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The Guy Next Door

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“No, No!” Courfeyrac gasped, slamming his glass down on the table and staring at Enjolras with an expression of amused disbelief, heightened into the comedic by the amount of alcohol flowing through his veins. “That is not how you woo someone. Trust me, Enjolras,” he took a swig of drink and leaned back into seat, throwing an arm out across the back of the booth. “I do know a thing or two about dating.”

Enjolras snorted. “That is not in question.”

“So what are you implying?”

“I’m not implying anything, I am saying that I’m right and you’re very, very wrong.”

“Oh please. You wouldn’t know what flirting was it if danced in front of you naked, but for a tricolour.”

“Oh yeah?” Enjolras demanded, cheeks flushing. Courfeyrac wasn’t sure if the alcohol or anger was to blame.

“Yeah. You couldn’t get a date before me if you’re life depended on it.” Courfeyrac slurred, picking up his glass and downing his drink.

Enjolras raised an eyebrow. “Really? You want to go there?”

“Oh yeah. Bring it on,”

“Do I smell a wager?” Bahorel asked gleefully, returning to the booth table with another round of shots and sliding onto the seat beside Courfeyrac.

“If,” Courfeyrac lifted a pointed finger with a grin “you can get someone to go out with you before I get someone to go out with me, then I won’t ask anyone on a date for a month.” Looking entirely too pleased himself Courfeyrac sat back slightly and downed the shot offered from Bahorel.

Enjolras glared at him at him for a beat.

“What if you win?”

“Then I get a date, and the knowledge that I beat you,” he chuckled.

“Alright, you’re on.” Enjolras agreed, his glare fading into a dead pan. “Hey, Grantaire,” he called across the bar with utter calmness.

“Hey, that’s not – ”

“Yeah?” Grantaire abandoned lining up his pool shot and stood up to shout back his reply.

“Want to go out tomorrow?”

Grantaire leant on his pool cue, pretending to give his answer some thought.

“Game of Thrones is on hiatus,” he smirked. “Sure.”

That settled, Enjolras turned back to Courfeyrac and simply raised an eyebrow.

“That doesn’t count! You’re already going out with him.” Courfeyrac gasped.

“The rules never excluded that.”

“But,” Courfeyrac turned to Bahorel and pleaded for backup. Instead he found Bahorel smirking.

“You never said boyfriends didn’t count. So, no dating for a month, huh? This is going to be interesting.”

“But,” Courfeyrac spluttered. “But…no…shit.”

=

No. Dating. For. A. Month. Fuck.

The thought kept swirling round Courfeyrac’s head as he dragged his feet and hauled the last box up the stairs to his apartment, his new apartment. He dropped the box into the middle of the room along with the other ones and stood still for a moment letting everything wash over him.

At least the apartment was nice. He’d looked at so many that he couldn’t actually remember which was it was he’d said yes to. Pale wooden floorboards, a small kitchen tucked into the corner of the lounge/kitchen/diner with pale blue cupboard doors, and large floor to ceiling windows which looked out onto a leafy street. It was actually rather calming.

Alright, he told himself, taking a deep breath. No dating for a month, it wasn’t the end of the world. It might….might actually be a nice change of pace. A new apartment; a fresh start. It would certainly be useful to delay the awkward encounters of one night standees for a while. And it wasn’t like dating was his only facet. He could…. He snorted. Who was he kidding? This was going to be hell.

Forgoing unpacking, which he really wasn’t in the mood for – moving alone had been hard enough, not that his friends hadn’t offered to help, but he couldn’t stand the sight of their smug faces at the moment – Courfeyrac dug some sweats and his trainers from a suitcase and rooted his iPod from his laptop case. If sex was off the table, then he was going to have to resort to jogging.

=

This was all Enjolras’ fault, he decided – and Grantaire’s, and Bahorel’s – as he jogged round the streets – surprising himself by only getting lost a couple of times; this wasn’t an area of the city he’d really frequented before. But work had picked up, and he couldn’t really excuse living in the tiny little apartment above a bar on the pay check he was getting now.

He paused by the river to catch his breath, leaning on the railings and letting his head fall forwards slightly. His chest heaved a small rivulets of sweat trickled from his hairline as he thought about his predicament.

Half the problem was he couldn’t stay mad at his friends for long; he never could.

What he could do, was be the most celibate freaking person since Mother Theresa. He always liked a challenge. And if all else failed he could lock himself in his apartment and re-watch Breaking Bad. Or just use Pontmercy as a wingman. That was a failsafe for scaring off potential dates. He stood up and slapped his hands on the railing with a grin. He’d show them.

=

Lost in a daze of anticipated pride and a general sense of self awesomeness, Courfeyrac was humming along to his iPod as he jogged up the steps to his new building and let himself into the lobby area. He’d barely made it a few steps inside when he collided into someone and sent them both toppling to the floor.

He could blame it on the person for being stood behind the door, innocently picking up his mail, he should blame it on himself for not paying attention to where he was going – never mind actually jogging through the front door, who jogs into a building without looking where they were going? – but instead he blamed it on the universe, which was clearly out to get him. Because the person he was now sprawled on top of, who was blinking up at him in an amused, slightly bewildered daze, was just out of this world, unfairly attractive. Like an angelic librarian.

