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this rapture and unrest

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He doesn't notice it until the winter after Georges is born. How it has come to be that Javert, of all people, has begun to measure years by births and names, he still does not fully understand and does not think he ever will -- save what he can express with some exasperation in the words Jean Valjean. But so it is: Georges has joined little Jeanne, who will be three years old on Christmas Day.

This latter is a fact that Javert could not forget even had he been inclined to absent-mindedness, for over the last few months Valjean has stopped at every toy store and every confectioner's in Paris. He had begun to think that Valjean would never find something suitable; now it seems at last he has thought of something sufficient, even if it must apparently be made to order from exacting instructions.

The smile Valjean wears as he writes - they are in the study, Javert stretched out on the récamier pretending to read Le Moniteur, Valjean at his desk with paper and quill - is that peculiarly soft, distant one he gets only when he thinks of his daughter and grandchildren. Javert has learned Valjean's faces well these past years; where before he knew him by his unconcealable form, his limp and harnessed strength, he has grown to see also that the kind wrinkles at his eyes and the gentle curve of his lips are no mask. He had begun by accepting them directed even at himself, though at first they had stung like pity, like Valjean's damnable mercy, and flayed him open anew every time; eventually he had learned to see them for more and to accept the unvoiced words behind them; to guard each smile as he had once held only duty close; and, finally, to return them.

Even when they are not meant for him he finds himself watching for them; in the beginning he told himself it was simply because he had spent years watching Jean Valjean, a habit born of their past. He has thought that less and less, lately.

The scratch of Valjean's pen stills briefly and Javert hastily turns a page, glancing down at the paper. When Valjean does not make one of his irritatingly endearing comments or start writing again, however, Javert lowers it again and looks up at him openly.

The indulgent father's smile is gone; Valjean's brow is creased slightly, his mouth drawn tight; instead of his pen, he holds one hand in the other, looking down at them. Something uneasy begins to creep into Javert's gut. He squashes the urge to inquire and says instead, "Surely you can't have finished listing out your specifications already."

The silence before Valjean's quiet laugh is only a split second too long, but it has Javert on full alert, and when Valjean says "Not quite yet," he knows without doubt it is - not quite a lie - a prevarication.

He swings his legs off the arm of the couch and folds the newspaper decisively shut.

"What is it?" Valjean looks mostly startled now, but that pinched look has not quite left him.

When he crosses to the desk, Javert notices, beyond the short row of books that had hidden it from him before, that Valjean had not put down his pen but dropped it: ink is spattered in a dark mess across the paper, ruining Valjean's neat lettering. He feels his own mouth tighten. "Valjean," he begins.

Valjean reaches up and touches his hand lightly. "It is nothing," he says, "only the weather."

Javert sees as if through a dense and eddying fog that Valjean's knuckles are oddly swollen, that his fingers where they touch Javert's own are too warm. He has of course seen men in far worse agony before; he knows the look, the stiffness in movement that is cast in miniature here - he has seen Valjean in far worse pain than this, but that thought is no comfort; it is an acid reminder of his own failures and misjudgements, of his inadequacy.

"Javert?" Valjean says; by the concern in his tone, it is not the first time he has said it.

It seems suddenly very cold; Valjean's fingers are like brands. Javert takes a step backwards, then crosses to the stove, which has indeed burnt low. He heaps it high, careless with the wood where he has always seen Valjean stint himself; the chill is turning to fury inside him as he works. How had he not noticed?

Behind him, Valjean's footsteps are slow and quiet, but Javert can hear the tiny drag of his foot, the old limp that is perhaps not just a habit, not only a shadow of the past. The stove is blazing fully now; the air above it shimmers with heat, and yet it is not until Valjean again takes his hand that Javert turns away from it.

He keeps his eyes low, on their joined hands; if Valjean is concerned or pitying, he does not want to see it - if Valjean is smiling, he does not deserve it. Instead he clasps Valjean's hand in both his own. They have clasped hands before, of course; they have done far more than that; and yet this is new; he is uncertain - he is determined.

