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You Can't Whisper Hate

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Grantaire’s apartment is a shithole. But it’s his shithole. Or at least it used to be until he literally got into a bar fight with some black haired chick with teeth that tore through skin (Grantaire has the scars to prove it) and a way with words that could bring a middle aged man with a steady job, maybe a kid and a wife, to his fucking knees. So yeah, he isn’t exactly sure how Eponine Thenardier stumbled into his life, probably too drunk to remember anything past the feeling of her fist connecting with his cheek. But, one thing led to another, he may have apologized...or he may have punched her back. It’s a blur. And now she sleeps on his couch all fucking day watching shitty crime movies on Lifetime.

 

“R, you got any cash on you?” Eponine asks from her usually position on his shitty, red couch with a tear in the middle of it big enough to swallow up a decent sized cat. Who knows, maybe one lives there now. He wouldn’t put it past Eponine to drag one home with her one night and end up forgetting it in all the cushion spilling out.

 

She expertly avoids the hole though by sticking both of her legs up in the air, one hanging over the side and one hanging over the backrest. It gives Grantaire a perfect view of, well, all of Eponine before he abruptly turning away, his nose crinkling up instinctively.

 

“A hello would’ve been nice.” Grantaire says, dumping his gym bag on the pile of shoes gathered around his door. “Or, you know, a ‘how are you doing, R?’ Or ‘hey, you’ve been gone two days. I was starting to get worried you weren’t gonna be able to give me some of that money that just magically falls out of your ass every now and then’.”

 

“I could’ve.” Eponine says, her eyes still glued to the screen. “I trusted that you’d come running back as soon as you realized how fucking lost you are without me.”

 

Oh yes, how would Grantaire survive without giving Eponine cash every time he comes home?

 

When Grantaire only grunts in response, Eponine looks up, her makeup is smudged and she looks like she hasn’t showered in days. When Eponine first moved in (barged in) to Grantaire’s place she made an effort to at least look decent. Grantaire isn’t sure when that cute little act ended, probably months ago. She says, “You look like shit.”

 

Grantaire rolls his eyes, “Thanks. I feel it. Why do you need me to give you money, Ep? Put on some fucking pants and go stand outside at one of the many corners on our fabulous block. I’m sure some nice, old fuck would love to give you some money. Actually, on second thought, forget the pants.”

 

“Dick.” Eponine says, flopping back down onto the couch to resume watching her show. Grantaire couldn’t have asked for a better excuse to rip his worn boots off his feet, shove his black beanie on a high shelf, and pick up his bag before ducking into his room.

 

He closes the door behind him, not like Eponine would fucking take two seconds to look away from her stupid fucking show, but still. It’s been a long two days and Grantaire wouldn’t mind the privacy.

 

He throws the duffel bag on his half made bed, doesn’t even bother to see if Eponine’s been rooting around his shit, he already knows she has. She was wearing one of his shirts for fuck’s sake. He starts unzipping the bag, his nerves suddenly spike in anticipation as he mutters under his breath, “You better notta been fooling with me ‘Horel I swear I’ll…”

 

His voice trails off as he flips the top of the duffel open and smiles. The thing has too much useless shit in it to not have good fucking shit in it. If that makes sense. Grantaire roots around for a bit before he finds a particularly thick pair of shocks near the bottom and ends up yanking out a couple wads of cash out of it. The bills are crumpled and look like someone with only one eye stuffed them in there--but money is money in Grantaire’s book and he’s certainly not picky what it looks like, or even better, how he gets it. He’s fucking tired as hell, but even he can’t help the smile that blooms across his face as he takes more socks and pencil cases filled with cash out. The grin comes slow at first, but eventually grows to the point where his cheeks hurt.

 

He counts the money, carefully inspecting every bill, before going over to his closet, shoving his  dresser away from the wall, and reaching down to grab a small shoe box wedged in between the wooden fixture and the wall. He used to have a simpler way of hiding his money. Shove in it his underwear drawer or under his mattress or some shit like that. But then Eponine moved in and he had to get creative. The bitch is a fucking expert at finding shit she craves.

 

He ends up only barely taking off his jeans before flopping down onto his bed, exhaustion racing over him way quicker than he thought it would. He wanted to at least see for his own eyes the damage of being away for two days did to his liquor cabinet with Eponine in his apartment, but that shit would have to wait until tomorrow apparently. He’s too fucking dead and tired to even bother washing the splotches of blood near the collar of his shirt and the speckles of gravel and dirt in his hair, let alone bitch Eponine out for drinking.

 

He wakes up to his alarm buzzing loudly and it takes everything in him not to slam his fist down so hard that the screen would undoubtedly shatter. He flops around a bit, trying his best to ignore the sounds his phone is making when suddenly the tone changes from a constant beeping to the song Shewolf by Shakira. Grantaire groans, rubbing his face into his pillow as Shakira’s voices blasts through his bedroom, like she has a personal vendetta against him and sleeping.

 

It was Eponine’s idea to change the tone of his alarm to the. Most. Fucking. Annoying. Thing. Ever. He still remembers her grinning like the fucking witch that she is as she tapped away on his phone, giddy as a fucking toddler, “I wanna see you try and sleep through Shakira’s voice. Surprise me.”

 

Grantaire had stupidly taken on the challenge. He shouldn’t be surprised though that he loses epically every damn morning. Eponine might be a bitch but she is hardly ever wrong. Or at least in Grantaire’s experience with dealing with her that is.

 

Speaking of Eponine, he hears her stupid fucking show blaring from the TV again. He hates that he recognizes some of the character’s name… even being able to match up some of the voices with name and sometimes faces makes him want to go out there and punch the TV until it breaks. Or himself. Either one works.

 

He eventually stumbles out of his room, barely remembering to pull on a pair of sweatpants before calling out Eponine’s name, “Bitch,” or that, “turn your fucking--”

 

He’s rubbing his tired eyes when he sees it out of the corner of his eye and-- yes, that’s a boob. Two of them in fact. Well if it isn’t his lucky day.

 

His first instinct is to shield his eyes. Weirdly enough. Not something a straight guy would do, nope. But, alas, he will admit that the last thing he wants to see is Eponine’s fucking tits flailing around his apartment. She has already activated the ‘no pants in the house’ rule, without Grantaire’s consent, if anyone’s wondering, so he shouldn’t really be surprised that she included shirts in that rule as well. Before he can look away, or burst into flames, who knows, he realizes with a start that oh, it’s not Eponine.

 

“Uh…” Grantaire starts, but can’t really finish.

 

The girl gives him one look, her bright brown eyes and even browner skin gleaming against the open fucking windows of Grantaire’s apartment before she shrugs, turning her bare back to him without a second thought. It’s only when she starts walking away that Grantaire is able to see Eponine, still fucking lying on his couch with a bag of Lays under her arm, her hair tied up in some sort of knot, and her eyes glued to the TV.

 

“What the fuck, Ep?” Grantaire bites out, not really caring if the half fucking naked chick takes offense or not.

 

“Chill alright,” Eponine says, only half acknowledging him. “I’m not playing for the other team now or whatever.”

 

“I don’t give a fuck who you bang.” Grantaire says, rolling his eyes and slumping into the empty chair near the couch. Right next to Eponine’s fucking feet dangling off the side. Beautiful. “So, what’s up with the chick?”

 

Grantaire sneaks a glance at her and… she is doing their laundry? Okay, whatever. Her hair is in a long, brown braid down her back and her jean shorts look like they have seen better days and are two fucking squats away from tearing. As if she could hear him, the chick goes down, reaching out to hall Grantaire and Eponine’s dirty laundry out of some water bucket filled with soap near the kitchen sink. There’s one .

 

“Oh, Chetta?” Eponine says, looking up for a bit, like she is actually confused why Grantaire would wanna know.

 

Grantaire has the urge to take a swing at Eponine’s overgrown toe nails. Maybe chip one of them and make Eponine sulk about it for the next week, he doesn’t know. But he refrains on the very simple fact that no, he has no desire to touch Eponine’s feet, thank you. The chick never wears shoes. Ever. Even when Jehan storms into their apartment every now and again, his pancho drenched and his lips twisted in a smirk, and demands that they come outside with him and enjoy Mother Nature’s tears with him, Eponine doesn’t think about covering up her nasty feet from even nastier rain water and mud.

 

Eponine takes an annoyingly loud bite of her chip before answering, “She’s my… um, we’re friends, right Chetta?”

 

The girl pauses over the bucket, her face carefully blank, before she shrugs and nods. Eponine smiles, “Yep. My new friend. A girl can get tired waiting for her bitch to come home for two whole days.”

 

Grantaire snorts, “Who’re you callin’ a bitch. I’m not the one jobless and rewatching Sense 8 for the tenth time this month.”

 

Eponine gives him a sour look, “Alright tough guy. Maybe I don’t have a fancy, schmancy job fixing people’s fucking fridges and shit. But I get what I need, and what you need too, so watch your fucking tone.”

 

Grantaire opens his mouth, but the chick-- Cheddar? --cuts him off by walking in between them, her arms cradling their damp clothes close to her chest before she begins pinning them up by the windows. Eponine’s purple blouse blows in the wind. Grantaire hopes it fucking falls off and blows away and kills someone. Lands on their windshield when their driving or some shit. Yeah, Eponine might feel bad if that happened. Maybe a little.

 

Grantaire gives Eponine a look, “You paying her or does she owe you something?”

 

Eponine shrugs as best she can while still laying down, “Met her while you were away one night after me and Jehan got bored of waiting for your dumb ass to show up and decided to go to that one bar you're too afraid of or some shit. Makes you feel weird in your swimsuit area, I don’t kn --”

 

“It’s a fucking gay bar, Ep. I’m okay with Jehan, but I’m not gonna go around holding hands with fags all night.” Grantaire says.

 

Eponine doesn’t look impressed, but continues, “Whatever. You’re just afraid some guy who likes it up the ass is gonna beat you in a fight and then how will your precious, little ego ever recover?”

 

Grantaire reaches across the table and chucks an empty beer can and smiles when it hits Eponine in the side of the head. She lets out a yelp that’s way too loud and scrunches up her nose in anger. He holds up his hands when she looks at him with murderous intent, “You deserved that. Keep talking.”

 

Eponine scowls, rubbing her head and shoving the can to the floor like it personally offends her, “It was fucking cold as balls out and Chetta here was standing outside in nothing but a ten dollar glittery tube top and those shorts. You weren’t here, so obviously me and Jehan took your bed, so the couch was open so…”

 

That’s a lot of so’s. So’s that make Grantaire’s stomach drop in anticipation and worry for what Eponine’s about to conclude to.

 

Grantaire was never one to beat around the bush or pretend to know less about shit he really wishes he didn’t know about. He gives Eponine a ‘are you fucking serious’ kind of look before fixing her with a stare, “You paid a fucking hooker to come clean my apartment.”

 

“Hey now!-- don’t fucking give me that look . What are you? Mother fucking Teresa now? You don’t actually think I believe you get all your loot from fixing fridges, do you?” Grantaire opens his mouth to interject, not entirely sure why he even bothers to try and defend his shitty job whenever she brings it up, but Eponine just waves her arm at him, efficiently silencing him with an overdramatic shhh, “Look, I tried to tell her she could just stay the night, no strings attached and all that, but she insisted on something to do and payment, which okay, I can respect that and all. A bitch has gotta make a living somehow. But come on R-- I was with Jehan. He wouldn’t just let me leave her on the street and he wouldn’t let you do it either.”

