once. Enjolras liked it when Grantaire said his name.

He did not bristle the way he wanted to. His head rested on Grantaire’s chest, and Grantaire’s heart was thundering in his chest. Grantaire was shivering, only a little but enough to notice, and his hand he’d removed from Enjolras’ waist was resting on the bed (Enjolras had liked where it’d been before). It was not far enough away that Enjolras could not feel it clenching and unclenching around the sheets. He was struck, silently, that maybe Grantaire used Apollo like a shield.

“What are you afraid I’ll say?” Enjolras had asked. Simply because Grantaire was scared did not mean that it was because he was afraid of rejection. Enjolras didn’t want to ruin what they had because his feelings had run off, wild and longing. (He also was quite amazed that he was not trembling)

When Grantaire pushed him off and he rolled lamely onto the pillows, hair spreading all around him and probably disastrous. His heart throbbed as Grantaire looked down at him. He did not look angry, not quite, but his expression was so near to scrutinising that it stung and spread like venom though Enjolras’ veins.

“Don’t answer my questions with more questions,” Grantaire snapped. The fight was weak, however, because his voice was thin and wobbly. That hurt Enjolras as bad as being shoved away did. “What do you want from me, Enjolras? Why- why did you kiss me?”

Why did you?

He didn’t want to, but he propped himself up on his elbows. He was closer to Grantaire then, and something sparked in his chest when Grantaire’s eyes slide down his face again. “Do you want me to answer that honestly?”

A shadow, dark and fearful, glinted in Grantaire’s eyes. He met Enjolras’ gaze, however, and Enjolras could see his jaw clench. “Yes.”

He reached up tentatively to brush Grantaire’s jaw. It went slack under his fingertips. “This,” he whispered. Now his own heart hammered against his chest, and it rung in his ears. “I want this. You, as much as your willing to give. But I don’t-” Maybe he read the situation wrong, or maybe that hopeful inkling in his mind that past few weeks that maybe he likes you too was just wishful desiring. “What do you want?”

Finally, finally, Grantaire’s face softened, and he relaxed back into the propped-up pillows against the wall, holding his arm out again in invitation. Enjolras beamed and nestled himself back against Grantaire’s chest. Grantaire’s hand rested on his waist again, and his heart was invigoratingly full.

“This,” Grantaire agreed. The tension had gone from his body, and his voice was no longer lined with barbs. This was Grantaire at his most vulnerable, he realised, this was Grantaire no longer pushing him to arms’ length. It was, in that moment and as much as anything could be, perfect.

Enjolras savoured it.

“Can we-” Grantaire started, but then fell back to silence and tightened his arm around Enjolras.

“Ask me,” Enjolras said.

He could feel Grantaire drawing in a breath. “Do you mind if we… don’t tell anyone? I mean, not forever, but for- for a little while? I- Enj, you have to understand that… I’m going need some time. This will take getting used to and I need to do that without everyone knowing and- well, you know. I want to know what this is, what we are.”

Enjolras rolled his fingers in circles on Grantaire’s stomach, swirling them lazily over his burnished, beige skin. “We don’t have to tell anyone,” he said. “We figure out what we’re doing first, and then we’ll revisit telling anyone?” Grantaire nodded, chin brushing some of his hair. “Good. Are you free Friday evening?”

Grantaire hummed, fingers flexing on his skin. “I don’t know. That could ruin my plans to prank call local government officials all night. I think I could make an exception though. For you.”

He pressed his face into Grantaire’s chest in the hopes that Grantaire would be able to feel his smile against his skin. “It’s a date,” he said.

They both drifted off, eventually, and it was the warmest he had been for a long time.

It was little over three weeks later and they’d both kept their end of the bargain up perfectly. They’d been on three official dates, and even begun showing up at each other’s apartments to work in companionable silence on their respective projects (mostly, Grantaire would paint or sketch, and Enjolras would be drafting on his laptop. The work was never much fun, but there was something about being able to look up and see Grantaire nearby that relieved some of the stress rusted inside him).

They hadn’t revisited when they would tell everyone.

Combeferre and Courfeyrac had showed up at his apartment (Combeferre had texted him, but Enjolras had never seen it. Besides, it wasn’t like Courfeyrac didn’t show up unannounced all the time) with Grantaire in tow.

“We found him at the Musain on the way over!” Courfeyrac said, like Grantaire was a stray puppy he was bringing home to Enjolras, and invited himself in. He barely had to duck under Enjolras to get through, and when Enjolras glanced up at Combeferre for explanation, he only shrugged.

It was moderately irritating that he could not halt Grantaire from entering his apartment to kiss him. Grantaire, by some miracle (or likely, curse), seemed to notice and winked at him. Enjolras kicked his foot as he walked by and nearly tripped him.

