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The Five Stages

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DENIAL

Enjolras calls first shower as he, Courfeyrac, and Combeferre enter their apartment. They’d stayed later than usual following the meeting tonight, and while Combeferre had known any hope of him gaining first access to the bathroom was nil from the start, he’s surprised when Courfeyrac doesn’t put up more than a token fight.

Sorting through his mental catalogue of Herbal Teas Currently In The Pantry, Combeferre settles on hibiscus while Courfeyrac takes a seat at the counter. The kettle’s boil brings attention to the silence that had preceded it. Combeferre turns an arched eyebrow to his flatmate, sitting too still and too focussed.

“What’s on your mind, Courf?”

Courfeyrac glances toward the hallway where the noisy faucet of their shower is squawking. “Do you remember when Feuilly started coming to meetings?”

Combeferre does, but the question is from left field. He nods slowly, turning to lean back against the sink and trying not to let his calculating gaze be mollified by the steam of his tea fogging his glasses.

The tightness of Courfeyrac’s mouth flashes a devious grin before easing into a relaxed small smile as he leans conspiratorially over the countertop. “And do you remember how Enjolras got about two months after Feuilly started coming to meetings?”

Pausing mid-sip of tea, Combeferre hums non-committedly. He carefully places his cup on the bench and moves to Courfeyrac’s counter.

“He… started ironing his clothes?”

“And?” Courfeyrac pushes, eyes scheming.

“Asked Feuilly’s opinion on everything?”

And?

Trying to muddle through the last couple years worth of anything unrelated to the inner workings of the human body is a chore at this hour.

Courfeyrac’s brow pinches, “A tick? A habit?”

A memory surfaces. “He couldn’t stop tugging on that curl behind his ear?”

Courfeyrac slams an open palm down on the benchtop and points triumphantly at Combeferre. “That fucking curl! I knew I wasn’t the only one who noticed.”

“Are you sharing with the class?”

“I saw him do it tonight.” Courfeyrac’s grin is bordering on alarming. “ Twice .”

“No.” Combeferre glances at the hallway. The shower has stopped. “ Who ?”

“Guess.”

“Guess?”

“Guess what?” Enjolras re-enters the kitchen in his favoured oversized shirt, raking a hand through his damp hair as he beelines for the fridge.

Courfeyrac straightens in his seat, sending a sly wink to Combeferre. “What?”

“What?” Emerging with a tub of yoghurt, Enjolras nudges the door of the fridge closed with his hip.

“What?” Combeferre joins, returning to his cooling cup of tea.

Glancing between his flatmates, Enjolras’s face adopts a confused grin.

“Hey,” Courfeyrac says, his tone deserving of the raised eyebrow it receives. “Where’d you disappear to after the meeting finished?”

“I didn’t disappear,” Enjolras frowns as he glances up from his hunt for a spoon. “I was talking to Grantaire.”

Combeferre looks toward Courfeyrac as slowly as he can manage. The arch of the man’s brow tells him that this is the exact information he was hoping to hear.

“That’s new.” Courfeyrac leans forward on the counter again, hands splayed out over the laminate.

Shrugging as he swallows, Enjolras responds. “We’ve spoken after meetings before.”

“Never for that long.” Courfeyrac glances at Combeferre with another wink. “I couldn’t find you for like, twenty minutes.”

Enjolras pauses with the spoon halfway to his mouth. “Really? Huh. We were at the back table.”

“Ah, I didn’t think to check there.” Leaning his chin on his hand, Courfeyrac cocks his head to the side. “How longs R been coming to meetings for now?”

“Two months?” Enjolras offers around a mouthful.

Courfeyrac hums, thoughtful. “What do you think of him?”

“He’s…fine?” Enjolras’s tone is hesitant as his eyes flick to Combeferre, brow raised in silent question. Combeferre shrugs, sipping at his tea.

“Fine?” Courfeyrac pushes, somehow smiling wider than before, “or fiiiiiiine ?”

The yoghurt container creaks in protest to the tightening of the blond’s grip. “What are you talking about?”

“I dunno.” Courfeyrac’s gaze turns calculating. “Is there something to talk about?”

Enjolras looks authentically baffled. “No?”

