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Enjolras is fucking terrible at taking direction. He probably would have been at the top of his class at Quantico, except this little shortcoming of his had him stuck solidly in the middle, despite his undeniable brilliance. It is, Grantaire thinks for about the eight thousandth time, possibly one of the most annoying things about his very annoying kind-of-partner.

Special agents don’t really get partners — its just not part of the job, especially when you’re an undercover — but Grantaire and Enjolras come as a package deal. Mostly because Enjolras is fucking terrible at taking direction and the only thing Grantaire seems to actually be good at is keeping Enjolras alive and safe. Enjolras is nothing if not radical and Grantaire is excellent at shooting him down and keeping him from going off the tracks too often. Everyone at Tara (the massive undercover house where Enjolras and Grantaire and pretty much all of their earthly friends call home) has, at one point or another, advised the Bureau to just let Grantaire go on all of Enjolras’ cases, and after not listening to them once (Enjolras went alone to a cartel rendezvous and got close to killing everyone in the room before Grantaire finally snapped fuck orders and went in after him), the Bureau seemed to agree with Tara. Grantaire has been going with Enjolras on all of his cases ever since.

They make a good team, albeit a queer one. When they’re working, it’s like they read each other’s thoughts. A single glance or twitch or sigh can alert the other to any slight change in what’s going on. Off the job is an entirely different story. The only time they’re not arguing is when they’re not speaking, and Grantaire is never sure if he’s kind of maybe Enjolras’ friend or if Enjolras genuinely hates his guts.

It doesn’t really matter either way because Grantaire is so hopelessly, desperately, fucked-up in love with this asshole that Enjolras could think of Grantaire with relative fondness or with absolute loathing and Grantaire would still kind of want to shoot himself in the face at pretty much every given moment.

Although, at this rate, Grantaire won’t need to, because he’ll shoot Enjolras first.

Did he mention that Enjolras is fucking terrible at taking direction?

Grantaire is way past the clenching beginnings of panic and starting to seriously wonder how long it would take him to track down a pretty golden boy who may or may not being lying dead at the bottom of the East River right now when Enjolras finally answers his phone.

“What?” Enjolras snaps on the other end of the line by way of greeting — like he hasn’t been suspiciously MIA for the last forty-seven minutes when he was supposed to be on a food run that should have taken a maximum of twelve — and Grantaire wants to rip his head off.

“Where the fuck are you?” he spits out.

“I’m getting food.” The amount of disdain Enjolras manages to pack into three words is impressive even for him.

“No, uh uh,” Grantaire shoots back, pacing around the little apartment they’ve rented for this case with one hand buried in his hair. “It does not take almost an hour to get food in this city, what thehell are you doing out there that has taken forty-five minutes?

Enjolras makes an annoyed huffing sound over the phone. “I’m on my way back, can it wait until then?”

“No.”

“Grantaire, I will be there in ten minutes,” Enjolras says snappishly. “I’m neither dead nor in danger, so I will explain when I get there.”

Grantaire knows better than to try to respond. Enjolras has already hung up.

This is how Enjolras works. He’s pretty much the biggest narcissist Grantaire has ever had the misfortune of knowing, he thinks he can just do whatever the fuck he likes without informing his kind-of partner who is, let’s be honest, primarily here to keep Enjolras alive, but whatever it’s not like that means he should be kept in the loop or anything.

But there’s no reasoning with Enjolras ever, and Grantaire is firmly aware of this. And now at least he’s been assured that Enjolras has not been shot in the face in the past hour, so he digs through his bag until he finds his flask and a pack of cigarettes and sets out to be as annoying as possible for when Enjolras gets home.

The exasperated look Enjolras gives him the second he walks through the door exactly ten minutes later tells Grantaire how successful he is.

“Do you have to do that inside?” he snaps, waving away the cloud of smoke Grantaire blows in his direction with one hand while dropping a bag full of take-out onto the coffee table with another.

Grantaire takes a slow drag and lets his answer come back with another gust of smoke. “Yes.”

Enjolras rolls his eyes, but doesn’t say anything. He fishes into the bag he brought in and hands a styrofoam container to Grantaire. “At least open a window,” he quips.

“Where were you?” Grantaire retorts as Enjolras goes back for his own food.

Cutting his eyes back to Grantaire, Enjolras sighs. “I had a meeting with Vasilyev,” he admits grudgingly.

That effectively has Grantaire on his feet. “You what?!” He takes a few steps toward Enjolras, one hand out like he’s going to reach out and grab him — maybe to check if he’s all right, though at this point Grantaire isn’t really thinking at all — before he realizes what he’s doing and stops dead, dropping both arms.

But Enjolras either doesn’t notice or doesn’t think this is weird. “I’m fine,” he snaps. “It went well, we have a face-to-face with Kozlokov tonight.” The light in his eyes is fanatically triumphant, and Grantaire gets it, they’ve been trying to meet with Kozlokov since they arrived in New York six days ago, he’s one step down from the guy they came all the way out here to try to bust, so a face-to-face with him is a Big Fucking Deal. Still, it’s a Big Fucking Deal that Grantaire really should have been there for.