After everything had been sorted through (it was all Courfeyrac’s idea. “We haven’t been together enough!” he insisted, like he wasn’t bringing coffee to Combeferre during his early morning shifts at the hospital all the time), Enjolras and Combeferre had ended up in the living room, while Grantaire was making dinner in the kitchen, and Courfeyrac kept drifting back and forth between the rooms like an excited puppy.

He was reading an article Grantaire had sent him during one of their debates about global warming. It was really more Combeferre’s expertise, but he was reading it nonetheless.

It was because Grantaire sent it to him, he was sure. It was probably because it was well written and Enjolras was distracted and, on all necessary levels, happy and content.

“Where’s your top?” Courfeyrac asked.

(Grantaire would laugh himself silly about the whole situation later. Or rather, every time Courfeyrac mentions it, which is painstakingly often)

“R’s in the kitchen,” Enjolras replied, brows furrowing forward. Courfeyrac should have known that, he was the one who kept trying to steal food from the pantry. Grantaire kept chasing him out.

The room went silent. Or, as silent as a room could be with Courfeyrac’s music playing from his phone on the coffee table in the centre. Still was perhaps the better word. The room, the tension, the air, went still.

It took Enjolras only a moment to realise what he’d said. He glanced up from his laptop screen to see Courfeyrac, eyebrows disappearing into his copper curls, and Combeferre peering up from the story he’d been buried in over the top of his glasses. Courfeyrac was holding Enjolras’ Paris thermos, steam floating out of it in silvery puffs.

Enjolras’ face grew hot. He shut his laptop hard and fast, as more of a panicked reflex than intended action. “They are in the kitchen. Drawer next to the fridge. The top. For the thermos.” Courfeyrac started laughing, and Enjolras scowled at him. “Shut up, Courf. I was trying to say they are in the kitchen.”

Courfeyrac did not listen. In fact, the more Enjolras spoke, the closer Courfeyrac looked to tears. Combeferre, at least, politely pressed his lips together so he didn’t look as openly amused as Courfeyrac did.

Grantaire took that moment to swing through the kitchen doorway. “The lasagne-” he took in the scene in front of him and crossed his arms. “Well, clearly I’m missing something.” That made Courfeyrac’s laughter all the worse.

As he rubbed his face as if trying to scrub the heat away, Enjolras could sense Grantaire’s gaze fall onto him. He couldn’t turn to meet him, couldn’t face looking at him. His entire body was hot now, and he tried to pour it all into the glower he sent Courfeyrac.

“Now he really does need a top,” Combeferre said, still amused in his subtle way. He did lean forward to remove the thermos from Courfeyrac’s grip, so he didn’t spill its contents.

“Doesn’t he already have you?” Grantaire asked.

That sobered Courfeyrac. His mood changed faster than Enjolras had ever seen, and now it was his turn to grow pink. Combeferre shifted his glasses from the side (he pushed them up his nose sometimes when he was nervous, but he always grabbed the side of his glasses when it had to do with Courfeyrac).

Now Enjolras had to swallow his laughter down. It was greatly dampened, however, by the way his stomach was flipping.

(He’d promised Grantaire. He’d promised and then he’d gone and said that because he was distracted. It was so stupid of him. He’d threatened his relationship because he’d been stupid)

“Anyway, the lasagne’s ready,” Grantaire said without missing a beat. Enjolras met his gaze and Grantaire tilted his head, inky curls bouncing a little. Swallowing, he bit into his cheek to keep himself from saying anything.

A darkness crossed over Grantaire’s expression. Hardly noticeable, miniscule really, but Enjolras knew Grantaire must have seen something in his own face.

How was he supposed to rectify this? How was he supposed to save this? I want this. As much of you as you’re willing to give. He’d meant that.

“I’ll help you dish it up,” he said, putting his laptop to the side. Tremors ran through his legs, through his hands and to the pads of his fingertips, but he tried to ignore them, to still them, when he stood.

“Be appropriate,” Courfeyrac said sweetly. “At least until Ferre and I have taken our leave. Kitchens are places for food.”

Combeferre frowned at him, while Enjolras sent him a glower. The heat melted when he turned back to Grantaire and saw the sudden hesitance on his face.

Shit.

“Are you okay?” Grantaire asked in a soft voice when they were safely out of view of the other two. He reached out to brush the back of his knuckles against Enjolras’ cheek. “You’re shaking.”

“I’m sorry,” he blurted. He glanced towards the dish of steaming lasagne rather than directly at Grantaire, who pulled his hand away. The absence made Enjolras’ chest ache. “I wasn’t thinking. I was distracted— I didn’t mean to—”

Grantaire glanced towards the living room, then back at Enjolras. He could see him from his peripheral vision, though instinct told him to look at Grantaire, he wasn’t sure he had that kind of will (Put him in front of a crowd, in front of hundreds of people, and he could turn half of them into believers, into revolutionaries. Personal affairs? Asking him to have a conversation that could jeopardise his relationship? Might as well pulverise him to dust)

“Enj,” Grantaire said, and finally, Enjolras looked at him. His eyes were crinkled around the edges. He was concerned. It made Enjolras’ stomach turn. “What did you say?”

