Grantaire took a second to contemplate his life choices that had led to this exact moment, then he picked up the phone and called Eponine. It rang three times before she finally answered.
"Grantaire? Where are you? Are you okay?" Her voice was wild and Grantaire could almost picture her, with cold fire in her eyes and possibly wind in her dirty blonde hair.
"I'm alright," Grantaire lied. "What about you?"
"Fuck, 'Aire I'm fine, where are you ?" she hissed.
"Yeah, so, funny story." He tried for a laugh and missed by a mile. "Enjolras and I might have gotten ourselves arrested."
"So you're going on a date," Grantaire asked slowly, frozen mid-movement while putting on a shirt. "With Montparnasse."
Eponine sighed. "Yes, Grantaire, that is what I said."
They were just about to get ready for the protest, when his best friend had sprung this information on him. Their apartment was littered with clothes because Grantaire couldn't decide what to wear and Eponine, already fully dressed and good to go, observed his running around with scientific curiosity, from time to time sipping from her coffee. He carefully put the shirt on, his eyes never leaving her face, brows drawn together. "What would that even look like? I mean this is 'Parnasse. Is she gonna take you out on a robbery? A hostage exchange? A drug deal?"
Eponine gave him an unimpressed look. "You are aware that she is not, like, a Mafia boss or something, right?"
"Yeah, yeah, she's an art thief, I know," he said and made a dismissive gesture. "It's just so hard to imagine… Montparnasse on a date."
"She goes on dates a lot actually."
"What? Where? I can't picture her in a cinema or holding hands in a park, that's just wrong. Does she go to like, cafes and smoke these really long cigarettes?” he rambled on. “I can see that happening, but only in black and white, is that weird?"
For the lack of an actual mirror, he looked at his reflection in one of their windows. Even there the swelling of his nose and the now blue-greenish color of his cheekbones was clearly visible. He looked away.
"Montparnasse can't smoke. She immediately starts coughing," Eponine told him with a small smile on her lips. "That shirt has like five holes and paint stains on the back."
Grantaire frowned and twisted his upper body in a fruitless attempt to see his own backside. "Will she murder me, now that I know that?" he asked.
Grantaire let out an amused snort, secretly hoping that Eponine was joking.
"And you're fine with going out with her?" he asked after a while.
"I said yes, didn't I?" She immediately sounded annoyed, as always when a question got too personal for her tastes.
"I just mean because… well," Grantaire couldn't help but say anyway.
Eponine sighed. "You can say his name and actually that is none of your business. If I wanna rebound with 'Parnasse I will do just that."
"Okay, yeah, you're right. Whatever, I mean she is kinda hot," Grantaire allowed.
Most of the annoyance left Eponine's face in favor of a smug grin. "She is."
"If you're into the whole can-probably-kill-you kinda vibe."
Eponine let out a small laugh. She had always expressed amusement at the thought of Montparnasse being dangerous. In the end Eponine obviously knew better than Grantaire, since she had known her for ages, but Grantaire couldn't help but to feel a bit uneasy whenever they hung out with her. He was very grateful that Eponine at least took great care to keep Gavroche and the thief as far away from each other as possible.
"I'm not scared of her. I never have been," Eponine said with a shrug.
"Yeah I know.", he said, pulling the shirt over his head again, carefully avoiding his nose. "And I admire you for it daily."
"That is a lot of people," Grantaire observed an hour later, when they arrived at the Sex Ed Protest.
Roughly five hundred people, mostly students, had gathered on the square, where a stage and sound system had been set up. Eponine scanned the crowd, probably looking for Courfeyrac and his friends and Grantaire tried his best to pretend he wasn't looking for a glimpse of blond hair himself. Eponine and Courfeyrac had been texting back and forth all week and she seemed excited to meet him again, which meant that she looked slightly less annoyed than usual. He still didn't know why those two had gotten so close so fast, but Courfeyrac made her smile so Grantaire sure as hell wasn't complaining.
In the end Courfeyrac found them before they spotted him, immediately wrapping his arms around Eponine as a greeting. "You guys made it," he exclaimed excitedly, letting go of Eponine again.