And Enjolras keeps doing this lately — secret meetings that he sneaks off to attend without Grantaire, keeping Grantaire out of the loop, not telling him about important deals until they’ve been made or lost. Grantaire would be worried that Enjolras was phasing him out if he didn’t know that Combeferre absolutely is not going to let that happen.

Although, if he’s honest with himself, he’s worried about it anyway.

“Why the fuck didn’t you bring me with you?” Grantaire demands, now just sort of standing in the middle of the room while he yells at Enjolras. His cigarette isn’t in his hand anymore, and he’s not sure what happened to it, but the apartment isn’t on fire at least, so he must have deposited it in the ashtray or something.

Enjolras doesn’t even look at him, he just calmly digs a fork out of one of the drawers in the little fake kitchen nook thing and starts eating as he replies simply, “You weren’t necessary.”

“I wasn’t necessary?!” Grantaire sputters. “When you get yourself fucking killed because you’ve gone charging into something without me, then will I be necessary?”

Frowning like this is the dumbest question he’s ever been asked, Enjolras says, “No, because then I’ll be dead.”

It’s like Grantaire’s brain is on fire he’s so angry. “I’ll kill you.”

Enjolras snorts in absolute derision. “No, you won’t.”

And, well. No. He won’t.

He fucking hates that.

“Eat your Thai food,” Enjolras orders, and Grantaire would almost think it sounded fond if he didn’t still want to rip that golden head from its shoulders. “I need to tell you about Kozlokov.”

Grantaire groans and rolls his eyes, but does open this food container and start eating from it (with his hands, just to keep annoying Enjolras) as he drops back down on the couch. “I know about Kozlokov.”

“God, just shut the fuck up and let me brief you.”

Begrudgingly, Grantaire does. But he eats as messily and noisily as possible while he does.

“Kozlokov has agreed to meet us tonight at his club,” Enjolras begins, skillfully ignoring Grantaire’s snarfing noises. “We’re being introduced by Vasilyev, and Kozlokov will have his team with him, so be good and try to just keep your mouth shut, all right? We’re going in deep.”

Grantaire can’t resist the dry look he gives Enjolras through his eyelashes at that. He is not the one who usually needs reigning in at these things. But Enjolras is on an infodump so Grantaire just keeps eating and lets him speak.

They’ve been on these guys for months, really. The Solntsevskaya Bratva presence in San Francisco has kept them occupied for a long time, and when they got the invitation to come to New York and meet some of the highest-ups they’ve ever encountered, they jumped.

Enjolras is outlining the plan for the night and saying something that Grantaire isn’t listening to about the layout of the club or something when Grantaire cuts in, “What does Kozlokov think we have for him, anyway?”

Enjolras pauses mid-diatribe and frowns, his expression stormy. “What do you think?” he asks darkly and oh.

Solntsevskaya Bratva are known for many criminal activities, and Enjolras and Grantaire have been working on getting them on anything they can, obviously, but mostly they’re after one particular dark, dirty secret the syndicate carries: human trafficking.

Kozlokov thinks they have girls.

“Fuck,” Grantaire breathes.

“If you can’t play the part, you should stay home,” Enjolras says way too immediately.

Grantaire glowers at him. “I can play the fucking part,” he mutters. “Still. Fuck.”

To that, Enjolras actually just nods. It’s really hard to stay murderously angry at him when his face does that noble hero thing, but Grantaire makes a valiant effort.

Then Enjolras opens his mouth and hesitates, which only ever means bad news. Really bad news, apparently, since he won’t even look at Grantaire while he readies himself.

“There is one more thing,” he finally says and then shoots Grantaire a furtive glance almost like he’s anxious or something.

“What?” Grantaire asks carefully.

“Vasilyev seemed to have some. . .interesting ideas about our relationship,” Enjolras replies, just as cautiously.

Grantaire frowns. “Ours?” he asks, and Enjolras nods. “Yours and mine?”

“Yes, Grantaire, ours,” Enjolras snaps impatiently.

“Interesting how?”

It takes another long moment before Enjolras will reply.

Then: “He seems to think we’re lovers.”

Grantaire blinks. He doesn’t know if he wants to laugh loudly or just turn around and throw himself right out the window. As it is, he’s too stunned to do either.

“We never told him that,” he says quietly.

“I know that,” Enjolras replies sharply. “He got the impression on his own.”

Grantaire probably resembles a codfish right now but he can’t seem to close his mouth. “How?”

“Fuck if I know,” Enjolras says, and he sounds really pissed off about this, which. Okay fine, Grantaire has always known Enjolras doesn’t feel the same way about him that he feels about Enjolras, but he didn’t realize he was that repulsive that Enjolras is livid at being mistaken for his lover when Enjolras is currently undercover as a human trafficker. “I could be reading him wrong, anyway,” Enjolras is continuing now. “He didn’t say anything outright, he just seemed to be implying. . . . Anyway, you need to be prepared in case he introduces us as such.”

“Yeah,” Grantaire grunts, tossing his food container back on the table. He’s not hungry anymore. “Sure.”

“Don’t do that.”

“I am literally doing nothing, Enjolras, what do you want from me?”

Enjolras groans in frustration and pushes himself off the wall he’s been leaning on, heading toward their suitcases (they never unpacked) and muttering, “I don’t have time for this.”

