Chapter 1: At the Musain
Enjolras had been wishing for something like this to happen for years. Hoping that something or someone else would come along to distract Grantaire from his obsession with Enjolras.
Combeferre called it a crush, and certainly the innuendos and winks Grantaire regularly directed at him suggested that there was an attraction there. But if Grantaire really liked Enjolras in that way, would he shoot down his every point, bait him into arguments and belittle everything he worked and stood for? If Grantaire did have a "crush" on him, Enjolras thought, then it was not a healthy kind.
So despite Enjolras wishing for Grantaire's attention to be diverted, with Enjolras himself once having expressed to his other friends that both their lives would be improved if Grantaire got a boyfriend, Enjolras was not at all prepared for Grantaire actually getting a boyfriend. Mostly, to be fair, because of who that boyfriend was.
It was about fifteen minutes before their meeting to discuss how they could persuade the university to accurately record students' genders, and only Enjolras, Joly, Bossuet and Courfeyrac had already arrived. Enjolras was reviewing some notes he'd made on the research he'd done before the meeting while the other three seemed to be discussing the latest episode of some TV show. Slowly the others trickled in and grabbed chairs from other tables to join theirs, and Enjolras was particularly relieved when Jehan and then Éponine arrived, since it didn't feel right discussing how best to advocate for transgender students with none present to steer the conversation.
Grantaire slipped in just as their meeting was due to start, and made a beeline for the bar as usual, without a glance in their direction. Enjolras glanced at his watch for the third time in two minutes. Combeferre was not usually late, though he did come straight from work on a Monday so trains might be to blame. Combeferre was the one who had the results of the gender questionnaire they'd sent out, though, so it was worth waiting one or two more minutes before beginning.
Sure enough, only one minute later the man himself burst through the door, looking rather harried and muttering his apologies. Out of the corner of his eye Enjolras noticed Courfeyrac straighten next to him. This was completely expected, since very few in their group were unaware that Courfeyrac was head-over-heels for Combeferre, the latter of whom was unfortunately straight. As Enjolras began to reassure Combeferre that being two minutes late was no problem, he took in the look of bewilderment which had suddenly overcome his friend's face. Turning to find the source of that look, Enjolras found himself taking on the same expression.
Courfeyrac was standing now, and smiling mischeviously. But instead of directing that look at Combeferre, it was at Grantaire, who was returning from the bar and returning the smile himself. As Enjolras watched, Courfeyrac reached out to the hand Grantaire was not using to carry a beer, pulled Grantaire easily onto his lap and kissed him squarely on the mouth.
"Hello, you," Courfeyrac purred, his nose still brushing Grantaire's.
Despite blushing crimson, Grantaire returned the heated gaze. "Hello yourself."
Nobody seemed to know what to do when faced with this situation. If it were any other pair, Courfeyrac might have made some lewd comment, or Grantaire might have reminded them of the inevitable doom of all relationships. As it was, it seemed to Enjolras to be many long minutes (in reality it was less than ten seconds) of watching his friends have eye sex before someone coughed loudly.
"Are we going to start this meeting then?"
Éponine. Thank goodness there was someone here who wasn't completely thrown off by the existence of the new couple.
After a beat, Combeferre thanked her and outlined the agenda, and then broke down the questionnaire results, giving Enjolras some time to recover.
Grantaire still hadn't moved from Courfeyrac's lap, but at least now he was drinking his beer instead of making everyone else want to vomit.
When Combeferre finished his piece, Enjolras felt composed enough to fall back into speaking with his natural ease, about how they should work on getting the university to put the correct gender for each student in their official documentation without requiring legal "proof".
"I emailed several people about that a couple of years ago," Éponine said. "But in the end all they did was provide a box on the registration form that you can tick to say that your gender is different from what you were assigned at birth. But that's total bullshit, because that tells you absolutely nothing about what that student's gender is. Their gender might be the same as their legal one, or not, depending on whether they had enough money and a supportive enough environment to legally transition before uni."
"And anyone want to guess how many genders they have on their dropdown box?" Jehan asked disheartedly, not in their usual perky manner. "Yeah, just the old 'male' or 'female' crap."
"We should write a letter to the Vice Chancellor demanding he take action on this, and make a hundred or so copies and post them up all over campus," Enjolras suggested, and heard a short laugh from his left.
Enjolras whirled around, more than ready for Grantaire's habitual riposte, but instead found that Grantaire had once again been distracted by Courfeyrac, who was whispering something into the ear of the man on his lap, causing him to giggle.
Enjolras glared at them, but refused to be distracted again. Their meeting continued as normal, except for the conspicuous lack of cynical interruptions from Grantaire. Once everything was concluded, the new couple was the first to rise, barely managing to get out goodbyes before they rushed out of the door.
"Looks like they're getting lucky tonight," commented Bahorel, to a mix of jeers and fake retching sounds.
After a quick private discussion with Jehan about the terminology they thought would be most inclusive for people of non-binary genders, Enjolras approached Combeferre, who was at the bar having just ordered some kind of yellow fruit juice, and pulled him aside.
Despite knowing what he wanted to talk with his best friend about, Enjolras didn't know where to start. Thankfully Combeferre could practically read his mind after years of friendship, as after an awkward moment he guessed the direction of Enjolras' thoughts.
"So, Courfeyrac and Grantaire, huh? Who would have thought they'd get together?"
Enjolras merely nodded, not knowing where to start with his disapproval.
"Seems like they're still in the honeymoon phase. I hope they get it over with quick, so we're not treated to weeks of PDA like when Marius and Cosette started going out," Combeferre added, grimacing.
Enjolras realised that their display was probably what had unnerved him, and eagerly jumped on it. "Do they have to be so obviously sexual about it though? Even Marius and Cosette only kissed and made doe eyes at each other all the time. These two looked like they could barely keep their hands to themselves. They should tone it down when we're in public."
"Really? I'm not sure that what they did was so different. Do you... umm..." Combeferre trailed off, looking like he wished he hadn't said anything.
"Do I what?" Enjolras demanded, inexplicably rather angry, though not at his friend.
Combeferre took a deep breath. "It's just that... well, do you think that you're seeing it as more sexual, and less publicly acceptable, because they're both guys?"
"Combeferre, I'm gay!"
"I know that, but that doesn't mean you haven't internalised some of society's homophobia."
Enjolras thought about that and nodded. He knew that what Combeferre was saying made sense, and that it sounded like something Enjolras might say himself, but something about the situation was bugging him. He couldn't explain it to himself though, let alone anyone else.
"Yeah you're... you might be right. Thanks for not being afraid to call me on my hypocrisy, my friend."
Combeferre just smiled and gave him a quick hug, before heading over towards a card game which was being set up by Joly and Bossuet.
Enjolras slipped out the back door without anyone noticing.
For the next three weeks Enjolras tried to ignore Grantaire and Courfeyrac at the twice-weekly meetings, but they didn't seem to be over their 'honeymoon period'. If anything, they were getting worse. They would either sit squashed together on the sofa holding hands, or Grantaire would perch on Courfeyrac's lap, enveloped in his arms. They would smile at each other all the time, and kiss between four and seven times per evening (not that Enjolras was counting).
The worst part was that Grantaire no longer seemed engaged in their meetings. He never would have thought it was important before, but without Grantaire's frequent interruptions Enjolras often lost his flow mid-speech, and his points seemed weaker, though nobody else had commented on it.
One evening after they had finished planning how to publicise an upcoming demonstration against further tuition fee rises, most of Les Amis had stuck around for drinks. Combeferre caught Enjolras glaring at their no-longer-new couple, who were whispering to each other in the corner and standing very close. Indecently close, Enjolras thought.
"You're still bothered by them", Combeferre commented, making Enjolras jump guiltily.
"I'm not," he replied automatically, though Combeferre's raised eyebrow indicated that the lie was pointless.
"I get it, you know. I know it's not the nicest way to feel when your friends are clearly happy, but I'm jealous too."
Enjolras choked on his wine, spluttering as his face flushed bright red. Sure Grantaire was attractive, he'd always known that, and Enjolras enjoyed their conversations and certainly missed debating with Grantaire, but he wasn't jealous of Courfeyrac. "I'm not..."
"Relax!" Combeferre said, chuckling and giving his friend some firm pats on the back. "I didn't mean jealous like that. You know I don't swing that way. But still, it's good for your ego to know that someone likes you that much. I do miss all the attention and compliments Courfeyrac used to give me. I may not have been able to return them, but I did selfishly enjoy them."
Enjolras saw the logic in that at once. Of course that was why he felt so strange seeing Grantaire with Courfeyrac. As annoying as he used to find it, he simply missed being the center of someone's attention.
At the meeting the following week Enjolras was much more comfortable. He didn't ignore Courfeyrac or Grantaire as he had been doing before, and even though the jealous feeling was still there every time he saw them interact, now that Enjolras had an explanation for it he was no longer worried.
At the end of the night Bossuet used a fork to make his glass chime to call the group's attention. "Ahem. So as you may know it is Éponine's birthday this weekend. She'll kill me if I say what number it is, but let's just say it rhymes with 'dirty'."
Bossuet got a painful-looking punch on his arm for that, and as the laughter died down he continued. "Since Éponine's place is a bit small, Joly, Musichetta and myself decided to offer our flat for a party. Everyone needs to be there. This Saturday. Come from about 8pm onwards. There'll be snacks, most of them are vegan for Jehan and Enjolras, but bring your own beers guys, don't be cheap."
Most people migrated to Bossuet's corner to talk excitedly about the party and tease Éponine for her age, though she was hardly the oldest there. Bahorel made some dumb joke about bacon which had several people laughing, and Enjolras heard Joly start out on a speech about how vegan food was much less likely to give them food poisoning, except for salad which should apparently always be washed, no exceptions.
Annoyed that they would once again be wasting their time partying this weekend instead of working on placards for the protest, Enjolras decided to head home instead of listen to his friends' enthusiasm for socialisation. If he had to go to this party (and Enjolras knew that if he tried to get out of it, Jehan would blackmail him again with that picture of him absolutely wasted and kissing a paper cup from Starbucks), then he didn't want to hear any more about it.