Valjean's hand is not as large as his own are, but it is strong, heavy-boned and well-made; rough with his garden work and spotted with ink from the unfortunate pen. Javert runs his own hand awkwardly over the back of it once, and then, before Valjean can protest, repeats the motion a little more firmly, pushing against the swollen skin.

When Valjean's breath hitches lightly, Javert pauses but does not look up; Valjean does not speak or attempt to pull his hand away, so Javert strokes his hand again. The index finger seems most - injured, he thinks, and carefully, supporting Valjean's hand on his palm, he runs it between his own thumb and forefinger, letting his thumb carry on across the back of his hand, trying to soothe and warm at once.

Valjean does not protest nor make any obvious signs of distress, so he does it again, attempting to keep the pressure of his fingers even and gentle. He is not sure if this will work - to think that it might almost seems presumptuous - and yet Valjean allows it in patient silence, so he continues, sweep after sweep of his hand. After a few minutes he pauses to unbutton Valjean's shirtcuff and push his sleeve up his forearm.

He is long used to Valjean's scars; they do not speak of them - they do not speak of Toulon - and Javert has found it easier to think of other things. But now, as his fingers slide over the old marks at his wrists again and again, up and past along a deep jagged seam, the legacy of a rock fault that had had Jean-le-Cric in the infirmary for a month, Javert finds his thoughts are not entirely his own to control. Valjean has this effect on him. He does not stop, in any case; each firm caress is longer now, from fingertip past the wrist every time.

Slowly Valjean relaxes under the constant motion of Javert's hand until his arm at least is loose, the tension sapped from it; Javert feels as if it has all flowed into him instead. He cannot feel precisely guilty about these old scars, these memories of pain that they half-share - Valjean had been a convict, he had been guilty himself, there is no doubt about that - and yet the uneasy cold lump in his stomach grows as his thoughts drive onwards. He does not like to think of Valjean in pain, deserved punishment or not, and especially not within the crushing grind of Toulon. He does not remember - he searches his memory as he works - he cannot remember whether he ever struck Valjean himself, whether he had ever ordered the lash or watched it done; the empty, faceless blur of red and green leaves a terrifying stretch of doubt in his mind, a black and bridgeless river, its depths as empty as the Seine.

He wonders if Valjean would remember, if he were to ask him. The half-formed words are ashes and bile in his mouth; he swallows them unspoken, and a log in the stove pops loudly as if to cover his silence. Valjean's skin, where it is not scarred sleek and shiny, is alternately soft and rough with callus beneath his hands; it is firm, and solid, and real. The swelling has gone down a bit; his hand is warm all over from the friction of Javert's hands and the unnatural heat is no longer so noticeable. Without conscious thought Javert raises Valjean's hand to his mouth and kisses his knuckles.

Valjean turns his hand against Javert's mouth, smooths his fingers gently along his jaw. He does not attempt to tilt his head up or force Javert to look at him; only mirrors the slide of hand on skin. Javert would almost rather he did; then he could justify his anger, blame it on Valjean's pity, call it Valjean's fault instead of his own. Instead he closes his eyes, turns his head into Valjean's hand, kisses his palm. His hand smells of paper and ink, of wood, of the scents of both their bodies mixed. Valjean's fingertips brush across his ear, ruffling into his hair, and then he is kissing the old manacle scars, his breath hot and close trapped between his lips and Valjean's skin. He mouths at his wrist gently, as if kissing his lips; flicks his tongue against raised scars that somehow taste no different despite their history than the tender skin of Valjean's neck or the strong crease of his thigh.

Javert has touched them before, of course - Valjean has so many scars that it would be difficult to avoid - but never like this, never on purpose, never for no other reason than that they are there. It is not an apology, but he does not quite know what it is.

Valjean's breath trembles again, but this time it is in a familiar rhythm. Javert opens his eyes and glances up into his face. Valjean's lips are parted slightly, reddened as if he has been biting them; his eyes are intent and dark despite the firelight and the pained crease has largely faded from his brow. Somehow it is the last that stirs Javert most; he swallows against the feelings it rouses in him and Valjean's hand slips free of his own to slide down his neck, resting at the rigid line of his stock, the heel just over Javert's throat, tipping his chin up at last. From anyone else it would be a threat. "Valjean," he says.

