Candle Factory Coffeehouse is open from five in the morning to ten at night. Enjolras works from two to close, and every moment of it is boring and painful because Candle Factory is on a much-ignored street in a sleepy part of the city. He usually has a grand total of forty customers come in during his eight hour shift. Enjolras is pretty sure that at least half of them only come out of charity and gratitude to the owner, Mr. Valjean, because a suspicious number of those forty customers order coffee and then don’t drink it, and then order again when they think Enjolras hasn’t noticed them dump their cups in one of the quickly-wilting potted plants.
He’s also sure that the only reason he still has a job is that Mr. Valjean has an unexplainable policy of never firing anyone. Enjolras is not made for retail. He tries very, very hard to be a good employee, because Mr. Valjean took a chance on him and Enjolras doesn’t want to betray that. There aren’t many people who would ever hire someone with an arrest record as long as Enjolras’ is, let alone one growing longer almost weekly.
He appreciates everything Mr. Valjean has done for him, he really does, but Jesus fucking Christ sometimes Enjolras just wants to leap over the counter and murder people.
Key example: it’s currently 9:25 and there’s a woman leaning on the counter, pouting at the menu and asking, “But I don’t understand! What’s the difference between soy milk and regular milk?”
Enjolras has no fucking clue what the difference between soy milk and regular milk is beyond that one comes from animals and the other comes from soy. “Regular milk contains lactose,” he says, because he does try, he tries so hard. It’s 9:25, he can make it. He can.
“But which one tastes better?” the woman asks.
“That’s a matter of preference,” Enjolras says, and grits his teeth. “Try ordering one and deciding for yourself.”
She makes a considering humming noise, and finally asks, “Which do you like better?”
And then the door opens and the one reason he never gives up on keeping his job stumbles through five minutes ahead of schedule. The four friends he’s brought along today manage to catch him before he hits the floor, laughing and mocking him good-naturedly before swarming behind the woman, giving her a loud and peer-pressure-inducing line to deal with, thank god.
“Soy milk, then,” she says awkwardly, and Enjolras tosses her coffee together and takes her money and ignores her in favor of the new group.
The friends are easy orders, of course. The group is more involved in conversing with each other than anything else. Two of them almost leave their coffee on the counter until Enjolras reminds them.
And then Enjolras braces himself, tries to calm his stupid heart down, and turns to face his final customer. “What.”
“Dry triple mocha with a hint of strawberry syrup, but it has to be the Galapagos beans, you know I don’t like the Peruvian ones,” Grantaire says. He’s leaning on the counter. Enjolras doesn’t mind. “And rice milk. And make a heart in the foam.”
The rice milk isn’t on the menu.
Grantaire gets it anyway.
The strawberry syrup goes everywhere, and Enjolras hates the Galapagos beans, he doesn’t even know what the fucking difference is between the beans other than that the Galapagos beans hate him right back, and it’s all a disaster, a complete disaster. There’s barely any foam on top of Grantaire’s coffee but Enjolras isn’t going to let that stop him, he’s not going to let himself fail to even try. He manages to make something that looks more like a snail than a heart, but it’s something. Three months ago, before Grantaire drunkenly stumbled in barely fifteen minutes before closing, he wouldn’t have even managed that.
Grantaire is the only person Enjolras has ever seen finish one of his cups of coffee. Hell, one of his cups of anything, excluding fruit juice and water.
When he puts the cup in front of Grantaire, the man eyes it critically for a moment before staring intently into Enjolras’ eyes and taking an experimental sip. He doesn’t gag, and only grimaces a little bit.
“It’s only a little bit disgusting tonight. Keep this up and pretty soon it’ll actually pass for coffee,” Grantaire says pleasantly, paying and dropping far too much money in the tip jar.
He doesn’t leave the counter. He just leans, and sips, and grins.
Enjolras has yet to determine whether or not he should be proud that he’s met most of his friends in jail.
He’s been best friends with Combeferre since middle school. Enjolras had been dubbed ‘disruptive’ since age seven and had an unwelcome reputation from then on, always that kid with his hand up while the teacher desperately looked through the rest of the class saying, Anyone else? Anyone at all? Please, anyone not Enjolras?
It wasn’t until he was twelve that someone else raised their hand. Their grateful teacher had called on Combeferre with a relieved breath and smile and Combeferre had simply said, “I think Enjolras had something to say.” And then Combeferre had fact-checked him after class and yes, Enjolras loved him, he had met his soul mate, they would be best friends for all eternity and he would cut anyone who said otherwise.
Combeferre isn’t the slightest bit interested in trying to prove a point with fists when words aren’t working anymore, but he’s still usually arrested right along with Enjolras, as an accessory. He is also somehow always ready and waiting with bail money. Enjolras would feel guilty about that if he thought Combeferre was not in a good financial situation or wasn’t perfectly fine with paying.
Combeferre’s also usually released moments after they get Enjolras into his usual holding cell, if they even bother to arrest him. By now the police have learned he doesn’t even put up token resistance to arrest if they have Combeferre tag along in the police car.
Bossuet was the second, although he didn’t join their band of misfits for a very long time. He used to be a police officer, and was by far the one most enjoyable to be arrested by. On slow nights, he would join them in the holding cells (on the other side of the bars, of course) and they’d talk about justice and keeping the peace and the concept of might equals right. They met him when he was barely out of the academy. Barely ten months after entering the police force, he turned in his badge because of ethical reasons and became the well-meaning office worker he is now.
Enjolras has no fucking clue what Bossuet actually does for a living, particularly since he seems to break computers just by touching them, but it makes him happy. He and Combeferre are happy to call him a friend and partner in only-semi-technically-crime.
Enjolras was acquired by his other best friend, Courfeyrac, in a holding cell. He was looking incredibly pleased with himself and wearing nothing but black MC Hammer pants and a lime green bra. He doesn’t know what Courfeyrac did, and isn’t sure he wants to know, but it was a definite conversation starter. It took Courfeyrac less than thirty seconds to look Enjolras up and down and declare, “I like you. We’re friends now.”
And then they were.
Possibly the most remarkable part of the story is that Courfeyrac was completely sober.
Feuilly, on the other hand, was very drunk. Combeferre had been in the holding cells right along with Enjolras that time, and it had been a dangerously busy night, the cells so full that they were packed like sardines. When they walked Feuilly in, he’d already been crying and staggering and close to falling down. Enjolras had been there to take a hold of him when the officer opened the door, and Feuilly had been sobbing against his chest about dead children and how he was all alone, and that had been it. It only took one look at Combeferre, and he paid Feuilly’s bail too. They took him home, and Feuilly had curled up on their couch and quietly cried himself to sleep.
Now, Enjolras knows that Feuilly doesn’t do that, not ever. Enjolras managed to catch him on the single worst night of his life, when even what semblance of a family he’d had at his old orphanage was dead and gone. Since that day, Enjolras has thought of him as a brother.
Jehan’s story is probably the most intimidating.
At a glance, Jehan is the most harmless person on the planet. He’s thin, has long hair usually tied in a braid and often with flowers in it and absolutely no fashion sense but a dangerous passion for floral patterns and has zero interest in conforming to gender stereotypes. He likes skinny jeans and maxi skirts and poorly-knitted sweaters and is usually carrying a bedazzled purse around. He has a pink bicycle and twenty different kinds of sunhats and is a professional landscape designer and poet and blushes constantly.
Enjolras isn’t sure if looking like that is the reason why he managed to beat two drunken men bloody when they tried to fuck with him, but surprise was probably a contributing factor. Jehan is soft and sweet and thin and every single inch of him is wiry muscle and talent that makes even Bahorel think twice. According to Jehan, he started with dance when he was young, and that turned into Capoeira and that somehow turned into Silat, which is the most ruthless martial art that Enjolras has ever seen.
Courfeyrac had been with them when they met Jehan. Everything’s easier with Courfeyrac around. He took one look at Jehan and his slightly bruised knuckles and then looked at the two men warily watching Jehan in the other cell and promptly sat next to Jehan and said, “You know those friends you’ve been looking for all of your life? We’re them.”
Bahorel’s story is similar, but he was on the losing end of the fight that got him arrested, and he approached Enjolras (and Combeferre). He’d grinned and pointed at Enjolras’ bruised cheekbone and said, “Right cross, huh?” And, after hearing the guard address Enjolras and Combeferre by name with a resigned familiarity, Bahorel decided to tag along.
He is probably the only person Enjolras has ever met who likes getting arrested. Or at least likes doing things that will get him arrested, just for the sake of doing them.
Joly, he did not meet in jail. Enjolras met Joly when he (and Combeferre and Courfeyrac and Bahorel and Feuilly) were on the way out of jail and Joly was on the way in, more than a little drunk and first fighting to get out of his handcuffs, and then fighting to get over to Enjolras and, to the amazement of probably the entire police station, managed to get his handcuffs off. Nobody, even Joly, knows how he did it. But he did, and then he started looking at Enjolras and said that he had four broken ribs and needed to go to the hospital before he died.
It had scared the entire station (by now Enjolras is more or less their mascot of a stray cat that wanders in and out) and Joly had escorted them to the nearest hospital, where they all found out there was absolutely nothing wrong with Enjolras beyond the usual scrapes and bruises.
Courfeyrac had laughed so hard the nurses were worried and said, “Oh my god, this is ridiculous, I am absolutely keeping you!” Joly cheerily let himself be kept by their group, and that was that.
And then, there’s Grantaire.
Enjolras did not meet Grantaire in jail.
Enjolras did not meet Grantaire anywhere near police officers, or anything displaying disruptive behavior, or doing anything Enjolras-like in general. He met Grantaire when Grantaire drunkenly tripped his way into the coffee shop on a rainy night, looking like a drowned poodle stunned to be out of the rain. He’d blinked blurrily, looked around the bright, warm shop, and then stared at Enjolras for a long time.
“Am I dead?” he asked. He hadn’t sounded particularly worried about it.
“No, just drunk,” Enjolras had said. It was 9:45 by then, and he’d already started to close up since nobody in their right minds would ever fight their way through this weather just to get to Candle Factory. Still, he had a job to do. “Are you going to order something?”
Grantaire had slumped against the curved glass that held where there used to be pastries or scones or some shit like that. Enjolras doesn’t do the morning baked goods. Water was streaking down the curve of his throat and his hair was sticking to his forehead and he was staring at Enjolras with a drunken fervor that was making his eyes very blue. “It’s okay if I’m dead, I can take it, just tell me,” he said.
“You’re regrettably alive,” Enjolras said, and then frowned. “Do you even have a wallet?”
“Money, too,” he’d agreed, and that had shaken him out of his morbid obsession, rocking back onto his feet. “Right. You’re a coffee god.”
Enjolras really, really isn’t.
“I’m really picky,” he said, and Enjolras should have kicked him out then and there and saved himself so much trouble. But Grantaire had smiled at him, and it had been slow and somehow managed to be bashful but lascivious all at the same time, like saying excuse me sir I know this may be unwelcome but I just had to respectfully ask if you’d be interested in fucking me in the back seat of my car. It’s disconcerting and Enjolras shouldn’t like it.
But he really, really does.
“Order or get out,” Enjolras said.
Grantaire nodded, slumping to the side while looking at the artistically-written chalkboards listing what they had available. Enjolras had expected something blunt and simple, something that would make sense for a man so drunk he literally fell through a door and thought he was dead. But Grantaire is nothing if he is not as much of a pain in the ass as he can possibly be at any given moment.
“Dry double mocha with some, oh, blueberry, I love blueberry, put that in there,” Grantaire had said. “But, wait, what kind of milk-milk are you using? Shit, what am I doing, it’s like midnight, that doesn’t matter, just go soy. But no more than like a millimeter of foam on there, if that, I am way too drunk to deal with foam, it freaks me out when I’m high.”
Enjolras stared at him. “Foam freaks you out?”
“When I’m high. You have to admit it’s freaky shit when you think hands are mystical,” the man said, and pulled out his wallet. It was only marginally drier than the rest of him, but the cash inside would work just fine.
Candle Factory is not a place for complicated coffee. Not at that time of the night, at least. Only God knows why Mr. Valjean kept it open this late, but Enjolras was not going to betray the man’s faith in him. He was going to make this cup of coffee. He would.
Except he didn’t.
It ended up a burnt mess with blueberry syrup floating on top of a cup almost half foam, and his cheeks had burned with shame and he’d prayed that the man would be too drunk to notice.
Grantaire had noticed.
Grantaire always notices.
“I’ll make you another,” Enjolras had said, already turning to fling the cup aside, but Grantaire had stopped him.
“Whoa, hey, no, I want that one,” Grantaire had objected, and actually reached across the counter to snatch it out from Enjolras’ fingers. They’d been bandaged and stubborn from a busy weekend but Grantaire hadn’t shied away, touching Enjolras’ hand like any normal person would in a similar situation, but Enjolras had still frozen even at that much of a touch as Grantaire pried the cup out of his creaky grip. He’d fucking beamed down at the cup. “Jesus, this is some shitty coffee.”
“I said I’ll make you another,” Enjolras snapped, firmly this time, but it was too late. Grantaire was already drinking it down like it was water and not freshly brewed coffee. Or something like it.
Grantaire drank the entire fucking cup, and then set it back down on the counter, and smiled at Enjolras. And smiled, and smiled, like the drunken moron he is, and something in Enjolras’ mind had snapped apart and left him breathless and staring.
“We’re closing,” Enjolras had practically blurted out because he needed to get Grantaire away before something unfortunate happened.
He’d blinked, like that never even occurred to him, but then nodded heavily. “Right. Right, good, good for you, coffee god. I’m going to just.” He frowned, and tried to run a hand through hair that was still plastered against his skull (but starting to curl up, just a little bit), and then he’d looked around Candle Factory. He snatched one of the paper menus out of the very full container next to the register, and tucked it into his pocket. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“You’ll what?” Enjolras asked urgently, eyes wide.
Grantaire hadn’t answered, though. He’d sent another one of those slow smiles shyly suggesting absolutely filthy things over his shoulder, and slouched his way back out into the rain.
Enjolras supposes that technically, he really did meet all of his friends in or around getting arrested and put in jail. He tries very hard to be at least a little bit self aware, and he knows that Grantaire could be very many things, but not a single one of them is the least bit platonic.
Enjolras is certain that, in another life, or time, or maybe even just another country, he wouldn’t be That Guy Everyone Warns You About. He knows he’s a good friend, knows he’s intelligent and fair and always well-meaning, and Enjolras believes he really is a good person. His life has just evolved in a way that has left him as an unemployable twenty-two year old who couldn’t get into a university no matter how amazing his test scores were. He considered community college, but Enjolras admits he has too much pride to do it. School of hard knocks, Bahorel had joked. It is depressingly accurate.
It doesn’t stop him from studying, though. Enjolras spends almost as much time in the closest university’s academic library as Combeferre, who actually goes to school there and is the most wonderful best friend anyone could possibly ask for since he checks books out for Enjolras. Really, he has no idea why Combeferre sticks around, but Enjolras is endlessly grateful and will love him forever.
It’s one of these books that Enjolras is reading behind the counter during one of the very, very long lulls at Candle Factory when Grantaire walks in four hours ahead of schedule. Enjolras has never seen him in sunlight before. He needs to stop appreciating it so much. What he doesn’t appreciate is how exhausted he looks. Exhausted, and like someone tossed a can of beige paint over his clothing – his entire left side is coated with it.
“Save me, coffee god,” Grantaire whines.
Enjolras immediately jerks towards the door, about ready to lock and barricade it and try to fix whatever’s wrong before he calls the police, but he manages to turn it into an abrupt movement of setting his book on the opposite counter. He doesn’t know what to do, not if it isn’t some sort of physical threat, so he clears his throat and says, “Are you ordering something?”
“How much does sympathy cost?” Grantaire asks.
“I’ve seen your wallet, you can’t afford it,” Enjolras says, and Grantaire smiles but it’s his bitter unhappy smile and Enjolras hates that smile so he adds, “Then again, you do tip well. It’s complimentary this time. Sit down before you fall down.”
“You usually just let me fall down,” Grantaire says.
“I usually already have the chairs up,” Enjolras says, and when Grantaire just sort of stares at him, Enjolras sighs to himself and makes a very simple (for Grantaire) cup of coffee – Galapagos beans, mocha and a hint of blueberry. It’s probably still shit, but he knows it’s going to taste better than what Grantaire usually swallows down. Grantaire is still just standing there and staring at him, so Enjolras has to hold his hand out and say, “Wallet.”
Grantaire hands his whole fucking wallet over, and it just. How is he so stupid, someone is definitely going to mug him if he does this regularly, if he hasn’t been mugged already. Oh god, what if that’s what’s wrong, maybe – but no, Enjolras is holding his wallet. Which is ridiculous. Enjolras pulls out the appropriate payment and hands it back to Grantaire, change and all.
And Grantaire just keeps looking at him.
He lets out a deep breath and walks around the counter, carrying Grantaire’s coffee, and sets it between the two very comfortable arm chairs. Grantaire follows tamely, but disobeys when Enjolras points at the chair.
“I’ll turn it beige,” Grantaire says morosely. Enjolras can’t tell if he’s more upset about the staining or the fact it’s beige, and right, that objection actually makes sense. Mr. Valjean wouldn’t kill him or anything, probably wouldn’t even be angry, but he would be disappointed, so that is not something Enjolras is going to risk. Instead, he drags one of the table chairs over, and Grantaire sits without any fuss. He lets out a long, deep sigh, and gives Enjolras a wry, self-depreciating smile as he finally takes the coffee. “Hi.”
“What’s wrong?” Enjolras asks. He’s proud of himself for keeping off the and how do I fix it.
Grantaire hesitates, but he clears his throat and takes a sip of the coffee (and makes a pleasantly surprised noise, fuck yes ) before saying, “So, I’m a painter.”
Enjolras looks at the drying paint covering him and says, “I never would have guessed.”
“No, not like painting houses – not that there’s anything wrong with that – but fine art, artist painter. And I was hired to do a mural, and I don’t even know what happened, one minute I’m working on the beach and then me and my commission’s covered in horrible beige paint and I’m getting tossed out and fired and screamed at and-”
“Who did this?” Enjolras demands, baffled and furious. Even if it’s done as a private contract, that’s hostile work conditions like Enjolras has never even heard before, not to mention (probably) wrongful termination and he is going to verbally skin these assholes alive and take them to court for every cent.
“Whoa, hey, slow down,” Grantaire says, but he’s smiling for real now, and there’s a hint of a blush. “I should have known you’re a law student.”
“Um,” Enjolras says, because it’s better than saying oh shit for so many reasons.
“Anyway, that came after a fight with my roommate and that came after a flat tire and there were stubbed toes and papercuts sprinkled between there, it’s just been a shitty day,” Grantaire says, but he doesn’t sound too upset about it now for some reason. Maybe he’s one of those people who just has to talk. He drinks more coffee, and Enjolras expects a comment, maybe even a compliment, he is tense all over ready to hear something positive, finally, but Grantaire says, “So what were you reading?”
“Political philosophy. John Rawls,” Enjolras says, hoping that’ll drop the conversation.
But instead, Grantaire nods and says, “Ah. Theory of Justice?”
“The Law of Peoples,” Enjolras says, and has to swallow a lump in his throat for some reason – okay, fine, he knows why but come on, it’s just knowing a book title, Enjolras will get control of himself. “Tell me more about the painting incident.”
“Do I have to?” Grantaire asks. “Can’t we talk about the inherent stupidity found in the idea that people have a right to self defense but not to war instead?”
Enjolras has a death grip on the arms of the chair because he wants to rip Grantaire’s clothes off. Priorities, Enjolras reminds himself. Priorities and respect and rules. “You have problems. Talk.”
Grantaire sighs and slumps back into the chair and says, “Fine. I don’t even know what all the accusations were, they were just getting flung around like the paint, but it sounded like they thought I was sleeping with their daughter or something.” He glares at the ceiling. “Which I’m not, because first off I would never get involved with a client and second and most importantly she’s like sixteen or something and way too…” he trails off, waving a hand through the air. “And they wouldn’t even listen, they just destroyed it.”
“That’s what really bothers you, isn’t it,” Enjolras realizes, and Grantaire blinks at him, so Enjolras clarifies. “You don’t care that they accused you of statutory rape. The thing that bothers you isn’t the wrongful termination or getting paint tossed all over you. You care that they ruined your mural.”
And Grantaire just nods, like he’s confused that it could ever be anything else.
Mr. Valjean has exactly one rule, beyond the implied don’t steal and be polite requirements, and that is to not get involved with coworkers, or customers. It’s a policy that would be genuinely ridiculous in any other store, but since just about every person who comes into Candle Factory knows the owner personally, Enjolras can admit there might be a reason for it. He knows there was some sort of controversy about something happening years and years ago in a factory Mr. Valjean used to own. Whatever it was, Mr. Valjean still remembers it and applies whatever lessons the event gave him and expects his employees to do the same, even if Enjolras probably wasn’t even out of diapers when it happened.
Grantaire brings in half of the people Enjolras ever sells coffee to, and there is no way in hell Enjolras is willing to give up the light at the end of the pitch black eight hour tunnel that is his workday. Enjolras owes Mr. Valjean so much, and respects him, and desperately tries to not betray the faith he’s placed in Enjolras.
So, Enjolras doesn’t do what he wants. He says, “I have to get back to work.”
There is no work and they both know it, and Grantaire is observant. He knows Enjolras doesn’t actually want to go. But Grantaire nods, and finishes his coffee, and gives Enjolras a sincere, friendly smile. “Thank you, Enjolras,” he says, which is new. He’s called coffee god more often than anything else. When Grantaire actually involves friends in their conversations, Enjolras is introduced as coffee god.
He likes the way Grantaire says his name.
“You’re welcome back any time, Grantaire,” Enjolras says, because he’s allowed to say that, and he takes Grantaire’s empty cup into the back of the shop with him.
When he comes back out, Grantaire is gone, and there’s a $20 tip in the jar.
Enjolras groans, and lets his forehead thunk down against the curved glass display case. He was going to have to clean the glass anyway.
“I want to meet him,” Courfeyrac says.
“No,” Enjolras says with one final dab of antiseptic to Courfeyrac’s newly-bloody knuckles.
“He’s a safety concern at this point,” Courfeyrac says, and pulls the cotton balls and bottle away so he can start on Enjolras’ scraped up jaw. “We all know why you didn’t duck fast enough.”
“I didn’t duck fast enough because he was faster than I am,” Enjolras says. Which is really fucking unlikely since the man had been incredibly drunk, but he wasn’t exactly paying attention, so who knows? It could be the truth.
Enjolras hadn’t even been looking for trouble. He’d been about to walk home after a meeting at the Musain, and that was all. Combeferre was still inside saying goodbyes and Enjolras waited for him while talking to Courfeyrac as he waited for a cab. That was all he was doing. Enjolras was doing absolutely no rabble-rousing, patrolling, persuasion, message-spreading, or even talking to someone he wasn’t close friends with. He was just standing there.
Then, two drunken idiots had followed two women out of the Musain and their overtures had been blatantly unwelcome and Enjolras had to walk over and tell them that. Sometimes, that’s all it takes. But then the men had turned around and Enjolras could swear one of them was related to Grantaire, they had the same eyes, and he’d been so busy thinking about them that he barely managed to avoid getting punched in the nose.
He came out of it with a black eye and knuckles that are in far better shape than Courfeyrac’s, since Enjolras had been so stunned that he’d had to jump in and rescue Enjolras. They’d taken the men out and the slightly-less-drunk-than-the-idiots women had thanked them and Enjolras had said, if you want to thank me, teach people about individual liberty and common decency for fuck’s sake.
That didn’t go over well, but Enjolras just expects that by now.
Combeferre had come out of the Musain just in time to see Enjolras get slapped. And really, the slap was completely uncalled for, but he was really fucking tired and he just let it go without another word and he’d turned to see Combeferre looking mildly exasperated, saying, I can’t leave you alone for five minutes.
And now, cleaned up in Enjolras and Combeferre’s apartment, Combeferre is ganging up on him with Courfeyrac. “I’d like an introduction, too,” he says, his smile more than a little bit mischievous. “It’s been what, three months since you met Grantaire?”