“Time for what?” Grantaire cries, because fuck this he deliberately did not start something over the way Enjolras clearly finds him a disgusting sexual prospect and now Enjolras is huffing around and acting like he is the one being petulant. Deciding he actually doesn’t even want to hear Enjolras’ reply, Grantaire rocks back onto his feet and heads for the door of the apartment.

“Where are you going?” Enjolras demands of his retreating back.

“Out,” Grantaire snaps.

“That’s very mature, Grantaire, thank you — ”

Grantaire slams the door on the trail of Enjolras’ voice.

 

He ends up in a tiny park somewhere where nannies are carting children and small dogs around and pointedly ignoring both him and each other. He’s shaking with rage and he left in such a rush he went without his sketchbook and without his flask, so he does the only thing he can think to calm down.

He calls home.

Grantaire is angry enough that he doesn’t particularly care who he talks to, just that he can talk to someone, so he finds himself dialing one of the landline numbers. It’s picked up within just a few rings and Jehan’s bright, lovely voice pops up in greeting.

“Hey, Jehan,” Grantaire says in return and Jehan’s voice lights up even more.

“Grantaire! How’s New York?”

“Smells like piss, mostly.”

Jehan chuckles a little. “Yeah, she’s wont to do that,” he agrees. “And how’s work?”

Grantaire sighs. “That’s actually going pretty well,” he admits reluctantly. He doesn’t go into more detail because he’s in public and, even though nannies aren’t the most likely informants to the Russian Mafiya, he really doesn’t want to risk this meeting with Kozlokov. Jehan doesn’t push, which is one of the best things about living with a bunch of undercovers — they get it.

“Okay, so the city is mostly the same,” Jehan says instead, “and work is going well. Which must mean, Enjolras. . . .” He trails off, but Grantaire snatches up the lead eagerly.

“He’s impossible!” he shouts, making the nanny crossing his path jump (the kid doesn’t even blink).

Jehan makes a sympathetic noise and says, “Yeah,” and Grantaire is instantly, eternally grateful that Jehan answered the phone and not Combeferre or Joly or Feuilly or someone who would try to make him see Enjolras’ perspective. Jehan just agrees with Grantaire, without even asking what Enjolras did to see if “impossible” is a fair accusation. Because the thing is, with Enjolras, “impossible” is always fair, and Grantaire doesn’t give a shit what his perspective or motives are, he is impossible. Jehan is well aware of this, and Grantaire loves him for that.

“Can I ask what he did?” Jehan continues.

Grantaire makes a frustrated noise, and he’s totally being petulant, he knows this, but his crosses his arms and flops onto a park bench. “He’s just being an asshole,” he mumbles, not really willing to get into the whole thing.

“In general or to you specifically?” Jehan knows about how Grantaire feels. Everyone knows about how Grantaire feels, even Enjolras. It’s completely unfair, but it’s not like Grantaire has ever been very good at hiding it.

What he ends up saying in reply is, “He’s always an asshole to me.”

It’s been like this ever since they met. Enjolras was fresh out of the Academy, and Grantaire had been in the business for some years, but they got placed in Tara at about the same time. Right off the bat, Enjolras disdained Grantaire for his cynicism and his not-giving-a-fuck and right off the bat, Grantaire really wanted to fuck Enjolras with his too-much-idealism and his gorgeous, perfect face. Not very much has changed since then except the realization that they work astoundingly well together on the job.

Jehan sighs on the other end of the line. “Sorry, R,” he says sympathetically. “I’ll beat him up when you guys get home if you like.”

That manages to make Grantaire laugh. Not because Jehan wouldn’t or couldn’t — quite the contrary, Jehan is one of the best fighters in the house — but the mental image of Enjolras coming home to his loving friends only to unexpectedly get the shit kicked out of him by someone a solid head shorter than him who loves him and would probably also give him an ice pack afterwards is pretty entertaining to Grantaire right now.

“I’ll keep you on standby,” he promises.

“Do you have work tonight?” Jehan asks.

“Mmhmm.”

“Well good luck and be safe, okay? And try not to kill Enjolras until you get home.”

Jehan is the best. Grantaire wants to buy Jehan a kitten.

“Fine, I’ll try,” he sighs dramatically, but he’s smiling a little now and he doesn’t feel quite as homicidal anymore. Which is good. Since he carries a gun.

Jehan laughs softly. “I love you, R. Come home in one piece, okay?”

“Promise,” Grantaire says fondly. “Love you, too.”

He’s watching Enjolras stride across the tiny park toward him as he hangs up. Surprisingly, Enjolras doesn’t actually look that angry. No more so than usual, anyway, and Grantaire has moved past the petty desire to murder him thanks to Jehan, so he sits and watches Enjolras approach.

When he reaches Grantaire, Enjolras doesn’t yell. He doesn’t even scold. In an alarming act of calm, Enjolras just tosses Grantaire’s sketchbook onto his lap and then takes a seat next to him on the bench.

They sit there in silence for a few moments, Grantaire thumbing the corner of his sketchbook and frowning down at it, Enjolras watching the world go by around them.

Then, Enjolras takes a deep breath. “I didn’t mean it like that,” he says quietly, evenly.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Grantaire begins like an instant defense response, but Enjolras cuts him off.

“You know I value you as a partner.” He’s looking at Grantaire now, but Grantaire can’t turn to meet his gaze. Something in his soul is aching through this conversation, and he can’t. He can’t do this.