As Enjolras was leaving the café and deciding whether to walk or try to get the bus, he noticed Grantaire leaning against the corner of the building, smoking. Since the other man had not yet seen Enjolras, there was still a good chance of escaping unnoticed. But no, Enjolras thought. His feelings of jealousy at losing Grantaire's full attention were selfish in the extreme, and he should be happy for his friends' new relationship. His mind made up to make nice, Enjolras wandered over to where Grantaire was lighting up a second cigarette.
"Hi," said Enjolras, somewhat awkwardly. He realised then that he hadn't actually said a word to Grantaire in weeks.
Grantaire didn't startle, but looked wary. "Hi to you too," Grantaire replied around his cigarette, as he cupped his hand round it trying to get it to catch. It finally did, and after a couple of puffs he held it out in offering.
Enjolras looked at him with confusion and just-about-hidden disgust. "You know I don't smoke."
"Well, you never know." Grantaire smirked before inhaling again. "Sometimes a change can be good for you."
Without admitting to himself why, Enjolras felt his good will evaporate.
"I hardly think starting such a disgusting habit could be good for you," Enjolras fired back, not covering his grimace this time.
Grantaire's expression hardened, too. "Maybe this 'disgusting' habit is comforting to some people. Maybe it gives them a release they didn't have before, lets them forget about their troubles. So maybe it's actually healthier for them."
"That's a ridiculous argument! Why not just work on fixing your problems, instead of starting a stupid and harmful new addiction?"
Grantaire scoffed and threw his unfinished cigarette butt on the ground, turning to head back into the Musain. "Some things can't be fixed, Enjolras, no matter how much you want them to be. It's not something you can change."
"Where are you going?" Enjolras barked.
"Back inside, obviously," Grantaire replied with a humourless laugh, making his way up the front steps.
"Back to practically screwing Courfeyrac in a public bar?"
Grantaire whirled around, his face livid. "Excuse me?"
"You heard me. You two don't seem to know the meaning of toning it down. You're all over each other and it's disgusting."
"Are you for real?" Grantaire asked incredulously, his anger only increasing. "You sound like a fucking homophobe!"
"It's nothing to do with your genders. It's obvious to anyone who glances at you two that you're fucking, and it's not appropriate in front of other people," Enjolras almost shouted, offended at the accusation and finally able to let out his rage about Grantaire's behaviour.
Grantaire, his face now bright red and his eyes glistening with rage, merely laughed again. "You know what, Enjolras? Fuck you. Fuck. You." He turned around again and headed back into the Musain.
Enjolras forgot about the option of getting a bus, and walked for the 45 minutes it took to get back to his apartment. He started off fuming, but the exercise went some way to letting off steam. By the time he arrived home, he had come to the conclusion that he was glad he'd made his feelings known to Grantaire. Hopefully now he and Courfeyrac would act more appropriately around everyone else, and things would go back to the way they were before.
At around 7pm on Saturday evening, Enjolras reluctantly tore himself away from the research he was doing into the university's pension fund investments, and got in the shower. After a quick deliberation when he came out, he slipped on a dark red shirt with black buttons, a pair of navy blue jeans, and his black Doc Martens. He combed his hair, which was still dripping a little, into some semblance of order, and opened his bedroom door to see Combeferre apparently waiting for him in the living room.
"I've got your wine in my bag," he said. "There's a number 21 bus in 6 minutes at the top of the road. Hurry up or we'll miss it."
Enjolras really appreciated his friend's organisation skills. Enjolras had a lot of big ideas, but without Combeferre to sort things out, he knew he'd be nowhere.
The party was not exactly the wildest Enjolras had ever been to. All of Les Amis were older now, most of them had full-time jobs or PhDs to do, and not many of them wanted to get as drunk or high as they used to in their first years as undergrads. Still, some people could be relied upon to ignore their age and get smashed anyway.
When Enjolras and Combeferre arrived at around 8:30, Éponine and Courfeyrac were clearly already well on their way to drunk, with half a dozen empty shot glasses littering the coffee table in addition to their beers. Enjolras smelt weed, and looked out to see Jehan and Grantaire smoking on the balcony. The others were lounging around on the sofas or leaning over Bossuet's laptop to watch some video that had them all bursting out laughing every ten seconds.
Enjolras took the bag of drinks from Combeferre, who had been accosted by Marius as soon as he got in the door, wanting to know about something to do with library organisation. Enjolras went into the kitchen to look for some glasses, but it seemed they must all be in use. He found a stripy red mug on the counter instead and gave it a quick rinse before opening his bottle of wine and pouring some in. He grabbed one of the cans of fizzy juice out of the bag as well, before putting everything else in the fridge, which was already piled high with alcohol.
When Enjolras found Combeferre again to give him his drink, Marius had left. A glance towards the armchair told him that he and Cosette were busy exchanging sickeningly sweet kisses on the head instead.
"So," Combeferre began, "In the last few days I've really gotten over those stupid feelings I was telling you about, and I'm glad I can finally just be happy for Courfeyrac. They're good together. How are you feeling about Grantaire?"
Enjolras grimaced, and took a large gulp of wine. "Things are good. I may have not have, uh, said it in the best way to Grantaire, but I told him about my feelings, and it should all be sorted now."
"Really?" Combeferre asked sceptically. "What exactly did you say to him?"
Enjolras sighed, becoming irritated. "I don't want to talk about it."
"Was it that bad?"
"I said leave it, Ferre," Enjolras snapped, making his way back to the kitchen to refill his mug, which had already been drained.
The rest of the night passed in something of a blur for Enjolras, as he finished the bottle of wine he'd bought and then moved on to someone's rum. He was roped into playing a drinking game with most of the people present, which involved watching Lord of the Rings and drinking whenever certain things happened, such as Legolas staring into the distance. Enjolras quickly forgot the rules, and just drank when everyone else did. By midway through the second film, nobody was paying much attention any more, and everyone just talked among themselves. Enjolras started to realise he'd probably had more to drink than he had since he'd passed the viva for his Masters, and didn't really want to move from his comfortable spot on the sofa, lest he be sick.
At some point, when Enjolras was just starting to doze off despite the rowdiness around him, a blast of cold air and the stench of weed filled the room.
Jehan and Grantaire stumbled into the lounge, giggling and obviously as baked as cookies. They looked happy, but as soon as Grantaire's eyes fell on Enjolras his face fell. Anger flitted across his features for a moment, before he gave Enjolras a wide and crooked grin.
Pleased that things were becoming fine between them again, Enjolras grinned back. It didn't last long.
Grantaire removed himself from Jehan, who had their arm around him, and strode purposefully over to where Courfeyrac and Éponine were chatting on the sofa next to the one Enjolras was on. Without even waiting for them to stop speaking, Grantaire climbed onto the couch to straddle his boyfriend's lap and captured his lips in an open-mouthed snog. Courfeyrac was obviously surprised and didn't move for a couple of seconds, but then he enthusiastically joined in the dirty kiss, their tounges exploring each other's mouths and their hands roaming over clothes and through hair.
At first the reaction from most of the room was hoots and wolf-whistles, but as the kiss went on, and Grantaire broke off for a moment to pull his shirt off before resuming, people didn't know what to do. Éponine suggested they get a room but was met with a middle finder from Grantaire, who didn't stop what he was doing.
When Grantaire started rolling his hips and Courfeyrac let out an undisguised moan, Enjolras finally snapped. Before anyone knew what was happening, Enjolras had his arms under Grantaire's armpits and had lifted him off his boyfriend, who looked absolutely wrecked. Grantaire's swearing and their friend's objections once they processed what was happening were not heard by Enjolras, who was dragging Grantaire from the living room by his wrist. Grantaire tried to resist but he really had no chance in his stoned and lust-hazed state.
Finally they made it to a bedroom and Enjolras threw Grantaire inside before slamming the door shut and locking it. Grantaire stumbled and fell to the carpet, where he stayed, too stunned to get back up.
"What the absolute fuck, Enjolras? Are you going to beat me up now, is that it? Or are you going to what so many other homophobes do and take out your repressed desires on an unwilling victim?" Grantaire spat. "Both, perhaps?"
"Of course not!" Enjolras clenched his fists, distantly realising that the gesture would probably not reassure Grantaire of this. "I just wanted to stop that fucking show out there. You just did that to piss me off, admit it!"
Someone outside rattled the handle, and then started banging on the door. "Are you alright in there Grantaire?" someone asked in a panicked voice. "Open the door!" Combeferre.
"Yeah I just did it to piss you off, but you know what? You don't have any say in what I do. You don't have control over me any more, and you can't fucking handle it," Grantire replied to Enjolras, still from his position on the floor.
Courfeyrac started shouting outside. "Grantaire? Are you okay? Open the fucking door Enjolras! If you hurt him I swear I'll cut your fucking balls off!"
"I just want to talk to him." Enjolras directed this to whoever was now outside the door. Most of their friends, probably.
"Enjolras, please just open the door," Combeferre tried in a calmer voice. This got no reply, as the two occupants of the bedroom continued to glare at each other. "Grantaire, is Enjolras hurting you, or do you think he might do?"
Fuck Combeferre, Enjolras thought. Even his best friend thought he would hurt Grantaire, which is the last thing he wanted to do. Drunk and unable to control it, Enjolras felt tears forming in his eyes. He fell to his knees in front of Grantaire, unable to meet the other man's gaze.
"I'm fine," Grantaire shouted. "Enjolras isn't going to hurt me, we're just talking. And by the way I can take care of myself, I'm a black belt remember, so thank you but everybody kindly piss off now."
This got some protestations, especially from Coufeyrac, but after a few more reassurances from Grantaire they backed away from the door, though Grantaire doubted they had gone far.
"What the fuck, Enjolras?" Grantaire asked at a lower volume, but no less angry. "First you literally drag me in here and tell me that kissing my boyfriend is disgusting, and then you start blubbering? What the fuck is your problem?"
"I don't like seeing it," Enjolras whispered, his crying stopped for now. Enjolras raised his head to look directly at Grantaire, who was just a couple of feet away from him, also on the carpet. "I hate it and I don't know why. Ferre says I'm jealous that someone else has your attention, and he's probably right, but that's not all there is."