His glasses had fallen off one ear and were skewed across his eyes and his sandy coloured hair was mussed with the impact. He smelled like freshly brewed coffee and old books and Courfeyrac’s heart leapt in his chest.

He lingered for a moment, one leg either side of this pagan god of everything Courfeyrac had ever wanted, hands propping him up just enough that their noses weren’t quite touching – before he remembered himself, realised that this was weird and scrambled to stand up, holding out a hand to help Angelic Librarian to his feet as well.

“Sorry about that,” Courfeyrac chuckled, running a hand through his slightly damp and sweaty hair, catching a whiff of himself and balking. Oh god, could this get any worse?

“It’s alright. No harm done.” he replied with a smile, swooping down to collect his mail which had been thrown everywhere during the collision.

Courfeyrac bent down to help gather the letters up. Their hands brushed as he passed over the bundle.

“I’m Courfeyrac,” he introduced himself, standing up and actually holding out his hand. Well, he figured he’s already made enough of a dork of himself – why not go all out?

“Combeferre,” the angelic librarian replied, shaking his hand with a firm, succinct shake.

Courfeyrac was in love.

Combeferre straightened his glasses and shuffled the envelopes into a neat pile, before glancing back up to smile at Courfeyrac and incline his head towards the stairs.

There was no denying it.

“You must be the new tenant in number five,” he said as they began to climb.

“Yeah, I moved in this morning,”

“This morning? Making quick work of trying to take out the neighbours, I see,” Combeferre smiled at him. He leant a little closer an added in a conspiratorial whisper, “Mme. Durand in flat 3 has the biggest living room, but if you’re looking for an extra bathroom then you’ve got to take down M. Lefebvre in number 8.”

They reached the first landing but carried on past it, towards the second floor.

“What about you, then?” Courfeyrac asked, barely restraining the smile that tugged at his cheeks.

“Me? No, not worth it. I have a very boring apartment I’m afraid. Unless you’re into very old, abstract books.”

Courfeyrac’s heart sang.

They reached the second floor and Combeferre began fumbling for the keys in his pocket.

“Well this is me,” he stopped outside the door directly opposite from Courfeyrac’s. “Let me know if I can help you with anything. Hopefully I’ll bump into you again sometime,” he said with an altogether too smug smile.

Courfeyrac shook his head and let his face break into a grin.

He watched Combeferre disappear behind the door to flat number 6 before letting his shoulders slump and opening his own door. He pushed it closed behind him, keeping his hand pressed to the door for a few moments before he trudged across the room and collapsed into a heap where the sofa would be, if he had a sofa yet. Unlike his old apartment, this one wasn’t furnished – which would mean taking a trip, or two, to Ikea, but right now he had bigger things to worry about.

He fished his phone out of pocket, dialled Grantaire and began sobbing into the phone.

“I hate my life,” he sighed dramatically. “And I hate Enjolras and I hate you. This isn’t fair.”

“I’ll bite,” Grantaire resigned, “what’s not fair?”

“I’m in love.” Courfeyrac rolled onto his back and draped his free arm over his eyes. “With the super hot, super brilliant, guy next door and I’m. Not. Allowed. To. Date. Him.”

Unhelpfully Grantaire began to laugh.

“It’s not funny!” Courfeyrac sat up and scowled at the wall.

“It is a little funny.”

“You mock my pain.”

“That’s what friends are for.” Grantaire chirped.

Courfeyrac wasn’t sure he preferred the old, miserable, pining-over-Enjolras Grantaire.

He mumbled something unintelligible under his breath, Grantaire heavily suspected it might have been a petulant ‘I’m not friends with you anymore’, before actually replying with; “I didn’t mock you for your Enjolras Situation.”

“Are you kidding? That’s all you did.”

“But I still helped you.” He whined.

“Touché. Look, I’d love to stay and help you figure this one out, honestly,” Grantaire sounded anything but. “But I’ve got a date with Enjolras,”

Courfeyrac very nearly through his phone against the wall.

“Not helping.” He groaned. “This is all so backwards. You’re going on a date with Enjolras, and I’m home alone – I may as well curl up here and die,” he sobbed melodramatically.

“Courfeyrac.” Grantaire said, suddenly less mocking. “Look, the bet was your idea.”

“I knooooow. I’m an idiot.”

“And - I can’t believe I’m actually helping you – you said you weren’t allowed to ask anyone out, right?”

“Might as well have shot myself in the face.”

“But you never said you couldn’t agree to a date.”

“What?” Courfeyrac caught his breath and blinked.

“Get him to ask you out, you fuck wit. Now, I’ve got to go, I’ll catch you later; I want to meet this super-hot, super awesome guy next door.”

“Goodbye Grantaire.”

“See you, ‘Courf.”

He hung up and sat cross legged for a while before the realisation dawned on him. All he needed to do was to get Combeferre to ask him out on a date. He grinned.

Let operation Seduce Combeferre begin.