A woman finds the body on her way to work the next morning. The sun is just beginning to rise, a pale orange haze coating the city like dust, setting the grime of the streets aflame.
She gasps when she sees it, stops dead in her tracks.
It doesn't make the papers--the journalists wouldn't dare--but it hits the internet within an hour of being spotted. The headlines read: CORRUPT SENATOR FOUND DEAD IN FRONT OF GREAT HALL. THANK YOU.
God help whoever wrote that headline.
The murder scene is one to behold, surrounded by black velvet ropes to keep the citizens back. Those who are lucky enough to climb on top of others to catch a glimpse don't recount what they see. It is too gruesome.
"Too dangerous to speak of such things around here," they whisper. "I will tell you when we are home."
When they finally find the words to describe it, it is not fear in their voice, but awe.
Senator Mott is lying under the archway of the Great Hall, his back propped up against the light marble doors, blood pooling around him, staining the white marble a dark, deep red. His bald, round head is lolled to the side like it weighs twenty pounds, and his throat--well, his fat throat looks like it has been ripped open with someone's nails. Everyone knows who's.
"It was a message," the witnesses say. "A message to the Council."
"Let's hope the senders weren't dense enough to leave a stamp," others joke, though their voices have not stopped shaking.
"Better than a stamp. So much better."
Senator Mott is dead, and directly above his head, scrawled with his own blood by a careful, steady, skilled hand, are three letters. So much better than a stamp.
They call themselves Les Amis, on account of one online article that had dubbed them les amis du peuple--the friends of the people. Enjolras immediately fell in love with it—or, like, at least whatever Enjolras’ equivalent is to falling in love. Grantaire knows Enjolras isn’t heartless, but okay, in the three years Grantaire has known him, Enjolras has never shown any interest in another human being (and if he has, Grantaire doesn’t want to know about it; he’d much rather assume that Enjolras just doesn’t like him, because it would really suck if he were actually in love with someone else, and Grantaire can’t even think about this anymore). The point is that Enjolras loved the nickname, and Jehan, the creative genius of the group, went home that night and screen printed them on a dozen pairs of bright red socks. When he handed them out the next day (complete with bows and everything), Combeferre had been a little wary of them, cautioning everyone to roll them down when they wore them in public.
"Friends aren't dangerous, Ferre," Bousset had called from the back of the room. "They're friendly!"
Combeferre had grimaced back at him. "And the Council will take that into consideration when they see the color, I'm sure."
Everyone had erupted into laughter, much to Combeferre's exasperation, and Enjolras had commanded all side conversations to come to a halt because there's still a meeting to have, and could we please get started. That had been Grantaire's cue to buy another drink.
Grantaire has long since ‘misplaced’ his pair, but so has everyone else (except for Bahorel, he wears them every Wednesday). Anyway, the amount of pastel paint smeared across Grantaire’s hands is enough to place him under the rebel radar in every city in France. Enjolras had once advised him to wear gloves to cover it up, if he wasn't going to bother washing the paint off; one of the rare moments where their fearless leader's condescendence sounded a tad bit more like actual, genuine care.
He’s never been good at listening, though, not even to Enjolras, and his hands are now stained blue (a client requested a landscape, it’s whatever) and wrapped around a bottle and a pen, drawing over a napkin as the meeting wraps up. He glances up at Enjolras where he stands at the front of the room, the late summer humidity plastering his sunshine colored hair to his forehead and the nape of his neck. Grantaire huffs out a laugh, a little bitter about the fact that Enjolras still looks angelic while it's one hundred plus degrees outside. He looks back down at his napkin, sketching in the creases between the eyes of the mini Enjolras he's begun to draw. The nose is a little large and the eyebrows off center, but Grantaire thinks he might just keep this one. He's just glancing up to measure the length of Enjolras's eyelashes when the leader in question is sinking down in the chair across from him. Grantaire's hand freezes over the napkin for a split second before shoving it into his pants, but Enjolras doesn't even seem to notice. He's already talking. Of course he is.
"We've got a job," he says, pushing his damp hair away from his eyes and locking them with Grantaire's.
Grantaire smiles as he tips his drink back against his lips. "Just tell me when it's time to leave," he says when he's downed at least half of the bottle.
"Tomorrow morning," Enjolras says, studying Grantaire's reaction.
"Jesus, Apollo, you couldn't have told me this--I don't know--a few days ago? I was gonna get laid tonight. Are you trying to keep me single?"
He says it just to get a rise out of Enjolras, and he is definitely not disappointed. Enjolras may not have a problem getting dirty with knives and corpses (oh god, that came out wrong), but innuendos still knock the breath right out of him. Enjolras frowns, his words coming out in a rush. "Of course not, Grantaire, but I thought perhaps your sex drive could withstand a two day break. If I've been mistaken, then please, by all means, get it out of your system before tomorrow."
Grantaire laughs out loud, waving Musichetta over for a refill. "I'll do my best to restrain my animalistic urges." He winks at his friend as she sets a beer down in front of him, uncapping it and taking a swig. "Alright," he says. "Debrief me. And I mean that with a completely unsexual connotation." Enjolras rolls his eyes, but his lips are pressed into a tight line. Grantaire sighs, relenting. "Okay, sorry, I'll cut it out with the innuendos. What's the job?"
"Just meet me upstairs at sunrise tomorrow," Enjolras says impatiently. "I'll debrief you on the way." And with that, he pushes himself up from the table and walks briskly back to the front of the room.
Grantaire sighs, but he can't keep the small smile off of his face. He doesn't know what the job is or who they'll be killing, but God help him, he’ll be setting his alarm for five thirty regardless.
It's always been like this, though, and it's long since stopped surprising him. Three years of dutifully following a godlike asshole and Grantaire expects to spend another twenty doing the exact same thing. He's not sure it's his true calling, but illegally selling art while intoxicated isn't likely to get him anywhere substantial before the time he's thirty. Might as well kill as many corrupt politicians as he can and hope to score some cheap liquor.
Grantaire downs the rest of his drink in one go, waving Bahorel over to buy him another (he owes him, probably), but all the while his eyes stay trained on the leader in red. The napkin burns a hole in his pocket, right over his heart, and it's seriously unhealthy how much he loves it.
“Relax, Enjolras, it’s just like, one kiss!”
“Courfeyrac, if you don’t take your hands off of my—”
“Don’t be such a party pooper! One kiss! And you’ll love it, I promise!”
“You’re still touching me.”
“Don’t make me make you!”
“I have a gun, Courfeyrac. You can’t make me do anything—”
“I’m doing this for you, Enjolras! Stop being so ungrateful!”
“Please leave me alone.”
“One kiss! Just one! And you never have to do it again! But you’ll want to. Trust me, you’ll definitely want to—”
“I don’t want to do this, Courfeyrac, but you’re leaving me no choice.”
“Wait, Enjolras, don’t—”
“Combeferre, could you come over here for—”
“Fine! You win! I don’t care, you’re not even fun!”
Combeferre approaches the table, eyeing the pair. “Do I need to separate you two?”
“He’s doing it again,” Enjolras mutters, turning back to his maps on the table in front of him. “And he’s drunk.”
Courfeyrac gasps in horror. “You traitor!”
“It’s not like I didn’t know, Courf,” Combeferre says fondly, taking Courfeyrac’s hand and pulling him up. “Go upstairs, I’ll be there in a minute.”
It takes a little while for him to convince Courfeyrac to leave, so Enjolras tunes them out. He has a job in—he checks his watch—ten hours. He needs to have everything prepared. It should be a quick kill, just a government employed journalist that had the misfortune of being tasked an article on the ABC, but Enjolras doesn’t want to leave anything up to chance. He doesn’t want to take any risks, not this late in the game, not when they’ve already inspired so many people to believe in what they're doing.
He’s trying not to stress over the elephant in the room, which is the location of the job. Their target has a room booked in the largest hotel in Ruen, otherwise notoriously known as the unofficial headquarters of the French National Guard. Who have out out a bounty on each of the Amis' heads.
So maybe risky is an understatement.
It’ll be quick, just an in-and-out kill, Grantaire covering him the whole time. No reason to worry.
“What was he trying to convince you to do?” Combeferre asks, sinking into the chair across from Enjolras. His glasses are tucked into his shirt pocket, his auburn hair mussed (whether from Courfeyrac’s hands or his own, he doesn’t want to know). The floor is deserted, save for the two of them, telltale café noises drifting up through the open door. Most of their friends are still downstairs, drinking and laughing, but while they’re out of sight, Combeferre slips out of his own skin, lets himself relax. Enjolras doesn’t think he gets to do it often enough.
Enjolras shakes his one track mind back on topic. “He still thinks he can convince me to ask Grantaire out on a date.”
Combeferre represses a smile. “Oh, really?”
“Don’t smile at me,” Enjolras rolls his eyes. “I know you’re in on it too.”
“I would never,” Combeferre says. “Although, you might consider it.”
Enjolras groans. “Please, I just want to work. I can’t believe you’ve let him corrupt you.”
“I’m incorruptible,” Combeferre winks. “He’s the one being corrupted; he just doesn’t know it yet.” He stands, stretching his arms. “Get some rest, Enjolras. You’ve got a job tomorrow.”
“I know that,” Enjolras mutters. “Goodnight.”
“Oh, and Enjolras? You know Grantaire would say yes in a heartbeat.”
By the time Enjolras has his paper balled up and ready to throw, Combeferre is already halfway up the stairs.
Grantaire likes his job.
Sometimes they're quick kills, just intel gathers that last two days tops. Other times they're even quicker, killing at Enjolras' command without a second glance. It's been three years, now. Three years of systematically killing off the wealthiest of France, the filthiest of the elite. Three years of over fifty jobs, and Grantaire's been on exactly fifteen of them without Enjolras.
At first they were quick kills. The editor of Cannes' local newspaper. A police officer that had allegedly beat an innocent student. They were among the easiest kills of Grantaire's career--if he can call murdering a career--and he's almost positive they were directly assigned by the Chief in all his nitpickiness, just to test Grantaire's loyalty to the ABC.
His first eight jobs or so, he did alone or with Bahorel. Nearly every job since has been following Enjolras. Which, yeah. He prefers the latter.
It's just a hell of a relief to be Enjolras' detail. To have him in his line of sight during each job, making sure no one catches the drop on him--not that they would, of course, Enjolras is way too good for that. But still. Grantaire has enough trouble sleeping at night without the constant worry of whether or not Enjolras will survive a certain assassination.
God, when did he become such a mom? (Wait, no--that's gross, that's too weird, let him rephrase that.)
Since when did he become such a clingy stalker? (That's better. Much more accurate.)
Grantaire drops his cigarette to the sidewalk outside of the Musain, remembering only after he's snubbed it out to check for cops. He thinks for a moment about checking over his shoulder, but what the hell. If a copper is going to bust him for smoking as opposed to murder, something in the system is definitely fucked up.
The bell dings as he pushes the door open, stumbling in through the entryway. Musichetta is behind the counter, filling up mugs for the early bird customers of the cafe, her dark skin just a few shades lighter than the drinks she's serving. He winks at her before heading to the back, up the not-so-hidden stairway to their meant-to-be-secret headquarters.
The first time Grantaire had been allowed access to the "headquarters," Combeferre had walked him through every bit of security protocol required to enter. Twice.
"You probably remember," Combeferre had smiled, "I asked for your fingerprints after your second time attending."
Grantaire actually hadn't remembered, and though Combeferre had to have known, he only kept smiling and walking him through which touch pad is for which finger, which keypad is assigned which numbers, etcetera. It was all very complicated and confusing and if he's being totally honest, Grantaire usually just has Eponine unlock the doors while he squeezes in behind her. He's never had a very remarkable memory when it comes to shit like this.
This morning, however, the universe seems to have cut Grantaire some slack, because the door to the upper level is propped open by a brick--no, is that a book? For the love of god--Grantaire leans down to pick the book up from where it's wedged in between the door and the frame--has Enjolras really gone and used The Hunchback of Notre Dame as a goddamn door stopper?
"You do realize," Grantaire says as he walks into the room and allows the door to swing shut behind him, the lock swiftly clicking into place. "That this is classic literature and Jehan would literally skin you alive if he found out how you've been using it, right?"
Enjolras rolls his eyes. He's slightly hunched over the back of the couch in the center of the room, cramming clothes inside a duffle. "And you realize," he retaliates, not ceasing his movements. "That I put it there because you can't seem to work out how to scan your own finger?"
Grantaire grimaces sarcastically, setting the book down on the coffee table. "Touché."
The second floor of the cafe had been commandeered by the ABC long before Grantaire had joined--and by 'long before' he definitely means about two years before--and Feuilly had worked the large room over until it was up to everybody's standards (Joly's. He means Joly’s standards).
The ceiling is high, the walls nearly completely covered with maps and to do lists. Grantaire will never be able to get over the balls on his friends, their absolute lack of fear that the giant windows facing the street might give them away.
"I like the natural lighting," Combeferre had shrugged when Marius had asked about it once.
"He also likes to sleep in the all naturale," Courfeyrac had informed them, his voice dropping an impressive number of octaves. "I think there might be a pattern emerging."
"Well, if you'd rather I sleep with my clothes on," Combeferre had said, a smirk playing at the corners of his mouth when Courfeyrac had tripped over his chair and gasped out an oh please no, I didn't mean it--
If Grantaire knew his friends couldn't handle themselves, he might be seriously worried about the whole of them being spotted during a meeting. It would be all too easy for a member of the National Guard to spot them while on patrol, to recognize Enjolras' infamous head of sun silken curls and barge in.
But, there's something to be said about Bousset's marksman skills, and any member of the National Guard to make his way to their side of the street would be dead before he stepped off the sidewalk.
"So, you gonna tell me where we're headed?" Grantaire asks, consciously keeping his hands away from the pack of cigarettes in his back pocket.
Enjolras just tosses the duffle at him and walks past him to the door. "I'll tell you on the way."
Grantaire rolls his eyes, slinging the bag's strap over his shoulder. "Of course you will."
It's something Enjolras has noticed before (he makes it a point to always notice as much as he can), but it never grates on him so much as it does when the two of them are alone in an empty car, Grantaire's fingers tapping rhythmlessly against every flat surface they can find.
Enjolras grits his teeth, bringing his gaze back to the road in front of them. He runs over the job in his mind, trying to think of any and all possibilities and outcomes. He, Combeferre, and Courfeyrac had been up late plotting everything out, so he knows that everything should go smoothly. When Combeferre is involved, things usually do, but he can't help the feeling of uneasiness tugging at his gut every time Grantaire taps a beat on the car's console.
“So,” Grantaire says conversationally, lifting his feet up onto the dash. “Who’re we killing today?”
Enjolras’ knuckles tighten on the steering wheel. “You’re not killing anyone,” he says. “Your job tonight is to keep watch and keep out of trouble.”
“Me keep out of trouble? You should’ve brought Jehan if that’s what you’re—”
“Alright, alright,” Grantaire concedes, tapping his fingers across his kneecaps. “I’ll keep out of trouble, O Great One.”
Enjolras doesn’t say that keeping out of trouble means keeping sober, but he doesn’t have to. He trusts Grantaire, for some absurd reason, however irresponsible and impulsive he may be.