In the way of drunk people, Enjolras had completely changed mood in seconds, seemingly no longer upset or angry at all. He stared at Grantaire as if he was figuring something out, his eyes eventually leaving his face and taking in Grantaire's naked torso. Enjolras dragged his gaze over the toned muscles of Grantaire's shoulders and chest, over his pink nipples, and down to the trail of dark hair below his belly button. Eventually Enjolras realised that he'd somehow begun looking with his hands as well as his eyes.
Enjolras snapped his gaze up to meet Grantaire's, and found the other man's pupils blown even wider than before. Grantaire made no move to get Enjolras's hands off him, and seemed to be fighting to keep his breath steady.
"Enjolras... what are you doing?" Grantaire asked quietly.
"Showing you what I want," Enjolras replied, his hands stilling on Grantaire's stomach in case he had gone too far. Enjolras vaguely realised that he had probably crossed the line of 'too far' a long time ago, and removed his hands with an apology on the tip of his tounge.
Grantaire grabbed his wrists before he could move them fully away. "What do you want, Enjolras?" Grantaire asked carefully.
Enjolras was struggling to read Grantaire, the alcohol getting in the way, and decided to simply answer with the truth he'd finally acknowledged. "I want you."
An instant later, Enjolras found himself on his back with his wrists pinned above his head, Grantaire's face above his, absolutely fuming again.
"You absolute wanker!" Grantaire hissed, keeping his voice down so that their frinds didn't overhear. "You cock! I've been in love with you for six fucking years, and now when I'm finally moving on, you tell me you want me? What do you want exactly? You want to fuck me?"
Enjolras gasped at the suggestion, arching his back to try to get contact with the body above him. "God, yes I want to fuck you," Enjolras whined. "But... but it's not just that. I want to make you smile like that. Like he makes you. I want you to be happy but it should have been with me."
"How can you say that?" Grantaire pleaded. "I'm trying to get over you, you asshole, I have a boyfriend, you can't say things like that."
Grantaire unconsciously tightened his grip on Enjolras' wrists, causing Enjolras to let out a low moan. "Please, Grantaire," he begged.
Enjolras was desperate, writhing beneath him. "Please, Grantaire. I want you. I want to fuck you." Grantaire's fingers tightened even further on his wrists, and Enjolras moaned again, an idea forming in his mind. "Or... or you could fuck me."
Grantaire sucked in a breath. "What did you just say?" he whispered.
"I want you to fuck me. Please, Grantaire, fuck me," Enjolras whined.
Enjolras suddenly found a hand in his hair yanking his mouth up to meet Grantaire's in a bruising kiss. It was violent and desperate, with Grantaire easily dominating and thrusting his tounge into Enjolras' mouth. Grantaire lowered his body down to cover the one beneath him, finally making the contact Enjolras had been so eager for. Enjolras writhed beneath him, his wrists still pinned above his head by Grantaire's left hand, and they both gasped when their crotches pushed against each other. Grantaire ground his hips down purposefully now, setting up a punishing rhythm. The friction from their jeans was edging on painful but neither man could even think about stopping. His hands trapped, Enjolras wrapped his legs around Grantaire's to pull him closer. Not much later they both muffled their cries in a sloppy kiss as they came, only a few seconds apart.
Enjolras' orgasm ripped through him so strongly that he almost blacked out, and it was a good ten or fifteen seconds later that he became aware of his surroundings again. Grantaire had rolled off him at some point, and was lying by his side on the carpet panting, looking as wrecked as Enjolras felt.
"Fuck," Grantaire whispered. "Fuck! We really shouldn't have done that. What the fuck kind of boyfriend am I?"
Enjolras was confused for several seconds before his brain caught up. Grantaire had a boyfriend. Courfeyrac.
The surge of revulsion at himself that swept through Enjolras was so strong that he thought he might throw up. Had he really just persuaded someone in a happy relationship to cheat on their boyfriend? Fuck, their boyfriend who was probably only a couple of metres away outside the door.
Enjolras thought he might really be sick now. He lunged upright, which only made him feel worse, but thankfully saw the paper basket by the door in time. Enjolras heaved and emptied the contents of his stomach into the bin.
Grantaire stayed away, curled up in a ball and managing to look just as miserable as Enjolras was.
Enjolras was struck by an old memory, from back when they had been undergraduates. It had been their second year of uni, or maybe their third, Enjolras can't decide. Until then Enjolras had hardly ever drank alcohol, but he'd lost a bet - something to do with how many people would turn up to a protest - and dutifully drank two litres of beer in under two hours. Not long later, Enjolras was in the pub toilets throwing it all back up, and Grantaire was there to pull his hair out of his face, and shush him, and take him home.
Grantaire was not doing anything so loving now. When Enjolras seemed to have finished dry heaving, Grantaire threw some tissues at him. Enjolras hadn't noticed Grantaire retrieve them from wherever, but he gratefully wiped vomit away from his mouth.
Grantaire looked at him unimpressed, and glanced pointedly down at Enjolras' crotch. Oh. Embarassed, Enjolras turned around as he took a clean tissue, unzipped his jeans, and reached inside his boxers to wipe up as much of his ejaculate as he could.
When he'd zipped back up and thrown the dirty tissues in the bin, Grantaire made his way over to where Enjolras was standing. He smoothed out some creases on Enjolras' shirt, and smoothed his hair down. Enjolras didn't trust himself to speak.
Grantaire went over to the mirror on the other side of the room and stared at his own reflection. "It's not gonna work," he said.
"What?" Enjolras asked stupidly.
Grantaire laughed, but there was no smile to go with it. "We both look, and probably smell, like exactly what we've been doing. Well, maybe you smell of puke instead. There's no hope for how creased your shirt is, and both our lips are completely swollen."
Enjolras unsteadily made it over to the mirror. Grantaire was right. He looked well-fucked. There was no way Courfeyrac would believe they were just talking.
"I have an idea," Grantaire said, smirking wryly. "But you're not gonna like this. We need to punch each other."
"What!?" Enjolras yelled.
"Are you alright in there?" Combeferre called from outside. Enjolras had forgotten to keep his voice down.
"We're fine, just had a bit of an argument, and now Enjolras is throwing up. We're okay now, and we'll be out in a few minutes," Grantaire called, glaring at him.
"Sorry," Enjolras whispers, "But what? Why do we need to punch each other?"
"A punch to the jaw is the only way we're covering up these swollen lips," Grantaire said reasonably, though he didn't look too happy about it.
"I'm not going to hit you Grantaire!"
"For fuck's sake. If you care about me at all, you'll punch me." Grantaire took a breath and his whole demeanour changed. "Try not to catch my nose, you fuckwit. God knows you probably can't aim for shit. Couldn't even defend yourself if you needed to, if some cop wanted to fuck you up at a protest. Fucking pussy."
Enjolras was confused by the insults suddently being hurled his way, but he wasn't going to let that stand. "Pussy? Really, Grantaire? You know that kind of language is only meant to be demeaning because it equates being a woman with being weak. Why would you..."
"Shut up you sissy. You're only saying that 'cos you probably punch like a fucking girl..."
With a whack, Grantaire's head snapped to the side and he stumbled a bit before regaining his footing. Enjolras was halfway through a rebuke of Grantaire's misogynistic language when recieved a sharp jab to his jaw. As Enjolras started to cry out, Grantaire slapped a hand over his mouth, earning another grunt of pain from Enjolras.
Quickly, Grantaire hissed "We need to be quiet, remember? And I was just baiting you so you'd punch me for fuck's sake. You think I could spend most of my adult life as part of a social justice club and say those things, seriously?"
Enjolras stopped struggling then, but wrenched Grantaire's hand away from his mouth. "Fuck," he whispered, "That really hurt." He put his fingers to his lips and found them split and bleeding.
"Not as much as mine'll hurt. You fucking went for it. Ow," Grantaire's lips and jaw did look pretty bad to Enjolras, and looking in the mirror, it was true that Grantaire clearly came out of it worse. They cleaned off the blood with tissues so that it looked more like the fight had been earlier on, and then Grantaire made to open the door.
"Wait," Enjolras pleaded. Grantaire turned around expectantly. "Are we going to talk about this?"
Grantaire sighed. "No, we are not going to talk about this. Forget it ever happened."
Enjolras wanted to say something more, but then Grantaire unlocked and opened the door and it was too late.
At the sound, Combeferre, who had evidently been keeping watch from just down the corridor, surged towards them. "Oh my gods, what did you two do to each other?" Combeferre asked incredulously, taking in their beaten and bruised appearences.
Courfeyrac then ran in from the living room in a panic, took one look at Grantaire's face, and lunged at Enjolras. Grantaire clearly didn't get a black belt for nothing, as he easily stepped in front of Enjolras, deflected the punch, and used Courfeyrac's momentum to turn him around and finally hug him, albeit in a detaining way.
"Relax, babe. I'm fine. I sorted things out with Enjolras and we're fine now. Please don't punch him." Courfeyrac didn't start to relax until Grantaire planted a kiss on the top of his head. "I'm fine, babe. Relax." When Grantaire released him from his hold, he didn't swing at Enjolras again, but he did communicate a sincere desire to with his eyes. Enjolras looked down at the floor.
"What on Earth happened?" asked Bossuet, coming in from the living room. "Name of God! Look at your faces!"
Enjolras couldn't remember what he was supposed to say. Shit. He looked at Grantaire desperately, begging with his eyes that he take over.
"Basically, Enjolras is an asshole who needs to get laid so badly that he can't stand the sight of anyone getting it on." It was at this point that Enjolras realised Grantaire could say pretty much what he liked and Enjolras would have to go along with it. "So in his fucking wasted state he decides to drag me in there and shout at me for being so inconsiderate of his loneliness with my PDA. I punch him for the fucking nerve he has telling me what to do, he punches me back, and then he cries his eyes out for fifteen minutes about how he's never going to get any action. Then he vomits in your bin - sorry Bossuet - he apologises, and here we are."
Enjolras turned beet red from Grantaire's version of events, but he would rather people think that than the truth by a wide margin.
Courfeyrac visibly calmed down upon hearing the lie that Grantaire punched first, but the peace was shattered again when Joly and Musichetta rushed in and gasped at the sight of them. As Bossuet filled his partners in, Joly grabbed his medical kit from the wall next to them and tried to move towards Grantaire to clean him up.