Eponine gave him a sharp grin in return. "Yeah we thought we'd stop by."
"Good to see you both. How's the nose Grantaire?"
"It's fine," he said. It wasn't his first broken nose after all and he knew how to care for one by now. "So." Grantaire was pretty sure that he was failing at being casual but he didn't care. "Where are the others?"
Courfeyrac gasped dramatically at that. "You're saying I'm not company enough for you?"
"Maybe you're not blond enough." Eponine said, getting a well deserved elbow to the ribs immediately.
Courfeyrac just laughed. "Enjolras and Combeferre are backstage, helping. I'll take you to the others."
Courfeyrac led them further into the crowd until they were met with three vaguely familiar faces. The one who introduced himself as Feuilly was a pale, red haired guy with even more freckles than Marius and a firm handshake. Bahorel was the tallest, with broad shoulders, arms covered in tattoos. He had a booming laugh and introduced the last of them as his significant other, Jehan, a tiny dark skinned person, who shyly asked for they/them pronouns. They had a long braid slung over their shoulder that had some flowers woven into it.
Combeferre joined their little group only minutes later, informing the others that Enjolras had been asked to fill in for one of the speakers who seemed to have a family emergency. Then he frowned at Grantaire.
"Are you going to be okay?” he asked tilting his head. “A protest can easily turn violent and your nose is already broken."
"Yeah man, I know. I'll be careful."
Grantaire hung up the phone with a sigh. Having finished the conversation meant having to go back into the cell. Back to Enjolras, who happened to be pissed off at him beyond believe. His nose hurt like it hadn't hurt in days and the thought of just staying in this room for a bit longer, maybe sitting on the floor hugging his knees, was so, so tempting, but he opened the door anyway and let himself be led back to their cell.
Enjolras hadn't moved from his spot on the wall and didn't look up when he entered, still radiating anger and frustration. His black eye started to form, which gave Grantaire a weird sense of satisfaction. He sat down by the opposite wall, his hands carefully touching the skin around his nose with no real purpose. He knew he was not supposed to fuss with it while it was still healing but he couldn't help himself right now.
"Does it still hurt?" Enjolras asked suddenly and Grantaire looked up at him. Enjolras still looked furious, but now there seemed to be a little bit of concern in his eyes too. His heart skipped a beat at that thought. He would have time to hate himself for that later.
"Aww, the mighty Apollo is worried about me," he said, earning a frustrated noise and Enjolras throwing his head back, hitting it against the wall behind him. Grantaire knew that at this point he should just stop winding Enjolras up, but he also knew that he wouldn't. Having Enjolras' undivided attention on him was better than any form of high he had ever known and surprisingly sobering at the same time. By now he had definitely fucked up whatever had been between them when they first met, leaving antagonization as his only way of getting the blonds attention. He grinned. Not that he minded all that terribly, Enjolras was insanely pretty when angry.
Enjolras giving a speech was like nothing Grantaire had ever seen. From what Grantaire knew about him so far it wasn't hard to guess that Enjolras was passionate about social issues and evoking change. But seeing him actually talk about these issues, with a whole lightning storm in his eyes and thunder in his voice was something else entirely. Enjolras did not ask for change, he demanded it with the force of someone fighting a war. It was raw and honest and powerful and Grantaire wanted to run far away and at the same time never move from this spot again. He had never seen someone believe like that before and what scared him most was the fact that he could see himself follow that beautiful man into any battle, fighting by his side if he ever asked it off him. Hell, Grantaire wanted to.
When Enjolras left the stage it was like a spell had been lifted and he blinked, feeling like he was returning into his own body. He was shaking, a mess of aimless fury, fear, nausea and possibly arousal.
"He's a force of nature, isn't he?" Courfeyrac said and Grantaire wanted to laugh at how pale and meaningless these words sounded in comparison to what he just witnessed. He said nothing and just nodded, not trusting his voice yet.
They started talking among themselves, discussing Enjolras arguments and he was happy to just stand there and let his eyes wander, looking for something to distract himself from his sweaty palms and his heart trying to beat its way out of his chest.