Instead of speaking Valjean kisses him, repeating the soft touch of lips at first as he had repurposed the caress before, a gentle teasing brush of their lips that could pass for chaste except for the black spread of Valjean's pupils and the trip of Javert's pulse beneath his palm. Valjean pauses - no more than a breath - and does it again, as if in echo, as if Javert's mouth is the scar he kisses.

It is suddenly too much, too close, too intimate, and Javert abruptly grasps Valjean's waist and pulls him closer still, catching Valjean's mouth in a deeper kiss, pushing his throat against Valjean's hand until he gives way and shifts it around and back into his hair. Valjean opens his mouth willingly beneath Javert's tongue, and for a moment Javert takes as Valjean gives, biting at his already-swollen lips, his hands sliding up across Valjean's broad back almost to his shoulders.

Then Valjean makes a noise, almost muffled by the kiss, that is not quite pleasure. It sends a fresh shock of ice through Javert; he steps back, although Valjean seems reluctant to let him go. "It still hurts."

Valjean does not try to deny it, though his eyes flicker away and he closes his mouth again before saying: "It is not so bad."

If he meant it as a comfort, it is a failure; it only reminds Javert all the more of how much Valjean has had to bear. "Where?" he asks, and catches at Valjean's left hand without waiting for an answer. It does not look nearly so painful as the other; when Valjean tugs it gently away Javert lets him go. If it is not his hand, then -- "Your back?"

Valjean smiles, but it is almost as much dissembling as affectionate. "I'm an old man - some few aches and pains are to be expected, surely."

"If you are an old man," says Javert, "then so am I." His hair may be still closer to gray than Valjean's white, but the difference in their ages is not so great as all that, and he does not feel old. He does not think of how Toulon can age a man or how he had once mistaken a far older man for Valjean on the strength of the weary bitter lines carved deep in his face; he thinks only of Valjean as he stands here, before him, in the present. "But you would not see me suffering for the pure sake of it."

"No," Valjean says, "I suppose not." He does not elaborate; his face is neutral, though some heat still lingers in his eyes.

When Valjean says nothing more, Javert scowls at him - it has no effect except for a slight upward twitch of Valjean's lips, and has not in years - and without further ado reaches for Valjean's waistcoat buttons. Valjean allows it, though when Javert has undone them all he stays still rather than shrugging it off; Javert lifts the waistcoat from his shoulders instead, brushing his hand over Valjean's back as he does. Even with a light touch and through the fabric of his shirt he can feel the tight snarl of muscle between his shoulderblades, a tension no doubt exacerbated by his incessant morning walks in the damp and frigid air and work in a too-cold study to follow them.

Javert folds the waistcoat and sets it on Valjean's desk, safely away from the ink-spattered blotter, then crosses back and helps him out of his shirt as well. When he lifts it over his shoulders, Valjean winces soundlessly, and even after he straightens again the pain lingers on his face and in the slight hunched twist of his shoulders.

"On the couch," Javert says. It is more than half an order; Valjean hesitates a moment, then obeys, crossing the room and sitting down on it awkwardly, uncertainly, like an overgrown bird on a perch. Folding the shirt as well, Javert sets it on top of the waistcoat, then fumbles through the drawers of the desk. His hands were one thing, but his back is another; it bore the worst of the scarring, it will not be so easy to rub out. But somewhere in here, he knows, Valjean keeps a pot of comfrey cream for minor bruises - there it is. He snatches it up and returns to Valjean, rolling up his sleeves as he goes.

He is not entirely sure of what he is doing, it is true, but - how difficult can it be? He had managed with his hand well enough, in any case. "Lie down," he says. Valjean arches a questioning eyebrow at him but does as he's told; Javert guides him onto his stomach and, after a moment's thought, climbs atop him, straddling his hips. The position is more suggestive than it has any right to be; he passes a hand over his face, forcing himself to focus, and opens the jar.

"What are you doing?" Valjean says into the cushions.