"Just one minute with the patch up. I really need to piss," Grantaire said, and sprinted for the bathroom before anyone could stop him. Enjolras was confused at his urgency for a moment, but then remembered what Grantaire had said about the smell of sex. He was probably trying to wash it off somehow. Enjolras supposed he should do the same, but it was likely true that he smelt much more of vomit than of anything else. And besides, he didn't have anyone who was going to snuggle up to him later.
Joly cleaned up Enjolras' face while Grantaire was gone, and Enjolras answered everyone's curious questions with "I'm just an idiot" or "I'd rather not talk about it right now".
When Grantaire returned he was swept into a hug by his boyfriend, and the look of care and concern in Courfeyrac's eyes made Enjolras want to punch himself. He hadn't thought he could feel more guilty, but that was clearly untrue.
I expect there will be somewhere between 5 and 8 chapters. I have a rough plan, but no more chapters written yet. Expect the next one within a few days.
Chapter 3: Talking it out
Enjolras woke up to a headache, a very sore jaw, and the taste of blood and vomit in his mouth. He didn't feel that this was a pleasant way to start his day. Enjolras remembered that the hangover was from Éponine's birthday party last night. He hadn't drunk so much since graduating. It was several long moments before he remembered the events which had transpired at the party.
"Oh God," Enjolras groaned and rolled over to stuff his face against the pillow. It put extra pressure on his painful jaw, but what was a little discomfort compared to what he'd done to the relationship of two of his good friends? And what he'd done and said to Grantaire... he couldn't excuse his behaviour. It wasn't even just because he'd been drunk. Thinking back to the campaign he'd done with the feminist society on partner and ex-partner violence, Enjolras' behaviour for the past few weeks had certainly fit several of the warning signs.
He had no claim over Grantaire, and even if they had been going out that kind of jealous and controlling behaviour would have been far from okay. But what Grantaire had in Courfeyrac was a kind and caring boyfriend, and Enjolras had probably screwed everything up for them now.
After about half an hour of wallowing in his guilt in the duvet, there was a knock on his door. Enjolras didn't say anything, but Combeferre opened it without waiting anyway. He was carrying a glass of water and some painkillers.
Combeferre seemed unusually quiet as he put both items down on the bedsite table and perched on the end of the bed, swivelled around to face his friend. Eventually he spoke up.
"So, how are you feeling this morning?"
"Unghh. Awful. Like the piece of shit I am," Enjolras mumbled into the pillow.
Combeferre didn't ask about that. "Sit up and drink the water, Enjolras."
Enjolras sighed, but did as asked. Combeferre had looked after him last night after all. He assumed. Enjolras didn't really remember getting home, but his flatmate must have taken him.
Combeferre didn't start talking again until Enjolras had dutifully finished the glass and swallowed the pills. "So, are we going to talk about last night?"
Enjolras froze for a second, before remembering that Combeferre didn't know the real version of events. Still, the fake version would give him enough to talk about.
"Not really, no. I was an ass, I'll apologise again to Grantaire when I see him. End."
Combeferre sighed. "Too bad. We're talking about it. Do you want to start by telling me what happened?"
"Grantaire already told you. There's no more to it."
"I want to hear it from you."
Enjolras couldn't deal with this, not with his head pounding and the guilt threatening to crush him. "What's with the inquisition, Ferre? There's nothing else to say," he snapped.
"Sounds like you have an anger management problem to me."
Enjolras opened his mouth to shout back at Combeferre, furious, before he realised what such a reaction would show. He took a breath. "That's not it. I just don't want to talk about it."
"I don't care, Enjolras. You were a dick last night, you made everyone worry, and now you will explain yourself so I can stop worrying, or help you," Combeferre told him.
Enjolras realised that he would not win this argument. "Fine."
What was the story Grantaire had made up again? Right, that embrassing one.
"So it's basically what Grantaire told you. But you know I'd been annoyed with him and Courfeyrac showing affection for a while. You thought it was some internalised homophobia since I didn't get that way about anyone else, but really, uh..." Enjolras turned beet red. "Really, it was because I was sexually frustrated, and uh, two guys, uh... you know, right there, made me feel, uh..."
Seeing that Enjolras was struggling, Combeferre saved him. "I get what you're saying, Enj. Carry on with the story."
"Right, so, at the party, seeing Grantaire jump Courf like that..." Even now, remembering brought up feelings of jealousy, but Enjolras didn't have time to feel bad about that now. "It was too much. I imagined pulling them apart, to stop what they were doing, but the alcohol had pretty much removed my impulse control. I don't know why I dragged Grantaire into the room, but then I just broke down in front of him and cried about, uh... about yknow. Being sexually frustrated. I threw up. Oh, and then we argued about how appropriate public displays of affection were, we punched each other, and I apologised. But I really do need to apologise again." That last part was especially true.
Combeferre had a strange look on his face. It looked half calculating, and half disappointed.
"I know I acted like a dick, Ferre, don't worry. I'll work on it. And I'll apologise to everyone who was there too, for worrying them."
Combeferre straightened up a little. "So let me get this straight, you argued and punched each other after you cried about your lack of a sex life?"
Enjolras tried not to look panicked. "Um, no, maybe it was the other way round. I was really drunk. I can't remember."
"You know what most of us were worried about out there? That you were going to hurt Grantaire. Did you hurt him at all, apart from punching him in the face?"
"No!" Enjolras shouted, knowing what Combeferre was implying. "You know I would never do that Ferre," desperate that his best friend not believe he'd done something even worse than he really had.
"I believe that you didn't, you know. Hurt him," Combeferre said carefully. "As Grantaire reminded us last night, he is much better at fighting than you. He wasn't so stoned that he couldn't defend himself. What I want to know is, did you try, and he stopped you?"
Enjolras sat up fully on the bed, trying to let his friend better see his face to know that he wasn't lying. "No. I didn't try anything," he said slowly and clearly.
"Grantaire didn't have to restrain you, or hold you back?"
"I said no, Ferre. Nothing like that. What I did last night was bad, but I didn't try to hurt Grantaire, or to force myself on him."
"Hm. Really? So what are those bruises on your wrists from then?"
Enjolras almost dropped the glass in his hand when he brought his arms up in front of his face. His wrists were completely covered in violent blue and purple marks. He didn't know how he hadn't noticed before, but they were really quite sore.
Enjolras had no idea what to say. He'd already denied that Grantaire needed to restrain him. What could he do?
Combeferre stood up and moved to the head of the bed before sitting down again, much closer. His voice was calm but held none of its usual warmth. "Enjolras, don't bother lying to me this time. I'm your best friend. It was obvious to me last night that you were hiding what really went on in that room. And Grantaire's still so gone for you that I know he'd cover it up. If you tried to assault him, you need to tell me."
Enjolras was grateful for having a friend who wouldn't automatically take his side in a case like this. Really, Enjolras could see why Combeferre suspected what he did. But there was no way he'd get out of this now without revealing everything.
Enjolras brought his knees to his chest and wrapped his arms round them. "I'm sorry for lying to you, Combeferre. I promise I'll tell you the whole truth now. But can we just start with me promising that I didn't try to force myself on Grantaire?"
Combeferre looked wary still, but after a few seconds he nodded and climbed further onto the bed so that he could sit cross-legged opposite Enjolras.
"What I did was still really bad, Ferre. I screwed up. I... Well, I mean we, uh, we..."
"Just say it, Enjolras," Combeferre instructed, not unkindly.
Enjolras took a deep breath and let the truth spill out in one exhale. "Grantaire and I had sex."
"YOU WHAT?!" Combeferre screamed.
"Ouch, my head, remember?"
Combeferre still looked liked he was ready to explode. "You had sex with Grantaire?! How could you do that to Courf? To both of them? They were happy, Enj!"
Enjolras looked down at his knees, and spoke quietly. "I know."
Combeferre sighed, obviously seeing that Enjolras was feeling the appropriate amount of guilt already. "That's a mess. Why did you do it?"
Enjolras thought for a good thirty seconds, but his friend gave him time.
"I think... you know how you said you were jealous in a totally non-romantic, non-sexual way of Grantaire because you missed Courfeyrac's attention being on you?"
"Yeeeeesss," Combeferre edged.
"Well, I'm pretty sure my jealousy was not as innocent as yours."
"I guessed that already myself, after last night." Combeffere shuffled closer. "What I want to know is why you're only interested in Grantaire now, when he has a boyfriend. The guy has been in love with you for years and you didn't bat an eyelid at him."
"He wasn't in love with me." Combeferre gave Enjolras a disbelieving look. "Even you used to call it a crush, Ferre."
"Crushes don't last that long, Enjolras. You didn't see how he looked at you when you had your back turned. And he didn't go out with anyone else in all that time, before Courf."
Enjolras laughed at that. "Is that a joke? There were dozens of people!"
"He screwed around, sure. But he only had eyes for you."
Enjolras didn't feel that he deserved the thrill that knowledge gave him.
"So tell me," Combeferre continued, "What changed? Why do you like him now that he's unavailable?"
"We want what we can't have?" Enjolras smiled sadly. "I really wish I knew. It's just. Seeing him with someone else. Happy. I know I should want what's best for him, but I can't stop myself wishing it was with me."
Combeferre leant forwards to close the distance between them, and enveloped Enjolras in a hug. Enjolras melted in to it, and tried not to cry until he was alone.
"You need to apologise to him," Combeferre muttered into Enjolras' hair.
On Monday at the Musain, Enjolras arrived half an hour before the meeting was due to start, sat down at the large empty table towards the back which was reserved for them, and ordered an apple juice when the server came up to him.
Being too nervous about how to ask Grantaire to meet up, Combeferre taken over and texted Courfeyrac to ask if he and his boyfriend could come to the café a little earlier than usual to talk. Courfeyrac had almost immediately replied with a "sure" and a smiley face, and none of the kisses he used to end texts to Combeferre with.
Combeferre took that as a good sign, but Enjolras couldn't help the direction of his thoughts. If Courf had managed to move on, that made it more likely that he could be falling in love with Grantaire. Enjolras desperately wanted a way out of this situation in which Courfeyrac didn't get his heart broken. The only way Enjolras could see was to never let Courf find out, and leave him and Grantaire to be happy together.