 

Okay, point taken. Jehan may be into guys, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be extremely persuasive, if a little overbearing and straight up terrifying at times.

 

“So you gave her a job… cleaning the apartment up?” Grantaire asks.

 

“And spending the night. On your couch.” Eponine says, her gaze shifting between the TV and Grantaire. “Oh yeah, you owe her fifty bucks by, um,” Eponine cranes her head back, her hair draping back and over the couch, probably picking up dust and dirt with it, “--when you leaving, Chetta?”

 

“Noon.” Chetta says, her accent-- spanish?-- is thick and Grantaire only just realizes that it’s the first time he’s heard her speak since he woke up.

 

“Fucking hell. What’d you have her do? Bleach your asshole or some shit?”

 

Eponine isn’t fazed; she just gives him a dumbfounded look, “I bet you didn’t even notice your room, asshat. Chetta here left it spotless. The kitchen’s sparkling, the microwave is finally fucking fixed which is just sad considering you fucking fix fridges for a living, and she did most of our laundry without hauling them all downstairs to the community washers. She’s a gem.”

 

Grantaire bristles, but he can’t but notice the apartment does look nice. “How long did you pay her to work? She wasn’t here last night.”

 

Eponine shook her head, “Nah, she came by this morning because she had to leave last time before she could finish the last load of laundry.”

 

Grantaire looks back at Chetta once more. She really isn’t that bad looking for a hooker. Not bad looking for just a girl in general. Her skin is a deep shade of brown and, blame it on the sun or whatever, but it looks like it’s fucking glowing every time she reaches up to pin an article of clothing up to some makeshift clothing line Grantaire has no idea how she managed to set up. Grantaire can’t help but frown at her bare back though, “You couldn’t have given her a shirt or something?”

 

Eponine’s raises an eyebrow at that, “You got a problem? Thought you’d enjoy the early morning peep show.”

 

Eponine continues with a sigh when Grantaire just stares at her, not amused, “When she came back this morning I told her to make herself at home. So… she washed her shirt and got comfortable?”

 

Grantaire doesn’t reply, just offers Chetta a shirt, which she declines without making eye contact, before heading towards the bathroom to shower. He’s gotta deal with his stupid shit before he can deal with Eponine’s for at least one fucking day. Not that Eponine gets herself into trouble very often, and if she does she is good at keeping Grantaire out of it, but it’s small(ish) shit like this that gets on Grantaire’s nerves and makes him question their ‘partnership’ of sorts.

 

When he scrapes the last remnants of dirt out from between his curls he steps out to grab a towel. Only-- fuck, the towel isn’t on the towel rack. Instead, Chetta’s stern face is looking directly at him, her fingers tightly clutched around a familiar dark green towel that Grantaire’s pretty sure he hasn’t washed in a least a week or so. It looks clean now, that’s a given, but why Chetta is clutching it to her bare chest and blocking Grantaire from the towel rack is beyond him.

 

“The fu…” He trails off, noticing that he is completely exposed, no curtain to hide himself. He forces the faint feeling of embarrassment down quickly, refusing to feel self conscious in his own fucking house in front of a lady who is literally not wearing a shirt. He gives her a scrutinizing look, ignoring the droplets of water dripping down from his hair and littering his back, “Can I help you?”

 

“Pay up or all of your clean clothes get tossed out the window before you can find something to cover yourself with.” She says, quick and to the point. Grantaire almost wants to respect her. Almost. Mostly he is just annoyed and the fact that he remembers at least half of his and Eponine’s laundry hanging from the clothesline out the window just proves that she isn’t fucking around. Eponine probably wouldn’t try and stop her. She’d probably be too engrossed in her show or just clap along in glee as Grantaire’s jeans and socks wafted through the drowsy, morning air.

 

“Alright, alright,” Grantaire mutters, running a hand down the side of his face. “Didn’t bring my wallet in here with me. You know, kinda slipped my mind and all--”

 

Chetta removes the towel away from her arm revealing Grantaire’s beat up old shoe box. His eyes nearly bulge out of his skull at seeing the familiar box out of it’s usual hiding place. Again, he almost wants to respect her. Eponine’s the nosiest little bitch on the face of the fucking planet and even she hasn’t found where Grantaire keeps his stash of cash yet. Then again, Chetta did clean his room while he was away…

 

“You--” He rips the box out of her hands, she doesn’t even try to fight him. Just continues to stare. “If you fucking took anything I swear . Eponine might think you’re cool and pitiful or whatever , but I could care less about your profession, sweetie.”

 

“Calm the fuck down.” Chetta says, looking a little annoyed. “If I wanted to take something, I could’ve taken it while you were in here. Or while you were away. Or while your lazy ass girlfriend was asleep--”

 

“Not my fucking girlfriend.” Grantaire mutters, and Chetta just huffs when Grantaire opens the lid. Nothing looks missing, but he’ll be making sure of that later. He pulls out fifty bucks--two twenties and a ten--and shoves them in Chetta’s face. “There. Enjoy your fucking prize for fixing a cheap ass microwave--”

 

Grantaire doesn’t get to finish because Chetta is snatching the money out of his hand and throwing the towel over his face before making her hasty retreat from the bathroom. Grantaire barely registers the creaking of his old, shitty bathroom door before it’s closing behind him. His door has always creaked, all of them pretty much do, it makes him wonder how the fuck Chetta even managed to sneak in…

 

He shakes his head, adamant on just moving on with the rest of his day.


 

He leaves the apartment a little after noon and the sun is still nowhere to be fucking seen. The clouds still hover over the city like a dark blanket, not a ray of sunshine can be seen through the haze. People still move on though, despite it looking like it’s closer to ten at night instead of the morning, and ‘people’ unfortunately include Grantaire.

 

Still, he barely makes it out the door before Eponine is shoving a plastic, zip lock bag down the front of his shirt and saying, “Coupons! I know, I’m the best. Go get me some more Easy Mac shit.”

 

Grantaire doesn’t go to fucking Walmart though. Eponine isn’t dying, she can go get her own food using his fucking money if she wants. Instead, he lifts up the lapels of his dark green coat and makes his way down to the Corthine. Yeah, it’s noon, and he probably shouldn’t be drinking yet, but fucking sue him, alright? It’s been a rough couple days and if a drink and the potential possibility of liver disease is what it takes, he’s going to go for it.

 

He’s thankful and annoyed at times to have an apartment so close to the places he tends to hang out around. Thankful, because he doesn’t have a car and can’t afford one either so walking around is less of a bitch when he’s closer. Annoyed because that means everyone he sees on a regular basis, friendly or not, most likely lives around him too. The city is in full swing though, people too busy dealing with their crying kids at their sides or stolen Rolexes and wallets to worry or even spare a glance his way. It’s something small that Grantaire really doesn’t mind about living in such a close knit society--close knit mostly by force, lack of space for expansion and all. He knows everyone who is anyone and in return people know him. People know he is cynical bastard with a drinking problem. People know he’s that asshole that graffitis, not because he is in a fucking gang or some stupid shit, but because he is artistic and bored and loves the simplistic things in life--like fucking with people. People know to stay away from him if he’s holding a large bag and smells funky (aka, some fucker didn’t hold up the end of their deal).

 

A particular gust of wind nearly has him stumbling back as he rounds a corner. He doesn’t get more than two steps before he is fucking blinded though. Fabric, soft and definitely some sort of fancy cotton or something, smacks him in the face and, considering Grantaire had been fumbling with his phone like an idiot before the thing hit him, pretty much means that he doesn’t get much of a chance to unblind himself before he is walking into something solid. It’s a graze, a rough one that hits his shoulder with way more power than he would expect on a Tuesday afternoon, but a graze nonetheless and luckily it doesn’t send him on his ass. Nope, the idiot who bumped into him would be dead if he fell, but bumping into him? Now Grantaire is just pissed. Justly so.

 

Without really thinking, he reaches up and twists his hand around the fabric still covering his face and pulls. Probably too hard, but he’s too annoyed to really take notice. His teeth are bared and his eyebrows are probably drawn together in annoyance, but he doubts the person he is trying to intimidate even fucking notices cause-- shit, Grantaire pulls them really close together. Their noses are a hair length away and all Grantaire’s able to see are blue eyes, tiny slits of cold eyes glaring back at him.

 

He is caught in a trance that lasts about less than half a second before he remembers where he is, who he is, and suddenly he is pushing away roughly, thumping the idiot in the chest as he does so, “Fucking watch where you’re going, jackass.”

 

The guy--Grantaire has no idea who the fucker is--raises one eyebrow. Grantaire barely registers the guy’s staggering height (they seemed the same height for all but two seconds… when Grantaire forced the dude down to his level anyway) and blonde curls before the guy is scoffing, “Afternoon to you too.”

 

“Afternoon?” Grantaire mutters, more to himself than anyone as he watches the guy continue his way down the street like nothing fucking happened. The guy straightens out his coat, bright red and annoying, and sighs like Grantaire is the tenth guy to give him shit that morning. It should make Grantaire lay off, maybe feel a tinge of sympathy for someone who has already experienced the annoyance that is the people in this fucking city, but it just--doesn’t.

 

Nope, instead Grantaire turns around, throwing his arm out, not caring if he looks more like a carebear in his winter parka that intimidating,  “Uh-huh, I’ll have a fucking good afternoon when some people can deal with getting their necks a little cold once in awhile.”

 

The guy stops. For a second, Grantaire thinks he’s actually gone and gotten himself into a fight with some fuck he doesn’t even know, let alone really have a problem with, but instead the guy does neither. He turns, slowly at first, only to suddenly be facing Grantaire head on, looking at him dead on and Grantaire has never felt so small under such a heavy gaze. It’s like he’s staring into the void, if the void was blue and cold and scrutinizing as it took him in. Grantaire feels persecuted, ripped open by nothing more than a simple glance. He feels like the guy has literally just walked over and cut him open, wide open with a knife and now he is bleeding out, his body going numb and lifeless but, at the same time, he realizes he’s never felt so alive. How could someone not when so much focus, so much concentration, is placed on them by just a single gaze?

 

The guy blinks, his entire face twisting with the movement--his cheekbones becoming more defined due to clenched teeth and perfect lips pursing out in a slight pout--before he narrows his eyes, searching, and Grantaire is left breathless. Adrift. Free-falling into nothingness as an angel fucking glares at him in the middle of the street.

 

The guy opens his mouth, his cheek a ruddy red from the cold, before saying, calmly and poised like a true ethereal being, “You have something purple on your cheek.”

 

And that’s it. The guy doesn’t look back, just flips the end of his gray scarf over his shoulder as if to say fucking make me take off my scarf bitch before rounding the corner and disappearing. Grantaire has the faint sense to go after him. To punch him in the gut and tie him up by his fucking feet  only to throw him over some balcony with his fancy, knitted scarf, but decides it’s too early for that shit. Noon is too early for any sort of fight, honestly. Even Grantaire has some standards, one of those being if you’re going to fight some pretentious prick in the street you have to have had at least two drinks first. So Grantaire huffs angrily, a cloud of smoke forming around his lips, before continuing down the street.

