One of the most important questions Grantaire will ask him, later, will be “since when.” His voice will be filled with anguish as he scrambles to try and understand and Enjolras won’t be much help, his own brain racing to find an explanation, any explanation.
It’s not that he won’t have an answer; he’ll have a few, but all of them will be insufficient and only partly true.
There’s a flippant, if somehow true, answer of “since 1832,” but they’re not... they’re not talking about this. And so “since you took my hand” or “since we died” are also dismissed and pushed away.
Then there’s this present, this time, all the answers possible in this life, but none of them sounds right either. “Since Courfeyrac brought you to that first meeting” would be a nice one, a clean one, but it’s not true at all, because Enjolras barely noticed. “Since the protest” is too obvious and also false, because something has started before, during countless arguments, a stirring under Enjolras’ skin, an itch he couldn’t, wouldn’t, scratch.
Then and now, it started slowly and imperceptibly only to hit him (them) like a ton of bricks.
Or like a bullet (or eight).
But you have to start somewhere, and you can just as well start with the protest.
(There’s been many protests, of course, but when they talk of the protest, of the protest, there’s no doubt in either of their minds as to which they’re referring to.)
It starts (far from the real beginning) like this.
It’s too hot for early May, especially considering that there was still some snow left in shaded nooks just last week. The weather is being crazy and it’s affecting people, they’re sluggish and irritable, their minds already at home, or anywhere but here. It’s not a good day for a protest.
“They should have set the stage in the shade,” Enjolras says and gets a noncommittal hum of agreement from Combeferre. “Just about a hundred meters to the right, and there’s pavement there, people wouldn’t be standing on the grass and...”
“Remember when you said we’re here just to show support?” Combeferre says conversationally and raises his eyebrows at Enjolras’ look. “And how we’re lending the resources but not trying to take over because that would take attention away from the actual victims?”
“Yes, but I thought they’d be more reasonable about it,” he says, but does so more quietly, perfectly aware that Combeferre has a point.
As usual. He has the most annoying habit of being right all the time.
Cosette Fauchelevant bounces over, grinning at them. She’s the treasurer of the Women’s Rights group organising the whole thing and Enjolras spent the last few weeks getting to know her while they managed their cooperation. As a result, he’s less inclined to think that Marius lost his mind completely, even though most of the time he still ignores the man’s ramblings about the perfection that is Cosette.
“I’m worried about the turnout,” she tells them confidentially. “Please tell me I don’t need to worry about the turnout.”
“You” Enjolras starts and is promptly elbowed in the side by Combeferre, whose expression plainly states that if the next words out of his mouth are “should have,” there will be a few other words exchanged later and Enjolras won’t like any of them, “have nothing to worry about,” he finishes and there’s almost no pause to notice.
“Most people are still in class,” Combeferre assures her. “Look at our group and you know we’ll all be here.”
So far it’s only him and Combeferre and Marius, who is helping Eponine with the banner that keeps ending up crooked. It might be because he keeps sneaking glances at Cosette and not really paying any attention. Eponine looks ready to hit him on the head with her shoe.
“Excuse me,” Combeferre says and heads over there. If anything, that means it’s going to be the most perfectly placed banner in the world.
“Marius assured me all of you will be here, but so far it’s just you four, so...” she shrugs, laughing at herself. “Sorry, this is my first big event.”
“It’s normal, it’ll get even worse,” he assures her with a supportive smile, all the while wondering what she meant by “four.” Eponine isn’t really part of their group, like Cosette she mostly hangs around because... That’s when he sees Grantaire, sitting on the ground further away, in the shaded spot Enjolras would have chosen for the stage. He’s talking to the redhead girl from the campus paper and she’s laughing loudly, clutching at her stomach and shaking her head.
He’s not sure why he’s surprised; Grantaire’s been part of the group for a while now and he rarely misses a meeting or an event. He is no longer an afterthought when Enjolras thinks of the members of the ABC, the “oh, and him, of course” addition, but he’s still on the sidelines, still an enigma.
He’d come to every meeting religiously and then argue with Enjolras for hours, claiming none of their efforts matter. He’d mock the very point of the campaign they’re organising only to volunteer to design the posters.
“Oh for god’s sake,” Cosette says and mutters something else under her breath that Enjolras doesn’t catch. “Sorry, I need to,” she waves her hand towards where the campus chief of security is standing, frowning at the stage. She gives him another tight-lipped smile and heads off, calling up her sweetest expression, one Enjolras had seen her wield like a weapon.