“We’re not partners,” Grantaire whispers to the sketchbook in his lap.

Enjolras doesn’t speak for so long that finally, Grantaire has to look up at him. He still doesn’t look mad, and there’s something in his gaze that Grantaire is way too sober to even think about dealing with right now, so he drops his gaze to Enjolras’ shirt collar, which has yet to offend him.

After a long, screaming moment of this, Enjolras finally nods, sucking in air through his nose. “Okay,” he breathes, and that’s all he says before he’s standing again. “If you want to loaf around here some more, go ahead. We’re leaving for Kozlokov’s club at ten-thirty, be back by then.”

And then he’s gone, and Grantaire hasn’t looked at him again.

 

Grantaire spends a few hours sketching because it’s all he can do right now. He stops by a liquor store, but if they’re working tonight, he can only really allow himself a mild buzz while he draws pictures of squirrels and children. Children are some of his favorite subjects, because they just openly feel whatever’s in their hearts, and Grantaire hasn’t known an adult who does that for a long time.

He certainly can’t.

It’s about half after eight when he finally drags himself back to the apartment, and Enjolras barely looks at him when he enters, but there does seem to be some relief there. He’s probably just glad that Grantaire won’t be making them late tonight.

“Are you hungry?” he asks casually while scribbling something at the bottom of one of the pages in Kozlokov’s file.

Grantaire shrugs. “I could eat,” he answers and Enjolras nods.

“We’ll get take out or something,” he says, still not paying any attention to Grantaire, who’s depositing his sketchbook on the coffee table and looking around for his flask to refill it with whatever he bought earlier. “Probably shouldn’t go out to eat tonight since we’ve got Kozlokov later.”

Surely that makes sense in Enjolras’ head even if it doesn’t make sense to the rest of the universe, so Grantaire elects not to question it. He does, however, question something else. “You didn’t eat yet?”

That makes Enjolras finally look up at him, a question in his face.

“I was gone for hours, you could have had six dinners by now,” he explains.

Dropping his gaze back down to the folder, Enjolras shrugs. “I was working.”

Oh, he was working. Of course.

Closing the folder and tossing it aside finally, Enjolras reaches out and starts flipping through Grantaire’s sketchbook while Grantaire digs through his bag for clean clothes. They’ve long travelled past the normal reaches of privacy for reasonable human beings, and Grantaire is too used to Enjolras looking at his crappy art to care.

“I like them,” Enjolras says eventually, like a kind of peace offering. “These ones especially.”

He’s holding the book open to the page where Grantaire had been doing a study on a screaming toddler who was clearly angry at the world for making her sit out in the chill while her nanny walked her around in a pram. She’d been a gorgeous little child, and so upset that Grantaire was fascinated and had drawn her five or six times over the page.

“Thanks,” Grantaire answers a little awkwardly. Enjolras often expresses his like for Grantaire’s art when he’s in a decent mood, but Grantaire can’t ever feel like it’s much more than trying to appease him. He feels a little condescended to, even if Enjolras means well. “I’m gonna go take a shower,” he says. “Wash the park out of my hair.”

“What, were you rolling around in it?” Enjolras asks, returning the sketchbook to the coffee table with a slap and glowering at Grantaire — which is a super weird response to ‘I’m going to take a shower.’

“Art, my dear,” is Grantaire’s response before he shuffles off to the apartment’s bathroom.

Enjolras is intense, Grantaire has always known this. And Enjolras is confusing. And Enjolras is infuriating. And Enjolras is so fucking hot all the fucking time that Grantaire wants to pluck his own eyeballs out to get rid of the sight of him. Only then he’d just hear his gorgeous voice and smell his perfect scent and, on the occasion that Enjolras wants to pull him around, feel his wonderful fingers around his wrist, his arm, very occasionally his neck. The thought makes him shudder under the stream of hot water, pouring over his head.

No, the only real way to get out of this godawful hole he’s dug himself is to fuck him or die. And Grantaire is never going to fuck Enjolras. He will, however, eventually die.

That’s something to look forward to, at least, he thinks dryly.

Grantaire considers jerking off while he’s in here, if only to release some of the tension that’s got him almost doubled over, leaning against the shower wall. He considers doing it loudly, so Enjolras will hear and be further antagonized. He considers all of this, but none of it will actually help anything, and he knows that. Jerking off with the image of Enjolras in his head is nothing foreign to Grantaire, and it never does anything but make this so, so much worse.

So for once in his whole, fucked-up existence, he makes a decent decision and doesn’t do it. He scrubs himself down, trying to get all the filth and grime and despair out of his pores, but he can only do so much and he can never do enough. When he shuts the water off, he still feels dirty.

Enjolras is on the phone when Grantaire comes out of the bathroom, dressed and toweling at his dripping hair.

“Yeah, I know,” Enjolras says into the phone, giving Grantaire another disdainful look (what, does he disapprove of cleanliness now?) and turning away while motioning at the coffee table.

There’s a fresh pizza on it which means he must have gone out or ordered food while Grantaire was trying not to masturbate in the shower, so Grantaire sits down to eat and wait for Enjolras to get off the phone.