 

He so doesn’t stop a few times in front of some of the stores with glass windows, furiously wiping away a stray swipe of paint that is indeed very noticeable just on the top of his right cheek.

 

Yep, he’ll be having a conversation with Eponine about being a fucking decent human being and telling him when he’s got shit on his face when he gets home.

 

Feuilly and Bahorel are already there when he arrives at the Corinthe, paint free and not as pissy. He doesn’t really expect  anything different when he sees them. Those two have more psychic abilities towards the other whenever they need a drink than Grantaire thought possible. It could be terrifying at times. Like whenever Bahorel needs an extra round or a different size pool stick Feuilly will just be there holding it out to him like Bahorel had yelled at him to do it from across the bar.

 

Feuilly sees him first, “Hey R,” a faint smile forms on his chapped lips, “you bring Ep?”

 

Grantaire makes a face, “Fuck no. She wants me to go to Walmart to pick up her dinner or some shit. Apparently she is on her deathbed and forgot to tell me so now I gotta do all these chores for her.”

 

“Fuck bro,” Bahorel says, leaning up against the edge of the pool table while Feuilly sets up the balls behind him. “If you didn’t hate her so much I would have to say you’re the definition of whipped.”

 

Grantaire elbows Bahorel in the side, knocking him out of his place by the pool table. It’s not really hard. Bahorel’s a big motherfucker and Grantaire’s elbow just happens to be right at the perfect height to be able to dig deep into Bahorel’s ribs whenever he is being a dick.

 

“Good thing you didn’t.” Feuilly says casually, fishing the eight ball out of one of the holes and putting it in the middle of the table. “Her Dad is asking around for any info about her whereabouts. We won’t snitch on her, dude, don’t worry. But if she comes here, well, he’s choking up a lot of cash to get some dirt on her and money is money…”

 

“Do what you want.” Grantaire says. If Eponine wants to sit at his house all day like some housewife instead of telling Grantaire that her dad is looking for her and she needs to stay on the downlow--that’s not his fucking problem, even if she does give him all her coupons. “Just don’t give his guys my address. Last thing I need is a bunch of Thenardier’s stupid high school boys charging into my apartment and fucking shit up.”

 

Bahorel laughs at that, “Aren’t you supposed to be in high school man?”

“‘Supposed to be’ sounds like something I really don’t want to fucking do.” Grantaire says easily. Having to do things, as in being obligated to do shit, makes Grantaire more pissy than when he has to deal with a drunken Eponine. (No one like a drunken Eponine. Ever) “Plus, even if I did decide an education is worth shit around here, I’d be done with it by now.”

 

“Shut up, man.” Feuilly says, side-eyeing Bahorel and readjusting the over-sized sleeve of his plaid coat. Feuilly’s practically a real life string bean--an impressive feat that Grantaire always teases him about while Bahorel agrees that he should make it his full-time job--but that means finding clothes that actually fit the guy can be a challenge, “You didn’t graduate either.”

 

“Yeah because I don’t need a high school degree to build shit for people.” Bahorel says, lighting up a cigarette and heading around the table to start off the game. “R, you want a beer? I can go grab you one.”

 

“I can get one myself man. Thanks.” Grantaire says, eyeing Bahorel oddly.

 

Feuilly’s lip twitches and Bahorel full on grins, even with the cigarette between his teeth, “Can you? You seem a little young, kid.”

 

Grantaire scoffs, honestly unsure whether or not Bahorel is fucking with him or not. It wouldn’t be surprising. Bahorel’s a dick and won’t stop at anything, even Grantaire’s age-- nineteen and sad --to piss him off.

 

“Bossuet isn’t here.” Feuilly says. Bahorel breaks next to him and the balls go cluttering around the table. Not a single one goes in and Bahorel swears under his breath, pulling out his cigarette and letting it rest comfortably in between his fingers.

 

“The fuck? Where is he?” Grantaire asks, grabbing a stick for himself. Bossuet works at the Musain all the time. It’s practically his full time job and how he even got acquainted with any of them in the first place. Feuilly and Grantaire are both too young to technically be able to buy alcohol anywhere, but that doesn’t stop Bossuet from giving them drinks pretty much every other night. As long as they pay, no one really has a problem twisting the rules a bit.

 

Feuilly is holding back a smile when he sinks in his third ball in a row, pretending like he isn’t enjoying every second of Bahorel fuming next to him. “After the job yesterday Bossuet dropped us all off and got himself a fucking speeding ticket.”

 

Grantaire nearly gapes, “You’re joking.”

 

Bahorel shrugs, “Bad luck, wrong night, and going just ten over the speed limit. The dumbass broke his probation for being out too late.”

 

Grantaire groans into his hand and beside him Feuilly has lost all ability to try and pretend to hold in a laugh because it would just be Bossuet’s luck. They managed to pull off a job that got way more bloody than any of them were prepared for and Bossuet managed to break his probation with a fucking speeding ticket. Grantaire doesn’t know whether to hang his head down low in some shitty form of second hand embarrassment or laugh along with Feuilly. Both seemed appropriate for the situation at hand.

 

Grantaire drops his hand, “When is the idiot’s hearing?”

 

“Tomorrow? Or some shit like that. He’s probably going to get a shit ton of community service or some more time behind bars. I almost want to feel sorry for him.” Bahorel says. “I’ve done more stuff in the past year than that guy has done in his whole life but he still manages to get caught every single damn time.”

 

The rest of the afternoon goes by in a blur of pool, Bahorel buying drinks and Grantaire having to pay him back in cash, and smoke. The only thing he remembers when he is stumbling home around six with a bag full of Easy Macs under his arm and a pack cigarettes in his pocket that he managed to snag off some old fuck, is Feuilly telling him about working at the Musain for awhile until Bossuet gets out. Grantaire is underaged, but that old witch who runs the place doesn’t give a shit as long as no one goes yapping to the cops about it. Plus, Grantaire is such a regular that no one would look twice if they saw him instead of Bossuet standing behind the bar-- and who is Grantaire to say no to a little extra money?

 

By the time he opens up his front door and takes in the havoc around him-- aka Chetta and Eponine rolling around on the ground laughing their asses off in nothing but his sweatshirts surrounded by whatever is probably left of his booze--he has completely forgotten the blue eyes and blonde hair that crossed his vision earlier.

 


 

 

When Grantaire wakes up the next morning Chetta is standing above him. Staring.

 

He darts up, nearly knocking their forehead together in the process, but Chetta must have some ninja reflexes or some shit because she ducks back just in time without breaking a sweat. She is obviously hungover as fuck. Her hair is all wacked out and greased over her  shoulder. Her eyes have thick, puffy bags under them that put Grantaire’s normal sullen eyes to shame. She gives him the same scrutinizing look like she did the other day in the shower before thrusting a handful of bills into his face.

 

“Whaa…?”

 

“I drank all of your booze.” Chetta starts, her voice holding less umft than it did yesterday, but still intimidating. “And… whatever else was in your cabinet. Also, Ep and I probably trashed your place so badly that whatever I did manage to clean up did practically nothing so,”

 

She shoves it in his face again, the bill ends clipping Grantaire in the nose as he shakes his head, “Keep it.”

 

“I don’t take money I don’t earn.” Chetta says, slapping the money down in his lap and turning around. She is yanking open the door when she pauses and turns out, “Plus, I’m keeping this sweatshirt. It’s comfy.”

 

Grantaire’s door slams shut and all Grantaire has the ability to do is flop back down onto his bed. He is out in minutes.

Chapter Text

By the time Grantaire wakes up at noon he has barely any time to shower and eat before he is reporting for duty all the way across town. Fantine had sent him a text message hours ago to get his ass downtown to fix some rich fuck’s fridge so he can have his fancy cocktail party or some shit. Apparently he had texted her back in his sleep that he could do it and was now paying the price for it as he races down the streets all while expertly breaking and violating multiple traffic laws.

 

The fucker doesn’t stop bitching Grantaire out, hovering over his shoulder, sending him disapproving looks until his platinum fridge is fixed and fucking freezing his turkey legs again. He has barely handed Grantaire the check for his services before shoving him and his ‘dirt-ridden mountain biker boots’ out onto the front porch and towards his van.

 

Grantaire’s hates ‘his van’. Mostly because, technically, it isn’t ‘his van’. It’s Fantine’s and while she is generous enough to let his sorry ass borrow it whenever he gets calls from people way out of his walking zone, it is still like a slap in the face to Grantaire on how fucking poor he is. Well, he manages. But a car would be nice, perhaps not a shitty white creeper van that Fantine loans him, but something that could get him somewhere without him having to walk or hitch a ride from Bossuet. Which, oh yeah, isn’t even possible now.

 

Feuilly had called when Grantaire was driving back to his apartment around noon to tell Grantaire the bad news. Bossuet’s hearing, unsurprisingly, didn’t go as smoothly as Bahorel had been boasting about last night in the Musain after three beers. A month in a half in the slammer for poor, unlucky, and balding Bossuet. That--and they are taking his license away… and also his car. Fuck.

 

Grantaire would manage though. Bossuet drove him around a lot, but as long as he’s in walking distance of the Musain for his new bartending shifts and Fantine doesn't mind lending him her van he is going fine. Grantaire is five blocks away from his apartment when he turns into a local gas station, fills up Fantine’s tank just because he isn’t as much of a dick as people think he is(normally), and buys a magazine with some forty something year old celebrity crying on the front with the headline DIVORCE scattered across it because he knows Eponine will probably get a kick out of reading it. He grabs a milk carton and at least a dozen TV dinners before driving home.

 

It’s almost evening when he finally comes in, shoving off his hat and releasing his wild mane of curls and tearing off his gloves with his teeth because his hands are full of groceries. He can already smell the popcorn before he yells, “Ep, whatcha watching?”

 

“Inglorious bastards.” Eponine answers cooly from the couch.

 

Grantaire doesn’t even spare her a glance, just shucks off his boots and makes his way into the kitchen. He opens up the fridge and yells over his shoulder, “You and your weird fetish with Nazis. I almost want to be worried.”

 

“Don’t fight it.” Eponine says, poking her head over the couch and giving him a mock salute. “Just join us, young one.”

 

Grantaire stands up, his fingers smashed in his hair to get the curls out of his eyes, and sees someone--definitely not Eponine, nope--coming out of his room with no fucking shirt on. Again. Only problem this time is that Grantaire has to fight off every urge not to drop his jaw and stare.

 

Blonde. Pale. Blue eyes. Tall. Pissed the fuck off. Bedhead. Pink lips. Muscular. Tall. Curls wrung around his ears. Tall. Smooth skin. Raised eyebrow. Motherfucking tall.

 

The blonde doesn’t notice him at first. Just lazily strokes his hands threw his disheveled hair and yawns a bit. He blinks tiredly before, oh dear lord, stretching. His arms go high above his head while he alternates between pulling one down and arching his back and-- okay this is fucking dumb.

 

Grantaire shakes his head, “The fuck are you?”

 

The blonde stops mid arch, eyeing him carefully, but Eponine interjects before he can even get anything out. She sits up and Grantaire notices for the first time since walking through the front door that Eponine’s hair actually looks halfway decent. Instead of frayed and loose around her shoulders it is now tied back neatly and tucked into a careful french braid, only a few tendrils stick out to frame her face.