Enjolras was a bundle of nerves, and wished that Combeferre could have left work early to wait with him.
Finally, Grantaire and Courfeyrac walked in, holding hands and chatting. Enjolras winced seeing the colourful bruises on Grantaire's jaw, but still thought that the other man managed to look beautiful despite it.
Enjolras scolded himself for that thought, and gulped down the rest of his juice before rising to meet his two friends and kiss them on the cheeks in greeting, carefully making sure that none of his skin made contact with Grantaire's.
Grantaire let go of Courfeyrac's hand and looked up at Enjolras with a blank expression, not quite making eye contact. Courf didn't seem to have any grudge against Enjolras, and was smiling.
"So, I'm guessing that Ferre got us here so that you could apologise to my boyfriend properly, right?"
"Yes, that's... that's right. But also I want to apologise to you Courf." Enjolras swallowed, thinking of how much he wanted to apologise for something he could never tell him. "I'm sorry for interrupting your kiss, and for making you worry about Grantaire the other night."
Courfeyrac looked surprised at this. "It's okay. No hard feelings. But shouldn't you really apologise to Grantaire first?"
"I plan to. But, uh, I was hoping that we could have some privacy. We could go to the backroom for a couple of minutes?"
Grantaire looked directly at Enjolras for the first time since he'd arrived. He looked like he was trying to conceal his anger. "Without Courf, you mean?"
"Yes, just us. I only want to talk for a few minutes. We don't have long until the meeting starts. I promise I won't do anything stupid again."
"I don't think that's a good idea," Grantaire replied. Enjolras was surprised at Grantaire's reluctance. Courfeyrac took his boyfriend's hand back and squeezed it.
"Yeah, we don't want him going on another rant to you about PDA," Courf backed him up, despite looking confused about why Grantaire didn't want to do it.
"Really, I just want to apologise," Enjolras reassured them. "Please can I just talk to you alone for a few minutes? In the corner, even?"
Grantaire sighed. "Fine, I'll talk to you. But only in combination with a cigarette break. Come on."
Grantaire didn't wait for Enjolras before walking out the front door, and Enjolras stumbled over a chair leg as he rushed to follow him.
He found Grantaire a few metres from the door, his cigarette already lit.
Enjolras started straight in on his apology. "I am so, so sorry, Grantaire. For what we did, for coming on to you when you were happy with someone else. And also for how I've been acting these last few weeks. I was jealous and acted completely inappropriately. I said some horrible things to you, and I physically dragged you away from Courfeyrac. I don't know how I can make that right."
Grantaire looked more upset after the apology. "So you were jealous," he muttered under his breath, but loud enough to be heard.
"Yes, I was. I still am. But I promise I'll control it now. What I did was completely out of line, and I just want you to be happy."
Grantaire was glaring at his shoes now, shaking his head. "I can't fucking believe you. Just last month I would have been extatic to hear you say that. Now it's the worst thing you could have told me."
Enjolras had no idea how to fix this. "I'm sorry," he tried again. "I really am. Do you forgive me?"
Grantaire took a long drag, kept it in a little too long, so that he must have been feeling the burn in his lungs, and exhaled slowly.
"I don't forgive you, Enjolras. Not yet. Because I'm going to feel guilty around Courf for as long as we're together, and that's not something that can be forgiven so lightly. But I think I'll forgive you eventually. Just... Just give me some space, yeah?"
Enjolras supposed that this was fair. "Okay. You have every right to feel that way. Thank you."
Grantaire said nothing to that, continuing to smoke and looking out at the passing traffic. Enjolras glanced at his watch, but they still had ten minutes. The silence felt awkward, and Enjolras shuffled his feet.
"What was wrong with the backroom?" Enjolras finally asked, mostly just to say something.
Grantaire laughed, with no accompanying smile, and looked away as he replied. "I can't be alone with you again. I care about Courf. A lot. And I need to move on from pining over you. But finally knowing now... what you. What you taste like." Grantaire exhaled shakily, the smoke speading in front his face in wisps. "God Enjolras, you don't know how tempting it is to kiss you again, now I know you want me to."
Grantaire was talking more quietly now, his voice gruff, and looking down at Enjolras' mouth. Without deciding to, Enjolras licked his lips. Grantaire's gaze snapped up to meet his, and at the heat in them Enjolras almost felt drunk again. He was hot all over, his skin thrumming at the thought of touching Grantaire's.
Abruptly Grantaire pulled his eyes away, coughed, and threw his unfinished cigarette on the ground. He went back inside the Musain without a glance behind him.
Enjolras took a deep breath, and tried to calm himself down and steer his thoughts away from the paths they were not supposed to travel.
That had started so well, Enjolras thought. And as with everything else so far, he'd screwed it up.
Chapter 4: Fantasy
Additional warnings for this chapter: D/S content. This chapter is also basically PWP and can be skipped.
Personal note: I'd like to apologise for taking a couple of weeks to update. I was invited to a conference in the US (where I am now, for my first time) almost at the last minute, so I have been very busy preparing. However now that I'm here and have already presented, I tuned out a couple of talks to sneakily write this chapter. It's perhaps a less inspiring place to write Les Mis fic here than in France (where I've been living for the past year) but it'll have to do until I leave tomorrow.
Enjolras decided to respect Grantaire’s wish for space. He knew it made sense, because their mutual desire for one another was clearly so strong that being alone together was inadvisable. But the distance Enjolras had put between them in the last week had done nothing to dampen his feelings for the other man. If anything, his thoughts about Grantaire had become more frequent. Enjolras even found himself becoming distracted from the causes of Les Amis, and much of the time he should have spent planning a demonstration or writing emails to people in positions of power was instead wasted daydreaming about brunette curls and strong hands.
Enjolras realised he had been staring at the same paragraph of the university’s code of conduct for the last twenty minutes or more, and let the page fall to the desk with a huff. Pressing the heels of his hands over his eyes, he pushed back from his desk and flopped down on the bed. His initial idea had been to take a nap, since he’d not been sleeping well recently, his thoughts always turning to the person he shouldn’t be thinking about. But as soon as his back hit the mattress, his plan was spoilt.
He was vividly reminded of being thrown onto his back by Grantaire at the party, narrow hips straddling his thighs and eyes full of anger burning into his. Enjolras unconsciously stretched his arms out above his head, imagining Grantaire’s fingers curled around his wrists, pinning him down. A tingle passed over his scalp as he remembered Grantaire’s vicious grip on his hair as their lips finally met. Enjolras had never had sex so passionate or so rough before, and was surprised to find how often now his daydreams featured Grantaire tying him up or manhandling him. He wanted Grantaire to punish him for the night at the party, to make him beg for it again and again.
Enjolras realised that his right hand had made its way down to the front of his jeans where he was now hard, and paused. Whilst he had fantasised often about Grantaire in the last week, wanking over his friend seemed like a line which should not be crossed. It was creepy, and unhealthy, but then again would it not be better to release some of his sexual frustration so that it was less obvious at the meeting the next day? Despite knowing it was an unconvincing argument, Enjolras unzipped his jeans and wrapped a hand around himself, stroking to the memory of Grantaire rutting against him.
Enjolras had loved Grantaire’s bruising grip on his hands, but regretted not being able to grab the ass he had carefully avoided staring at recently, though he had appreciated its shape in tight jeans many times in the past. Enjolras briefly imagined squeezing it and pulling in order to bring Grantaire even closer as they rolled their hips together. But after several seconds Enjolras’ guilt pushed his thoughts back towards being punished.
“Did you think I’d just let you get away with fucking up my relationship with Courf?” Grantaire purrs, striding towards him in sinfully tight black pleather trousers, a deep green shirt unbuttoned to halfway down his chest.
Grantaire had worn this outfit on one of the rare times Enjolras had been persuaded to join a group outing to a club in the Marais district, and at the time Enjolras’ thoughts had only been that Grantaire was sure to pull that night. Now though, he imagined that he himself was the reason Grantaire had dressed in such a provocative way.
“Do you still want this, Enjolras?” Grantaire stops half a metre away, his strong fingers deftly unbuttoning the last of the buttons on that shirt so that he can part it, revealing the lightly muscled torso Enjolras had been able to admire at the party.
Enjolras nods, then finds himself flipped around with his front pressed against a wall and his arms restrained uncomfortably at the small of his back. “Wrong answer. You shouldn’t be lusting after me, Enjolras. I have a boyfriend, remember? Isn’t Courf supposed to be your friend?” Grantaire’s free hand finds its way again to Enjolras’ hair, pulling his head back harshly so that they can meet each other’s eyes. “Do you still want me to fuck you, Enjolras?”
Enjolras whispers his agreement, and Grantaire moves in closer, the front of his body covering the back of Enjolras’. “You want this?” Grantaire asks, pushing his hips forward so that his erection juts against Enjolras’ ass.
“God, yes,” Enjolras gasps, and Grantaire lets him go. Before Enjorlas can turn around all the way, Grantaire simultaneously hooks an ankle around one of Enjolras’ calves and pushes down on his shoulders, causing Enjolras to hit the floor on his knees. He looks up to see Grantaire’s familiar smirk.
“Then get me nice and hard so I can split you open,” Grantaire instructs, unzipping the fly of his trousers and pulling out his cock, just centimetres from Enjolras’ face. “Go on, then.”
Enjolras is eager to taste him, but wants a little more of Grantaire’s roughness, so he stares up defiantly. Sure enough, Grantaire grabs Enjolras’ hair to keep his head still and pushes his cock between Enjolras’ lips.
“Fuck, Enjolras. Your pretty mouth was made for this.” Grantaire speeds up his thrusting and Enjolras tries to maintain as much suction as he can at that pace. Grantaire’s grip tightens on his hair and…
Enjolras came hard, spurting over the shirt he forgot to take off and even up to his chin. His vision whited out for several seconds, then sparked pink and red as he gently stroked himself through the aftershocks until his flesh became too sensitive. Enjolras was breathing as though he’d just come back from a jog, and his body felt heavy and relaxed. Perhaps now he’d finally be able to sleep. For a moment he considered giving in and pulling up the duvet, but his rising disgust at what he’d just done won out.