Javert doesn't bother answering; the cream has a peculiar and distinct smell, something like a mixture of mint and cucumber, and Valjean ought to be able to figure it out himself. He scoops out a dollop with his fingers and drops it onto the middle of Valjean's spine.

Valjean makes a wordless noise of protest and squirms briefly, subsiding with a gasp as the motion jars his back and shoulders. Javert frowns again, looking across his back; he is unsure where to start, but now that he has begun he must continue. Feeling more than a little ridiculous, he begins to smooth the cream over Valjean's back, across the thick-seamed scars, down the long groove of his spine, across tense planes of muscle. It warms quickly with the friction of their skin, slickening the long strokes of his hands, and gradually he works his way up to the spot just at the base of Valjean's neck that had seemed so taut and painful before.

The further up he moves, the more tightly Valjean's muscle is knotted below his skin, the shallower his breathing grows; by the time Javert is gently pressing at his neck with the flat of his fingers, there is an edge of real pain to the soft sounds he makes. The knowledge that he is causing it curls inside him unpleasantly even as he carefully increases the pressure of his fingers, trying to soothe away the tension. He knows, of course, that if he doesn't, Valjean will only suffer it out in silence, but that does not make him feel better about it.

Valjean swallows hard; it vibrates through his back, through Javert's fingers. "Harder," he says, barely more than a whisper. Javert's hands still; it is only for a moment, but it is long enough for Valjean to add: "Please."

"All right," he says, trying to put his irritation into it instead of concern; he sits up straight, flexing his own back, and slicks his fingers with the jar of cream again. He rubs it gently between his fingers until it is warm and then, grimacing at nothing, runs his hands once more up the strong curve of Valjean's back, pushing harder with the heels of his hands where the muscles are not quite so tense, until he is again at the worst knot. "Here?" he asks, though he can tell by the feel that it is - and when he feels Valjean, distracted, take a breath to answer, digs his thumbs in deep and sudden.

"God!"

Javert bites his lip to keep back the absurd comforting noises that threaten to spill from his mouth and pushes still harder, working outwards in tiny deep circles; Valjean shudders beneath him; he does not speak again, but his breath comes in harsh, quick pants that set Javert's nerves on edge; his left hand, when Javert glances aside, is clenched white and bloodless on the open side of the récamier.

Slowly the tension under his hands eases; he gentles his touch, kneading at his slick back with his whole hands now, still digging with his fingertips but following them each time with the flat of his palm, soothing after the sting. He finds unaccountably that he is panting nearly as hard as Valjean. "Is it better?" he asks, forcing his breathing to even as he spreads his hands wide over the sharp angles of Valjean's shoulderblades, stroking his thumbs along the narrow curve.

"Ah." It's more a grunt than an answer, but as he smooths his hands up along the bones to Valjean's shoulders, then down again along the outsides of his arms, Valjean sighs - quietly, but with enough relief in it that it's as good as assent.

He lingers a little longer on Valjean's arms for reasons that are not entirely selfless, again slicking his hands when the lotion wears thin. Valjean is strong yet, whether he thinks he is an old man or no; still the strongest Javert has ever known. His arms are less scarred than his back; Javert's fingers, cupping around the thick, corded muscle to touch and stroke as much as he can reach, slide over the brand at his shoulder almost as if it is not there. He wonders, abruptly, whether Valjean could still lift a cart; whether his hands had hurt in the cold wet winters of Montreuil; he finds he does not want to know the answer.

Shaking his head to rid himself of the thought, he shifts his hands to Valjean's back again, rubbing smooth patterns over Valjean's skin, ignoring the scarring as best he can; when he has covered his shoulders again and eased out a few more sore spots, he shifts backwards slightly. As he does, he rests his weight briefly against the small of Valjean's back and Valjean moans, barely audible, a soft shivering noise.

Javert takes his hands away -- Valjean shakes his head, takes one breath, then another, and says: "Again - please."

