„Well, it’s nice,“ Combeferre says trying to sound as encouraging as possible.
Feuilly appreciates the effort. He takes a look around his new flat and admits, it could be worse. The rooms are tiny and it is really cold but at least there is a working shower so that is a plus in comparison to the shithole he has been staying in before.
It is an a little bit less shitty place now, it is closer to university and he can kind of affort it, so he is certainly not going to complain about it.
“Did you see there’s a backery or something like, right downstairs?” Courfeyrac chimes in and well, he does sound enthusiastic but Courfeyrac could probably sound enthusiastic about anything, at 5 am and still half asleep so there is that.
Enjolras is the only one who doesn’t pretend to be anything but skeptical. He did repeatedly offer Feuilly to just stay at his place but living with Enjolras for three weeks while looking for a new place has lead Feuilly to an epiphany. He admires the man, truly, greatly and would probably follow him to the ends of the earth but he is also the most terrible roommate ever.
And Feuilly has been living with an Elton John loving crack addict and his six turtles once.
“Why don’t we check out the place and I’ll invite you all for a coffee for helping me get all these boxes up here?” he suggests after mentally checking how much more he is able to spend this month. He has been able to put something on the side while staying with Enjolras because he simply refused to accept any money from him. It should be alright to get some coffee and baked goods. Also he is really hungry and hasn’t put up the fridge yet...
“And no, that wasn't a question,” he cuts off Enjolras’s protest before the other man is even able to get a word out.
Combeferre chuckles and Courfeyrac looks positively ecstatic.
“Awesome! I think I saw they have cupcakes!”
They do have cupcakes.
A lot of cupcakes and a lot of other pastries in different colours and shapes and when Feuilly opens the door it smells like coffee and cinnamon and warmth and he immediately loves it.
The young woman behind the counter smiles at them when they enter. Her hair has the colour of pink cotton candy. “Hello everybody, what can I do for you?”
“Hello, we’d like four coffee and…,” Feuilly trails off looking at the sheer overwhelming amount of baked goods. The possibilities make his stomach somersault excitedly.
“Four of your finest, most delicious cupcakes, that would be great,” Courfeyrac finishes for him.
The woman raises an eyebrow. “I am pretty sure I am bound by contract to say that all of our cupcakes are delicious,” she says seriously but with a mischievous glint in her eyes and Feuilly can already tell he likes her.
“Well, surprise us,” Courfeyrac shrugs with an effortless grin, “actually, no, surprise them. I want the lavender one. I’ve been lifting moving boxes the whole morning. I’ve been threatened enough by stereotypical gender normativity today. I can practically feel the heterosexuality trying to get into my head.” He shudders, turns to Combeferre and kisses him right on the mouth. “Alright, that’s better.”
Enjolras sighs. He can sound as annoyed as he wants, Feuilly can still see the amusement in his eyes as he turns to back to the woman behind the counter who is looking like she is trying really hard not to laugh. “I could try to explain that but I’m afraid I don’t even know where to start,” he says apologetically and her smile widens. “Oh, don’t worry, it’s adorable.”
Courfeyrac grins triumphantly. “Did you hear that? I’m adorable!”
She laughs and turns to the coffee machine to start working on their orders. “So who of you ‘s been moving then?” she asks conversationally.
“I did,” Feuilly says, “just upstairs actually.”
“Hey, welcome to the neighborhood then!”
“You’ll like it here,” she says confidently as she starts picking out their cupcakes, “It’s not too busy or too loud all the time even though it’s close to uni. You’re a student?”
“Yeah, social work. And art.”
“That’s amazing,” she says and sounds like she genuinely means it. She puts their coffees and cupcakes on the counter but when Feuilly attempts to reach into the pocket of his worn out jeans for his wallet she waves it off. “No, it’s a welcome gift. On the house.”
“Oh, I can’t –,” he starts but she interrupts him before he is able to continue.
“Yes, you can and before you ask, yes, I can too, my boss won’t mind. Technically Bahorel owns this place but he’s shit at everything but baking so I’m doing the rest.” She points at a framed piece of paper right over the coffee machine. “That’s the first contract he set up so don’t worry, he won’t mind me giving out some free cupcakes from time to time.”
