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Next Christmas

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Bahorel flat-out starts running the other way when he sees Enjolras making a beeline for him from across the quad, forgetting to take into consideration the fact that Enjolras both ran track in high school and is currently training for a full marathon. He makes it about a block before Enjolras overtakes him and glares him into stopping.

"No, goddamn it," Bahorel huffs, trying to catch his breath.

"You don't even know what I'm asking yet," says Enjolras. The bastard doesn't even sound winded.

"You're going to ask me what to get Grantaire for Christmas, and the answer is fuck off." Bahorel punches the crosswalk button multiple times, probably in the hope that it'll make the light turn faster. "If you can't think of something he'd like after knowing each other for three and a half years, then you clearly have bigger problems that Christmas presents."

The light finally turns, and Bahorel stomps off, leaving Enjolras to frown at his back. Fine, he thinks, I'll ask someone else.

***

Joly, at least, doesn't run away from him. Possibly that's because Enjolras shows up at his apartment when he knows Joly is studying for finals and can't run, but that's besides the point. The point is that when he rings the bell and announces himself, Joly simply sighs and buzzes him into the building. It's a minor victory, Enjolras thinks, but a victory nonetheless.

"Before you tell me you can't help me pick something out for Grantaire," Enjolras says as he wanders into the apartment Joly and Bossuet share, "I feel like I should inform you that I do actually have a gift for him already."

Joly sits back down in the nest of blankets, pillows, notebooks, and textbooks he's created for himself in the living room and looks up at Enjolras in silence, waiting for him to continue.

"I just—I mean—you have seen what he got me, haven't you?"

Joly snorts. "I guess I shouldn't be surprised you found out, but you better be practicing your best 'oh wow I'm so surprised and pleased' expression, or I'll cut you." He takes his glasses off and rubs at his eyes. "Look, you have a gift for him and you didn't even consult with any of us before buying it this time, which is a serious improvement over the last three Christmases. What's the problem?"

"I got him a shaving kit," Enjolras mumbles.

Joly stares at him.

"One of the fancy ones," he clarifies. "You know, the ones they advertise for on the T. The ads are ridiculous, but the product is nice enough, I guess. It's, uh, shiny."

"What on earth made you think that's something Grantaire might be interested in?" Joly asks, voice coming out in a strangled bubble of laughter.

Enjolras scowls at him. "He's constantly scratching at his beard," he says, "and he's very, uh." He gestures at his own chin vaguely. "Scruffy. I thought maybe he needed a decent razor if it's that much of an annoyance."

Joly's shoulders start to shake. Enjolras decides to leave before he's laughed out. It's fine, really. It's not like he doesn't have any other friends in common with Grantaire who could help him out.

***

Eponine responds to all of his texts with the Easter Island head emoji. Jehan and Feuilly actually jump off the train when they realize they've gotten into the same car as him. Bossuet, Musichetta, and Cosette do nothing but smile at him when he asks for their advice during their joint cafe shift one night, and Marius is conspicuously absent every time Enjolras drops by his and Courfeyrac's apartment.

Courfeyrac and Combeferre forbid him from mentioning Grantaire in their presence at all.

Not for the first time, Enjolras wonders if it's too late to exchange his friends for less irritating ones.

***

Enjolras maintains that a shaving kit is not a terrible gift. As Bahorel so helpfully pointed out, he and Grantaire have known each other since freshman orientation, and while their friendship can most accurately be described as tumultuous, they do in fact like and respect each other. Most of the time, anyway. Grantaire's special brand of cynicism is sometimes difficult to stomach, and Enjolras is sure there are any number of things he says and does that drive Grantaire up a wall, too.

Plus, Grantaire is a bit of a hipster, at least in appearance. What hipster wouldn't like a fancy shaving kit? Joly clearly doesn't know what he's talking about, and that laughter was totally uncalled for. Just because Enjolras has had a problem finding gifts for Grantaire in the past doesn't mean he's incapable of doing so. The problem is, Enjolras knows what Grantaire is giving him, and a shaving kit (fancy or not) just sort of...pales in comparison.

He's also slightly worried now (like, super slightly, barely even enough to mention, really) that Joly is right, and Grantaire will be less than pleased when he opens his gift.

Enjolras rolls over in bed and stares at the calendar on his wall, then reaches for his laptop. It's only the sixteenth. He totally has time to find something better.

***

On the twentieth, Combeferre drops a stack of five Fedex boxes down on their coffee table and stalks past Enjolras to his room.

"Un-fucking-believable," Enjolras hears him mutter before he slams the door shut.

Whatever, he thinks as he tears into the boxes and removes each item carefully. Grantaire is going to have the best Christmas, and no one is ever going to accuse me of not knowing my own friend ever again. I'll show all of them.

He figures he has about six hours to wrap everything. They're having their annual holiday party-slash-sleepover at Courfeyrac and Marius' apartment this year, and Combeferre had volunteered both himself and Enjolras to go over early and help set up. Enjolras spares a moment to despair over the thought of carting all of his presents on the T all the way from Comm Ave to Davis Square, but he shakes himself free of the thought.

"Best Christmas," he mumbles out loud as he curls a ribbon with his scissors.

***

(The thing is, this whole Christmas party-slash-sleepover only became a thing for them because of Grantaire. Or, rather, they started it for him.

He and Enjolras were in the same freshman orientation group, and the others like to joke that they must have hit it off like gasoline on a bonfire judging by the way they fight with each other, but that wasn't the case at all. In reality, Enjolras had been arguing with another incoming student about his gross comments made in regards to the length of their tour guide's dress and wasn't paying attention to where said idiot's fists were in relation to Enjolras' face. He found himself on the ground a moment later—not punched, but shoved out of the way by another member of the orientation group. The boy was barely half Enjolras' height and width but took down the idiot before anyone could even blink.