Enjolras is halfway to where Grantaire is sitting before he even realises he’s started walking and by then it’s too late to stop.
“Apollo,” Grantaire greets him, squinting against the sun. He shades his eyes as he looks up, leaving a smudge of charcoal on his brow. “You look like someone with little to do, how much is it pissing you off?”
Jeannie, the girl from the paper, snorts and stands up, dusting off her pants. “Enjolras, want to say something about the protest?”
“You’re better off talking to Cosette,” he advises her, mindful of Combeferre’s admonishments. He sounds more bitter than he’d like and she laughs at him, patting his shoulder before she starts rummaging through her purse, pulling out the dictaphone.
Grantaire looks like he’s on the verge of laughing as well and Enjolras glares at him. “Don’t you have something else to do?” he asks, and it comes out sharper than intended, less of a friendly jab and more as a verbal punch.
That’s the thing about his arguments with Grantaire, they’re always a little too vicious for comfort, a little too real, and he never can stop himself before they escalate.
Now, however, Grantaire just shrugs and packs up his sketchbook. “Nowhere I’d rather be,” he offers, his tone on the verge of mocking but honest nonetheless. Enjolras finds himself nodding and reaches out, hand extended, to pull Grantaire up.
A spark of static electricity jumps between them when Grantaire’s fingers encircle his wrist. Enjolras grimaces and Grantaire swears under his breath, but he’s already up and standing a little too close. His breath when he says the “shit, sorry” is warm on Enjolras’ lips.
The air is hot and heavy around them, and when Enjolras moves it’s too slow, like he’s threading through molasses. He steps back, letting go of Grantaire’s hand. “I think it’s starting,” he offers unnecessarily, because Eponine is announcing the same thing through the megaphone.
There’s already a crowd, so Cosette needn’t have worried. Almost all of the ABC members are there, save for those who said in advance they couldn’t make it due to work commitments (Feuilly and Bousset), and Jehan is distributing signs. Courfeyrac drags Grantaire away, talking about a girl he knows is in one of Grantaire’s classes whose number he apparently absolutely has to get.
“The numbers are decent,” Enjolras says and Combeferre doesn’t laugh at him at all but he might be biting his lip to hold back a grin.
The numbers are decent, and the location, he has to admit after all, isn’t half bad; a lot of people tend to pass by here and they’re drawn in to listen for a while and see what the commotion is all about and some stay for longer, walk to one of the booth to pick up a flyer or talk to a volunteer.
Of course, the trouble with drawing in passerbys is always the danger of drawing in the passerbys. A group of guys takes offence at something one of the speakers says and yells back a response accompanied by a choice of slurs. Eponine yells back and then it gets complicated. Before the campus security has a chance to react, someone throws a stone at Eponine and it hits her on the side of her head.
Marius and Combeferre are the first to move, even before the security does, and then everything descends into chaos pretty damn quickly. Enjolras is trying to get towards the stage but someone blocks his way. He’s not even sure when and why he falls down, except the blow to his head hurts as all hell.
He can’t be out for more than few seconds, but he’s out nonetheless. He wakes up to Grantaire’s hand on his face, his name repeated loudly. (His actual name, for once, none of the Apollo bullshit. It’s an actual improvement, he wishes he had known a blow to the head was all it took.)
“I’m fine,” he says and sits up. Grantaire is peering at him suspiciously. “I said I’m fine.”
“Yes, but you are a notorious liar.”
“Do I need to remind you of that time you said not to worry, it’s just a sprain? Or the flu fiasco in December?”
“I was fine,” Enjolras insists and Grantaire snorts, shaking his head.
“Oh, Apollo,” he mutters, half exasperated and half fond, and apparently that’s how long using his actual name lasted. Enjolras wishes they would get back to that, not only because he hates the stupid nickname but also because for some reason he rather liked the sound of his name when Grantaire said it.
God, maybe he does have a concussion.
“Alright, come on,” Grantaire says and stands up, extending his hand down to Enjolras to help him up.
For the second time today Enjolras reaches out to grasp Grantaire’s hand and lets himself be pulled to his feet. And once again when they touch he feels static electricity jump between them, a lot stronger this time. “Fuck,” Grantaire says and Enjolras fully concurs with the assessment, especially when the movement of getting up makes him just that little bit dizzy.
He closes his eyes, experiencing something like a deja vu but not quite, a strange sensation of displacement that encompasses both him and Grantaire, like they’re the only thing that’s still in a rapidly spinning universe.
He breathes out, the world fading back in.