It was raining the night Grantaire had wandered into the Musain, dressed to the nines in a suit that was soaked through and clinging to his frame. Eponine had shot to his side, throwing her arms around him and tugging him into the room. She’d introduced him with a prideful smile and bright eyes before dropping her voice low and smirking. “He’s the one I’ve been telling you about.”
Enjolras recognized him from Eponine’s stories; she’d always spoken so highly of him that Enjolras might have called him her hero—but Eponine has always been her own hero. Grantaire was something else. An honorary brother, possibly. Grantaire had smiled awkwardly at the group of students, waving half-heartedly, and made a beeline for the bar as soon as Eponine set him free. Enjolras had resumed the meeting seamlessly, moving on to the next matter of business. Grantaire watched from the back of the room, sipping at his beer and listening, Enjolras noticed, rather intently.
By the end of the night, Grantaire had shot holes through every single point Enjolras had tried to make.
Enjolras supposes that was the night it all started. The trouble sleeping, the inability to focus on anything while Grantaire is in the room. It’s taken Enjolras three years of ignoring the nausea and getting off to Grantaire at four in the morning when all he can think of is Grantaire’s laugh when he tears Enjolras’ arguments apart, his lips around the mouth of a bottle—the car does not swerve—but he’s getting off track. The point is it took three years for Enjolras to realize something had been brewing between them. The kind of something that makes him want to lock Grantaire away while they’re executing jobs, to keep him safe and away from harm. The kind of something that makes his chest ache when Grantaire leaves the Musain with some stranger. The kind of something that makes Enjolras furious, makes him kill more forcefully than he’d ever thought he’d be capable of.
He loves his friends. He tries to make it clear enough. He would kill for them. He has killed for them. Love is not a foreign concept to Enjolras.
But whatever he feels for Grantaire—love, adoration, contempt—it is foreign, and it bites Enjolras down to the bone.
By the time they’re pulling up to the hotel, Grantaire barely has time to smoke a cigarette before Enjolras is ordering him around.
“Grab the duffle out of the trunk; I’m going to check us in,” and checking his watch, “we’re late.”
“You’re too high strung,” Grantaire mutters around his cigarette. “How many cups of coffee did you have this morning?”
Enjolras makes a face and heads inside, and Grantaire takes his time unloading. Enjolras does seem high strung, which is never a great thing. He gets pissy when he’s stressed, even more so than usual, and there’s one person who always gets the brunt of Enjolras’ pissiness. Grantaire dully wonders if it’s too early for shots.
There’s something about the way Enjolras kills, about the way he rips into throats like they’re made of paper that really should not be as hot as it is to Grantaire. For the love of fuck, it’s actually sinful, the way he handles a knife, his fingers tightening around the hilt and oh god Grantaire cannot be thinking about this right now.
He resists the agonizingly strong urge to peek his head in through the door and watch. He can settle for the sounds—he’s witnessed enough of Enjolras' assassinations to know exactly how this will play out.
The sounds, so much louder than he’d ever thought they could be, include: the reporter begging for his life, choking on his own snot as he sobs to Enjolras, spitting out the same shit they’ve been hearing for years; Enjolras flicking the safety up on his gun; the almost palpable relief of the reporter when Enjolras sets it down on the nearest flat surface; and finally, a choked off scream as Enjolras kicks the reporter down, fingers pressing down and in. His signature kill.
The job takes no more than fifteen minutes total. Enjolras steps out into the hallway after cleaning the blood off his hands in the suite’s bathroom, drying his hands with a towel. His blond curls are still impeccably tousled, and Grantaire laughs around his cigarette.
“That was quick.”
Enjolras rolls his eyes, tossing the towel into the room before closing the door behind him. “There’s no smoking in the hotel,” he says pointedly.
“You just murdered a guy in their honeymoon suite,” Grantaire deadpans. “At least they’ll find the body a lot quicker when the smoke alarm goes off.”
“Exactly why we shouldn’t still be standing here,” Enjolras says, heading down the hall.
“Why were we killing him anyway?” Grantaire asks, flicking his cigarette to the floor and grinding it out. He has to jog to catch up; Enjolras’ legs have got to be at least a mile long, thin and lean and Jesus H. Christ, Grantaire’s mind is killing him tonight.
“He was the editor of the Libérateur, a local newspaper that publishes—or published, I should say—a column dedicated to identifying and targeting ‘peace offenders,’” Enjolras explains as they near the elevator.
“Let me guess,” Grantaire says. “The peace offenders were ABC affiliates.”
“Contacts,” Enjolras shrugs. “Nothing less, nothing more, but innocent all the same.”
“Well they’re safe now, thanks to their knight in shining armor.” Grantaire sighs dramatically. When Enjolras just stares blankly, Grantaire has to rub his eyes with the heel of his hand. “You, Enjolras. You’re the night in shining armor. Jesus Christ, can we go for drinks?”
The elevator dings in front of them. “You can,” Enjolras says. “I’ve got work back at the hotel. Just be careful.”
Grantaire doesn’t quite catch what happens next, but he sees a pair of hands grab at Enjolras’ shoulders just before his head is hitting the floor.
They were waiting in the elevator.
Enjolras knew this job would be risky. Killing a high class reporter in the known unofficial headquarters of the National Guard was a risk. He took it.
He can’t remember if he told Grantaire any of that. He can’t remember much of anything right now.
“Do you know who I am?”
The man’s voice is gravelly, loud against the echoing walls of the penthouse suite. He’s built like an ox, with broad shoulders and long arms and almost yellow teeth. A scar runs down the length of his nose, jagged; it almost looks like it came from a fingernail. Enjolras tries to clear the fuzziness from his mind, tries to recognize the man in front of him.
It hits him like a train, and he nearly groans with the realization. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” he mutters, closing his eyes.
He feels the man’s fist collide with his jaw, knocking his head to the side. His eyes snap open, anger flaring up with the pain. “You’re Theron,” Enjolras spits out, blood dribbling past the corners of his mouth. “Head of the National Guard.”
“So you’ve heard of me.” His smile is sickening. He brings his hand hard across Enjolras’ cheekbone, the sharp smack causing Enjolras’ teeth to clack together.
“We’ve heard of you,” Enjolras admits after getting himself back in order (it takes longer than he likes). “One of our best had the displeasure of meeting you, once.” He pauses, partly for dramatic effect but mostly just to catch his breath. “How did you get that scar?”
Theron snarls, punching again. Sparks fly through Enjolras’ vision, white hot pain blooming from the point of contact. “I remember her. The bitch thought she was untouchable.”
“She is,” Enjolras coughs. He toys with the idea of leaving Theron alive; Eponine would enjoy meeting him again, finishing him off. “Can’t say the same for you. How many of your men have you lost this year?”
Enjolras is good with words. He knows how to work a crowd, how to ignite fire underneath thick skin. It’s a talent, and he’s spent his whole life perfecting it.
Theron hits him again, but other than a short pause to catch his breath, Enjolras remains unfazed.
“Do you know the number? The number of guards you’ve found lying face first in their own blood?”
“If you know what’s good for you, you’ll shut your fucking mouth, you little—”
“Thirty two men,” Enjolras says. “Do you know how I know?”
Theron bares his teeth, fists clenching at his sides.
“I issued the orders. Every one of them. Thirty two of your men have died at my hand.”
He has to pause to catch his breath, but Enjolras notices that Theron doesn’t move towards him. He is still, save for his heavy, angered breathing, leaning forward on his toes like he’s waiting for what Enjolras has to say next.
Like he said: Enjolras is good with words.
“Thirty two,” he says, almost noncommittally. “How many of us have you caught, again?”
Okay, so maybe he isn’t as clever as he thought.
With a loud grunt, Theron leaps forward, Enjolras sputters, helpless against his restraints. Yeah, okay. Bringing up the man’s dead employees probably wasn’t the best idea. If Grantaire was here, he’d—
Enjolras chokes on his gasp. Theron lands another blow, right across Enjolras' cheekbone, bruising it further. He holds back his groan, but Enjolras can't keep the sharp intake of breath inside of him. He's off his game and it's going to get him killed, but the only thought running through his head is that he doesn't know where Grantaire is.
"You think you're immortal. We thought you were immortal," Theron admits in a bark of a laugh. "But you're just a fucking kid."
A fist collides with Enjolras' nose, and he chokes, sputters through the blood that pours down into his mouth. He doesn't need Joly to know that it's broken. Anger swells up inside of him; he's better than this. He has killed hundreds of men like Theron, has gutted them like the pigs they are. He wants to tug at the cuffs around his wrists, wants to kick this arrogant prick's shins, wants to get his hands around his throat and scream where the hell is Grantaire, but two men are stepping behind them, uncapping something and shoving a needle at the back of his neck. The sedative floods through his system, leaving him with nothing more than a grunt and a groan every time he's struck.
"We've been waiting for this," Theron says. "I can't wait to drop you on the steps of the Great Hall. Can't wait for your citizens to find your body in pieces. Oh, this is too good. Kid, I'm gonna make you bleed."
Enjolras closes his eyes, laughs once through the blood trickling past the edges of his mouth. "Get to it then. I've always wanted to be a martyr."
Irritation flashes in Theron's eyes as he clicks his tongue. He raises his gun, a smile creeping across his lips. Enjolras braces himself as best he can, closes his eyes and breathes in once, hoping to God that Grantaire is alive and sober and that he can make it back to Paris on his own--when suddenly the door to the room is flinging open with a thud that rattles the frame of the entire building.
Enjolras' eyes pry themselves open, but he's swimming in his own daze. He barely makes out the shape of a body collapsing to the ground in front of him before sleep washes over him.
Of all the dumbass decisions he could have made, of all of the people he could have personally pissed off, and Enjolras goes for the head of the fucking National Guard? Honestly?
Grantaire bursts in through the door, his gun going off before he even knows he's pulled the trigger. The bodies surrounding the receptionist's desk hit the ground like sacks of flour, their weapons rolling away from them on the floor. This is what he's good at.
He had woken up in the alleyway, barely propped against the wall. For a second he’d thought he was just drunk, and then he remembered. Enjolras.
He takes the elevator, not bothering with security cameras. Enjolras would yell at him later, tell him how reckless it is to leave them running, but that only fuels Grantaire further. He reloads as the elevator car shoots straight up to the penthouse. It's from experience that Grantaire knows he'll find them there; he's all too familiar with how the wealthy of France like to indulge themselves.
There's a dainty ding as the lift halts and the doors slide open. Grantaire has his gun raised, finger on the trigger, but the hallway is empty. There is absolutely nothing standing between Grantaire and the penthouse door.
Or, more accurately, nothing standing between him and Enjolras.
Anyone living within twenty miles of Main Street can see the flames from their bedroom window. Anyone within fifty can see the smoke, painting the sky black as it blocks out the backdrop of stars behind it.
A handful of photographers venture as far as they dare, just wanting proof that the National Guard's headquarters is actually burning down. Proof that it isn't just a bad joke, or a dream.
But it's actually happening, and everyone knows it isn't an accident. The National Guard doesn't just leave candles burning overnight. Film sears holes into the photographers' pockets as they rush home, impatient to be developed, to be seen.
The first one to upload is a young woman named Rosaline. She writes as the picture appears on the screen, pixel by pixel, the words having formed in her mind the second she'd discarded her lens cap. Her fingers fly across the keys, louder than she wants them to be for as close as she is to the fire raging across the river. Most of the residents, her neighbors, will evacuate themselves after tonight. Some of them probably already have, escaping the inevitable search--more like raid--of their homes in the coming days.
Rosaline won't run. She'll capture the whole of it on film. She'll send it all directly to Him and await further requests. There is a very real possibility that she won't make it through the month alive, but as the picture on her laptop finishes painting itself and she types her last words, she knows. Some things are worth dying for.
A photograph of orange flames licking into the dark night sky, stars popping out against black smoke, and below it is the most important headline Rosaline has ever written:
NATIONAL GUARD HEADQUARTERS GOES UP IN FLAMES: MAY THE BRIDGES WE BURN LIGHT THE ROAD TO REVOLUTION.
Enjolras is faintly aware of the heat at his back, but he is painfully aware of Grantaire's arms around his waist, half carrying him down the sidewalk, creating an entirely different kind of heat in his stomach.
"What're you--I can walk Grantaire, 'm not useless--"
"Never said you were, Captain," Grantaire grunts back, but his grip doesn't loosen and Enjolras is pleased to find that the shoulder he is leaning against is surprisingly comfortable. His feet trudge alongside Grantaire's, but he keeps tripping and stumbling and he thinks that maybe his shoes have grown three sizes in the past block.
"Grantaire," he says as they turn a corner. "Why're we going so fast? You're not--you don't have plans tonight, d'you?" He doesn't know why he asks, but the thought of Grantaire spending his night with anyone other than him seems blasphemous. Especially with how well their sides seem to fit together, even when Enjolras' limbs go inexplicably limp.
Grantaire laughs even as he rushes to catch Enjolras' weight on his hip, though there is an edge to it. "I'm all yours tonight, Apollo, not to worry."
This knowledge pleases Enjolras more than he can possibly hope to express in an internal monologue such as this, and he spends the rest of the walk home wondering aloud about The Rights of Man as wedding vows. Grantaire shushes him a few times, ducking the two of them into darkness as people rush past them on the street. It seems really intense, but Enjolras finds himself a little too enthralled with the smell of Grantaire's shampoo to pay it any attention.
He tries to move his hands through the dark curls, but his arms don't appear to be working properly.
"I want to touch your hair, Grantaire."
"Okay, Enjolras. Maybe later."
Eventually they arrive at a hotel, which is when Enjolras remembers that they aren't in Paris.
"The job," he whispers. "Did you--did we kill that guy? I can't remember if we killed that guy. Grantaire, did you get him?"
Grantaire doesn't answer as he pulls the two of them into the elevator, propping Enjolras against the wall. Enjolras' shoulder hits it a little harder than he had anticipated, sending a jolt of pain through his arm. He suddenly feels jolts of pain all throughout his body; in his hands, his lips, his jaw. His head is pounding and he smells like smoke and it all feels very unpleasant. And then he feels Grantaire's hand at his elbow, which feels the exact opposite of unpleasant.
He leads Enjolras down the hall and into a room, stopping momentarily to fish the key out of his pocket. The curtains inside the room are closed, but Enjolras numbly registers the flashing of colored lights through the cracks.
"Wh--why are there two beds?" Enjolras asks, staring uncomprehendingly at the two identical mattresses. He turns to Grantaire, clutching at the collar of his jacket. "Take this off," he says, tugging at the material. "I wanna see you."
"C'mon, let's get you in bed." Grantaire ignores him. His hands are warm against Enjolras' skin and his fingertips are calloused and all Enjolras wants is to suck them into his mouth right then and there.
He moves for it too, but Grantaire is easing him down onto the bed before he can, and then an entirely new goal is set into place: get Grantaire in bed with him.
He tugs on Grantaire's shirtsleeve, whining at the back of his throat. "Lay down with me."
Grantaire only chuckles, lifting Enjolras' feet onto the bed. It's completely unfair, how his hands can be so gentle. "Alright, hotshot," Grantaire begins, but everything else he says is lost because has his mouth always been that tempting? How has Enjolras resisted for the past three years?
"Let's never go back," Enjolras hears himself say, though he knows it's irrational. "Fuck rational, I want to stay in this bed forever."