“Almost four – and how do you know his name?” Enjolras asks.
“You talk in your sleep sometimes,” Combeferre says and shit, Courfeyrac is suddenly laughing so hard he’s wheezing and has to put the antiseptic down. “But the point is that we’d like to at least say hello. Maybe we can help you.”
“Why haven’t you done anything about this, anyway?” Courfeyrac asks when he has himself more under control. He’s still red in the face and grinning, but he can speak now. Even if Enjolras doesn’t want him to. “It’s not like you haven’t dated before.”
Enjolras is bad at three things: coffee, talking to people, and relationships.
The last two might actually be two facets of one thing he’s really bad at, and he could just put them under the label of dealing with humanity, but he manages it fairly well when it’s his friends. Being told to just shut the fuck up and then being completely ignored if he disobeyed since he started school has stunted his communication abilities just a little bit. It’s only when there’s no filter between his brain and his mouth that anything even close to eloquence gets out, and he can only manage that around his friends or people he feels secure around – specific people he knows want to hear him.
He tries and tries and tries, but in the end, he has to leave speaking to the others.
Enjolras is somehow the leader of their group, but he’s never able to lead the charge when it comes to anything other than physical violence, and it’s maddening, it makes him want to rip his hair out and scream. Combeferre has to stand up for him verbally, Courfeyrac has to do the public speaking, they all have to do so many things that Enjolras wishes he could do in their place because it’s not fair to them that Enjolras just sits back and writes speeches and treatises and they’re the ones that have to do something with them. Enjolras’ mind is razor sharp and he manages talking and communicating with his friends, but that’s all. Anyone beyond his circle, Enjolras is completely lost at sea, and he hates it so fucking much.
But the point is, relationships take communication. And not just in the we need to talk about our relationship way. You have to talk about your day, and ask what they thought about the movie, or dinner, or the weather, or just be able to answer questions with more than five word answers. He either speaks too much or too little, either goes above someone’s head or tries to lower the level and ends up sounding extraordinarily patronizing.
Enjolras has tried to have an actual solid long-term kind of relationship exactly two times, and it was two times too many. Enjolras isn’t attracted to many people, and when he is, it’s overwhelming. He doesn’t know if it just feels that way because attraction is so rare, or if that’s just how his brain works, but the problem is that it makes him stupid. He gets nervous and tries too hard and makes a mess out of everything and destroys it all with nothing but the best of intentions.
The other problem with relationships is that no matter how attractive or good in bed someone is, Enjolras will never, ever change for them. He is a difficult person to deal with, has been labeled as such practically since birth, and god knows he desperately tried to change when he was a kid, but in the end, Enjolras can’t be anyone or anything other than himself.
So, when Courfeyrac asks him why he hasn’t done anything about Grantaire, Enjolras can’t really bring himself to answer. “He’s a customer,” Enjolras says instead, and tries to make it sound firm enough to end the conversation entirely.
Courfeyrac rolls his eyes, cautiously flexing his fingers, testing their aches. “Whatever that means. But we’re going to meet him some time, wouldn’t you rather have control over where and when?”
It’s a valid point. A very, very valid point. But he suddenly has a mental image of Courfeyrac swooping in at 9:36, all swagger and charm, and Enjolras decides that yes, having control over how they meet is an exceptionally good idea. “Fine,” Enjolras says. “But you don’t get to meet him.”
Courfeyrac frowns. “That’s just not fair. Combeferre didn’t even ask first.”
“He doesn’t get to meet him either,” Enjolras says firmly. “You’ll get a report back, and we’ll proceed after that’s been appropriately analyzed.”
He can tell they want to object, but they know Enjolras too well to think they can change his mind. “At least give us an impartial party,” Combeferre says. He has a displeased expression that would be a pout on anyone else. “It can’t be Jehan, or Bahorel, or-”
“I have a plan,” Enjolras says, since he’d frantically formulated one in the past twelve seconds while Combeferre spoke. It’s a shitty plan, but it’ll do. And it’s better than anything his friends will offer, to be sure.
And that’s how Feuilly doesn’t rob Candle Factory at 9:50 the following night.
The minute Grantaire walks in, Enjolras realizes he severely miscalculated.
Grantaire stares at him, body completely still, expression twisting from shock to horror to rage to worry blindingly fast, and then he quietly says something to the three women behind him. The girls leave, quick and casual, and Grantaire walks in looking so concerned that Enjolras finally remembers he has a black eye and scraped up jaw. No wonder his day had been relatively peaceful.
“What happened?” Grantaire asks. He’s braced himself on the counter, hands clenched on the edge. He's staying entirely on his side instead of slouching over it or leaning against it or even just leaning towards Enjolras like usual.
Enjolras needs to approach the situation again, alter the plan, and it is really fucking hard to think when Grantaire looks at him like that, so he clears his throat and manages to ask, “What are you ordering?”
“Enjolras,” Grantaire says, soft and sincere and shit this is going all wrong.
He knows he should just tell Grantaire. He’ll find out the truth either way, and wouldn’t it be better from Enjolras’ own mouth? And he hasn’t even explicitly lied, he just didn’t correct Grantaire’s bizarre assumption that Enjolras is a law student – and he doesn’t even have to. He can just say he got in a fight, which is true. But for some reason Enjolras doesn’t want to. He’s never been ashamed of what he is, not really, but, fuck, Enjolras doesn’t even know why. He just doesn’t want to say I got in a fight and a guy punched me in the face because he likes just being a person to Grantaire and not a punk or a rabble-rouser or any of the other shit people call him.
Grantaire’s face is falling further and further, twisting from concern into fear as the silence stretches on, and Enjolras panics and says, “I fell down.”
“Like hell you did,” Grantaire snaps. “Unless you tripped and landed on something suspiciously fist-shaped.”
“Fine. I got mugged,” Enjolras says.
“I believed falling down more than getting mugged,” Grantaire states, and reaches forward to actually press his thumb to the bruise beneath Enjolras’ eye. Enjolras barely flinches, more involved in staring Grantaire down. And apparently this is really the worst thing he could possibly do, since Grantaire is now completely horror-stricken. “Jesus Christ, you’re used to this, how often does this-”
Enjolras lightly smacks his hand away with the back of his hand and takes a deep calming breath and this is not what he wanted for tonight, not at all, but he can make it work. He closes his eyes and reminds himself he’s plotted and maneuvered his way through much worse situations.
“Either order something or get out,” Enjolras says. He's never had trouble with speaking for his job, and he'll take any crutch he can find.
“That’s not going to work on me,” Grantaire says, and he’s leaning against the counter like usual, but this time there’s intent behind it and it’s probably really intimidating to most people but to Enjolras it’s just upsettingly hot. When he finally realizes Enjolras isn’t going to say anything, he lets out a frustrated breath and says. “Fine. Water.”
Enjolras gapes at him.
“No answer, no order,” Grantaire says darkly.
“No order, no entry,” Enjolras counters. “The store is for paying customers only.”
“Which is why I’ll pay for a bottle of water,” Grantaire says smoothly, god damn it. “And really, what’s the harm in telling me what happened? I’m just a customer.”
“No you’re not,” Enjolras snaps. “Fuck, why won’t you let it go? I don’t want to tell you, it’s not your business – you know what? Fine. I’ll get you your fucking bottle of water.”
He turns and rips the tiny refrigerator open and grabs the bottle and slams it closed, or at least tries, but the door just clunks loudly because it’s stupidly well-engineered and Enjolras wants to break something but he stops and takes a deep breath, because that’s Mr. Valjean’s refrigerator, and he will not break it. He won’t. And he shouldn’t really be angry either, but Grantaire just makes something inside of him snap every time he looks at Enjolras and Enjolras is ignoring that and slams the thankfully plastic bottle on the counter and bites out the price, with tax.
Grantaire looks like Enjolras just slapped him.
Jesus, what is he even doing? This is completely ridiculous of him, astoundingly inappropriate behavior for no reason whatsoever, he just gets reactionary and stupid and-
Feuilly walks through the door and Enjolras thinks oh fuck and shouts out, “Feuilly, my brother, how are you this evening?”
Grantaire jumps, startled, and twists to see Feuilly standing awkwardly in the doorway, obviously having no clue what to do. They had a plan and this is not that plan. At all. If there was a spectrum of doing a plan, this would be the opposite end of what Feuilly had expected.
“Are you here to walk me home after work?” Enjolras asks.
“Yes?” Feuilly says, eyes wide. He clears his throat. “Yes. I am. Because you need help getting there.” He nods. “Yes, because Combeferre told me to look out for you. Since you’re…just a barista?”
“That is true,” Enjolras declares.
“What the fuck,” Grantaire says.
“Grantaire, this is my adopted brother Feuilly,” Enjolras says, trying to think. “Feuilly, this is my asshole customer Grantaire.”
“Charmed,” Grantaire says dryly, glancing between them. “Any chance you’ll tell me what happened, Feuilly?”
Feuilly sighs. “Combeferre said-” Feuilly says, because, as Enjolras suddenly realizes that there hasn’t been any lying yet so Feuilly might just think they’re being honest, oh dear god, he’s going to give the report Combeferre did which basically came down to Enjolras was too busy mooning over you to duck fast enough.
“No he won’t tell you!” Enjolras shouts. Again. He takes a deep breath and tells Grantaire, “Pay for your water, we’re closing early tonight.”
“But I want to talk to your brother. It's not every day you meet your horrible barista's family,” Grantaire objects, pulling out his wallet anyway. He’s grimacing at the water, but he has no right to complain, he brought this on himself. And it turns into a friendly, charming smile when he turns back to Feuilly. “Hello, Feuilly, it’s nice to meet you. How was your day, Feuilly?”
“Busy,” Feuilly says, already charmed, the bastard. “Yours?”
“Improving by the minute,” Grantaire says. “Is Enjolras’ walk home really so dangerous?”
“Do I need an excuse to spend time with my brother?” Feuilly asks, and perhaps he isn’t such a traitor after all. He gives Enjolras a tight smile. “I might not agree with all of his decisions, but we all live our own lives. And if Combeferre thinks he needs a chaperone in case he gets confused and starts going the wrong way, that’s just how it goes.”
“Bad sense of direction?” Grantaire asks.
“More like no sense at all,” Feuilly says.
Enjolras admits he kind of deserved that. The original plan was already ridiculous and Feuilly had been going above and beyond the call of camaraderie, and this is. Well. Enjolras isn’t quite sure what kind of a trainwreck he’s dealing with right now, but he is hoping it’s one that can be cleaned up quickly.
He expects Grantaire to say something, but instead he is quiet. When he does speak, he turns to look at Enjolras with worried eyes and quietly says, “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Goodbye,” Enjolras says awkwardly, and watches Grantaire give Feuilly a genuinely friendly goodbye and a pat to the shoulder before walking out.
The door has barely closed behind him when Feuilly says, “Two things.”
“I know,” Enjolras says, burying his face in his hands.
“First, what the fuck,” Feuilly says. “You know how much practice I put into this for you? I was so ready for you to play hero, I even brought a fake rubber gun, and now you have me be some sort of normal person? You have no idea how let down I am. This is just-”
“I know,” Enjolras says.
“And second, I like him,” Feuilly says. “I didn’t expect to actually like him.”
Enjolras frowns at him. “Really?”
“Yes,” Feuilly says. “And he’s obviously crazy about you, so why are you staging fake robberies instead of asking him on a date?”
“I wanted to see how he reacts in a crisis,” Enjolras says, which is mostly true. He wants to know that Grantaire could deal with it if he finds out about Enjolras’ Enjolras-like behavior. And Enjolras might have also wanted to be impressive and act vaguely heroic when he finally told Grantaire. Maybe. Just a little. Well, it had seemed like a good idea when he had Courfeyrac and Combeferre breathing down his neck at least.
Feuilly says, “That’s one half of my question answered.”
“Just go report back while I close up,” Enjolras says, and manages to try and smile at Feuilly. It doesn’t take long for it to turn into an actual smile, though, because Feuilly looks fondly exasperated with him and Enjolras can’t help but smile at him for that. “And thank you.”
Feuilly sighs, but gives Enjolras a wry smile. “What’s family for?”
Enjolras and his friends have an agreement about Candle Factory.
He loves his friends. He loves his friends more than anything else in the world and would die willingly for each and every one of them, but they are also rowdy morons who bring out the rowdiness in Enjolras. And rowdiness at his place of work is a bad idea, it’s something which can’t be allowed because he needs his job, and they are aware of that. So, as much as he loves them, they are all banned from visiting Candle Factory, and because they somehow love him back, they abide by the rule. Unless Enjolras explicitly asks them personally to come by at a specific hour for a specific purpose, it’s a no-friend zone.
It’s the only thing saving him from the interview they’re all clamoring for with Grantaire.
“I’m not dating him, I haven’t even touched him, why do you-” Enjolras tries, but it’s no help.
“I have known you for four years, and you have been attracted to exactly three people during that time,” Courfeyrac steamrolls right over him. “We knew that one guy was a complete loser and wasn’t even worth your time no matter how hard you wanted to bang him, and the other one was incredibly annoying and we all hated him, and the other other one tried to reform you, so if this guy is even a little bit acceptable, we want to meet him. And probably keep him.”
Nodding and calls of agreement echo around the room.
“We can even pretend to be boring people,” Joly offers.
“Yes, we’ll perpetuate your lie for you, as any true friends would,” Bossuet says, Sahara-dry, more involved with Joly’s hair than the actual conversation.
“I need time to smooth things over,” Enjolras says firmly. “And for any cuts, bruises, or other visible physical marks on anyone’s body to heal.”
Bahorel, with his broken arm, says, “Oh come on, that’s completely unfair!”
“You’ll have to tell the truth eventually,” Combeferre says simply. “Maybe being in a supportive environment would be a good time for that.”
And that’s the best argument of them all, isn’t it. If it goes horribly wrong when he finds out Enjolras isn’t some grumpy part-time law student and is in fact an undereducated ruffian with no future, what then? He’ll be mute for a week and a ghost for a month and they’ll be stuck carrying even more of Enjolras’ weight. The least he can do for them is fuck it all up while they’re around.
“Just give me time,” Enjolras says, and that, thankfully, is enough.
The other reason that he needs time is that ever since Enjolras developed his black eye, Grantaire has been awkward, like he’s fluttering around some topic that is driving him crazy. It’s like watching Joly fight the urge to disinfect things, and Enjolras keeps trying to take pity on him, keeps giving him opening after opening of do you have something to say? And then Grantaire backs off and smiles and asks after Feuilly and Combeferre and it’s not his usual smile anymore. Enjolras got punched in the face and it managed to ruin everything and Enjolras doesn’t even know why.
It’s mostly normal, though. There’s a strange tension beneath everything, where Enjolras is braced and waiting for something and Grantaire looks like he’s fighting the urge to give him it and Grantaire comes in with different friends every single time, never the same person twice, and Enjolras wants to know why. He wants to know why Grantaire is willing to drink what Enjolras knows is the worst coffee legally permitted to be served because he’s only a thread away from being poisonous. And he really wants to know what Grantaire tastes like. He really, really wants to know that.
Two days after Enjolras’ black eye is fully recovered, Grantaire shows up late, and unaccompanied. It’s already 9:45 and Enjolras had been getting genuinely worried, and when Grantaire walks in Enjolras almost sags in relief, smiling at him because everything’s fine, he’s just late. And alone. So something probably went wrong with his friends, maybe a fight of some type, but he looks fine and he’s staring at Enjolras like Enjolras is holding a gun on him, but there’s no black eye, so Enjolras frowns at him. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” Grantaire says hurriedly. “Nothing, I’ve just had a bad day and it’s nice to see you.” He actually grimaces then, letting out a groan and rubbing a hand down his face as he asks, “Fuck. Okay. You live with Combeferre, right? That’s the situation? And you’re happy with it?”
Enjolras frowns. “Yes? What are you-”
“I’m just going to order,” Grantaire says, obviously to himself, and Enjolras walks over to the counter instead of where he’d been hovering close to the door, grabbing a cup and ready to face the challenge. He hadn’t even realized he was hovering. “But I am going to tell you right now that I want more than shitty coffee from you.”
Enjolras nearly drops the cup he’s holding. He turns to stare at Grantaire, who still looks terrified. “You.” Enjolras clears his throat, tries to calm down, he feels like he’s about to rush into a fight. Deep breaths. “You were going to order.”
“I know, I was just going to come in and get my thirty minutes with you but then I was just – fuck,” Grantaire says, and he’s leaning against the counter again but he’s leaning with intentions and Enjolras fights himself to keep from intending right back. “I thought I could be a good person and blindly support your loyalty and not say or do anything, but I can’t.”
Enjolras shakes his head, because he does have loyalty and dedication to Mr. Valjean and he just keeps shaking his head, saying, “I owe him too much, I can’t betray that trust.”
“Okay, that’s fine, that’s perfectly fine, you’re a good person and that’s what good people do,” Grantaire says. “But Jesus, Enjolras, does he really deserve it?”
Enjolras gapes at him. “I’m – what the fuck? Of course he does, have you even met him? He’s practically a saint.” Grantaire laughs, sounding very unhinged, and Enjolras makes the mistake of reaching over the distance between them to put a worried hand on Grantaire’s shoulder. And then he ends up getting a handful of fabric, and he can feel Grantaire’s body heat and Grantaire is looking at him and it’s adrenaline and euphoria and fuck Grantaire called him a good person didn’t he.
Enjolras drops his hand and steps away and takes a long, deep breath. “Grantaire,” he begins, not sure how to phrase this, because if there is a time to tell him, it’s now.
“No, it’s fine, never mind,” Grantaire says, and he’s out the door in a burst of speed that Enjolras' tongue can’t match, he can’t speak fast enough to catch him.
It’s 9:55 and it’s the first night he’s worked in four months that he hasn’t made Grantaire a drink.
For about two minutes, everything is ridiculous but quiet and no longer shaking him apart, and Enjolras numbly starts closing up, since nobody else will come in. He puts chairs up and turns off some of the lights and starts sweeping, going through the motions. He doesn’t even realize he didn’t lock the door until Grantaire bursts through it again, and Enjolras twists with the broom already held as a weapon, eyes wide because what the fuck.
Grantaire doesn’t give him an explanation, though. He just makes it even more confusing, saying, “I fucking knew I wasn’t reading it wrong and I don’t care okay I am absolutely fine with being the other woman if you’ll have me and just, I don’t even know, I had a speech and it had logic in it and I can’t remember a single word of it right now. But the point is that I’d really like to have sex with you and make you happy and all you have to do is say the word, I won’t tell anyone, nobody ever has to know, I just.” He takes a deep breath. “I have never been this attracted to anyone in my entire fucking life, seriously, at this point it’s physically painful to look at you and it’s driving me insane, I will beg if I need to and I swear to God I will never get in your way and I will never ever hurt you.”
About twelve words of his speech make sense, but the important ones that stick with Enjolras are about how Grantaire thinks they should have sex and yes, Enjolras definitely likes that plan. “You should know ahead of time that this is all going to end horribly,” he says, and props the broom safely against the wall, and fuck, he missed this feeling of conviction. Grantaire’s had him jerking around on unstable ground and it has been exhausting. But this, this is nice.
“I kind of figured,” Grantaire says, fidgeting. “Is that a yes? It’s okay if it isn’t, but it sounds like a yes and I need a definite answer, I already feel like shit for even encouraging this-”
Enjolras kisses him so hard they push back into the table behind Grantaire, and he gets a hand in Grantaire’s hair, and it’s so soft. Grantaire lets out a high whine and ends up pawing at Enjolras, obviously wanting something but incapable of picking a target. Enjolras has a very definite target. It is very definite. He’s pretty much been targeted since Grantaire walked in rain-soaked and so very pretty.
When he pulls away to breathe, Grantaire’s mouth chases him, eyes closed and his cheeks are flushed and his hands finally settled on Enjolras’ shoulders. He takes a deep gulping breath and says, “How far are you-”
“Get on the table, I am going to suck you off right here right now and don’t want to ruin my work pants,” Enjolras says. He has exactly two pairs of khaki pants for work and also has zero inclination to do laundry or have to explain suspiciously sore knees tomorrow or – well.
Grantaire gapes at him. “Seriously?”
Enjolras realizes he has no idea what Grantaire was actually talking about, he just really really wants to give Grantaire a blowjob but apparently they don’t have the same goals. He says, “Unless you wanted to just get a drink or something.” He thinks that’s what normal people do? It’s what Courfeyrac does. Fuck, Enjolras is using Courfeyrac as a role model, what the hell is going on here.
“Oh believe me I am very okay with this plan, I’m just kind of surprised,” Grantaire says, and he’s grinning and oh, it’s his favorite one. The salacious one. The one that makes Enjolras want to rip his clothes off and also makes him think Grantaire would be more than okay with that happening. “I wouldn’t say I thought you were a prude, but sex in an unlocked dimly-lit coffee shop, that’s-”
“Shit,” Enjolras curses frantically, and it’s the least elegant bit of running of his life to get over to the door and lock it.
“You can strip off the apron while you’re at it, coffee god,” Grantaire calls out cheerily, and Enjolras glares at him. He turns the lights back on, and closes the blinds, and turns Candle Factory’s sign to a very definite CLOSED. “For a moment there I thought you were going to just ravage me senseless, where did that Enjolras go?”
And then Enjolras feels guilty.
“Hey, come on, I’m terrifying attracted to both versions of you, I promise,” Grantaire says, and pointedly hops onto the table with an expectant look. When Enjolras still doesn’t move, he fucking waggles his eyebrows and hooks his ankle around a chair to drag it directly in front of him. He’s just sprawled there, waiting and grinning and so excited and fuck, how can Enjolras not go?
“This is a really bad idea,” Enjolras says, even if he’s not going to change his mind or anything.
“No, the idea is glorious, and the action will be amazing. It’s the consequences that might be bad,” Grantaire says.
Enjolras is standing right between his spread thighs, pulse frantic, staring at his face. But mostly his eyes, because they are breathtaking, and he leans in and kisses Grantaire slowly, savoring it. He wants it to be soft, and maybe sweet, he wants it to last and memorize the noises that Grantaire makes and the nonsense he seems inclined to mumble constantly.
Instead, he finds himself already fucking up his very simple plan by kissing him deep and hard and desperate, fingers scrambling to get closer, and he wants to be so much closer, he wants to crawl inside of Grantaire and see how deep he can go. Enjolras sends the chairs he’d earlier set up on the table clattering to the floor as he pushes Grantaire back onto the wood and Jesus, he loves being between Grantaire’s legs but instead he ends up climbing onto the table, straddling Grantaire’s waist and following him down.
Grantaire tugs at the apron and oh, right, Enjolras pulls away just long enough to untie it and toss the damn thing away. Grantaire immediately takes the opportunity to get his shaking hands on the fly of Enjolras’ poor khakis (ruined, so ruined, fuck, he needs to start wearing skirts too it would make this so much easier Jehan is a genius why did Enjolras never take this into consideration).
“We’re ruining your plan, I think,” Grantaire says, and he thrusts upwards and oh, that’s nice. He gasps against Grantaire’s pretty lips. That is so nice. He rocks back down, and Grantaire groans, fingers clenching on the edge of the table. “Jesus, I’m so sorry but seriously you’ve got about five minutes to decide which way we’re going here, you’re making me sixteen, oh my god.”
“I have a plan,” Enjolras says, even if it’s shaky, and he doesn’t care if he makes Grantaire sixteen, whatever that means. He gets Grantaire’s fly undone in record time and wraps a hand around his cock and watches him arch, so very pretty. Enjolras has to lean down and nip his jaw for that, and his hand is too dry for this but he starts stroking anyway. “But I really don’t want to move.”
“I’ll take whatever you give me, I swear to god,” Grantaire says, babbles really, his hips stuttering as he fights to keep himself as still as possible. “Fuck, Enjolras, I would let you fuck me right here-”
“I wouldn’t, you’d get a bed, you deserve a bed or at least a couch,” Enjolras says, but he is not exactly unmoved by the idea. And it helps him focus. He needs focus. Enjolras leans down for one more long deep kiss, paying particular attention to his lower lip, his pouting lip, fuck, the things that lip has done to him.