“Yes, I’m aware,” Enjolras says, but he doesn’t sound too snappish. He must be talking to someone he likes. “Okay, fine. What? Yeah, he knows.” ‘He’ is probably either Grantaire or Kozlokov, but Grantaire hasn’t been eavesdropping on enough of the conversation to know which. “I got it. Will do.” And then Enjolras hangs up without a glimpse of a farewell.

“Why don’t you ever say goodbye like a fucking normal person?” Grantaire asks through a mouthful of pizza.

Enjolras looks at him, frowning slightly. It’s pretty clear he’s just aching to start an argument, but instead he says, “There is no point to me saying goodbye to you if I’m just going to see you again in half an hour.”

“Yeah, but you’re not going to see. . .Combeferre?” Grantaire hazards a guess.

“Lamarque.” Enjolras’ case manager. Enjolras looks highly unimpressed with Grantaire right now. As per usual, then.

“Lamarque,” Grantaire concedes. “You’re really not gonna see him in a half an hour.”

Enjolras shrugs. “I don’t enjoy saying goodbye,” he says like that’s the end of it, like that isn’t a weird fucking quirk worthy of being mocked for a while. Then he gets a weird look on his face and says, “You smell better.”

The expression Grantaire gives him at that is caught somewhere between confused, offended, and highly concerned for Enjolras’ sanity. “Thank you?” he asks. “How did I smell before?”

Which was apparently the very wrong thing to say because Enjolras looks suddenly livid for no good reason whatsoever and immediately turns and walks over to the other side of the apartment. Which is really kind of funny, actually, because they rented a studio and Enjolras can’t actually go anywhere. He ends up just marching over to the bed and sitting on it in a huff.

“You’re really fucking weird,” Grantaire tells him.

Enjolras glares back.

 

By the time Enjolras is getting dressed to leave for Kozlokov’s club, Grantaire is just sitting on the couch, compulsively disassembling and reassembling his gun. Enjolras comes out of the bathroom during this and watches him silently for a moment, the expression on his face impassive. Finally, as Grantaire goes to take it all apart again, he reaches down and lays his hand over Grantaire’s.

Grantaire’s eyes snap up to meet his, but Enjolras’ expression is still so guarded he can’t read him at all.

“It’s time to go,” he says softly, and without another word, or even looking back at Grantaire, he heads out the door.

Grantaire puts his gun away where it won’t be seen and follows.

Kozlokov’s club is one of those trendy, fancy, rich clubs that you need a password and a membership to get inside, or else an invite from someone who does. Vasilyev meets them outside and provides them with said invite.

They’ve been working with Vasilyev for nine months in California. He’s the reason they got invited to New York in the first place, and he’s the reason they’re meeting Kozlokov. To be honest, if he wasn’t involved in such horrendous criminal activity, Grantaire might kind of want to be bros with him. He’s a pretty cool guy aside from the being a terrible person thing.

But he greets Enjolras and Grantaire like old friends (which, Grantaire supposes, they kind of are to him), hugging them both and talking excitedly about Kozlokov and the “business” they’re going to get from him.

“Are you nervous?” he asks Enjolras, his accent even heavier than Grantaire remembers.

Enjolras smiles and shakes his head, being the charming asshole he is. “I’m chomping at the bit for this, friend,” he says, and he actually sounds excited. He is excellent at his job, really. “Grantaire’s a little jittery,” he adds because he’s an asshole.

But Vasilyev just turns his grin on Grantaire instead. It’s not at all unusual for him to address Enjolras primarily when they’re doing business — no one has ever been confused as to who leads this team. Although, when they’re spending time with Vasilyev outside of “work” (although any time spent with Vasilyev actually is part of the job for them), he addresses Grantaire like a buddy, so when Vasilyev claps Grantaire on the shoulder reassuringly, it’s not a surprise. “Do not worry, my friend,” he says delightedly. “Kozlokov will love you. Your boy will make this deal.”

And. Oh. That’s what Enjolras was picking up on. Your boy.

That’s a little weird.

There’s barely any time to ruminate on it, though, as suddenly Vasilyev is leading them into the club and they’re on now, Grantaire can practically feel the alignment between him and Enjolras clicking into place. This is what they do well. There’s a brief moment of uncertainty as the bouncer wants to check them for weapons, but Vasilyev apparently trusts them because he waves the bouncer off cheerfully and then they’re inside.

The club is loud, expectedly, and dimly lit, and there are well-dressed, sweaty bodies grinding against each other on the dance floor, and drugs being discreetly passed from one hand to the next, but there is also a bar, and that gives Grantaire some amount of hope.

Enjolras barely looks at him as he makes a beeline for said bar. He won’t (can’t) get drunk when he’s on a job like this, but they hardly ever walk into their undercover business deals side by side. They’ve found it’s intimidating. Better if Grantaire (the one who always carries a gun anyway — Enjolras walked in here unarmed) hangs back for a while. He makes sure his place at the bar has a perfect sightline to Enjolras, then orders a drink and settles in for the night.

Only it’s just a few minutes of watching Enjolras shake hands with someone Grantaire can’t see very well and then sit down to chat before Vasilyev is heading purposefully back toward the bar and Grantaire.

When he’s at Grantaire’s elbow, he says, “Your boy needs you, and Kozlokov wants to meet you.”