The two hold eye contact as Courfeyrac leans comically far over the counter. “Are you sure ?”

This earns a bark of laughter. “Positive,” Enjolras says, scooping the last of his yoghurt from the tub. “He’s interesting. And he’s funny. But he’s one of Les Amis now.”

Courfeyrac’s entire face scrunches as he sits back up. “So?”

The tips of Enjolras’s ears go pink as he shrugs. “I’m not…falling for someone in the group. Not again.”

Combeferre frowns, setting his empty cup in the sink. “Enjolras-“

”Feuilly took it really well,” the blond interrupts. “I can’t expect that twice.”

 Courfeyrac’s brows knit together as he mutely watches Enjolras rinse his yoghurt tub. Combeferre is equally lost for words.

“It’s a blanket rule,” Enjolras continues, tidying the pile of recycling in what is no doubt an attempt to avoid eye contact. “I’m one of the coordinators, it’s hardly appropriate for me to be seeking a non-platonic relationship with anyone that comes to our meetings. So I just don’t see Les Amis members that way.”

Snorting, Courfeyrac’s expression morphs into the visual representation of ‘yeah, ok, whatever you say.’

“Enjolras,” Combeferre repeats, finally finding his tongue, “You’ve been attracted to a grand total of two people your whole life, and you’re just going to write off an entire group of individuals that you’re more inclined to share interests with?”

Enjolras hesitates a moment before answering. “Yes.”

Courfeyrac leans back in his chair, eyeing Enjolras a moment with a cunning gaze. “So R just needs to stop coming to meetings and you’ll admit you’re into him?”

“Y-no!” Two empty cereal boxes fall from the counter as Enjolras spins to glare at his cackling flatmate. “This is- ugh. I’m not into Grantaire.“

“Ah,” Courfeyrac stands, heading for the bathroom. “The dulcet tones of denial.”

Enjolras scowls at the empty doorway until the shower head starts screaming again.

 


ANGER


It’s a week later when things start to diverge from the norm.

Enjolras had been taking ideas on how to boost attendance for the school breakfast program that Les Amis had recently rolled out when Grantaire had offered his usual muttered commentary. Instead of shrugging it off with a tight smile the blond had latched on like a dog with a bone and the resulting heated debate had rapidly turned sour.

Combeferre makes a mental note to send the staff a Sorry About That gift basket as he, Enjolras, and Courfeyrac clear the last flight of stairs to their apartment. Enjolras all but detaches the door from its hinges as he enters, flinging his bag in the general direction of their shoe pile hard enough to make Combeferre wince for the laptop inside.

The blond yanks his phone from his pocket as he storms toward the couch, throwing himself into his usual corner and scowling at the screen.

Combeferre and Courfeyrac share a look and a shrug as the former heads for the kitchen and the latter heads for the storm.

Tonight calls for chamomile. Combeferre puts the kettle on and glances toward the couch to see Courfeyrac slumped into the seat closest to their goblin-tempered flatmate, grinning broadly and unblinkingly as Enjolras types furiously at his phone.

The water has boiled and the tea is steeping before Enjolras breaks the silence with a flat “What?”

Courfeyrac sighs dramatically as he places a hand on Enjolras’s shoulder. “I see we’ve moved on from denial.”

Chamomile tea almost shoots out of Combeferre’s nose as Enjolras bats the hand away with a warning “Don’t.”

“Fine, fine,” Courfeyrac’s hands wave in an uninvested attempt to placate, “but seriously, my social calendar doesn’t have the wiggle room to work around a crack in our little family, so can you please think of the children before you go tearing R’s head off mid-meeting?”

Even from across the room Combeferre can spot the dangerous flare of Enjolras’s nostrils. “You know he only says that stuff to get a rise out of you.”

“You don’t usually take the bait,” Courfeyrac adds with as edge of teasing to his grin.

Oh ,” Enjolras scoffs, eyes flicking between his friends, “heaven forbid I get fed up with the constant mockery of everything I care about.” His phone buzzes, and his jaw muscle works as he glares at the screen.

“Speaking of things you care about-“ Courfeyrac starts, outright teasing now.

There is an attempt to silence by glare.