“That’s the nicest thing someone’s ever said to me during sex,” Grantaire says blurrily when Enjolras pulls away. He lets him go easily enough when Enjolras slides off of Grantaire’s lap and down into the chair, since Grantaire was kind enough to provide it.
“We’ll fix that,” Enjolras says, and carefully starts pulling Grantaire’s pants and underwear off instead of just off of his hips. Enjolras is of the opinion that good oral sex involves more than just his mouth around someone’s cock and he is determined to make this very very good. “Unless you like being called a dirty slut. I do. Sometimes.” Okay, often. But he isn’t the topic right now.
Grantaire gives him a baffled look. “Well apparently I like that idea,” he says lightly, like it’s a questionably wonderful surprise. “Do I – are we doing this again? More than once?”
“I have to get home, but yes,” Enjolras says, and he is going to have to disinfect this table so much, hours and hours of disinfectant and he really does not give a fuck, he gets Grantaire’s pants off and wow, his legs are shockingly muscular. They are very nice legs. Enjolras can’t even remember liking someone’s legs before, but now he definitely does. He slides his hands up slowly from Grantaire’s ankles to his calves and knees, pulling a very willing Grantaire closer to the edge of the table as he moves up to Grantaire’s thighs. The beat of his heart is deafening, and Grantaire is making him so very stupid, because he breaks into something between a smile and a smirk as his hands finally stop sliding across his skin. He spreads his fingers along Grantaire’s hips and confides, “I’m good at this.”
“I’m sure you are,” Grantaire says weakly.
“This is the part where I ask you about things, I think,” Enjolras says. He has no idea what the things are. He knows Grantaire’s eyes are wide and hungry and fixed on him. He knows he can’t stop the way his thumbs are gently spiraling over the skin of his inner thighs, but he’s not letting himself touch beyond that, not yet. He has to ask something, his brain is completely fried, he tries to think up a question and all he can manage is, “Do you believe it’s possible to be a good person in a bad state?”
“There’s no such thing as a binary status of good or bad and you’re insane if you think I can quote Plato right now,” Grantaire says.
Enjolras ends up grinning anyway, kissing the inside of Grantaire’s thigh and saying, “This is going to be so good, I promise.”
“That’s nice,” Grantaire says, and his voice is shaking. He’s shaking all over, and Enjolras lifts a hand to Grantaire’s mouth, stretching to press his index finger between Grantaire’s lips and then he gets the idea, more than eager to suck on Enjolras’ fingers. When he’s occupied with that and a bit less on edge, Enjolras lets himself shift the small distance between thigh and cock. He doesn’t quite dive onto Grantaire’s cock, but it’s a close thing. He wants as much of his mouth on Grantaire as possible.
Grantaire bites down hard, choking on Enjolras’ fingers and a moan that might be Enjolras’ name while he starts working Grantaire in earnest. It’s been a while since he did this but Enjolras does nothing by halves, free hand touching and teasing to torment Grantaire, and it seems to work pretty fucking well but for some reason it’s not enough. He wants Grantaire screaming and – maybe it’s a vocal issue that’s getting to Enjolras, even if he can’t remember ever being so fascinated by noises before (but somehow he knows that Grantaire is special) so he removes his fingers from Grantaire’s mouth. He pants and babbles beautifully, but still.
Enjolras drives one spit-slicked finger inside of him, and Grantaire doesn’t scream. He makes a high keening noise that is a thousand times better, and finally Grantaire’s hand is in Enjolras’ hair, he hadn’t even realized how desperately he wanted it until it happens and he moans around Grantaire’s cock.
“Fuck, Enjolras, Enjolras I am trying to be good here but fuck I am going to come very soon if you keep this up,” Grantaire says, and that’s kind of the idea so he looks up to lock eyes with Grantaire, hoping to get the message that he really really really wants that to be what happens. He doesn’t know if that’s what does it or it’s something else – time, eye contact, his searching finger, who knows, but Grantaire’s hand clenches in Enjolras’ hair so hard it’s painful and he comes, keening out praise, saying, “You are so good, so pretty, fuck, Enjolras, Jesus Christ.”
Enjolras is very, very hard, and leans his forehead against Grantaire’s inner thigh for a moment before giving in and nipping lightly at the skin while Grantaire’s chest heaves and he starts toying with Enjolras’ hair, still recovering, and Enjolras is painfully hard, but he gives him time. He wants to watch Grantaire come back down, wants to watch Grantaire watch him.
“You are very talented at sucking cock,” Grantaire finally says. He’s still breathy, and his fingers are growing braver, and it’s very nice. “Do you have any idea what you look like doing that?”
“No,” Enjolras says, still very devoted to Grantaire’s wonderful skin.
“Jesus, okay, please tell me I get to touch,” Grantaire says.
Enjolras pulls away to frown at him. “Of course you do,” he manages to say, but that’s as far as he gets because Grantaire rolls the small distance left between Enjolras’ seat and where Grantaire has been sprawled across the table and is in Enjolras’ lap. The hand not teasing through Enjolras’ hair slides between them and starts stroking him, torturously light.
“I should draw this out for an hour and send you home limping,” Grantaire says, and Enjolras ends up shivering, hands wrapping around Grantaire’s shoulders. “Seriously, if you want to save these pants you’d better drop them, I’m going to mess you up.”
“Oh,” Enjolras says, lungs tight, and he manages to pull them off, even if it takes bucking up against Grantaire and that just leaves him gasping into Grantaire’s collarbone. But they’re off, his pants are mostly safe, it’s a success.
“I’m going to start bringing lube every day,” Grantaire swears to God and every other higher power there is or ever could be in the world, and he refuses to speed up, or tighten his hold. “Okay, since you like your questions and I saw how badly you wanted to throw me down and fuck me when I knew about your fucking Rawls book, and you wanted to debate Plato before you’d suck me off, you get to answer questions.”
“You’re mean,” Enjolras says into the curve of Grantaire’s throat. “You are so mean, please-”
“When the people fear the government, there is tyranny,” Grantaire quotes, and oh fuck oh fuck he picked that one how did he pick that one, Enjolras can’t breathe and he’s gasping for air while Grantaire chuckles and says, “Oh wow, I really was right on the money there, wasn’t I?”
His hand is beautiful in Enjolras’ hair, playing with him and this is way, way too much, he is going to end up sobbing into Grantaire’s shirt and fuck, that is so pathetic but he is quoting his favorite Jefferson quote and won’t let him come until Enjolras manages to say the rest.
“Come on,” Grantaire coaxes, and he is having too much fun with this, shifting Enjolras’ head with that accursed hand in his hair so he can whisper against Enjolras’ cheek. “Come on, you know it, I know you know it, I can’t believe how fucking hard you are for political theory, Christ Enjolras, just say it.”
“Syllables,” Enjolras complains.
“Fine, a little bit of sympathy since you blew my brain out,” Grantaire concedes, and oh, he tightens his grip for a moment and it is amazing. “When the people fear the government there is tyranny, when the government fears the people, what.”
“Dear fuck,” Enjolras says, which makes no sense, but dear fuck. “There’s liberty, because fear is control, how did you pick that, please-”
“Someone forgot what underwear they’re wearing,” Grantaire croons, and his hand is good, it’s so good, tight and fast and twisting and ruthlessly glorious and he says, “Come on, Enjolras. You can come now.”
He does. He wraps his arms around Grantaire and pulls him flush against his chest and Enjolras is probably ruining both of their shirts but he really doesn’t care. He whines and fights to kiss Grantaire, clumsy and desperate against Grantaire’s tender mouth. Grantaire humors him, kissing him lightly as Enjolras shudders and finally just sits and pants, boneless, their foreheads pressed together and Enjolras’ eyes shut as he gets his breath back.
“You are such a nerd,” Grantaire says, words bursting with affection. He’s playing with Enjolras’ hair again. It’s lovely. “That was undeniably the nerdiest sex I have ever had.”
“You liked it,” Enjolras mutters.
“Fuck yes I did,” Grantaire says, and shifts to press a kiss to Enjolras’ cheek, and then slides off Enjolras’ lap almost casually, like they do this every day. Which is a thing that Enjolras thinks would be really nice. “I’m just saying – nerdy.”
Enjolras still feels like his bones have been liquefied, and it's very nice. “I have to disinfect everything,” he says morosely.
Grantaire sighs, and Enjolras finds himself with an armful of pants. Grantaire is already dressed and looking rumpled in a just-had-sex way, but not in a way that couldn’t be passed off as falling asleep on a bus after a very long day. “I’ll take care of it, you just.” The smile on his face slides into something awkward and trying very hard to not be. “Get home before someone starts worrying. I know where everything is, God knows I’ve watched you close up enough times to manage this.”
Enjolras wants to object. He wants to tell Grantaire he’s being a fucking idiot, but Enjolras can barely get his pants back on and God, it’s been so long since he had sex, he hadn’t even realized how much he missed it. He barely even jerks off, he went without for months before meeting Grantaire and even then it’d been once or twice a week and recently it’s been even more often, but there is a huge difference between masturbation and actually genuinely having sex with the object of your affection and Enjolras just wants to fall in bed with Grantaire.
Except Grantaire very obviously doesn’t want that. Which is fine. Enjolras isn’t hurt by that at all and really it might just be – well, he will think about this shit when he can actually think.
“Go home, Enjolras,” Grantaire says, gives him a sweet chaste kiss, and grabs the broom to start sweeping where Enjolras left off.
Disobedience barely even occurs to him. He stands, takes a moment to give in to temptation and wrap his arms around Grantaire and kiss him on the back of his neck and just hold him for a little bit even if he doesn’t get to curl up with him, and makes himself leave because otherwise his friends will start thinking he found the worst kind of trouble on the way home if it takes him much longer.
As it is, he gets through their front door at nearly midnight, and Combeferre is up with a cup of anxiety-quelling tea and Courfeyrac at their kitchen table, both of them looking very serious and very relieved when Enjolras shuts the door behind him.
“Oh,” Courfeyrac says, smiling.
Combeferre says, “Oh.” Courfeyrac glances between them, clearly not fully fluent in the nuances that come with ten years of best friendship. “And you still didn’t bring him home?”
“He had things to do,” Enjolras says, still feeling fluttery and happy and apparently he looks it too, since Courfeyrac has finally figured it out and his smile just gets bigger and bigger, and Enjolras doesn’t want to deal with that. He just heads into his bedroom, sets the alarm, and curls up in bed feeling so stupid and absolutely thrilled about seeing tomorrow.
Enjolras wakes up, and showers, and gets dressed, and the minute he’s out of his own room, Combeferre is waiting for him with his coat in hand, already prepared to brave the late morning.
“Don’t you have class?” Enjolras asks, not even bothering to argue. He just puts the coat on and follows Combeferre out.
“Family emergency,” Combeferre says, and Enjolras huffs in amusement as Combeferre escorts him to the Musain.
The Musain is about five steps above being a dive, but that’s not very many. It is, however, very safe, mostly because they keep the Musain safe in turn. Almost every fight Enjolras gets in is because it’s an act of defense, even if it’s not defense of himself and Combeferre like it used to be when they were kids. And it can be defense of an abstract concept. Often.
Really, the point is that he only hurts people when they deserve it, and people who try to mess with the Musain deserve it. There used to be a lot of them, since it’s not exactly in the best area of the city (Enjolras’ commute to Candle Factory isn’t a short one, but it is just close enough to do on foot), but they keep each other safe.
Inside, they’re all waiting for him. Every single one of his friends. They’re grinning and waiting and god, Enjolras is going to murder Courfeyrac in his sleep.
“Now do we get to meet him?” Courfeyrac asks giddily, sliding a cup of coffee in front of Enjolras’ seat at their massive table.
“We’re here to talk about keeping the coffee boyfriend safe, not meeting the coffee boyfriend,” Combeferre says.
“He’s not my coffee boyfriend,” Enjolras objects.
“Look me in the eye and tell me you don’t want to wear matching t-shirts with him,” Combeferre says, damn it. After giving Enjolras a moment to be humiliated, he goes back to the group. “Joly, Jehan, you weren’t here last time so just be aware Enjolras is going to be impaired for the next week or four, depending on circumstances. Enemies are going to notice, and we’ll have to stay on top of things.”
They do have enemies. Enjolras doesn’t in the slightest bit think of them as a gang, other than in the way they’re a collection of people, but the fact remains that a few others do. Enjolras sees them more as a club made of close friends who really believe in doing something and that something is violent more often than not. But people have attacked them solely because of who they are instead of what they’re doing, and the world these days is the kind of place where people might decide to attack Grantaire simply because Enjolras is involved with him. And they’re both male.
“It’ll be fine,” Enjolras says instead. “My job and my actual life are very separate and there’s never been any overlap. I’ll tell him to watch his back if you really think it’s going to be an issue.”
None of them are happy with that, but, as usual, Enjolras gets his way solely because Candle Factory is entirely his and nobody gets to have any say other than Enjolras about his day(ish) job.
But in return, he has two weeks to plan how he wants them to meet Grantaire. He comes to them or they come to him or something, it’s going to be a mess no matter what. Enjolras just wants to go to work, which is the strangest feeling in the world. He just keeps thinking about Grantaire and feeling so fucking giddy, and then he feels a sinking wave of guilt, and it leaves him almost dizzy as he goes about his day.
Grantaire doesn’t come in early, which is fine, and it was ridiculous of him to think he might. They both have schedules, and Grantaire very rarely comes in more than a couple of minutes early, so it’s fine. Enjolras doesn’t worry.
Grantaire doesn’t come in at his usual time.
He doesn’t come in five minutes after his usual time.
Enjolras has his phone out and is desperately trying to decide between calling Combeferre and calling the police when Grantaire finally walks in, at 9:45. He’s alone and an absolute wreck and obviously on his way to completely drunk, if he isn’t there already. Grantaire leans against the doorframe for a good minute, just staring at Enjolras.
“I was getting worried,” Enjolras says, and desperately hopes it sounds lighthearted and not like the shaky vapid-seeming thing it is.
Grantaire lets out a noise that is some sort of laugh crossed with a bitter guffaw and it hurts to hear. He clears his throat and carefully weaves his way past absolutely nothing to collapse against the counter. “I’m fully capable of taking care of myself,” Grantaire says.
Enjolras doesn’t know if he wants to scream at Grantaire because he obviously can’t if he can barely make it from the door to the counter, or if he wants to wrap him in a blanket and curl up with him. Or do something in the middle of those two. Enjolras knows he isn’t at his best right now. Even when he’s looking absolutely miserable, Grantaire makes him feel ridiculously soft.
He doesn’t like how Grantaire’s eyes are fluttering, though. He doesn’t like seeing Grantaire like this, and Grantaire isn’t looking at him, and Enjolras doesn’t even think about what he’s doing before he’s hopped over the counter and has a light grip on Grantaire’s chin, looking him in the eye. Grantaire stares at him, surprise making the drunken glaze to his eyes seem extra bright.
“Are you okay?” Enjolras asks carefully, and barely manages to hold back the what did I do wrong?
Grantaire smiles at him. It’s not a happy thing, not at all, but there’s a flood of affection in it. He very carefully slides his fingers through Enjolras’ hair. “I just really really really like you.”
Grantaire never comes in with the same people. He usually doesn’t even use their names. But the customers he brings in always know Grantaire’s, and often know Enjolras’ (or at least his nickname), and Enjolras has pinpricks of curiosity tingling through his brain about that. And maybe it’s related to this.
If Grantaire came to him when some asshole threw beige paint all over him, does that mean he has nowhere else to go?
“You should sit down,” Enjolras says, and Grantaire lets him wrap an arm around his shoulders, walking Grantaire over to one of the armchairs. He slides in easily, leaving Enjolras to just stand and fret while Grantaire keeps staring at him. “Are you okay? Is there anything-”
“I’m fine,” Grantaire says, words smooth and effortless even if he looks ready to fall out of the chair. “I was going to say I’m sorry.”
Enjolras’ near-constant happy buzz completely dissolves into, oh no. And he doesn’t want this, he’s had barely a day to think of Grantaire as his boyfriend, and he says, “No, but - I really really like you too.”
“I know, I know, that’s what makes this so fucking horrible,” Grantaire says, and drags a hand down his face. “I just keep imagining you’ll end up in the hospital or worse and I know I said I’d stay out of it, I will, but. But it’s not safe for you.”
Enjolras tries to figure out what the fuck Grantaire’s talking about. When he does, it’s so obvious that he ends up sighing, crouching in front of the chair. They don’t exactly live in a welcoming environment for homosexuality. “Listen. I’m not afraid of getting slapped around or beaten with a crowbar or whatever-”
“Oh Jesus,” Grantaire whispers, covering his face with his hands.
This is just a ridiculous overreaction. Grantaire’s afraid of Enjolras getting gay bashed or whatever, which makes a little bit of sense since he’s more than aware that the everyday observer looking at him wouldn’t imagine he spends a lot of his weekend punching people. Besides, percentage wise using the most recent police statistics (and Enjolras and his friends’ intervention in the area) they have a much higher likelihood of getting in a car wreck, and Enjolras doesn’t even have a car. “It’s not like it happens often,” Enjolras says.
“Please stop trying to be reassuring,” Grantaire says.
Enjolras is very proud of himself for not telling him he’s a complete idiot, and possibly a coward. He doesn’t seem like a coward. It’s more likely he’s worried because of personal experience, and it tempers the annoyance. He only prays it’s not Grantaire with the personal experience.
He stands up and goes back to the counter, making Grantaire a simple cup of coffee – Galapagos beans, mocha, raspberry syrup.
“I’m more worried about you,” Enjolras tells him, adding a smiley face into the foam. At least with this conversation it won’t look sort of strange if he has to tell Grantaire to watch his back in case Enjolras’ enemies decide to try and hurt his boyfriend.
“Don’t be. I won’t tell anyone, won’t let it out of the brag, won’t – I’ll be careful,” Grantaire says, drunk and strangely bitter.
Enjolras doesn’t want that, but if it makes Grantaire feel more comfortable, Enjolras can deal with it. Now he’s just fighting the urge to break into police records in the hopes he can find whatever made Grantaire this apprehensive.
He hands Grantaire the coffee, and he drinks it like it’s another shot of whiskey or something. It’s fast and hot and leaves Enjolras physically wincing.
“This just sucks so much,” Grantaire bites out.
Enjolras sighs, not exactly surprised. He thought he was getting better, but he’s been having an off day, to say the least. He picks up the cup and heads back to the counter to wash it. It’ll be on the house tonight – hopefully it’ll sober Grantaire up a little. “I already knew that.”
“Of course you do.” Grantaire stands up on surprisingly steady legs and gives Enjolras a helpless, tired smile. “I’ll see you tomorrow. I just…we should both think, I think.”
And Enjolras is so surprised he can’t even speak, can’t catch Grantaire before he walks out of Candle Factory.
The rest of the night is short and dark, and Combeferre doesn’t say a word about the way Enjolras drags himself across the apartment and towards his bedroom. All he says is, “I’ll be sure to wake you up on time.”
Enjolras collapses on his bed and doesn’t know what the fuck is going on and wants to find whatever hurt Grantaire and hurt it back. He falls asleep.
Enjolras works from two to ten.
He usually gets to work a few minutes early, to possibly speak with Mr. Valjean if he’s there, or Cosette, who he works with for two or three hours before her shift is over. They mostly stay out of each other’s way and make polite conversation at times, but she only works part-time. He doesn’t know her very well, and that’s fine. She seems perfectly pleasant, though.
Enjolras expects to see her when he walks in. Cosette, or maybe Mr. Valjean himself.
He does not expect to see Grantaire.
He’s sitting at the table closest to the door, fidgeting so much he nearly misses Enjolras’ entrance.
There are actual customers at this time of day, and Enjolras has actual work to do, in that clean things while Cosette makes coffee way, so he’s already behind the counter by the time Grantaire jerks up out of his chair. Grantaire twists to carefully look around the shop, like there’s someone hiding behind the dying potted plants, and Enjolras continues to wonder if there’s something genuinely wrong with Grantaire. Maybe. Either way, he’s become more and more bizarre ever since they started dating.
Enjolras’ relationship with Cosette is politely professional, keeping them efficient colleagues who know absolutely nothing about each other’s personal lives, since Enjolras can’t really talk about his personal life. His personal life mostly comes down to punching people, and talking about punching people. All for good reasons, of course, but the simple fact is that what he does when he’s not at work doesn’t make him look all that great.
The way Grantaire starts talking at him probably doesn’t help either.
“I’m sorry, I never should have – I shouldn’t have questioned whether or not you’re willing to risk this,” Grantaire says, leaning hard on the glass counter. “Or, fuck, that’s not the right way to say it. I’m trying to say I just really really like you and I’ll follow your lead no matter what it is. You know what you’re willing to do and I’m just.” He lets out a very unhinged laugh. “I’ll take whatever I can get, you know? Not to pressure you or anything, it’s all up to you, you’re in control here and why aren’t you saying anything.”
Enjolras has no idea what he could even say.
Cosette is there, and he knows she’s nice and knows she’s not going to report him or whatever it’s called, but Grantaire’s hands are wrapped around the top edge of the glass and Enjolras’ hands are clenched tight in his stupid fucking apron. And Enjolras can’t talk. Fuck, he can’t talk, he’s completely useless, it’s Grantaire and he can’t talk because people are looking, people can see.
Grantaire looks ready to leap over the empty baked goods case, concern shining in his eyes. “Enjolras?”
“I,” Enjolras manages to say, which is so fucking pathetic. He grits his teeth and fuck, he has to do something, so he lifts his hands and puts them over Grantaire’s for a moment, looking around to see how many people are watching and the answer is far too many so he pulls back again, quickly.
“Oh,” Grantaire says, like he understands. Enjolras can only hope he really does. He grimaces, penitent. “Christ, I’m so sorry, I didn’t even think. I’ll come back later, okay?”
“Okay,” Enjolras manages to say, and Grantaire beams at him like Enjolras said something completely different before walking out of Candle Factory.
Their relationship is mercurial, to say the least. One day Grantaire is anxious and unhinged and looks ready to shake himself to death and there’s barely a touch exchanged between them, only tense quiet discussions and nonsensical fear on Grantaire’s part that make Enjolras swear to break into the police database and find out what happened to Grantaire. On other days he is ridiculously affectionate, pulling Enjolras into one of the armchairs and they do nothing but kiss and touch and breathe together for what seems like hours, but isn’t.
Grantaire always watches the time. He comes in earlier now, at almost exactly 9PM. Enjolras feels a little guilty about it, but he’s taken to glaring people out of Candle Factory when it gets close to Grantaire time. And Grantaire always, always know when it’s 10, always stops, and always walks away, like Enjolras is going to turn into a fucking pumpkin if Grantaire is there ten minutes past close.
At all times, there’s an undercurrent of fear so painfully tight in the air between them that Enjolras wants to rip apart with his bare hands, claw away so he can try to make whatever’s wrong with Grantaire be okay.
And at all times, Enjolras is so fucking happy to just be around him and be allowed to touch and adore every smile and dry quirk of his eyebrow and the way he twists his wrist when he waves a hand through the air and his eyes are so ridiculously pretty. He could be happier, but this? This is enough.
It’s immediately noteworthy when the woman comes in because she’s new and came in alone of her own free will. It’s also noteworthy since she doesn’t look at anything other than Enjolras. She just strides in, watches him, and finally walks over to stand directly in front of Enjolras and say, “You’re the coffee god, then.”
Enjolras frowns at her. Grantaire never brought her in, but she knows his ridiculous nickname anyway. “How do you know Grantaire?” Enjolras asks.
“I’m his friend,” the woman says, and keeps assessing him, vaguely disdainful. “I heard about the situation you’re in with him. I wanted to see if you’re at least hot enough to be worth breaking his heart over.”
Enjolras knows he is, hands down. He knows what he looks like, and has been told all too often that it’s his single redeeming feature – a whole lot of worthless in very pretty packaging. But he doesn’t believe for a moment that physical attraction is the only thing going on here, so he shakes his head and says, “I’m not going to break his heart. He’s.” He has to stop and search for a word, even if it makes him look brain-dead and stupid and he knows it and he can watch her opinion of him drop by the millisecond but he hasn’t had time to find the right words so he takes a deep breath and settles on, “He’s special, and I really like him.”