“You guys alright?” Eponine asks, coming to stand next to them. She’s holding her hand to the side of her head but seems composed otherwise, and thank god she’s not bleeding.
“I should be asking you,” Enjolras points out.
“Clean bill of health from doctor Joly,” she reports. Combeferre, who’s hovering at her elbow, clears his throat. “But ‘Ferre here insists I go to the emergency room and have it properly looked at, the lights shined in my eyes, the whole shebang. We’re meeting later at Musain for the post mortem, and by post mortem I mean we’re getting drunk. You guys should come,” she says, clipped tone of an order, glaring at Enjolras already like she’s sure he’s going to argue.
He rolls his eyes at her but nod. “Yes, ma’am.”
She narrows her eyes at him. “You should go have your head looked at as well, I’m pretty sure some important parts got rattled in there,” she tells him and completely ignores the look he gives her, as she is wont to do.
He’s pretty sure he’s not concussed. Rattled, well, maybe. “I’ll see you at Musain, then?” he asks Grantaire, who shakes his head somewhat reluctantly. It’s a surprise; Grantaire rarely misses a meeting and even less often is prone to refuse an offer of a night out drinking, which is definitely what Eponine has in mind. The actual post mortem will probably take place at the scheduled meeting next week.
“I have a thing,” Grantaire says vaguely, looking like he wants to add something but doesn’t, pursing his lips and looking away.
“Alright,” he nods and steps back. “I’ll see you,” he offers and heads towards Cosette, who is managing the clean-up of the stage and booths. He ignores the feeling of disappointment because it doesn’t make any sense, none at all.
He doesn’t know why his pulse has kicked into overdrive and his heart is beating too fast either.
One thing you need to know right off the bat: Grantaire lies all the time.
Well, alright, no, he’s lying about that. Most of the time he tells the truth, because it’s easier and because he doesn’t give a shit. What he does all the time is bullshit, also because it’s easier and because he doesn’t care. Not much, at least, and not about anything but his booze, his art, and Enjolras, who isn’t his at all.
(No, he’s lying about that too. There’s his sister, there are his friends, there’s the handful of classes he doesn’t actively hate, there are his books. Sometimes he cares about all of them, when he’s not too drunk or spiralling into darkness again or both.)
But, the point is, he’s a liar and he doesn’t really have anything to do that evening except for getting drunk and probably spiralling into darkness, as you do.
He’s not sure what the fuck that was, the whole thing at the protest. He’s been, he’s been so good about the whole thing with Enjolras, admiring from afar, sometimes (often) needling the man, taunting and mocking, sure, but never getting close, not like that.
Because Grantaire is a liar and a drunk, but he’s not an idiot and he’s not really a masochist (except in the best sense, sometimes, because hey) and there’s no way, no way in hell that Enjolras would ever look at him like that.
Except today, because today the look in his eyes, beyond the confusion and annoyance, has been of something similar to what Grantaire would have given his soul over to see.
It was probably the concussion and you can’t base your romantic hopes on someone getting hit over the head.
Well, you could, but you shouldn't. Make good choices.
So, the thing he has tonight is an impromptu thing with a bottle of good (well, moderately decent, let's not get crazy) whiskey and a book. Except he gets as far as two pages and has to stop because his head is hurting and his vision is blurry. It's not the whiskey, he's long learned to hold his alcohol much better than that, so it's probably the result of staying in the sun for too long. And of whatever it was between him and Enjolras because it was something, like he was the one hit over the head, not Enjolras.
He takes another swig from the bottle and places the book on the coffee table, giving in. And two pages in it has already made him want to punch the protagonist so it's for the better, really.
He falls asleep on the couch and dreams uneasy dreams of people dying all around him.
Enjolras leaves Musain early, to the chorus of 'wuss' from Eponine and Courfeyrac. He ignores them, because responding always means they somehow drag him down to their level (which is that of twelve year olds) and beat him with experience.
He's been there, he's learned his lesson.
His head is pounding, his skin crawling. It doesn't feel like a concussion but, as people (Grantaire. And, well, Eponine, Courfeyrac, and occasionally even Combeferre) like to remind him, he's been wrong before and it might happen again.
It's probably just a mild heat stroke though.
He takes a painkiller and attempts to read through his notes for tomorrow's class, but it proves pointless and hopeless. His own handwriting stops making any sense to him and he figures he might as well catch up on some sleep.
It doesn’t work out all that well.