Grantaire is still laughing, trying to tug the sheets out from under Enjolras. He is so close, so warm, and it seems like the simplest thing in the world to tug Grantaire's face down to his own, and kiss him.
He registers Grantaire's gasp, the sharp intake of breath that leaves his mouth open, no longer laughing. Enjolras takes advantage, pushing his tongue inside and kissing him hungrily. Grantaire hesitates before tentatively kissing back, but his hands soon find Enjolras' shoulders, gently pushing. Enjolras breaks off, but he doesn't want it to end. His lips latch on to Grantaire's jaw, and he wants it so bad. He wants Grantaire--how could he not have done this sooner?
Grantaire lets out a breathy moan and Enjolras can't help the satisfied smirk on his face, but Grantaire is speaking, his voice soft and strained at the same time.
"God, Apollo, you gotta--you gotta stop that." Enjolras feels his hands gripping his shoulders again, forcing him back onto the bed.
"But--" Enjolras starts to protest, his head hitting an illegally soft pillow.
"But nothing, Jesus Christ," Grantaire sighs, fitting the blankets around Enjolras' shoulders and Enjolras sighs too, feeling safe and warm and suddenly very tired. It feels like it's been a long day, but he can't really remember. His head hurts and there's a heat simmering low in his stomach that is all to do with the way Grantaire is breathing, loud and heavy. Enjolras grabs onto his hand, tucking it under his chin and closing his eyes. Grantaire's skin smells like iron and the hotel soap dispenser and Enjolras finds himself sleeping soundly in a matter of seconds.
What the fuck.
Grantaire is sitting on the edge of one of the two twin sized beds in some high dollar hotel room, his hand buried inside the cocoon of blankets that Enjolras has managed to make for himself. And he's freaking out.
This isn't happening. That hadn't happened. Enjolras had just--and Grantaire had just--holy fuck. Grantaire sucks in a deep breath, trying to calm himself because Enjolras is still down and needs rest and possibly a fucking therapist because what the hell had been going through his mind?
It was probably the drugs, Grantaire knows. Whatever the hell that officer got in his system, it was making him loopy. That's it, nothing else. Just the drugs.
Christ, Grantaire, don't get your hopes up. You know what this is. You know what it isn't.
But God, is it easy to hope.
Especially with how eager he'd been, how he'd attacked Grantaire's mouth like he was starving for it, and oh god, Grantaire is never going to get over this. He's never going to be able to look at those lips the same way again. Which is saying something, because he's always looked at them and imagined how they'd look wrapped around his--and now, now it's going to be even worse. He can taste traces of Enjolras' blood on his lips, and he idly wishes he had some of the shit laced through Enjolras' bloodstream; it'd probably take the edge off of the impending panic attack Grantaire can feel crawling its way up his throat.
"Oh, shit!" Grantaire scrambles for a moment, remembering that Enjolras is fucking drugged. He needs a hospital, a doctor, all of the above. He needs Joly. Grantaire reaches into his back pocket, trying his hardest not to jostle the human burrito next to him. He pulls out his phone and before he knows it, Joly's chirpy voice is sounding in his ear.
"Where are you?" He asks immediately. "You should have been back by now. You should see Combeferre. He's pacing."
Grantaire hears Combeferre's voice behind the line, asking to speak to him.
"He wants to talk to you," Joly is saying, but Grantaire talks over him.
"No, Joly listen, there's something wrong with Enjolras."
The other end goes silent, and then he can practically hear the gears churning in Joly's mind, switching seamlessly into doctor mode.
"He's pretty beat up, I think his nose might be broken," Grantaire says, and it's an all-out tragedy because it might be the prettiest nose Grantaire's ever seen and he wishes he'd left Theron alive, just to kill him again. "A couple of cuts on his cheek, but that's not. That's not the worst of it. He was drugged.”
Joly sucks in a sharp breath. "Christ," he whispers. "Okay, what is he acting like? The kind of drugs you and Jehan take, or the kind Babet and Clasqueous tried to sell to Marius before Eponine beat them up?"
"Jesus, as far as I can tell it's harmless, but." Grantaire pauses, unsure of how to tread. "Am I on speakerphone?" Joly hesitates, and Grantaire groans. "Off, please."
There's some scuffing on the other end, followed by a weak protest from Joly. Combeferre is speaking to Grantaire next, words rushing. "Physical injuries are treatable. Tell me about the side effects of the drug. Can you see his irises? Do you know where the point of entry was? A needle, did he swallow a pill, did he snort anything? Does he look paler than usual? Grantaire, talk to me."
"Well give me a chance to!" Grantaire nearly yells. Enjolras readjusts himself, but otherwise shows no sign of even hearing him. The only indication that Enjolras even knows Grantaire is there, is the slight squeeze he unconsciously gives Grantaire's hand under the blankets. "He's asleep right now. Fuck, what if he has a concussion? I didn't--Jesus, okay, his pupils were pretty huge but that's like, not a big deal, right? He doesn't really look any paler than usual. What else did you--I don't know how it got in him. He didn't take anything, though. Christ, can you imagine Enjolras snorting something? I don't know how it got in him, but he's--he was talking crazy, Ferre. He was--"
"Breathe, Grantaire," Combeferre advises. Grantaire can practically see him rubbing his temples. "How long did it take him to fall asleep?"
Grantaire swallows. "Not long."
"No, I didn't--"
"What did he do before he fell asleep? Was he acting strange? Loopy?"
Grantaire laughs drily, glancing over at the sleeping ball of adorable next to him. After reestablishing that he is, in fact, not on speakerphone, Grantaire spills. "He fucking kissed me, Ferre. It's gotta--it's gotta be LSD, or something worse; what's worse than LSD? He's going crazy, it rotted his brain--what do I do?”
Combeferre is speechless. Grantaire can't even hear him breathing.
And then the bastard is laughing.
"What--why are you laughing? Combeferre, Jesus, this is kind of serious!"
"No, I know," Combeferre says between chuckles. He's definitely calmed down now, and he sounds a little relieved. "It's been a long evening. It's just that--it's probably just a sedative, Grantaire."
Grantaire blinks. "What? What are you talking about?"
"The drug was probably just a sedative. He's sleeping?"
"Grantaire," Combeferre says, sounding slightly more reigned in. "If he really did what you're saying he did--"
"I didn't make it up, Jesus, I'm not that desperate--"
"Then he was most likely acting under the influence." He pauses. "You should bring it up when he wakes up, though."
"Are you kidding?" Grantaire finds that he's whispering now, absolutely terrified that Enjolras might wake up at the slightest mention of his name. "This is Enjolras! He hates me, Combeferre! He was drunk, or high or whatever!"
"He doesn't hate you," Combeferre replies smoothly. "Talk to him. You might be surprised at what you learn. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to clean up the mess you've inadvertently made. Get some rest, R. And get Enjolras here in time for the meeting tomorrow."
And then the asshole hangs up.
Grantaire is left clutching the silent phone to his ear, his heart pounding and his mouth gaping, panic churning in his stomach. He glances over at Enjolras again (god, what is this, the hundredth time?). His blond curls are splayed out around his face, matted with blood and still looking like sun rays against the stark white pillow cases. He looks like a goddamn angel.
Grantaire groans, carefully trying to pull his hand free from Enjolras' grasp. Enjolras doesn't budge, and Grantaire silently prays for alcohol.
He ends up squeezing himself onto the edge of the bed, facing Enjolras, their hands intertwined.
Enjolras wakes with a mess of dark curls in his face. His first thought is that they smell divine. His second thought is that he is pressed up against Grantaire's back and half hard in his jeans, which leads his third thought to be why is he pressed up against Grantaire, fully clothed, with an erection and possibly the worst headache he's ever had in his life?
He sits up slowly, blinking at the sunlight seeping in through the cracks between the curtains. His lips are dry and chapped, but when he opens his jaw to wet them, the pain nearly knocks him right back out again. He gasps out raggedly, slowly registering the injuries that spread unequally across his body as they begin to ache.
He swings his legs off of the side of the bed, wary of how his feet will carry his weight as he stands and begins to make his way to the bathroom.
He stops though, for reasons unknown even to himself, to glance at Grantaire.
The sleeping man in question has rolled over to take advantage of the space Enjolras has left for him, his fists curling gently in the sheets. His mouth is open slightly, his hair an absolute mess of frizzy curls.
Enjolras remembers the feel of Grantaire's back outlined against his chest, the way he could feel every breath he drew in. He remembers every inch of their bodies that had been touching, focusing unintentionally on Grantaire's ass pushing into his groin, and makes a beeline for the bathroom.
He shuts the door behind him and turns the shower on before he can look into the mirror, not ready to face the aftermath of last night. It is all slowly coming back to him--the train station, Theron, the fire--and he isn't ready for it all. Not when every inch of him feels so abuzz with electricity.
He sheds of his clothes as quickly and painlessly as he can, tugging his briefs down slowly as they drag against his cock. He should turn the hot water off, take a cold shower and forget about everything racing through his mind.
Instead, he sets the water to scalding and climbs into the tub, leaning against the linoleum wall and sighing as he wraps a fist around his dick.
Time stills for a moment as he focuses on the slide of his hand, wet from the shower as he pulls at himself. He tries to think of other things, but who is he kidding? He's been getting off to Grantaire for three years. He couldn't stop thinking about him if he tried.
Images of Grantaire flood through his mind. How he'd look straddling Enjolras' hips, grinding down on him until Enjolras would come in his pants. How he'd feel when Enjolras slides into him, smooth and hot and tight. How he'd sound with his cock between Enjolras' lips, moaning and gasping as his hands tangle themselves in Enjolras' hair and pull.
Enjolras speeds up his hand, his thumb pressing against the head of his cock as he twists off. His head hits the shower wall, thudding louder than he'd meant but he might be too far gone to care. He moans as loud as he dares, biting down on his lip and pulling once, twice, three more times until he spills over his hand, the water washing away any evidence.
He cleans himself quickly and efficiently afterwards, his eyes closed as he tries very hard not to think about crawling into bed naked, curling his arms around the still snoring Grantaire and falling back to sleep.
Enjolras is awake and showered when Grantaire lifts himself from bed, rubbing groggily at his eyes. He's sitting at the desk in the far corner of the room, and he doesn't turn when Grantaire kicks off the blankets, groaning loudly as he stretches.
They have a routine in the mornings. It comes with three years of squatting in cheap motels when they're needing to lay low, all out mansions hotels when Enjolras couldn't give a fuck. It's actually so domestic that it makes Grantaire queasy, because it's like. Nice.
But, on Grantaire's end, it goes like this: he wakes up to the sound of Enjolras' fingers clicking across his keyboard, or sometimes taking apart weapons and wiping them clean.
Depending on the intensity of his hangover, Grantaire will groan and shove a pillow over his face, trying to block out the sun coming through the curtains that he's convinced Enjolras drew back on purpose. Nine times out of ten, Enjolras will spin around in his chair the moment he hears Grantaire stirring behind him, and lay into him for something stupid he'd done on the job the night before. Grantaire usually won't even remember making any idiotic moves, but he'll roll his eyes and nod and say, yes, O Fearless Leader, I won't make the same mistake next time, and then he'll plop back down on the pillows and try, in vain, to sleep the day away.
Enjolras will complain and tell him to get his ass up, and Grantaire will wiggle said ass in the air until Enjolras lets out a huff of air and ignores him for the next hour.
Like he said: it's a routine.
Today, he gets nothing. Absolutely nothing. No nagging, no arguing, not even a glance.
Which means Enjolras remembers.
Grantaire panics (mostly internally, he hopes), setting his feet on the floor and rubbing his face over with the palm of his hand. Enjolras remembers kissing him--God, and he's probably regretting the hell out of it. Why else would he be so quiet? He'll pretend it never happened, which means it'll never happen again, which means that Grantaire will spend the rest of his life with only the memory of Enjolras' lips against his, and Enjolras had been fucking faded throughout the whole of it and oh god oh god oh god, Grantaire is so fucked.
The universe hates him. But he hates it right back, so that's gotta count for something, right?
Grantaire clears his throat. Enjolras' shoulders tense slightly but he keeps typing, doesn't even turn around or say good morning. What kind of world is this, where Grantaire actually misses the nagging?
Clearing his throat again, a bit louder this time, Grantaire wrings his hands in his lap. "How are you feeling?"
Okay, even he cringes at that.
Enjolras' fingers freeze. His back is angled towards the wall, turned just so slightly that Grantaire can't make out the words on the screen. He can, however, make out the way Enjolras' hands clench into fists, hovering over the keyboard.
"Fine," he says.
Yeah. He remembers.
"Oh, good," Grantaire says. "That's, uh. That's good. Is your nose...?"
Grantaire stands, planning to head to the bathroom and try not to scream. He takes one step before Enjolras is spinning around in his chair and facing him.
"You set the hotel on fire."
Grantaire blinks. "I uh, yeah. I did do that."
Because they hurt you. "You were drugged; I wasn't sure how much information they got out of you."
Enjolras nods, his lips pressed together in a thin line. "It's probably better that you did. I'm not sure either."
Grantaire stills, unable to decipher this new information paired with the anxiety swimming around in his mind. "Are you--what exactly do you remember?"
"I remember flames," Enjolras frowns, eyes unfocusing. "A lot of pain. Bits and pieces of the interrogation, but nothing substantial. I don't even remember getting here."
Grantaire closes his eyes, because this, this is a lot to process. "You don't remember--"
"I don't remember getting into bed last night."
Eyes snapping open, Grantaire sucks in a shallow breath. He doesn't remember. He doesn't remember the kiss, and oh god, this is worse than if he did. Grantaire knows his hands are shaking, but he can't to get them to stop. "I, uh. I put you in bed. Obviously. That was me who did that."
"I pieced that together," Enjolras says plainly, and then almost too quiet for Grantaire to even pick up, "Thank you."
And it isn't like the sarcastic little thank you for your ~invaluable~ input, Grantaire, that Enjolras is so good at delivering during meetings. It's an honest to God thank you. Almost like he means it.
And then, because Grantaire's only real talent is fucking things up, he says:
"You kissed me."
Enjolras' eyes go wide, his frown deepening in confusion, but his mouth stays sealed shut. Grantaire's insides are screaming, every nerve ending in his body begging for a rock to crawl under. He doesn't know where he put his flask.
"You were high, or whatever the medical term is for totally fucking faded. It was--you went to sleep right after, nothing else happened, I swear--I." Grantaire draws in a deeper (still shaky) breath, braces himself for his own words. "It never happened."
Enjolras is opening his mouth to agree when his phone rings, shrill and demanding. He keeps his eyes on Grantaire's face as he answers. He's still frowning.
"Combeferre," he says without looking. "We're leaving the hotel now." He listens for a few minutes and nods. "We should make it just in time. Thank you." He slides the phone back into his pocket, standing. "Combeferre has arranged for a new car to meet us downstairs. We should be going."
Grantaire nods, picking up their bags from the floor and following Enjolras out of the room, his feet heavier than he's ever known them to be.
Enjolras has been sober for nearly half a dozen years.
Now he remembers why.
He kissed Grantaire--actually, seriously kissed him--and he feels like his face hasn't stopped burning since he woke up. He's embarrassed, angry, a little sick to his stomach.
He has never really had to deal with rejection; relationships have always been at the back of his mind. But Grantaire said it never happened, and is that supposed to hurt this much? Are those words meant to ignite a flame underneath his stomach acid until it all boils out of him?