She is obviously unimpressed, and she looks about an inch away from punching Enjolras for some reason. His usual reaction to this would be to face it head on and fucking dare her to try it, but for some reason he’s shrinking instead. He’s nervous and can’t talk and she’s opening her mouth to say something scathing and painful and Enjolras frantically holds up a hand in the universal sign of stop.
“Three minutes,” Enjolras says, and steps into the back room and breathes, Jesus, get a fucking grip, before grabbing a pad of paper and pen. His penmanship is severe but impeccably legible, and it doesn’t take too long for him to formulate a reasonable answer.
He has had to do this pathetically often. It’s been a while, but some habits you never break.
When he walks back out, the woman looks half way to disgusted with him.
“Should I say it or would you rather read it?” Enjolras asks, already close to giving up on this.
The woman just holds out her hand, and Enjolras puts the yellow legal pad in her hand and watches her read.
It’s a brief note, which reads, My name is Enjolras, not coffee god – Grantaire chose that nickname for me and I indulge him because, despite my own better judgment, I’ve found myself to be incredibly fond of him when I don’t want to strangle him, and even fond of him when I do. Your question is a fair one that I’ve asked others on behalf of my own friends, but you seem to be operating under the assumption that I’m in this for lust. While desire is definitely part of it, it’s much more an issue of wanting to make him happy, and the issue that he makes me happy, and wanting to be something like the man he believes me to be. I am sincerely invested in this relationship, even if we seem to be doing it all wrong already. If it ends in heartbreak, I guarantee he won’t be the only one suffering.
When she looks up, she’s actually looking at him, and Enjolras snatches the legal pad back very quickly. “He deserves better than this,” she says.
“I know,” Enjolras answers. Grantaire deserves much, much better than Enjolras. He deserves what he thinks Enjolras is, not what Enjolras actually is. He sighs. “Are you ordering something?”
“Oh, I know better than that,” she says, lips twitching into a smile. “You’re actually thinking about picking him, aren’t you?”
Enjolras frowns. “What?”
“I’m Eponine,” the woman says. “And I am watching you. You can never trust a cheater, no matter how heartfelt a note he can scribble down.”
Enjolras didn’t even know his frown could deepen, but it does. “What?”
Eponine shakes her head. “Fine, he admitted he had to talk you into it, but you’re still – how long have you and this Combeferre guy been together?”
“Ten years,” he answers, because he can’t really think beyond simple answers, still trying to process what the fuck Eponine is actually saying. Or trying to say.
“Jesus, ten years with that asshole?” Enjolras asks. “What, was he your first kiss and you just stuck with him ever since?”
“I’m,” Enjolras says, because he can’t talk. Technically the answer is yes but it was a definite never-again since Combeferre is straight and also it was weird and Enjolras was never attracted to him anyway (or anyone at that point, which was why there was the experiment), it was weird and so is her statement, there are insinuations he can’t fully process. He just keeps frowning. “What?”
Eponine frowns at him, but sighs, and says, “You know, he said you’re smart and eloquent, but whatever. Write.”
Enjolras just pulls the pen out from behind his ear and quickly scribbles out one sentence and turns it so that Eponine can see the big WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT????
Eponine is actually paying attention now. “Okay, are you or are you not dating some guy named Combeferre?”
“What the fuck, no, I am not dating Combeferre, who the fuck told you I am?” Enjolras asks, and then abject horror clenches his heart. “Oh my god, Grantaire did. Grantaire thinks I’m dating Combeferre. Why does he think I’m dating Combeferre?”
“Oh, now you can talk,” Eponine says. “And how should I know? I-”
“Call him, and give me the phone,” Enjolras says. “Or you can give me his phone number, but this would be faster. I want this cleared up as soon as possible, and I have a feeling you do too.”
Eponine obeys. Most people obey Enjolras when he tells them to do things, and everyone obeys when Enjolras is more than willing to go through the person to get what he wants. She has Grantaire on speed dial, which is interesting, and she hands the phone over easily.
“-ine, now isn’t really the time,” Grantaire says, and he sounds terrible.
“I’m not dating Combeferre, and I have no idea why you think I am,” Enjolras says. “He’s my best friend and we’ve known each other for ten years, we live together and I was hoping to introduce you two to each other in the near future. Tomorrow morning would work very well. Would you like to come home with me?”
He gets nothing but silence.
“Grantaire?” Enjolras asks.
“Oh my god, I’m hallucinating,” Grantaire says.
“No, you’re not,” Enjolras says. “Do you understand what I just said?”
“I’m going to go to the coffee shop and see if you are still saying these things,” Grantaire says.
“You’re ridiculous. I’ll see you soon,” Enjolras says, and hands the phone back to a stunned Eponine. Grantaire is still talking, but Enjolras is done.
Eponine keeps watching Enjolras as she goes through a long litany of yes, really, yes Grantaire, Jesus Christ Grantaire calm down, yes, really. By now, mostly thanks to Grantaire, Enjolras is capable of making a cup of black coffee well enough that it can actually be imbibed, so he figures Eponine can get a cup on the house. When he puts it in front of her, she hesitates.
“It won’t kill you,” Enjolras says simply, and goes into the back room with the legal pad and the note, where he shreds the words apart and then puts them in an already-dirty cup of coffee and then goes back out to put scalding hot water into the cup and then he considers trying to feed it to Grantaire but that’s far too cruel even for Enjolras (plus it’s a dirty cup, Joly would never forgive him) so he stirs it until there’s nothing but a yellow-brown pulp and no proof beyond Eponine’s word that he ever even wrote it.
“You’re kind of scary,” Eponine says.
Enjolras shrugs, and dumps the evidence down the drain.
It takes them fifteen minutes to realize Grantaire is standing outside of the door.
Enjolras feels awful about it, but he’s learning quite a bit from Eponine, namely what Grantaire’s life is actually like – he lives with Eponine, has an easy charm that serves him well so long as he’s sober, he had a pet rabbit but it died a few years ago, he’s estranged from his family or at least Eponine has never heard him mention them, they met in a bar because Grantaire meets everyone in bars and also seems to make everyone in the bar his friend although he has problems with the connection part so she really has no idea what to make of Enjolras. But the point is, Eponine is telling him story after story about Grantaire being ridiculous, and Enjolras is so enthralled that he doesn’t realize Grantaire has been standing outside of the windows until one of the regulars finally gives up and leaves.
Eponine immediately rushes out to fetch him, for which Enjolras is grateful since he isn’t going to leave the shop unattended when there’s someone else inside. It’s the old woman who always orders tea and stares out the window for two hours, but still, Enjolras is going to do at least this part of his job well. When she ushers him in, Grantaire still looks…skittish. Definitely not very Grantaire-like. Enjolras doesn’t like it at all.
“Now, I think Enjolras has something to say to you,” Eponine says, planting him on the other side of the counter.
Grantaire stays completely rigid. And doesn’t lean. It’s very wrong.
“Are you alright?” Enjolras asks, and he ends up doing the leaning in Grantaire’s place as he tries to make eye contact beyond vapid staring.
“Not that,” Eponine says.
“Right,” Enjolras says, and sighs, because this is ludicrous, he doesn’t even know how this became a situation that needs fixing. He gets a light hold on Grantaire’s chin to force him to look into Enjolras’ eyes. “I’m not dating Combeferre and you’re an idiot for thinking I am, I have no idea how you ever got that ridiculous idea. Now. Are you alright?”
“Really?” Grantaire asks desperately. It’s practically begging.
“Really, now answer my question,” Enjolras says.
“I’m just really really relieved and kind of in shock,” Grantaire says, but he’s starting to smile now. It’s small and oddly precious, meek and hopeful.
Enjolras can’t decide if he wants to kiss him or take a picture of his smile, so he settles on memorizing it before leading Grantaire forward into a brief chaste kiss. Their lips press together for a soft moment, and then Enjolras pulls away to grab his phone and start texting Combeferre, not looking at Grantaire. Or Eponine. He really doesn’t want to look at anyone right now.
“Can I ask you out on a real date?” Grantaire asks.
“You can ask,” Enjolras says, and texts, Seriously considering bringing coffee boyfriend home please advise????
On what? Combeferre texts back.
“…Okay, uh. Would you like to go on a date with me?” Grantaire asks.
Enjolras texts, DO I BRING HIM HOME IS THAT A THING THAT IS DONE, and says, “Doing what and when?”
Yes it’s a thing, Combeferre texts. After a moment, his phone chimes again. I always forget how stupid you get.
“Uh. Can’t it be hypothetical right now?” Grantaire asks. “Mostly I just want to be able to say we’re dating.”
Another chime. I really am happy for you! And another. I can make myself scarce.
DON’T LEAVE ME Enjolras texts back. “Then yes, I will hypothetically date you,” he says. “But for actual dates I might have to say no, my schedule for-”
“That’s fine, that’s totally fine, I understand that,” Grantaire says.
If you think I’m sleeping in the apartment when our walls are this thin you are wrong, Combeferre texts. Why do you need me?
Enjolras doesn’t even know, he just does, but that is not an appropriate response. He settles on, Meet him?
“Uh,” Grantaire says.
Combeferre texts, YES. And then, I can do that for you. And then, I’m still not sleeping at home.
“I’m kind of thinking I’m not your number one priority right now,” Grantaire says lightly.
“I’m seeing if I can bring you home,” Enjolras says, texting, Come to CF then. He’s already here.
You’re adorable. A pause. And very very stupid, so he must be good for you.
“Oh,” Grantaire says, and Enjolras has to look up to figure out that tone of voice. He’s stunned and pleased and actually blushing a little bit as he smiles. And he leans, so all is right in the world again and Enjolras finds himself having to fight back a smile. “I was so sure I’d hallucinated that part, at the very least.”
“Oh no,” Enjolras says, and has to look down at his phone again because this way his smile looks more like a smirk and he refuses to let a not-complete-stranger like Eponine see him get completely stupid. “That, I am very serious about.”
You are officially invited to CF @ - he glances at the clock - 8:45PM til close or desired departure. One time only. Look like a respectable law student.
I’ll look like a law student, that is all I’m giving your lies, Combeferre texts back.
You always look like a law student, Enjolras replies. You shower looking like a law student. And since Combeferre doesn’t reply, Enjolras assumes he’s currently in transit.
When he looks back up, Grantaire is giving him a fondly exasperated smile and Eponine is gone. So is the last pre-Grantaire customer. Enjolras didn’t even notice. He tries to ignore the sinking feeling at what else that could mean for him, in the world outside of Candle Factory, the real-Enjolras world where he was already fucking up at dodging before he and Grantaire had even touched.
“So do I get to stay over?” Grantaire asks lightly.
Enjolras tucks his phone away and lets himself smile like an idiot, watches Grantaire echo it right back, and he doesn’t actually need to answer after that. “There’s a compromise, though,” Enjolras says. Which is true, even if it’s not from the side Grantaire will undoubtedly think it is. “Combeferre – who I am not dating and never will date, I’m still confused how you got that idea – is coming over to meet you.”
“Ah,” Grantaire says, looking more than a little queasy.
“He’ll like you,” Enjolras says simply, and grabs a clean mug, giving Grantaire an expectant look.
Grantaire looks so fucking affectionate and it is killing Enjolras and he doesn’t even know why, it’s like a physical ache in his chest, like he just got punched between his ribs. “Surprise me,” he says.
“That’s dangerous,” Enjolras says.
Grantaire winks at him and says, “I trust you.”
After that, Enjolras’ chest hurts in a completely different way.
The last time, his name was Kelvin. Not Kevin. Kelvin.
Kelvin was a bad idea.
Enjolras met Kelvin in the library while he was waiting for Combeferre, and it had been jarring. It’s always jarring. He’d been reading and wishing the lights were dimmer and ignoring the muttered comments when people walked past him, and generally just minding his own business. That’s always the way of it too – unexpected and violent. Everything in Enjolras’ life seems to be that way.
Kelvin had stopped next to the table Enjolras had situated himself at and cleared his throat, saying, “I’m sorry, but…are you okay?”
Enjolras had glanced up fully intending to just glare the intruder away, but instead he felt like he’d just been kicked in the head and fuck, he doesn’t even remember what Kelvin looked like beyond words like pretty and perfect and the fact he had green eyes behind trendy glasses and some kind of orange scarf thing around his neck. He ended up staring at the other man for long enough that Kelvin actually waved a hand in front of his face, saying, “Wow, do you have a concussion?”
“I’m fine,” Enjolras had finally managed to say, breathing difficult. He had to force himself to blink and try to look normal.
“You really don’t look fine,” Kelvin said. “You know your shirt is covered in blood, right?”
Enjolras nodded at him, not even bothering to look at it.
Kelvin crouched in front of his chair then, getting to eye level, and Enjolras hadn’t been able to look away. He was trying to blink and not be creepy, but instead he ended up staring. “You’re probably in shock,” Kelvin decided for him. “Were you in an accident? People in shock sometimes just go about their lives so their brain doesn’t process trauma.”
“What’s your name?” Enjolras had asked instead.
“My name’s Kelvin,” he said, and reached forward to put a hand against Enjolras’ bruised cheek. Enjolras hadn’t been able to do anything but lean into it. “I’m going to take you to the hospital-”
“Excuse me,” Combeferre had snapped out from what seemed like nowhere to Enjolras, sharp and dangerous and so full of back the fuck off that Enjolras ended up gaping at him. Kelvin, on the other hand, jerked back so quickly he fell onto the floor, gaping up at an angry Combeferre. An angry Combeferre is a rare, terrifying creature, much like a merciless dragon swooping over a helpless thatched-roof village.
Kelvin coughed out, “I was just trying to-”
“I’m sure you were,” Combeferre said coldly, and literally stepped over him to stand in front of Enjolras. “At least tell me the other guy will be able to get up at some point. Do you need a hospital?”
“Just a Joly,” Enjolras said. “And he deserved it.”
“Of course he did. Well done on not actually answering my question,” Combeferre said, and glanced back at Kelvin, who had managed to get to his feet and was looking very awkward and more than a little bit scared. “What was he doing?”
“Trying to help,” Enjolras said, and smiled.
Combeferre, on the other hand, had frowned and sighed out, “Oh, Enjolras.”
“So everything’s okay, then?” Kelvin asked.
“I’m Enjolras,” he’d said, and he was smiling, and probably blushing, because he hadn’t learned his lesson yet. “It’s nice to meet you.”
“Enjolras,” Combeferre said, obviously a warning.
Kelvin shook his hand, and there’d been a small confused smile growing into a welcoming grin on his lovely face. “I’m sorry we met when you’re having such a bad day,” Kelvin said, and after a glance at Combeferre, he’d continued, “We should maybe talk when it’s a better time.”
“Enjolras,” Combeferre said again.
“We should do that,” Enjolras said, and he’d felt like every nerve in his body was twisting back and forth when he pulled his phone out. “Give me your number.”
“Don’t give him your number, Kelvin,” Combeferre said, but Kelvin hadn’t listened, neither of them had listened. They’d exchanged numbers and after some more awkward giddy smiling Kelvin had left, leaving Enjolras a mess or hormones with Combeferre looking him in the eye and saying, “Enjolras, do not go after him.”
“Why?” Enjolras asked.
Combeferre hesitated, which meant it was particularly bad, but eventually he’d said, “I think the number one sin in your head would be that he’s a pacifist. In my own head, it’s because you need to be alert when dealing with Kelvin, and you are not alert right now.” He sighed. “And since I already know I can’t talk you out of it, at least let me supervise you for a week or two.”
Enjolras had agreed, and they’d limped home, where Joly was already waiting with his kit and his Bossuet, who in turn was waiting with a police report about Enjolras’ most recent altercation. “At least you didn’t beat the man to death,” Bossuet said. Combeferre hadn’t, though. They have a shared complete disgust and sense of revulsion at child abusers.
With cases like that, it usually works like this: Enjolras finds out. Enjolras hunts you down. Enjolras rings your doorbell. Enjolras drags you out of your home and has a discussion with you, and if that goes poorly, Enjolras talks with his fists. And nobody reports Enjolras because if he does it, they know why.
His neighborhood isn’t nice, but it is very safe for children, both in and out of their homes.
He met Kelvin for lunch two days later, which just ended up being sitting down for about three minutes before heading back to Kelvin’s apartment to fuck, and then Kelvin had said you don’t really have to go out tonight, do you? And Enjolras had thought nothing of it and smiled and said, No, I guess I really don’t.
He’d expected more sex. Instead, Kelvin had made them a simple dinner and done homework and every single time Enjolras moved towards the door Kelvin had said, I’m almost done, do you really have to go?
When it got to be midnight and Combeferre had texted him over and over but Enjolras had barely replied with anything beyond the fact he was just fine (because Kelvin would give him a look and say I thought we were spending time together, just us) there was a knock on the door.
Bahorel is enormous and his grin is terrifying and he’d not quite taken up the entire doorframe but it’d been a close thing, and what wasn’t covered by Bahorel was taken up by every one of Enjolras’ friends.
“Hello again, Kelvin,” Combeferre said.
“Enjolras doesn’t want to see you right now,” Kelvin had said, which had made Enjolras frown, because when doesn’t he want to see his friends? They’re the best part of him. “He doesn’t have to be messed up in whatever your gang gets up to at night.”
Enjolras frowned at Kelvin’s back, and then looked at Combeferre, and said, “What the fuck?”
“He’s a manipulative controlling pacifist, Enjolras,” Combeferre said. “Fight your libido for once.”
“This is ridiculous,” Kelvin said, and he’d actually rolled his eyes at Combeferre, which is a bad idea for so many, many reasons.
“No, what’s ridiculous is that you’ve kept our fearless leader locked in your apartment for the past twelve hours,” Courfeyrac said, and after a moment of consideration he’d stepped inside Kelvin’s very nice apartment. He walked right past Kelvin to pull Enjolras into a quick hug, smiling when he pulled away and keeping an arm slung around Enjolras’ shoulder. “You had us worried there – should have heard the things Joly was suggesting.”
“That’s nice, but I can actually take care of myself,” Enjolras said dryly.
Kelvin looked like he was about to explode, standing in front of the door and watching Enjolras. “I don’t – you’re obviously brilliant, you’re beautiful, you’re worth so much more than what these people are giving you,” he said.
“Oh, whoa,” Courfeyrac said, and Enjolras was very glad that he’d already had a hand wrapped around his shoulders because Enjolras’ arm was already automatically pulling back to punch him in his stupid (pretty, so very pretty) face. “Hey, the goal here is to just walk away tonight, alright?”
“Thank you for doing the convincing for me,” Combeferre said.
Enjolras was still vein-joltingly attracted to Kelvin, hands practically tingling with the urge to just touch him, but his muscles were also demanding he punch the asshole for daring to talk shit about Enjolras’ friends.
“At least you weren’t that good in bed, otherwise I’d be kind of broken up about this,” Enjolras said, and walked out the door.
He never saw Kelvin again. Whether that’s by Kelvin or Combeferre’s design, Enjolras neither knows nor cares. He hasn’t seen Kelvin in over a year, and he likes it that way.
It was all ridiculous and stupid (stupid stupid stupid, so stupid, Enjolras fucking hates being attracted to people), but Enjolras learned, and at least now he’s smart about knowing how stupid this shit makes him.
Enjolras hates caution, so thank god he loves Combeferre.
Combeferre walks in at about 9:15, and Enjolras doesn’t even have time to introduce them. Combeferre looks at Grantaire, who turns to look at Combeferre, and it takes probably two seconds for him to say, “He’s approved.”
Grantaire gives him a strange look. “Thank you?”
“Told you,” Enjolras says, smiling, because he can’t stop smiling, he’s been smiling for probably twenty minutes straight, it’s ridiculous. He’s been smiling and talking, with intent, like some sort of meaningful teasing, it’s really fucking weird and very nice. “Combeferre, this is Grantaire. Do you want to order something?”
“I definitely don’t,” Combeferre says, and Enjolras watches as he actually shakes Grantaire’s hand, like he’s a good-natured gentleman law student instead of a Combeferre. “It’s nice to meet you, Grantaire. Would you mind if I interrogate you for a moment?”
“That’s sort of what I expected,” Grantaire says. He doesn’t sound scared or concerned, just sort of indulgent. Enjolras doesn’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but he’ll take it.
Combeferre doesn’t start asking questions, though. Instead he turns to look at Enjolras and says, “Could you make yourself scarce for a while?”
“I work here,” Enjolras says.
“He won’t leave the counter unless there’s an emergency,” Grantaire says, and smiles at Combeferre. “It’s a nice enough night out.”
“You give in too easily,” Combeferre says.
Grantaire shrugs. “I’ve just learned from experience.”
It’s a fair point, so Combeferre nods, and they completely ignore Enjolras. He watches them make their way outside with the kind of simple easy useless conversation Enjolras is incapable of, and then he’s alone. With nothing to do.
Well, nothing beyond worry that Combeferre is going to explain what Enjolras really is, and Enjolras is still trying to figure out why it’s so important to him, why he doesn’t want Grantaire to find out. Every other boyfriend and/or object of attraction has been completely aware. Why is Grantaire different?
Enjolras has never felt ashamed of his life, beyond his own stubborn pride keeping him from accepting how much of a dead end his life has become. He’s aware of his own circumstances, and he doesn’t regret a single action he’s taken. And that’s why this makes no sense, beyond the way Enjolras feels warm and pleased every time Grantaire calls him a nerd or says he thinks too much or the way Grantaire actually debates with him. Enjolras has fantasies about debating Grantaire into submission that get him off faster than any of his old pre-Grantaire fantasies.
It’s easy to follow the logic.
Grantaire thinks – Grantaire knows, he knows it and likes it – that Enjolras is smart. And not only does he like it, he indulges it, taunts and teases, playing devil’s advocate so deftly that Enjolras ends up flushed and sweating and half hard when Grantaire finally leaves. It’s embarrassing and absurd and he loves it.
Grantaire likes Enjolras’ mind. And apparently that’s the hottest fucking thing Enjolras has ever experienced in his entire life.
By the time Combeferre and Grantaire return, it’s nearing close and Enjolras is doubly terrified of the thought of Grantaire finding out how distinctly non-academic, let alone intellectual, his lifestyle is. Oh fuck, what is he doing taking Grantaire home, he’ll figure it out, there are plenty of books and papers but no collegiate things like syllabi and report cards – do you get those in law school? Combeferre gets grades, obviously he get grades, but Enjolras has never seen them on hard paper. Fuck, Enjolras hasn’t even though up a fake bachelor’s degree, let alone fake law school grades.
“Stop it,” Combeferre says.
“I’m not doing anything,” Enjolras replies immediately, except he actually is. The thing he’s doing is relatively harmless, but really, there’s only so many times you can wash the same cup without it looking suspicious.
“I already told you he’s approved, so stop worrying,” Combeferre says, because he thinks that’s the problem. And it was kind of part of the problem. Except for how it isn’t, but there’s no reason to make Combeferre aware that Enjolras is seriously considering writing a few final papers just to ruthlessly grade them himself with a red pen and toss them around his bedroom. Combeferre is ignoring him for the moment, though, instead giving Grantaire a pat on the shoulder, saying, “Good luck. It was nice to meet you. And I’m not joking about the cats.”
Cats hate Enjolras. Cats attack Enjolras on sight. He has been forced into being a dog person by right of combat.
“Do you have a cat?” Enjolras asks with a sad sinking feeling.
“Of course he doesn’t, stop being reactionary,” Combeferre says, and leaves.
“I like him,” Grantaire says cheerily. “He said he’s going to go bunk with your brother.”
It takes Enjolras a moment to realize Grantaire is talking about Feuilly. “Well that’s good,” he says, because what else is he supposed to say? Enjolras feels like there’s some undertone he’s missing to this conversation.
It makes Grantaire grin at him, though. “That was a subtle way of saying we’re going to be alone. In your apartment.”
Enjolras frowns. “I already told you that.” It’s the whole reason Combeferre came to Candle Factory.