He dreams of a city that he doesn’t know, that is not his own, except it is, intimately. He wants to protect it, its future, its people, its soul. He dreams of a cafe in the heart of that city, comfortable and familiar. He dreams of anxious days, impatient anger coursing in his veins, dreams of waiting for change. He dreams of his friends there with him, of an argument with Grantaire over something, he can’t remember. They’re themselves and yet they are not, everything is known to him and everything is new.
He wakes up in cold sweat and with a worse headache than he fell asleep with, hands shaking.
“You look like death warmed over,” Combeferre greets him when Enjolras crawls onto the seat at the kitchen counter.
“Coffee,” he demands. Pleads. Demands.
“So, it’s not the morning for full sentences, I know that feeling,” Combeferre nods and starts the coffee machine. Enjolras supposes he could make his own, even if that would require moving and, well, moving, but the coffee machine always liked Combeferre better. They could push the same buttons and go through the same process, same beans and milk, but Combeferre’s is always, without fail, better. “You look like death warmed over,” he adds, looking at Enjolras over the rim of his glasses.
“Didn’t sleep well,” he shrugs. It’s even worse now; not quite a migraine but a buzzing in his skull, accompanied by the way his skin feels uncomfortable and ill-fitting. He probably shouldn’t drink coffee and then forego breakfast, but he does it anyway.
It gets even worse, to the point where he’s barely paying attention in the lectures and snaps at Courfeyrac with double the regular speed and viciousness. He actually considers going to a doctor in the afternoon. It’s probably not a concussion but he’s clearly coming down with something, and Grantaire was wrong, Enjolras does know when to admit he isn’t feeling fine.
At almost exactly that moment in his train of thoughts he runs into Grantaire on the quad. Literally runs into him, enough to be elbowed in the gut in the process.
“Shit, sorry,” Grantaire says, reaching out to steady Enjolras on his feet. His hand is warm and clammy, there are dark shades under his eyes and he looks as wrecked as Enjolras feels.
Because somehow he feels alright right now.
“Long night?” he asks carefully, trying his best to keep judgment out of his voice. It’s a tentative subject, they’ve been here before. Numerous times. And Enjolras doesn’t have time or any inkling to pick up that particular fight right now.
“Turned in early, actually. Didn’t sleep well,” Grantaire shrugs and steps back, tugging at the strap of his bag. Then, as if stricken by some thought, he blinks at Enjolras and frowns thoughtfully. “Did you... I should go,” he says instead. “I’ll see you tonight.”
“What? Oh, Courfeyrac’s,” he nods. Everyone’s presence has been requested by a mass text announcement that took up three messages and included too many emoticons to count. It is, apparently, game night and everyone has to be there or face the consequences of Courf’s wrath (which usually means Corfeyrac texting you every five minutes with increasing displeasure).
Grantaire frowns at him. “I was invited,” he says defensively.
He can feel his headache returning and rubs at his temple. “I’ve figured as much,” he says. Grantaire looks a him like he's trying to figure something out, gauge the sincerity of Enjolras' response. His expression flickers from doubt to acceptance and he nods, stepping further back.
"You look like shit too," he tells Enjolras, a hint of a smile on his lips.
"Thanks, your comments are, as always, invaluable," Enjolras shoots back, calling up a grin to soften the sarcasm.
"Always glad to be of service, Apollo," he tosses and walks away, whistling. Enjolras watches him go, shaking his head.
He's still smiling, even though his headache is back with vengeance. There's something bothering him, though, a shadow of a memory that he knows is important and he can't quite get a hold of, Grantaire's last words echoing in his mind.
Only later that day, after he gives in and sees a doctor, to emerge with prescription painkillers and no helpful answers, does it surface. The comment about service, he thinks, that's something he's heard before. And also... Something Grantaire once said, about blackening his boots.
It's curious, because he's pretty damn sure Grantaire never said that to him and yet the memory feels real, tangible, an irritable sensation under his skin.
He pops two of the prescribed pills and thinks of heading straight home. But he did give Courfeyrac his word and besides, Grantaire will be there.
He's not sure when that has become a draw.
So, he feels like shit and has felt like shit for the entire day.
Except for the few moments with Enjolras and while that is something that usually does brighten his day (he's not in the mood to lie and pretend it doesn't, not at the moment, so shove it), it never quite had the miraculous curative properties.
Grantaire has determined it's not a hangover; he can hold his alcohol much better than this, it's an acquired skill. He's never had a migraine in his life, but that might be it, it feels similar enough to the description he's heard.
Except he doesn't think migraines are supposed to just fade away when you touch the person you...
As he said, shove it.