This isn’t the plan, and Vasilyev’s hand is around Grantaire’s arm, pulling him forward, but this isn’t what’s supposed to happen, this is wrong, but then Grantaire looks up and sees Enjolras watching him, and Enjolras looks worried. He does need Grantaire. Every whirling panicky thought settles in Grantaire’s mind and he focuses on Enjolras and lets Vasilyev pull him forward.

Grantaire is so focused on Enjolras that he doesn’t even look at the people around him, and the weird thing about this is that Enjolras is staring back at him, unrelenting. Something is definitely wrong.

And then Enjolras hand comes out as Grantaire reaches him and rests on the small of Grantaire’s back and no. No, this is not what they do. But Enjolras is there, touching him and leaning forward to press his lips against Grantaire’s cheek and oh fuck. Fuck. There is nothing about this that’s okay. There’s a kind of static white noise inside Grantaire’s head at just the fucking contact of Enjolras’ mouth on his skin, and then comes the realization of what’s happening: Kozlokov thinks they’re lovers after all, and Enjolras has deemed it safer to play the part than try to contradict him.

Fuck.

It’s a very good thing Grantaire has become an expert at hiding his true emotions on a job because the screaming panic inside him only manifests as a mild surprise on his face, and he can easily pass that off as being unexpectedly introduced to someone he doesn’t know. And he should probably touch Enjolras in return somehow, squeeze his arm or something, but he can’t physically bring himself to do it, so he just turns to Kozlokov to be introduced.

Kozlokov is massive, which is the first thing Grantaire notices about anything other than the way Enjolras’ hand is still warm against his back. He’s about ten feet tall and almost as broad, but other than that he looks like a regular guy. Just a normal-looking giant in a suit, really. He holds out one gigantic hand to shake Grantaire’s and Grantaire vaguely hears Enjolras saying his name in introduction.

“It’s very nice to meet you,” Kozlokov says diplomatically. “Please, sit.”

Enjolras does, pulling Grantaire down with him. And he doesn’t put his arm around Grantaire or anything like that, he doesn’t rest a hand on his knee, but he’s there and their arms are almost touching, they’re sharing body heat. Kozlokov smiles.

A much smaller man, thin and angular, who’s sitting next to Kozlokov, leans forward suddenly. “You are in the business as well?” he asks Grantaire in a voice that sounds more like an interrogation than a question.

Grantaire blinks and nods, but he doesn’t have a chance to do anything more than open his mouth to answer before Kozlokov laughs.

“Calm, Belevich,” he says jovially, then turns back to Enjolras. “You’ll have to forgive him, he is careful.”

Enjolras smiles in that way that charms absolutely everyone and shakes his head. “That probably makes him smarter than than my partner and I, though, doesn’t it?”

Kozlokov laughs again, louder this time. “This is what he tells me!”

Grantaire is supremely grateful for that apparent natural inclination people have to work with Enjolras instead of with him, because he can only focus about half of his attention on this conversation. The other half is solidly divided between his proximity to Enjolras and the faint trace of warmth left on his face from the press of Enjolras’ fucking lips, and trying to keep his face from betraying any of this. There’s no way he’d be able to make a solid business deal like this, and that’s what they need here. A solid deal, so they can bust this guy. Grantaire tries so hard to focus.

Thing is, the job has never meant to him what it means to Enjolras and his ability to focus on anything except Enjolras right now is completely shot to hell.

“So,” Kozlokov is saying as Grantaire struggles to breathe normally, settling back into his seat, apparently quite at ease now, “my friend Vasilyev says you may have something for me.”

Enjolras nods. “We have a few resources, yes.”

“They are the best I have worked with, начальник,” Vasilyev says proudly.

Great, Grantaire thinks. They make excellent criminals, how lovely.

But Kozlokov nods thoughtfully. “Then let us drink and work,” he says. “I shall have Belevich bring you drinks —”

“That’s all right, we’ll get them,” Enjolras interrupts boldly, standing up and pulling Grantaire to his feet, too. “My friend here is rather picky about his alcohol.”

It’s stretch, and Grantaire is fully aware Enjolras is just doing this so they can have half a minute to talk, but Kozlokov just laughs again because Enjolras may be an asshole, but he’s an asshole who makes everyone around him believe in him.

So Grantaire follows Enjolras like a lovesick puppy up to the bar and waits for Enjolras to turn around.

“Sorry,” Enjolras mutters softly when he does, which takes Grantaire completely by surprise. Enjolras doesn’t really apologize. Ever. Not out loud, at least. But he is now and he’s looking at Grantaire like he means it. “Kozlokov liked the idea that two lovers were also business partners, and the way the conversation was going, I felt like if I tried to backpedal and explain that we’re not, it would risk our cover.”

“Hey, it’s okay,” Grantaire replies lightly. It’s not, it’s really really not, but hell if he’s going to admit that. At least he can lie well. “It’s the job.”

He feels like Enjolras should be happy with that answer, but the look he’s fixed with suddenly is another one of those unreadable ones and not knowing what Enjolras is thinking when he keeps looking at Grantaire like that is driving Grantaire crazy, so he turns away.

“Yeah, can I get another gin, please?” he asks the bartender, then completely freezes when Enjolras’ hand comes to rest on his arm. No, no, no.