“That look doesn’t work on me, mon ami, just- look. Seriously. Try not to let this feelings funk you’re in-“

“Fuck you.”

“-turn you into such an asshole.”

Combeferre sips at his tea. “It’d be a shame if things escalated to the point you two stop talking altogether.”

Enjolras huffs, not pausing in his texting. “One: I’m not in a feelings funk. That would require feelings. Two: I hope you’re also intending to have this talk with him as well, I’m hardly the only party at fault. And three: like Grantaire could keep up the silent treatment even if he wanted to. He’s been texting me since we left the Musain.”

The look Courfeyrac sends Combeferre no doubt mirrors his own baffled expression.

Enjolras finishes his text, locking his phone and glancing up with a frown. “...what?”

Courfeyrac’s mouth moves for a moment before any sound comes out. “He’s texting you?”

“Yes?” Enjolras’s tone is defensive as he gets up from the couch.

Courfeyrac and Combeferre continue to stare after him as he crosses the room. “And you’re replying?”

Enjolras pauses in the doorway. “I- he’s still wrong about that crap he said. If I leave it he’ll think he’s won.”

As Enjolras disappears down the hallway Courfeyrac sinks into the couch. “Oh my God. Oh my God .”

Combeferre looks back to find both of Courfeyrac’s hands tangled in his curls as he stares into middle space with a slow smile spreading across his face. “They weren’t fighting, they were flirting .”

 


BARGAINING

Combeferre groans as he wakes too early from his day sleep. Eight-hour rosters are unkind, but the red eye starts are the cruelest.

He sends a glare at the sunlight flooding through the side of his curtain before realising his buzzing phone probably has more to do with his state of consciousness.

There are three new messages.

Courf (13:32) ‘Asfskasdsda’

Courf (13:32) ‘Guess who’s here’

Courf (13:32) [Courf sent a photo]

Combeferre reaches for his glasses as he unlocks his phone, laying back down with a stretch before tapping on the message icon.

The image loads to reveal Grantaire and Gavroche sat in one side of a booth seat opposite the photographer. Gavroche wears a smug grin, and Grantaire’s neck is red as he stares pointedly out of frame.

Courf (13:33) ‘gav said we should sit with them. The boy’s a GENIUS’

Sighing, Combeferre taps out a response.

Ferre (13:34)I was sleeping.’

He hasn’t even locked his screen before Courfeyrac’s reply comes through.

Courf (13:34)you really think you could sleep through THIS’

Courf (13:35) [Courf sent a photo]

This image is a low angle shot - no doubt taken on the sly - of Enjolras, pink-cheeked with his left hand incriminatingly tugging at the curl behind his ear.

Admittedly, it does make Combeferre smile to see his oldest friend so obviously flustered. It also gives a solid sense of vindication in the face of Enjolras’s constant objections to feelings.

Ferre (13:36)Cute. But if I don’t sleep people die, Courf.’

He receives a middle finger emoji for his concerns, quickly followed by another text.

Courf (13:37)I actually totally forgot you were on earlys and feel a teensy bit shitty about it. Help yourself to my fancy body wash if you like xx’

Laughing, Combeferre admits defeat and rolls out of bed. He helps himself to a generous amount of the $40 herbal body scrub before heading to the kitchen in search of food.

He settles on cereal, drizzling honey on his oatmeal as his phone buzzes on the bench. He glances over.

Courf (13:48) ‘fhdjsak r was talking up the breakfast program to gav’

Courf (13:48) ‘that cheeky FUCKER’

Combeferre snorts, thankful that he hadn’t already taken a mouthful.

Ferre (13:50) ‘The same breakfast program he deemed ‘doomed to fail courtesy of teen ego and inherent classicism’ two weeks ago?

Courf (13:51)THATS THE ONE’

Courf (13:51) ‘I can HEAR e’s brain working overtime to make sense of this’

Courf (13:51) ‘this is the best thing thats ever happened to me’

He manages to finish his entire bowl before the next update comes through.

Courf (14:04)I take that back, I am appalled at the amount of eye-fucking taking place over my coffee. There is a CHILD present’

Combeferre laughs, rinsing his bowl and putting the dry dishes in the rack away.