"Please don't give us another demonstration of your stupidity," he'd said, voice low and rough. "We get it—you're an asshole."

Later, when the same tiny, scruffy kid showed up in Enjolras' introduction to philosophy class, Enjolras claimed the seat next to him and introduced himself.

It wasn't until Grantaire met and befriended Joly and Bossuet, however, that Enjolras heard him speak louder than a whisper. He and Enjolras were friends, sort of, but with them he seemed to blossom, for lack of a better word—he started speaking up more in class, debated more fiercely with people who weren't Enjolras (and who didn't take it nearly as well), laughed louder and easier. He found a job at a cafe and started inviting his new coworkers (Cosette, Eponine, and Musichetta) to lunch. It was startling, then, when Courfeyrac asked everyone what their holiday plans were, and Grantaire immediately and visibly retreated into himself.

"Oh, you know," he'd said dismissively, "I have a lot of studio work to get done before next semester. I'll probably just order Chinese and watch the specials."

And that, everyone agreed, was bullshit. Thus, the party-slash-sleepover tradition began, as did Enjolras' inexplicable anxiety over buying gifts. Coincidentally, it was also the start of Enjolras' intensely complicated feelings in regards to Grantaire.)

***

This year, though, Enjolras has it in the metaphorical (and literal) bag.

"I can never ride the T ever again," Combeferre tells him as they make their second trip up the escalators at the Davis Square stop. "Complete strangers will see me and say, gee, weren't you riding with that idiot who took up half a red line car with a truly absurd amount of unnecessary presents? And then I'll have to hang my head in shame while they laugh and laugh and laugh and tell all of their friends about it."

"They're not all for Grantaire," Enjolras protests. "It's not like I didn't get something for everyone."

"I wasn't accusing you of forgetting about the rest of us in your inane quest to impress Grantaire," replies Combeferre, "though I wouldn't be surprised if you did. All I'm saying is, the apartment is still a ten minute walk away, and we've just had to make two trips to get all your gifts up from the platform."

Enjolras concedes his point and summons a taxi, the driver of which boggles at him when he hears the address and sees everything they need to pile in the car with them.

"Yes, we're aware," Enjolras says. "But we're already late, so can we go now?"

***

Grantaire arrives last, even after Feuilly, overnight bag slung over his shoulder and bright, almost manic grin stretched wide across his face. Enjolras abruptly turns around and walks back into the kitchen, ignoring the indignant cries of his friends who were waiting for the bottles of cider he has in his hands. He puts the bottles back down on the center island and grips the edge of the counter, trying to breathe evenly.

Everything's fine, he thinks. Everything's going to be okay.

Enjolras ignores the pointed look Courfeyrac gives him when he stalks into the kitchen to take control of the drink situation.

He ends up smushed between Jehan and Grantaire on the lone couch during the movie marathon, and when he wakes up around three in the morning, Grantaire's curls are tickling at his nose. Enjolras gives a cursory look around the room and finds everyone else asleep. He adjusts his neck with as little movement as he can manage and turns his attention to Grantaire's face, glowing and illuminated by the television screen. His cheek is pressed against Enjolras' shoulders, and there's the tiniest bit of drool in the corner of his mouth. He's a warm weight up and down Enjolras' side, sitting close enough that Enjolras could probably pull him fully into his lap without waking him.

He doesn't, but he falls back asleep content in the knowledge that he could have.

***

The following morning is, as always, pure chaos. All of the gifts they'd surrounded Marius and Courfeyrac's sad excuse for a tree with the night before are summarily handed out and torn open. The apartment very quickly fills up with laughter and shrieks of delight and pure, unbridled happiness. A sprig of fake mistletoe makes its way around the room as well, and the morning passes in a haze of kisses.

Enjolras watches Grantaire's confusion grow with every present handed to him. The shaving kit appears first and garners a surprised burst of laughter, but his expression is genuinely grateful when he smiles at Enjolras (suck it, Joly). The new easel, paints, and spiral-bound sketchbook are met with the same level of gratitude and a healthy dose of bewilderment.

"What'd you do, panic?" he asks Enjolras.

Enjolras feels a blush rise up his neck. "No, I just—I wanted to make this year memorable," he says. "It might be our last and all." You're about to give me something amazing and wonderful, and I wanted you to have everything in return.

Grantaire regards him silently for a long, tortuous moment. Finally, his lips quirk back up into a wry grin. "You found out about my gift for you, didn't you," he says. "I thought my boss looked a little too shifty when I picked it up before I left yesterday."

"How could you possibly know—"

Enjolras stops speaking when Grantaire abruptly stands up and starts rummaging through his duffel. He emerges with a thick manila envelope and gingerly steps around the piles of gifts and wrapping paper and boxes, handing out small cards to everyone in the room. The last one lands in Enjolras' lap.

"Well," Grantaire says into the sudden silence, "fucking open them already."

Each envelope contains hotel vouchers, good for two nights' stay at the hotel Grantaire's been working at for the last three years. Enjolras' known about it for three weeks, and he still can't help the warm buzz that seizes his insides suddenly.

"We might all be in different cities this summer," Grantaire announces, voice rough and low, "but that doesn't mean we can't still have a party-slash-sleepover. If you all can make it back here, that is."

Enjolras gets up off the floor and pulls Grantaire into a tight hug. "Anything," he says fiercely. "We'll be there." He glares at everyone else in the room over Grantaire's shoulder, but they all just roll tear-filled eyes at him.

He pulls back and says, "Grantaire."

"Yeah?"

Enjolras leans forward and kisses him.