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It’s uncommon that Enjolras’s dedicated speech-writing days coincide with Grantaire’s days off, but today is one of those rare instances, and he can’t think of a single place he’d rather be working from than the counter that overlooks where his partner is washing dishes from their late breakfast, shimmying to whatever his music app no doubt recommended to him this morning. His humming is haphazard and pitchy—not that Enjolras has any room to talk—and it’s so charming that he wishes he had a recording of it to play at the office for the all-too-frequent days that they can’t do this.

Beside Enjolras on the counter, Grantaire’s phone buzzes, a message preview lighting up the screen.

“Check that for me? I’m waiting on a text from a client.”

“Sure thing.” Enjolras glances over briefly from his laptop before doing a double-take, sighing as he’s forced to pick the phone up. “‘Lord of the Kazoo’ says ‘O-M-W’?”

His partner’s eyebrows furrow as he runs a soapy sponge around the mixing bowl in his hands. “Can you text back ‘E-T-A’? With a question mark: I know you’re morally opposed to punctuation in texts, but I have a reputation to keep up.”

Enjolras does type the question mark, though it scalds his thumb and scorches his heart. The phone buzzes in response almost immediately. “Twenty minutes.”

“Cool. Do me a favor, pull up the delivery app for that Chinese place—not the nice one, the one you hate eating at and whinge about’s authenticity—and order the M23.”

It isn’t authentic, but Enjolras does so anyway. “Any reason we’re ordering terrible westernized lo mein 15 minutes after breakfast?”

“Joly’s having a shit day.”

 

Eighteen minutes later, the dishes are done, and Grantaire is uncorking a bottle of gin that Enjolras hadn’t even realized they owned. “Grantaire, it’s barely mid-morning, is that rea—”

Before he can finish the question, their front door bangs open to reveal a harried-looking Joly, forearm crutches working double-time to keep up with them as they stride to the kitchen island, pick up the freshly-poured shot, and immediately down it. “Sorry if that was for someone else, but I am in Need.”

“It balances the humors,” nods Grantaire, leaning over the counter next to the sink, “though it won’t do much to humor your balance.”

“I’m sure my lack will humor others.” Both crutches are held to one hand as they carefully lower themself onto the chair two down from Enjolras.

Grantaire pours another shot and slides it to them over the bar. “And what is it that has you so imbalanced these days, my dear Joly?”

“A visitor!” The glass is picked up, its contents swirled with distracted agitation. “My cousin Jiro.”

“Oh? Which side?”

“Left.”

“Ah, the neighbor-cousins: I know them well. Mine were Abidemi, Bolade, Folade, Ifeya, Idogbe, Kokumo, and João.”

Joly’s eyebrows raise. “Like your father?”

“Named for him.”

“And were you named for a neighbor?”

“I answer to my last name, don’t I?”

“A name shared, nonetheless.”

“Are not all names? I do believe it is the only thing belonging to me that all others use more.”

“Yet you smell pungent all the same.”

“Not untrue,” Grantaire agrees, pushing up from the counter and digging into his pocket as he heads toward the door. “Jiro is visiting?”

“He is, and I have not known a moment’s peace since his plane arrived Monday.” Their head shakes wearily as they push up their glasses to rub their eyes. “It’s quite a long trip, and he’s only here seven days—this is his first time out of Japan.”

“The fletchling’s first flight.” The door shuts behind Grantaire, and he deposits the lo mein Enjolras had ordered earlier in front of Joly, delivering in quick succession a pair of metal chopsticks and a bottle of tamari that they ignore for now. “Want anything E?”

The scent of cheap, greasy noodles wafts toward Enjolras as Joly opens the takeout container and begins digging in with enthusiasm he doesn’t think anyone could match for American diplomacy’s next potential target. “I’m good, thanks.”

Grantaire politely waits until Joly is dabbing the EU’s total annual oil consumption from their face and has begun nursing their second shot before prompting, “So it’s Jiro’s first time outside Japan: how is he liking things?”