“You know, you almost managed flirting earlier. You can at least try out being suggestive,” Grantaire suggests. There’s no accusation or irritation, though. Mostly he sounds amused and fond, like he thinks Enjolras is cute. Which is ridiculous.
“I’ve never seen the point,” Enjolras says instead, going about closing as efficiently as possible.
“Of course you don’t,” Grantaire says, and makes a humming noise. Enjolras moves swiftly around the shop, concentrating very hard on doing his actual job. “Well, I think I’ve got something that works just as well for you. Better, actually. For example – you said fear is the essential element for power, or something like that. I was kind of busy watching you writhe and beg under me at the time, but I got the gist of your philosophical viewpoint. Fear controls the world. So the question that remains is, why?”
Enjolras turns to answer, but he is looking at a Grantaire who has somehow managed to slouch against the counter in an all too provocative manner, and there’s a sliver of skin showing between his shirt and the waistband of his pants and his smile isn’t the least bit innocent. Enjolras memorizes his smiles, categorizes and analyzes them, ranks them in list after list. This one is probably about #5 on the list for self-satisfied, and second on the inviting list, only topped by that first insane night they shared.
He’s probably staring.
“I bet you have a big poster of Karl Marx on your wall,” Grantaire says fondly. “You probably put it up on the wall, positioned perfectly so it’s the first thing you see when you wake up.”
Enjolras did, when he was a kid. He’d saved up for months to buy it and his parents had given him the oddest look when they realized he’d saved up for a poster of Karl Marx instead of some band or another, but Grantaire doesn’t need to know that. Now, his walls are all bare white and the first thing he sees when he wakes up is a framed picture of his friends directly behind his alarm clock.
He realizes, suddenly, that he wants Grantaire to meet them. He wants Grantaire to sit with them and talk and make plans with them and wants to watch Grantaire charm everyone with his jaded smiles and acerbic wit. But he also wants to keep Grantaire far, far away from them, or at least the world they live in. He wants to keep Grantaire warm and happy in empty coffee shops on rainy days.
But most of all, he wants to take Grantaire home and keep him in bed long past sunrise and just learn him. It makes no sense, but he wants it desperately. He wants to know the sounds he makes based on how sharply Enjolras bites and wants to feel what makes him shake apart fastest and wants to taste every inc h of him. And best of all, seeing the way Grantaire’s eyes trail him as he finishes up as quickly as he can manage, he thinks Grantaire wants that too.
“You’re not going to tell me?” Grantaire asks.
“Tell you what?” Enjolras asks, and he’s on the final task, setting things up for whatever poor soul it is that has the painfully early shift. Enjolras has never met them, but he pities them, and it’s one of the reasons he refuses to just lock the door and drag Grantaire home.
“You think fear makes the world go round and controls human nature,” Grantaire says easily. “I’ve seen plenty of philosophical models use the same concept as a basis, but I never thought you would.”
Enjolras doesn’t want to tell him, but Grantaire has that look he gets when they’re genuinely debating, the one where he’s fascinated with Enjolras’ mind. “Fear is,” he starts, but he’s losing his words. With Grantaire. It’s ridiculous; he’s been able to more or less communicate when it comes to this sort of thing, never had a problem, he just has to think before he speaks, and Grantaire is patient about it, like he thinks it’s normal and respectable, almost admirable. And now Enjolras can’t say a damn thing, and he takes a deep breath and shuts his eyes and concentrates on the fact he knows Grantaire wants to hear him and it’s just philosophy and says, “Fear is crippling, and you’d. People will do anything to make it stop.”
“I suppose that makes sense,” Grantaire agrees. “I’m more of an inherently self-serving human nature person, but I kind of like yours better.” That makes Enjolras frown at him, confused (who the fuck likes fear, other than the tormentor?) until Grantaire shrugs and continues. “Would I rather believe in selfish people, or scared people? Selfish people will just keep fucking up no matter what you do. But you can help scared people, maybe even save them. You just have to be strong enough, and good enough, to do it.”
Enjolras can deal with theoretical, he can treat it like nothing beyond philosophy and theory and one more discussion about human nature and not real life. He has no idea what Grantaire’s life is like, but it’s nothing like Enjolras’, and for that he’s grateful.
Actually, Enjolras realizes as he grabs his coat and key to Candle Factory, he knows pretty much nothing about Grantaire, beyond what a woman came in and told him. So he has no really reliable information, other than that he’s an annoying pestering asshole and has an iron-clad stomach and is a painter with a glorious brain and also really attractive – Enjolras is really, really attracted to him. And that Grantaire likes him back, and is rocking back and forth on his heels with a giddy excited look in his eyes, and they’re dating (theoretically), holy shit, Grantaire is officially his boyfriend or something now.
“Going my way?” Grantaire asks.
Enjolras frowns at him, ushering him out of Candle Factory’s door and locking it carefully. “What are you-”
Grantaire laughs. “Just take me home, coffee god. Show me your big firm Marxist propaganda.”
“I don’t have a big Karl Marx poster hanging in my bedroom,” Enjolras says.
“But you do have one,” Grantaire says confidently.
Enjolras sighs, and says, “Why am I dating you.”
Grantaire beams at him, shamelessly happy. His eyes are the brightest thing on the street.
Something in his chest twists sharply, like he’s been punched brutally hard, and he thinks, Oh. Right.
Enjolras usually walks home, but walking would mean there’s the very slight chance of running into someone who might do more than just say hello when they reach his neighborhood. Or around his neighborhood. Plus it’s not exactly a short walk, and while Enjolras usually enjoys having time to ramble home and look over the city, he has Grantaire with him. That much walking sounds horrific when he sees Grantaire bite his lip or smile or say something particularly clever and knows there could be a bed involved. So, they take the bus.
There aren’t many people on this route, and by now Enjolras has taken the bus often enough that the regular driver, Jesus, greets him with an amicable nod. And also a pointed glance towards Grantaire, and then an eyebrow waggle, and Enjolras just blushes and scowls at him. He pays Grantaire’s fare too, which just earns him another eyebrow waggle, this time with a grin.
Enjolras ignores Jesus and leads Grantaire to a couple of seats on the completely empty bus.
Grantaire seems completely oblivious to the exchange, just sitting down as directed, the aisle to Enjolras’ window seat and still smiling at him. He hasn’t stopped smiling for only god knows how long. Enjolras probably hasn’t stopped staring at him the entire time.
“So I need to know if this is a walk-up or a ground floor or an elevator kind of place we’re headed,” Grantaire says, twisting on the separated plastic seats to face him, but seems to lose his train of thought. He loses his smile, too, and it takes Enjolras a moment to realize they’re just staring at each other now.
Enjolras is used to being quiet, but Grantaire fidgets, because Enjolras isn’t carrying the conversation. He’s barely participating.
“Am I doing something that needs to stop?” Grantaire asks carefully.
There are plenty of answers he could give for that one, but instead he leans forward and kisses Grantaire softly, his eyes closed so he can feel the softness of Grantaire’s lips. He wants it memorized by the end of the weekend, and Grantaire seems carefully on board with the goal. Grantaire carefully kisses back, and Enjolras tries to keep it soft and slow because he wants to do this right. The only actual sex was that first night – everything else has gone about as far as making out like sixteen-year-olds worried their parents might come home early.
This is different, and Grantaire is different, and that doesn’t mean a damn thing right now because he ends up wrapping his fingers in Grantaire’s already messy hair and moving him right where he wants him, and that means soon enough one of Grantaire’s hands is gripping desperately at Enjolras’ knee and the other is grabbing onto the back of Enjolras’ seat as they kiss hard and desperate. Grantaire keeps whimpering like he’s breaking apart every single time their tongues touch and it is driving Enjolras insane. He wants to commandeer the bus and speed desperately down the streets and get Grantaire in his bed as soon as possible, but that would involve moving away from Grantaire, and that’s unthinkable while he has Grantaire’s mouth on his and hair under his fingers and hand on his knee and he can feel Grantaire’s slightly-sweaty skin beneath his shirt.
Enjolras is fighting the urge to just climb into Grantaire’s lap and ravage him, rip him apart in all of the best ways, when Grantaire pulls his mouth away, far enough that Enjolras can’t pull him back without freeing up a hand. He’s already having trouble thinking beyond Grantaire, so it takes him enough time to decide on a course of action for Grantaire to say, “Fuck, Enjolras, we should slow down here.”
“There’s nothing I hate as much as the word should, Grantaire,” he says, but it’s probably important for Grantaire to say what’s on his mind, so Enjolras settles for pulling his hand from beneath Grantaire’s shirt in favor of dragging Grantaire closer so he has a better angle to bite at his jaw, at the skin beneath his ear.
“Oh god, I’m trying to be the voice of reason between us for once,” Grantaire says, voice turning frantic. Enjolras already knows he’s won because the hand on his knee slides up to grip his thigh and Grantaire’s other hand is (finally, finally, finally) in Enjolras’ hair and making him look even more of a mess than he did before, probably. Enjolras is too busy fighting to leave a viciously bright mark on Grantaire’s neck to really care. “I’m just – fuck, I just – bed. Plan.”
“Still the plan,” Enjolras says, and moves onto Grantaire’s collarbone, bites it sharp enough that his teeth clack together when he pulls off, and Grantaire makes a strangled noise. Enjolras wishes he knew what it was before Grantaire bit it down and holy fuck, Enjolras’ hands drop everything to grab at Grantaire’s shirt because Grantaire’s hand just slid up and is pressed tight against Enjolras’ cock. He gasps, forehead falling onto Grantaire’s shoulder, and breathes out, “Oh.”
“Oh god, I’m sorry,” Grantaire says, but before he can pull away, Enjolras drags him into another kiss. He makes it wet and deep and as filthy as possible, keeps his eyes closed and lets himself very, very lightly thrust against Grantaire’s hand. Enjolras kisses him until he loses a tension Enjolras hadn’t even noticed, carefully pulling back to breathe harshly against Enjolras’ cheek. “Okay, okay, how far-”
Enjolras manages to separate long enough to look out the window and do a frantic bit of math in his head and groans because Grantaire’s not moving his hand and Enjolras doesn’t know if he wants to just fucking grind against his palm or wants to try and cool down or what. So he keeps a tight grip on Grantaire and makes quick estimates and calculations and shakes his head with a disappointed whine. “Five and a half minutes left,” Enjolras says – complains, really – because he knows he probably won’t be able to make it the two blocks to his apartment without having to at least pull clothing off of Grantaire.
“I can manage that,” Grantaire says, and god, Enjolras can’t remember ever seeing someone look both scared and smug at the same time. “I mean, if you. If that’s what you meant. I could do it.”
“Can you,” Enjolras says, because that’s a hell of a claim for right now. He’s not sure if this is going to be a good thing or a bad thing, but at least he knows Jesus approves since he hasn’t made a single noise to suggest he’s not okay with Enjolras having sex in the back of his bus. Which is so completely ridiculous. He looks directly towards their driver, who is doing a good job of pretending he knows absolutely nothing about what they’re doing, but fuck, he would really like to be able to ride the bus again without hiding from embarrassment. “What are you going to do, quote philosophy at me?”
“Sort of,” Grantaire says, and he’s blushing but he’s got that look, the one that drove Enjolras crazy when they met and has done nothing but get even worse as time goes on, the awkward bashful seduction face. It’s gorgeous filthy promises coated in awkward courting. Grantaire just keeps turning brighter and brighter shades of red and he starts pulling away and no, that’s not allowed.
“It’s five minutes now,” Enjolras warns, and lets himself press his cock against Grantaire’s hand just for a moment, because it’s Grantaire and it’s Grantaire’s hand and it feels so good and Grantaire wants him to. He leans his head against the back of his seat and keeps his grip on Grantaire’s shirt tight and says, “But if you don’t -”
Enjolras’ words are immediately lost to him because Grantaire’s hand is pressed viciously hard against his cock, rubbing up and down. It scratches underwear and khakis against his cock and it’s so good and Enjolras has to remind himself to breathe. Grantaire’s other hand is buried in Enjolras’ curls, fingers doing something that feels absolutely amazing, makes him want to melt into the seat as Grantaire brutally rubs against his cock and says, “I was going to do something different, before, but – fuck, just look at you, you’d probably let me bend down and suck your cock right here and now, wouldn’t you? God, you’d love every second of it.”
He nods, because he would, he absolutely would and the bus seats aren’t right for it so he’d probably end up kneeling on the seat, straining to get his lips around Enjolras’ cock. At the rate he’s tugging at Grantaire’s shirt, he’ll probably rip it, and the way Grantaire is looking at him tells Enjolras very very clearly that he wouldn’t give a fuck.
“I know I should be using polysyllabic words or something but oh my god, Enjolras, you’re just impossible,” Grantaire says, and the hand rubbing against him moves away to quickly unzip Enjolras’ pants. It’s deafening against the road noise of the near-empty bus and their labored breathing and Grantaire’s quiet frantic words as he frees Enjolras’ cock and then fumbles in his pocket. “Christ, you just drive me crazy and I don’t have time okay just be aware that you look filthy and like you’d let me do completely indecent things to you right now.”
“I would,” Enjolras agrees, and clenches his jaw as he watches Grantaire rip open a condom and slide it onto Enjolras with a tight, teasing grip and then starts to stroke him with an agonizingly light touch. Enjolras tries to glare at him, but every time he manages to even frown, Grantaire speeds up or tightens his grip and Enjolras ends up trying to be quiet about how he twists his head to groan against Grantaire’s shoulder.
“Okay, okay, I’m assuming you know lawyer Latin, you know, mens rea and ignorantia juris non excusat and fiat justitia et pereat mundus and all that,” Grantaire says quickly and oh fuck, Enjolras knows it’s coming because his pronunciation is impeccable, not even a small pause, and Enjolras knows the sign of someone who is fucking fluent in Latin. “But I know the good stuff.”
Enjolras manages to say, “I swear to god, if you quote Catullus-”
“No quoting, promise. Just me whispering dirty Latin in your ear about all the things I want to do to you,” Grantaire says with a smug twist of devilry in his voice and then he does, smooth and low and unstoppable as his grip tightens around Enjolras’ cock.
Enjolras has no fucking clue what Grantaire is saying but his mind is trapped in the feel of Grantaire’s hand jerking him off so, so good and his lips brushing against his ear and Grantaire speaks fluent Latin and knows lawyer Latin too and is focused so intently on Enjolras that he feels like he’s going to explode. Grantaire is so smart and so pretty and touches him like they belong together. Enjolras gasps against Grantaire’s collarbone at a particularly breathtaking twist of his wrist, and Grantaire cuts off his string of incomprehensible ancient dirty talk with an unhinged laugh and says, “Fuck, I need ten years in bed with you, this is insane, Enjolras, I should just tell you my SAT scores.”
“Oh my god,” Enjolras chokes out and comes, knows he’ll be humiliated as soon as he stops shuddering and biting at Grantaire’s neck. He’s bright red and knows it but Grantaire doesn’t seem accusatory or mocking or anything beyond whispering more Latin and running a hand through Enjolras’ hair and getting rid of the condom. Enjolras is too involved in pulling Grantaire into a slow heavy kiss to really care what he does with it, and Grantaire is kissing him back, and Enjolras barely hears the politely incredibly loud throat-clearing.
They jerk apart immediately, and Enjolras didn’t even know he could blush this hotly, desperately trying to tidy himself up and Grantaire looks painfully hard and completely shell-shocked, like he can’t even believe that just happened, which is fair. That is absolutely fair. It’s only after he manages to break away from staring at Grantaire that he realizes the bus is idling at his stop, Jesus waiting patiently.
“Well this is awkward,” Grantaire says, even if he doesn’t sound particularly bothered by it. If anything, he sounds like he’s trying to get his feet back under him after an earthquake.
“Get off the bus, Grantaire,” Enjolras says, and leads their walk of shame down the aisle because this at least he can do right. It’s awkward and Enjolras is probably still bright red but they get off of the bus easily enough, Grantaire immediately walking as far away from the doors as he can without losing track of Enjolras in the moonless night.
Before the doors close behind them, Jesus calls out, “Hey, Enjolras.”
Enjolras steels himself, and turns around to face his loyal bus driver, because as much as he might want to shrink into the concrete, Jesus deserves to say whatever he wants to. “Yes?”
“I can already tell he’s good for you,” Jesus says, closes the bus door, and drives off.
There’s a long silence, nothing but road noise and city sounds until Grantaire quietly asks, “Are we going now?”
“Yes we are,” Enjolras says firmly, because he is under two blocks from having Grantaire in his bed and god knows it’ll be enough torment just trying to get him there without (yet again) risking arrest for public indecency. And Grantaire’s cheeks are flushed and he’s obviously hard even if he’s trying to get control of himself and he is so, so pretty, dark hair curling against his forehead and kiss-reddened lips, and Enjolras realizes there is absolutely no way they’ll make it to his apartment. He grabs back onto Grantaire’s much abused shirt, staring into Grantaire’s eyes. “You need to be the reasonable one again.”
“We’re so screwed,” Grantaire says. “Wait, what am I doing?”
Enjolras says, “Keeping me from pushing you against the nearest wall and-”
Grantaire stops him with a hand quickly pressed across his mouth, eyes wide and frantic. “We are so screwed, please stop talking like that, you need to start walking right now.”
It’s the most awkward walk of Enjolras’ entire life, grabbing onto Grantaire’s hand and speed walking to the point of nearing a jog until they reach his building. It involves a few near misses where Enjolras looks back at him and is physically incapable of doing anything but twisting then towards the nearest wall or bench or anything and kissing frantically until one of them remembers there could be a bed. Enjolras is well aware that the idea of pillows and a mattress and a headboard are the only things that keep them moving forward.
Enjolras’ building an old four story brick building that’s seen better days and Grantaire doesn’t even look twice at, just focuses on Enjolras getting his keys into the front door lock. They’ve been completely silent because fuck knows just listening to Grantaire talk could push him into legally regrettable things, but he manages to get them up two flights of stairs and down the third floor hallway and two doors to the left of the stairwell and his shaking hands manage to get the door open, finally.
They’ve barely stepped through the door when Grantaire steps into Enjolras’ personal space and gets a hand full of hair and that’s as far as he gets before Enjolras kicks the door shut and kisses him frantically, hard enough that Grantaire is shoved into the wall. He doesn’t object even a little bit to that, groaning at the impact and tugging at Enjolras’ shirt, saying, “Come on, come on,” and Enjolras is perfectly happy to oblige. He pulls back and genuinely does not give a fuck where his shirt lands when he tosses it to the side.
Grantaire freezes, the fingers on Enjolras’ hips clenching tight enough to hurt only to release immediately, simply resting against the fabric of Enjolras’ pants. It takes him a minute to realize what just happened, and shit, shit shit shit, he clears his throat and offers, “It’s not what it looks like?”
Enjolras has scars. They’re nothing big or impressive, but there are a lot of them – a grouping of points from broken glass, a lucky cut from a switchblade, a gouge from getting punched by someone with a viciously poky ring on. Grantaire is looking at them, completely unreadable, face still and eyes intense.
“I’ve just had an active life, it’s nothing you have to worry about, and I mean they’re all scars so obviously they aren’t issues anymore and you don’t need to worry, it’s just things that have happened, they aren’t happening right now,” Enjolras says, and fuck, he can feel panic rising. How the fuck did he not think of this? How did he miss this really obvious issue? God, Grantaire already thinks he’s some sort of delicate abused flower, now he probably thinks he has proof –
“I want to know absolutely everything about you,” Grantaire says, and kisses him, soft and adoring. It’s long and beautiful and Enjolras is helpless to do anything but keep his eyes shut and try to breathe when he pulls away. “But you can take your time about telling me, if you want. I’m not going to demand answers, so you can stop looking so freaked out, okay?”
Enjolras thinks about saying okay and he thinks about saying how long do you really think you’ll stay and he thinks about just telling him because he knows he could easily fall in love with Grantaire, just tip right into it, which is terrifying. Instead, he wraps his hand around Grantaire’s and wordlessly leads him deeper into the apartment and through the door of his bedroom, flicking the lights on, because he wants to see every detail he can.
“Can I – I mean, you have to tell me what you want here, I’m just sort of desperate to touch you in any way you’ll let me,” Grantaire says.
Enjolras figures the best way to solve this problem would be to strip down. The shoes and socks come off easily enough when he sits down on the bed. He does care about his pants, but they’re already going to definitely need a wash, so he tosses them into the wall along with his underwear and feels incredibly painfully exposed but refuses to blush.
“You are so ridiculously pretty,” Grantaire says.
He’s close enough that Enjolras can snag him by his simple black belt, pulling him to stand in front of Enjolras. It’s strangely difficult to undo the buckle, but that’s probably because his hands are shaking a little bit and he has his forehead resting against what feel like really amazing abs beneath Grantaire’s shirt. When he manages to get Grantaire’s pants undone and slide them down to mid-thigh, Enjolras has to at least lick his cock. It makes Grantaire gasp, like he’s surprised, and Enjolras says, “I really want you to fuck me.”
“I can do that,” Grantaire says, voice high, and Enjolras grabs his hips to make wrapping his lips around Grantaire’s cock more doable. “Holy shit I can absolutely definitely do that but oh my god your fucking mouth Enjolras, you’re going to kill me if you keep that up.”
And fuck, Enjolras doesn’t want to stop. He should’ve thought of this before he even pressed his mouth against Grantaire’s cock, should’ve remembered how intoxicating the sounds Grantaire makes are, how amazing it feels to have Grantaire’s hands clenched and rigid and frantic in his hair.
“Oh fuck, Enjolras, show mercy on me, please,” Grantaire begs, dragging fingers down Enjolras’ hair and on to his jaw line, feeling his own cock sliding in and out of Enjolras’ mouth. “Oh my fucking god, Enjolras, please please please.”
It almost hurts to pull off, immediately misses the feeling of having Grantaire heavy and hot and frantic between his lips and against his tongue, but Grantaire makes up for it with his own mouth. Grantaire kisses him and pulls away only to strip off his shirt and pants, and then he’s naked and beautiful and fuck, he’s so stupidly hot with his wiry muscle all over and his gorgeous everything.
The only thing that keeps Enjolras from desperately diving back onto Grantaire’s cock is the fact Grantaire tackles him onto the bed, immediately rocking down and grinding against Enjolras’ hard cock, fuck, he wants him so bad. “It’s – bedside drawer, let me,” Enjolras says, and manages to pull himself away just long enough to grab his rarely-used lube and condoms that he’s pretty sure Courfeyrac gave him as an act of eternal optimism and Enjolras is so, so grateful.
Grantaire wastes absolutely no time, thank god, shifting to the side and pouring a more than respectable amount on his fingers before gradually thrusting one inside of Enjolras, and he rocks back onto it with his legs spread shameless and welcoming because fuck yes, this is so good, Grantaire is so good, he wants so much more.
“Christ, I can see why you like being called a filthy slut,” Grantaire says, dazed, and it makes Enjolras laugh and pull Grantaire down into a kiss. It’s hot and dirty and only breaks when Enjolras has to gasp as Grantaire adds a second finger. He wants it even faster, wants Grantaire’s cock right now, but this is good too. Everything Grantaire is good. “Fuck, okay, give me the condom.”
“I am going to buy so many more,” Enjolras says, breathless, and rips it apart and slides it onto Grantaire’s already-leaking cock. And he knows Grantaire wouldn’t like not knowing, so he grabs the lube again and says, “Fuck, okay, you should know it’s been a while-”
“I can fucking tell, Enjolras,” Grantaire bites out, and right, right, Enjolras should’ve known that. He reaches up and pulls Grantaire into a kiss that is met eagerly, Grantaire nearly falling on Enjolras in his attempt to follow his lips, which is so frustrating.
Grantaire’s lips leave his only so that his teeth can nip at a nipple and shit, he ends up arching off the fucking bed and feels like a fool for it but considering how good it feels, no, he isn’t going to tell Grantaire to stop. He grinds down as hard as he can on Grantaire’s fingers and runs rough fingernails through Grantaire’s gorgeous dark hair and says, “You should fuck me now.”