He leans in again, putting his weight into it; he can't feel any knots, no strain, but Valjean nods; Javert shifts his hands, pressing with his knuckles in a long, upward stroke, and this time Valjean moans aloud and unmuffled; above Javert's hands, his shoulders flex and stretch, his back arches--

It is more sensual than he had expected from this, almost too much so; he suddenly cannot stop thinking of the way Valjean had kissed him earlier, the way he had set his hand at his throat. He wets suddenly-dry lips and draws his palms slowly down Valjean's back to the waist of his trousers. Valjean's skin is hot and slick under his hands, his muscles slack and easy.

Javert's hands are covered in lotion. "Take off your trousers," he says. His voice even to his own ears is lower than usual, though gratifyingly it stays steady enough.

Valjean shifts back slightly, arching off the couch to reach his buttons; Javert sits back on his heels to watch. Valjean moves slowly - but it is the even, sated movement of a man relaxed or half-asleep, not the creaking stiffness of pain, and the curves of his back and thighs seem as supple as ever. When his trousers are finally unbuttoned, he shoves them half-down, along with his drawers; Javert dries his hands as best he can on the outsides of Valjean's thighs and pulls his trousers off the rest of the way; Valjean shifts to help him, and soon Javert is shoving the pile of clothes into a heap on the floor and Valjean is stretched out naked before him.

He sets his hand on Valjean's thigh again, strokes gently as he had rubbed his back before; Valjean sighs again, soft and pleased, and it takes more effort than Javert would willingly admit to stand and leave him. "Stay there," he says; Valjean murmurs something indistinct and Javert feels the knot inside himself beginning to gradually loosen.

The fire has burned down somewhat and there is room for another log in the stove; he crosses the room and adds one, pokes the logs down, and then another, until it roars high enough that the room would be uncomfortably hot despite the weather if they were fully clothed; he won't have Valjean taking a chill after all of this. That done, he turns back; Valjean is watching him from the récamier, still sprawled on his stomach but with his head turned sideways. The pain is wholly gone from his face; in its stead Javert reads open interest - but it is the absence that jolts him instead of the promise, it is the absence that sends his fingers to the fastenings of his own waistcoat, that has him shrugging it off, unbuckling his stock, and dropping them, along with his shirt, on top of Valjean's own.

Valjean does not stop watching him as he removes his slippers and trousers as well, laying them over the arm of the desk chair; he is half-hard already from the feel of Valjean's skin under his hands, from those few quiet noises, from the half-lidded gaze that sweeps him unstintingly. He wants to touch himself; he does not. Instead he returns to Valjean's side and climbs back atop him, this time settling over his knees rather than his hips; he dips out more cream and warms it between his palms.

"I will have to buy more," Valjean mumbles, "if you insist on using so much."

"Be quiet." Javert sets his hands on Valjean's thighs. He rubs upwards slowly, rocking the palms of his hands against the muscle, pressing deep and smoothing over again in waves as he had done for his back, but something has changed between them with Valjean's look and Javert's realization; the same touch that he had meant only as release feels sensual now. By the time he has finished, Valjean's breathing has quickened; when he slides a hand up over the crease of his thigh, thumb stroking along the cleft of his buttocks and fingers curved along his hip, Valjean leans back into his touch, opening his legs what little he can with Javert straddling them.

Javert's hands are still slick. He runs a forefinger lightly down between Valjean's legs, keeping the same slow steady movement; as his finger passes over Valjean's hole, Valjean shivers beneath him, rocking backwards again. Javert continues onwards, caressing his balls, then repeating the motion until Valjean is panting aloud, until finally as Javert teases at him again he gasps a barely-intelligible please.

Javert stops entirely, resting his hands at the top of Valjean's thighs. He cannot remember the last time Valjean asked for so many things for himself in so short a time - even if it has only been directing the things Javert was already attempting to give him. They fit awkwardly into these roles, and this very awkwardness disconcerts him. He finds he wants to hear Valjean say it again; he does not particularly want to think about why; it doesn't really matter. "Speak up," he says, punctuating the words with another upward knead of his hands that spreads him open. If he is curt about it, Valjean may not notice.

And Valjean does not challenge him over changing his mind about silence; he takes a short shaky breath and says "Please," then turns his face down into the cushion and shifts his weight backwards again, pushing himself against Javert's hands. His voice is slightly muffled but still clear enough. "Please, Javert."