He’s got some reading he really needs to make a start on, but he hasn’t slept enough to face dealing with the language of medical journals. However, no amount of sleep deprivation could ruin Tolkien for him, so he seeks out his battered copy of The Hobbit and curls up in the armchair. 

His phone lights up in his periphery.

Courf (14:14) ‘HSKNSNAJSJ I TAKE IT BACK AGAIN I HAVEN’T SEEN E THIS GIGGLY SINCE THE FOURTH GRADE’

Courf (14:14) ‘if these two don’t get their shit together and SOON I’m suing

-

His flatmates arrive home just as he's putting the kettle on a little over ten minutes later, their return signalled by Courfeyrac throwing himself face down onto the couch with an exaggerated sigh.

It’s been a few years, but Combeferre remembers this routine, so he puts down his novel and moves swiftly to Courfeyrac’s side to begin timing his pulse. “It’s just as I feared.”

Enjolras hesitates warily in the middle of the room. “What are you doing?”

Combeferre adopts his Serious Doctor voice. “Continued exposure to such high levels of repressed sexual tension can have devastating effects.”

“Oh fuck you. Did he text you?” Enjolras huffs. “I saw you taking photos Courf, you’re not as subtle as you think.“

Courfeyrac does not entirely succeed in hiding his grin as he meekly reaches for a nearby blanket. “It’s so cold.”

Tamping down a bubble of laughter, Combeferre puts his hand to Courfeyrac’s forehead. “Courf! Courf can you hear me?” he calls, fishing his mini-flashlight keychain out of his pocket and using it to check Courfeyrac’s eye dilation. The brunet's shoulders shake with the effort of keeping his laughter silent, and somewhere behind them Enjolras snorts. “We need to get you to your room so you can sleep this off!”

Courfeyrac - now burritoed in the blanket - shakes his head and schools his expression into something more pitiful. “It’s too far,” he moans, sinking sideways as he stares wistfully toward the two metres separating the couch and his bedroom doorway, “I’m afraid you’ll have to carry me.”

Enjolras unsympathetically shoves Courfeyrac’s feet off of the couch and takes a seat. “There isn’t a man alive that could shoulder the weight of that ego.”

Courfeyrac huffs, sitting up. “You ruin all my fun.” He begins struggling out of the blanket and levels Enjolras with a flat look before his face morphs into a grin. “I’ll pay you twenty euros to admit you think Grantaire’s pretty.”

Enjolras swivels his head so quickly that Combeferre feels a sympathy twinge in his own neck. “ What?

“Forty?”

“I’m not-” Enjolras sputters as the kettle starts to whistle. “I don’t- why would I- No. No.

“Forty euros and four whole days of me not mentioning your gigantic crush?”

I don’t have a crush.”

“Buy my silence with three little words.”

Fine,” Enjolras grits through his teeth. Shockingly, the rugged, messy-haired hipster posterboy that frequents our biweekly meetings is attractive. Better call The Goddamned Guardian, this is groundbreaking stuff .”

Combeferre hands the fiery blond a mug of sweet violet tea while Courfeyrac grins like it’s Christmas morning.

Enjolras’s voice fills with dread. “Why are you smiling like that?”

Courfeyrac leans heavily into the couch as he takes his own tea, sighing wistfully. “‘ Rugged .’”

A groan builds in Enjolras’s chest. “You literally just promised! Ferre! Make him stop!”

Combeferre glances between the two as he picks up his phone from the coffee table. “Sorry E, I can’t hear you over this captivating article The Guardian just posted.”

“Traitor,” Enjolras bites out, waspish, turning back to Courfeyrac. “It’s not a big deal - I never said he wasn’t attractive. But appreciating his aesthetic doesn’t mean we’re gonna end up fucking in the backroom of the Musain.”

Combeferre nearly drops his phone as Courfeyrac’s tea sloshes dangerously in its mug. “That’s an...oddly specific hypothetical situation to have immediately at the ready.”

Enjolras’s patented Panic Eyebrows set in. “No it’s not.”

He shouldn’t tease. And yet… “Have you... imagined doing that?”

Of course not.” His scarlet complexion appears at odds with the words he’s speaking, but who is Combeferre to judge?