Feuilly who has been smiling throughout her entire little speech can’t help but laugh out loudly as he reads the document that literally just says, ‘To Euphrasie Fauchelevant, you tell everyone my shit’s awesome, let them give you money for it, then you get money, we’ll be good.’ with an absolutely illegible signature under it.
He finds it weirdly charming for some reason.
“I suppose I really can’t possibly decline,” he says, “Thank you, Eu –”
“Oh no,” she stops him again and firmly shakes her head, “Don’t do that. My name’s Cosette.”
“Well then Cosette, I’m Feuilly, these are Enjolras, Combeferre and Courfeyrac and we are very grateful for hospitality.”
“You welcome,” Cosette says with a smile and a little while later, when they have all settled at one of the small tables and Feuilly bites into one cupcake with cheese creme frosting which turns out to be one of the best things he has ever tasted in his life, he thinks that, yes, he might actually going to like it here.
He adjusts pretty quickly. He always does, always had to when he was younger and falling from one foster family into another, when he was old enough to live alone and changed flats faster than jobs and it is still not very different since he started university even though the changes have become less and less frequent.
He manages to unpack everything within the first three days but it is a little too quiet all alone all that sudden. Since it is late autumn, it is also getting colder day by day and Feuilly is a student working a side job as often as possible who somehow has to manage to pay rent, textbooks and art supplies so heating is not as high up on the list of vital necessity.
So it is really just convenient to spend his spare time in the bakery studying at the table in the corner with a coffee and sometimes, if he is having a really bad day and it doesn’t busts the budget, one of those cupcakes that practically melt in his mouth and turn a few moments of his day into a sugary pastry heaven, and no, he is not exaggerating.
The bakery is warm and it smells amazing and Cosette stands behind the counter and hums Christmas songs in November and Feuilly finds himself relaxing more just sitting there as if he was being in his flat trying to sleep in a too cold bed.
One Thursday about two weeks later Feuilly is reading in ‘his’ corner when someone clears their throat near him.
He looks up to find Cosette standing in front of him, pink hair up in a messy bun and with winged eyeliner as perfect as Feuilly has ever seen it, in her hands a plate with a huge chocolate muffin.
She smiles and Feuilly thinks that had he been inclined that way he would have surely fallen for her because he couldn’t think of any sane person who wouldn’t. He is pretty sure half of the customers coming into the bakery do.
Right now there is no one else in though and she looks at him like he knows something he doesn’t and it kind of makes him nervous.
“Uhm,” Feuilly says intelligently and Cosette’s smile widens.
She sets the plate down on the table in front of him. “My boss is trying out new recipes and he wants and I quote ‘customers’ opinions and stuff’ so please, you would really do him a huge favour if you eat that muffin.”
Feuilly has never seen that mysterious boss before. He seems to stay in the kitchen, sometimes listens loudly to Taylor Swift and makes amazing pastries that he, obviously, likes to give out to strangers. He certainly has heard of worse people.
He looks at Cosette, looks at the muffin, back at her. “Okay?” It’s more of a question than anything else but she seems pleased enough. The muffin doesn’t look particularly spectacular but the pastries never really do. They just look like… well, dough with something on top of it but that doesn’t mean they taste any less amazing.
Feuilly carefully breaks off one small piece and has to refrain himself from closing his eyes and groaning out loud in a public place. It tastes like chocolate and a little bit pecan and he would die happily never eating anything else in his life.
He realizes very late that he is supposed to say something.
“It’s very, very good,” he manages eventually and Cosette just raises an eyebrow.
“You can’t possibly say that after one bite, can you?” she says clearly amused.
She doesn’t leave until he’s done eating the entire muffin.
It becomes a habbit after that.
On a Wednesday another couple of weeks later Feuilly comes into the bakery after an evening lecture. He’s tired, it’s been raining the whole day and he hasn’t eaten anything the whole day except for two cups of coffee in the morning and that really couldn’t be counted as solid food.
He steps in front of the counter and waits feeling better already at the welcoming warmth and the prospect of delicious pastries.
The door to the kitchen is slightly ajar. He can hear Cosette’s voice. “You could just talk to him, you know, like normal people do. Didn’t think you were so shy and delicate, honey.”
“I’m not delicate,” another voice answers sounding so scandalized that Feuilly can’t hold back the laughter that escapes his throat.