He wasn't the only one affected by Enjolras. The crowd around them seemed more tense, more angry now, and so were the few policemen around the square, as far as Grantaire could tell. A group of guys a little left off the stage drew his attention. They seemed to not really belong, sending out hostile glances to the crowd and stage. He expected to see a 'God Hates Fags' sign popping up above them any second. Of course an event like this would draw people like that, too.
He could feel Eponine sending him a worried glance and refocused his attention back on the people around him just in time to hear Jehan directing a question at him: "So Grantaire, do you have any favorite rides at Disney World?"
Grantaire blinked. The last thing he had heard from this conversation was them discussing how to properly approach homosexuality and bisexuality as part of Sex Education and he had no idea how they got to Disney World rides but hey, he was nothing if not flexible. "I was very drunk the last time I was there, though I have been told that I enjoyed the Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride quite a lot."
Eponine snorted. "Yeah, he spend like hours on that one talking to the elephants."
"They did have great stories to tell," he said thoughtfully.
He had not much recollection of the day, but he vaguely remembered Joly falling out of one of the elephants after apparently strongly disagreeing with it or something and they had been asked to move along. That had been a good weekend.
"I think I'm gonna like you," Bahorel decided and gave him a clap on the back that knocked all air out of Grantaire's lungs.
"Hey," said a familiar voice from behind him making Grantaire jump a little. Enjolras sounded a little out of breath and whatever composure Grantaire had regained after the speech was gone again. Enjolras was greeted with a round of 'Hey's, 'Hello's and 'Great job up there!'s, but when Grantaire turned around Enjolras' blue eyes were on him.
"Hey," Enjolras said again.
The thing was Grantaire should really not be surprised at how beautiful Enjolras was. He had seen him up close a few days ago and he had just seen him on the stage all fire and ice, but something had changed. Enjolras hadn't seemed quite this otherworldly, this unattainable before. How could he even talk to Enjolras the human, if he had just witnessed Enjolras the vengeful god?
"Hey," Grantaire said back averting his gaze.
He could feel Enjolras looking at him for another moment before he turned to Combeferre to talk to him about something, probably protest related; Grantaire did not have the energy to pay attention. Instead he turned to Courfeyrac and Jehan, who had gone over to discuss the correct seasoning of chicken, and he really needed to pay more attention to these topic changes, those two moved quickly.
They stopped, when the second speech started, but Grantaire couldn't bring himself to listen.
It all went to shit when the speeches ended and Enjolras turned to the others, excitedly talking about maybe collecting signatures again, for a letter to support that young people not only need but actually want proper sex education, when Grantaire couldn't hold it in anymore.
"You think this is gonna change anything?" Grantaire asked. "Yeah right, like that's not going straight to the trash bin!"
Enjolras turned to him, brows drawn together. "You don't know that."
Grantaire shrugged. "Sure I do, that's how it always goes."
"If enough people express the need and good reasons for a certain service our government has no choice but to at least consider it. They have to listen to us eventually," Enjolras said with conviction.
Grantaire shook his head. "Oh, I'm not saying they don't listen, I'm saying they don't care. They're not gonna do something that will cost them votes of pretentiously pious adults to help a demographic that is unlikely to vote at all."
"It's not unreasonable to believe that with enough pressure from the masses-"
"Yeah, yeah, but where would you take these masses from, Goldilocks?"
Enjolras took a moment to mouth out the word 'Goldilocks', cold disbelieve on his features.
"People are not stupid-" he finally said with force, anger slowly creeping into his tone.
"They're not particularly bright either," Grantaire interrupted, unimpressed.
"There will always be people calling for a better future."
"Never enough, though."
"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it's not."
"So you're speaking for the trees now, too?"
Enjolras bared his teeth and Grantaire half expected him to let out an animalistic growl.
"What are you doing here then?" Enjolras spat out. "If you so clearly don't believe in anything and can't even take other people's believes seriously?"
Grantaire could stop. He should stop. But Enjolras radiated the same righteous fury he had on the stage and Grantaire wanted to see more of that.
"I kinda hoped there would be free food, but yeah, that doesn't look like it's gonna happen."