Courfeyrac recovers from his fit of giggles well enough to speak. “I mean, you could have just said ‘fucking.’ You realise that?”

It earns him a whack from the only freerange pillow on the couch.

Enjolras cups his mug in both hands and scowls. “I liked you better when you were dying.”

 


DEPRESSION

Sunday sees the boys arriving home late and tired.

Feuilly had wrangled a rare day off and proposed a group hike of Franchard’s Gorges. For the first time in too many weeks, every original member of Les Amis had been available to attend, and they’d certainly made the most of the daylight.

Once everyone has showered, Enjolras, Courfeyrac, and Combeferre collapse together on the couch. Without speaking they agree to watch a space documentary they’ve seen ten times before.

Courfeyrac orders a delivery of Thai food, and when it arrives he and Combeferre dig in with little grace while Enjolras picks at his Pad Thai.

It isn’t until Sean Pertwee starts talking about interstellar space that Combeferre realises Enjolras hasn’t said a word since they got home. He glances over, wondering if perhaps the blond is more tired than he’d realised, only to find him frowning at his phone where it sits silently on the coffee table.

The television starts talking about Alpha Centauri, and Enjolras hasn’t blinked. Combeferre nudges him, and he jolts enough to get Courfeyrac’s attention.

“You okay?”

Enjolras smiles tightly for a moment before his brow quirks it into a confused pout. “You aren’t gonna give me shit about today?”

Whatever response Combeferre had been expecting, that wasn’t it. “Hmm?”

Glancing back at his phone, Enjolras sinks lower into the couch. “I spent most almost all afternoon talking to R, usually you two would be chiming the wedding bells by now.”

Both points are true. After the picnic lunch by the abbey Enjolras and Grantaire had become borderline inseparable, either wandering ahead or trailing behind, caught up in a constant stream of conversation.

Courfeyrac and Combeferre had agreed that whatever was happening between them was probably best left to its own devices.

Combeferre clears his throat. “We were under the impression that you didn’t like us doing that.”

“I don’t,” Enjolras responds automatically. “That’s never stopped you before.”

Despite the utter confusion written across Courfeyrac’s face, he sounds almost convincing as he speaks. “Maybe we’re growing?”

The trio go silent as the image of Orion’s Dark Cloud appears on the screen.

“Did he say something?” Enjolras asks after a long moment.

Combeferre blinks. “Who?”

Swallowing, Enjolras’s gaze drops to his still-silent phone. “R.”

Courfeyrac turns in his seat, placing a hand on the blond’s shoulder. “Enj?”

“What would he have said?” Combeferre asks without an ounce of teasing. “What are you imagining that’s upsetting you?”

“I’m not upset,” Enjolras insists, though his patchy complexion suggests otherwise. “Just, you two have been harping on about this- about him -for the last month. If he said something that’s finally gotten you to accept that it’s not on the cards, it’d be nice to know.”

Courfeyrac’s concerned gaze flicks up from the pouting blond to share a Look with Combeferre, who nods and heads for the kitchen. “I don’t know when this hypothetical conversation is supposed to have gone down,” he says in a careful, measured tone, “the guy didn’t leave your side all day.”

Enjolras doesn’t respond beyond a shrug, and his flatmates politely don’t comment on the way his gaze drops from the television to his phone despite it’s continued silence.

Combeferre brews a large pot of patchouli tea as the narrator talks about white dwarfs.

Enjolras accepts his mug, but remains distant for the rest of the night.

 


ACCEPTANCE

“Enj?” Combeferre freezes as he walks into the kitchen Tuesday morning. ‘Morning’ is a stretch. It’s after 2am and his shift has left him dead on his feet, but finding his flatmate sat at the counter squinting at his phone gives him pause.

“Yeah?” Enjolras’s voice cracks sleepily as he blinks away from the screen. He tilts his head to the side, staring. He must eventually notice Combeferre’s scrubs because his eyes widen and he glances back at his phone, swearing under his breath.

“I take it you didn’t intend to be up this late?” Combeferre moves to the pantry. He’s exhausted but not sleepy. And he’s craving a tea.

“No,” Enjolras murmurs, drawing it out as he rubs at his eyes.