He glances over at Grantaire from the passenger seat. He'd protested when Grantaire had gotten behind the wheel, but Grantaire just rolled his eyes with a you had the shit kicked out of you last night and for the first time in my life I don't feel like drinking, so get in the passenger seat before I drive off without you.
He'd sounded overly bitter and it's probably Enjolras' fault and it never happened. That hurts, of course it does, but there's something tugging at Enjolras' stomach, something that feels even worse:
He can't remember it.
He doesn't remember a single second of it. All he can recall are old fantasies, the same ones he's been dreaming for the past three years.
"I'll just," Grantaire says, pausing like he can't find the right words. His knuckles are white on the steering wheel. "You'll be okay to drive to the Musain from my apartment, right?"
Enjolras nods. He doesn't trust his voice right now.
A few minutes later, they're pulling up in front of Grantaire's building, Paris welcoming them home with cloudy skies and empty streets. Grantaire leaves the car running. "I'll try to make it to the meeting, but uh. Don't count on it."
Enjolras just nods again. For the first time, he is speechless. He wants to call after him, to jump out of the car and grab him, but instead he lets Grantaire shut the car door and watches him disappear into the building. And then he's out of the car before he even realizes that he's moving.
In the history of awkward car rides, those past few hours top the list. Grantaire kicks his front door shut behind him, throwing his bags to the floor. He thinks about going straight to bed, but Enjolras kissed him last night and spent the next eight hours spooning him, so instead he goes straight for the fridge. The kssh of the lid echoes around his mildewy apartment as he pops it off.
He wishes he could say he spent his time savoring it, or whatever, but he's reaching for his second bottle in a matter of seconds.
"Well," he says to his empty closet of a home. "This sucks ass."
Somebody knocks at Grantaire's front door (more like punches at it, really), totally scaring the shit out of him. "Jesus," he mutters, shaking the spilled beer off of his hand. "Who the hell?"
He sets the bottle on the counter and goes to answer the door and maybe tell whoever it is to fuck off, because he is so not in the mood.
He undoes the latch, swinging the door open with a not very kind, "What?"
But it's Enjolras, and he's reaching his hands out to Grantaire's face and pulling him in, crashing their lips together like he's dying for it.
Grantaire yelps, hands flying up to cover Enjolras', gripping them tight. His eyes are wide, because holy shit, this can't happening again.
Enjolras pulls away after a few moments, eyes opening. He looks terrified, like a deer in headlights, blushing beet red. "I'm sorry, I had to," he rushes. "You said I kissed you but I can't remember it. I'm trying, I've been trying to remember it all day, and I just can't, so I had to. I'm sorry."
Grantaire wants to weep, to scream, to pin Enjolras against the wall and kiss him for the rest of his life, but instead he says, "You're sorry?"
Nodding, Enjolras keeps his eyes locked onto Grantaire's. "I'll leave, if that would make you more comfortable. If you'd prefer this never happened--"
"Jesus Christ, Enjolras," Grantaire chokes out, crushing Enjolras' lips back to his. Enjolras squeaks in surprise, but wastes no time in sliding his tongue against Grantaire's, backing him up against the wall.
This. Cannot. Be. Happening.
Grantaire breaks off to breathe, but Enjolras, confirming Grantaire's theories of being inhuman, just moves his lips to Grantaire's jaw, mouthing at the skin. It's too much, Grantaire is going to combust, it's so much.
"Do you know," Enjolras pants against his neck, "how long I've wanted this."
And he doesn't mean to, damn it, but Grantaire gasps and pushes him away.
Enjolras' eyes are wide, a hot blush creeping over his face. "Was that--was that the wrong thing to say?"
"No, fuck, Enjolras," Grantaire groans, pulling him back in. "I just--really?" "Yes," Enjolras says, his eyebrows furrowed. He leans in, plants a soft kiss on Grantaire's lips, short and chaste. "I've wanted you for years."
"Are you fucking joking." Grantaire huffs out a laugh, pushing his hands into Enjolras' hair and kissing him hard. "I thought--you hate me, Enjolras!"
"Is that really what you think?" And bless his fucking soul, he sounds heartbroken.
"No, God, not anymore."
Enjolras leans down, pressing open mouthed kisses to Grantaire's shoulder, to his throat. Grantaire feels him tugging on the hem of his shirt and he lifts his arms, letting go of Enjolras' curls to help him pull it off.
He feels Enjolras trail the pads of his fingers along his ribs, and he keeps his eyes closed. This is a dream, this isn't real. Three years, three fucking years of pining; this cannot be real.
But Grantaire opens his eyes, and Enjolras is still there, looking like a Grecian god, and he's staring at Grantaire's lips, barely any blue left around his dilated pupils.
"What do you want?"
"God, I don't know--" Grantaire laughs nervously, running a hand over his face. He doesn't care, he wants him, whatever the hell that entails. "Whatever you want."
"You have to tell me," Enjolras says, and Grantaire can tell that he is physically refraining from tearing into Grantaire's mouth with his own. "I need you to tell me."
Grantaire blurts the words out before he can think about them, but as soon as he says it he knows he couldn't have asked for anything else.
"I want to touch you, fuck--Enjolras. I wanna get my hands on you."
Enjolras moans, grabbing Grantaire's wrists and pushing them down to the buckle of his jeans. "Then touch me, damn it."
Grantaire feels all of his inhibitions disappear, because that was an invitation, that was consent, which means Enjolras wants this. Enjolras wants him. Grantaire fumbles with the zipper of Enjolras' jeans before delving his hand inside, gripping the length of Enjolras' cock tighter than he probably should.
And Enjolras fucking whines.
Grantaire pulls Enjolras out of his pants, pushing them down as far as he can before dragging his thumb across the tip. Enjolras bucks towards him, breath shallow.
"Fuck, Grantaire," Enjolras lets out as Grantaire strokes him, tight and quick and not at all gentle, as much as he tries to be. He wants this to last, he wants to savor every last second, but the noises coming out of Enjolras' mouth are gonna have him coming in his pants before too long, which. Would be embarrassing.
"Wait," Enjolras says against the mark he's begun to leave on Grantaire's shoulder. Grantaire stills his hand immediately, afraid he's fucked up because what else is he good for, really, and hell--he's gone and done something or Enjolras has come to his senses and he's going to leave and--
"I have to get my mouth around you," Enjolras says simply, and the next thing Grantaire knows his pants are around his ankles and Enjolras is swallowing him down.
He cries out, he knows he does, as the flat of Enjolras' tongue runs up the length of his cock, Enjolras' hands gripping tight on Grantaire’s hips.
The amount of times Grantaire has imagined this, all of the fantasies he's conjured up over the past three years, watching Enjolras spin tragedies and tales of hope from his wet, pink lips--none of it could have prepared Grantaire for this. Because holy mother of God, that is Enjolras' mouth around his cock, those are his teeth grazing along the skin, his tongue tracing the head of his dick, flat and hot and wet as fuck. Grantaire is so not going to last.
Enjolras pulls back to suck on the head and Grantaire curses, threading his fingers through Enjolras' hair. "Christ, Enjolras, you're so--ah--so good at this. Where did you get so good at this?"
Enjolras doesn't bother to answer, taking Grantaire down to the base, the tip of Grantaire's dick hitting the back of his throat and fuck, it's going to end so soon--
"Ah, Jesus, Apollo, you gotta stop," Grantaire tugs at Enjolras' hair, trying to pull him away, but as soon as Enjolras' lips leave Grantaire's skin he whines again, louder this time, and dives right back down onto him. He bobs his head up and down, tongue wrapping around what it can and that's it, Grantaire is coming down Enjolras' throat, and Enjolras takes every bit of it.
Grantaire cries out when he comes, hands gripping Enjolras' hair like a lifeline. Which is fitting, really, because it feels like he's dying. He slides down to the floor, panting, hands still tangled in Enjolras' hair. He pulls him forward, kissing him and tasting himself on Enjolras' tongue.
"Grantaire," Enjolras breathes, reaching forward. Grantaire catches on quick. His hand closes around Enjolras again, working him fast and rough and Enjolras is spilling over Grantaire's hand with a groan, his nails digging into Grantaire's thigh.
After a while of heavy breathing, Grantaire does the single most embarrassing thing he’s ever done after sex: he bursts into giggles.
He’s a little horrified, afraid that Enjolras will take it the wrong way and, to be honest, he doesn’t even know why he’s laughing. Enjolras frowns for a moment or two, but then his face splits into a grin, and the two of them are leaning against the door to Grantaire’s shitty apartment, laughing to the point of tears with their pants around their ankles.
“I’m sorry, I just,” Grantaire gasps when he’s able. “I just never thought--”
“Me neither,” Enjolras replies, smiling.
Grantaire leans in to kiss him again and Enjolras lets him, and he thinks that maybe he could get used to this.
Cleaning up takes a lot longer than Enjolras thinks it logically should; Grantaire seems to be unable to keep his hands to himself. Not that Enjolras is complaining, of course, but he’s trying not to imagine what the Musain looks like right now. The fire is going to have everyone undoubtedly busy. Combeferre will probably be overstressed and irritable and Courfeyrac will most likely be singing karaoke to lift everyone’s spirits.
The point is, Enjolras isn’t exactly looking forward to walking into that, after walking away from this.
Eventually, however, they push their arms into clean shirts and head towards the Cafe. Hand in hand. The car ride there is littered with quick kisses at stoplights, breathless giggles and everything Enjolras never expected to have.
He loves it.
They reach the Musain after a few wrong turns (it wasn’t his fault, he was distracted), waving at Musichetta with the two hands that aren’t intertwined.
"Come upstairs when you close up," Grantaire tells her. "Let me make you a drink for a change."
She laughs out loud at that. "Does that mean I can make like you and not pay for it?"
Grantaire flips her off, but he does it kindly, and they walk towards the back. They stop in front of the entrance to the secret room. “Would you like to do the honors?” Enjolras asks, indicating to the keypad and fingerprint scanner to the right of the doorframe.
“Fuck off,” Grantaire laughs, pushing Enjolras forward.
Just as Enjolras is reaching for the scanner, the door cracks open just enough for Courfeyrac to squeeze through. “Enjolras! Grantaire!” He flings his arms around the two of them, enveloping them in his trademark death grip of a hug.
“Jesus—hey, Courf,” Grantaire laughs, patting Courfeyrac’s back, keeping his left hand intertwined with Enjolras’.
“You’re home!” Courfeyrac exclaims as he buries his face in Enjolras’ shoulder. “I missed your little grimace.”
“What grimace? I don’t grimace.”
Courfeyrac pulls his head back and laughs. “No, look, you're doing it right now!”
Enjolras worms his way out of the bear hug, dropping Grantaire’s hand. He probably is grimacing, he knows, but only because Courfeyrac is one of the best friends he has ever had, and he knows when something is bothering him.
“Courfeyrac. What’s wrong?”
He hesitates. “You sort of made a mess of things, R, and well, Ferre is a little high strung right now, Enj, so before you start your spiel you might want to—”
Grantaire shrugs. “You do have a tendency to spiel, Apollo.”
“They’re not—they’re speeches. They inspire,” Enjolras argues.
“Keep telling yourself that,” Grantaire laughs. Enjolras’ fingers twitch towards Grantaire’s hand, aching at the loss of contact. He notices Grantaire’s eyes flicker to his lips, his own pulling up slightly, and realizes the feeling is mutual. He can’t wait to get him behind closed doors again.
“Are you two sleeping together?”
The pair blinks at the bluntness of the question, Grantaire sputtering as Enjolras stands silent, mouth hanging open.
“Oh my god.”
“It finally happened,” Courfeyrac cries out, bursting backwards through the doorway and shouting. “Eponine Thenardier, you owe me so much money.”
Enjolras glances at Grantaire, who is staring wide eyed at the doorway, teeth clenched.
“If you don’t want to tell them, we don’t have to—”
Grantaire whips his head around to stare back at him. “To hell with that, I just. It’s just that this morning I thought you hated me, and now…” He trails off, eyes trained on Enjolras’ face.
Enjolras offers a small smile. “Let’s go, then. I’ve got to face Combeferre at some point.”
As soon as they're breaching the doorway, the room erupts in applause. Bahorel is wolf-whistling, Eponine is fake crying into Cosette's shoulder, Jehan is giggling like a maniac, and Courfeyrac is standing right before them, hands outstretched.
"Welcome home, lovebirds!"
Enjolras glances over at Grantaire; he's blushing, his free hand clenched into a fist. He forces a smile, contrasted by the frown that Enjolras can’t keep from creasing onto his face. Is Grantaire embarrassed?
“Go fuck yourselves,” Grantaire says, and his voice is as effortlessly noncommittal as it ever is.
“So is this like,” Bahorel gestures to the two of them, “a real thing? A permanent thing? Am I having a wet dream?”
Grantaire’s blush deepens. “Please don’t tell me you’ve had wet dreams about us.”
“I’m pretty sure we all have,” Eponine shrugs, lifting her beer to her lips. “Except in mine, Enjolras is usually wearing lingerie.”
Grantaire squawks out a laugh as Enjolras scowls at her. “Are you all done?”
“Don’t worry,” Bahorel grins. “Feuilly’s got three years worth of fantasies about you two--”
The words are sharp and final. Enjolras thinks at first that they came from his own mouth, but then he notices Combeferre standing at the head of the room, fluorescent light highlighting the auburn in his hair.
“If everyone could please get back to work,” he says, nodding across the room. “Eponine.”
She salutes him loosely. “I’m on it.” Enjolras watches her rise from her seat, clicking her knives into place at her hips. She saunters out of the door,winking at Grantaire as she passes.
“Enjolras, Grantaire,” Combeferre says. His voice is calm, but there is a layer of panic threatening to wash out from between his lips at any moment. “It’s good to have you back.”
Grantaire winces. “Sorry, ‘Ferre. Got caught up with, y’know, Enjolras getting the shit kicked out of him.”
Combeferre’s eyes flicker across Enjolras’ frame, assessing the damage. “I was worried.”
“I know,” Enjolras replies.
They draw in a breath at the same time, holding it. Enjolras tries to relay everything that’s happened to him in the past twenty four hours, tries to explain himself without explaining anything at all. Combeferre nods slightly, and they breathe out. Settled.
And then Combeferre starts speaking, and the world is off its axis again.
“There were approximately two hundred officers in the building last night. Each of them have been officially identified as missing, but it’s safe to assume that Theron, and every ranking officer beneath him, died in the fire.”
Grantaire might not have realized it last night--Enjolras certainly didn’t--but the weight of it comes crashing down on Enjolras’ shoulders like an anvil. It was nothing short of mass murder.
“Even if it was an accident,” Combeferre continues. “The Senate won’t see it as such. Our contacts in Ruen think it was planned; they’ve already documented and uploaded every advancement on the ground. We like to make statements and this is our biggest yet, intentional or not.”
“Jesus Christ,” Grantaire breathes, eyes fluttering. “I’ve really--I’ve really gone and fucked things up this time, haven’t I?”
Enjolras knows what this means. He doesn’t know how far it extends as of now, but he knows how far it could. “The citizens are going to see this as an ABC affiliated attack.”
“A terrorist attack,” Courfeyrac agrees. “And if that’s not like, the most intense thing we’ve ever been accused of--”
“And at this point,” Combeferre pushes his glasses up on his nose. “I don’t see any way to reverse it. I’ve done all I can, but I don’t think it was enough.”