And as a lovely bonus to his headache and the general feeling-like-shit-ness of the day, his dream from last night keeps resurfacing in glorious technicolor detail. He dreamt of a barricade in unfamiliar streets (but he knows the city still, knows the cafes and wine shops and alleys, knows the faces he sees in the street and cares for very few of them). Of a small and pointless war waged in the heart of the city. Of his friends, dying, like he knew they would. Of Enjolras...
Enjolras’ face keeps popping up, every scene he remembers. It’s too vivid, feels too real, to be a dream, and yet how can it be anything but.
He clearly underestimated that whiskey yesterday.
“Jesus fuck, Grantaire, you look like roadkill. Are you drunk?” Eponine asks when she opens Courf’s door, wearing what looks like one of Jehan’s shirts.
“No. And you look like a flowershop exploded on you.”
He remembers the time when he thought Eponine was a sweet girl with hopeless crush on Marius and a romantic soul. Well, that lasted all of about two minutes.
“Nutella explosion, don’t ask. Are you hung over?”
“I’m always hung over, this is why I drink, please pay attention,” he tells her flatly and she salutes him mockingly. “There’s Nutella?”
“Not anymore,” she says darkly and lets him in, her hand on the small of his back when she pushes him forward to move faster. Well, a little lower than his back. “Courf, I swear, if you take out the one with the plastic trains, you will be removing a few of them from very uncomfortable places for days to come. Some people always cheat at that one.”
“I don’t think you even can cheat at Ticket to Ride,” Combeferre volunteers reasonably and she shoots him a look.
“Enjolras can,” she says and continues before he can splutter at the clear attempt to malign his honor, “I swear, you always win somehow and that’s some uncanny sorcery shit but also doesn’t matter because we’re not playing that. Bring the other one.”
“You just like saying you have wood for sheep,” Courfeyrac points out.
“Well, who doesn’t,” Grantaire shrugs and heads for the only seat left. It just happens to be on the couch next to Enjolras, and he’d accuse his friends and/or the universe of conspiring, but he knows that it’s mostly because no one wants to sit next to Enjolras during the game nights. The man is a shark even though he pretends (with great success) not to care about the results at all.
Grantaire slides into the seat, his thigh pressed against Enjolras’, who doesn’t look up from his cellphone. If Grantaire wasn’t paying attention (but he is, he always is), he’d miss it, but Enjolras goes completely still for a few seconds, his finger hovering over the touchscreen, holding his breath.
And the other thing, the other thing is that Grantaire’s head clears, headache fading in an instant.
He’s either still really drunk on the weirdest fucking whiskey of all time, or something utterly strange and surreal is going on.
“We’ll have to move the Monday meeting to seven, our key speaker can’t make it earlier,” Enjolras says. Eponine throws one of the little road pieces at him and boos.
“No shop talk, send us a group e-mail text or something,” she admonishes. “Unless you want to give me your cellphone to put it in the cellphone jail.”
Enjolras grips his phone protectively before calling up a nonchalant expression he can’t quite pull off. Grantaire pats his knee in support, or at least tries to before Enjolras swats at his hand.
And then they both freeze. Grantaire - because the skin on skin contact elicits a wave of warmth spreading through his skin, a gentle tingling sensation that he’d lie if he said doesn’t go to his dick.
Enjolras - who knows why his body goes still, but Grantaire feels him shiver and almost gasp, a sharp intake of breath and prolonged exhale.
“I need to make a call,” Enjolras says, standing up abruptly. He nods at Eponine, “I’ll let you put it in the cellphone jail afterwards, deal?”
“Deal,” she agrees, preoccupied with arranging her roads and settlements into a rude configuration in front of her. She glances up very briefly, but then does a double take, staring at Grantaire. “Man, you look like you’re seriously coming down with something. Stay away from me, I’ve already had the flu this year.”
This leads to the absolute chaos of Joly freaking out for the next half an hour and no one notices that when Enjolras slips back into the room, he sits on the floor next to Combeferre, as far from Grantaire as possible while still sitting by the coffee table. Joly is getting everyone some orange juice, espousing the virtues of vitamin C. His spiel doesn’t help Grantaire’s returning headache.
Enjolras is the first to leave, spoiling Grantaire’s plans of doing the very same thing. He can’t leave right after him, not without drawing the attention of at least Eponine and possibly Combeferre, so he waits it out, getting increasingly drunk on Courfeyrac’s booze.
It dulls the headache somewhat; not the pain, but the... longing of it, the urgency of missing Enjolras since the moment he left.