"Maybe you should leave then."
For a second Enjolras looked like he might be regretting having said that, but his face went back to vengeful god so fast that Grantaire must have imagined it.
"Nah, man, why would I do that?" Grantaire grinned so wide it hurt. Or maybe that wasn't because of the grin. He didn't care. "I mean, you're such great company ."
Enjolras opened his mouth to snarl something back at him, when the shouting started.
People should have seen this coming , will later be said. There really should have been precautions for something like this . The truth is, violence like this can hardly ever be controlled and neither can the panic that broke out around the fight, almost immediately splitting up their group.
Grantaire took an elbow to the back of his head, effectively snapping him out of his stupor, looking around to only see a glimpse of blond hair disappearing in the crowd. It took him a second to piece together that the direction Enjolras was headed was not away from the fighting, but towards it and before he even finished that thought he threw himself into the masses following him.
Of course Enjolras was the kind of guy to seek out a fight, of course, Grantaire thought angry, pushing through the people. He almost saw stars when a shoulder bummed into his nose but he kept pressing forward until he saw him. Enjolras was shielding a girl who had fallen down from the crowd giving her the needed moment to get up and run, not noticing the three guys, one of them actually wearing a 'God Hates Fags' - Shirt, that were already only steps away from him.
Grantaire lunged forward, when Enjolras spun around landing a clean hit on the guy closest to him, making him go down immediately. Incidentally it happened to be the 'God Hates Fags' guy and he was now kissing pavement. Grantaire had no time to feel good about this picture, Enjolras was already turning to the next guy when four policemen crushed into them, finally pushing Enjolras into grabbing distance of Grantaire. They tried to separate the blond and his new victim, but Enjolras was fighting back and that wasn't going to end good for either of them, so Grantaire did the only thing he could think of and grabbed Enjolras shirt, yanking him away. Enjolras reacted in the same way he had the last time Grantaire had done something unexpected from behind him and swirled around to hit him. Only this time Grantaire was anticipating the move and his body remembered enough about the boxing classes he used to take to give Grantaire the advantage.
Enjolras went down just as the cops tackled them both.
"I can't believe you hit me," Enjolras spat out after a fairly long while of tense silence.
"You're seriously going to lecture me about inappropriately punching people in the face?" Grantaire asked with a laugh. He felt like throwing up from the resentment in Enjolras' eyes but the irony was not lost on him. "You?"
Enjolras actually let out a low growl when a cop opened the door to their cell. "Both your bail has been paid, you're free to go," she said, sounding almost relived as they both scrambled up to leave the room as fast as possible.
They were greeted with the flat stares of Eponine and Combeferre, the first gently elbowing the latter. "See, I told you they're both alive," she said and Grantaire did graciously not point out that a few minutes later that might not have been the case anymore. She looked almost as tired as he felt and probably didn't care for his bullshit right now.
She quietly hugged him after he was finally released, pulling him away without a word of goodbye for the other two. Not that Grantaire minded.
"We're taking the bus," Eponine said once they were out on the street, like that wasn't obvious with their car still broken down, and Grantaire nodded, immediately regretting it. He winced in pain, causing Eponine to halt her steps and then pull him in a different direction. "Let's pick up ice at the gas station first, though."
Grantaire was sure that he had never loved anyone as much as he loved Eponine at this very moment.
"Yeah, so he hates me now," Grantaire said after they had been silently waiting for the bus for a while now.
"Isn't that what you wanted?" she asked. Because it sure looks like that , she thankfully didn't say, but he could hear it anyway.
"Maybe," Grantaire allowed, leaning against her and closing his eyes for a bit. His nose had started to go numb with the ice pressed against it, which was better than the pain. "Maybe I did."
Grantaire was the last to enter the Musain's back room. He was greeted with smiles and waves as he sat down, for the moment ignoring them in favor of staring Enjolras down.
"Hey," the blond muttered through gritted teeth after a couple of seconds.
Grantaire gave him his best shit eating grin. "Hello, oh fearless leader, I'm here to change the world."
When he got thrown out of the meeting about an hour later, he pretended not to care.