“It’s difficult to say when he insists on my presence everywhere.”

“I would think that would only make his impression more evident.”

Joly gives an exasperated huff. “He swears that he’s here for me and that everything else is secondary, but more often than not we spend most of the day wandering around the city aimlessly despite the itinerary I drew up.” It’s hard to miss the way Grantaire’s eyes fall sympathetically to Joly’s crutches, and their friend nods. “Between residency and the wandering, I’m exhausted, which isn’t making me the best of company—and I am his only company.”

“Tsumarunai tsuma,” 1 Grantaire nods gravely.

“I’m not sure Boss or Muse will take very well to that.”

“Speaking of, what does he make of them? Surely they’re doing what they can to help.”

“Jiro has never taken to any other languages, so he doesn’t feel comfortable around them,” Joly sighs, “and he is unable to sleep alone: he grew up sharing a bed, and especially in a new place he’s scared. My only time apart from him is at residency.”

“And now,” Grantaire points out.

“Even this is on borrowed time.” Their watch receives a tired glance before they take another sip of gin.

“What does he do while you’re out?”

“By my best estimation? Sleep and wait for me to get back.” Joly’s head gives a distressed shake. “It’s just a week, but today’s only the fourth day—”

“The day of death.” 2

“—and the mere thought of three more days of this is giving me hives. Look!” Their shirt is pulled up, and Grantaire and Enjolras nod sympathetically at the bare, perfectly unremarkable expanse of their stomach.

“Sounds like you’re growing sick of him.”

“I wouldn’t want this trip to be a blemish on our friendship,” Joly tells Grantaire wistfully.

“I believe he could bear the bruise.”

“He flu so far.”

“He wouldn’t sneeze at a request for some time by yourself.”

“He’d feverishly denounce me, I’m sure of it.”

Enjolras wants to tell Joly that their friend doesn’t sound like a very good one, but he’s doubtful that the sentiment will be well received—and what’s more, he is utterly unable to come up with a pun to deliver the message by the time they’re arranging their canes to stand once more.

“Going already?”

“Jiro will be waking up soon,” Joly sighs reluctantly.

“Well, you have tomorrow off, right?”

“I do.”

“What time has Jiro been waking?”

“He’s still rather jet lagged, especially with my hours: I suspect 11 or noon.” Their tone expresses exactly what they think of this. “He doesn’t like waking alone.”

“Why don’t you come here, then? Get a full night’s sleep, then show around 7 or 8 for breakfast. He’ll never miss you.”

They look thoughtful for a moment before a broad grin breaks across their features. “All right then, Capital R: I’ll take you up on this kindness.”

Grantaire’s grin is blinding, and he holds Joly’s now-empty shot glass aloft in celebration. “One for the road?”

“It’ll smooth the way for the day ahead.”

“Best be hitting the pavement, then,” Grantaire grins, handing Joly their third and final gin. The shot is thrown back with enviable ease, glass deposited in the sink before they start for the door. “Here’s hoping your day cheers up.”

“I ima-gin it will.” The door shuts, lock clicking in Joly’s wake as inspiration finally hits Enjolras.

“Bodes ill for you.”

His partner, ass that Grantaire is, laughs. “The muses were slow to find your abode.”

“I also didn’t want to interrupt.” Too late he realizes that it was probably intended as another pun, and Enjolras returns to his work with a huff. “I am surprised, though: I’ve never known anyone to enjoy company more.”

“Ah, but that’s because you usually see them with Bossuet, The Lady Musichetta, and me.”

“And?”

“Joly, Bossuet, and I have joint custody over twin brain cells, and The Lady isn’t shy about taking her breaks as she needs them.”