“So what does it mean for everyone else?” Grantaire asks.
“Lockdown at curfew, heavy investigation into any illegal activity. It’s hard to tell. Anything that could get them closer to finding us.”
“They can’t just let this one slide,” Courfeyrac agrees. “They’ll want us executed. Probably publically, too.”
Combeferre turns to Enjolras. “We can handle what they throw at us, but the people can’t.”
Nodding, Enjolras steps up to the table, taking his usual spot. “Then let’s get to work. Courfeyrac, assign patrols. We’ve got to keep the streets safe; no police brutality because of us. Cancel all of Eponine’s upcoming kills, I want her and Bousset to take shifts on the roof.”
Enjolras begins sifting through contact lists on the table. It feels good to have somewhat of a handle on things, to be in control of himself. He glances up towards Grantaire to beckon him forward for a kiss, but he’s already across the room, taking a glass of wine from Musichetta’s hand.
First, the editor would like to extend her gratitude towards the brave members of the ABC, without whom, we would still be living in the dark.
With the recent terrorist attack in Ruen at the forefront of everyone’s mind, however, things are passing through the presses without our acknowledgement or concern. Regarding the attack, we must ask one question: where has Senator Lamarque been throughout this whole ordeal?
Senator Lamarque, aged forty nine, has not been seen entering or exiting the Great Hall in just over two weeks. Lamarque was last seen outside of his home, speaking with a young boy, who is unavailable for comment at this time. The child walked away from the encounter with a generous bit of charity from the Senator, and although the exact amount is unknown, Lamarque has been known to spare children change from time to time; we can assume the boy to have fed his family for the remainder of the week.
It is extremely unlikely that Lamarque is indifferent about the attack; our sources indicate that the Senator is a long time fan of the ABC organization, although there is little credible evidence to support this claim. There are rumors, of course, that Lamarque is the godfather of the infamous leader of the rebellion, Enjolras, the golden light of Paris.
Whether or not the Senator supports the attack--whether or not he is even aware of the attack--remains unknown. It just seems impossible, doesn’t it, that there could be anyone who did not see the flames.
It doesn’t matter if you were there. The flames were only visible from just within city limits, but that has nothing to do with it.
We were all there. The entirety of France is alight tonight, glowing like lanterns across the map. The ABC have given us hope that we can light our own future, one that doesn’t include the Senate.
The next few days are a blur. Enjolras falls into bed every night just before the sun rises, only to wake up an hour later and get straight back to work.
Contacts have been flooding through the Musain, meeting with Combeferre downstairs to discuss article content. Enjolras stays upstairs on the phone with Cosette for most of the day; her father is visited by politicians daily and Cosette, charming and bright, always coerces something out of them.
Things have fallen back into a sort of routine: Enjolras wakes up, meets Grantaire downstairs for coffee (sometimes a quick handjob), and they part ways for most of the day. Grantaire pulls him into the stairwell at random intervals, muttering about ‘free time’ and ‘stupid revolutions.’ Which obviously, Enjolras doesn't necessarily appreciate, but he makes do. The orgasms are worth it.
Right now, Enjolras is standing at the head of the room, shuffling through papers while Combeferre paces behind him, on the phone with a contact in Montmarte. Courfeyrac is prattling on about Senator Eliot and his newest scandal (a mistress from somewhere in Cannes) and reciting the tabloid articles as he speaks.
"And she's gorgeous, of course she is, and people keep asking why she would ever engage in sexual intercourse with that vulture, but the answer is obvious isn't it? She didn't have a choice, Enjolras, he'd have her killed if she denied him--it's bullshit, it's corrupt--it's unjust." The last adjective is specifically chosen to catch Enjolras' attention, he knows, and it works.
"Send Cosette and Eponine to liberate her when they can. Now that everyone knows, she'll be executed soon." Enjolras takes a deep breath, squares his shoulders, and looks into Courfeyrac's eyes. "She's counting on you, Courf."
A fierce determination sets in upon Courfeyrac's brow, and he nods before wisping away to find Eponine.
"That was mean," Combeferre says. He's hung up his phone and come to stand next to Enjolras at the table. "He really cares about it, you shouldn't indulge him for the sake of indulging him. It's a noble cause."
"It is," Enjolras agrees. "It's just the least of our worries right now. He's been speaking with an Austrialian accent all day; you can't tell me you're upset he's on the other side of the room."
Combeferre frowns. "You've been hanging around Grantaire too much."
Not enough, Enjolras wants to mutter. But he doesn't; instead he turns to his friend and says, "How is Montmarte?"
"Enjolras," Gavroche says, approaching the table and interrupting Combeferre before he could even start speaking. "You said to say if I heard anythin' about Lamarque."
Enjolras straightens at the name, shooting Combeferre a glance. To put it shortly, Senator Lamarque is the only politician Enjolras respects. Enjolras actually likes him (though he'd deny it if asked), simply because he sticks his neck out for the people he represents. As far as Enjolras can tell, Lamarque is unable to be bribed. The Senator has been scarce for the past few weeks, however, and it's become something of a worry to Enjolras. Combeferre has eyes everywhere, and he has been blind to Lamarque for quite some time now.
"What have you got?" Courfeyrac asks cheerfully, having appeared out of nowhere. "Did he get something passed?"
Gavroche hesitates, looking up at the three of them through his thick eyelashes. His light, long hair is greasy, and Enjolras notices the road rash covering his palms and running up his forearms. He wonders when the child last had a bath, wants to ask him if he's eaten, but Gavroche speaks before he can.
"He's sick," he says, voice grim and smaller than Enjolras has ever heard it before. "I followed a man comin' out of his house. Nagged this from his pocket." He reaches into his raggedy coat, pulling out a folded piece of paper. Combeferre takes it from him, eyes scanning the print before widening.
"A perscription," he says, to Enjolras as he passes it over. "A hefty one."
"Get Joly," Enjolras orders quietly, and Courfeyrac nods as he obliges. "Did you see Lamarque?"
Gavroche shakes his head in reply, frowning slightly. "Couldn't get in. I mean, I couldn't get in."
Enjolras feels his lips press together in a firm line, his eyebrows drawing together. It isn't good news. Lamarque hasn't shown any signs of illness in the preceding years, and Enjolras' mind jumps immediately to the one conclusion he wishes it wouldn't.
Joly steps up to the table, smiling. "I was told I could be of some assistance," he says, and Enjolras can't help the small smile he gives in return.
He hands the document to him as Combeferre explains, keeping his eyes trained on Joly's face and watching for every initial reaction to the words on the paper. He is not pleased with what he sees.
Joly's eyebrows scrunch together, and he lets out a quiet huff. "Dear God," he breathes, turning the paper over in his hands. "This is--this is for Lamarque?"
Enjolras closes his eyes briefly, letting his mind slip into a reverie, if only for a moment. He forces himself to remain calm, to behave logically. Whatever news Joly delivers will be strictly data; Enjolras will react accordingly.
Except he knows he won't. Enjolras is just as capable of holding his rage in check as Grantaire is capable of refusing a drink. It's no secret that Senator Lamarque is disliked within the Senate. Combeferre has caught wind of multiple attempts at bribery which have each failed; it seems Lamarque is the only member of the government that chooses to follow the law. He is also the Amis' only legal piece on the board, and Enjolras is very afraid of how things might spiral without him.
"Enjolras," Joly says, bringing Enjolras back into the current moment. His voice is unsteady. "This is a cure--well, as close as you can get to one--to a drug that's been off the shelf for decades now. It looks like whatever doctor is treating Lamarque is trying to countermand the effects of the drug--which, if what I know of it is true, it isn't likely to work. And--okay, the drug. It was supposed to cause all sorts of remedies for common illnesses a few decades ago, but patients began complaining of coughs, and--and rashes, and very quickly began exhibiting signs of dementia. The Senate decommissioned it after a few months, after doctors began losing patients by the truckload."
"Yeah, right," Gavroche scoffed, rolling his eyes. "We're 'sposed to believe that the Senate recalled? They don't give a cuss what happens to us."
"The more of us that die, the less workers they have to fill their needs," Combeferre supplies. "And we all know how many needs they have to fill."
Enjolras cuts in then, impatient and feeling anger beginning to pool hotly in his gut. "So why would Lamarque have this drug in his system to begin with? Where would he come by it? Why would he want it?"
Joly looks at a loss for an explanation, frowning as he looks closer at the prescription. "I haven't the slightest. I mean, really, if he's taking this drug voluntarily, he's got to be asking for death. It's suicide, Enjolras. Although that doesn't explain the prescription--God, I don't know."
Volutnarily. That's what Joly had said, and it rings in Enjolras' ears like a warning bell. He was right. Why is he always right?
"Damn it," he growls under his breath, and Courfeyrac immediately chimes in.
"I don't get it, why would he try to kill himself, he's--"
"Voluntarily," Enjolras answers, watching as the realization dawns on Combeferre's face.
Combeferre lets out a heavy oh, turning to Courfeyrac to explain. "He isn't committing suicide, because he didn't take it voluntarily. He's been--"
"Poisoned," Enjolras finishes, and reaches for his coat where it's draped on the chair behind him. He slips his arms into the sleeves as he addresses Joly. "If I get him here, can you fix him?"
Joly stutters, eyes wide. "I mean--I can try my best, but--"
"How far along would he be now?" Combeferre asks, opening his laptop. "When would he start showing signs of dementia?"
"Most likely in the third week, although that really depends on how heavy his doses are. If they're really trying to kill him, it could be too late. Enjolras--"
Enjolras nods at Combeferre, sliding his revolver into one of the many interior pockets layered inside his coat. "Keep the line open. Call me if you hear anything vital."
"Be careful," Combeferre cautions. He says, "You shouldn't go alone," at the same time Enjolras calls for Grantaire.
Gavroche steps in between Enjolras and the door, his hands up. "If I couldn't get in, you sure as hell can't."
"Get in where?" Grantaire asks, turning up behind him as he downs the rest of his beer. He's already got his coat on, and he nods at Enjolras as he musses Gavroche's hair. "Don't worry, Gav. You've taught me everything I know. Wherever we're going, we'll be fine."
Enjolras says nothing more, slipping past them and through the door. Grantaire follows wordlessly, as he always does, and Enjolras idly wonders how sober he is. He knows Grantaire wouldn't have followed (wouldn't have even answered, really) if he'd been drunk, but he can't help worry nonetheless.
He can't imagine a day when he won't worry about Grantaire.
He'd been about to challenge Bahorel to a drinking contest when Enjolras had called his name. He immediately stood, of course, kicking his chair away and lifting his beer off of the table.
"Don't wanna piss of the missus, eh?" Bahorel had grinned.
Grantaire resisted the urge to hit him over the head with his bottle, settling instead for telling him to kindly fuck himself with a blowdryer.
By the time he'd made it to Enjolras at the head of the room, Gavroche was cautioning him against whatever the hell it was they were supposed to be doing.
"Don't worry," Grantaire had told him, even though he hadn't the slightest clue where the fuck he was actually going. In the long run, it never really matters. Enjolras had needed him, and Grantaire had been there.
Now, they are stationed in the shrubbery outside the house of one Senator Lamarque. Grantaire, having finally learned the extent of their job, gapes openly at Enjolras, itching for his flask. "You're fucking kidding me," He groans, rubbing a hand over his face. "We're supposed to break into Senator Lamarque's house, and carry him back?"
"Somehow you seem more troubled about taking someone alive than you are killing them," Enjolras mutters, not looking at him. "He isn't a hostage, he's Joly's newly acquired patient." He pauses for a moment, before adding, "If Lamarque dies, we'll have to exceed our plans substantially. I'm not entirely sure the people are ready for that. I'm not sure we are."
Grantaire sighs, because god damn it. Enjolras is right, he's always right, and he tries to prepare himself. "Okay. What are we looking at, here? Officers at every entrance, cameras on every corner?"
"Typical Senate housing," Enjolras says, reaching for his phone out of his back pocket. Combeferre, Grantaire assumes, answers on the first ring. "Can you disable the cameras?" A few seconds later, Enjolras is returning his phone into his pocket and standing. "We have approximately ten minutes until the National Guard arrives in response to the security breach."
"What are we waiting for then?" Grantaire grins, and then they're on the move.
Enjolras had made it clear that they were meant to disable the guards in favor of killing them. It makes no difference to Grantaire; he's as good with his hands as he is with his gun, and the two men stationed at the doorway drop like flies by the time he's finished with them.
Enjolras doesn’t waste time once he walks through the door. He heads up the stairs, calm and determined while Grantaire twists the silencer onto the barrel of his pistol. Quick and efficient, Enjolras had said. Easy.
There aren’t as many rag tag police officers as Grantaire had thought there’d be. They end up walking through the halls without so much as a bark from the house pet, and Enjolras has Lamarque’s room located in five minutes flat.
“What, have you memorized the guy’s floor plans?” Grantaire mutters. “You don’t even pay that much attention to me.”
“Oh, don’t worry,” Enjolras says, eyes on the door ahead of him. “I’ve memorized your floor plans too.”
He turns the knob hard, like he expects it to be locked, but the door only swings open, resistance free. Grantaire moves to follow him, but Enjolras lays his hand on his wrist, locking him in place like his touch always does. “Stay here and watch the door,” he orders, stepping carefully into the disarrayed room, avoiding documents and clothing as he makes his way towards the bed.
Grantaire keeps his stance at the door, gun loaded and eyes sharp. The hallway is quiet; Grantaire doesn't expect trouble until these next ten minutes are up. When the reinforcements arrive. It'll be--at the least--fifty very trained, very armed soldiers, and between the two of them, Enjolras and Grantaire have maybe three guns and half a dozen knives.
God, the things Grantaire does for this fucking cause.
His eyes are drawn to the room when he hears a raspy voice, one that definitely does not belong to Enjolras.
"No, you're not--you're not Dr. Machert--"
"Senator Lamarque," Enjolras says quietly, placing an arm on the man's shoulder. "My name is Enjolras. We're here to help you--"
The Senator's eyes widen hysterically, and he sucks in a sharp, broken gasp. "You--you."
Enjolras' jaw clenches, but he shows no other reaction. Only Grantaire would notice the way his blue eyes harden and the slight stiffening of his spine. "Yes, me," Enjolras agrees, grasping Lamarque's arm and hoisting him up into a sitting position. Grantaire watches intently from his stance at the door. Lamarque looks scared out of his mind, and whether it's fear of Enjolras or the state of his health, Grantaire can't be sure.
"You've been poisoned, sir," Enjolras informs him (Grantaire tries not to laugh at the word sir coming out of that mouth).
"You think I don't know that?" The Senator bites out, choking on his own words. He seizes up as a round of coughs shudder through him, wet and sharp, and Enjolras seems not to know what to do with his hands.
"We can help you, if you come with us. Can you walk?"
Lamarque comes out of his coughing fit in a daze, eyes landing blankly on Grantaire before widening almost comically. He whips his head around to face Enjolras, and as if he's seeing him for the first time, grits out, "you."
Enjolras huffs impatiently. "Yes, me. Stand up, Senator. You need to come with us."
"The Leader of the Resistance," Lamarque gasps, reaching out a hand towards Enjolras' face. Before he even knows what he's doing, Grantaire is across the room, the tip of his knife digging into the Senator's wrist.