As Enjolras padded to the bathroom, stripped off his dirtied shirt and wiped himself down with a wet flannel, he wondered how he had allowed his thoughts to take such a direction. He was against kink-shaming, but was nevertheless somewhat disturbed at the tone of his fantasies recently. Enjolras wasn’t too sure he’d be able to face Grantaire without the shame showing on his face, but if they were supposed to be avoiding one another then it wouldn’t be a problem anyway.
Chapter 5: Lyon
Enjolras takes a trip to France's second city
The following evening at the Musain, Enjolras and Grantaire avoided talking to one another, as had become usual for them. Grantaire was still affectionate with Courfeyrac in public, but much less so than he had been. Enjolras wished he wasn’t happy about that.
He found that in many ways avoidance was more difficult than acting like normal, since to make sure they were never alone together he had to be aware of Grantaire’s every move. Combeferre seemed to be the only one who noticed anything amiss, and he would occasionally squeeze Enjolras’ arm or give him a pat on the shoulder in commiseration. Knowing how disappointed his best friend would be if he screwed up again gave Enjolras one more level of motivation to keep his distance.
After the meeting wrapped up, he watched the group’s no-longer-new couple leave, hand-in-hand. Enjolras wanted to wait a while before he went home, just in case Grantaire had decided to stop outside for a smoke before getting the bus. Having finished his drink, he pulled his phone out so that he looked busy.
Enjolras opened his emails, scrolling quickly through those he’d received in the last hour. There was still no reply from any of the company representatives he’d emailed to strongly suggest that they cut ties with brands who’d been shown to use slave labour in their supply chain. No, wait, there was one, but it was merely a brush-off email. Enjolras had read so many like it he wondered if they were automated across all companies. “Dear X. Thank you for your email. Y company cares very much about Z issue, and we are looking into it. Be assured that we are committed to fairness at Y. Kind regards, an apathetic employee.”
Finally Enjolras came across an email that made him smile. He’d been corresponding for the last few days with the local head of a general workers’ union in Lyon, with Enjolras eagerly offering his help for their plan to bring a group of strikers to their company’s headquarters in Paris.
Thank you so much for your offer to join us on the picket line in Paris. Only a dozen or so of the CDQ guys have agreed to go, and so having Les Amis there too will bring up our numbers considerably. As you can probably imagine though, getting from Lyon to the capital is too expensive for most of us to consider, and even then most of them don’t see the point. They don’t think the big-wigs will listen to them even if we show up at their door.
I’ve got to admit that I’ve actually heard a lot about you personally, and I’ve seen a video someone took of you at the Starbucks rally last year. You really have a way with words, my friend, and your dedication to helping the downtrodden is well-known. If you have the time, I’d really appreciate it if you could attend our monthly meeting on Wednesday evening. The details are in the attachment. I’m sure if you gave a short speech a load more of our CDQ people could be persuaded to bring the picket line to Paris next month. I can’t pay for your train ticket, but I can promise a beer and some friendly company, and a sofa-bed (if you need it) ;)
Peace and solidarity,
Enjolras beamed at his phone, glad to have something to distract him. He’d even be able to get out of the city for a little while, as long as he got up early enough in Lyon to get to work on time on Thursday morning. After a quick check of train times, he fired off a reply in the affirmative to Feuilly, pocketed his phone, and made his way home.
Enjolras stepped off the stage on Wednesday evening to applause and more slaps on the back than he was frankly comfortable with. The union members had not been difficult to motivate into further action, given the flagrant injustices they put up with from their employer. His promise to bring his own group along had helped as well, as some had been worried that a picket line of just a dozen men would just be ignored.
Having to refuse offers of several pints of beer on the way, Enjolras headed towards where Feuilly was sitting near the back with a small group, bent over some papers. He stopped short when he recognised one of the men there. What on Earth was Grantaire doing in Lyon?
Enjolras was just about to make his escape when Feuilly spotted him. The redhead bounded over with a smile and led Enjolras to their table with an arm around his shoulders.
“Enjolras! Great speech - you really fired the boys up. Thank you so much again for doing this!”
Enjolras didn’t really notice that Feuilly’s hand lingered on his back even after they had sat down, as he was distracted by Grantaire, who was sketching something which looked like a bear in hi-vis.
“What are you doing here?” he asked, then winced when he noticed his tone. “I just mean… I… I didn’t know you were going to be here.”
Grantaire smirked, seemingly enjoying his discomfort. “Well, here I am.”
Feuilly and the others at the table glanced nervously between the two, unsure what the problem was. “I contacted Grantaire on Tuesday asking if he could come to discuss poster and flyer designs with us. His email address is on your website. I thought he’d have told you he was coming. In fact, we were a bit surprised when you didn’t turn up together.”
Enjolras glared at Grantaire, but the artist put his hands up to placate him. “Don’t blame me, I didn’t know you were coming either. I was lured here with the promise of free beer and a euro for every poster I make.” Grantaire lifted his glass in toast to the men around him, most of whom did the same with their beers.
Enjolras scoffed, and swiveled to face Feuilly to discuss their plans for Paris, ignoring Grantaire once again.
Later that evening, once Enjolras and Grantaire arrived at Feuilly’s apartment, it transpired that there was in fact only one sofa bed, albeit one almost the size of a double bed.
“Guys, I’m really sorry. I didn’t think it would be a problem for you to share since I thought you were friends…” Feuilly apologised after seeing the terrified faces of the other men.
“No it’s… it’s fine. Of course we’re friends. No problem,” Enjolras explained, and Grantaire turned around heading for the kitchen, mumbling something about a drink.
“There’s a few cans of Kronenbourg in the fridge,” Feuilly called out, before turning back to Enjolras and biting his lip. “If you’re, um, uncomfortable sharing the sofa with Grantaire, I have a double bed. Y’know, if… no pressure or anything, don’t feel it’s a condition of you staying here, but you’re fantastic, and gorgeous, and so passionate, and… I guess what I’m saying is, I’m interested. If, um, if you are.” Feuilly’s pale cheeks had gone a little pink, but he met Enjolras’ eyes and lightly brushed some of the man’s blonde hair behind his ear.
Enjolras was not a stranger to being propositioned, and in fact this counted as one of the least annoying ways he had been come onto over the years. It meant he was well-practiced in letting people down, though most would say he was not usually gentle about it.
“Feuilly, I’m flattered, and you’re one of the best men I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, but I’m not really…”
“Say no more,” Feuilly stopped him with a clap on his arm. “I didn’t really fancy I had much of a chance with an angel like you, but you can’t blame a man for trying.”
Grantaire came back into the living room then, beer in hand, and Feuilly showed them where the bathroom was before bidding them goodnight.
After having brushed their teeth and turned out the lights, there was nothing left to do but face the music and get into bed. Both men left their shirts and jeans on, and lay flat on their backs as far apart as possible. Enjolras tried to calm his mind, but could think of nothing but his proximity to Grantaire. He could reach out and touch him right now, if he just moved his arm. Who would know what they did here, in the dark? Was Grantaire thinking about the same things he was? After half an hour of trying to reign in his thoughts but only succeeding in getting further from sleep, Enjolras sighed and sat up.
“Where are you going?” Grantaire didn’t sound sleepy at all. Evidently he had also been unable to rest.
“Since neither of us are going to get to sleep like this, and we’re breaking your very sensible rule about being alone together, I’m going to go join Feuilly instead.”
“What, you’re just going to go into his room and ask to join him in bed? I think most men might think you had intentions other than sleeping.”
“Yes, well, I know. He made such a proposition to me earlier, and I refused, but I’m sure he won’t be disappointed when I tell him I’ve reconsidered.”
“Huh.” Grantaire said, the silence stretching out. “I… I didn’t know he was your type. I wish I could send a message to past me telling myself to grow a beard and chug some protein powder. Why didn’t you just say yes to Feuilly earlier if you were up for it?”
“He’s not my ‘type’, though it’s quite shallow if you reject people based on a checklist of physical characteristics,” Enjolras answered. “But he’s brave and determined to fight for justice.”
Grantaire laughed. “It figures that’s what would turn you on. But you didn’t answer my question. Why didn’t you just bend over for him earlier if you fancied being rammed by a revolutionary?”
“That’s not it at all. Don’t be so crude!”
“But why now, though? Is it just that screwing any guy is better than spending time with me?” Grantaire joked.
Enjolras was silent.
“… you are attracted to him, right?”
“He’s a great man. He’s done so much work to -“
“Fucking hell, Enjolras. If you’re going to hook up with someone you really should be attracted to them at least. I’m not going to let you lie back and think of France just so we don’t have to share a bed.”
“It’s my body, and I can sleep with whomever I like,” Enjolras hissed, swinging his legs off the sofa, but was stopped by a hand on his wrist.
Enjolras felt the contact of skin like a brand. It was hot and focussed all his attention, and once again he felt like he was burning for Grantaire. Their heavy breaths were loud in the silent room, as they became hyperaware of each other’s physical presence. At the barest movement of Grantaire’s thumb on his arm, Enjolras felt the last of his control begin to collapse. The future played out in his mind. Grantaire would tug him back down onto the sofa, then roll on top. They’d rid each other of their shirts and -
Enjolras abruptly pulled back and broke loose from Grantaire’s hold on his wrist, almost tripping over his feet in his haste. As Enjolras straightened his clothes and moved towards the hallway that led to Feuilly’s room, Grantaire made no further move to stop him.
Enjolras hadn’t taken two steps before Feuilly’s door swung open, the redhead pausing for only a second at seeing his guests up.
“Oh, good, you’re awake. I’m glad I didn’t have to wake you guys. I’m sorry to do this to you, but I just got a load of texts from my mate Pierre. There’s an urgent situation at his depot centre and they need me there ASAP. Will you be alright to let yourselves out in the morning, if I don’t make it back before you need to leave?”
The whole time he was speaking, Feuilly hadn’t stopped darting around the room to grab various items and slips his shoes on. Enjolras only managed to nod and get out a weak “Sure, no problem” before the front door opened and shut again, leaving him and Grantaire alone in the flat.