 

Her devious smiling face.

 

“Oh yeah, how rude of me.” Her eyes turn towards the shirtless fucking guy standing in Grantaire’s doorway as if he is the one who she needs to show hospitality to-- in Grantaire’s own fucking house. “Enjolras darling, this is my shitbag roomate Grantaire, but he goes by R because he is all mysterious like that. And R,” Eponine turns his way now, “This is my new gay best friend. Say hi, E.”

 

Grantaire jolts a little at the word ‘gay’, but Enjolras looks unphased. He just yawns once more and waves a clumsy hand Grantaire’s way, “Hey.”

 

Blondie--or Enjolras or whatever the fuck--scratches his upper arm once more before walking over to the couch and practically collapsing on Eponine’s lap causing her to make a ‘hmmph’ sound and giggle, “Fuckin’ hell. You trying to crush me?”

 

Grantaire blinks, “I thought Jehan was your token gay best friend.”

 

“Hence that word ‘new’ not ‘replaced’. I’d never leave Jehan, asshat.” Eponine said.

 

Grantaire blinks again, “Uhh… was he sleeping in my room?”

 

“Yeah.” Eponine says. “Didn’t think you’d mind. You let me and Jehan sleep there all the time when you're gone.”

 

“You see, no. No I don’t actually fucking do. I have never in the however many months you’ve lived here actually said it was okay for you to sleep in my bed. Ever.”

 

Eponine shrugs and starts carding her fingers through Enjolras’s hair, “You’ve never complained about it either.”

 

That’s true. He mostly complains about it because Eponine thinks she is a fucking queen who can go around doing whatever the fuck she wants without asking. But this though--letting a complete fucking stranger sleep in his bed--that’s even over the line for her.

 

Grantaire walks into the living room area, unnaturally cautious, “Who the hell is he?”

 

The guy has already fallen asleep, his blue eyes gone from the world. His chest rises slowly up and down while his head lies comfortably on Eponine’s lap.

 

“I told you. His name is Enjolras and he is gay.” Eponine says. “Or, at least I’m pretty sure he is.” She gets a weird glint in her eye, like she has just found or discovered something brilliant, “Jehan is gonna love me.”

 

Grantaire frowns, “You know you really shouldn’t go fucking shouting that from the rooftops. Some guys are actually self conscious about liking it up the ass, believe it or not.”

 

Eponine grins, like she has discovered something beautiful, “No shame here. He’s like Jehan, but more upfront about it. He’s out.”

 

“Out?” Grantaire says, dumbfounded.

 

“Loud and proud.”

 

“What?”

 

“You know, like he tells people he is into dudes. Pretty inspiring, right?” Eponine says and Grantaire honestly can’t tell if she’s being sarcastic or not.

 

Grantaire shakes his head, trying not to take Eponine’s words too literally. No one is out. Not around here anyway. If you are gay you shut your trap about it and go down to boy’s town every other week or so when the sun is no longer out. That’s how it goes. Saying you’re out is like going into an airport with a hockey mask and yelling bomb. No one fucking does it because if you do you’ll fucking die.

 

Well, Jehan is technically out. More like everyone takes one look at his multiple ear piercings, long dirty blonde hair, perfectly contoured cheeks or some shit, and occasional maxi skirt and kind of put the pieces together themselves. The guy is gay as fuck and gets a ton of shit for it, but luckily Jehan just happens to be the toughest little dude Grantaire has ever met and won’t take shit from nobody. Last guy who tried to give Jehan shit for his thing with guys ended up in the ER with a busted knut and a dislocated shoulder.

 

“I don’t give a fuck. Tell Oprah about it. I just want to know why he’s here and--” Grantaire pauses as Enjolras mumbles something incoherent, slinging his arms around and nearly whacking Eponine in the jaw. “Shit . You get him high or something? You didn’t let him use our stash did--”

 

Eponine is giggling, obviously taking the whole thing as a big fucking joke, “Fuck no. He’s a friend of Chetta’s and she told me to watch him until she gets off work. He’s pretty much been passed out since me and her hauled him into the bedroom. Beats me what he is on.”

 

“Is he like… a hooker? Or something? Addict?” Grantaire asks. He looks down at Enjolras, trying to match his face with the sudden spark of recognition flickering in the back of his mind. He doesn’t look like a meth addict, with all the scars and droopy face, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the guy isn’t shooting up every now and again. His face is too perfect for Grantaire to even consider that he is fucking it up by getting into the hard stuff. His perfect cheekbones and light, ruffled hair tell as much.

 

Good, Grantaire thinks as he rounds the couch. The last thing he needs is Eponine bringing in stray crackheads and hookers.

 

Eponine shrugs a bit, “Didn’t ask. All I know is his name and apparently his sexual orientation.”

 

“Why?”

 

Eponine smiled, “He told me. That, and Chetta kind of mentioned it briefly last time she was here… Actually, that’s the only thing he told me before passing out on your bed. He said, and I quote, ‘I like dick and I’m proud’ and then passed out. That’s it.”

 

“Fucking hell,” Grantaire mutters, going back to the kitchen to put the rest of the groceries away. He shuffles around in the kitchen for a few more minutes before sticking a TV dinner in the microwave and pressing a few buttons. He might’ve not have paid Chetta for fixing his microwave, but damn was he thankful that he doesn’t have to do it now. “He better be gone when I wake up.”

 

“You sleeping?”

 

“Yeah. This fucker better not have pissed or rubbed his dick into my sheets.” Grantaire says, grabbing a beer from the bottom shelf of the fridge and cracking it open on his way to his room. “Seriously Ep. He’s gone when I wake up.”

 

“Yep. Promise.”

 

***

 

He’s not gone when Grantaire wakes up. Nope, definitely not gone and Grantaire can’t even be surprised. Trusting Eponine with something, anything really, is a literal translation for fucking yourself over.

 

Still, that doesn’t make Grantaire any less pissed when he wakes up the next morning to the smell of pancakes . Pancakes. Wafting from the kitchen. He drags himself out of bed though and quickly throws on some sweatpants and a old, ratty shirt before making his appearance.

 

Eponine is still asleep on the couch. No surprise there. But her friend is still shirtless and walking around Grantaire’s kitchen like he is busy getting breakfast ready for the Queen of England. His back is towards Grantaire, flexing every so often whenever he moves to grab something, and Grantaire has to bite his lip roughly and breath through his nose for a second before speaking.

 

“Having fun Ramsey?” Grantaire says and is only a little pleased when the guy knocks his elbow against the counter when he spins around to look at him and-- oh. The guy’s eyes are a lot bluer than he remembers, a little more in focus as well and not as dilated. His face is more stern, like he is already judging Grantaire for the three fucking words that have left his mouth. Dickbag.

 

“Afternoon.” The guy says and Grantaire freezes behind the counter, his fingers unconsciously curling into his forearms before he remembers--

 

“You.” He says. “The fucker with the scarf the other day.”

 

“What?” The guy says, his eyebrows drawing together. He squints at Grantaire, and Grantaire in return tries way too fucking hard not to squirm, before reeling back, “Oh.”

 

“Yeah oh, dick. Who the fuck wears scarfs in the middle of November unless they wanna be choked by it?” Grantaire says. It’s easy to say that Grantaire may not be the best host to his so-called (uninvited, unannounced, shirtless) ‘guest’. It’s not like Grantaire is known around town for his hospitality.

 

Blondie snorts, obviously not impressed or even slightly affected by Grantaire’s bluntness, and quickly turns around back to the stove, “Believe it or not some people actually use them for warmth instead of… choking.”

 

It takes Grantaire a minute to register the strange tone in the guy’s voice, but once he does he has to physically fight the world to hold back the heat daring to rise in his face. He tells himself it is out of anger, and in a way it is. Grantaire barely holds himself back from bopping the guy in the back of the head with his fists for thinking that is where his mind goes to, on principle of course. The guy is making fucking pancakes. That is a delicacy that even Grantaire will let him off on, maybe once or twice. “The fuck, man. I can see why Eponine likes you, you’re as fucked up in the head as she is.”

 

Grantaire makes his way over to the fridge, just catching the guy’s face scrunch up in distaste, “It’s not like that.”

 

And-- oh yeah. That. Open about liking dick. Grantaire swallows, “Whatever man. You better hope that you made some of those for me, for your sake of course, or else I’ll really have to slit your throat for trespassing.”

 

It could’ve been a joke, maybe, if Grantaire wasn’t such a shit face at making acquaintances. It isn’t until another ten minutes of uncomfortable silence that Eponine is finally awoken by the sweet smell of butter and freshly made pancakes. She nearly tackles the guy when he sets a plate out for her, syrup and milk and the whole shit fest. Her hands slip around his bare abdomen easily, her face smushed against his shoulder, “You’re amazing, Elliot. Where has Chetta been keeping you??”

 

Blondie, still holding a spatula, pats her awkwardly on the back, “It’s Enjolras.”

 

“Yeah, yeah ‘course.” Eponine says and Grantaire snorts. Perhaps him and Eponine finding each other and somehow living with one another isn’t the weirdest shit to ever happen. In a way, and Grantaire will never admit this out loud, him and the bitch are a lot alike. One resemblance being terrible at making friends. It would solve the mystery of why they never bother with each other.

 

Grantaire takes at least three of the guy’s pancakes before quickly getting dressed and heading out the door. It’s still early, but no one ever gets shit for showing up to their first day at work early.

 

“Where are you going?” Eponine asks.

 

Grantaire contemplates on whether or not he should even bother telling her that he is a sudden bartender now ( Ta Da), but in the end he doubts she’ll even care and says, “Trying to escape all the shirtless people you bring into this apartment. Who knows? One day I’m gonna walk in and it’s gonna be you and I honestly don’t know if I’m emotionally prepared for that yet.”

 

Eponine flips him off, throws a half-eaten pancake that misses him by an inch and ends up getting plastered in the bottom of the door before Grantaire is saluting and bustling out.

 


 

Grantaire is two hours and nineteen minutes into his new job when a fight breaks out. Now, it’s not like Grantaire started it… but that doesn’t necessarily mean he made any attempts to tone it down, you know, like a fucking professional employee should, once it began.

 

It wasn’t his fault that some forty-something douche bag with a hideous yellow plaid shirt and overalls (he looked like a mutant minion, pretty much) stumbled into the bar during his first shift and decided he wanted to be the whiniest little bitch to ever bitch just because he lost his fucking job. Apparently the guy didn’t get the memo that not all bartenders wanted to give you free drinks and listen to your fucking dumbass problems when you’re having a bad day. What the fuck did Grantaire look like? His fucking shrink? So, Grantaire really shouldn’t have been surprised when the six foot tall, lumber jack of a guy clocked him in the face when he told the guy to either buy a drink or go dig his balls out from the bottom of his purse.

 

At least Feuilly knew more about how to fix up a fucked up face than both Grantaire and Bahorel combined.

 

“You know, I can’t believe I’m actually saying this but… maybe Bossuet wasn’t the most unlucky bastard to ever live. Maybe it’s this shitbbag bartending gig. I never did trust the manager, seemed too sketchy to just be handing out jobs to any idiot who knew the difference between beer and well aged wine.” Feuilly says, dabbing Grantaire’s bottom lip with a tea towel.