Lamarque screeches, but his hand only latches on to Enjolras' shoulder and tightens.
"Grantaire," Enjolras warns--more like scolds, really--and looks pointedly at Grantaire's knife where it's pressed into skin.
Grantaire doesn't relent. He looks Lamarque directly in the eye and calmly speaks. "Hands. Off."
Lamarque's grip on Enjolras' jacket drops immediately and Grantaire responds in kind, returning to his spot in the doorway and clutching his weapons tighter in his fists. It takes a few more minutes, but eventually Enjolras is guiding Lamarque past him and through the door.
He collapses twice by the time they make it to the bottom of the stairs.
“Okay,” Grantaire pants. “This isn’t working out. Do you have a stretcher in your pocket? We should’ve brought back up. How long ‘til they get here?”
“Approximately?” Enjolras asks, shifting Lamarque’s weight onto his own feet for a moment. “Now. They should be here any second.”
“You take him,” Grantaire says, screwing the silencer off of his pistol and pocketing it. “I’ll cover you.”
“I don’t like that.”
Grantaire double takes, totally surprised. "What?"
“You, taking the front line. I don’t like it. What if—you could get hurt.”
“You’re joking, right?”
“Shut up,” and Enjolras actually looks like he’s blushing, for the love of God.
“Hey,” Grantaire says, moving as close as Lamarque’s fat body will allow. “How many times have I done this? I’ll be fine. You, on the other hand, have a beached whale for a shield. I’ll cover you.”
Seizing the front of Grantaire’s shirt (and scaring the hell out of him), Enjolras kisses him hard. “Don’t do anything stupid.”
Grantaire grins. “What do I look like, an idiot? Wait, don’t answer that. Oh, and when we get back, by the way—”
Before he can finish, tires are screeching on the street outside of the door, men shouting and cocking guns as they hop out of trucks.
“Shit,” Grantaire mutters. “You know, when I signed onto this, we were covert. What the hell happened to covert?”
“The revolution happened,” Enjolras replies, practically dragging Lamarque towards the back door. “And it can’t be completed without this senator, so don’t miss.”
“God, that was one time!”
It is going well, until it isn’t.
They make it out of the house, Senator intact, at which point Lamarque starts to vomit in his own garden.
They make it down the street, cutting through back alleys and back yards. They’re a block away from the Musain, half of Paris’ police force on their tail. They’re going to make it, they’re going to get inside and Eponine is going to hack through them while Bousset knocks them off from his perch at the window sill.
It’s all going according to plan.
Which, of course, is why Lamarque stops, just a block short, and starts to retch again, heaving up nothing. “Really, Senator,” Enjolras says, a little desperate, eyes darting to catch Grantaire behind him, popping his gun like it’s nothing, shooting through the officers like they’re made of tin. “It’s not much further. You really must stand up.”
Enjolras doesn’t see it. Grantaire must not either, but it comes. It comes fast and it hits hard and Enjolras grunts as his left leg gives out beneath him.
“Fuck,” he gasps, clutching his calf while simultaneously trying to catch Lamarque as he falls, useless without his crutch. “Grantaire,” he calls out, voice thick with pain. “I can’t—fuck.”
He’s been shot, or at least that’s what it feels like. Right through his leg, and the blood drains from his face at the thought of severed muscle. Lamarque is somehow still standing steady, and Enjolras grasps his arm and heaves himself off of the ground. Lamarque sways, eyes distant. Enjolras starts dragging the two of them along the sidewalk. They can cut through the building perpendicular to the Café, as long as Grantaire covers them.
“Grantaire,” he grunts out again. “We’re taking—we’re going left.”
Grantaire is at his side in an instant, panting. His hair is disheveled and there’s blood staining his green hoodie, but he looks intact for the most part. “You rang?”
Enjolras nearly collapses, bringing Lamarque with him, before Grantaire steadies them. “What happened? Are you hurt?”
“Maybe,” Enjolras replies through gritted teeth. “Just—just cover us until we’re upstairs.”
“No way in hell I’m leaving you now, Apollo,” Grantaire argues, taking half of Lamarque’s weight. “’Sides, Bousset’s got us covered.” Enjolras hears rounds going off above them, the telltale sound that Bousset has assumed his perch at the window.
“You’re a life saver.” Enjolras’ voice sounds thin even to his own ears.
Grantaire glances at Lamarque, grimacing. “I sure as shit hope so.”
"Joly," Grantaire calls out as soon as they make it through the door. "We brought you a present."
Lamarque has gone limp where he's held up between Enjolras and Grantaire, blood dripping from his nose and onto his white nightshirt. Joly shouts, jumping up from his seat and running towards them. "Christ," he says, hands fluttering around Lamarque's face. "Oh, Christ--get him upstairs, the guest room, that's where I've set up everything."
"No way in hell we can get him up there," Grantaire grunts out, shifting his weight. "Barely got him here."
Bahorel takes that as his cue, calling Jehan to help take the Senator out of their arms. Enjolras immediately slumps backwards, and Grantaire catches him before he hits the wall behind him.
The room stills, every single person gone quiet. Enjolras is panting slightly, his face pale, and Grantaire swears under his breath. "Get Lamarque upstairs," he says, ushering Enjolras to the couch. "He's--god dammit, Enjolras--Lamarque is our first priority."
The team carries Lamarque up the stairs, glancing back every other second to see Enjolras spread out on the couch, hand gripping Grantaire's sleeve as his breaths come shallow.
Combeferre rushes forward, crouching down next to Enjolras' head. He presses his fingers to Enjolras' throat, searching out his pulse.
"What happened?" He asks, calm as ever. Grantaire feels like the walls are closing in on him.
"Lamarque collapsed at the end of the Rue du Plumet," Grantaire breathes out, squeezing his eyes shut as he tries to just breathe. "National Guard caught up with us. We took them out, but not before one of them shot at us. I checked," Grantaire says as Courfeyrac reaches for Enjolras' leg, where the fabric is torn and soaked near his ankle. "Bullet only skimmed, but we had to carry Lamarque back. He should've--god, it's my fault, I was too slow--I barely saw the son of a bitch before he got the shot in--it was my--"
"Grantaire," Enjolras grits out, his grip moving down to tighten on Grantaire's hand. "Shut up.”
"Did you recognize the officer that made the shot?" Combeferre asks.
"No, but his DNA is splattered across the pavement of the Rue du Plumet if you want to check him out."
"You killed him?"
Grantaire keeps his mouth pressed in a straight line. “Killed as many as I could. If they didn’t like us before, they hate us now. Sorry, Ferre. I didn’t think.”
“That’s alright,” Combeferre smiles tiredly. “If Lamarque lives, he’ll clear our name.”
“If he lives,” Grantaire mutters.
Enjolras squirms on the couch. "He'll live," he says through gritted teeth. "He has to."
Joly's voice sounds from the stairwell. "I need you, Ferre, he's--he's--"
"Coming," Combeferre calls, standing swiftly. He points to Enjolras' ankle. "Keep pressure on that. It'll need stitches, but it's fine for now."
Grantaire nods, glancing over at Jehan. He must look freaked out of his mind, because Jehan smiles and puts his hand over a bandage that Grantaire didn’t even notice being wrapped around Enjolras’ ankle, nodding slightly.
"I'm gonna," Grantaire starts, unsure of how to tell Enjolras he can feel a panic attack coming on. He gives up. "I gotta smoke something."
Enjolras opens his mouth to protest (or nag, probably) but Grantaire is already up and heading towards the door.
The air outside hasn't changed. It's still humid, still stagnant. Grantaire lights his cigarette with shaking hands, barely able to get the damn thing to catch. He takes one deep breath, then two. His heartbeat evens out, but gradually. Too gradually.
"He’s asking for you,” Eponine says from behind him.
Grantaire glances behind himself; she’s leaning against the doorframe, arms crossed over her chest. “I’ve barely been gone thirty seconds,” he mutters around the smoke.
“You alright?” She asks.
“Don’t lie to me, asshole. Your Adonis is inside, waiting for you with half a hard on and you’re out here--”
“It’s Apollo,” Grantaire corrects. “Adonis is too perfect. Too obvious.”
“I don’t care what you call him when you’re fucking,” Eponine says. “I care that Courfeyrac got fifty bucks out of me and you’re not even delivering, so get your ass back in there and get my money’s worth out of him.”
Grantaire is fully planning to argue, to complain that that’s a really shitty thing to do, okay, and he and Enjolras are more than just a gamble, but then--
“Wait, did you say half a hard on?”
They work on Lamarque for the remainder of the evening. The walls are thick; Enjolras can’t hear what’s going on on the floor above him. It might be worse this way, he thinks, because now everything is left up to his imagination.
And for as motivational and inspiring he can be, he’s finding it extremely hard to be an optimist tonight. There’s too much on the line.
He’s spread out on the couch, his ankle elevated on Grantaire’s thigh. It’s been stitched up, throbbing hotly underneath the coarse gauze wrapped around it. Grantaire has one of Enjolras’ hands between his own, drawing fantasies across his palm with a red pen. Enjolras’ other arm is draped over his eyes, attempting to block out the all the things that could be going wrong in the upstairs guest room. It isn’t working.
“Calm down,” Grantaire says softly, his breath warm on Enjolras’ wrist. “Your pulse is going nuts, Apollo.”
“I wonder why,” Enjolras replies dryly, keeping his eyes covered.
“Hey, don’t get sassy with me.”
“Oh? And why shouldn’t I?” He doesn’t want to argue, but damn it, Grantaire just makes it so easy.
“Because I’m in a unique position, and you don’t want to tempt me.”
Enjolras laughs quietly. “I don’t see what kind of--”
His words cut off with a shallow gasp when his index finger is sucked into Grantaire’s mouth, Grantaire’s tongue swirling tentatively around its circumference.
Lifting his arm, Enjolras opens his eyes slightly. “What do you think you’re doing?”
Grantaire lets off of Enjolras’ finger with an obscene pop. He smiles, smug. “Distracting you,” he says, and takes the next finger into his mouth.
Enjolras shudders. “Grantaire,” he whispers, voice strained.
“What,” Grantaire says around his finger. “Should I stop?”
Before Enjolras can answer, Courfeyrac’s signature screech is sounding off from the stairwell.
“Oh my god, that is public indecency!” He shouts, clomping down the stairs. “Combeferre, arrest them, they’re breaking the law under my roof--”
“Hey,” Grantaire argues. “It’s Enjolras’ roof, too--”
“You don’t get to talk, mister--”
Enjolras straightens as much as his injury will allow him, taking his hand back from Grantaire. “How is he?”
Combeferre, standing a few steps from the top of the stairs, frowns. “We don’t know for certain.”
Joly smiles reassuringly from behind him. “I’d say that we’re cautiously optimistic, at this point.”
Combeferre’s eyes slip closed for a moment, long enough for Enjolras to notice, and Enjolras’ heart sinks to the floor.
“Hey,” Grantaire says quietly. “Don’t make that face. He’ll pull through.”
“I like it better when you’re the cynic,” Enjolras mutters in reply.
Joly heads down the stairs, patting Courfeyrac on the shoulder as he goes. “I’m gonna head home to Bousset. Hopefully he hasn’t burned the house down,” he says affectionately, grabbing his coat. “If anything changes,” he turns to Combeferre, “don’t hesitate.”
Combeferre nods. He looks exhausted. Enjolras feels partially responsible for the weight bearing down on his best friend’s shoulders, but when Courfeyrac tugs him back up the stairwell, Enjolras knows he’ll be just fine. If anyone knows how to take care of Combeferre, it’s Courfeyrac. The two of them are polar opposites, but somehow they fit together effortlessly. Lately, they’ve become somewhat of an inspiration.
The fluorescents above the main room shut off, a door closing a few beats later. It’s silent for a moment or so.
And then Grantaire is easing Enjolras’ ankle off of him, moving swiftly to slot himself between Enjolras’ legs, and leaning down and capturing Enjolras’ lips with his own. They kiss for a while; Enjolras can’t imagine ever wanting to stop kissing Grantaire, and by the time Grantaire’s lips latch onto Enjolras’ throat, the room has become at least five degrees hotter.
Speaking of high temperatures.
“He’s not going to make it.”
Grantaire groans. “Enjolras.”
“He could change everything, if he dies now--”
“Please shut up.”
Grantaire cuts him off with a kiss, and Enjolras lets him, trying to savor it. But in the back of his mind, he’s seeing mobs and chaos and it’s nothing like what he planned. Lamarque’s death is going to throw everything off, and the fire has already succeeded in doing that already. It’s all a mess, Enjolras just needs time--
"The first time in days that I've got you to myself," Grantaire grumbles, his forehead bumping down onto Enjolras' shoulder. "And you won't stop talking politics. My hand is down your pants, Apollo--"
"Grantaire," Enjolras complains, grabbing at Grantaire's wrist. "This is serious. There's a chance he won't--"
"He will," Grantaire says firmly. "He's got Joly and Ferre on his case, he wouldn't dare."
Enjolras just tightens his grip, and Grantaire sighs, relenting. He leans back against the couch, intertwining their hands together as he stares at the ceiling. Enjolras watches the way his eyes dart from crack to crack, dark and wide and always tired.
"I'm sorry," he says, moving to sit up.
"No, what are you doing--Enjolras, your ankle, you'll hurt yourself--"
Grantaire is right, because as soon as Enjolras' leg drags across the upholstery he hisses, pain jabbing through the bandage.
Grantaire is still talking, voice growing steadily higher in pitch and in volume. "Enjolras, seriously, can't you ever stay still, for the love of god--"
But Enjolras is close enough now that his hand can fist the hair at the back of Grantaire's head, dragging him down for another kiss "My ankle is the least of my worries," he says quietly, nosing Grantaire's cheek. "He just can't die."
"I know," Grantaire whispers. "I know. But for once in your life, Enjolras, forget about the revolution. Just for a little while."
Sighing, Enjolras closes his eyes. He waits, and soon Grantaire's lips are pressing at the side of his neck, tongue darting out every so often to taste his pulse point.
He hasn't forgot about the revolution; he doubt he could go fifteen minutes without rewriting speeches in his head. But he can feel his theses compartmentalising themselves, tucking away the picket-sign sayings into metal cabinets in the corner of his mind. Grantaire's mouth is hot against his skin and yet Enjolras finds himself shivering, completely involuntarily. His hands slide underneath Enjolras' loose shirt, bunching it up underneath his arms.
"I'm never gonna get you in a bed, am I," Grantaire sighs, breath ghosting over Enjolras' collarbone.
Enjolras chuckles lightly, hands threading through Grantaire's hair. "If you want to carry me up the stairs--"
"Are you proposing?"
"Oh, fuck you."
"I thought you were doing that."
Grantaire laughs out loud, ducking his head into Enjolras' shoulder when he shushes him.
"Do you want Courfeyrac to walk in on us?"
"God, no, I don't want that."
"Then maybe," Enjolras smiles, and he can't believe the words are coming out of his mouth, "you should put those lips to better use."
Letting out a quiet groan, Grantaire dips his head back down, sucking marks into Enjolras' chest. Enjolras' sigh cuts off into a gasp when Grantaire's lips close around a nipple, tongue running over and around. He sucks at it, sending a jolt down Enjolras' spine, straight to his cock.