He wonders if Enjolras feels the same. He’s affected, clearly, the sheer physical responses indicate he’s troubled by something similar to Grantaire’s current affliction, but Grantaire has serious problems imagining Enjolras missing him at all.
“Okay, I’m out of here,” Eponine announces and tugs at Grantaire’s sleeve. “Want to keep me company for a bit?” They’re going in roughly the same direction and have been known to catch the same train, split a cab, or, if the evening is pleasant or (more often) they’re both broke again, take the scenic route and walk home.
He shrugs and nods, getting up from the couch. That’s when he notices it; Enjolras’ jacket folded over the arm of the couch where he was sitting earlier, forgotten. Grantaire picks it up tentatively. He should give it to Combeferre, who, for god’s sake, lives with Enjolras, but he puts it in his bag instead. He’ll get it back to Enjolras on Monday and besides, the doors are already closing after Combeferre, he’s gone now, look, too late.
"Okay," Eponine says after they've walked down two blocks in comfortable silence. "I was joking before, but you really don't look so hot."
"I resent that, I'm incredibly hot," he tells her, flashing her a winning smile. She rolls her eyes before giving him a 'be serious' look.
"Are you okay?" she asks, and he knows she isn't asking about the possibility of him having the flu. Of them all he knows Eponine understands the most about how it is to almost drown in darkness to pull yourself up and then lose every purchase again, repeat ad nauseam. How it is to be a shadow.
Eponine walked out of the darkness a long time ago, but her eyes are still pretty used to it.
"It's just a headache, I think," he tells her. "Maybe it's a sign to finally give up drinking."
She mulls it over for a few seconds. "I'm pretty sure you're joking, but if you're serious, or if one day you find yourself serious about that... Call me first. I can help and I know people who can help."
"I'd be lost without you, 'Ponine, never leave me," he tells her and she smiles and reaches up to ruffle his hair.
"Yes, you would. You all would, really. Also, this is your stop, kind sir," she announces as they arrive at his building. "Want me to sleep over?"
"I'm really fine and you have work tomorrow. Go," he says and kisses her cheek, punching her shoulder for a good measure to send her on her way. She laughs and hurries down the street, disappearing around the corner.
Once inside, he fishes out his phone from out of the bag and silences it, leaving it on the coffee table and Enjolras’ jacket hung over the back of the couch. He’s more tired than he expected to be; the result of a long day and uneasy sleep last night, of new not-dreams not-memories that keep assaulting him.
They are stranger now, if not in the content (though why would his subconscious create a life of a drunk artist in the 19th century, he cannot fathom. Well, drunk and artist he gets, but he always hated the early 19th century.) then in their nature.
They feel real.
That’s the main problem. Those aren’t strange dreams or visions, it’s rather like he has a whole another life now in his head, one he lived through in full. The early memories are foggy and fragmented, like those of his own childhood. The final moments are there in stark contrast and vivid detail (vivid and red like blood and black like the endless night).
He kicks off his shoes and buries his head in the pillow, closing his eyes against the world. There’s no relief from the one inside his head though.
He’s going insane; that has been a long time coming and bound to happen sooner or later, but the manner is really unexpected. Even the revolution part and dying for a rebellion he didn’t believe in, that he might rationalise because it probably makes sense to his subconscious (dying for Enjolras, seriously, how more obvious can you get, Grantaire is disappointed in his own brain) but the whole part where he remembers a childhood, a sister (not his own, not the hurricane that is his own sister but a quiet slip of a girl in pretty dresses) and a mother, classes and endless hours painting, he remembers those too.
His dreams are full of death again though, not of the boring parts of Grantaire the 19th century artist’s life.
He wakes up in cold sweat again. He’s not a stranger to those, to waking up in the middle of the night with desperation and ice in his veins, but rarely does his longing have that clear a shape and a name. He needs Enjolras, not in the vague way his usual pining goes, but in an acute, physical ache resonating in his whole body.
He gets up to wash his face with cold water and heads for the kitchen in search of something to drink. He’s not yet sure if it’s going to be water or vodka, even odds, and whatever it is, it’s going to come in a large glass (probably vodka though).
He drags his hand over the back of the couch, half for balance half for distraction, and comes to a sudden still when his fingers encounter the soft material of Enjolras’ jacket. Because it’s not enough but it helps, it’s close, it’s something, and he feels instantly better, safer, better.
He feels sane again (for a given value of sane) and feels like he’s relearned how to breathe.
It’s enough to have him walk back to his bed and not to the liquor cabinet (two cupboards in the kitchen, cabinet is just a fancy name) and to fall asleep again, a little more easily, fingers curled around the red jacket.