 

Bahorel is still playing pool, the dick head, and smirking while Feuilly goes to town on Grantaire’s split lip and bruised eye, “Fat chance. I’ve known the idiot since we were in middle school. He’s always been a fuck up. But hey, I gotta give you credit where credit is due R, picking a fight with some drunk, fat ass on your first shift--that takes skill.”

 

“Fuck you.” Grantaire say simply, ignoring Feuilly’s stern look when blood once again begins to trickle down his lip and into the divot of his chin. “The fucker jumped me, literally. He hoisted his fatass over the bar while my back was turned.”

 

“In fairness,” Feuilly starts, wetting the tea towel once more and clearing away the blood. “You did tell the guy to go stick a pad on his head.”

 

“Well yeah,” Grantaire gruffs, shifting on the uncomfortable bar stool Bahorel had forced him to sit down in, “if the guy is gonna act like a pussy he might as well look like one.”

 

Bahorel laughs, which isn’t always the best thing to happen when you tell a joke or throw an insult. Feuilly just rolls his eyes, obviously not appreciating Grantaire’s wonderful comedic abilities, “I don’t even think that makes sense.”

 

“It doesn’t have to. That’s the beauty of comed-- fuck! Damn, Feuilly! I only get one set of lips, alright? Don’t need you going and tearing them off.”

 

Feuilly winces, “Sorry. It’s been awhile since I’ve had to stitch someone up cause… Bossuet is gone.”

 

“He’s been gone a couple days.”

 

Bahorel smirks, knocking the eight ball in and finishing off a game that no one was willing to play with him, “Exactly.”

 

Grantaire tenses up as Feuilly continues to dab something on his lip that feels like he is pouring lemon juice into a fucking opened wound which--isn’t really too inaccurate. The pub has moved on and people are continuing their normal day routine as if a fight breaking out is nothing but a small blip in their schedule. The guy with the beard that thinks feelings are relevant checked out with a couple of his buddies once Bahorel stepped in a gave him a good fist to the side of his jaw, so now the place is kind of dying down. No one seems to think that getting drunk in the middle of a Tuesday sounds that promising except a few people near the end of the bar that are mumbling quietly to each other. On the other end of the place though, Grantaire can hardly ignore a group of rowdy people playing fucking darts.

 

If Grantaire was a good employee he would probably go over there and offer to call a cab for the group before they put too many holes in the wall. It doesn’t take Grantaire long to decide he isn’t a good employee. Not when his lips is still bleeding and throbbing, he isn’t.

 

Some girl ends up getting a bullseye and literally leaps into some guy’s arms in delight, taking both of them down while their friends laugh wildly at them. It’s no wonder Grantaire doesn’t hear or acknowledge Feuilly’s voice until the guy is whacking him on the arm.

 

“What?” Grantaire snaps and Feuilly rolls his eyes.

 

“Just thought I’d let you know, friend, that Thenardier is raising the price on Eponine’s head.”

 

Grantaire snorts, “The fuck should I care?”

 

“Oh, I don’t know,” Feuilly mutters, wiping away some antiseptic that landed on the sleeve of his worn, plaid jacket in distaste, “considering you live with her and everything I thought it might be vital information.”

 

“I don’t live with her.” Grantaire stupidly points out when Feuilly finally pulls away and starts packing up a shitty, little first aid kit that sits behind the bar. Grantaire shifts in his seat, cracking his neck in a couple of places, before rising and pointing Feuilly’s way. “She’s a rat that lives on my couch that I have yet to exterminate.”

 

Feuilly gives a look that Grantaire can tell means he doesn’t believe a damn word he’s saying, but Bahorel just laughs and sinks in another ball--for another game, Jesus. He rises a bit, his shoulders broad enough to threaten the chance of his shirt tearing and gives Grantaire a big grin, “Well, here’s your exterminator. And, bonus, you don’t have to give them shit--they’ll pay you.”

 

Grantaire pauses for a moment, letting Bahorel’s words sink in, before hopping over the bar, “What does he want for her anyway?”

 

Eponine doesn’t talk about her Father very much--or anyone in her family, really. Sure, she talks to Gavroche on the phone every now and then when whatever shitty foster family he has at the time allows it. But, other than that, Azemla moved away with some rich fuck right out of high school and vowed never to look back and her parents are a nightmare that he doesn’t really blame her for ignoring. It’s not like they were parents of the fucking year, but then again around here no one really is. But, when your parents are supposed drug lords that have been arrested and broken out six times by the time you are three years old then yeah, maybe wanting to get away from them and never seeing them again doesn’t seem half as crazy.

 

So, paint Grantaire confused, when all the sudden, after years of silence on Eponine’s part, he decides he wants to see her.

 

“Well,” Feuilly starts, “considering he definitely wants her alive, but not necessarily well, I’d guess this isn’t a desperate father hoping to have a heart-warming reunion with his only daughter still in the area.”

 

“She probably took something.” Bahorel suggests, not even looking their way as he taps his pole against the wall. “Or told someone something she shouldn’t have. Be careful R, I know she’s your friend or fuck buddy or whatever--”

 

“Not in a million years would--”

 

“--but the bitch obviously stuck her nose in something she wasn’t supposed to and now,” Bahorel grins and leans down to take another stab at the 2 ball that just doesn’t seem to want to sink in, “ Daddy’s mad.”

 

Grantaire rolls his eyes and starts cleaning out a few glass cups as a way to distract himself from replying, from thinking too hard. Eponine’s never been a perfect little daughter when it came to her parent’s business, and now with money being given out to people who know her whereabouts it’s just--it’s putting Grantaire on edge. Eponine is annoying and lazy and is way too much like Grantaire for Grantaire to ever actually have a chance of getting along with her, but she isn’t stupid. She is a crazy bitch at times but she knows her shit and how to cover up her tracks. It’s why when Eponine first offered him free weed and whatever other shit he wanted in exchange for rent he was so cool with it, welcomed it even. But now…

 

Feuilly walks over to the bar and slips onto a stool before giving Grantaire the first aid kit back and muttering something about what drink he wants. Bahorel is setting up yet another game, the balls on the pool table clacking loudly, and the group in the back looks like they need another round. It’s annoying, but for once Grantaire relishes in all the distractions and grabs Feuilly a glass.

 




“Faggot!”

 

Jehan barely blinks as he ducks out of the way of an incoming beer can, just swerves out of the way and heaves a heavy sigh while readjusting the strap of his bag on his shoulder. Grantaire watches the can skitter by his feet with vague interest before it goes tumbling down a nearby gutter. His feet keep moving thugh, not even daring to look back at the asswipe who thinks throwing shit around Jehan Prouvaire is a smart idea, but Jehan doesn’t hesitate to turn around while walking backwards to tell the cunt off.

 

He cups his hands around his mouth, his dark fingerless gloves making the rest of his hand look almost pale against the night, and shouts, “Uh-huh. Hey! Thanks buddy! You know, for the reminder and whatnot. I’m afraid I’ll forget one day and then who’ll suck your dick in a dark alley for five bucks a pop, huh?”

 

The three or so guys scurry away while muttering profanity and flipping them off. Jehan just waves cheerily before turning around and grabbing the end of his long braid only to dramatically throw it over his shoulder. Grantaire observes him with amusement but also doesn’t let him miss his eyeroll. Jehan’s a fucking menace. Like him or not, but that is just a hard fact that no one can deny. The guy might be a twink, but he’s scarier than Grantaire with a hatchet and a loaded rifle any day.

 

“I’ve literally sucked at least one of those guy’s dicks before.” Jehan says, like it’s nothing but an afterthought. “Don’t know what the fuck they want from me. Stalkers. Just can’t get enough of my sweet ass.”

 

Jehan pulls out a cigarette from his pocket before offering a second to Grantaire. Grantaire turns him down but lights Jehan’s with his own lighter just cause. Jehan leans down into the flame and cups his hands to protect it from the wind before straightening up and taking a quick drag, “Is Ep sick?” He asks while smoke swirls around him.

 

“No.” And she isn’t. Just in trouble, or so Grantaire can only imagine after she has been hold up in his house for around three weeks. But Jehan doesn’t need to stress himself over that. “Just a lazy cow.”

 

Jehan smiles, his teeth a glossy red from some slushie he insisted on having earlier during dinner, “You love her.”

 

Grantaire snorts, “Dumb cunt.”

 

The wind picks up around them and the street lights flash randomly, illuminating their shadows at every corner. Grantaire tugs his parka around him and shoves his hands in his pockets with a huff of annoyance. No one has ever said the transition from Fall to Winter is easy, especially in these parts where walking everywhere is pretty much the only way to get around, but Jehan didn’t have to drag his ass out to some new fast food restaurant just for a fucking slushie this late at night either. Now, Grantaire can hardly feel his toes and they have another six blocks to go. Fabulous.

 

“Honestly though, you take poor, little T for granted.” When Grantaire just flips him off, Jehan continues like nothing happened. “She’s a hot little mama with--”

 

“--with a rat’s face and--”

 

“--a nice ass.” Jehan finishes with a smirk. “Boys are gonna be jumping her left and right pretty soon here once they see what a gem she is.”

 

Grantaire laughs, his breath becoming a light mist in the air, “But only if they see her before you, right?”

 

“Duh.” Jehan says, rolling his eyes. “You guys already live together like some old married couple. Time to grow up R, buy yourself a brand new suit, and tie the knot.” Jehan takes another drag. “Seriously, the whole sorta friends with benefits thing you guys got going is getting old. Eponine won’t even admit to me that you guys bang. You make me feel so out of the loop! I’m down for a three-way amongst peers any day, boo.”

 

Grantaire politely ignores Jehan’s hopefully sarcastic last comment and snorts, “I’d rather finger a pregnant pig than go anywhere near Eponine’s ass.” Grantaire says with ernest.

 

“Well,” Jehan says after a long drag. His face is completely composed and Grantaire’s words don’t look like they’ve phased him at all. In fact, he looks like he almost expected them, “at least you’re honest.”

 

They walk a little longer, Jehan doing a much better job pretending that the cold isn’t getting to him as much as Grantaire is. He just skips along, his furry-looking boots, that Grantaire swears he snatched from Eponine, getting ruined in whatever puddles of dirt water he carelessly glides through. He’s halfway through a story about some fuckwad at the bakery he works at giving him shit about some croissant when his phone rings.

 

“You gonna get that?” Grantaire asks, pulling his beanie down over his ears for the millionth time that night.

 

Jehan falters in his steps a little before reaching down and answering his blackberry. His blackberry. Grantaire might not be able to afford a fancy IPhone, but at least he has a halfway decent smartphone, okay? Jehan never seemed to give two shits about technology though and holds the phone up to his ear with a smile, “Hey boo, what’s up?”

 

Grantaire snickers when he hears Montparnasse’s familiar voice sigh through the speaker along with a mumble that sounds like something along the lines of ‘don’t call me that, twink’.

 

The phone call is short and sweet and leaves Jehan grinning like a cheshire cat. Grantaire studies his face for a moment before huffing, “He fucking hates you, man.”

 

“I know, aren’t I lucky?” Jehan replies easily, tucking his phone away, “Too bad the jackass needs me way more than I need him.”