He stared at Grantaire. (He wasn’t in love with him yet, he wasn’t sure if Grantaire was in love with him then either, but later, he’ll believe strongly that this was a pivotal moment for their relationship) Hesitance held his tongue, but he wasn’t going to resort to dishonesty. Besides, it had happened. It had been bound to happen, right? Right?

“I—” His face grew hot, and he scowled. “Courfeyrac asked for my top, but I didn’t see his thermos and I… I wasn’t thinking.” Reaching up, he began to scrub furiously at his face and tug on his soft blond curls.

Meanwhile, Grantaire simply stared at him for what could have been an eternity, puzzled. It took all of the second the dawning of what Enjolras was saying for him to raise his eyebrows, and then, he began to laugh.

Enjolras scowled even further. “It’s not funny!” he said, though was unclear which one of them he was trying to convince anymore. “R, stop laughing. It was a mistake! I didn’t mean to imply—”

“Imply?” Grantaire asked, still far too amused for the situation to warrant. “I hardly think it’s implying when it’s the truth.”

That only caused Enjolras to flush much deeper, and more angrily. “Must you mock me as well?” he snapped. It came out as less of a question and more of an accusation. (If that first night they spent together was Grantaire at his most vulnerable, this was him at his most fragile. This was why he did not make a habit of personal connections such as these)

As if sensing the change in atmosphere, Grantaire grew sober and frowned. “Mock you?” he asked, then tilted his head. (Enjolras had noticed the particular tic of Grantaire’s when he’d first joined Les Amis. He kind of adored it) “Why would I be mocking you?”

He could have shouted. But, in the interest of keeping their conversation in hushed tones so as to have some semblance of privacy, he merely grit his teeth together. “You— I promised I wouldn’t tell anyone! I violated our agreement, I’ve put you in an uncomfortable position—”

Grantaire abruptly cut off his tirade by placing both hands on Enjolras’ arms. “You think I’d be angry?” he wondered.

Enjolras, hit by such a wave of reality and shame, dipped his head. Grantaire carefully, hesitantly, touched his chin to bring his face back up to look into his eyes.

“This was bound to happen at some point. Honestly,” now it was Grantaire’s turn to look away, pink blossoming over his cheeks and nose, “I thought you might want to back out. I mean, yeah, this is… fucking weird. You may be ‘fight for your dreams’ and all that, but I didn’t expect them to ever come to fruition.”

“Grantaire—”

“Just,” Grantaire held up his hands, “let me. We said we’d revisit it, yeah? This is us, revisiting it. I’m okay with it if you are.”

The lasagne wasn’t steaming any more. “How do I know you aren’t saying that because I’ve forced you into this position?” Enjolras asked, though much of the heat had dissolved from his tone. “How can you trust me if I can’t keep this quiet like you specifically asked me to?”

Grantaire shrugged, but let his hands slide down to fold into Enjolras’. “To be honest, the fact that you’re so riled up about a little mistake, that you seem to believe you’ve… what, risked this? Us? Not to get soft here, but it does… solidify this a little. Us. To me.”

“Kitchens are for food, Enj!” Courfeyrac shouted from the other room, sounding much too gleeful.

Enjolras ignored him. “Okay,” he said, letting out a long breath and squeezing Grantaire’s hands. He managed a smile, though it was weak at best. “I do want this, and you, and us. I don’t want to back out.” He reached up to run a hand through Grantaire’s curls and was rewarded with a tender sigh. “I’m okay with it too.”

His smile was returned in that uniquely lovely way that only Grantaire was capable of, teeth and all. “We should probably get the food for them though. Can’t have them wondering what your top gets up to.” Grantaire winked and drew away while Enjolras rolled his eyes. “You know Courfeyrac will never let this go, right?”

As Grantaire busied himself with actually grabbing plates for their dinner, a bright and encompassing warmth spread through Enjolras’ chest. He moved around Grantaire with ease, as if they were made to move in motion with the other.

“I think he can be made to forget with comments like that you made earlier,” Enjolras said, perhaps a little connivingly. “We’ll see how silver tongued he is when Combeferre is brought up.”

Grantaire began to laugh, heartily and loud, once more. “You, my dear angel, are devious.”

(It took him a long time to stop scowling every time this was brought up in meetings, or when the Amis were out for friendly gatherings, or just when anyone asked the standard questions about Grantaire and Enjolras’ relationships. Eventually, he managed a smile, and then to let his laugh intermix with Grantaire’s.

It was a pretty stupid thing to say, but it made for quite to story to be recounted later. For that, at least, Enjolras was grateful for)