Grantaire used to paint every day, you know. Great swathes of colors so eagerly crafted that they had a tendency to drip off the pages, hues so incredible that they could be brewed from plants that flourished only in Jehan's garden. He works half-drunk but then again he does everything that way, and he's found it introduces a certain kind of honesty to the canvas.
He'd stumble to the easel and paint, usually panting, sometimes fresh from his Maenads and speckled with gore, no goal in mind but the colors and the face that never failed to emerge; and each time he saw the curve of that traitorous jawbone, the proud tilt of an arrogant smile, he'd grimace and put down his brush and fall uneasily into sleep that was haunted by the presence of his brother's face.
They aren't brothers, not truly; they share a father in the stories but they are gods, and genes mean nothing to them. It is not the relations that sicken him but his yearning, so sharp and clever, settling in the pit of his stomach when the drink drowns it but clawing to the surface all the same. He avoids Olympus these days and prefers the company of mortals and the faceless men that he takes to bed and discards in the morning when he's sober and their blonde hair, or blue eyes, or cheeky grins disgust him.
He's at a cafe in Paris that morning, nursing a cup of coffee spiked with ambrosia and listening absently to the lull of the rain on the roof. He has a headache from the night before that crouches in the back of his head like a wild thing, and occasionally sharpens its claws and reminds him that he'd been shitfaced, and no matter his immortality hangovers suck.
He exhales through his mouth and sips on it, gingerly readjusting the flared collar of his jacket when someone opens the door and ushers in a gust of cold air. "Shut that," he grumbles when it stays open too long and obediently it closes, but not before it has emitted the man who had come all this way to find him.
"I wondered where you'd got up to," Courfeyrac says as he climbs onto the barstool beside him, grinning at his brother. Grantaire groans and puts his head down, mumbles against the table, "It's too early for you."
Courfeyrac has the decency to at least pretend to be wounded but Grantaire is toothless when it comes to Eros, and they both know it. So after a dramatic sigh he just pats his back and says cheerfully, "You do realize it's like noon, right?"
"Still too early," Grantaire answers, and Courfeyrac acquiesces to a few moments of silence while he enthusiastically flags down the barista and asks for a cup for himself. She smiles at him, absolutely helpless to his charm, but Courfeyrac is here on a mission and he does nothing more than wink at her before he swivels back to his friend.
"So," he opens up, and Grantaire already knows where he is going with this. "I saw Enjolras this morning."
Grantaire shoots him a glare from under a fringe of curly black hair and says dryly, "Not too surprising, considering you live with him."
Courfeyrac makes a face but barrels on as though he hadn't been interrupted. "Anyway," he says, loud enough that Grantaire cringes, "He asked if you were ever going to come back home."
"No he didn't," he says immediately, but Courfeyrac can see enough of his face to read Grantaire's doubt and internally cheers himself for being such a clever fucker. "Yes," he declares, "He did. He said that he'd poked his head into your rooms the other day and--"
"What?" Grantaire's head jerks up so quickly he nearly knocks over his coffee, and it would have been comical if Courfeyrac wasn't so startled. "He went into my room?"
"Well, I mean, I think he was just making sure you weren't there or--"
"Christ," he spits, and downs the rest of his coffee in a few hard gulps. "I gotta go."
Courfeyrac watches him climb unsteadily off his chair with an arched eyebrow, folding his long fingers around the porcelain mug the barista passed him with a few unnecessary eyelash-bats. "Why?" He asks curiously, and then he remembers a drunken rant from a few nights ago when Grantaire had mentioned that he'd maybe painted Enjolras once or twice ("Or a hundred times," he'd wailed, drunken enough that he was actually slurred, his words smothered from his place in Courfeyrac's lap) and he makes a sound like an excited puppy that tells Grantaire the fucker remembers.
He hangs his head when Courfeyrac jumps down and says, "Oh my god you totally left a painting out didn't you and I bet he's like naked and sweaty and pinned against a mattress and--" Courfeyrac's escalating voice is drawing a few nervous glances, and Grantaire has no choice but to drag him to the door.
He's run out of ways to describe how totally inappropriate the imagined painting could be by the time they're off the block, heads bent against the rain. It's cold enough that Courfeyrac regrets not grabbing a coat but he's flushed from his glee and ignores the chill.
"So," he begins again, and Grantaire grunts something as he fishes out a cigarette and lights it with a thought. "Are you coming home?"
"No," he says, taking a deep breath and letting the smoke go with a slow sigh. "I'm just going to stop by and move those fucking things."
Courfeyrac produces a long-suffering sigh that almost impresses Grantaire in its length (and would have any other day). "Come on," he wheedles, stuffing his hands in his jean pockets. "The Amis aren't the same without you."
Grantaire makes an exasperated noise and flicks his cigarette, but Courfeyrac knows him enough to know that he isn't being flippant; he's actually considering the invitation, and that's more than Eros had gotten from him in months. Even he knows when not to push his luck.
"Fine," Grantaire says, and hasn't even finished saying it when Courfeyrac whoops.
"Perfect," he says and smacks him on the shoulder. "Meeting's tonight at eight. And try not to be too drunk when you show; you know the excuse of you being the god of alcoholics really only goes so far."