"Oh," he says, letting his head fall back against the armrest. Grantaire shifts between his legs, trailing a series of open mouthed kisses down Enjolras' chest and abdomen. His fingers make quick work of Enjolras’ loose pants, tugging them down. Enjolras hisses as Grantaire eases his ankle through the fabric, but his hands are gentle and Enjolras just wants to get his hands around his--
“Grantaire,” he groans. “Would you just--get on with it?”
Grantaire chuckles. “You’re so bossy.” But he’s sliding Enjolras’ underwear down to his knees and swallowing him down without another word. Enjolras feels weighed down, his limbs heavy and his nerves alight. Grantaire tongues at the head of his dick, fingers tracing gently along his ribs. Enjolras’ hips buck upwards, into the wet heat of Grantaire’s mouth and Grantaire gags but he doesn’t pull off, just lets Enjolras move, fucking into him.
After a few moments, though, he does move away, precome dribbling out of the corner of his mouth. He grins when Enjolras whimpers, hands reaching out to tangle in his hair. “Grantaire, please--”
Grantaire grins even wider, scrambling off of the couch to get to his jacket. He returns a few moments later, two packets of lube in hand. “I came prepared,” he says.
“I see that,” Enjolras whispers, breathless. “I’d like to come sometime, also, so could you--”
“Weren’t you the one just telling me to shut up?”
Grantaire lubes up his fingers, pressing one in at Enjolras’ entrance. Enjolras takes a deep breath, closing his eyes and sucking his bottom lip into his mouth. He can’t help crying out when he feels Grantaire slide his first finger in, crooking it just so.
He takes his time opening Enjolras up, stroking and pressing softly at his prostate on every other thrust. Enjolras makes a handful of little mewls, clenching and unclenching around Grantaire’s fingers as he adds more, fucking down against his hand. Every so often Grantaire’s lips land on Enjolras’ cock, forcing the air out of Enjolras’ lungs every time.
“Okay, I’m ready, I’m--Grantaire, come on--”
Grantaire pauses, kissing up Enjolras’ chest until he reaches his lips. “Are you sure?”
“Yes, damn it, yes--”
Grantaire slides in, catching Enjolras off guard--he can’t even remember getting Grantaire’s clothes off--and he groans.
“Oh,” Enjolras gasps, arms flying up to wrap around Grantaire’s shoulders. “Oh.”
Grantaire thrusts forwards, kissing at Enjolras’ jaw as his hips snap back and forth. “Fuck,” he hisses. “You’re actually--god, you’re so tight--what the hell, Enjolras, how can you feel this good--”
“We’re--” Enjolras grits out. “We’re fucking in the middle of the living room, I can’t believe we’re fucking in the middle of the living room--”
“Shit, I’m not gonna last much longer, E--”
“God, me neither, don’t stop.”
Grantaire thrusts in once, twice, hips sputtering. He comes first, spilling into Enjolras with a drawn out groan. Enjolras whines as Grantaire goes soft, bucking up against him. Grantaire’s hand covers his cock and Enjolras fucks into it, coming over his fingers in a matter of seconds.
They take a few minutes to breathe, Grantaire having collapsed on top of Enjolras, his face resting on Enjolras’ chest. Somehow they get their clothes back on (Enjolras is almost positive they’re wearing each others’ shirts) and he is asleep by the time his head hits the couch cushion.
Lamarque dies sometime during the night.
Combeferre wakes them in the morning, just as sunlight starts to trickle in through the tall windows. Grantaire watches the news dawn on Enjolras, watches the way his eyebrows furrow and then relax, the creases fading from his forehead.
He stands calmly, wincing slightly at the weight on his ankle, and leaves the room without a word. Grantaire knows better than to go after him, so he tells Courfeyrac to make him some breakfast and the three of them eat silently, ignoring the ghost of the man lying weightless in the floor above them.
When Enjolras returns to the cafe a few hours later, his eyes are red and when he talks, his is voice hoarse. He’s been screaming. Grantaire pulls him aside at one point, dropping kisses to his eyelids and cheekbones.
“Are you okay?”
But he lets Grantaire kiss him and after a while, he gives in, kissing Grantaire back.
“He was our only legal asset.”
“He cared about us and they killed him for it.” His voice is bitter, sharp and detached.
Later that night, Bahorel and Bousset take Lamarque’s body back to his home, propping him against the door and leaving a sign tied around his neck. Scrawled in Courfeyrac’s nearly illegible chicken scratch is:
PLEASE RETURN TO WHOEVER IS IN CHARGE. OH WAIT, THEY’RE THE ONES WHO KILLED HIM.
Grantaire feels like that’ll get quite a shit ton of internet attention.
Turns out it does, because the next day, the golden trio is frantic, scrambling about the cafe and ordering the rest of them around, always shouting something at one another.
“What the hell is going on?” Grantaire mutters as he sits next to Marius and Cosette on the couch, fishing his flask out of his jacket pocket.
“You haven’t heard?” Marius asks. “Lamarque’s funeral service is tomorrow; they’re planning a demonstration.”
“We’re picketing a funeral?”
“Well, not exactly,” Mairus begins to clarify before Cosette cuts him off.
“Pretty much exactly,” she says. She sounds a little bitter about it. “They’ve invited the whole damn country to ‘avenge him.’” She puts air quotes around the words.
“Sounds a little--”
“Douchey? Yeah, that’s what I said. Apparently we aren’t as morally just as I’d thought.”
Grantaire chuckles. “You’re just now figuring that out?”
Eponine plops down across from them, hands stained red from a seemingly fresh kill. “What are we figuring out?”
“That we’re all a bunch of assholes?” Cosette offers.
“Well, I could have told you that.”
“You know we can hear you over there,” Courfeyrac calls from the front of the room. “Talk shit on your own time!”
"Actually," Cosette counters, face growing redder by the second. "I think I'll do it right now. Care to join me in talking shit about this absolutely despicable plan, 'Ponine?"
Eponine shrugs. "Maybe, if you make a good argument."
"Is respecting the death of an honorable man a compelling enough argument?"
Grantaire glances over at Enjolras. He's ignoring her on purpose, he knows, keeping his back to her so as not to give her the satisfaction of an argument.
He won't hold out for long.
"We don't do this kind of thing," Cosette continues. "We're better than this."
Eponine laughs out loud at that, and Enjolras turns around.
"We murder for money," Eponine replies, rolling her eyes at Enjolras' glare before amending. "Sorry, I forgot. Some of us don't murder for money. Some of us do it for justice."
Grantaire can't keep from laughing. He knows she isn't being entirely serious; yes, Eponine may be the most sought after assassin in France and it might pay extremely well, but she isn't in it for the money. Her eyes are as dark as coals, burning hot with rage at what was done to her and she would see this country go down in flames before she would accept the lot given to her.
"We do the things we do to inspire political change," Enjolras says. "If that means doing things that are against our moral compass, so be it. It isn't about us."
"It's his funeral, Enjolras," Cosette argues.
"And we will bring him justice," Enjolras says. There is a sense of finality to his voice and Cosette gives in, letting out a huff of annoyance.
A day passes, and Grantaire doesn't feel any better about any of it.
It isn’t that he doesn’t care about Lamarque and the revolution, it’s just that he doesn’t have the energy to. After risking Enjolras’ life to save a drooling pile of vomit, only to have said pile of vomit die on them an hour later—well, Grantaire just doesn’t have it in him. He doesn’t want to spend the entire funeral procession wishing he wasn’t there. So instead he just won’t go. He’s not that upset about it.
Enjolras, on the other hand, is going to drag Grantaire into the service screaming and kicking (to make a statement, of course), and he’ll never forgive Grantaire if he doesn’t show.
All in all, it’s still pretty tempting. But damn it, the heart wants what it wants, or whatever. He can endure a stale as hell funeral service if it pleases Enjolras. God knows he’s endured worse.
“Don’t think so hard,” Eponine teases from behind him. “You’ll hurt yourself.”
“I’ll hurt you if you don’t shut up.”
“You couldn’t if you tried.”
Grantaire laughs, surrendering. “True enough.”
“What were you thinking about, anyway?”
“I’ll give you three guesses,” Grantaire says.
Eponine follows his eyes across the room to where they rest on Enjolras. “Ah,” she smiles. “The usual, then.”
“Yeah,” Grantaire sighs. He stands, downing the last of his beer and nodding at his best friend. “Have fun at the memorial.”
“You’re not going?” She asks, eyebrows shooting upwards. Eponine has never been fond of politicians, but even she respected Lamarque. Everyone did. They still do.
Grantaire doesn’t like to follow the crowd, he supposes. Or at least that’s his excuse. “Not if I can help it.”
He takes his time approaching the front of the room. Enjolras is hunched over the table, his favorite place to be on days like this. Grantaire can just make out the outline of his spine beneath his shirt and he can’t wait until he can run his knuckles down the vertebrae and palm the space between his shoulder blades.
Enjolras seems to sense the second Grantaire steps behind him, because he straightens, turning around with a tired smile. “Five minutes, guys.” His voice is so soft that Grantaire doesn’t think they can hear him, but Combeferre nods, taking Courfeyrac by the arm and leading him towards the couches. Grantaire is about to ask, to smile apologetically and say, hey do you mind if I skip out on the funeral of your idol and get plastered while you rally in his name? But then Enjolras is closing his eyes and wrapping his arms around Grantaire’s shoulders, leaning down and kissing him senseless in the middle of the room, right in front of everyone. He’s pretty sure conversations stop completely, but he’s too caught up in the way Enjolras’ tongue is moving, too caught up in the tiny sighs he’s pushing into Grantaire’s mouth to even find the will to care.
When they finally pull apart—way past five minutes, it has to be—Enjolras is smiling. “Thank you.”
“Thank me?” Grantaire laughs a little hysterically.
Enjolras’ face flushes. “I needed that,” he admits. “It’s been a long day.” Grantaire barely keeps himself from wincing. He doesn’t want to add any more pain to what Enjolras is already shouldering, but he’s seriously considering it. “What are you thinking about?” Enjolras asks softly.
“Nothing,” Grantaire covers. “You, probably.”
Enjolras smiles. “Good.” He presses one more kiss to the corner of Grantaire’s mouth. “Five minutes are up. We have a protest to plan.”
The gang, nearly everyone this time, approaches the table, not bothering to close their gaping mouths. Grantaire blushes. Enjolras doesn’t even fucking notice.
“So,” he says, fingers lacing with Grantaire’s at his side. “Wait, what are you all looking at?”
The corners of Enjolras’ eyes are blurring, his head reeling from the stress of everything that’s threatening to fall apart around him.
Lamarque’s funeral starts in two hours. The perfect amount of time for a revolution to fail.
“Are you ready, Enjolras?”
He doesn’t catch who asks him; he’s too worn. His ankle throbs but he puts weight on it anyway, hoping the pain can anchor him down.
He isn’t ready.
He’ll never admit it—Musichetta would kill him if he did—but the Musain isn’t Grantaire’s favorite bar. It isn’t even a bar, really, it’s a café, but if Musichetta knew that Grantaire spent his Sunday nights blowing money at a dive across town—well, she’d never make him another drink for the rest of his natural life.
But it’s Lamarque’s funeral; he’s gotta get as far away from that as he possibly can.
It’s nice out. Grantaire thinks it should be raining, or something like that, in honor of the Late Great Senator Lamarque. Isn’t that how it usually works?
He stubs his cigarette out on the sidewalk outside of the Trou Dans le Mur, very actively not thinking about Enjolras’ face when he realizes Grantaire isn’t there. Is it really awful to hope that he’ll be too preoccupied with mourning to notice? Yeah, okay. Grantaire is an awful boyfriend. He knows.
The Trou Dans le Mur, typically full of middle-aged men hiding from the law (Thenardier’s men, for the most part), is unusually empty. It’s the funeral, probably. Jesus, the whole town has got to be there. Grantaire takes his normal seat, orders his normal drink, but the air feels different today. The bartender, a soft spoken woman in her mid-thirties, disappears through the back door as soon as she sets Grantaire’s drink in front of him. The few drunken souls lingering in the back of the room take their leave too, filing out the front one right after the other.
“God dammit,” Grantaire mutters. “I’m not drunk enough for this.”
The back door opens, light flooding in through the dusty room. A girl—she can’t be much older than Grantaire—walks in, her heels clacking against the wooden floorboards. “Yeah, and I’m not getting paid enough.”
The sky looks like rain, but the air around them is hot and dry and Enjolras’ skin itches underneath the surface. He hadn’t expected this many people to pay their respects. He hadn’t expected this many people to even know Lamarque even existed.
“Word of the mouth travels fast,” Feuilly mutters, practically speaking Enjolras’ thoughts aloud.
Combeferre nods, squinting into the crowd. “Two thousand at least.”
“Christ,” Joly breathes, clutching Bousset’s hand. “Where’s ‘Chetta?”
“With Cosette,” Marius replies shakily. “Cosette’s father didn’t want her alone tonight. I was going to stay, but,” he takes an uncertain breath, “I wanted to be here. With you.”
Enjolras thanks him; Marius has given his everything to this cause. Enjolras wouldn’t have blamed him if he’d chosen to stay with Cosette, but knowing her, they’ll spot her in the crowd at any moment.
“Fuckin’ hell,” he hears from behind and below them. “That’s a lot of people.”
“Gavroche, I told you to stay home!”
Eponine hisses, taking Gavroche by the arm and pulling him over to her. “Go home, Gav. You aren’t on this mission, okay?”
“Enjolras said I was invaluable,” Gavroche argues (Enjolras winces apologetically at Eponine). “What if you need to pick someone’s pocket? I could come in handy--”
“I can take him to Cosette’s,” Marius offers, smiling softly at her. “Valjean’s security system is practically indestructible, he’ll be safe there.”
Eponine smiles gratefully, pushing her little brother towards Marius. “Go with Marius. And don’t be a pain in his ass, or so help me, I’ll be a pain in yours. You got that?”
Gavroche nods begrudgingly, pouting in that distinctly teenager way. Marius leads him back towards the alleyway, and suddenly the group seems much smaller and the crowd before them much larger.
Two thousand people, all prepared to avenge Lamarque’s death. They expect Enjolras to lead them, to inspire them, to do something. All Enjolras wants to do is mourn, but he is denied even that. He shouldn’t complain; no one ever said that running a rebellion would be easy.
But up until now, it has never made him feel so alone.
Grantaire doesn’t reach for his gun. He’s too comfortable to move, really, save for lifting his beer up to his lips every minute or so. “Alright, and who are you supposed to be?”
“Classified,” she says, reaching under the counter and pulling out a mug. “You want a refill?”
Grantaire shakes his head. “Ask again later.” He tries another question. “What do you want?”
The girl fills up the mug, eyeing him while she does. Her hair is long and dark, curled artfully at her waist. She reminds Grantaire of Eponine, with her dark, shiny skin and long, bony limbs. She’s probably just as skilled with a gun, too, but Grantaire is biased; he’s seen ‘Ponine in action. This agent couldn’t hold a candle.
“It’s complicated,” she replies, pursing her lips. She takes a swig of her beer, making a contented face as it goes down. “Y’know, you should consider a job with the government; we have automatic alcohol permits. You could drink whenever you want.”
Grantaire laughs. “I already do. But I’m guessing you’re not here to confiscate my beer. Unless you are. Which in that case, you should know I have a gun.”