He finds himself unexpectedly torn between waiting to hear more and giving Valjean what he wants - what he is asking for - and covers his indecision by taking a last scoop of cream from the jar; he caps it and shoves it off the récamier to land with a muted thud in the pile of Valjean's trousers.

There is no reason why he cannot have both, at least for a little while. He shifts them slightly, pulls Valjean's thighs apart so that he kneels between them, and strokes down Valjean's cleft again but this time stops at his hole, touching it gently, as if this were a massage no different than the rest. Valjean's breathing - and his own - and the ache of his untouched cock - give that the lie, but he continues anyway until Valjean relaxes, until with the same gentle pressure and no more, Javert's slick finger slips inside, knuckle-deep, and Valjean gasps.

"Stay still," Javert says, as Valjean makes as if to kneel up; he braces his other hand on the small of Valjean's back, holding him down; it does not matter that Valjean could throw him off, so long as he does not. When Valjean stills again he pushes his finger deeper into him. There is no resistance - Valjean is as eager for this as he is and more, or he would not have asked in words - but still Javert works at him slowly, twisting his hand as he pushes into him, letting his knuckle press and stretch at the rim of his hole. He strokes him gently with the other, long firm caresses up his spine and back down across his flank.

Javert eases his finger back out and Valjean moans, his breath hitching like a sob; when he traces the outside again, slicking it without pushing in, Valjean shakes his head, reaches back to touch Javert's hand where it has paused at his hip, to lace their fingers. Some devil pricks at Javert's shoulder; he gently squeezes Valjean's hand, pressing the pad of his thumb flat against his hole in imitation, in promise, and says "What do you want, Valjean?"

Valjean swallows and curls his fingers around the back of Javert's hand; he presses his face against the cushion, his back shifting with the tension, and then relaxes again, turning his head aside to glance over his shoulder, a faint blush staining his cheeks. "You," he says, and when Javert does not immediately give in, "I want you to have me - please."

The words don't matter, only the request, the give and the take. "Roll over," he says, moving out from between Valjean's legs to kneel on the edge of the couch instead. Valjean blinks at him in surprise. "On your side." Javert nudges gently at Valjean's hip with his knee; Valjean lets go of his hand and shifts over obediently.

Javert stretches out behind him, sliding his arm under his chest. Valjean leans against him, his broad back close against Javert's chest, the scars between them like knotted rope. Javert presses a kiss into his hair, against the back of his ear, and runs his free hand slowly down Valjean's side. When he reaches his hip he pauses, stroking there for a moment, tracing the line and plane of his muscle.

Valjean rocks back against him unexpectedly. Javert's cock slides against his skin where it is still slippery with cream, and then into his cleft; Valjean's breath shivers again and Javert has to stifle his moan against Valjean's shoulder - he does not usually wait so long for this, somehow he has grown unused to self-denial - he thrusts gently against Valjean, pulling him closer yet by his hip, slicking his cock against Valjean's skin.

"Now," Valjean says. Javert is unsure whether it is a question or an order, but he reaches between their bodies, taking himself in hand with a slight shiver; that done, he finds he cannot resist shoving against Valjean teasingly, mercilessly one more time to hear the way his breath hisses between his teeth, to feel his hips cant backwards, his head pressing back against Javert's shoulder, asking once more for what he wants, though this time without words. He kisses Valjean's hair, shifting his arm beneath him so that he can wrap it about Valjean's chest and hold him steady, then sets his cock against him and finally pushes in.

Valjean takes him easily, eagerly, reaching up to clasp at Javert's hand again; Javert drives deep into him, as slow and smooth as he can manage, until he is pressed against Valjean thigh to thigh and he can get no closer.

He kisses Valjean's shoulder and slides his hand up over his waist to his stomach, where his cock brushes hot against the side of Javert's hand. Valjean's breath shudders warmly; Javert turns his hand against his cock again, brushing it lightly with his fingertips. When he finally settles his hand around it, Valjean's cock is hard and heavy in his hand, the head wet already; Javert swipes his fingers across it, smears it back down the shaft, and, as Valjean makes a low, thick, pleased sound, slowly begins to fuck him.