 

“Still don’t want to know why that is.” Grantaire cuts in when Jehan looks like he is about to jump into a story that Grantaire really would rather not know. Jehan to him is a sweet little terrifying human being, and he’d like to fucking keep it that way thank you very much. “But watch yourself. The dude’s a maniac.”

 

“Monty?” Jehan nearly shouts before bursting into a fit of giggles. Grantaire punches him on the arm, but that only prods him to laugh harder. “The guy is all talk. He wears designer clothes for christ sake!”

 

“Yeah,” Grantaire says, side-stepping a large muddle that looks like it has at least two used condoms in it, “and how the fuck do you think he gets those clothes, huh?”

 

“Ohhh, he’s a bad boy, alright. Stealing shit and whatnot.” Grantaire watches in vague amusement as Jehan just tips his head back and laughs. Oh, the joy of innocence, “I can’t believe you’re scared of him when you literally live with Ponine and have met Chetta.”

 

“I’m not scared of him and how the fuck do you know her? I hardly know her.” Besides seeing her chest and sorta paying her for fixing his microwave a week or two ago, Chetta is basically a stranger to him. Still, Jehan makes it a point to know pretty much anyone related to the south side of this city. Whether they like him or want to get to know him back is irrelevant.

 

“She’s a friend, kinda.” Jehan says, turning another corner and barely managing to avoid running into a mom with too many groceries bundled up in her arms. “I mean, as long as I’m paying her to do something she doesn’t mind sticking around and talking to me.”

 

“Yeah, cause she’s a hooker. Kinda in her job description that she needs to get paid before she does things.”

 

“A classy hooker, assface. She does what she needs to and I love playing with her hair so--it’s a win win situation.”

 

Jehan turns another corner while Grantaire keeps walking straight to his apartment, but not before he snacthes Grantaire by his coat sleeve and gives him a big sloppy kiss on the cheek. Grantaire wipes away whatever sticky chapstick he was using before flipping him off and continuing on his way. Jehan yells at him to tell Eponine hello and that he’ll call her later and Grantaire considers fulfilling the favor. Maybe just this once.

Chapter Text

It takes another three days before Grantaire runs into mean, tall, and blonde again. Not that he gives a shit or thought he’d ever see the guy again but… accidents happen? Unfortunate, awkward accidents that end up with Grantaire strangling the guy with his own scarf. This time though, the guy isn’t wearing a scarf but at least he has a shirt on and isn’t standing in the middle of his apartment. So, there’s that.

 

It’s when Grantaire is just finishing up a shift behind the bar, a six hour one that had been fucking dead the whole time and the tips he had managed to get prove it. Feuilly and Bahorel had already left an hour earlier complaining about getting up for work the next day and now the place is full of annoying strangers that have once again discovered a great game to play while shit-faced drunk: darts . Grantaire will never understand drunk people’s fascination with darts. Ever. If you can’t walk in a straight line when a cop tells you to then you should probably not be chucking sharp objects willy nilly.

 

Grantaire is just reaching down for his parka behind the counter when he hears the familiar squeak of the bar stool. He barely hides a drawn out sigh when he stands up, ready to tell the person to fucking beat it or give him a tip big enough to cover his month’s rent, when he is stopped short by an achingly familiar face. Fuck.

 

The guy looks different than the first time he saw him. Not any less beautiful or--or fucking unreal, just more polished. Like he’s actually had something to eat and has taken a shower within the past twenty four hours. Oh, and he’s not completely smashed. That might have something to do with it. His eyes are still a deep blue, but they are narrowed and extremely focused. Grantaire would guess that the guy was pissed and ready to kill if not for the calm line of his lips. His hair is slightly curly, but not a mess on top of his head like last time. Grantaire honestly and truly believes the idiot could probably pull off both looks easily without anyone looking twice at him besides to ogle him. Prick.

 

He clears his throat, “Wait for the next guy to clock in, man. I’m done tonight.”

 

Blondie quirks his eyebrow, “Hello to you too.”

 

Grantaire grabs a styrofoam cup and does what he does best, ignore the problem until it goes away. He turns his back to blondie mcperfecteyebrows and begins filling his cup to the brim with whatever bottle his hand lands on first. As long as it’s got alcohol in it, it’ll do.

 

“Seriously dude,” Grantaire mumbles when he turns around and the guy is still sitting there looking all professional with his hands folded and his back straight. Grantaire suddenly gets a sickeningly feeling of deja vu when he and Bahorel got busted during some deal last year and he had to be interviewed around sixteen times for shit he didn’t even do by some detective with a ten foot pole up his ass. This guy certainly does have the answer me or there will be consequences kind of face, “wait till the next guy comes in or--you already know where I fucking live--I’m not Ep’s keeper. So, if you’re looking for her or she fucked you over that’s not my--”

 

“I don’t care about Eponine.” The guy-- Edwardo?-- says pointedly, his face pinching immediately afterwards like he ate something sour. “That came out wrong. She’s a nice girl and everything but… I’m not here for her.”

 

Now it’s Grantaire’s turn to raise an eyebrow, “You’re here-- for me?”

 

What a dumbass question. But Grantaire really can’t help but ask it because-- why????

 

Enjolras scowls, his eyebrows furrowing a bit, “You’re R, right?”

 

“Depends who’s asking.” And really? Sure, Grantaire may not remember tall and bronze and handsome’s name, but he does recall the guy having a really fucking obnoxious name. His name though? R. Literally just a letter. Obviously Grantaire underestimated how fucking gone this guy was when they last met.

 

The guy has the gall to look confused for a moment, “I am. Obviously.”

 

Alright. The guy is obviously a dick and Grantaire’s shift ended three minutes ago. The last thing he wants to do with the rest of his Wednesday night is argue with a pretty boy who is gonna be fucking smart with him, okay? So, he doesn’t feel too bad when he snaps a lid onto his drink, shoves a straw through the top like the classy motherfucker he is, and hops over the bar with his parka and bag clutched in his arms.

 

He’s pulling the jacket on when the guy suddenly hops up and is at his side in seconds flat, “Wait I-- wait. Look, that came out wrong.”

 

“You think?” Grantaire asks, knowing he’s being a huge dick but also knowing deep down that this fuck started it by thinking he could waltz in here at the end of his shift and start demanding shit from him. Still, Grantaire is tired as fuck and not in any mood to seriously fight this guy for just being annoying, not when he has done so well getting through dealing with annoying people during his shift. He isn’t about to break his streak by getting into it with this idiot.

 

The guy doesn’t look necessarily nervous by Grantaire’s explicit tone, just a little frustrated. Huh. Not usually the reaction Grantaire gets when he’s cranky and people are trying to talk to him, but he knows for a fact that he could turn that around if this guy really is looking for a fight.

 

“Look I’m--” the guy cuts off, shaking his head and making his curls fall from behind his ears and cloud around his face. “You bartend here most nights, right?”

 

“Who fucking cares? Is it any of your business--”

 

“It could be if you work on Thursdays.”

 

Grantaire bites his lips because shit, he does, but he also really doesn’t like being interrupted when he’s trying to talk so, “What the fuck is it to you? Get to it, Blondie, I don’t have time to hear you trip over your own fucking words.”

 

“Enjolras.” The guy nearly growls under his breath, his eyes narrowing in annoyance in a way Grantaire has only caught a glimpse of when they first met. They are piercing now and don’t necessarily scare him--Grantaire’s seen worse shit on the streets--but they make him stop and blink at the emotion behind this stupid pretty boy’s face. He blinks and he starts walking out the door and isn’t surprised when Enjolras is close on his heels.

 

The clouded, chilly air hits him the same moment Enjolras’s stern tone does, “I need the pub Thursday nights.”

 

Grantaire rolls him eyes and shoves his hands into his coat pockets, “Ever heard of open seating, man? No need to go making stupid fucking reservations. It’s a pub, not your,” Grantaire looks back at him and the twist of annoyance that has made its way onto his perfect lips and rolls his eyes, “hairstylist.”

 

He turns away then and expects Enjolras to get all sensitive and moody about making fun of his hair and then leave (like Jehan would… either that or he’d bust Grantaire’s nuts). He still hears the distinctive sound of the guy’s boots and can almost feel the angry glare piercing his back. He rolls his shoulders, hating the feeling of being watched but just pushes forward and tries to ignore it anyway. The guy’s gotta get tired at some point.

“I need just an hour… two at most. You guys have an old room in the back, the one with the mirrors?” Enjolras asks.

 

“That shithole?” Grantaire knows what he’s talking about. The old room behind the bar isn’t exactly a great big secret. It’s just barren and old and no one fucking uses it anymore besides to smoke in it when it’s too cold outside. It’s farther away from the bar, any open seats, and the fucking pool table so Clarita, the owner and manager of the shit shack, never thought it really necessary to fix it up once she bought the place a couple years back. Hell, even Grantaire doesn’t know what that room is good for besides being a good place to escape when stupid fucking customers get too annoying for him to handle.

 

“Let me use it.” The guy says like he is large and in charge and Grantaire will just do whatever he says at the drop of a hat.

 

“Why the hell should I?”

 

“I need some place to meet with… to discuss things. A convenient place where everyone involved can easily meet up. The pub is the most reasonable place.” Enjolras insists, his voice sounding so earnest that Grantaire almost wants to believe him. Or tell him to fuck off.

 

The guy is still going though and Grantaire can barely sneak a word in, “I can take a few tables back there from the main room and put them together to make one big table so there’s enough room to sit down and--”

 

Enjolras isn’t even finished saying ‘big table’ when Grantaire is done letting him ramble and starts talking over him, “The fuck, man? You planning to have some shit book club in there or something?” Enjolras stops trying to talk over him at this point and instead steadies him with a glare. “If you wanna go knit and shit with your friends go do it at your own place.”

 

“We’re not knitting we’re--”

 

“Gambling? Selling shit? Listen, I’m all for getting money however you need to get it, but don’t think just cause you and Ep got a thing that I’m just gonna roll over and let you--”

 

“Jesus, will you just--” Enjolras is fuming now and honestly?--Grantaire is surprised to find he isn’t getting wound up by it. Not in a way he should when some guy is giving him so much shit about something. In fact, Grantaire feels almost amused by how flustered this guy seems to be getting. His hackles should rise and he should be getting ready to throw down and crack some skulls when Enjolras’s fucking gazelle legs stride in front of him and stop him in his tracks, but honestly? He just feel a little more amused now that he is actually face to face with this guy’s twisted lips and furrowed brows.

 

“Move it.” Grantaire grunts, shuffling out of the way only to have Enjolras block him in the middle of the damn sidewalk.

 

“You aren’t listening.” He persists.

 

“Yeah, well, I don’t gotta do shit. And neither are you, asswipe. No fucking reservations. You want something, take it up with the owner.”

 

And with that, Grantaire expertly moves around Mr. Tall and Pissed Off with as much grace as he can with the guy basically blocking him up to the point where he has to dip into the street for a few steps in order to get around him. He expects the guy to follow him and bombard him with more stupid fucking questions--wouldn’t be the first time someone has tried to get something out of him that he couldn’t care less about--but the guy seems to get that he’s not getting anything out of him. Not when Grantaire is this hungover and dead on his feet.