Enjolras turned back toward the sofa, realizing his plan was screwed now. “I guess I could still sleep in Feuilly’s bed, since he’s not using it.”
Grantaire laughed. “Again, what if he comes back in the early hours to find a gorgeous blond in his bed? He will almost certainly get a particular idea about why you’re there. And before you tell me you’re willing to accept that possibility, did you consider that some people are not too keen on the idea of a near-stranger sleeping in their bed without their permission?
Enjolras realised that Grantaire was of course correct. He wished he’d thought to ask Feuilly if it would be okay before he’d left, but it had all been over so quickly. Enjolras looked around the living room, trying to see if there was some corner on the floor which didn’t look too uncomfortable.
“Oh come on,” Grantaire sighed. “Just get back on here. Now that the light’s on I’m sure I can control my impulses. Not that you’re ugly, obviously, what a thought, but because it feels more real now. Just get in and let’s sleep.”
Enjolras was in the rare position of agreeing with Grantaire. His control over his impulses was mostly back in place, and if it wavered again, Enjolras decided, he would simply think about Courfeyrac. Sobering further at the thought of Grantaire’s boyfriend, he acquiesced and slid back onto the sofa, switching the light back out.
“Thank you Grantaire. You are being so reasonable, and I’m just lost in my emotions. You’re incredible.”
Enjolras heard and felt what sounded like the sofa being punched. “Again, you really have to watch what you say. Do you know what it does to me, to hear you say anything good about me? I spent so long feeding off any insults and sneers you deigned to throw my way, that saying I’m incredible - I don’t think my heart can take it. So please, stop.”
“Did you argue with me and mock me in meetings just to get attention from me? It seems like a masochistic way to go about it.” Enjolras asked.
“How did you not realise that was what I was doing? And yeah, it was. Sometimes I used to fantasise about you losing your temper and striking me, since I figured that was the only way I could get you to touch me. And yeah, I know that's fucked up.”
“Grantaire…” Enjolras didn’t think before moving his hand to find Grantaire’s, across from him on the mattress. Grantaire hesitated, but squeezed the hand back, taking what comfort he could.
“I don’t want your pity, Enjolras. It’s an honour to love you. You probably never thought I could be worse than the useless drunkard I am now, but you didn’t know me before I joined Les Amis, or rather started crashing your meetings. My life was a mess. You know I took a year out of uni, but it wasn’t by choice. I was in such a dark place, waking up in a new person’s bed every night, taking whatever drugs they offered me, going days without eating. And then one day I looked over from the bar and saw you. It wasn’t love at first sight or anything. Lust maybe. I’d never seen anyone who looks like you in real life. But then you started in on a speech and I fell hard. You were everything I wasn’t but wanted to be. Believed so strongly in everything I’d long ago given up hope on. I wanted to be the kind of person who you might look on one day without scorn. I’m not gonna say you cured me, the gods know my depression never really went away. But little by little I cut out the hard drugs, took a bit more care of myself. And when I realised that the best way to get your attention was to argue with you, I couldn’t stop. And I didn’t want to.”
Grantaire breathed. “Shit. That’s a lot more than I meant to tell you. I guess it just feels kind of… intimate, here in the dark with you. I hope I didn’t disgust you.”
Enjolras responded by threading his fingers through Grantaire’s. “I… I had no idea, Grantaire. Gods, I’m so sorry that I didn’t know what you were going through, and for how I treated you.”
“Are you crying?!” Grantaire exclaimed. “I didn’t say all that to shit on you Enjolras. I just wanted to be honest with you about my feelings.”
Enjolras sniffled. “I can’t stand the thought that I was hurting you! And the way you saw me - I’m no high and mighty god. I’m a man with failings just like anyone, and I failed to see how you were suffering right in front of me. Why did it take me so long to notice how brilliant you are? How beautiful, how much you care about your friends, how selfless? You’re so much to me Grantaire, and you make me a better person too.”
Enjolras’ voice had descended to a rasp at the end, and soon Grantaire’s breathing gave away that he too was crying now. They lay that way together, sobbing hand in hand, until sleep finally claimed them.
Chapter 6: Comfort
Grantaire and Courfeyrac are fighting, and they both need some comfort
The Saturday after his trip to Lyon, Enjolras was still busy communicating with Parisian unions and socialist groups, trying to drum up as much support as possible for when Feuilly brought the strikers to their company's main office. So far only one group had agreed, one union had refused claiming it was a conflict of interests, and the others hadn't so much as acknowledged his emails. Enjolras was growing increasingly frustrated. How could they just ignore their comrades like that? Still, Enjolras refused to give up. He'd find out when each of their local meetings were and attend in person if that's what it took to get their support.
His text alert made him glance up from his laptop, and Enjolras swiped open the message, distracted and still thinking about the lack of unity on the left. The text was from Combeferre.
Courf just called me crying asking me to come over, so I won't be able to cook after all tonight. Make sure you order takeaway and eat something OK? P.S. Éponine told me that you and Grantaire both went to Lyon the other day. If you did something again and broke Courf's heart I'm going to have to kill you.
Enjolras frowned. Despite knowing that he and Grantaire hadn't had sex again, they almost had. What's more, they'd confessed their love to each other and fell asleep holding hands, and in many ways Enjolras saw that as worse. They hadn't talked about it in the morning, and had intentionally caught different trains back to the capital, Enjolras with a firmer conviction than ever that if he wanted Grantaire to be happy that meant letting him go.
Worrying about Combeferre's text, Enjolras fought back against the treacherous hope that Courfeyrac and Grantaire had been fighting with the more selfless hope that they weren't. He typed out a quick reply.
I promise we didn't. I'll order enough Chinese for us both and you can either have yours when you get back or keep it for your shift tomorrow. I hope Courfeyrac is okay.
Hitting send, Enjolras immediately opened an app on his phone and ordered the takeaway, knowing he'd forget to eat if he left it until later. Then he went back to his laptop and refreshed his inbox. Still no replies, which meant nothing immediate to distract Enjolras from his thoughts. Enjolras sighed and gave in for a few minutes.
Enjolras couldn't help but wish, now that he knew the depth of their feelings, that he had figured out how he felt about Grantaire just a few weeks sooner than he had. Why had it taken jealousy to make him confront the affection which he now realised had been growing for a long time? If he'd just gone up to Grantaire during one of his rants last month and shut him up with a kiss, what would have happened? Enjolras imagined the other man gripping his hair or shirt and pulling him closer, making out in front of their friends with no restraint and all Grantaire's pent up longing coming to the fore. But after their heart-to-heart the night before, Enjorlas now thought it was just as likely that Grantaire would have pushed him away, asking how Enjolras could have been so cruel to play that kind of joke on him.
The doorbell jolted Enjolras out of his thoughts, making him wonder exactly how long he'd indulged himself with them. Enjolras buzzed the delivery guy into his apartment block, pulled a five euro note out of his wallet for a tip, and opened the door to his apartment to see not a delivery guy but Grantaire making his way up the stairs. Enjolras was so surprised that he still stood frozen in the middle of the doorway even when Grantaire stood in front of him, clearly expecting to be let in.
Neither of them spoke, not knowing what to say, and Enjolras took in Grantaire's haggard appearance. The man's clothes were soaked from the rain, but the redness of his eyes suggested that not all the wetness on his cheeks could be blamed on the weather. Enjolras' eyes softened in sympathy, and Grantaire must not have liked that because for his good intentions Enjolras received a forceful shove backwards into his apartment. Whilst he was busy regaining his footing Grantaire slammed the door shut, and then Enjolras was being crowded against the wall in his hallway.
Enjolras would make himself admit, later, that there was half a second there where he had a choice. Where he knew Grantaire was going to kiss him, and was searching Enjolras' face to check that he wanted it too. There was that instant where Enjolras could have stopped this, could have summoned his restraint and let his morals guide his actions. But he let that instant pass.
Grantaire's lips were on his, then, commanding all Enjolras' attention in a filthy dance of tongues, and Grantaire's hands tangled in blonde curls whilst Enjolras pulled the wet beanie off Grantaire's head and sent it flying across the room. Grantaire was pressed all along the length of Enjolras' body, water seeping into his clothes, and Enjolras desperately pulled him closer by anything he could grab onto. His coat, the back of his neck, his ass. Grantaire ground his hips forward, and Enjolras threw his head back in a moan. He had tried to hook his left knee over Grantaire's hip without realising, so desperate was he to open his legs for the other man. Grantaire immediately grabbed onto his thigh to keep it wrapped around his waist, at the same time as he took advantage of Enjoras' exposed neck to bite down on it and suck a bruise into the skin there.
Enjolras let out a needy whine again, and pushed on the shoulders of Grantaire's jacket until it fell to the carpet. Enjolras had never felt like this before, so utterly lost to sensation and desperate for another person. Grantaire dropped Enjolras' leg and moved away a few inches so that he could pull his soaked grey t-shirt over his head. That should have been another moment where Enjolras could have stopped this, but it left Grantaire's chest shining, a few droplets of rainwater making their way down from the hair at his breast to that just above his waistline. Enjolras gave up on thinking and followed the impulse to drop to his knees right there and lick one of the droplets away. Looking up through his eyelashes, Enjolras could see that Grantaire's mouth was open in shock, his eyes hazy with lust. Enjolras smirked and licked again at the skin just below Grantaire's belly button, and was rewarded by a gasp and fingers pulling at his hair.
This was so close to one of Enjorlas' favourite fantasies of late that he forgot to be embarassed or coy, instead letting himself go straight for what he wanted by pulling open Grantaire's belt buckle and the button on his jeans. Enjolras' mouth watered as he unzipped them to reveal a very prominent erection tenting the front of Grantaire's black boxers. Enjolras glanced up again, looking for consent to continue, but lost his greedy smile when he saw Grantaire's face.
Grantaire still looked absolutely shattered with lust, pupils blown and breathing heavily, but there were definitely tears streaking down his face. Enjolras sat back on his heels, trying to pull himself out of the sexual fog his brain was lost in enough to figure out what was wrong.
