[Black and white blended image of Grantaire and Enjolras.
Scenes From An Inconvenient Espionage Love Story By Lanna Michaels]
Grantaire is not a Double-O. He's not even a secret agent. He's not anything romantic. He's one of the interchangeable multitudes in Q Branch's Research & Development section. It means he spends a lot of time playing with dangerous weapons. He's quite happy where he is, thanks.
But where he is also happens to be a small windowless conference room with Q and not nearly enough alcohol.
"Les Amis. The leader calls himself E," Q says. "Supposedly short for 'Égalité', actually short for Enjolras. He's exactly your type."
Grantaire's type is smart, gorgeous, and bad for him. He says so.
"Precisely," says Q. "E's surrounded himself with a group of highly loyal followers, all of whom have remarkable discretion and talents. Quite remarkable. We need someone on the inside."
"Not it," Grantaire says. "I forgot, I'm cleaning out my inbox while washing my hair." Q looks at him mildly. Grantaire groans. "What are they, anarchists?"
"Worse," Q says, handing Grantaire a jumpdrive. "Socialists. You start training tomorrow."
Naturally, the first meeting with Les Amis goes horribly wrong.
"You're Raconteur?" asks the most unimpressed angel Grantaire has ever had the privilege to be disdained by. Seriously, Grantaire could die happily now.
"Call me R. You're the French Revolution?" Grantaire asks, although it's not much of a question. He's definitely looking at Égalité, Liberté, and Fraternité. The three men standing over him don't look much like career criminals, but then again, Grantaire's life has only ever failed to live up to the promises made by fiction and films and the Double-O program.
"Yes," all three say in unison.
Then Fraternité grins, sits down on the other side of the table, takes a sip of Grantaire's whiskey, and announces, "and you're the spy from MI6."
This is not how it's supposed to go.
Shit like this never happens to Bond, Grantaire laments. Then he says, "okay, what," and since none of them are looking violent or prone to becoming so in the future, Grantaire figures he should just roll with it. "What gave it away? Did I forget and leave my badge clipped on?"
"Nope," says Fraternité. The name in his permanent record is Courfeyrac, but there's no need to volunteer how much information MI6 has. "We're just that good."
"Uh-huh," Grantaire says. "Right." He stands up. "Well, I really must be going."
And then Égalité-- Enjolras grabs his arm. "Sorry," Enjolras says, not at all sorry. "But you're not going anywhere."
Grantaire mentally composes his field report. Day 1 of secret agent career: outed and captured by targets. Day 2: explore actually-decent accommodations.
Day 3: profit?
Well, Grantaire reasons, he has infiltrated Les Amis. He's in their secret base and everything! Said secret base is a small cul-de-sac for reasons known only to God and the Revolution.
Within four hours, Grantaire figures out how he could blow the whole place up and feels instantly better about his situation and life choices. Nothing can truly be horrible if he can escape from
himself his predicament. He's getting fed reliably, so, okay, he'll survive this. And then he'll report back and then he'll be fired or demoted, it doesn't matter, because no one will ever be stupid enough to send him out on a mission ever again.
Enjolras brings him lunch on the fourth day. It's much nicer than the previous meals and includes beer.
"Ooh, I know this," Grantaire says excitedly. "This is Stockholm Syndrome!"
Someone outside the room starts laughing. Enjolras turns a very satisfactory and extremely stunning shade of red, turns on his heel, and leaves.
Grantaire calls after him, "not that I needed Stockholm Syndrome! Can I have your number?"
In retrospect, he might be getting a little stir-crazy.
Right, back to the point: intelligence gathering. There's a reason Q picked him for this. And that reason was needing someone who the department could function without but who also could reasonably present himself as someone Les Amis would actually want to recruit. But other than that, there must have been other choices. And they chose Grantaire. He's getting hazard pay for this. He might as well earn it.
Les Amis are your average garden variety hacktivists, and this would never be Grantaire's problem except that their security has baffled even Q. The intel he got was half Les Amis's self-aggrandizement and half ye olde background check. Q hadn't been able to track down photos of a handful of the professed Amis membership and Grantaire commits their faces to memory when they come and give him food or take him on his twice-daily exercise.
They start the brainwashing attempts on day 15. Or, as Combeferre calls it, sitting down across from him, information exchange.
Les Amis are devoted to peace and love and harmony and sunshine and puppies and free public education-- wait, what?