 

Lunch break has come and gone, and Grantaire is once more doing dishes while Enjolras resumes his work. He’d offered to help, but his partner had insisted that his view across from Enjolras was more than enough incentive. (The hose had been within arm’s reach, and Grantaire was sufficiently reminded of Enjolras’s tolerance for vain flattery.) He’s finally starting to hit his stride again with Lamarque’s speech when a knock sounds at the door.

“I’ll get it,” Enjolras volunteers at the same time as Grantaire calls, “Come in!”

The door opens, and his partner is already retrieving a bag of lettuce from the fridge when he says without looking, “The Eagle of Meaux honors me with a visit! Tell me, servant of Zeus, what dressing would you like today?” A bowl is retrieved in short order, and a handful of the mixed greens is tossed irreverently into it.

“The dressing of a man alone and betrayed,” Bossuet laments, helping himself to the seat beside Enjolras.

Enjolras watches Grantaire drop two cherry tomatoes into the dish before drizzling a healthy amount of caesar over top and pushing it in front of their friend. “And who is your Brutus?”

A dramatic sigh. “No one.”

“The fiend! Someone, see to it that Odysseus is brought to justice. Shall I be your Telegonus?”

“And have you marry my partners and I yours? No, I think I’ll leave the matter to Athena, if those are my options.”

“Better than Oedipus.”

“Not by much, my good friend. I’m saved only in knowing my parenthood and having been promised of it several times over by my blushing Píi.”

“Your píi or your pĭi?” 3

“Grantaire, I must confess: I forgot the day and shaved my head again yesterday 4, and I left home despite hearing a lizard croak on my way out 5. If I break a mirror or a black cat crosses my path, I won’t be so sure anymore that it wasn’t a spector.”

“Could be that your sister was a ghost the whole time.”

“Could be,” Bossuet agrees mournfully, popping a cherry tomato into his mouth with his fingers. It is at that moment that Enjolras realizes that Bossuet doesn’t have any silverware.

“I’m so sorry, let me get you a fork—”

“No need, he isn’t going to eat the salad anyway.” At the explanation Enjolras shoots a questioning look in Bossuet’s direction; the man nods in confirmation as Grantaire discloses, “He likes feeling like the laughing women in stock photos.”

“Their lives look so enchanted!”

“The lives led by the elite class who laugh over salads are charmed ones. I’d offer you a white shirt, but—”

“I’d only soil it,” Bossuet sadly agrees.

“The stock photo would be ruined. High school students everywhere would be lost.”

“At least I’d have company.”

They’ve been dancing around this long enough, and Enjolras interrupts. “Bossuet, what seems to be the matter?”

He sighs again at his salad, looking very un-stock photo-like—or perhaps comically similar, depending on the set. “I have been abandoned.”

“By whom?”

“My partners! They have grown bored and weary with me.”

“Impossible,” declares Grantaire immediately.

“Well, they do both have their excuses,” Bossuet acquiesces, “and they are good ones.”

“But?”

“But their absence still stings.” At this Bossuet deflates entirely, leaning onto an elbow and resting his face in the palm of that hand while the other fiddles with a drenched piece of spinach. “Joly’s cousin is here, and they haven’t been to bed and have barely been home since that first night. Musichetta is distressed: her best friends have separated—”

“Not—”

“Anaïca and Gaelle, yes.”

“No! We already bought their wedding gift, they can’t!”

“Yet they have!” Bossuet shakes his head. “And besides that, her work has been stressful, and her professor is being unreasonable, so she has been retiring to her Personal Chambers more often than not of late.”

Enjolras nods at his computer screen: it is widely known that one of the major stipulations to Musichetta’s moving in with them had been that she have her own private bedroom for when she needed time away. To his understanding, though, the bed inside of it had been more for vanity and Musichetta’s peace of mind than an article used for its intended design.

“Then they don’t abandon you!”

“But they do!” Bossuet cries. “Grantaire, I have slept alone these past two nights. Do you know how large a California king-sized bed is when you sleep alone?”

“I cannot say I do.”

“Artemis could start at one end at the beginning of her shift and not reach the other before it is done.”