They have both been waiting a long time for this, but they are both patient men when the goal is sweet enough; Javert takes his time, palming Valjean with long, lazy strokes from root to tip, sometimes teasing at the head again or twisting his grip without warning to hear Valjean's breathing catch. He fucks him the same way: slow and leisurely, savoring the tight heat of Valjean's body around him and the solid weight of his back against his chest.

After a few minutes Valjean raises their clasped hands, bows his head and kisses Javert's knuckles. "Faster," he says, "please." His voice is soft, breathless, hungry but not yet desperate. Javert finds that it is impossible to deny him this - he thinks with a sudden sharp pang that he would find it hard to deny Valjean anything, should he ask for it - he turns his face against the back of Valjean's shoulder, presses his forehead against the strong line of it, and obeys, each thrust just as deep, just as deliberate, but quicker, regular; he quickens his hand at Valjean's cock as well.

His own breath and the rush of his blood are loud in his ears, and the quick beat of Valjean's heart echoing his own; softer, the slick wet slide of his hand over Valjean's cock, the slap of his hips against Valjean's buttocks. Valjean's quiet requests grow in echoes in his mind; before he can think better of it he is saying again "Tell me what you want-- Valjean-- what do you want?" and then pressing a hasty kiss to Valjean's shoulder as if that could erase the words or change them from plea into the direction, the command they should have been.

Valjean reaches back over his shoulder with his free hand and touches him - his hair, the nape of his neck, his shoulder, anywhere he can reach. It is an answer, but it is not enough; Javert wants the words again, wants to hear them aloud from Valjean's mouth. He kisses his back again to keep from asking for it - though he knows if he asked, Valjean would give. He does not want to think of that, he does not want to think of anything; he grips Valjean's hand tighter and thrusts hard into him, sudden enough to pull a sharp gasp from him, a sweet shuddering noise almost like a whimper; he does it again and again until he is panting with the effort and Valjean is rocking back against him with every thrust, his hand settled on Javert's hip, pulling him in harder yet.

Somehow it is Javert who speaks, who cannot hold himself back; he says "Please--" and "God--" and "Valjean," between each rough breath; Valjean arches against him, pushes forwards into his fist, his own hand so tight, so strong on Javert's hip that it hurts - there will be bruises there, he thinks, distantly, even as he mutters Valjean's name against the sharp edge of his shoulderblade.

At the sound of it Valjean shudders and goes taut against him, his breath catching in his throat - he is close - Javert does not wait to be asked; he twists his fingers against the underside of his cock, just below the head, and Valjean spills over his hand with a short wordless cry. Javert strokes him through it until he is spent, then careless of the slick mess on his hand grasps Valjean's hip to brace himself and thrusts deliberately once more - again - the couch creaks beneath them with the force of it - and then he is coming too, burying himself deep in Valjean's body, panting out unintelligible meaningless nothings against his skin, kissing him again and again, on unmarked skin and scar alike.

It is a while before Javert speaks; he listens instead to the snapping of the fire, to the slowing, even sound of Valjean's breath, to the soft hush of his hand stroking Valjean's side. They will need to bathe - especially Valjean - but he cannot find it in himself to get up, and Valjean does not seem inclined to move, either.

At last Valjean sighs, a sweet peaceful noise without the slightest trace of pain in it, and Javert feels his lips twitching upwards against his will, tickled by Valjean's hair in his face; he feels a soft swell somewhere in his chest -- he snorts Valjean's hair away from his nose and disentangles himself from Valjean's body, sitting up and stretching pointedly. Valjean rolls over supine behind him; when Javert looks back, Valjean is watching him, his eyes heavy-lidded, his face relaxed and sated, free of worry. It twists at him again; he looks away.

"You realize," Javert says, "that we have ruined your couch." It is all over lotion from Valjean's body and his own, and just beside Valjean there is a wide smear--

"It is only a couch," Valjean says, and sets his right hand gently on Javert's thigh; Javert glances down instinctively and covers it with his own.