 

Still, as Grantaire shoves his chilled hands farther into his coat pockets he still feels the guy’s gaze like a seer in his back. It’s like his eyes are pistons and Grantaire is his main target. Grantaire should tell the guy to back the fuck off, but honestly he doesn’t have the energy. His turn is just a few blocks ahead and then he’ll be done with this fuck boy with perfect skin and hair for good.

 


 

 

Here’s the thing about fridges. They can be helpful, more than helpful really. What else are you going to use to cool down your shit? A cooler? No, not in these rich, white snobs life times. And that, is where Grantaire comes in.

 

Having to deal with ice box after fucking useless ice box gets draining though, especially when the things are pieces of shit that should just be scrap metal in Grantaire’s opinion. He should’ve been a mechanic. God knows their salary is better than Grantaire’s shit payment he gets every time some old bitch calls him complaining that all of her fancy milks and cheeses have gone bad because her new KitchenAid fridge stopped doing the one fucking job it was made to do: keep shit cold.

 

The gig is nice though and requires, usually, the least amount of effort. Even when Grantaire has to put up with uptight housewives and delirious men, or the occasional loony blonde chick that thought it would be fun to make him think he had a chance with them, it’s still a pretty nice part time job of the sorts. Fantine didn’t ask for a fucking inventor when she offered him the job position. Just someone who can replace a few wires and tweak a few settings to make the icebox fucking cold again.

 

Today though, Grantaire regrets ever helping out Fantine when she had a flat tire all those years ago and ultimately securing his position here at her little business of sorts. The guy isn’t anything special, not really. His shoes are polished and his white hair is perfectly pushed back in the ‘I’m a old douchebag but I don’t wanna spell it out for you’ kind of way. He has been smoking a thick, long cigar since the moment Grantaire and Eponine walked in and has to yet to stop looming over Grantaire’s back as he checks out the fridge. Seriously, Grantaire can literally feel the guy breathing down his neck and is one breath away from turning around and swinging.

 

The only thing that keeps him from doing so is one, money and two, Eponine.

 

Eponine usually doesn’t come with him on his little trips around the rich and prestigious north side of town. But, and Grantaire never thought he’d actually see the day, staying in the dark of his apartment day after fucking day hiding from who knows what must actually be getting to her. Neither of them have brought it up, and Grantaire has no doubt in my mind that either of them are going to do so anytime soon and he is fine with that. The last thing he wants is to get caught up in more shit that doesn’t concern him. As far as he’s concerned, Eponine tagging along today is obviously just a charade to bug him even when he is outside the house. Nothing more and nothing less and Grantaire is all too willing to accept that.

 

She is at least being more helpful than just a nuisance today. Grantaire usually can’t enjoy Eponine’s brand of blunt humor--mostly because it’s normally directed solely at annoying him--but listening to her roast some old fuck with a superiority complex is turning out to be quite entertaining.

 

“So,” Eponine starts off, twiddling her fingers through a couple of spatulas propped up in a bowl by the stove. Her one foot is up off the ground and occasionally knocks into the white cupboard while the rest of her body basically is being supported by nothing but her elbow and her breasts lying like two sacks of potatoes on the counter. Eponine never really was a fan of bras… or shaving, or washing her hair, or personal hygiene, or being a polite guest and--

 

“How old is this place, huh? Had to have been built like… years ago, right?”

 

The old man looks up, his mouth twisted in a gruesome frown that Grantaire rolls his eyes at before ducking back down behind the fridge. “What do you mean?”

 

Eponine shoves her hands into her pockets, her shoulders tensing up as she lets out a dramatic sigh. “Nothing, nothing sir. Homes get old, decor goes out of style, cracks in the wall become more noticeable,” at this the old fart’s eyes start darting around, the blue in them growing more and more apparent the longer Eponine goes on, “you know, just small little unseen things that should’ve been renovated years ago. We do have a lawn business as well that we would be more than happy to send over whenever it would be most convenient. The grass is looking a little shabby, especially during this season.”

 

“We have our own gardner, thank you very much.” The guy says stiffly, looking over Eponine with disgust.

 

“Hmm, yes. Gardners. But seriously, Gillenormand--may I call you that?--let’s be real for a second, two owners of very successful companies talking face to face, whaddya say?” Eponine walks towards him, her stance confident and composed when Grantaire knows she is anything but. She’s a fucking fake, but that doesn’t stop this old geezer from looking at her with a hint of curiosity in his eyes. “Listen, this guy right here? He’s my guy. He’ll do anything I say at the drop of a fucking hat, right R?”

 

When Grantaire doesn’t issue an answer, Eponine gives Gillenormand a ‘what can you do?’ kind of shrug. “He’s one of my best guys. Sure, he lives in the south part of town and looks like he just rolled around in a giant turd all afternoon, but he’s reliable. Plus, he’s the best I’ve ever seen with a pair of sheers. Those bushes you got out there, big tall ones that are shaped like people and shit? Beautiful, just fantastic. I couldn’t get R to stop drooling over them when we were walking in. Just imagine what this guy could do if he got ahold of one of those, looked at them from an artistic point of view?”

 

“Artistic?” Gillenormand’s eyes dart down to Grantaire like he is looking at a piece of gum on the bottom of his shoe.

 

“Artists come in many different shapes and sizes, sir.” Eponine points out with a gleaming smile on her face and Grantaire forgets until times like these that Eponine was raised by professional con artists most of her life. She’s a pro. Grantaire is man enough to say that even though the damn woman is claiming he knows even a smidge about cutting topiary.

 

“I mean, just look at him go.” Eponine says, coming to stand next to Gillenormand. “Doesn’t even have any formal training, hell, the guy dropped out of high school two days after it began and is still the most gifted piece of shit I’ve ever met.”

 

Gillenormand hums, the dick, like he actually has to begrudgingly agree before he is cut off by some annoying pop voice playing from a radio nearby. Or, Grantaire listens closely, halting his handy work and actually looking behind him. The voice slowly draws closer and gets louder until the person responsible is walking into the kitchen from an adjacent room.

 

The guy is a skinny little thing, kind of like Feuilly but taller and lankier. They’re freckles dotting his face and exposed elbows. The guy’s hair is a mess of brown and tan on top of his head and hangs right in front of his eyes like some douche, but the guy’s eyes are too wide and innocent to be trying to pull off that look on purpose. Fuck, not with his plaid sweater vest and khaki pants he’s not. He’s got a tan backpack resting on his shoulders and a pair of old headphones crammed into both ears.

 

The guy is still singing and, fuck, Grantaire would laugh his ass off if it was anyone else but… but the guy doesn’t actually sound half bad. Sure, he’s singing some song even Grantaire can recognize as one of those songs that plays over and over again on the radio until he literally wants to rip his ear drums out, but the guy’s got something about his voice that makes it less-- painful?

 

Finally, even though none of them have moved an inch since he walked in, the guy seems to notice he has an audience and a cloud of fear overtakes his features as he scrambles to pull out an earbud. He ends up nearly walking himself in the face, but manages to rip them both out before stuttering, the sultry and ease in his voice completely gone, “I-I’m so sorry. M-My apologies I had no idea I--we had company. I--”

 

“Marius,” Gillenormand cuts him off with a raised eyebrow and a long drag from his cigar, “aren’t you going to be late?”

 

“Late?” The guy--Marius--croaks before blinking quickly and shaking his head. Grantaire represses the urge to laugh. The guy is like a cartoon character come to life. “Yes, yes, I’m very late I--” he gives Eponine a nod, probably because he doesn’t want to look down and nod at Grantaire’s crouched form, and offers her a small smile. “Sorry, again. I have to--”

 

Marius stumbles a bit, his hip hitting the edge of the counter before offering another pained smile and dashing towards the backroom. Grantaire hears the garage door open before he starts poking again at the back of the fridge.

 

Eponine continues talking to the old fuck while Grantaire finishes up his work and if Grantaire paid maybe just a little bit more attention he’d have noticed something a little off in her tone, something that definitely isn’t normally there when she’s trying to scam old fucks into giving them more money. But he doesn’t. He’s too busy with making the damn fridge do that one damn thing it’s made to do and contemplating where the nearest liquor store is in this fucking richville.

 

When they leave, Gillenormand gives Grantaire a once over and gives him the money he owes him rather reluctantly. And, although Grantaire is more than positive the guy sees him as nothing more than a dead rat unfit to even be buried in his garden, Eponine is nothing but persistent. He ends up agreeing to come back in a couple days with a pair of hedge clippers and doesn’t even care when Eponine, almost a little too quickly, jumps in to say she’ll be right there with him when he does.

 

They get back into Grantaire’s truck and head off without a hitch. Eponine’s got her nasty feet up on the dashboard and Grantaire doesn’t even bothering telling the bitch to take them off when he knows she’ll just put them back up there the moment his eyes flicker back onto the road. He does, however, steal a cigarette from in between her lips as soon as they hit the first stop light.

 

He takes a drag before handing it back to her, “What the fuck is up with you?”

 

“Besides the hangover and lack of medication in my body, nothing.”

 

“Bitch, don’t beat around the bush.” Grantaire smacks her thigh which she then returns by grabbing him by one of his loose curls and tugging, hard. Fuck, don’t be such a cunt.”

 

“Don’t be such a nosy shit, alright?” Eponine snaps back.

 

“You basically signed me up to cut some shit’s bushes and now you won’t tell me why? You need more money or something?” Grantaire asks, cranking up the heat and sinking down into his seat a bit.

 

Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Eponine hesitate and pull her legs up to her chest. Even when he takes a sharp left she stays completely still. “Just trying to help you out.” She says, aiming for nonchalance but missing by about a mile. “Not a lot of North side shits call us is all.”

 

“You mean Fantine. Not you. Far as I’m concerned, princess, you don’t work.”

 

Eponine punches him in the shoulder and tells him to shut the fuck up before cranking up the radio and blasting some tune that would make any of the old ladies in the neighborhood they are driving through die on the spot. So, naturally, Grantaire rolls down his window and taps the smoke on the side before taking another drag. Eponine ignores him for the rest of the drive and if anyone is wondering, he can’t say he gives two fucks.




 

 

Feuilly is the only one keeping him company at the bar today. Bahorel, the shithead, actually got a decent job fixing up some old bitch’s grandson’s dirt bike. It’s weird, for as much as Feuilly calls himself a ‘working man’, and he is, most of his work has to be done behind closed doors. He’s more than capable of doing anything and everything that pertains to hacking into someone’s e-mails or private settings as long as he has a halfway decent computer in front of him. Grantaire doesn’t know where Feuilly gets his clientele and honestly doesn’t want to. Feuilly doesn’t ask him what he and Bahorel go and do every other weekend that usually ends up with one or both of them seeking out medical attention from him, and Grantaire respects him the same way. The less chit chatting there is about doing shit that could cause you to do some serious time the better.

 

Grantaire is more than thankful for his presence though. It’s a Wednesday and you’d think the aspect of only being done with half of the week would lure in a few alcoholics with nothing else to look forward to, but to no avail. He busies himself by forcing himself to clean out of few shot glasses that the asswipe who worked last night decided wasn’t worth his time and listening to Feuilly go on about moving away.

 

“I’m twenty one years old, R and still living in the same shitty part of the same shitty neighborhood. When am I gonna have some damn sense and get the hell out of here.” Feuilly drawls, his lips slightly quirked.