“Grantaire, please,” Enjolras whispers, and the look in his eyes is too much, Grantaire can’t even meet his gaze.

“I’m not getting drunk,” he promises, taking the proffered gin from the bartender and turning away from Enjolras. He has no idea if that’s what Enjolras meant by please but he can’t think of anything else that doesn’t make him want to just lie down and die, so he turns away.

But Enjolras just follows him. “Grantaire —”

Danger. “Wait, shut up.” Grantaire has stopped short, throwing out his arm to stop Enjolras too. Something is wrong, something is bad, he can feel it. Every muscle in Enjolras’ body tenses at Grantaire’s change and he looks around intently.

Neither of them speak, they read each other too well to need to right now. Grantaire’s arm is blocking Enjolras from going anywhere, but he manages to make it look more like a casual embrace than a cover. Something is off, but Grantaire doesn’t quite know what. He glances around them, trying to find it, but there’s nothing he can see. It’s just a feeling, really, but it’s intense, and Grantaire has a thing about trusting his instincts. Every time he doesn’t, something terrible happens.

“Is it immediate?” Enjolras mutters, and Grantaire knows he means the threat, whatever it is.

Almost imperceptibly, Grantaire shakes his head. Enjolras nods in return and tugs lightly on Grantaire’s arm, telling him to follow back to Kozlokov.

It only takes a moment, but suddenly Grantaire catches the flash of metal that looks like a gun, and there’s a hand that grabs for Enjolras, and there’s no way Grantaire can get to his gun in time, so he just throws himself around Enjolras to protect him.

And then there’s a crash and a spasm of pain in his head and Enjolras shouting his name.

Fuck,” Grantaire breathes, trying to get his bearings. He’s lying on the floor, blinking, and Enjolras’ face swims into view.

“Are you okay?” Enjolras asks him, but Grantaire doesn’t have a chance to push through the muddle of his brain to answer before Enjolras is turning to someone else. “I’m not sure, I think he tripped.” This doesn’t make any sense, but Grantaire is now belatedly aware that Enjolras’ hands are on him, both of them, one on his arm, one on his face, and he’s not entirely sure how breathing works anymore.

Someone says something about picking things up another time, and Enjolras thanks them and then says something reassuring about how he “can handle it” and then arms are under Grantaire’s arms, hoisting him up, and Enjolras is practically carrying Grantaire out of the club.

The shock of cold, wet air manages to clear Grantaire’s mind enough that he tries to push away from Enjolras, who is very much supporting him toward the curb.

“Where are we going?” he asks, and is very proud of himself for only slurring a little bit.

“The hospital,” Enjolras snaps back at him, clearly annoyed. “You slammed your head against the bar, you’re probably concussed.”

“I’m not concussed.” He isn’t. He’s been concussed before, he knows what it’s like, and it’s not this. “Take me back inside, we need to finish the job.”

“We’re finishing the fucking job later,” Enjolras retorts sharply, his grip iron-tight on Grantaire’s shirt as he raises his other hand to call a cab. “Right now, we’re going to the hospital.”

With that marble-etched masterpiece of a face, Grantaire doubts that Enjolras has ever had to wait for a cab in his life. Sure enough, it’s moments before one pulls off to the side for them. But Grantaire is strong, stronger than Enjolras likes to remember, and wrenches away from Enjolras’ grip, staggering backward a little as he says as firmly and clearly as he can, “You’re not taking me to the hospital. You’re taking me back inside, or you’re taking me home.”

He expects to have to fight about it, and he half expects to lose, but Enjolras is just staring at him. After a moment, he takes a step forward and reaches out to hold Grantaire steady by his shoulder, peering at his eyes. He’s really close and his breath smells of mint like toothpaste and a little of alcohol and oh dear Christ he’s really hot why is he so close?

Enjolras narrows his eyes. “You’re going to pitch a fit if I try to take you to the hospital aren’t you?” he asks.

Grantaire nods, but then that makes his head spin so he stops. Enjolras sighs deeply.

“Fine,” he says, giving up surprisingly easily, “get in the goddamn cab, we’re going home,” and then just guides Grantaire roughly towards the car.

Enjolras is really fucking irritated about this, which. Okay, fair enough. Grantaire may have just given himself a concussion for no good reason. Not that there’s ever a good reason to get a concussion, but — well, maybe there is, he’s never thought about it before and god his head hurts. He gets in the cab just fine, though, and leans heavy against the window as Enjolras gives the driver their apartment address, gingerly making sure he doesn’t put weight on the side of his head that got clonked by the bar. Enjolras keeps shooting angry glances at him like he wants to pick a fight, but maybe he doesn’t want to do it if Grantaire is about to pass out or something. Grantaire is definitely not concussed. He’s not.

The apartment is farther away than Grantaire remembers and it takes a really long time to get there. Especially since every few minutes, Enjolras snaps at him not to fall asleep, which he’s not even doing, he’s just watching the city go by out the window. He’s not sleeping, but whatever. This is all Enjolras’ fault anyway, if he hadn’t gone along with the goddamn lovers thing and thrown Grantaire so far off, this never would have happened.

Probably.

Grantaire is lost to this reverie when all at once they’ve arrived and Enjolras has disappeared from beside Grantaire to open his door and pull him out of the cab.