"Grantaire?" he tried softly. "What's-"
"Don't," Grantaire croaked out, trying to use his grip on Enjolras' hair to encourage him to continue. When that didn't work, Grantaire shoved Enjolras back onto the carpet and climbed over him, bringing their lips together again. Grantaire kissed him desperately, as if Enjolras were the only thing he needed, but Enjolras could taste the salt from his tears and was not about to take advantage of someone so emotionally compromised. He pushed at Grantaire's shoulders enough to break their kiss and see the other man's face, and Grantaire looked broken.
"Please," he breathed before reattaching their lips, and Enjolras was struggling to focus on why he should be saying no. Grantaire needed him, needed this, it seemed, and Enjolras wanted so badly to give Grantaire anything he wanted, anything that would make him happy.
Grantaire trailed his kisses to Enjolras' neck, which was a very sensitive spot for him, and his brain stuttered yet again.
"Please, Enjolras," Grantaire was whispering as he nipped at the lovebite he'd made earlier whilst deftly undoing Enjolras' jeans and taking advantage of his distraction. "Please, just let me have this. Please."
And then Grantaire had slunk down Enjolras' body and was pulling Enjolras' erection out of his underwear. His cock twitched in anticipation even as alarms screeched in Enjolras' head. Before Grantaire could get his mouth on him Enjolras sat up abruptly and pushed Grantaire back so quickly that the man overbalanced from his kneeling position and fell to the floor. Enjolras' morals may have apparently been lax enough to allow infidelity that day, but taking advantage of someone who was clearly upset and not thinking straight was a red line for him. In fact he was disappointed in himself that he'd taken this long to stop proceedings.
Grantaire punched the floor and immediately curled in on himself, bawling.
"I'm sorry, Grantaire. It's not that I don't want you, I just... I can't take advantage of you like this." Enjolras wrapped his arms around Grantaire, and was surprised when the man allowed himself to be pulled into Enjolras' chest and hugged without offering resistance. "Please tell me what's wrong."
Grantaire didn't answer, and instead continued to wail and further soak the front of Enjolras' t-shirt. They must have stayed in that position for at least half an hour, but even as Grantaire's crying became silent Enjolras could still feel him shaking with sobs. Enjolras held onto him tight, wishing desperately that he could fix this, and stroked Grantaire's still-dripping curls.
The doorbell interrupted their melancholy, and Enjolras hesitated for a second before deciding to answer it. Food would be good for Grantaire right now. As Enjolras shifted to get up, Grantaire let out a meek sound of protest and fisted his hands in Enjolras' shirt, just about breaking his heart in the process.
"That'll be my dinner. Let me up a moment and we can eat something, okay?" Enjolras extracted himself from the embrace gently and placed a kiss on the top of Grantaire's head. The doorbell rang again, and Enjolras scrambled to the door.
"Hello?" he asked through the intercom, thinking that maybe it would be best to check that his callers were who he was expecting before letting them into the building from now on.
"Evening. Got your food, mate," said the voice on the other end in a heavy West African accent.
"Thanks. I'm just on the second floor," Enjolras replied, and buzzed him in. Enjolras smoothed down his hair and watched as the still-shirtless Grantaire forced himself up and moved into the living room, out of sight from the hallway. It wasn't until there was a knock on the door that Enjolras realised that the front of his jeans were open. Quickly putting himself together in what he hoped passed as respectable, he opened the door. With the way the delivery guy looked him up and down though, Enjolras supposed he hadn't been successful.
"Got a lady over, have you?" he asked, smirking. "Sorry if I interrupted your fun."
Enjolras flushed as he took the offered carrier bag, and contemplated not giving the man a tip for his heterosexist assumption. But then he realised that he didn't know where his intended tip had gone anyway, as he'd been holding it when Grantaire arrived unexpectedly. Enjolras' eyes scanned the carpet but he couldn't see a note anywhere.
After a few awkward seconds the guy took a step back, sensing he was wasting his time waiting. "Right. Enjoy the rest of your evening."
Enjolras barely had time to mutter a thank you before the guy was out of sight down the stairs. Closing the door and cursing his poor social skills, he took the carrier bag to the living room and started laying out the containers. Grantaire was sat on the sofa, looking in his general direction but more like through him than at him. Enjolras tried to draw him out into saying something.
"There's vegetable chow mein, hoisin and garlic tofu, and some spring rolls. Just take whatever you want. Damn, they put in the prawn crackers again," Enjolras complained, pulling them out of the bag with a frown. "I always put a special note on saying 'no free prawn crackers, please', but they forgot just like last time. Since they're not vegan, I guess those are all for you."
Enjolras held the bag out, and Grantaire took it wordlessly, pulling it open and biting into a cracker without changing his expression. Enjolras sighed and went to the kitchen to get some plates and cutlery, and also some water for Grantaire. He set them all on the coffee table, pushing the glass towards the man who was still quietly munching on prawn crackers. Grantaire took it, drained half, then placed it back on the surface. Enjolras was starting to get seriously worried. Grantaire was never this quiet, or this pliant.
"What food do you want, R?"
Again there was no answer. What could Enjolras do to snap him out of it? In films usually either a slap or a kiss would work, but the first seemed too violent and the second was what got them into this mess. Enjolras opted to sit next to him on the sofa instead, and pulled on his arm until Grantaire looked at him. Enjolras was frozen for a moment, as so many emotions welled up inside him upon their eyes meeting. Sympathy, desperation, affection, attraction, but most of all love. Damn, Enjolras had fallen hard. Even with his eyes red and puffy, Grantaire looked beautiful to him. Knowing he couldn't say any of that out loud, Enjolras took a breath and tried to be a good friend instead.
"Please tell me what's wrong. Did you fight with Courfeyrac?"
Grantaire reacted then, pulling back slightly and looking angry. "What makes you think that?" he croaked.
"Combeferre's over at his right now, and told me he was upset. Did he... did you tell him about us?"
Grantaire sighed. "No. And I don't ever plan to. It's just... I've not been treating him as well as he deserves. Since Éponine's party we haven't... I mean I tried but I couldn't stop thinking about you and it didn't seem fair to him." Grantaire laughs then. "And it's funny because the first time we hooked up, Courf pretended to be you, did you know that? Do you think that's fucked up? Said he'd be my Enjolras if I'd be his Combeferre. And... but now it's not fair to him. I love him, at least I think I do. And if I moaned your name in bed now he'd be right to break up with me. So I've been... pushing him away, I guess. Without really meaning to. And this afternoon I flinched away from him when he tried to kiss me and it started an argument. I don't know how I'm supposed to fix this." Grantaire's voice broke on the last few words, and Enjolras reached for his hand. Grantaire looked down their clasped fingers for a few seconds before letting go and busying himself by scooping some spring rolls onto his plate. Enjolras didn't feel hungry, but helped himself to some of the hoisin tofu just so Grantaire wouldn't be eating alone.
"I'm sorry, R," Enjolras started uncertainly, and when Grantaire was clearly not impressed by this response he tried to salvage it. "I don't really know what to do. But I thought we... agreed that we shouldn't be alone together. But then you... why did you come over today?"
Grantaire laughed around a mouthful of food, and then spent a few more seconds chewing and swallowing. "Did you really not get an idea of what I wanted earlier? I thought I was being pretty clear."
Enjolras blushed. "I didn't mean that. I mean... I know you wanted sex with me but why now? And what does it mean to you? Do you want me to be your... your bit on the side?"
Grantaire blanched and quickly turned to face him. "No! Of course not. God, you could never mean so little to me. And I don't want to sneak around doing... having an affair with you. I doubt you'd stand for that anyway. I just... I know I wasn't thinking it through. But was just sick of it all and sought out comfort in the arms of the man I'm madly in love with. I gave in to temptation. I'm weak, but who exactly would be surprised by that?"
"You're not weak!" Enjolras cried with conviction, and Grantaire looked up startled. "You are one of the strongest people I know. You've overcome so much in your life, some of which I've heard other Amis talking about, and some of which you told me in Lyon. And I... well, the way I feel about you... it's... that is-"
Enjolras was interrupted from his stuttering confession by the sound of a key turning in the lock, and both Enjolras and Grantaire jumped away from each other guiltily despite having only been eating next to each other. It turned out out to have been the right response though, when Combeferre walked in and his expression turned thunderous upon seeing their unexpected guest.
"What the hell is he doing here, Enj?" Combeferre shouted, directing all his anger at his flatmate.
Grantaire just looked confused. "I'm just here to eat Chinese and debate politics with our dear leader. Did I do something to piss you off, Combeferre? You don't sound very happy to see me."
"Yes, you did something to piss me off, Grantaire. Because I've just spent the afternoon with your boyfriend who's been bawling his eyes out telling me all about how you've gone distant and don't want to spend any time with him any more. And now I find you're actually spending that time with Enjolras."
"I was just-"
"Shut it, R. I don't even blame you that much. Everyone knows you've been in love with Enj for years, so this must be really hard for you. It's him I blame." Combeferre pointed rudely to Enjolras, who had his head down, ashamed. "How long has this been going on, Enj? How long have you been fucking him behind Courf's back? How many times since the party?"
Grantaire rounded on Enjolras then. "You told him?!"
"Yes he told me. You think he could keep that from his best friend?"
"I'm sorry for telling him, R." Enjorlas finally joined in the conversation, his voice strained. "But he knew I was lying about what happened at Éponine's party and I had to come clean. But Ferre," Enjolras turned to his flatmate then, "Believe me, we haven't had sex again. It was just one time that we messed up. Grantaire came over because he needed a friend, just like Courfeyrac did. And we have actually been eating. But there's plenty left if you want some."
Combeferre deflated somewhat at that, taking in again the fact that they were indeed eating Chinese, both fully dressed. "I'm not hungry," he said simply, and walked into his bedroom, slamming the door behind him.
Enjolras turned to Grantaire then, whose face was red and expression grim. "R, I'm sorry. I-"
"It's fine, Enjolras," Grantaire cut him off, getting to his feet and moving to the hallway. "I better be going anyway. Courf will be wondering where I am."
"You don't have to-"
"I said it's fine, OK?" he replied with false nonchalance as he slipped on his coat. "But it's late and I should go. Thanks for the... for the food. See you around."
And with that, Grantaire was out the door, leaving Enjolras with even less of a clue as to where they stood than before.