Pulling out the box of lemon balm tea, Combeferre cocks a brow at Enjolras and receives a hum and nod in return.

“How was your shift?” Enjolras asks through a yawn as Combeferre puts the kettle on.

“Pretty good.” Combeferre can’t fight his smile. “I delivered a baby.”

“Woah.” Enjolras’s eyebrows shoot up. “That’s…wow. How was it?”

He can’t help his laugh. “Honestly? Kind of gross. But also really, really cool.” He turns toward the living room and raises his voice. “Birth is so fucking metal.”

“Oi!” a muffled voice sounds, followed by footsteps and Courfeyrac’s bedroom door opening with a flourish. “You can’t mockingly quote me when I’m not in the room, you ass.”

“Knew you were up,” grins Combeferre, setting the tea to steep. “Couldn’t hear you snoring.”

“Rude.” Courfeyrac stretches, nodding at the empty mug Combeferre waves at him before taking the seat next to Enjolras, who is arching his spine in increasingly alarming directions.

An audible crack is heard as he disappears sideways behind the bench, making his flatmates flinch. Enjolras remains sideways for an unnerving amount of time following the sound.

“Are you alright?” Combeferre asks, brain already running through the protocol for spinal injuries.

“Are those my socks?”

Courfeyrac glances down at his feet and shrugs as Enjolras returns to an upright position. “Quite possibly.”

Enjolras’s glare is weakened by an almighty yawn. “I’ve been looking for those.”

“How I came to be best friends with the only two people in Paris that delight in keeping track of their socks is a mystery to me.” Courfeyrac sighs with a fond grin.

“Funny,” Combeferre smirks, “because I can recall the inception of this friendship with startling clarity.”

Courfeyrac grimaces. “I don’t need the refresher.”

“Oh God,” Enjolras laughs. “Mom still brings it up every time she sees me with a glass of milk. You’d think-” His phone buzzes, and he stops talking mid-sentence to check it.

“Who’re you texting?” asks Combeferre. He’s ninety percent sure he knows, but it’s polite to feign ignorance about how obviously smitten one’s friends are.

“R.” The look that accompanies the admission lets him know Enjolras is expecting a dig, but Combeferre merely nods as he silently pours three mugs.

Courfeyrac is less restrained. “What’re you talking about?”

Enjolras taps a little at his phone before responding. “He’s telling me about his favourite movie.”

“Which is?”

“Uh, something about sunshine?” Scrolling up further than what could be reasonably expected for the current topic of conversation, Enjolras squints as he reads, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”

“Of course it is,” Courf mutters.

“You’ve seen it?”

“A few times, yeah. You haven’t?”

“If I have, I don’t remember it.”

Courfeyrac snorts. “ God. Tell me that’s the exact phrase you sent when R asked you.”

“Why?” Enjolras’s tone takes on a defensive edge.

Grinning, Courfeyrac picks up his mug. “Watch it and you’ll find out.”

It earns him an eye roll from the blond as Combeferre distributes the mugs of tea, taking a seat on the opposite side of the counter.

Enjolras returns to his text, and Courfeyrac’s expression turns soft. He and Combeferre have a silent conversation consisting of raised eyebrows, headshakes, and pointed looks while Enjolras finishes typing, setting his phone down and looking up with a small smile.

“What were we talking about?” he asks, sipping at his tea.

“How hopelessly gone on R you are,” Courfeyrac answers wistfully.

Enjolras shakes his head, but his smile doesn’t fade. It’s leaps and bounds from the outright denial that statement would have earnt two weeks ago. “We’re friends.”

“Come on Enj-”

“No, it’s ok.” He runs his finger through a drop of spilt tea on the counter, drawing shapes. “I like being his friend. I like talking about stuff that matters, and stuff that doesn’t. He doesn’t deflect like he used to, and he’s...he’s so smart. And he cares about so much more than lets on-”

“Yeah,” Courfeyrac interrupts, “like you .”

A brief pained expression flashes across Enjolras’s face, his head shake more severe this time. “I can do friendship. I’m good at friendship.”

A subtle grinding sound catches Combeferre’s attention, and it takes him a moment to realise it’s Courfeyrac’s teeth.  