There’s a silence and then the door to the kitchen flies open. It sounds like something crashes, then someone is cursing colourfully and Cosette is grinning broadly like a child on Christmas morning.
“Hey Feuilly. Honey, you look terrible, I’m going to make you a coffee. Also you just have to try our new Peanut Toffee Crisp cupcakes, Bahorel has really outdone himself. He’s just been insatiable lately.”
Feuilly is pretty sure he hears another crash but the kitchen door is already closed again when he turns around as Cosette hooks her arm under his and leads him to his usual spot pretending not to notice his confusion.
Tuesdays are terrible.
Tuesdays are crimes against the entirety of humankind.
It is Tuesday evening and Feuilly is already exhausted and hasn’t really slept more than five hours since Sunday and he still has to survive the whole rest of the week until the next Sunday when he actually might have time to sleep in for once.
He hates Tuesdays and wants to sleep but he really doesn’t want to go upstairs to his cold flat so he walks into the bakery, orders a hot chocolate and settles into his corner with a book on his lap. Cosette sweeps the counter and hums quietly.
He doesn’t even notice when his eyes close.
When Feuilly wakes up he immediately realizes that he has very much not been sleeping in his own bed. He knows where is even before he opens his eyes because it smells like chocolate. It always smells like chocolate. He loves it. It would probably be unnatural not to love it. God, he really wishes he could wake up like this every morning.
It does take him some moments to realize that it certainly isn’t a morning.
He opens his eyes, the bakery is dimly lit, it is dark outside, the only light comes from the kitchen.
A quick glance at his watch tells Feuilly that it’s twenty to four in the morning.
He stares at the displayed time for a few long seconds before he actually comprehends what he is seeing and then he is awake at once because, holy shit, he has been sleeping in the bakery for hours and some had to stay the whole time, the whole night because he has been sleeping for hours.
He can’t remember the last time he slept that well for hours but that really isn't the issue at hand.
Right then the door to the kitchen opens and a person steps out. All Feuilly can make out in the semi-darkness is that they are tall and carrying something in their hands but he doesn’t really pay attention to anything else because he is scrambling to his feet and already apologizing profoundly.
“I’m so fucking sorry, I didn’t mean to fall asleep really, you should have woken me up, that’s…I mean, I’m really, really sorry.”
“Well, you should be,” the tall figure replies dangerously low and Feuilly curses inwardly and is about to launch into another round of apologies that will hopefully keep him from being beaten up or some shit when he hears a chuckle.
The figure sets down the tray and flips the switch next to the kitchen door to turn on the light and suddenly Feuilly isn’t entirely sure that he’s awake anymore.
Because suddenly he is face to face with what he is sure can only be a dream or a hallucination caused by a sugar high.
The man is tall, at least 6’2’’, with broad shoulders and an even broader grin, long dark dreadlocks pulled into a bun and tattoos crawling over really, really nice forearms. He is wearing an apron. He is wearing an apron and there’s flour on his left cheek along with just a handful of freckles and Feuilly blinks, once, twice, and he is still there.
He plucks a tiny cupcake with pink frosting from the tray and holds it out to Feuilly with a grin that can only be described as cheeky.
And Feuilly says the first thing that comes to his mind because he doesn’t really remember how thinking works anymore and literally all he says is, “It better be good, I thought you were going to kill me or something, you asshole.”
Maybe he really should have been thinking beforehand.
The other man stares at him for a moment, then he breaks out into laughter that fills the entire room and Feuilly’s inside with its warmth. He feels his cheeks heating up and buries his face in his hands but he can’t help but join the other man laughing. It’s absolutely infectious.
When they stop his grin is, if that is even possible, even wider than before. “Well, you’re a cheeky little shit, aren’t you?” he says and Feuilly huffs but smiles back.
“I suppose I should apologize again,” he says but the other man waves a hand dismissively. “Don’t worry man, I wasn’t going to wake you when you looked like you really needed a good night’s sleep. I was planning on trying some new recipes anyway, so yeah.”
Something in Feuilly’s brain clicks at his words. “Oh my god, it’s you! I mean… of course, it’s you, obviously…”
“Bahorel,” the man interrupts him, smirking.
“I know,” Feuilly says and, hopefully distracting from the absolutely horrendous answer, quickly adds, “I’m Feuilly.”