Grantaire’s mouth purses, though Enjolras suspects that Bossuet misses it. “Have you spoken with them?”

“What’s there to say?” Bossuet’s shoulders give an exaggerated shrug as he huffs. “Joly’s with their cousin, and Musichetta needs her space. It’ll be over soon enough, I know, but in the meantime I am left with a restless heart and an empty bed.”

“I see.” Grantaire gets into their spice cabinet and starts pulling out various containers. “What are you doing after this?”

“Starting dinner—Muse won’t be back until I’ve left for class, but she eats, and it’s one thing I can do.”

Enjolras’s eyes flicker to Grantaire, and he senses that this is a sentiment his partner knows all too well from the frequent periods that Enjolras’s work becomes too busy to do much more than eat, shower, and go to bed when he finally gets home. It takes concentrated focus to keep himself from chewing at his lip.

“Why don’t you grab an overnight bag while you’re out and come back here tonight? There’s ice cream in the freezer and wine in the cupboard—” Where does all of this alcohol keep coming from? “—and in the morning, I’m making waffles—which is to say, pancakes.”

“Eddie Murphy’s waffles have nothing on your pancakes,” Bossuet assures him, face splitting into a grin. “Ice cream and wine, you say?”

“We’ll denounce the acting skills of pro wrestlers until the early hours.”

“‘Whine’ indeed.”

“Grappling with your inner turbulence,” Grantaire quips, starting a pot of water on the stove.

“I accept your offer, then.” Standing, Bossuet circles around the counter to accept a hug and two hearty claps on the back before starting toward the door. “See you tonight?”

“Let’s agree to one night until I can confer with my better half on the matter,” Grantaire grins with a wink.

If this makes Bossuet at all uncomfortable, he doesn’t show it, nearly hitting himself with the door as he waves his goodbye before finalizing his exit with a click of the lock behind him.

“Did you just invite him to share the bed with us?” Somewhere in the city, the sheer irony has no doubt struck Courfeyrac with an inexplicable urge to burst into laughter.

“E, you saw him,” Grantaire insists with a pout that would (and has) melted untold numbers of hearts frozen with well-deserved irritation.

Fortunately, Enjolras has invested in a chest freezer. “Need I remind you that you were reluctant to allow my parents into the flat?”

“And we compromised!”

“Right, so the ‘compromise’ is that he’ll sleep on the couch, and you can hold his hand from the floor beside him.”

“What if we spoon on the couch?”

“As long as it isn’t our bed, I don’t care.”

“Oh Enjolras,” Grantaire smirks, eyebrows raising in a way that immediately stirs feelings of regret as his partner drops two cinnamon sticks, a lemon rind, and some other items Enjolras doesn’t recognize into the boiling water, “if you were that eager to open up our relationship, you need only have asked.”

“I liked you better when you were making puns.”

“We can have it Bos-ways.”

“Your name isn’t on the lease.”

“Half the city has a copy of our keys anyway, I’ll just borrow from the pizza guy.”

A vague recollection of the delivery person letting themself in earlier comes to mind. “We need to change our lock,” Enjolras sighs, rubbing a hand over his face.

“Do you know how expensive it’ll be to make enough keys for everyone? We’ll be destitute.”

“If I recall correctly, we made one extra copy.”

“And it was fruitful and multiplied.”

“You’re pagan.”

“As many keys as there are stars in the sky, Abra-jolras.”

 

Musichetta’s presence is announced by the unceremoniously loud slamming of their front door. “Krik?”

“Krak,” 6 Grantaire answers without looking up from the aromatic mixture on the stove, apparently entirely unfazed by the sudden entrance.

“Once upon a time, I submitted my business proposal to my professor at the beginning of the week for feedback. He didn’t say anything, so I thought I was fine, until last night when I got an email basically telling me to redo the entire thing. Any guesses when it’s due?”

“Is it tonight?”