His subconscious is a bitch.
Grantaire almost talks himself out of it, telling himself that Monday is just around the corner, there’s no rush.
Also, the whole thing is too creepy.
And he’s probably delusional and Enjolras is not affected at all, all evidence Grantaire has is circumstantial at best.
And yet, here we are, or rather, here Grantaire is, on a Sunday morning (well, afternoon), in front of Enjolras’ doors, deliberating whether to knock or hightail it from there.
But hey, he had enough of courage to face bullets for Enjolras apparently, he can do this.
Enjolras opens the door after the first knock, looking annoyed for a brief few moments before his gaze concentrates on Grantaire. Then he looks like he’s seen a ghost.
He covers it well, but not well enough; the weariness visible in the shadows under his eyes and in the tight set of his shoulder probably has something to do with it. “Come in,” he says and steps aside. Grantaire expected to be questioned about his purpose right off the bat; he’s not exactly known to visit Enjolras and Combeferre outside of the occasional meetings or movie nights hosted here, but he’s not going to complain.
“You left this at Courf’s,” he offers, handing Enjolras his jacket. “I was going to hang on to this till Monday, but maybe you need it. God knows it’s your favourite,” he adds and kicks himself for that immediately. Honestly, what is he doing. “It lost its magic powers anyway.”
“I don’t understand half of what you’re saying most of the time, but this takes the cake,” Enjolras informs him, but he’s smiling. “Do you want some coffee?”
Anything, Grantaire wants to say, to stay for a little longer. But he shuffles his feet instead and shrugs. “I should go,” he offers, not an actual answer. “But I have something else for you,” he says, reaching into his bag.
He deliberated over this for much longer than he did about simply just coming here. But whatever, he can always play drunk afterwards and let Enjolras disapprove of his antics and that would be it. He’s an old hand at passing some of his remarks as drunken ramblings, god knows it’s a good line of defence. Plausible deniability and all that shit.
“How’s your headache?” he asks first and Enjolras grimaces, confirming the suspicions. It wasn’t quite a shot in the dark, but near enough to be a really serious fucking gamble. “This should help,” he says and hands him the dark green hoodie he brought. It’s old and worn out, he’s had it since high school.
Enjolras looks at him with suspicion but reaches out to take the offered garment anyway.
Grantaire is watching him carefully for any reaction, but he needn’t have made such an effort, it’s plain there on Enjolras’ face to see, confusion and shock mixed with utter relief.
“What the fuck is going on, Grantaire,” he asks, and there’s little of his usual forcefulness despite the coarse words; he sounds lost.
“I don’t know. But this helps,” he gestures at the hoodie and then, before he can talk himself out of this, reaches out to touch Enjolras’ arms. “This helps.”
He doesn’t expect Enjolras to move and pull him close into a hug, Enjolras’ hand cradling the back of his head, with Grantaire’s face buried in his neck.
Grantaire makes an undignified sound and breathes in harshly. He thinks he might be shaking, and that Enjolras’ hold on him might be the only thing keeping him up right now. He feels the overwhelming relief resonate in his bones.
He didn’t think he’d get to have this, not him and definitely not... not the other him, from long ago.
He starts to pull away slowly and Enjolras lets him disentangle them, even if he seems reluctant. Could be Grantaire’s wishful thinking, but then again, he’s also apparently an excellent migraine cure, better than a pill or a heating pad, so there’s that.
“I really need to go,” he says. It’s too much to stay.
Enjolras nods at him and heads for the door, to open them for Grantaire like the good host he is, but then hesitates in the hallway. “Wait,” he says, enough of a command for Grantaire to obey, and disappears in the general direction of his bedroom for a moment just to come back with a dark shirt in his hands. It’s the same one he was wearing yesterday. “Hostage exchange,” he offers, smiling lightly, before tilting his head in serious question. “You said it helps?”
“Yeah. Thanks,” Grantaire says. He doesn’t trust himself with saying anything more, so he packs up the shirt and leaves.
They’re hosting an open meeting on Monday, with a member of Peace Corps, there to talk about the program. Enjolras has known James for a while and actually likes him, and he’s been the one to initiate the meeting in the first place, but he finds himself distracted today.
Not due to the lack of sleep, for a change, because he slept just fine. Grantaire’s idea proved a good one.
He doesn’t know what that means, that Grantaire is going through the same thing. Or is it the same thing, are those just the headaches and the twisting in the gut whenever they’re apart? Or does he remember their...
Past lives? It’s ridiculous and impossible.