The girl outright giggles, tossing her hair over her shoulder. “Well good luck with that; I’ve got an officer at every entrance. You’d last thirty seconds, maybe.”
“Oh, I don’t know. I’ve got a pretty good track record when it comes to the police.”
Her face falls. “Yes. I know.”
Okay. So now he feels guilty. Which he shouldn’t, because burning down that building turned out to be the best decision Grantaire could ever have made. He was saving Enjolras’ life; doing his job.
Just like they were, he supposes.
“Is that what you’re here about?”
“What?” The girl asks, clearly distracted. “Oh, no. Not really. I mean, technically I’m authorized to shoot you on sight. But today I’ve got orders from a little higher up on the food chain. I’m here to talk to you about Enjolras.”
Grantaire stiffens. This time, his hand does twitch towards his gun. He has to remind himself that Enjolras is safe, surrounded by Bahorel and Eponine and Combeferre and thousands of civilians. He’s safe.
“Then you should know,” his voice is strained, “that I wasn’t kidding about the gun.”
“I know you, Grantaire,” she says. Her drink remains untouched on the counter. “I’ve been on the ABC case for years, since before you showed up. You don’t care about any of it.”
He can take her. He won’t enjoy it, he never does, but he will do his job. Keep Enjolras safe, because sometimes even gods need protecting.
“You’ve killed a lot of people on his behalf,” she says. “How do you sleep at night?”
Grantaire laughs bitterly. “How do you?” She doesn’t answer. He doesn’t think she can. “We both work for killers. The only difference is what they’re killing for. You can’t tell me you believe in what they’re doing.”
“Well,” she sighs. “I guess we’re in the same boat then.”
She’s not wrong. Grantaire sighs, torn between wanting to buy her a drink and wanting to kill her on principle.
“I’m not going to keep you here.” She crosses her arms. “But I do have a proposition for you.”
He can’t hold back his chuckle (though it’s not like he really tries). “I’m all ears.”
“You give me every name, every address, everything the ABC has planned.”
“Or you’ll what? Kill me? Kill Lamarque?” He scoffs. “You’re running out of things to threaten me with.”
She purses her lips, leans forward over the bar, but her eyes seem pained. Grantaire has to remember that she’s only doing her job.
“I don’t want to kill you over something neither of us believe in,” she says. “So I won’t. But right now, at the memorial service, there is a sniper trained on him.”
He asks her to repeat herself.
“Enjolras is only alive for as long as I like you. So you might want to buy me another drink.”
When a fire catches, it catches quickly. A single flame will lick the air, gasping for breath, dying against the breeze. A moment later, it consumes a branch, and the fire will rage on until out of things to devour.
Enjolras can’t say who starts screaming, because it is silent until it isn’t.
General Javert was reading off a list of Lamarque’s accomplishments, his gifts to the community, when someone shouts.
“Justice pour Lamarque! Vive Le France!”
The phrase catches, spreading across the crowd in a matter of seconds. Enjolras watches in horror as they scream, shoving into each other, pushing against the barricade of officers separating them from Lamarque’s casket where it sits on display on a makeshift stage. General Javert calls for order and silence, but he might as well be whispering for all the good it does. No one can hear him; no one cares to.
All it takes is one officer falling for the line to be broken. The protesters flood onto the stage, surrounding Lamarque’s casket. Enjolras steps towards it, shouting. Bahorel’s arm is around his chest, keeping him anchored in place. Enjolras struggles against him, watching helplessly as they set Lamarque’s casket aflame.
Somewhere in the crowd, an officer fires a round, and suddenly there are bullets flying from every corner of the square, ricocheting off of the marble pillars of the Great Hall. Bahorel is dragging Enjolras away, back towards the alleyway from which they came.
It feels like all the air in his lungs has been punched out of him.
“There are twelve gunmen stationed on twelve rooftops. One for each of them. Including the kid.”
It’s a hell of a good pitch; Grantaire has to cooperate and she knows it.
He thinks back to one of his very first meetings at the Musain. Enjolras had spent a good half hour lecturing on the hostage procedure: what to do when you’ve been compromised. There was only one rule.
Keep your mouth shut.
If anyone can change the world, Enjolras can. And god damn it, he’s not going to let him die on it now.
“I’m sorry,” Grantaire says, downing the rest of his beer and testing the weight of the empty bottle in his palm. “But you just threatened my boyfriend.”
The glass bottle shatters against her temple, knocking her out cold. She slumps onto the counter, motionless, and Grantaire is out the door in seconds.
“We have to go back,” Jehan rushes as they make their way through the cramped alleyway. “They need us, Enj, we can’t just leave all two thousand of them, they trusted us--”
“We’ll figure it all out once we’re back at the Musain,” Combeferre answers. “Us getting killed would hardly be of any use to them now.”
“Do you smell that?” Feuilly asks abruptly, stopping in his tracks. “That--don’t you smell that?”
Enjolras stops, turns towards Feuilly and sniffing the air. It’s musky, dry, almost. “It smells like--”
“A camp fire.”
Enjolras looks up into the sky, sees the black smoke as it begins to leak against the fading blue of the evening sky.
Feuilly takes in a sharp breath and as soon as the words begin to form on his lips, Enjolras knows what he is going to say.
“They’ve stormed the Bastille.”
“Grantaire--” Enjolras says, turning to grasp his hand. Only he isn’t there when Enjolras turns around. He isn’t with them. Enjolras hasn’t seen him since--since when?
He runs, narrowly evading Bahorel as he reaches out to grab him. The Great Hall waits for him, hiding Grantaire away somewhere inside.
It isn’t rage that powers Enjolras through body after body; it’s fear. Fear that Grantaire is hurt, damaged, thinking. He knows Grantaire. If they’ve gotten a hold of him—Enjolras dreads to imagine what they’ve convinced him of.
Enjolras knows he is a monster. He had hoped he could keep Grantaire in the dark for just a little while longer.
He turns a marble corner. The senate room is just one floor above him, huge and filled with liars and murderers and the worst of men. Enjolras can almost feel them cowering in their seats, terrified of the gunshots ringing on the pavement below them, of the flames that devour the Bastille, licking it up like sugar. They are terrified of him.
The number of officials begin to thin as Enjolras climbs higher and deeper into the building. There are some that he leaves alive—most, actually. His panic is sending him frantic through the halls, and he seizes anyone who may look like they even know who Grantaire is. They only leave Enjolras feeling disappointed and heavy, his palms sweaty and his pulse pounding. He doesn’t think he has much time.
By the time he makes it to the center of the building, he can hear the flames roaring from the other side of the thick marble walls. The commotion in front of the Bastille must have flooded into the main square. Enjolras panics for a split second before the enormous wooden double-doors appear at the end of the hall.
And then he remembers why he’s here.
Grantaire’s least favorite season is summer. He’s totally a winter guy. He hates sweating, hates the mugginess that comes with hot days that never seem to end. Which is why the running theme of his life these past few weeks has been fire, of course. It just makes sense that the world is going up in flames just to spite him. Awesome.
As soon as he sees the smoke above the rooftops, he breaks into a sprint, because shit. It’s coming from Main Street and Enjolras can barely fucking walk on his ankle, how the hell is he gonna get out without singeing his eyebrows off and just fuck this, fuck everything, Grantaire isn’t there when he should be. Something’s happened at the funeral. He’s made such a huge deal of protecting Enjolras--he just gave a girl brain damage because she threatened him--and he isn’t even there for him now.
He dodges the people that cross his path, skidding around them. It takes a while to break through the crowd once he hits Main; there’s gotta be twenty million fucking people getting hit with pepper spray and tear gas as they--Grantaire doesn’t even know what they’re doing. They’re shouting, pushing against officers and screaming. How could one dead guy inspire this much chaos?
He whips around, recognizing the voice. “Joly, what the hell is going on?”
“Where have you been?” Joly shouts, grabbing his arm and yanking him towards a nearby alley .
He doesn’t want to admit where he’s been, how he’d planned to spend the afternoon. “Got lost,” he replies, which isn’t a total lie. “What the hell happened?”
“Someone in the crowd recognized Enjolras,” Joly yells, weaving him in and out of peoples’ way. “Riots broke out. They burned Lamarque’s casket, Grantaire--”
“Where’s Enjolras?” Grantaire interrupts, because at this point, Senator Lamarque is the last thing on his mind.
“You don’t--he went looking for you.”
They stare at each other for a moment, realizing exactly how fucked they are.
“Shit,” Grantaire hisses, setting off again.
And that’s when everything goes to hell.
Empty. The room is empty.
The tables are neat, chairs tucked in and papers squared away elsewhere. Enjolras has to admit his disappointment; had it been too arrogant to assume he’d turned the Senate into an uproar? They are villains, unquestionably, but they are not fools.
Enjolras’ fists clench, blood dripping from the cracks between his fingers. He idly wonders whose it is.
Senator Eliot, the only member that has remained outside of ABC’s reach for years, is seated in the center of the room at his own personal desk, hands folded on the polished wood in front of him. Enjolras walks towards him slowly, thinking of the weapons he’s neglected to bring with him.
“Are you going to kill me?” The Senator asks.
“Yes,” Enjolras replies simply. “After you tell me where Grantaire is, of course.”
A smile creeps onto Eliot’s fat lips. “So you’re here about Grantaire, then. Not the riots that you’ve induced.”
“You poisoned Lamarque,” Enjolras snarls. “Any unrest is on your head.”
“Then what are you waiting for? Do it. You have already killed most of my colleagues, my friends.”
“Tyrants,” Enjolras hisses. “Every last one of them.”
“So what does that make you? The people of France have seen the ruthless weapon you can be. If you think they fear us, what do you suppose they think of you?”
“They believe that I can save them, and that’s enough. I will save them, I’ll--”
Eliot laughs sharply. “Save them? Save them how? The blood on your hands has been broadcasted for the world to see, and you have worn it with pride. When they look at you, they do not see their hero, their savior. All they see is a temporary solution. They see their next target. In this way, they are not so different from you and I.”
It’s wrong, it’s all wrong--Enjolras knows what he’s doing. He’s stalling, letting the fight rage on outside without them. Enjolras has had enough. He thrusts his hands out, snagging the Senator’s shirt collar and yanking him over the table. “Where is Grantare?”
Laughing, Eliot says, "You might just make it in this business, kid. With a face like that, they’ll buy anything you say to them."
Enjolras tightens his grip in the congressman's collar and snarls. "Grantaire. Where is he?"
Eliot just smiles, draping his meaty hands lightly over Enjolras' at his throat. "The underground tavern on the Rue du Plumet," he says. "Isn't that where he usually goes this time every Friday?"
The blank feeling in Enjolras' mind must transfer to his face, because Eliot laughs for his last time. "Don't worry, Enjolras. Your artist will return to you unharmed, if only a little intoxicated. Just how you like him, isn't it?"
It's almost on instinct that Enjolras snaps his neck.
Afterwards, when the overweight corpse is lying at his feet, Enjolras makes a beeline for the door.
All it takes is the glint of light on blond hair. Grantaire’s eye catches the sunsilken head of artfully tousled hair and he turns, moves to run towards him, to wash the blood off of him and tuck him into bed--and that’s when he hears three gunshots, louder than any of the others.
His heart stops.
He doesn't go down at first. It takes three bullets, two through his chest and the last at his thigh, to bring him to his knees. The child, who stood but four feet from the ground, falls to it like a doll, and each edge of the street goes quiet. Just quiet enough to hear his skull as it smacks against the pavement.
Enjolras stills completely, gaping down at the limp body of the bravest little boy he had ever known, before Eponine starts screaming.
She's shouting murderers, grunting against someone's hold and begging for her little brother, please, give him to me, please.
It's her voice that snaps Enjolras out of his reverie. H scoops Gavroche into his arms, daring someone to shoot. No one does. His heartbeat is thrumming in his ears, louder than he's ever known it to be and he imagines that it's compensating for Gavroche's now silent pulse, beating loud enough for the two of them.
The shots have ended on either side of the street, but Enjolras would have waded through canon fire to make it back to the alleyway. How strange it is, that death seems less of a threat now that there is a corpse in his arms.
"Gavroche," Eponine sobs, digging the boy out of Enjolras' hold and clutching him to her, sinking to her knees. She rocks him back and forth, calls out for Joly, but he doesn't move. No one moves.
Enjolras tears his gaze away from Gavroche’s limp frame, eyes immediately meeting an all too familiar pair of chocolate brown ones.
“Grantaire,” he breathes out, reaching for him.
They embrace, Enjolras burying his face into the crook of Grantaire’s neck. He is aware of the thousands of people currently watching, but he doesn’t care.
He doesn’t care.
Grantaire kisses him, soft and slow and his tongue tastes metallic, like ashes. There is blood caked into Enjolras’ fingernails and he can feel it heavy on his palms. The entire world is watching the two of them, watching Eponine rock Gavroche’s body back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.
“You look good,” Grantaire whispers. “Is that a new color on you?”
Enjolras laughs, a choked off cough in the back of his throat. “Don’t you know? Red is my favorite color.”
There’s a loud crash somewhere within the skeleton of the Bastille, ceiling frames giving way, entire floors collapsing underneath the weight of the flames. Grantaire’s hand finds its way around Enjolras’ and suddenly the fire isn’t just a fire. It’s everything Enjolras had been trying to say for years. The perfect speech.
He steps forward, into the middle of the square. People make way for him, officers cowering behind their guns and citizens stepping back like they’re on holy ground. Enjolras addresses them, the words flowing effortlessly from his mouth.
Chapter 7: epilogue
We live in a New France, these days.
The old foundations of our corrupt society have come crumbling down around us, piles of ashes stacking up along the street sides. The autumn wind will soon blow them away and we will be, for the first time in over half a century, free.
We can thank the ABC for that.
I’ve met them. I remember every detail, every breath of it. Many of us have been afraid of them, and many still are. But in person, the members of the ABC were no more than kids.
A group of children, still young, with smiles that could light up cities. Voices that could start and stop wars at will. Faces fresh and new, colored with rage and sadness and wonder and it makes me wonder, what it must be like to live so many lives at once.
They lived all of our lives. They are from the gutter, just like us; they were afraid once, but fear is only a notion, dispelled by time and trust and love, and I’ve never seen a group of friends so in love with each other as these thirteen kids.
France is free, and we owe it all to them. They will go back to the lives they were never allowed to live, the quiet ones, the happy ones. We will see them everywhere from now on; sometimes sitting on park benches, scribbling nonsense into notebooks. Sometimes we will see them dancing on rooftops to the sound of their own voices filling the night with a contagious sense of ecstasy. Sometimes we will see them at cemeteries, dropping lilies on the graves of people they never knew. We will see them in everything, but most of all, we will see them in ourselves.
They were the bravest group of friends that France will ever know, and history will not forget them.
As Enjolras said that night, the night we all watched in awe as the light of the Bastille Fire illuminated his silhouette:
“France is in good hands, now. Yours. She belongs to every one of you. It won’t be easy, but nothing ever is, and that’s why we call it life. This is your life. Don’t let someone take it from you.”
The orange flames, as they licked up into the black sky, bordered his body like a frame. I looked at each of them; they looked like royalty.
France may belong to the people, but she will forever be indebted to those that freed her. It’s been said that they have a strong distaste for monarchs, but it is plain that these kids...these kids wear crowns.