“I will, oh my god,” Grantaire says, frantic puffs of air and lip against Enjolras’ chest, but he doesn’t. He moves away to get even more lube and add a third finger and it’s glorious, it’s amazing, but it’s not Grantaire and he wants Grantaire, and apparently he’s saying all of this out loud because Grantaire is a shaking mess over him, staring down at him with stunned eyes with something else in them, something very soft and powerful that Enjolras wants so much it hurts.
“Please,” Enjolras says, more of a question, or even begging. He whispers it through the heavy breaths he can barely get out of his straining lungs.
“There is no fucking way this is really happening,” Grantaire says, and he still doesn’t fuck him. He slides down the bed and there’s absolutely no warning before Grantaire’s tongue is sliding down his cock and then his mouth, and Grantaire sucks like his life depends on it.
Enjolras doesn’t care if he sounds like an angry toddler, doesn’t care if this is amazing and he could tell Grantaire how good he is for years. He gets a vicious handful of Grantaire’s pretty hair and pulls him off and up to Enjolras’ eye level so that, panting, he says, “I told you to fuck me, I’ve been telling you to do that since we got to this bed, I know you want to, so why-”
“Fuck, you are so you,” Grantaire says, which is ridiculous, but then he finally removes his fingers and is slowly, slowly sliding inside of Enjolras.
Grantaire sounds like he’s being tortured and Enjolras’ hands don’t even know what to do, scrabbling across the bed until Grantaire takes one in his own and keeps them pinned to the mattress, firm and hot and inseparable and oh fuck, Enjolras can barely breathe but knows he is making an embarrassing amount of noise while Grantaire thrusts inside him, slow and impossibly deep and so fucking good. Grantaire’s other hand is suddenly wrapped around Enjolras’ cock and jerking him off while he thrusts inside of Enjolras and Enjolras can’t even think. He can only gasp and whine as he stares dazed into Grantaire’s eyes, which are staring right back.
“Please don’t say it,” Grantaire whispers, frantic and vulnerable, and Enjolras watches him come, watches the way he tosses his head just enough in just the right way in just the right light. Enjolras thanks everything ever considered sacred for the fact Grantaire has his hand because he feels like he’s flying apart when he comes in Grantaire’s other hand, hot and heady, one hand ripping him apart while the other holds him together.
He doesn’t say it, and neither does Grantaire. They just stay motionless, staring.
But Enjolras does say, “I want you to meet my friends.”
It must be the right thing to say or feel or do, because Grantaire’s smile is dazzling, full of brilliance and joy, and he leans down to give Enjolras a quick, firm kiss. “Direct me to your bathroom, coffee god,” he says.
Enjolras is of the belief that showing is better than telling, so he shifts and stands on slightly unsteady legs, keeping their hands together. “I hate that nickname,” he says with absolutely no heat behind it.
Grantaire fucking winks, big and overdramatic, and says, “Why do you think I use it?”
Enjolras wakes up to his phone ringing, and he tries to roll over and get it off of his nightstand, but there’s three problems with that. First, his phone is not on his nightstand, it’s somewhere in a pocket on the floor in discarded clothing. Second, he’s tangled up in Grantaire in a way that means he can’t roll anywhere because Grantaire has a hold on him like he’s fretting that Enjolras is going to escape – oh, the irony. Third, his phone wakes Grantaire up too, and they’re facing each other, and Enjolras is more than a little hypnotized by the dazed expression on his face.
“Phone,” Grantaire says.
He nods. “Phone,” Enjolras agrees, and slides through what little distance there is between their mouths. He kisses Grantaire softly and simply, a lingering press of lips on lips. When he pulls away, he knows he’s grinning like a fool and doesn’t care even a little bit. “Good morning.”
“Good two in the morning to you too,” Grantaire says, which is half grumbling and half as stupidly besotted as Enjolras is.
“Mmm,” Enjolras says, and kisses him again, until his phone starts ringing again and Enjolras remembers it’s two in the morning. His brain finally snaps into action, and he breaks away to flail his way out of the bed and feel around on the floor to find his pants and therefore phone. He ends up turning a lamp on, and Grantaire whines about that, but Enjolras has priorities right now. It keeps ringing, and every single time it makes Enjolras more and more anxious because it means it’s something that can’t wait.
Absently, he is so grateful his phone is still set to work mode, where all callers are nice and standard instead of the usual horrible ringtones his friends have given him.
When he finally finds his phone, he answers with, “What happened?”
“I’m really sorry to interrupt,” Courfeyrac says sincerely. “I mean, I really am. But Combeferre said to tell you as soon as possible or get killed when you found out, so. Bossuet’s in the ER, everything’s-”
Enjolras shouts, “He’s what?! What happened? How-”
“It’s under control, Enjolras,” Courfeyrac says, like he’s trying to be soothing or something. “Just-”
Enjolras is having absolutely none of that, and starts pulling clothes out of his closet and getting dressed one-handed. “I could be in the middle of a heart transplant and I’d still come,” Enjolras says honestly. “What hospital?”
“Oh, shit,” Grantaire says, and starts getting dressed too, because he’s wonderful.
“Seriously, Enjolras, you don’t have to come,” Courfeyrac says. “Everyone else is already on their way, we’re already going to be squished into a tiny room getting shouted at by Joly and the nurses.”
“I’ll call all of the hospitals in a five mile radius if you don’t tell me,” Enjolras says honestly. And patient information protection or not, they’d tell him. The only people who like Enjolras more than the hospitals he ends up getting patched up in are the local cops that tell him about their families between slapping handcuffs onto him and reading him his rights.
Courfeyrac knows there’s no bluffing involved, and doesn’t try convincing Enjolras otherwise. Fifteen seconds later, Enjolras has a hospital name and their current room number, with a promise to call him with any changes.
When Enjolras hangs up, Grantaire is dressed, and also made the bed. He doesn’t look the least bit annoyed, or disappointed, or anything but worried. “I’ll – is there anything I can do to help?” Grantaire asks.
It’s a genuine offer.
So, Enjolras asks, “Do you have a valid driver’s license?”
“Yes, but I don’t have a car,” Grantaire says. “Or not here, at least. I do actually own a car.”
“Getting a car won’t be an issue,” Enjolras says simply.
Grantaire gapes at him. “Are you stealing a car?”
“What? No. Of course not, I wasn’t thinking of stealing a car, I would never do that,” Enjolras says, and grabs a jacket while he tries to think of another plan that doesn’t involve grand theft auto. “I have an agreement with my neighbor.”
Which is true.
Grantaire doesn’t need to know that this agreement came about because he nearly beat her abusive ex-boyfriend to death. This is also the reason he and Combeferre have their apartment. They don’t know how discounted it is, and he’s pretty sure he doesn’t want to. She’s made it very clear that Enjolras and company are welcome to any and all help she can provide.
Enjolras would never consider taking advantage of her offer to use the car as needed, since there’s always the chance of her having an emergency. Plus, ever since Enjolras had his license revoked after the incident with the fire hydrant, there’s really not much of a point.
Having no valid driver’s license hasn’t stopped him driving before, of course, but being a mostly law-abiding citizen is a smart choice when you’re trying very hard to go see your good friend who is currently in the emergency room. Grand theft auto looks a little less terrible when you are at least legally allowed to drive.
Not that Enjolras will get Grantaire even a little bit involved with that. He’s some sort of genius painter coffee addict. Genius painter coffee addicts don’t belong in the world Enjolras lives in. They belong somewhere warm and happy in a nice safe neighborhood.
“You really don’t have to come,” Enjolras says honestly, and grabs his keys. “You could stay here – or go, if you wanted, I mean-”
“I’m taking you, because you don’t even know your hands are shaking,” Grantaire says simply.
And fuck, Enjolras hadn’t even noticed. He clears his throat and thinks about offering him another out, but instead he nods awkwardly and walks out of the apartment, locking it behind them and quickly making his way to the landlady’s door. It’s a matter of moments for her to get to the door, and even faster when he asks for car keys.
“If you need anything, Enjolras, really,” she says, and Enjolras sends her back to bed before handing the car keys to Grantaire.
Grantaire seems amused, almost whimsical somehow. “I don’t know if she’s scared of you, or in love with you,” he says.
Enjolras doesn’t reply. He doesn’t know what he’d say even if he wanted to. Instead, he takes a deep breath and gets into the unlocked passenger seat, and sits quietly. Grantaire lets him, because he has to know that Enjolras is not quite terrified of the thought of what could’ve happened to Bossuet.
The simple reality of Bossuet’s situation is that people might hate Enjolras and his friends, might think they’re some sort of gang when really all they do is try to help their neighborhood out and spread the word about how fucked up the world is, but they really hate Bossuet. He’s an ex-cop. Officer Lesgles was never a bad sort, always a good and honest man, but he was The Man, before morality kicked in, and people remember that.
He’s also naturally clumsy to the point of life-threatening, and it’s infuriating because Enjolras and the others can never be sure if he fell down some stairs, or ‘fell down some stairs.’
Enjolras rubs at his eyes, torn between rage and panic and exhaustion, and is incredibly grateful that Grantaire is there to drive.
It’s a short drive, and Grantaire parks them neatly near the ER’s entrance before actually coming around the car and opening Enjolras’ door for him, helping him out like he’s some sort of chauffeur for a gentleman. It’s absurd, and Enjolras doesn’t let go of his hand immediately. He squeezes tightly, and Grantaire smiles at him. “I’m not going anywhere,” he says.
“Really, thank you,” Enjolras says, and kisses the top of his hand before letting go.
Grantaire looks completely flustered beneath the parking lot’s lights, blushing and scratching the back of his head. “Well, you know, I’m just, if you ever need help I’m happy to be helpful,” he says, and quickly follows behind Enjolras as he walks into the hospital. “Not that-”
The minute Enjolras is through the doors, the nurse in charge of intake paperwork takes one look at him and sighs. She points behind her. “Room 20, please get Joly to calm down, he’s been useless for the past hour,” she says, and then points at Grantaire. “Who is this?”
Enjolras has no idea how to answer. “He’s Grantaire,” he says.
The nurse frowns. “You look kind of familiar.”
“Oh you know, come in for bangs and scratches, you seem to have a good memory for faces. Well, Room 20, here we come,” Grantaire says quickly, and rushes them both through the swinging doors. “So, who is Joly? He’s a doctor?”
“He’s in school to be one,” Enjolras says.
Grantaire nods. “Right. He’s doing his residency?”
“Pre-med, actually,” Enjolras says, and suddenly he is so excited for Grantaire to meet his friends. Excited and terrified, but he is imagining having both his friends and Grantaire in the same room at the same time and it would just be the best things in his entire life all squished into one place.
“Pre-med?” Grantaire repeats, and there’s something not quite anxious in his voice. “Pre-med like undergraduate pre-med?”
Enjolras nods. “He goes to school part-time, but he’s expecting to graduate in the spring,” he says proudly.
“Oh my god,” Grantaire says, the words almost a squeaking noise.
He wants to ask what exactly that means, but then they walk into Room 20.
“Oh my god!” Courfeyrac shouts, terrifyingly excited to see the coffee boyfriend.
“Oh my god,” Enjolras says, because Bossuet has a broken leg, so newly plastered that it’s still wet.
“Oh my god,” Jehan breathes out, looking absolutely delighted.
And suddenly Grantaire moves forward faster than anyone Enjolras has seen in his entire life to grab Jehan. He practically throws Jehan over his shoulder and tears out of the room, slamming the door to Room 20 behind him.
Enjolras stares at the door, baffled.
“What the fuck was that?” Courfeyrac asks.
“I really don’t know,” he answers honestly. “It was fast, though. He’s really quick, I didn’t know he could do that.”
“Wow, Combeferre wasn’t kidding,” Joly says, looking at Enjolras.
“What?” Enjolras asks.
Joly clears his throat. “You’re…uh.”
“You’re sappy and kind of stupid and fawning over your coffee boyfriend like a thirteen year old girl with her first crush,” Courfeyrac says. There’s no mockery or irritation to it, though, because Courfeyrac is a true friend. It’s just good natured teasing, accompanied by Courfeyrac poking him in the hip.
Courfeyrac has the chair, Joly is hovering next to the unconscious Bossuet in his hospital bed, Bahorel is asleep in the corner in the telltale pose of someone who hasn’t slept in a very long time, and Jehan’s chair is still waiting patiently for him right next to Courfeyrac’s.
He was right – the place is packed. Combeferre and Feuilly didn’t come because it’s very likely that they’re investigating.
Enjolras still doesn’t regret coming.
“How is he?” Enjolras asks quietly.
“Broken leg, concussion, had a dislocated shoulder – it looks like it’s an actual accident, thank god,” Joly says, and sighs. “But I’m not sure. I mean, you can never really tell, and Bossuet won’t tell you, and there’s just. What if it was an attack? What if they come back? What if-”
“Then we’ll deal with it,” Enjolras says firmly.
The door quickly opens, and Enjolras nearly has to jump out of the way to not be hit.
“So I’ve had sex with Jehan three times,” Grantaire says before it’s even all the way open. “But I didn’t even know you then, but I mean, it wasn’t like relationship sex, it was just – you know. You know?”
“This is amazing,” Jehan says.
Enjolras frowns, trying to be sure he really does know before he says he knows what Grantaire is you knowing about.
Apparently, this is the wrong thing to do, because Grantaire says, “You don’t at all have to worry I will ever do it again I swear I mean this was at least a year ago and I really can swear to every single thing anyone ever thought of as a higher power that I’m not going to-”
“You really don’t have to do this,” Jehan comments.
“Please please please don’t be angry,” Grantaire says.
“Why would I be angry?” Enjolras asks, genuinely confused. He glances over at Courfeyrac, which is a bad idea.
“You shouldn’t, he’s just being insecure because your relationship is new,” Courfeyrac says, so maybe it wasn’t actually a bad idea to ask him.
Jehan pats Grantaire on the shoulder, still looking positively elated. “I am just – you guys are perfect for each other. I really mean it. Perfect, it’s going to be horrible, I’m so excited,” Jehan says, almost bouncing.
“Am I supposed to be insecure?” Enjolras asks.
“No,” Grantaire says firmly. “Trust me. You have no reason to be insecure at all. Ever.”
“Oh god, they’re so cute I could vomit,” Jehan says, and takes his seat back.
“You know I have to ask about how you met,” Courfeyrac says.
“I can neither confirm nor deny,” Jehan tells him. His grin is almost scary.
It doesn’t seem that difficult to figure out for Enjolras, really – Grantaire’s a painter, and Jehan dabbles in poetry while being a stunning landscape designer. He does award-winning flower arrangement, as well. Art people probably know each other, let alone genius art people who enjoy political theory and philosophy.
Enjolras sighs, and turns to look Grantaire directly in the eye. “I really don’t care,” he says honestly.
Grantaire looks completely desperate. “Really?”
“I’m sort of curious, but that’s as much as I care, I promise,” Enjolras tells him firmly, and he doesn’t care if there’s five other people in the room. He steps forward, wraps a hand around the back of Grantaire’s neck, and pulls Grantaire into a small, delicate kiss. It’s just a slow press of their lips against each other, nothing fancy, nothing risqué, but it still feels monumental somehow. He pulls away after placing one more kiss to the corner of Grantaire’s mouth, because he can look Grantaire straight in his pretty, pretty eyes. “Okay?”
Grantaire is blushing lightly, and smiling his smile that means he’s genuinely flattered and happy with something Enjolras has done but feels awkward about it, like he’s not sure if he’s allowed to feel that way. It’s the smile Enjolras got when he somehow managed to unintentionally convince Grantaire he’s a law student.
Suddenly, with a horrible sinking feeling, Enjolras realizes what he’s wearing. Regular jeans, regular jacket, but a shirt that has Benjamin Franklin’s Deserve neither Liberty nor Safety quote on top of a riot squad. There’s also blood involved. It’s a terrible shirt. He zips up his jacket so fast, desperately hoping Grantaire hasn’t noticed, and if he does, he’ll think it was a gag gift instead of something he actually wears outside of Candle Factory.
He genuinely unironically wears this shirt, and Grantaire must never know.
Enjolras turns and leans his back against Grantaire (because he can) and looks at his friends, and most importantly, at Joly.
“He’ll be fine, Joly,” Enjolras says. “He’s fallen down the stairs before.”
“Is that what happened?” Grantaire says, and there is very obvious disbelief there.
“Probably,” Jehan says, and Enjolras wants to glare at him or something but settles for scowling at the entire situation.
“We can talk about this later,” Enjolras says. “The important thing is getting Bossuet out of the hospital and back on his feet, broken or not, stairs or not. Joly, the ER needs you to get back to things. Is Musichetta around?”
“She’s in Brazil,” Joly says.
Enjolras sighs, and nods. “Alright, I’ll get him home.”
“No you won’t,” Courfeyrac says, eyes wide and stunned, like Enjolras just said he was going to jump into a volcano. “No, you’ve-” He points at Grantaire. “Coffee boyfriend!”
“Please stop calling him that,” Enjolras says.
“I kind of like it, though,” Grantaire says cheerily.
“Don’t encourage him,” Enjolras says, and isn’t quite sure which one of them it’s directed at. Both, probably. “Fine. Jehan. Can you get Bossuet and Bahorel back?”
Enjolras and his friends have started to live in one strange glomp of mutually assured absurdity. Enjolras and Combeferre have their apartment, and the rest seem to migrate from house to apartment to house. The three bedroom house is always Bossuet’s, and the two bedroom apartment is always Courfeyrac’s, but everyone flits between the two (excluding Joly, who now shares a bedroom with Bossuet) and Enjolras can barely keep track of it. He’s just happy they’re happy.
“Just don’t worry about this,” Courfeyrac says firmly. “We’re big boys, we can figure out how to put people in cars and drive them home. Go home.”
Grantaire carefully pulls away from Enjolras, and Enjolras has to fight the impulse to grab him and pull him back. “It’s okay if you want to stay,” Grantaire says. “Trust me, this is definitely a no-fault situation. Friends in the emergency room are more important than whatever you call what we were doing.”
“It’s called sleeping,” Enjolras says.
“No it’s not, it’s called snuggling,” Courfeyrac mock-whispers, and stands up, stretching his back out and smiling and being charming and showing a little bit of hip when his shirt slides upwards and oh no. This is why Enjolras wasn’t going to introduce Grantaire to his friends, or at least not do it like this.
There was going to be a gap where Enjolras didn’t have to worry about charming handsome people being infinitely more appealing than Enjolras and his terrible coffee and traitorous vocal chords. This is definitely extenuating circumstances, yes, but still. He should’ve just come alone, left Grantaire warm and safe in bed and far away from where Bossuet looks exhausted and bruised in the hospital bed with Joly finally calming down next to him.
“Seriously Enjolras, it’s okay,” Grantaire says, and when he smiles at Enjolras, it’s bittersweet. But it’s real, and an attempt at reassurance.
Courfeyrac gets a grip on Enjolras’ arm and says, “Okay, you and I need to talk.” Enjolras doesn’t even have a chance to say yes or no or even really acknowledge the declaration. Courfeyrac just pulls him out of the room and closes Room 20’s door. “I know you don’t like delegating, and it’s even more difficult when someone’s hurt, but I have it under control. This isn’t a major injury. If something happened beyond Bossuet being, you know, Bossuet, Combeferre and Feuilly will tell us in the morning. You don’t have to be here.”
“Of course I don’t have to be here,” Enjolras says. “Do you think I’m here out of some sense of obligation? Looking for a status report?”
“You know I don’t,” Courfeyrac says. “And that’s not the point I’m trying to make. You can go home, is what I’m saying. You can go with coffee boyfriend instead of sitting here while we literally watch plaster dry.”
“This is light years away from the Kelvin thing, Enjolras,” Courfeyrac says. “Believe me, he isn’t trying to make you do some sort of me-or-them thing here. He’s pretty much doing the complete opposite of that, actually. Go home, and take him with you.”
Everything was wonderful and simple before he got called about Bossuet and ended up thinking about them versus him. But if Courfeyrac says it’s okay, it probably is.
Enjolras nods, and opens the door again, looking at his friends. Grantaire is snickering with Jehan about something, and Enjolras is so curious but other than that everything’s normal. Joly is calmer, Bahorel is still asleep in the corner, and Courfeyrac walks in with a casual grin for everyone in the room. Including Grantaire. And Enjolras should not be nervous about that, because he knows Courfeyrac would never ever do that, but he really is nervous. He really, really is, because Enjolras is many things, but prime boyfriend material isn’t one of them.
He clears his throat, and Grantaire immediately breaks away from his conversation with Jehan.
“Do you,” Enjolras says, and has to stop, because Grantaire’s expression is trapped somewhere between scared and excited and god, what if Enjolras picks the wrong one? What if he really did just want to leave on his own? But Courfeyrac is standing behind Grantaire and giving him that encouraging keep going hand gesture, so Enjolras tries again. “Want to go home with me?”
He picked the right one.
Grantaire ducks his head for a moment, and he’s smiling the good smile. He looks around Room 20. “Are you sure? I mean, we could stay longer or something too, if you-”
“I’m sure,” Enjolras says as firmly as he can manage.
“Well,” Grantaire says, beaming at him. “If you’re sure.”
“So fucking cute, god, where is the Grantaire I used to know,” Jehan says.
Enjolras is going to interrogate him for hours about everything Grantaire likes and hates and paints and feels.
But for now, he holds out a hand towards Grantaire, heart pounding like he’s asking Grantaire to jump off a bridge with him instead of drive back to his apartment and fall asleep together again. Grantaire immediately takes his hand, eager and almost giddy, and god, it’s infectious. Enjolras pulls him out of the room just before Courfeyrac starts making kissing noises that Enjolras manages to close the door on.
“So, your friends are interesting,” Grantaire says, still holding Enjolras’ hand. He’s not quite swinging their arms, but it’s close. It’s sort of a swaying between their bodies that Enjolras can’t quite bring himself to complain about. “But I was really glad to see Jehan.”
“Really?” Enjolras asks, smiling, because his friends like Grantaire. And Grantaire likes his friends. And Enjolras likes Grantaire and Grantaire likes Enjolras and Enjolras is fighting very hard to not start getting optimistic about this.
“I haven’t seen him much for a good, god, year and a half?” Grantaire says, which Enjolras realizes lines up more or less when they met him in jail. “I’m just really happy to see he’s hanging out with you. I heard he fell in with some gang or something, so hooray for that.”
Enjolras manages a smile and a weak, “Hooray.”
And they are not a gang.
“Well, I don’t know about you, but I am really ready to just fall asleep again,” Grantaire says firmly, and then hesitates slightly, awkwardly jingling the car keys while Enjolras opens the passenger side door. “I mean. Well, I could go back to my place-”
“You shouldn’t,” Enjolras says, and gets into the car. He tries to think of a way to phrase it, some way to clearly explain that Grantaire is always welcome to his bed, in every way, at any time. He waits for them to be on the road, and settles on, “I want you in my bed. You don’t always have to be there, obviously, but it’s nice when you are.”
Grantaire is quiet for a moment before he says, “I’ve been in your bed for like four hours at the most, Enjolras.”
Enjolras ends up smiling at him. “And it was a good four hours, wasn’t it?”
“God, it really was,” Grantaire says, and somehow, the awkwardness is broken now. He groans. “God, it’s three in the morning. If I’m up at three, I shouldn’t be so – uh.”
“So what?” Enjolras asks.
“Awake,” Grantaire says. “I should be asleep like a responsible adult and by the way how old are you maybe.”
Enjolras frowns at him.
“I mean – okay, it’s not like it matters, but I’m just. Asking. Because it never occurred to me until tonight that you might be some sort of mature super-prodigy law student, which it’s okay to be! I’m just curious is all. I’m allowed to be curious about this, aren’t I?” Grantaire asks. “But if I’m not allowed to be curious, that’s fine too, it’s not like age really matters. I mean, after twenty-one.”
“I’m over twenty-one,” Enjolras says, and he can’t hide the snicker when he sees Grantaire’s shoulders relax.
“Okay that is a good thing,” Grantaire says, and the relief in his voice is genuinely hilarious. “Can I ask how much over?”
“You can ask,” Enjolras says.