"Our primary purpose is to make public education free and available to the public from cradle to the grave. No matter what your stage in life, you should be able to access quality education."
"You guys rekeyed half the electronic locks in Parliament," Grantaire says.
"It was for the cause," Combeferre tells him. He hands him a pamphlet, lips twitching. "I'd give you Égalité's phone number, too," he says, "but then we'd have to kill you."
"You're going to kill me anyway," Grantaire points out. "And torture me and do lots of other terrible things to me."
"No, we respect the Geneva Convention," Combeferre says.
Grantaire groans and rests his head on the table.
"Is this bullshit all about austerity?" Grantaire demands of the security camera. "Are you assholes keeping me locked up to make a point about budget cuts? I'm a government employee, I think you are missing the point. Find someone not a faceless bureaucrat, that's a good anarchist commune."
The PA system hisses with static and then Enjolras says, "Never underestimate the individual's power to effect change."
Grantaire'd had a lot of friends in college. He'd been sociable. The life of the party. Everything you could ever want. None of his friends were ever the kind of assholes Les Amis are. Grantaire supposes that says something superior about him. He has much better taste in friends than these guys do.
Not that any of this helps.
So here he is, playing solitaire with an old pack of cards while Enjolras argues with him over the PA. Every so often, Enjolras helpfully interjects to tell him where to put his cards. It's like the annoying boy next door who could have posed for Michelangelo.
And, worst of all, Grantaire's having the time of his life.
"Would I even recognize Stockholm Syndrome?" Grantaire asks the air around him.
Enjolras sounds affronted. "You do not have Stockholm Syndrome. You were drooling on my shoes the moment you laid eyes on me."
"Yeah, but now I want to take you out to dinner and buy you wasteful things," Grantaire says. "That's probably an emotional problem."
"It's not wasteful if you do it in a way that contributes to the local economy," Enjolras says. "It's more wasteful to keep it locked up in a bank. Money only exists while being put to use. You have to invest in the future if you want to ever see it."
"See," Grantaire says, "shit like that is why I assume I'm not getting out of here alive."
Grantaire's starting to become concerned that he hasn't been rescued yet. Are they expecting him to free himself? He might be able to blow his way out of here, but that would defeat the purpose of intelligence gathering, wouldn't it? Although some secret agent getting him out would also probably defeat the purpose. But Bond really should be breaking down the door right now. Grantaire's made him enough weapons, Bond totally owes him. In fact, all of the Double-O's should be lining up around the block for the privilege of rescuing him and paying back their accumulated favors in one fell swoop.
Why haven't they?
Grantaire's getting worried here.
"I'm feeling abandoned," Grantaire gripes.
Enjolras continues dealing the poker game. "Oh?"
"I was employee of the month," Grantaire says. "How quickly they forget."
"Relax, it's nothing personal. They don't know you're being held against your will." Enjolras puts the deck to the side. "Your mission is showing signs of success. MI6 has been enjoying the labyrinth they think you opened up for them. Yes, you haven't checked in, but they're assuming that's either down to inexperience and fundamental incompetence, or we're keeping you on such a short leash that there's never been a safe opportunity for you to make contact. You and Fraternité look similar enough from a distance that they think you were in the crowd at the last riot. At this rate, we could keep you for a few months before they notice that something has gone wrong."
"You are incredibly creepy," Grantaire says.
"But competent," says Enjolras. "Don't forget that."
Before everything else, Grantaire is an artist. He usually gets his creation fix sketching, designing, and then testing things that go boom, but when all else fails, there's always the classics.
"I'm bored," he tells Bahorel, who is usually the Ami stuck with guarding him on walksies. They have a rapport, Grantaire thinks. They both enjoy punching things. "Can I have some crayons? I want to draw my escape plans on your walls."
Feuilly comes to visit. Grantaire doesn't see him very much, so this is a treat.
"Bahorel just asked me how I'd kill someone with a crayon."
"How would you?" Grantaire asks. "Professional curiosity."
"I wouldn't." Feuilly hands him a package of 64 crayons. "Don't make me regret this."
"I shall only use it to troll Enjolras," Grantaire promises.
Feuilly sighs. "The sad part is, I almost believe you."
Grantaire's first masterpiece is a stunning portrait of Enjolras. It also uses up half the box of crayons, but it's worth it for the look on Courfeyrac's face when he comes to bring Grantaire a new deck of cards and more crayons. Then he takes out his phone and snaps a picture.