“Enj, I know it’s scary-”

“I’m not scared.“

Courfeyrac takes a deep breath and places his hand on top of Enjolras’s, stilling it. “But consider;” and nothing good has ever followed that opener with him, “all the fun of friendship, except you’re holding hands.”

Knowing his track record, that wasn’t bad.

“Or naked.”

There it is.

Enjolras snatches his hand away with a steely glare.

Courfeyrac makes an exasperated sound as his hands fly. “Come on! R’s a total catch, you’re really gonna leave it at friends?”

“Yes.” 

“Whyyyyyy? ” 

“Christ!” a flustered Enjolras snaps. “If his relationship status is of such interest to you, why don’t you date him?”

His phone buzzes innocently between them on the counter.

Courfeyrac smiles more gently than Enjolras’s tone deserves. “Because I’m not the one he’s texting at 3am.”

 


MOVING FORWARD

It’s almost a week before Combeferre’s roster at the hospital aligns with Enjolras’s days off, and the doctor student intends to take full advantage of Saturday morning to touch base with his oldest friend.

His body clock is all out of whack, so he waits until he can hear his flatmate bustling around in the kitchen before making his way out of his room.

“Morning,” he greets, taking mild enjoyment in the way Enjolras jolts and glances over his shoulder.

“Ferre?” The blond stays motionless at the counter, eyebrows raised. “Hey. Hi. Hey? You’re not at work?”

“My shift ran too far overtime yesterday,” Combeferre explains, taking a seat at the counter with a yawn. “I’ve got a mandatory fatigue break until tomorrow morning.”

Enjolras finally turns to face him but continues jostling things behind his back. “Great. Nice.”

“You’re speaking in short sentences today.”

“What? I mean, it’s early. I was um, up late.” Breaking eye contact, Enjolras tugs at the hem of his pyjama shirt. “I heard you come in.”

“You were up late,” Combeferre agrees. He hadn’t clocked out of the hospital until 4:07.

Enjolras shrugs and spins back to finish making his coffee, leaving an empty mug on the counter as he moves to the hallway.

Combeferre follows.

“I um,” Enjolras hesitates in opening his door, instead turning back to face Combeferre, which is odd. “I have a couple of emails I need to send.“

His tone is the cherry on top of his bizarre behaviour.

“You didn’t put sugar in your coffee.” Combeferre remarks.

“Didn’t I?” Enjolras frowns contemplatively at his cup.

Combeferre follows his gaze. “Or milk.”

“I’m trying new things,” Enjolras says, grimacing at the black liquid. “Broadening my palate.”

The door behind Enjolras opens, and a sleepy Grantaire appears murmuring something from which Combeferre is able to pick out “too much talking.”

“Oh!” Enjolras’s cheeks bloom red. “Also! You guys were right?”

“Hey Ferre,” Grantaire hooks his chin over the blond’s shoulder as his hand snakes forward for the coffee mug. “I heard you were working today?”

He takes a large gulp before pressing a kiss to the riot of curls behind Enjolras’s ear.

Enjolras tries to school his features, but his face soon breaks into the biggest grin Combeferre has ever seen on him prior to 10am.

“I um, definitely owe you apology pancakes,” his blushing flatmate admits, hand catching Grantaire’s wrist where it’s snuck under the hem of Enjolras’s shirt. “Breakfast?”

Grantaire shoots a pained look at Enjolras’s cheek, and Combeferre laughs.

“Make it brunch?”

“A valiant victor,” Grantaire responds as he’s pulling Enjolras backwards into his own bedroom. “Truly. The hero we need but don’t deserve.”

The door closes in his face and something thunks behind it, followed by the sound of Enjolras giggling.

Combeferre can’t stop smiling as he heads back to the kitchen. He hadn’t realised just how apprehensive he’d been about Enjolras’s emotional state, but now, with the muffled sound of their voices following him down the hall, he feels a knot of tension he hadn’t noticed easing at last. 

He collects his phone from where he’d left it on the counter, pulling up his texts as he opens the pantry to peruse his tea collection.

He settles on peppermint, dropping the box on the counter and thumbing a quick message to Courfeyrac before he begins the search for his favourite mug.

Ferre (07:12) ‘You’re going to want to be home for brunch.’