“I just won’t get an answer,” Grantaire says, and sighs, parking. “I’m too tired to outmaneuver you. Remind me to poke you about it tomorrow.”
“Why would I do that? Aren’t you the one who believes humanity is motivated by self-preservation?” Enjolras asks.
Grantaire’s rebuttal is simple and brilliant. He leans over the emergency break and kisses Enjolras.
The kiss is obviously supposed to be short, more making a point than actually kissing him, but Grantaire’s mouth moves against him and catches Enjolras’ lower lip between his own, and then his teeth follow, and Enjolras gasps when he nips lightly. He wraps a hand in Grantaire’s hair purely by impulse, barely thinking of it beyond the feeling of his fingers dragging through his dark curls, and even unwashed, his hair is so soft. Enjolras whispers Grantaire’s name between their lips, and Grantaire pulls away and even with the light panting that comes from kissing someone and meaning it, he says, “I’m seriously considering changing my feelings about humanity’s basic motivation because of you.”
It’s the most romantic thing Enjolras has ever heard in his entire life, the most romantic thing he can ever imagine hearing someone say, and he doesn’t even think about it. He just wants to climb inside of Grantaire and kiss him forever, and he lets out what is probably a humiliatingly loud moan before slamming Grantaire back into the driver’s seat and following him down as Grantaire squeaks at the move.
“Oh my god,” Grantaire breathes out, and Enjolras has him pressed against the driver’s side door before he can say anything else. He kisses Grantaire like they’re on an airplane about to crash into the ocean, and Grantaire grabs him by the waist with a grip so hard it hurts and Enjolras does not mind. He wants to be closer, wants to go deeper, thinks about trying to get his mouth around Grantaire’s cock, and lets himself be pulled over.
The car’s horn blares out, loud and sharp.
Enjolras jerks back because oh fuck. First off, Jesus that is loud and obnoxious and probably everyone in the neighborhood is going to look out their windows, fuck. Second, this isn’t even his car. It isn’t Grantaire’s car. It belongs to his nice neighbor who would happily chop her own arm off for him. Enjolras opens the passenger side door and stumbles out quickly, checking that he’s more or less looking at least a little bit respectable and that Grantaire is okay. He still looks like a jumbled mess that Enjolras shoved against the car door, but he quickly gets out and stands in front of the car with Enjolras.
“That was, uh,” Grantaire says.
“Idea and action was great, but not exactly practical,” Enjolras says.
“God, yes,” Grantaire says, and that’s the last mention of their awkward making out in someone else’s car. They don’t even bother speaking after that. Enjolras drops his neighbor’s car keys off by just sliding them under her door.
By the time they’re back in Enjolras and Combeferre’s apartment, the mood is very, very broken.
Also, it’s three in the morning.
Enjolras and Grantaire strip down to their underwear, and there’s not even anything sexy about it. He can barely keep his eyes open, and only just manages to remember that he doesn’t have work tomorrow. Which is technically today.
“Need an alarm?” Enjolras asks.
Grantaire just yawns, shakes his head, and turns off the light.
When Enjolras wakes up, Grantaire isn’t in bed with him.
His immediate reaction is whining and grabbing for someone he obviously knows isn’t there.
And then he wonders, if Grantaire isn’t in bed with him, where is he?
And then Enjolras desperately flails his way out of bed, barely catching himself on his hands and knees instead of falling on his face because oh shit, oh fuck, there’s no falsified concrete evidence that Enjolras is a peaceful law student while there’s so much to prove he’s a lawless violent reprobate. Enjolras has a corner of the living room set up entirely for taking care of his friends and his neighborhood and keeping track of any gangs that might be threatening it. There are lists and plans and flyers and oh fuck-
“Good morning to you too,” Grantaire says, and Enjolras finally opens his eyes and sees that Grantaire is sitting at Enjolras’ pristine desk, fully dressed, chair turned to face the bed, and he has one of Enjolras’ red pens in hand and printer paper on top of one of the library books Combeferre has lovingly borrowed for him. He is drawing. He’s doing artist things.
Enjolras groans, and lets his forehead drop onto the carpet. “Oh, god,” he says. “I thought-”
“Enjolras, we need to get one thing straight right here and now,” Grantaire says. Enjolras rises up enough to at least be sitting on the bed, nodding on the way. “We’re boyfriends now. We’re officially dating, and together, and this is a relationship. Correct?”
“Yes,” Enjolras says.
“Boyfriends don’t leave without at least saying goodbye,” Grantaire says, and points the pen towards Enjolras. “That’s the rule. Even if we’re having an absolutely horrible screaming match and want to strangle each other to death, there’s no storming out without a word. There’s a goodbye, and then you can storm out. Okay?”
Enjolras frowns. “This is really important to you,” he says.
“It is,” Grantaire agrees.
“Then that’s how it is,” Enjolras says.
Grantaire nods, and looks strangely touched. “Good. Anything on your end for relationship regulations?”
It’s a serious question, and a smart one. The entire horrible state of affairs they’d had for however long could’ve been avoided if they’d just talked things through at the start.
The silence is stretching on and on while Enjolras tries to think of something, and Grantaire is just waiting patiently, if not fondly. He doesn’t even look bored. If anything, he looks curious.
Enjolras had never even considered that there could be something as wonderful as Grantaire in the world, and god, he doesn’t want to lose him.
“If I – if one of us messes up or does something wrong or says something hurtful, you have to let them at least explain their side of things the next day. You don’t have to forgive or apologize or do anything but tell your side of what happened,” Enjolras finally says.
Grantaire looks impressed. And then, for some reason, he gives Enjolras an absolutely ridiculous smile, ridiculous and affectionate and excited. “That’s long-term thinking,” he says.
For one very brief moment, Enjolras panics, because oh fuck, it really is, and he is panicking because he’s not panicking. Enjolras actually means it. He really, really wants this, for as long as he can have it.
So, he looks Grantaire straight in the eye, and says, “I know.”
Enjolras isn’t quite sure what to do when Grantaire makes a choked squeaking noise and lifts the book and paper into the air and smacks his own forehead with it. He doesn’t like the slightly desperate laughter that follows, and quickly crosses over to pluck the book out of Grantaire’s hands, saying, “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” Grantaire says, but still won’t look at Enjolras. He’s completely scarlet, fidgeting slightly. “I’m just so – I’m great, actually. Just give me a second, I need to, uh. Well, kind of readjust all of my goals in life.”
“Can I help?” Enjolras asks, and dares to run his hand through Grantaire’s hair. He doesn’t know if this is allowed, but they’re boyfriends, so he’s probably okay. Grantaire makes a pleased noise, actually pushing up into Enjolras’ hand just slightly, and Enjolras can’t help but smile. “I don’t work today, if you’d like to stay longer.”
“You should know that I’m not telling you everything,” Grantaire says.
Enjolras can’t help the amusement in his voice when he says, “And I am?”
It makes Grantaire let out a huff of a laugh, finally lifting his head. He looks happy, thank god. “That really was a bit hypocritical of me, wasn’t it?” He clears his throat, and Enjolras doesn’t like the way his happiness shifts into something with far too much regret in it. “But I just want you to know that I’m not…I have problems. And I’m doing much better thanks to, uh, motivation, but they’re still there and they’re always going to be there and I know I should tell you, I know, but-”
“It’s fine, Grantaire. Take your time,” Enjolras says firmly, and leans down, kissing him gently.
And really, he could do this forever and be content, but all things have their end. Grantaire pulls away looking strangely dazed, but quickly composes himself, even if he has a hand still holding Enjolras’ bicep.
“Right,” he says, and lets out a deep breath. “Right. So I’m pretty sure your roommate is back, which makes a lot of sense considering the hour, and that is the other reason I’m cutting this short even though I really, really don’t want to.” He groans, and presses his forehead against Enjolras’ chest. “At all.”
“Then don’t. It’s only – oh,” Enjolras says, finally actually looking at the clock. It’s almost noon. “Right. That makes more sense now.”
Grantaire lets out a long sigh, and pulls away. “I have to actually go do things,” he says, and it’s so dramatically resigned that Enjolras has to wonder for a moment if things is jury duty or scrubbing down his shower.
(Not that Enjolras approves of the general public’s disdain for jury duty – what could possibly be more exciting and important than judging a fellow citizen’s guilt or innocence?)
Still, Grantaire is finally looking up at him with a soft smile. “So I guess I’ll see you tomorrow, unless we talk before then,” he says, and then blinks, and reaches into his pocket. “Oh, right, I don’t have your phone number.”
“Right, of course,” Enjolras says, and quickly rummages around the room to find his phone still waiting in his pants pocket. He figures he might as well get dressed while he’s at it, pulling the phone out once he’s wearing pants and a very, very simple blue shirt, not a bit of suspiciously rebellious text on it, rattling off his phone number in the process. “You can text me any time.”
“Any time,” Grantaire repeats, standing up and pushing Enjolras’ chair back in. When he turns back to Enjolras, there’s something suspiciously devilish to the tilt of his lips. “I think you’re going to regret this particular policy.”
“I don’t,” Enjolras says simply, not at all bothered by the idea of being woken up in the middle of the night by something Grantaire wants him to know. And this is the awkward part now, the part where Grantaire actually leaves and Enjolras has to know how exactly to say goodbye. Plus, he has to get Grantaire through the living room without giving him too much time to really look around. So, he clears his throat, and takes Grantaire’s hand in his own. He guides Grantaire towards the bedroom door and says, “Figure out a date for us. We’re supposed to be dating.”
“I have a couple of ideas,” Grantaire says, and grins. “Particularly after seeing all your fliers.”
Grantaire laughs. “What, do you really think I’m surprised you go to all these justice rallies? You have some extremely radical beliefs – almost anarchist sometimes – and there is no way someone Jehan likes would just stop at words.” When he notices that Enjolras is just staring at him in absolute shock, he adds, “It was kind of obvious, you know. With the debating we do. I thought you were just working to be an idealistic human rights lawyer, but adding this on makes a lot of sense.”
Enjolras just keeps on staring at him, trying to process this. “You’re okay with this? You’re not.” He hesitates, trying to pick the right word, and finally settles on, “Hesitant?”
“You actually thought this would scare me off,” Grantaire says, like it’s the most amazing thing he’s figured out in years. “You think I’m not sure about this. Holy shit, you really don’t know, do you?”
Enjolras frowns. “Know what?”
“I’m completely crazy about you, Enjolras,” Grantaire says, absolutely serious. “I am so sure about this that it’s terrifying. You aren’t going to scare me off, particularly with activism. You wouldn’t be you without that, and I really, really like you. Every single part of you. Unless there’s a dead body in your closet, you aren’t going to scare me off.”
He wants to say just wait. He wants to shove Grantaire back onto his bed and suck him off so hard and fast and so fucking good that Grantaire screams and blacks out. He wants to take him into the living room and give him a complete rundown of Enjolras’ actual life, wants to introduce him to the true versions of his beloved friends. He wants to hide Grantaire somewhere soft and safe for all eternity.
Instead, Enjolras drags Grantaire as close as possible, holds Grantaire’s head with gentle hands, and says, “I’m crazy about you too.”
Grantaire’s face cycles through so many emotions so quickly that Enjolras can only catch a few of them – elation, terror, desperation, hope – until he leans forward and kisses Enjolras. He obviously means for it to be short, but Enjolras has no idea how to say everything, doesn’t know how he’d even start, so he doesn’t let Grantaire keep it soft and chaste. He squeezes his eyes shut and fucking kisses him, opening his mouth and swallowing Grantaire’s gasp. It’s teeth against lips, daring to lick inside of Grantaire’s stunned and welcoming mouth, dragging his fingers through Grantaire’s hair as he drags his lips and teeth across Grantaire’s lips, and Enjolras can’t help but let out a short desperate moan when Grantaire wraps his arms around Enjolras’ waist and presses them together.
“Oh god,” Grantaire pulls away to say, panting, and Enjolras makes a tiny objecting noise and Grantaire whines and then Enjolras couldn’t speak if he wanted to because Grantaire is kissing him again. One of Grantaire’s hands grabs a fistful of the back of Enjolras’ shirt and the other is slowly sliding lower and lower like Grantaire doesn’t even know he’s doing it, and then another moment later Grantaire pulls away again. “Shit, it’s almost noon, I have to go, Enjolras,” he says, and then repeats, “Enjolras,” like he’s completely awe-struck, and kisses him again.
Enjolras is whining into Grantaire’s mouth when Grantaire pulls away to bite at Enjolras’ jaw and say, “Fuck, she’s going to kill me and I don’t care.”
“If she tries I will destroy her,” Enjolras says immediately, because the details don’t matter.
Grantaire makes a noise more appropriate to being stabbed than counter-threatened. “I’m dead, I have to be dead, there’s no way I’m not dead,” he says.
“Don’t you dare start debating the nature of reality right now,” Enjolras says, and Grantaire lets out a frantic desperate laugh and lifts him up and slams him against the wall so hard he’s lightheaded. He doesn’t care, he feels like he’s flying, like he’s falling –
Oh fuck, he is falling.
Enjolras barely has time to realize what’s going on and stare into Grantaire’s equally shocked and equally falling eyes as the flat surface which was very much a door and not a wall bursts open and sends them tumbling through the air, and it’s embarrassing and infuriating that this is happening and then very impressive and weird when Grantaire somehow manages to twist them so it’s Grantaire that hits the floor with a pained groan and it’s Enjolras who ends up not unpleasantly sprawled across Grantaire.
“Shit, ow, are you okay?” Grantaire asks.
“That was unexpected,” Enjolras says, still slightly breathless from many, many things.
“Be aware you aren’t the only ones in the room anymore,” Combeferre says very loudly and very promptly.
Grantaire groans, turns to look into the living room with a slight blush on his cheeks, and waves. “Nice to see you again, Combeferre. Courfeyrac, I’m Grantaire if you don’t remember me from when we met in a high-stress situation at like four in the morning, you look great in natural light,” Grantaire says. He points at Enjolras, who is still sprawled on top of him and not sure whether or not he’s ready to move, and grins. “This is my boyfriend, Enjolras. He’s my boyfriend.”
“Oh my god, he’s as bad as Enjolras,” Courfeyrac says.
“I should move,” Enjolras says, and doesn’t. Grantaire doesn’t seem particularly bothered by their position either, since he’s running fingers lightly through Enjolras’ hair. But, he hears Combeferre let out one of his resigned for fuck’s sake, Enjolras sighs, so he rolls off of Grantaire.
“Right,” Grantaire says, and clears his throat. He sits up in a slightly more respectable position, looks at now-upright Enjolras, and then at Combeferre and Courfeyrac sitting at the table, and lets out a long breath before standing up. “Right. Okay. I’m going to leave now before this gets extremely awkward and socially dangerous.”
Enjolras wants to object, but there is absolutely no valid objection beyond maybe pointing out how they’re both stupidly turned on, and that’s not exactly appropriate. Plus, Grantaire’s been trying to leave ever since Enjolras even woke up, so he nods, and gives Grantaire a soft, mostly-polite kiss. “Goodbye, boyfriend,” he says.
Grantaire really needs to stop smiling like this. It makes Enjolras’ heart twist to the point that it’s physically painful, like the happier Grantaire is the harder it is for his heart to beat and blood to circulate – which probably causes the dizzy lightheadedness too.
But Grantaire returns the kiss, quick and almost bashful somehow, and says, “Goodbye, coffee god.”
“Stop calling me that,” Enjolras says.
“And lose that cute little twitch in your jaw? I think not,” Grantaire says, and gives a quick wave to Combeferre and Courfeyrac before walking out the door.
He stares at the door with what is probably a completely ridiculous smile, and Combeferre makes an amused noise.
“Maybe we should start with lunch,” Courfeyrac says. “There’s no – oh my god, that’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.” Enjolras twists to see Courfeyrac grinning and looking out the window. When Enjolras starts to walk over, he holds up a hand. “Oh no. No, you’re not supposed to see. Just believe me when I say your coffee boyfriend is ridiculous.”
“I already knew that,” Enjolras says, and sits in the not-very-nice armchair next to the couch his best friends are occupying. He can’t stop smiling. It should probably be embarrassing. “What are we doing?”
The grin on Courfeyrac’s face slides into regret and a little bit of anger, and he looks over at Combeferre. “Seriously, maybe we should have lunch before getting into this.”
And Enjolras isn’t an idiot. Even through the absurd haze of happiness, he knows what they’re not saying. “Bossuet didn’t fall down some stairs, did he,” he says.
“You’re impaired right now, Enjolras,” Combeferre says. “Swear you won’t do anything about this without at least having back-up. I know you want to keep us all out of it, but you can’t, not safely. Promise you won’t try and do something on your own.”
“That means you already know who did it,” Enjolras says.
“And that wasn’t what I asked from you. Besides, we already have a plan, so there’s no need for you to do anything other than follow it,” Combeferre says, and turns his laptop to face Enjolras. Operation Erinyes is stamped on the cover power point slide he already has up. If he’s already made the power point, Combeferre has this thing triple-checked. If he’s referring to Greek mythology in said power point, he’s probably checking it another twelve times and estimating bail money, and is probably completely wired from insomnia.
Enjolras sighs. “Have you slept at all in the past twenty-four hours?” he asks.
“Not really, but that’s not the point,” Combeferre says, scowling when Enjolras stands up and takes Combeferre’s laptop from him. He sets it on the wobbly coffee table and yanks Combeferre onto his feet. “This is absurd, Enjolras, I’m perfectly fine-”
“March,” Enjolras says, pushing Combeferre in front of him.
“This is going to destroy my circadian rhythm,” Combeferre says, although it’s starting to sound more like but mooooooom then any kind of valid argument. “At least let me explain the plan. Courfeyrac gets too excited to do it right.”
“I do not!” Courfeyrac says, which is a complete lie.
“We’ll be fine while you sleep for four hours,” Enjolras says.
“Four hours? That’s absolutely excessive, it should be two at the most-”
“Four hours,” Enjolras repeats, and opens Combeferre’s bedroom door for him. And then shoves him inside.
Combeferre looks ready to object some more, but instead he lets out a resigned sigh. “Four hours,” he finally concedes, and closes the door behind him.
Which is one problem taken care of.
When he sits back down in the ratty grey armchair, Courfeyrac says, “You’re not getting me out of your hair, Enjolras.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Enjolras says.
Courfeyrac rolls his eyes. “Combeferre would’ve dropped you immediately if he wasn’t so tired. I actually managed to get five hours of sleep, so you’re not lovingly manipulating me away from you so you can go punch people.”
Some people think Courfeyrac is stupid. Those people are absolute morons. Courfeyrac is the most insightful person Enjolras has ever had the privilege of meeting, and has a flawless sense of whether complete strangers are good or bad people, and could probably rattle off someone’s entire life history after a twenty minute conversation with them. He knows people, and he knows how their minds work, and there is absolutely no duplicity with him.
If you lie to Courfeyrac, you don’t get away with it. You get a hug and a therapist.
So, Enjolras just sighs and nods. “He does need the sleep, though,” he says.
“I know,” Courfeyrac says, and stretches. “Okay. Time to fill you in. Bossuet’s still in the hospital but he’s going to be up and around soon enough, they’re mostly keeping him so Joly doesn’t go postal. Combeferre and Feuilly spent the night investigating and, being amazing, they figured out it was an actual attack and who did it, and no, I’m not telling you who yet. We’re all meeting for dinner at the Musain and Combeferre’s briefing, and then you get to punch people. Okay?”
“Fine,” Enjolras says, and resigns himself to spending the next four hours being teased and questioned about Grantaire.
Enjolras understands his part of the plan perfectly. He knows why he’s the one in charge of it, knows why it’s the only part of Operation Erinyes (for fuck’s sake, Combeferre) that was vague, just saying and then it’s Enjolras with a nod and noises of easy understanding and agreement from all of his friends. He is ready for this. He is eager for this.
There is only one problem. And that problem is chiming in his hand.
what r ur feelings on dancing Grantaire texts. And, a moment later, not 4 hypothetical date btw this is 4 compatibility survey also zodiac sign plz
“Maybe someone should escort Enjolras home,” Feuilly says.
im betting aries r u an aries wait don’t answer u r definitely an aries regardless of birthday
actually still tell me ur birthday i can do more tests that way
feel free 2 include year???????
Enjolras tries to calm down his stupid fluttery heart, and types back, STOP You’re getting me in trouble ttyl, and pockets his phone. “I’m done, I’m okay, we’re good to go,” he says, even if most of his friends look completely unimpressed. “I am! Look, no more-”
His phone chimes.
“God, he’s such an asshole,” Enjolras says, tries very hard to ignore the smile that immediately pops onto his face, and checks because he can’t help but check.
“ANY TIME” YOU SAID. “A N Y T I M E”
Enjolras groans, and sends back, Fine but they’re seriously about to kick me out, I’m ignoring you now.
He’s in the process of muting his phone when Grantaire sends an entire screen of kiss emoticons. He might make a noise at that. Maybe.
When he looks back up at his friends, every single one of them is frowning at him.
“I can do this,” Enjolras says.
His phone vibrates loudly in his pocket.
“Here’s how we’ll do it,” Combeferre says, and pulls Enjolras’ phone out of his pocket. Enjolras makes a noise of protest, but Combeferre silences him with a sharp look and tucks the phone inside of his jacket. “I’ll check it periodically, if there’s something important, I will inform you. Now. Focus. This isn’t the time or the place.”
“Yeah, Enjolras,” Bahorel says. “You’ve gotta get your head in the game.”
Courfeyrac nods like Bahorel has just said the wisest thing he’s ever heard and plants a hand on Bahorel’s shoulder. He says, “You’ve gotta get-”
“Don’t you dare,” Combeferre snaps, and Courfeyrac shuts his mouth immediately, sharing a smile with Bahorel. Combeferre keeps his eyes on Enjolras, though, and stands close enough that he can practically whisper. “We can postpone, but you know we can’t do this the right way without you. I need an honest answer. Should we postpone?”
It’ll be an absolute mess if they postpone. It’s ludicrous to think nobody’s spotted all six of them making their way through a neighborhood that is most definitely not theirs. Jehan in particular is always impossible to miss – his hair is up in a braid that curls around his head with tiny flowers peppered in the folds, and he’s wearing truly horrible loose orange pants, and it’s like walking around an unwelcoming neighborhood with a flashing sign hovering above their heads. But, Jehan is happy, so Enjolras is happy. And if they postpone and turn around, any and all element of surprise is completely gone, and it’s very likely that someone will be waiting for them next time.
“I was perfectly fine until he started texting,” Enjolras mutters, and tries to scrub some sense into his head. He tries to think of his situation like he’s dealing with one of his friends instead of himself. “I’m not all here, but I’m good enough that there’s no need to abort. I’ll be last in and third out, and I’ll be very careful to not get into a physical fight if I can because I already know my reflexes are horrible and that would just cause even more problems-”
“Breathe, Enjolras,” Combeferre says, and quickly presses their foreheads together. It’s an old habit and it helps every single time after all these years. Enjolras breathes. “You are not a detriment to our group and we all love you. Okay?”
“Okay,” Enjolras says, and pulls away, trying to think on the important things right now.
At all times, in all ways, Enjolras’ number one concern is the wellbeing of his friends. He wants to make the world a better place, but he’s all too aware of the fact that it’s a goal he could never hope to achieve on his own. His friends are the best part of himself, and they need him right now, and Enjolras refuses to let them down, no matter how accepting or forgiving they would be.
And this, this is his life. This is Enjolras’ reality, and he loves it, and he turns to Bahorel and says, “You’ve only had your cast off for a week, so pay attention to what you’re punching.”
“I’ll watch out for him,” Jehan says, and gives Bahorel a good-natured shove right into wonderful, perfect Feuilly before he points at Enjolras. “And you. Just shout if you need me.”
It is universally acknowledged in their group that Jehan is fucking terrifying in a fight. Enjolras has seen Jehan stomp on people’s collarbones when he gets really angry, which is impressive, because Enjolras is pretty sure you’re actually supposed to stomp on their skull. He’s terrifying, yes, but controlled.
That’s why Enjolras nods and says, “I’ll be careful, but thank you, I appreciate that. Is everyone ready to go?”