Bahorel grins. “I know.”
“Well, I think a thank you is in order,” Feuilly says trying to sound serious and sophisticated and failing spectacularly. He doesn’t really mind though because he is smiling too damn much. “I mean, you’ve been giving me free pastries for the last weeks.”
“Actually I’m trying to give you a pastry right now but you’ve been kind of leaving me hanging here.” Bahorel is still holding the cupcake in one hand and he lifts it up again so that his hand is hovering right in front of Feuilly’s nose.
“Thank you,” he says again and and takes the cupcake from the other man’s outstretched hand.
He is having a one-second existential crisis when their fingers brush because he is about ninety percent certain that it was deliberate.
When he looks up and meets Bahorel’s eyes, dark brown and twinkling, he is sure of it.
After that Bahorel becomes a constant presence in Feuilly’s life and as suddenly as it happens, it doesn’t feel sudden at all. It really feels like he’s always been there and in some way he has been for some time only in the form of heavenly pastries and not in form of a loud, brash walking wet dream that constantly has Feuilly wanting to press him up against the next wall and kiss him senseless.
He realizes quickly that Bahorel’s exterior only reflects one part of his personality. He certainly is the forward, brazen man he looks like, laughing loudly, talking loudly and never afraid nor averse to start a fight but then there are moments when he’s gentle and generous and at times he says something so eloquent and thoughtful that everything in Feuilly just… pauses for a moment. His mind, his breath, his heart.
There’s never a moment Feuilly doesn’t want to just close the distance between them that at times only seems to exist physically. He wants to kiss him. Sometimes he wants to punch him and then kiss him. There is never a time he doesn’t want to kiss him though.
It feels like they’re both toeing the line they are both very aware of. It feels like a competition. Who gives in first. Who is able to last longer.
It’s thrilling, it’s fun and it makes Feuilly feel alive, buzzing with energy.
It makes Cosette want to smush their faces together because she is pretty sure she is going to be insane at a not very far ahead point in the future if they keep flirting like that.
Also the constant eye sex is starting to confuse the customers.
It is a Friday evening about three weeks after Feuilly fell asleep in the bakery for the first time. It happened a few more times in between and always ended up with Feuilly watching Bahorel bake in the middle of the night. It has become his favourite free time activity, just watching the other man work, carefully and deliberately in every movement.
“So, what's it today?” Feuilly ask sitting on one of the kitchen counters. Bahorel looks like he is debating whether to tell him off for sitting on a cooking surface or do something entirely different involving Feuilly on the kitchen counter. He certainly wouldn't mind the later.
Eventually he shrugs casually. “I was thinking double chocolate or something. Strawberries maybe. Or cherries. What’d you think?”
“Mhh, I like how you think.”
Well, Feuilly is pretty sure he would.
They work a little side by side, Bahorel mixing deliciously smelling ingredients into bowls, Feuilly studying quietly until his head is too full of newly absorbed information for him to concentrate and he focuses on watching the other man. Bahorel notices him looking after a few minutes, grins cheekily and makes a show of licking cream from a spoon.
Feuilly is momentarily tempted to throw the book at his stupid, attractive face.
When the first batch of cupcakes is done Feuilly gets increasingly amused at watching Bahorel trying to decorate them. He has seen the man work wonders when it comes to bringing Feuilly's taste buds to the borders of heaven but his talent pretty much stops at decorating. He manages to get most of the frosting to stay on top but that’s about it.
At one particularly unaesthetic end product Feuilly jumps off the counter.
“Can I try?” he asks as inconspicuously as possible and Bahorel raises an eyebrow but doesn’t protest. He holds up the frosting bag but when Feuilly reaches for it he doesn’t let go and instead pulls him forward and uses his surprise to turn him around so that Bahorel’s chest is pressed against his back, his lips almost brushing Feuilly’s ear as he says, “Well, it does take some practice.” His voice has dropped to a whisper and Feuilly swallows. Hard.
But instead of letting Bahorel’s hands guide his, he shakes them off, grabs the frosting bag and before the other man can do anything else, pipes the icing onto the top of the cupcake in one perfectly symmetrical topping.
He grins triumphantly and turns around to see Bahorel staring at the finished cupcake, absolutely speechless.