Grantaire waves a hand at him but can't successfully hide his smile and Courfeyrac takes it as the victory it is. "I'll tell Enjolras you're coming," he says sweetly, sidestepping when Grantaire reaches over to smack him. "Oh, and Jehan wants to see you," he adds, slicking back hair darkened by rain. "He said something about some new plants?"
He cocks an eyebrow and Grantaire only nods, knows that it means Jehan has come up with some more strains of flowers that can birth colors the like of which mortals have never seen. Crushed, they always turn into the brightest of paints. "Yeah, yeah, I'll visit him first," he promises, and Courfeyrac grins before he disappears. The gods always make a sound when they teleport like the distant roll of thunder, a soft boom that wanes and eventually vanishes. It's sometimes hilarious to watch mortals try to justify the strange noise when they crane around corners and blink at where someone had been just seconds before, but they're far enough from humans that no one notices the erotic god's abrupt disappearance.
Grantaire clasps his lips around the very end of the cigarette and sucks it down to the ash, tosses it to the ground with a frown. It is always Courfeyrac they send when they tire of his absence, knowing that Grantaire has a soft spot for him (and probably being unwilling to dispatch Enjolras on such a fool's mission, considering that anybody who'd ever seen them together knows that Grantaire is desperately in love) and never has it failed; once Eros had been forced to spend a month convincing him but he'd succeeded in the end then too, when Grantaire gave in because Courfeyrac had been living at his flat and his neighbours had started to call him his boyfriend.
It won't be too bad to see his friends again, he figures, and Enjolras would never be crass enough to bring up whatever paintings he had the misfortune to see surrounded by them. Grantaire gives himself three more days of safety before he'll be cornered; he grins a bit when he snaps his fingers and vanishes in a dull roar.
It takes him a while to circulate back to Olympus just because he's dragging his feet; he ends up spending a couple of hours in a bar to take the edge off and meets a slender youth who looks nothing like Enjolras but shares a flicker of his passion. Grantaire is exceptionally snarky when they talk, and can't help but think that this revolutionary is probably one of Apollo's favorites (and why wouldn't it be? He's bright and blinding and he uses his hands while he talks like he could somehow scoop up everybody's doubts and burn them up in his ardor) and then he leaves a little earlier then he'd planned because he can't stand to listen to him anymore.
He goes to Jehan's like he'd told Courfeyrac he would and is not disappointed; he's in his gardens like he always is, settled between a few blooming plants that could be nothing but his own strains with his legs folded and a notebook balanced on his ankles.
He looks up when Grantaire nearly steps on a plant and curses, and is all smiles when he gestures for Grantaire to join him on the dirt. He does, but stretches his legs out and stacks his boots by Jehan's hip.
"How 'bout them plants?" He asks sardonically because he knows that isn't the only reason Jehan has asked him here, just the best insurance that he'd come, and the spring god blushes a bit.
"I'm sorry," he apologizes before Grantaire can wave it off, clutching the paper. "I was only worried about you."
The friendship between the gods had come naturally, even hundreds of years back when they'd all but been primitive shells of themselves, borne from a religion that was bloody and rude by requirement. They'd shaped up since then, most of their believers disappearing to make room for Christianity, and now they concerned themselves with whatever they pleased rather than what their worshipers begged for. It was Jehan's mother, Demeter, who had made the first grape vine but Persephone who perfected it, and Grantaire had never forgotten the favor. He'd long since stopped pretending that it was the only reason he visited though, as he had become rather fond of the blonde who took to braiding flowers in his hair and would sing to new blooms.
"I already had this talk with Courfeyrac," he mentions, and watches when Jehan awkwardly sidles to the left. He's suspected that there's something between the two for a year now but they haven't slipped up enough for him to prove it, and he's content enough for now just to watch. "He's guilted me into coming to the ABC's tonight; actually, I'm surprised you hadn't heard."
Jehan smiles brilliantly, and plucks a forget-me-not from his plait to roll between his fingers. "I'm pleased," he says honestly. "We've missed you."
Grantaire isn't sure how truthful he's being (he knows certainly that Enjolras is not of that number, who heaves great sighs whenever he shows up for meetings and sparks when Dionsysus offers a complaint) but he appreciates the sentiment all the same, and nods. They're both quiet for a while, and Jehan takes to scribbling in the margins.
"Was Enjolras looking for me?" He asks casually, foretelling that Courfeyrac wouldn't be sly enough to have even Jehan in on the lie, and expects a no; instead he gets a small smile and a laugh.
"Yes," he replies, bent over his notebook and doodling something that looks remarkable like a fluffy kitten in the corner. "I think he was hoping to catch you when you came by for supplies."
Supplies is a polite way of saying ambrosia, because even Grantaire, the only Olympian god with a mortal parent, needs the golden sustenance to stay alive. He sneaks in every other week and liberates a couple of jugs from the pantry, sometimes cramming a few extra in his quarters so he can go straight there if someone is on the warpath and looking for him. Unfortunately as far as he knows nobody is, which means he'd visited the kitchen instead of his rooms. He wonders with a frown if he'd missed Enjolras by a heartbeat.
"I guess I'll surprise him tonight, then," he grumbles, and Jehan hides his smile as he shades in the cat's eyes. Nobody has told Enjolras that Grantaire has agreed to come; he's sure only him and Courfeyrac are in on his visit.
Jehan nods and chews on the end of his pen, says thoughtfully, "And I believe he said something about a painting too," and misses the way Grantaire blanches at the news because he's lining the kitten's fine fur.