“It is due tonight. My life is suffering. The End,” she concludes dramatically, throwing herself over their couch as though she lives there. “Do I smell chokola ayisien?”

“There’s a distinct possibility.”

“Enjolras?” One of Musichetta’s arms remains thrown over her face, but the other is reaching out with expectant grabby-hand motions, and Enjolras’s work day is close enough to finished for him to humor her. Grantaire is already ladling a mug and placing it on a salad plate with a slice of bread, evidently anticipating the reaction, and Enjolras opts for placing it carefully on the coffee table beside her. “Thank you.”

“Of course.”

Wiping his hands down with a tea towel, Grantaire rounds the kitchen counter to sink into the armchair beside their sofa. “Have you tried asking your professor for an extension? Extenuating circumstances and all.”

“He said it’d still be late,” she sighs. “Also, he’s the sort of professor I’m not interested in having more than the bare minimum contact with.”

“Ugh,” Grantaire emphatically intones.

It’s weird to hear his usually-verbose partner so curt, but it’s also plain to see that Musichetta is not in the mood for the sort of wordplay and banter that she’s usually so fond of. Enjolras suspects that this, like so many rituals he’s watched play out today, is the product of years of trial and error.

“It’s doable now that I see what he wanted—easier, even,” Musichetta admits, “just not how I’d hoped to spend the evening after the week I’ve had.”

“Oh?”

“R, it’s been a nightmare.” Propping herself on an elbow, she reaches over to dip her bread into the hot chocolate before taking a bite. It’s chewed and swallowed with an appreciative hum before she gets into things. “My boss is doing three other peoples’ jobs right now while they’re out, so a lot of her responsibilities are falling to us, which is, you know, a lot; one of my clients is being absolutely unapologetically sexist—I don’t even know where to begin with addressing it and certainly don’t have the necessary spoons available for it right now—and to top it all off, our office coffee maker is broken.”

“Pretty sure Nancy’s bunion surgery is to fix her feet, if we’re being technical here.”

It was a good run. “The machine, Grantaire.”

“F.”

Musichetta’s tone is cross, but she looks patently amused. “Don’t you have better things to do with your day than absorbing every meme you come across?”

“I made hot cocoa,” he points out.

“You did. Thank you, by the way.” The slice extends for another dip. “But also, consider doing more of that and less of This.”

“And deny you my brilliant witticisms?”

“Selectively brilliant.” She sounds exhausted and begrudging, but it only makes Grantaire’s grin widen. “God, just. Between work and this falling-out between my friends—Gaelle and Anaïca’s wedding is on hold, by the way—and, ugh, classes, I’m trying to make this time for me to get myself together, and it’s not working?” Her jaw anxiously works another bite of bread, and this time she doesn’t wait to swallow before speaking again. “It’s honestly freaking me out, because I’m pulling out all of the stops, and I feel just as wired.”

“Have you talked with Jojo or Bossie about it yet?”

“God, yes, and they were both so wonderful. It’s worked out perfectly with Joly because their cousin’s in this week, so they haven’t been around to miss me, and Boss has been absolutely angelic about giving me my space and taking over on the chores Joly and I aren’t around to do and making me these wonderful packed lunches and dinners and snacks? Honestly, I’m so lucky to have them both, and I’m getting nervous that I won’t be able to make it out of this funk to be there for them the way that they need when the time comes.”

Stranger than seeing his partner quiet is seeing Musichetta genuinely distressed, and Enjolras feels totally helpless to do anything as he watches his friend sit up to dunk her bread one last time before finishing it off and picking up the mug to sip at.

“That…is a lot,” Grantaire accedes at long last. It’s not enough, Enjolras thinks. They need to say more, do more.

“Why don’t you come over for breakfast tomorrow?” he volunteers abruptly. From the corner of his eye he sees Grantaire nodding, and suddenly Enjolras realizes that this was probably his endgame all along.