Feuilly can’t help but laugh at his stunned expression. “I’m an art student. What did you expect?”
And Bahorel looks up and into his eyes and suddenly the air feels thicker and they are still pressed together, chest to chest, sharing each others breaths only that Feuilly is pretty sure his own has stopped, like time and he doesn’t know who leans in first, doesn’t care.
It is tentative for two seconds, achingly sweet and Feuilly feels like he is melting into Bahorel’s arms. Bahorel who tastes like chocolate as he finds out when he almost carefully slips his tongue between Feuilly’s lips and that is when he just thinks fuck it and nearly knocks the other man over as he slings his arms around Bahorel’s neck and kisses him passionately.
Bahorel seems to be just as good at adjusting as Feuilly. He kisses him back just as fervently, hands clutching his waist and pulling him even closer.
Feuilly doesn’t object. He lets his hands roam over Bahorel’s chest, shoulders, arms and simply responds by kissing him harder.
Cosette congratulates them on finally getting their shit together.
She also threatens to quit if she catches them having sex in the kitchen one more time.
There has been so many changes throughout the course of Feuilly’s life that sometimes he doesn’t even notice them anymore.
He doesn’t think of it as change when he starts spending more of his evenings down at the bakery than at his other job and he doesn’t think of it as change when after a month of learning about toppings and frosting bags and sugar-paste flower decorations Cosette hands him his first pay check.
He and Bahorel have a fight about it that is loud and explosive and over after five minutes because once they actually sit down and talk like adults instead of stubborn three-year olds it is really not that big of a deal. It is convenient. Bahorel and Cosette have been looking for someone else to help in the shop for a while, Feuilly is amazing at making everything Bahorel bakes look just as good as it tastes and he lives nearby. Perfect.
He gets his own personalized work contract that he is so not hanging on the wall no matter how many times Cosette insists on it.
Bahorel hides his grin behind the nearest pan every time Cosette mentions it and Feuilly can’t help but turn an incredibly vibrant shade of red.
It is a Sunday, about three months later, when Feuilly comes home from a meeting with Enjolras and Combeferre on the new equality-rights campaign they plan on starting on campus.
He unlocks the door and is welcomed by the smell of dough baking in the oven and coffee.
He takes off his shoes and jacket and follows the smell into the kitchen to find Bahorel in his pajama pants, trying to get a light green mass onto freshly baked cupcakes while humming something that sounds suspiciously like Taylor Swift.
“Honey, I’m home,” he singsongs in a high-pitched voice and Bahorel casually flips him off and keeps applying frosting to the cakes unaffectedly.
Until he doesn’t.
Feuilly meets his eyes and stops right in his tracks, staring at the man standing in his kitchen and he just knows they are thinking the same thing.
His mind wanders to the toothbrush that has been lying next to the sink in the bathroom for weeks now, to the drawer in his closet that is full of clothes that aren’t technically his even though he has been wearing them almost daily, not minding that they are a least two sizes too big.
He thinks about how it is never cold during the night anymore because Bahorel is like a space heater only that he half-heartedly complains when Feuilly tucks his cold feet between his shins. He can’t think of the last time the other man hasn’t spend the night at his place and he can’t think of the time he has started calling it home in his mind but he finds that he doesn’t care.
“Wait,” Bahorel starts slowly and Feuilly already knows what he is going to say. “Am I living here?”
“Yeah, guess you are.”
“Huh.” Bahorel looks around in the kitchen, then at Feuilly. His face splits into a huge grin and he shrugs. “Okay.”
Feuilly grins back. “Okay.”
When they tell Cosette she looks both of them deep in the eye and says, “You guys have been living together for weeks.”
And Feuilly can admit that there might be some truth behind that.
He doesn’t call what happened change.
He doesn’t say that moving in above the bakery has changed his life, that meeting Bahorel has changed his life. Change has always been something brutal in his life, something sudden that turns everything upside down, takes his life by the collar and shakes vigorously until he is nauseous and hardly even able to stand anymore.
Meeting Bahorel, slipping into this new, brighter, happier life has been nothing like that. It has come naturally without much contemplation or doubt, easily like breathing.
He doesn’t call it change when he is thinking about it as he falls asleep in Bahorel’s arms, listening to the calm breathing and steady heartbeat right next to him.
He calls it progress.