 

“You see, that’s the magic of this place. A trick of the sorts.” Grantaire finishes rinsing a small shot glass with a white paint covering that is slowly but surely being picked away at and puts it away behind him before turning around, “You fucking don’t.”

 

“Yeah,” Feuilly says, amused, “I swear you sound more and more like Horel every fucking day.”

 

“Shit, don’t tell me that now it’s too early to start drinking. I still got three hours left.” Grantaire notes while glancing up at the horrible neon flashing clock just above the pool table.

 

“Could’ve been worse,” Feuilly says, tapping away at the countertop, his frayed and chipped fingernails ringing against the glass covering. “You could’ve been like Bossuet.”

 

Grantaire just laughs and Feuilly continues, “Seriously man, you ever think about moving away? Maybe you and Ep can find some other shithole to rot in. From what I’ve heard many people happen to be living around bars and happen to also own fridges--fridges that may break at times.”

 

“First off, where the fuck else would I go? Travel the world, Feuilly, huh?” Feuilly gives him a wary smile, like the idea isn’t completely ludicrous for either of them to achieve. “And second--the hell are you grouping me and Ep into the same fucking sentence like were some package deal? If I was ever gonna high tail it out of this dump of a city then it would definitely be to get away from that crazy bitch.”

 

“You like her.” Feuilly says, simply.

 

“And you like Bahorel no matter how much you complain about him being a skeevy bastard.”

 

Feuilly rolls his eyes over the rim of his drink as he mumbles into the glass, “That’s cause he is.”

 

“And Ep is a psychotic bitch. You see the resemblance here? Fuck, I can’t decide if those two living together would be better for me or worse for just this town in general.”

 

“Probably bad.” Feuilly decides on before lolling his head to the side. His ginger hair, just a tad too long, falls with the tilt and nearly goes into his eyes before he quickly sweeps it back. “Seriously though, I’ve had to deal with this place since high school. It’s fucking getting old.”

 

“Hey, at least you finished high school.” Grantaire says, knowing that walking by the damn high school building every time he has to come to work is like a smack in the face.

 

Feuilly gives him a look, “You’re only nineteen man. You could probably beg them to take you back.”

 

Grantaire snorts and Feuilly rolls his eyes like he doesn’t even know why he bothers. Grantaire dropped out about halfway through his freshman year. Turns out going to school with a mixture of shitty south side kids mixed with a bunch of other south side kids who thought if they studied really hard they could make it out of this shit hole wasn’t the most pleasant atmosphere to be around. Teachers were annoying as fuck and the people Grantaire sold to were even stupider than an average bum on the street. It wasn’t worth his time and moving out of his parents house and staying with Bahorel until he saved up enough money to get a place of his own just over a year ago didn’t turn out as bad as some drop out stories were around here.

 

Feuilly and him sat around in silence for a little while longer, Feuilly slowly sipping his beer, before he spoke again, “Yo, you’re working tomorrow, right?”

 

“Just at night.” Grantaire honestly doesn’t think he can take another morning shift even if he was literally scraping for cash. “Why?”

 

“What’s the thing going on in the back room.” Feuilly motions towards the back room with the butt of his bottle. “Some kinda game night thing?”

 

“No,” Grantaire furrows his eyebrows in confusion. “what’s going on? Clarita didn’t tell me shit.”

 

Feuilly shrugs his shoulders, indifferent, “Some guy came in the other day with something she liked and she told him he could use the back room for Thursday nights. Or, at least that’s what Horel told me.”

 

“Fuck,” he hisses, throwing a dirty towel off his shoulder and onto the counter and ducking behind the bar and heading towards a small door near the end of the hall. From his angle, the little room in the back could’ve been mistaken as a bathroom. But Clarita is a stone cold bitch and ran the place with an iron fist and Grantaire hated to think what would happen to anyone who came clammering into her room half drunk with the intent to take a piss or hurl.

 

They’d probably be out on their ass with a broken femur before they could even begin to reach for their belt buckle.

 

He knocks before he goes in, he’s not stupid, and pushes open the door when he receives a faint affirmation from the other side. The office room looks the same, not that it changes much or Grantaire goes in and out all day anyway, but Grantaire can still appreciate the messy-tidiness that’s in the room. Stacks upon stacks of paper are piled up against the walls, against her desk, and besides the small window that is so small it literally has no chance of ever getting even a smidge of sunshine to shine through it. There are still plants around the place too and Grantaire notices the difference immediately from the sweaty and musky scent of drinks from the bar and the freshness of the herbs and flowers growing in every corner around Clarita’s office. It’s staggering really and something Grantaire finds both beautiful and annoying. Healthy plant people always tends to grind his gears.

 

Clarita herself doesn’t even look up from the ancient looking computer before her, just motions for him to come in with one long manicured finger. He goes willingly and closes the door without her asking. She nods her head like she appreciates the sentiment before turning towards him. Her face is a smooth brown canvas, free of any marks or wrinkles even though Grantaire is positive the lady has to be in her late thirties by now. Her outfit is simple and professional enough for a mediocre bar in this part of the city and her hair is pulled back into a tight bun at the base of her neck. It only goes to define her strong cheekbones and make her look even scarier than she already is. Great.

 

“What do you want. I am very busy.” She says shortly, no room for fucking around or wasting her time.

 

Grantaire shoves his hands in his pant pockets and shifts his feet around a couple of stray manila folders littering the ground before replying, “Thursday night.”

 

“You work.”

 

“Yes. I know.”

 

“There. We are good now, yes? Problem solved, back to work.” Clarita states and looks just about read to dismiss him when Grantaire halts her.

 

“Hey, hey, I ain’t done.”

 

“You quitting? If so give me keys to front door and don’t let it hit you on the way out, asshole.” She says with narrowed blue eyes.

 

“Jesus, fuck no. Just listen, alright? What dipshit rented out the old room in the back this Thursday?” Grantaire asks.

 

For the first time since he has walked in, Clarita gives him a scrutinizing look instead of just snapping at him. She bites on her bottom lip like it is some kind of chewy piece of candy before crossing her arms and sitting back in her desk. “Why do you give shit?”

 

“Cause I work that night and have to deal with whatever shitheads you allowed to be yelling in the room practically right behind me. If they wanted they could jump me from behind and take over the whole damn bar. Now that doesn’t sound too peachy for business, huh?”

 

Clarita huffs and roll her eyes, “You are being idiot. It is none of your concern what tall, blonde idiot boy wants in shitty backroom.”

 

Grantaire’s eyes widen and he isn’t quick enough to hide his reaction. Hell, Clarita could probably see it from across the entire bar with her vulture blue eyes. She leans back in her chair again, like she is really thinking something over, before saying again, “We aren’t going to have a problem, are we Ronny?”

 

“It’s R.” Grantaire deadpans, trying not to think about the weeks upon weeks of hours he has put into this place only to be called fucking ‘Ronny’.

 

“Tell your parents that if they are going to fuck and bring children into this shithole of a world, then they should at least pick a name that consists of more than a gross sounding letter.”

 

“Yeah, yeah, I’ll pass on the message.”

 

“Good. And no problem for Thursday, correct.”

 

Grantaire clenches his teeth and leans back against the door jamb. The last thing he wants is to get into it with this horror show of a woman. But he knows the idea of having to wake up in two days only to come to work and see pretty boy’s stupid fucking face and his mouth rambling about God knows what is going to drive him fucking insane--

 

“Can I--”

 

“Great.” Clarita nearly shouts and tilts her body back in line so she is directly facing her large computer screen once again. Her back is stiff and her eyes don’t waver from the screen. It’s a clear dismissal if he’s ever seen one.

 

He’s about to turn around and fuck off when Clarita’s voice halts his movements before he can slam the door shut. “My daughter will be running as manager that night because I have very important meeting outside of town.” Grantaire nearly rolls his eyes. Important meeting, my ass. “You will treat her with same respect as you do me or else she will beat your ass down same as I would. And stupid party guests on Thursday--they get free drinks.”

 

Grantaire nearly fucking collapses at that. He swerves backwards, nearly hitting a large pile of unfinished paper work before giving Clarita a wide-eyed stare, “Say that again, sweetie? I think you either just said these shitfaces get free drinks or ‘hey Ronny, I forgot my meds this morning and the night before so I might be a little loopy today at work and--”

 

“Don’t be smart, curly headed fuck.” Clarita says, but there is still a slight twist in her lips that could be a smile. Maybe. But the odds of Clarita smiling are about the same as her…. Giving anyone fucking free drinks for an entire night, so yeah, guess it’s not too weird. “You do as I say. I’m boss, you are stupid high school dropout with no friends. This is how things work, hun.”

 

Grantaire leaves after that, shaking his fucking head. Great, just fucking great. Not only does he have to now spend at least an hour alone with Enjolras and his group of friends or whatever, but now he’s stuck with giving them free fucking drinks. Wow. Eponine and Bahorel are gonna get a kick outta this. Maybe he should go and give Bossuet a visit in prison and let him now what his late job now entails.

 

Free. Fucking. Drinks.

 

Fuck.

 

Grantaire somehow gets through the rest of his shift with only insulting six people and getting into a small tussle with one of them. In his defense though, the chick was nearly Bahorel’s size and looked like she was two drinks away from being shitfaced for the rest of the week, let alone the rest of the night. Feuilly had helped a few others escort the bitch out while Grantaire just cleaned up the glass shards that had shattered from behind the bar after Grantaire had called her a ‘fugly cow’. Feuilly had glared at him and left, but Grantaire honestly thought it was too fucking funny to get so pissy about. And, when he got home, Jehan and Eponine thought they same when he relayed the story to them. But, of course, that could’ve just been because they broke into Grantaire’s stash once again and were on the cusp of being plastered all night. Grantaire actually had a decent sense of mind to actually lock his fucking bedroom door so Jehan and Eponine couldn’t sneak in while they were there and got his whole room to himself. Sure, he’d probably hear Eponine’s complaints all morning about how they had to sleep on the dirty fucking couch, but that’s something he’d deal with later.

 

In the morning, Jehan had nearly died in a puddle of his own vomit in the bathroom and Eponine was too out of it to help or really care at all leaving Grantaire with the duty of hauling the little guy (vomit soaked scarf and all) up to him feet and dragging him towards the kitchen. He made Jehan drink a whole glass of water before leaving him on his own again even though Jehan’s litanies of “Oh R,” and “You treat me so well, I love you” and “I’d suck your dick if I felt I wouldn’t vomit all over it” were starting to get really fucking old. Eventually Jehan left with his scarf stuffed in a plastic bag and a kiss to Grantaire’s cheek. Eponine--fucking cow--was still unsurprisingly asleep and Grantaire didn’t feel that bad when he decided it was best to leave for Gillenormand’s house without her. He highly fucking doubted she would appreciate being woken up to go watch him cut some fucking bushes (she’d probably scalp him or just straight up toss him out his own window and then proceed to throw kitchen knives at him to ensure his demise).


In his haste to leave, he found himself swiping a random piece of material from the top shelf next to his door to wrap around his neck. Usually scarves weren’t his fucking favorite article of clothing to wear, but when it was nearly twenty degrees outside and all he had was Fantine’s shitty truck’s heating to keep him warm--well, beggars couldn’t be choosers.