“I can walk,” Grantaire huffs, although that might not be entirely true.

“Shut up,” Enjolras shoots back, hooking his arm under Grantaire’s armpits again.

Impressively, Enjolras manages to get them both inside without much hassle. He quickly deposits Grantaire on the sofa, stepping away like he’d really rather not be so close, and pulls his phone out of his pocket.

“If you’re calling a doctor, I’m going to take out my gun and shoot that phone out of your hand,” Grantaire threatens.

Enjolras throws him a dirty look, then rolls his eyes. “I’m not calling a doctor, although I probably should.”

“I’m not concussed!”

“I’m calling Valjean.”

Oh.

Valjean is Grantaire’s case manager — another thing the Bureau learned quickly with him and Enjolras: even though they work almost all the same cases, having them report to the same person was a terrible idea. And Grantaire and Lamarque just did not see eye to eye, even though Enjolras practically hero-worships the guy, so Grantaire had been switched, and Valjean had requested him.

Grantaire actually kind of loves Valjean, though. He’s a genuinely decent guy, and Grantaire really hasn’t met too many of those outside of the group in Tara. He always listens to what Grantaire has to say. He’s even had Grantaire over for dinner a few times when Grantaire was in a really bad way, and introduced him to his daughter, Cosette, a young woman Grantaire now considers one of his good friends. Valjean is good people. Enjolras can call Valjean if he wants to.

“Oh, thank god,” Enjolras breathes when Valjean apparently answers the phone, and then turns away, chattering annoyingly about what happened, skewing it entirely to sound like Grantaire did something stupid instead of the other way around. So Grantaire just stops listening, instead picking at the fabric of the couch he’s been placed on, thinking about couch fabric patterns and why there are so many nonsensical crescent shapes on all of them, when a phone is shoved into his hand with a brusque, “He wants to talk to you.”

“Yeah?” Grantaire asks into the phone as we watches Enjolras pace away from him.

“Hi, Grantaire,” Valjean’s warm, enveloping voice greets him.  “Can you please tell me what happened? Enjolras was unclear.”

“Enjolras was being an idiot,” Grantaire answers immediately, grinning cheekily at the affronted look Enjolras gives him at that.

“Grantaire,” Valjean says patiently, “that’s how all of your case stories start.”

“He was!”

“He thinks you’re concussed?”

“I’m not concussed!”

“How can you tell?”

Grantaire blinks, considering this. He’s been a little dizzy, yeah, and not entirely steady on his feet or completely aware of his surroundings, but he doesn’t show any other symptoms. He has no light sensitivity, his ears are clear of ringing, he’s not nauseated or confused, he’s been arguing with Enjolras still, and he’s way too aware of everything that stupid idiot of a man does.

“For one thing,” he ends up answering, “I am way too lucid.”

Valjean chuckles over the phone. “You are the only person I’ve ever known who believes a person can be too lucid,” he says with amusement.

That’s actually true.

“I’m fine,” Grantaire insists wearily.

“You’re not,” Enjolras snaps from across the room.

Grantaire looks up to glare back at him. “I don’t believe I was talking to you,” he hisses.

Valjean clears his throat to bring Grantaire’s attention back to him. “I trust you,” he says simply, which makes Grantaire almost wince at the sincerity in his voice. “Please give the phone back to Enjolras, I’ll ask him to calm down.”

Silently, Grantaire sticks the phone out to Enjolras, who looks livid at he crosses the room and snatches it out of Grantaire’s hand.

“Yes?” he says, then just listens for a while. Which is super rare, Enjolras is constantly talking, so Grantaire revels in it for a while. Then, finally, he sighs sharply. “Fine,” he says, “I will.”

And then he hangs up without saying goodbye. Grantaire rolls his eyes.

Enjolras is staring at him with that look again, and there’s no fucking way Grantaire is dealing with this right now, so he pushes himself up off the couch and is highly grateful when he finds he can support his own weight without falling over.

“Well, this has been fun,” he deadpans to the disapproving quirk of Enjolras’ eyebrows, “but I’m going to bed.”

“No,” Enjolras replies sharply, which makes Grantaire’s eyebrows shoot up toward his hairline.

No?

“You can’t sleep, you might be —”

I am not concussed!” Grantaire shrieks. “I thought Valjean told you to calm the fuck down, why are you being an ass?”

Enjolras makes a kind of choked, sputtering noise before Grantaire cuts him off.

“I’m fine, I’m tired, my head is sore,” he says firmly. “I’m going to sleep. Turn the fucking light off this time, Combeferre is going to kill us if we spend a million dollars on electricity because you keep falling asleep while you work.”

Enjolras doesn’t say anything for a while, he just watches Grantaire climb into the stupid bed they have to fucking share goddamn it which means Grantaire gets no sleep because he’s just trying not to shake apart at the seams at the thought of how near and how very untouchable Enjolras always is, the asshole.

“You’re really fucking irritating,” Enjolras finally says, sounding resigned for some reason.

Grantaire scoffs, shoving all of his everything down where it can’t be seen. “I am a gift!” he cries showily.

Enjolras doesn’t respond. Grantaire rolls over so he doesn’t have to look at him. He’s so fucked and this isn’t fair.

He tries not to notice when Enjolras turns off the light and climbs into bed fifteen minutes later.

He fails.