“I can make those apple walnut pancakes with the rum whipped cream you like so well. We’ll celebrate your successful project submission.”

Musichetta chews at her lip before answering. “Not sure I’ll be up for celebrating, but for apple walnut pancakes, I will certainly try.”

“And we’ll appreciate your presence all the more for it,” smiles Grantaire.

It earns a tired-looking smile in response that finally seems to reach her eyes, and Enjolras quietly rejoices the change of mood until her eyes find the clock over their tv and she huffs. “Well, I’d better be going if we’re to have anything worth celebrating tomorrow.”

Standing, Grantaire reaches a hand out to help Musichetta to her feet, pulling her into a hug and pressing a kiss to her cheek. “Take care.”

“You too. See you tomorrow?”

“Whenever you feel up to getting here.”

“Thank you,” she says sincerely, arranging her skirts before leaving them with the final sound of the lock sliding into place.

A beat is allowed to pass following the departure before Enjolras observes aloud, “There’s not much point in locking the door if everyone lets themselves in anyhow.”

A shrug comes in response as Grantaire collects Musichetta’s mug and plate. “It’s the thought that counts.”

Enjolras disagrees, but it’s not a battle he suspects he’ll be coming out on the winning end of tonight, so he instead opts to change the subject. “It’s a good plan.”

“You think?” Grantaire looks up from scrubbing Musichetta’s plate (and Enjolras is going to have to be on dish duty for dinner, honestly, because this is the fifth time today Grantaire has been stuck with the washing up), and there’s an odd shimmer of underlying doubt that hadn’t been there during any of his earlier conversational navigating or scheming.

“Of course it is,” Enjolras tells him firmly. “No one knows them like you do. You’re a good friend.”

His partner snorts. “When I’m not being a rat-bastard.”

“Even then.” Especially then, where Joly and Bossuet are concerned.

Grantaire stares at him another beat before humming a neutral sound of acknowledgment and returning to the task of rinsing the plate. “I guess we’ll just have to see.”

 

 

When Enjolras had crawled into bed last night he’s certain he had been alone; this had also been the case for all three times he’d snoozed his alarm. With this baseline established, he’s rather puzzled when he rolls out of the sunlight’s shifting ray and into a warm, familiar lump.

“Grantaire?” His voice is still scratchy from sleep, and assuming a murderer-slash-bed-thief hasn’t allowed themself into the apartment with one of the hundreds of copies of their keys that seem to be floating around, the surprise presence isn’t a big motivator to change that state.

“Hey Bee.” Grantaire doesn’t sound much better off, face burrowing deeper into his pillow.

Lamarque’s press conference is at two, and they have another event later this evening, so he doesn’t intend to get up any sooner than noon, which means there is no obligation to be awake before ten. “Pancakes?”

“Made.”

“The plan?”

“They cuddle-puddled as soon as they saw each other. I suspect our couch will be out of commission until Muse has work and Joly needs to attend to their friend.”

Even half-asleep, Enjolras feels his mouth curling into a smile. “That’s good. ‘M glad it worked out.”

“I mean, I wasn’t sure, but it made sense that it could just be a matter of missing each other. I know I get agitated after a couple of days without you, and if Courf and Ferre are to be believed, you were nigh impossible to be around after my last work trip.”

He definitely was, and to avoid admitting it he presses himself against the warm lump that daylights as his partner, nuzzling into what he suspects is Grantaire’s back. “I told you, you know them better than anyone—even themselves.”

“I don’t know about that.”

“Is Musichetta still stressed?”

“I might know about that,” Grantaire concedes.

A victory before Enjolras has even opened his eyes: it’s going to be a good day. “You know what I know?”

“What?”

“That you have today off again and our friends are napping on our couch.”

“Both true.”

“So you should resolve my distress by cuddling me and going back to sleep.”

“I—” For a moment it seems like Grantaire might argue, but then his whole body relaxes beside Enjolras, breathing starting to even out. “I suppose I can arrange that.”