Thirty minutes later, Jehan comes in and hands Courfeyrac a print-out of the photo. Courfeyrac hands it to Grantaire along with a pen and asks him to autograph it for him, please.
"You guys are really creepy," Grantaire says.
"We're trying to be nice," Courfeyrac says, wounded. "You're the first person we've ever illegally imprisoned."
"So what's your endgame here?" Grantaire asks. "You can't keep me kidnapped forever."
Enjolras doesn't answer.
Grantaire figures he should probably break himself out of here. He's collected a lot of information about Les Amis and, sure, most of it is things like Courfeyrac's favorite ice cream flavor, but that's what MI6 gets for letting Grantaire hang out here for so long with nothing better to do.
The problem with breaking out is that he's one guy against a much larger group and he got hired for his brain and his hands, not his brute strength. He grew up being able to think his way out of problems and that's how he ended up in this line of business to begin with, but he's pretty aware of the fact that Les Amis have probably out-thought any escape plan he could dream up.
So he wings it.
He swallows the red crayons and when his shit comes out red, he convinces Joly to take him to a local hospital. Grantaire would feel bad preying on someone's hypochondria and Hippocratic Oath, but needs must. It's pretty easy to slip Joly in the hospital, then Grantaire borrows someone's cell phone and calls Q.
Well, he calls MI6 and gives them enough information that they transfer him to someone in Q Branch. It's nearly the same thing.
"Hi, it's Grantaire," he says. "Miss me?"
"Long story short," Grantaire says. "Anything you think I did was actually a trap. And they're ridiculously trusting."
"You tricked their doctor into thinking you were dying after being a model prisoner for two months," Q says. "I'd call that a few things, trusting isn't one of them. Did you get anything useful out of this at all?"
Enjolras's phone number. "You could turn them all into model citizens for life if you took the money we spend on cars and fancy toys for the Double-O's and spent it on school buses and legos instead."
Q stares at him for a long moment. "Thank you," he says, strangled. "I'll pass that on."
Grantaire gives it a couple months and then another two just to make absolutely sure everything's died down on his end. When it seems like it's all clear, Grantaire uses his work computer to send out nibbling e-mails to contacts at R&D companies to find out if they're hiring. Enough people walk behind him that it's common knowledge around the office by the end of the day, and then Grantaire's in Q's office resigning in time to be home before sunset.
Another month and Grantaire's moved flats, replaced his phone twice, and is hanging up his pictures on the wall when there's a knock on the door.
Of course it's Enjolras.
"Left the rest of the revolution at home today, I see," Grantaire says.
Enjolras kisses him.
Grantaire pretends he met Enjolras doing something normal. At the store, maybe. A friend introduced them, or they ran into each other in some unsavory corner of the internet, or Grantaire found him at a club and took him home and Enjolras made breakfast the next morning. Anything but on opposite sides of a job. Anything but something that could land him in jail for the rest of his life.
Grantaire talks to his sister once a year on his birthday. This year, he says, "I have a maybe-boyfriend."
She's pleased. "What does he do?"
A thousand things flash through Grantaire's mind. Enjolras the first time he'd seen him. Enjolras bringing him food. Enjolras telling him his opinions about football are invalid. Enjolras spotting Grantaire marking cards. Enjolras bringing out dominoes after Grantaire admitted to never finishing a chess game in his life. Enjolras fucking him. Enjolras breaking into his computer and phone. Enjolras touching him and telling him he missed him and, somehow, it wasn't creepy at all. (Okay, only a little bit creepy. But that's an improvement!)
Enjolras staring at him right now.
"He wants to be a teacher," Grantaire says. Enjolras looks a little pleased by that. "I think he'd suck at it," Enjolras looks much less pleased, "but I'm trying to be supportive."
"That's important," she says. "Have you met his friends yet?"
Grantaire bursts out laughing.
"We probably would have ended up letting you go after another week," Combeferre confesses. "Enjolras's guilt was deafening."
"Serves him right," Grantaire says. "It was very cruel for him to flirt but then lecture me about abuses of power and treatment of prisoners when I tried to do anything about the overwhelming sexual tension."
Combeferre nods sagely in agreement.
Grantaire wonders what his life choices say about him. Probably nothing good.
For their anniversary, he presents Enjolras with a gigantic crayon piggy bank.
For their anniversary, Enjolras takes his hand and tells him his secrets. And Grantaire is tempted. He's so tempted. MI6's emergency line is one finger twitch away. And he's tempted.