Bahorel lights up. “Does that mean I get to kick the door in now?”
“Yes, you get to kick the door in,” Enjolras says.
“Awesome,” Bahorel says, and kicks the door in.
The building is a nice simple townhouse with the same generic floor plan as most of the townhouses in their city. Combeferre still walked them through it repeatedly, of course, and it definitely helps while Jehan grins and jumps into the chaos a laughing Bahorel is causing.
Normally, this would be where Enjolras enters. This is his spot in the regular lineup. Instead, Feuilly gives him a quick pat on the shoulder and heads inside, Courfeyrac just a couple of steps behind him.
“You’re okay for this?” Combeferre asks yet again.
“Just go punch someone,” Enjolras says, and honestly, how does Combeferre pass for a polite mild-mannered law student? How does he manage to hide his not-terribly-secret sadistic side so well? The minute it’s an actually planned fight, Combeferre lights up like a Christmas tree and dives right in.
Which leaves Enjolras feeling completely left out of the fun, standing outside of the townhouse’s now completely destroyed door and waiting for the chaos inside to soften a little. Bahorel switching from loud laughter to loud taunting is as good a sign as any, really, so Enjolras finally lets himself inside.
As Operation Erinyes had prepared them for, by the time Enjolras gets into the living room, three out of four of his fellow hooligans are busted up and flat on the floor. Bahorel has blood in his teeth and a cut on his forehead, Feuilly looks like his nose might be broken again, and a scraped up Courfeyrac is helping a frowning and peerless Jehan fix the flowers that got dislodged from his hair. Combeferre, being Combeferre, is the one who is dragging their fourth and final punched up target down the stairs by the earlobe. Also, being Combeferre, his only wound is going to be a couple of bruises.
Overall, a truly great result.
“This is the one,” Combeferre says when he hits the ground floor, and shoves his guy right into Enjolras’ arms.
“That would make you Arnold, wouldn’t it?” Enjolras says, hands clamped on the man’s shoulders. “Or what was it, some sort of racehorse-sounding name. Well, your mother named you Arnold, and that’s good enough for me. Feuilly, would you get us a chair from the kitchen? I don’t know how long he’ll be able to stay standing.”
The guy clears his throat and says, “My name-”
“Is Arnold,” Enjolras says. “And I am Enjolras. You’re already acquainted with my dear friend Bossuet – which is why we’re here. That also means you probably know who I am, and who these wonderful people with me are as well.”
Arnold obviously wants to say something offensive, but Combeferre clears his throat very loudly and that urge goes away pretty fast. He settles on honesty and nods, which is a good sign. “I know who you-”
“Oh, thank you, Feuilly,” Enjolras says, and shoves Arnold into the newly-arrived chair in the middle of the room. “Do you know what the Golden Rule is, Arnold?”
He hesitates, but carefully says, “Yes?”
“It’s also known as the ethics of reciprocity. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. You can find this same exact concept in twenty-one religions across the world. It’s the idea that you should think of everyone else you meet as someone who could feel and like and hate the same things you do, and should treat them how you’d like to be treated,” Enjolras says, and crouches down so they’re at eye level. “It’s about as universal of an ethics code as there is. Well, that and ‘murder is bad’ but we’re not concentrating on that right now. Are you following me, Arnold?”
“I think so?” Arnold says. When Enjolras just raises his eyebrows and waits, he shifts awkwardly with a wince. “I mean. Yeah, I get it, I guess. Do unto others, Golden Rule, I know that idea. It makes sense.” He looks considerate for a moment. “Didn’t know the universal ethic thing, though, that’s new.”
“You should look into it,” Enjolras says. “Figure out what code you want to live by, as an individual. Understand what you believe, and what will keep you awake at night for the rest of your life.” He stands and turns to Combeferre, holding out his hand. “I need my phone.”
“Do you,” Combeferre says.
“In case Joly wants to hear this,” Enjolras adds.
“Oh, well, in that case,” Combeferre says, and quickly hands it over.
“Joly is the boyfriend of that guy you beat the shit out of yesterday,” Enjolras says for Arnold’s benefit.
Arnold is much, much smarter than Enjolras expected, because it takes barely two seconds after that statement for Arnold to try and lurch out of the chair, which Enjolras is perfectly fine with. He slams his fist into the side of Arnold’s head and shoves him back down again.
“Golden Rule. Treat others how you want to be treated,” Enjolras says. “So obviously I have to assume you want the same treatment you gave Bossuet.”
“I don’t,” Arnold says quickly.
Enjolras sighs, and shakes his head. “Didn’t we just agree on the Golden Rule’s validity, Arnold? I didn’t punch you nearly hard enough for you to forget that.”
“But what about your side!” Arnold says. “Is this how you want to be treated?”
“Yes,” Enjolras says simply. When Arnold looks at him like he’s crazy, he adds, “I’m currently treating you like this because I’m treating you how I want anyone who hurts my friends to be treated. Including me, if I ever do something this fucked up.”
And then looks down at his phone so he can call Joly and ask if he wants to listen in, but it’s full of nothing but notification after notification of absurd Grantaire texts.
hope ur class does kick u out I checked the schedule and im embarrassed u have to take law and morality those poor helpless bastards in ur class
swear im not a creepy stalker even though its kind of creepy 2 do that
concept of privacy in the internet age is outdated anyway
oh god I just keep getting creepier dont I hey look a segue
ill talk about how i hope u make ur classmates cry but oh save ur sweet sweet scowling only for me
He stands there scrolling through Grantaire’s stupid bullshit and feeling like he’s going to vomit until Courfeyrac says, “Enjolras?”
Enjolras isn’t ashamed of himself. He’s proud of who he is and what he believes in, he’s fine with the hooligan and the coffee versions of himself, but the dissonance is what’s killing him. He wants Grantaire by his side being a beautiful obnoxious genius asshole and he wants to be here and now righting wrongs with his friends and the gap between those two worlds seems like it spans light years.
“Enjolras, ignore the coffee boyfriend,” Courfeyrac says.
But here, and now, it isn’t the time. He can address the distance when he isn’t two feet from a stunned bleeding man Enjolras has pinned to a chair with nothing but the concept of authority and a little bit of pain.
He closes Grantaire’s messages, and calls Joly.
And Enjolras had been looking forward to this before, but now he just feels grim and resolved when he tells Joly, “Two things. First, I need you to list off the exact injuries Bossuet has, please. Second, do you want to listen in while they’re duplicated on the body of the main attacker?”
Because Joly is the sweetest of all of them, he graciously declines the listening-in, which means Enjolras is torn for a moment on how to proceed. Enjolras was so excited to do this, and now there’s not even anything satisfying.
They hang up, and for a moment Enjolras just stares at the ceiling trying to figure out what exactly is going to happen next.
Then, Enjolras steps away from Arnold and the chair, and beckons Bahorel over.
“Break his leg,” Enjolras says. It feels horrible to ask this of someone else, but if ever there was a person to ask for this, it’s Bahorel. He asks for specific placement of the fracture, what kind of force he’s supposed to use, the names of all the bones – he’s good at what he does. Bahorel is brilliant. God, all of his friends are brilliant. And so is Grantaire, but the idea of Grantaire standing in here with them is completely horrible and makes him shudder.
It’s a precision beating, after that. They return every exact wound Bossuet has. Everything else is undoubtedly dulled by the pain of a broken leg, but Bahorel has the science of impact and momentum woven through his bones.
They leave Arnold unconscious in the chair, and Enjolras is the third out, as promised. There’s no waiting around or gloating – there’s nothing to gloat about with this. Violence is always a means to an end, and this time, there’s nothing good or fun about that end. Bossuet is still in the hospital, and Bossuet will still wake up with an awkward self-effacing smile that won’t fade until they tell him what’s happened during his absence.
Instead of walking like how they’d arrived, they take the train to their closest stop and walk from there. It’s not much faster, since there’s some backtracking and they have to stand on the platform trying to look innocuous to the bystanders with them, but it gets them out of the not-so-friendly neighborhood without having to cross some potentially dangerous streets.
“Are you okay?” Courfeyrac asks him, and all of his friends are listening in.
To say his behavior tonight was uncharacteristic would be like saying his friends are just okay.
You can’t lie to Courfeyrac, so he sighs and just says, “I’m impaired. My brain can’t decide how to behave.”
Courfeyrac nods. “Would more coffee boyfriend time help?” Enjolras just shrugs, and Courfeyrac rolls his eyes. “Okay, Enjolras, we’re worried, and from what I’ve come to understand, this’ll get better once you’ve kind of acclimatized to the goofy reciprocated crush thing. That means I’d encourage you to go see him. However, I also know you’re going to get all fussy and overprotective with us the moment we’re back in the Musain. So the question here is really which one will be most beneficial to all involved. Boyfriend exposure therapy, or compulsive friend caretaking?”
“You’re a truly wonderful person, Courfeyrac,” Enjolras says, because all of the convoluted hazy indecision is finally nice and neatly sorted when it’s put that way. Phrased like this, the best course of action is extremely obvious, too.
He pulls out his phone and sends Grantaire a text. I’d like to see you tonight if that’s okay I know its late but you drink coffee at 10pm so I guessed youd still be up
It takes a while for Grantaire to reply. apparently I can deny you nothing he says, followed by an address and this isnt my apartment btw im kind of at my 2nd job atm sooooo guess were going there
Enjolras frowns. We don’t have to if you don’t want to. We could meet somewhere if you’d prefer
naaaah this isnt a big secret its harmless its just kind of awkward & a lil bit embarrassing plus i was gonna tell u soon anyway so maybe this way i can impress u!!!!!!! please please please come by id love 2 see u
He has a ridiculous smile on his face, and Enjolras goes through one-armed hugs and pats on the shoulder and one silly wet kiss on his forehead (Courfeyrac) before his beloved friends get off the train. They cheerily wave him off with smiles and battered knuckles as Enjolras rides on.
Chapter 8: THE END
This "chapter" is what I had written of the next chapter, followed by a rambling summary of the rest of the fic because you deserve SOME kind of closure.
Hello, and I hope you're having a good day! This chapter is not a chapter so much as an attempt at providing you some semblance of an ending to this story. It contains the raw/unedited portion of the next chapter that I'd written, followed by a ridiculous rambling account of what happened next, all the way to the intended ending to the bizarre story of these coffee hooligans.
I know it's not what you were hoping for, but alas, it is all I can provide at the moment. Coffee Hooligans was always just me tossing bullshit around in some kind of loving not-satire of barista AUs, so maybe my babbling at the end of all things is the most appropriate ending there ever could be.
Thank you for your patience, kindness, and the hours you spent reading the ridiculous saga of Enjolras being the world's shittiest barista when he's not punching people in the face. I can only hope it was time well spent, for both of us.
With the warmest of regards for you, dear reader,
Grantaire’s texts direct him to an area that isn’t in a great neighborhood, but it’s not bad either. It’s certainly not a dangerous place, which Enjolras is happy about. The address belongs to a three-story brick building separated into offices, with one large stairwell the only way up or down.
That’s a safety hazard just waiting to happen.
Enjolras climbs his way up to the third floor, aiming for Suite 304. He has a tiny moment of absolute panic where he looks at his imperfect reflection in a window, but decides no, he does not look like a disreputable hooligan. With his minor crisis averted, Enjolras opens the door.
Suite 304 is a big empty room with a wood floor and a few large windows. There’s an sound system hooked up on the walls, but that’s about all there is. It’s just a room with speakers and posters and already-stacked chairs, and a Grantaire lying on the floor. He’s stretched out in workout clothes, barefoot, hands behind his head as he stares up at the spinning fan.
“You just missed Eponine,” Grantaire says when the door shuts behind Enjolras, tilting his head to look back at Enjolras and smile in a way that makes Enjolras feel like the world is suddenly soft and beautiful. “Good evening, boyfriend. How many people did you debate into tears today?”
“Only one for sure. I think quality of tears makes up for quantity, though,” Enjolras says, and takes his jacket off as Grantaire laughs, hanging it on the nearby row of near-empty coat hooks as he looks around. Enjolras is more than familiar with the signs of a business fully cleaned up and ready to close, and glances at the clock. He can’t help but grimace. “Sorry. I hadn’t realized it’s so late.”
“It’s not that late. You and I are creatures of the night shift, Enjolras, this is the equivalent of something like 9PM for boring people,” Grantaire says, weaving a hand through the air in some cross between a drifting bird and a conductor’s baton. “If you wanted to meet at like five in the morning, sure, that’d be rough. I might be kind of pissed – actually, no. I can pretty much guarantee I’d be completely on board if you wanted to meet at five in the morning.”
Enjolras makes a sound that’s not quite laughter, and sits on the floor next to Grantaire.
“So, how was your class?” Grantaire asks.
“It was,” he tries to begin, and sighs instead. “Do you ever know you’re doing the right thing but wonder about how…how intensely you’re doing it?”
“As in when do you know you can stop beating someone over the head with your point?” Grantaire asks, amused.
“Yes, actually,” Enjolras says. It’s very accurate if he takes it literally.
Grantaire sits up, still giving Enjolras that beautiful doting smile of his. “Well, it’s definitely not when they start to beg you for mercy,” he says, and slowly brings a hand up to brush across Enjolras’ thankfully completely uninjured and normal-looking cheek. “You should probably aim for enough to impact someone, but not enough to break them. Everyone has their own breaking point, so there’s no real definite answer. But, in your case, probably err on the side of breaking. You’re in law school, they’re adults, if they can’t handle you I don’t know how they’d handle the almost-yous who also happen to be judges and lawyers. They knew what they were getting into.”
It’s actually pretty solid advice, so long as Enjolras does the required mental acrobatics to adjust it into advice about punching people.
“Although I’ll say that if you’re ripping into someone, they probably deserve it,” Grantaire adds.
Enjolras frowns. “I’m not exactly nice,” he says.
“Yes you are. You’re just kind of like a hedgehog in your niceness, all cute and cuddly on the inside but prickly and hurtful if someone says or does the wrong thing,” Grantaire says, and stands up, offering Enjolras a hand up. “And you are very cuddly, by the way.”
“Combeferre may have complained about that a few times over the years,” Enjolras admits, and takes Grantaire’s hand. When he’s on his feet, Grantaire doesn’t let go.
“He’s not a cuddler?” Grantaire asks, amused.
“Mostly he likes not being strangled in his sleep,” Enjolras says.
“Well, everyone has their priorities,” Grantaire concedes. “It doesn’t make much of a difference for me, you always leave me breathless.”
Enjolras is about to worry about how he does that until he cross-references it with Courfeyrac sorts of things. “You’re flirting with me, aren’t you.”
“I am!” Grantaire says, beaming. He is way too excited about this. “God, that usually takes you a lot longer to pick up on. I spent one night doing absolutely nothing but double entendre and innuendo and you didn’t even notice. Like, the entire night. Forty-five minutes. Really, you should’ve been impressed.”
“Good job?” Enjolras offers.
“Better late than never,” Grantaire says.
He thinks about trying to flirt back, but takes the much more reliable and pleasant option of leaning forward and kissing Grantaire, soft and affectionate. Affectionate is the word to use.
“Okay, so, confession time,” Grantaire says when they separate, arms wrapped around Enjolras’ waist. “I was really really hoping Eponine would still be here when you showed up because now this is going to be way more awkward because I can’t do anything remotely impressive.” He clears his throat. “So. Enjolras, I teach people how to ballroom dance.”
Enjolras did not expect that.
It makes a lot of sense if he looks at the room though, considering the posters are dance posters and the floor is nice and polished and open. There are mirrors on the wall behind him, and fans on the ceiling, and Grantaire is waiting patiently, so he says, “Huh.”
“Is that a good huh or a bad huh,” Grantaire asks.
Enjolras thinks, ah, and asks, “Is this how you met Jehan?”
“It is,” Grantaire says, but there’s a hint of hesitance in his voice. “We were both in a jazz dance class, but that’s not. I mean, that’s how I first met him, not how-”
“I really don’t have any problem with your history with him, I promise,” Enjolras says firmly. “Stop worrying. This is just curiosity about two people I care about.”
And suddenly, all of his worrying about his friends slams back into him. It’s jarring, and obviously it shows on his face, because Grantaire quickly raises a hand to Enjolras’ head, frowning. “What’s wrong?”
He didn’t see any major injuries on his friends, but there could be bruises, or there could be internal bleeding, or there could be ten thousand angry bees zooming towards them for all he knows. Enjolras isn’t there to make sure they’re okay. It’s the first time ever that he hasn’t been there to make sure everyone’s okay.
Enjolras made the wrong choice. Or did he? Did he just need less time with Grantaire to get his head back in order this time? Is he already, how’d they put it, acclimatizing to Grantaire? Or is Enjolras just this worried?
That’s the answer. That is definitely the right answer.
He really is just that worried.
“Enjolras, please talk to me,” Grantaire says, eyes wide and bright, expression caught between frown and fear.
“I need to leave,” Enjolras says quickly.
“No, I mean I have to go check on my friends, I suddenly remembered something,” Enjolras says, because he knows that expression and he hates it.
“Oh,” Grantaire says, the word and endless sigh of relief before he’s frowning again, dropping his hands. It’s a more casual frown. A concerned kind of frown. “That’s right, I’d almost forgotten. Is your friend Bossuet okay?”
“I heard he is, but I haven’t seen him today,” Enjolras says.
“Of course,” Grantaire says, and steps back, smiling easily and fetching their coats. “You really are the cuddliest hedgehog. Do you want a ride to the hospital?”
And Enjolras realizes, this is a moment. This is a chance. This is a prime opportunity to try and ease Grantaire into the truth of Enjolras’ non-coffee life.
He snaps a hand out for his coat and quickly digs through the pocket, grabbing his phone.
“Oh shit, is this an emergency kind of-” Grantaire begins.
“No, nothing emergency, just…time sensitive,” Enjolras says, because it is.
There is an order to what happens after they go out and try to do some good (sort of). It’s a vague order, but it definitely exists, and if Enjolras doesn’t catch everyone in Phase 1 or 2 only god knows what could happen to Grantaire. Well, nothing is what would happen, beyond Enjolras shoving Grantaire back out the door and escorting him home and possibly making out a lot and yes, he texts Combeferre.
How bad an idea is it for me to bring coffee boyfriend to the musain right now
Surprisingly, it’s Courfeyrac who texts back. Or maybe not surprisingly. YES BRING COFFEE BOYFRIEND
When Combeferre replies, Enjolras wonders, as ever, what he would do without Combeferre. It’d be good to ease him in, but you have to hold back on your usual overprotective indignant antiseptic applying routine. If you can do that, yes. If you can’t, no.
And that would definitely be difficult to do. He looks over at where Grantaire is waiting, awkward yet patient.
He’s about to text Combeferre back when he gets a third message, from Jehan.
you should bring him :)
The smiley immediately sells Enjolras. Jehan only adds smileys when he’s actually smiling.
NOW! Clearly they are about to journey off to the musain! that’s just lots of chatting betwixt our heroes (well, ‘heroes’) in which jehan snickers a lot. because he knoooows the twisty secret thing.
and what IS the big twisty secret of the whole thing?? it's not even much of a secret tbh, seriously, it is even in the TITLE okay it’s fucking PLURAL i’ve called it hooliganS since i started writing the thing???? and yes it could refer to the rest of the gang but are they related to the coffee?? no. no, they are not. well, admittedly, grantaire is a different kind of hooligan. WHICH I SHALL EXPLAIN.
so in the jehan intro you read his little transition to BADASS KARATE [silat] MASTER where it steadily goes from dancing -> fighting and this is a transition that grantaire did with him!!! because they were dance bros and are sort of ex-bffs. ANYWAY, following canon, grantaire is a ~savateur~ and also knows everyone everywhere so he and jehan were sort of kind of underground ultimate fighters BECAUSE I SAY SO.
((i also originally thought about having grantaire be an Amateur Professional Wrestler because that shit is HILARIOUS but alas it’s not quite hooligany enough))
SO ANYWAY off they go to the musain, blah blah talking and everyone realizing they’re all kinds of stupid for each other, grantaire is more or less accepted into the fold, all people are happy about this, and everyone goes home! separately!
NEXT DAY IS WHEN THE ACTUAL PLOT STARTS because gasp shock hooligan-world people knoooow enjolras has a coffee boyfriend and said hooligan-world people are aaaangry at himmmm and there’s escalation and A DESIRE FOR PAYBACK!! so they decide they’re gonna go rough grantaire up which ha ha ha yeah that doesn’t work out so good for them and grantaire just PANICS because they were all 'okay dude we’re gonna punch you a lot because your boyfriend’s an asshole’ and graintaire's like ‘well yes he kind of is but MY LOOOVEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!’ and he runs off to enjolras’ apartment VERY DETERMINED TO PROTECT HIM and upon discovery enjolras is very determined to protect GRANTAIRE and it’s infuriating for everyone who has to even see them because they are both MORONS and think the other is sweet fragile nerd baby who needs to be snuggled and kept safe forever
sooooo they both want to walk the other home for SAFETY PURPOSES and end up getting in a big fight and not-quite-breaking up EXCEPT THEY CAN’T BREAK UP BECAUSE THE OTHER ONE MIGHT BE IN DANGER and meanwhile jehan is laughing his ass off and e&r go on the grumpiest date ever and!! GASP!!! THEY ARE CORNERED!!!!
and enjolras is TRYING TO GET GRANTAIRE TO RUN AWAY but grantaire’s mister pro fighter dude so he pretty much has their attackers down in like twelve seconds and then grantaire’s all are you okaaaaaaay are you saaaafe and meanwhile enjolras is BRAIN OVERLOAD??? because this is genius artsy prancydance grantaire so he gets the word loss thing going and grantaire is all WORRIED!!! so they go SOMEWHERE idk where, that’s not important, the important thing is that grantaire’s panicking and keeps ~explaining himself~ and apologizing and finally enjolras grabs him and sHOUTS I AM NOT A LAW STUDENT I AM KIND OF IN A GANG but not really we are not a gang AT ALL blah blah blah and anyway it is a really horrible speech, and not really a speech, it’s this segmented shit that anyone who doesn’t know enjolras fairly well would think was just like RANDOMLY SHOUTED WORDS and thank god for explanatory narration at that point
grantaire’s like "you could literally live in a dugout hole in a landfill and eat cockroaches and i would still think you are SMART AND CHARMING AND SO GREAT YOU’RE SO GREAT AND YOU ALSO BEAT PEOPLE UP AND I THINK THAT’S REALLY HOT APPARENTLY" so it is decided that they need to kiss a lot and say i loooveee yooouuuuuuuuu because they’re idiots
and i should add that the above big reveal fight is a bigger deal than i make it sound atm because it needs to resolve the ENTIRE HOOLIGAN PLOTLINE for the moment, there’s a big ol' speech where random dude is like ENJOLRAS YOU ARE BAD AND HERE ARE SEVERAL REASONS WHY I’M GONNA PUNCH YA AND STUFF and grantaire’s like GASP WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT THIS IS MY NERD BOYFRIEND and then previously mentioned actions ensue
there’s like deep serious talking about lives and stuff here too and they’re both genius losers who punch people and grantaire’s like "well fuck that noise you’re the least loseriest loser ever SO LET'S WORK ON THAT" and further talking ensues and things end happy
so, itty bitty timeskip and enjolras is STIIILLLLL working @ candle factory and grantaire is lovingly mocking enjolras for the fact he has to take all these intro classes because he’s in community college gasp shock hooray and it’s all cute and goofy until they get to the fact he’s got to do a FINAL PRESENTATION and grantaire’s like nah it’ll be fiiine we’re gonna help and they’re cute some more and then tiny timeskip again and he’s getting all ready for said presentation and then everyone sneaks into the classroom and sits in the back giving him thumbs up and stuff and i imagine his presentation’s on like mitochondria or something it’s great and he actually manages to talk in front of people holy shit and then ADDITIONAL TIMESKIP and he’s in a philosophy class and look at that grantaire’s there too and is like "OH REEEAAALLLLYYYYYYY" at literally anything enjolras says and all hell breaks loose pretty much and they are ridiculously impossibly happy and getting their shit together and that’s the end.