“He’ll be here,” Combeferre says, sliding into his usual spot next to Enjolras. At Enjolras’ look, he smiles. “Grantaire. You’ve been watching the door for the past half an hour, it’s even more obvious than usually. Relax, he doesn’t miss meetings and you know that.”
Well, for one thing, he doesn’t know that he does.
And for the other, has he been that obvious? To Combeferre, if not to himself? There’s been moments, he knows, before this started, where he found himself watching Grantaire at the meetings and protests, where he felt inexplicably drawn to him. Grantaire was still on the edges of his consciousness, a constant presence in the corner of his eye, but he was becoming more; a permanent fixture somewhere deep inside.
And Enjolras noticed but hadn’t noticed.
Now it’s impossible to miss, impossible to ignore, and just impossible.
Now Grantaire is everywhere, filling his thoughts and dreams and concentrating his senses. It should be a nuisance but somehow isn’t, and if not for the headaches and the downright separation anxiety, he could make peace with this.
It’s terrifying, except where it’s not.
He catches Grantaire’s gaze the moment the man walks in and breathes in relief. At least maybe now he can have a constructive meeting.
Of course, that’s provided that Grantaire lets him, and there is a slim chance of that. He clearly tries to hold his tongue, even Enjolras has to give him that, but he offers his first snort five minutes into the meeting, and the first comment comes two minutes after, one that Enjolras can’t leave unresponded. It only spirals from there.
He thinks James is laughing at him and he knows Courfeyrac is, but Grantaire is being obtuse on purpose and he needs to point that out.
“Good show,” James tells him afterwards, patting him on the back.
“Always worth the price of admission,” Courfeyrac agrees. Figures they’d get along.
Grantaire finds him when the meeting ends, looking vaguely apologetic. “Didn’t mean to start the whole thing,” he offers.
“Yes you did,” Enjolras says, fighting a smile. Grantaire has no such qualms, his own crooked grin transforming his entire face.
“Yeah, I did,” he nods and then fishes out a packet wrapped in brown paper from his bag. “Exchange of hostages?” he asks and Enjolras nods, shedding his jacket to hand it to Grantaire.
“I’ll bring you your hoodie later,” he says. “Sorry, came here straight from class and...”
“That’s fine, I’m hanging on to your shirt as well. We’ll set up a meeting, I’ll send you a message via cut-out from newspapers.”
Enjolras is still laughing when he steps back, only to catch the wide-eyes gaze of Cosette, who glances between him and Grantaire. “It’s not...” he starts and she shakes her head then mimes zipping her lips.
He should probably explain that it really isn’t like that, but he doesn’t have any good excuses prepared and the truth would make it seem like he has finally snapped (which Courfeyrac has prophesied for months), so he lets it be. He has more important things to worry about, including a paper deadline.
He’s had a good schedule worked out and it’s almost done, today has been set out for clean-up and editing, but it’s going... well, pretty much as well as you can imagine. It’s going absolutely nowhere. Enjolras finds himself reading the same paragraph over and over and it makes less damn sense every time.
He’s after his third cup of coffee (of the evening, not of the day, come on) and his left eye is beginning to twitch. Grantaire’s shirt helps, at least with the headache, but not with the anxiety and general distraction, not with the cold feeling in his gut.
He’s already dialing before he can think of it and consider the pros and cons. Grantaire picks up after the third ring. “To what do I owe this pleasure?” he asks, a smile audible in his voice. He sounds like he’s drinking; not drunk, but on a good way there. He sounds lazy and relaxed and content. Enjolras shouldn’t have called.
“Sorry, I’m sure you’re busy,” he says. He can hear Bahorel talking in the background, and a woman laughing, most probably Eponine.
“Not that busy,” Grantaire says and the background noise becomes a little more muffled as he heads away from it. Then there’s the sound of a door being closed, Grantaire’s voice coming back much clearer. “What do you need?”
He doesn’t really know, that’s the problem; and he hasn’t expected it to be so freely given to begin with. “I have a paper due,” he says reluctantly and Grantaire laughs warmly.
“Want me to come over and hold your hand while you write it?”
“Handholding would defeat the purpose.”
“You can’t type with one hand? I’m disappointed in you, Enjolras. I’ll be there in five. Well, fifteen, maybe, Eponine dragged me to this bar and I don’t quite know where we ended up. Shouldn’t be long,” he says and disconnects before Enjolras can tell him he doesn’t have to come, doesn’t have to...
Grantaire makes it in seven minutes. His hair and his clothes smell heavily of cigarette smoke and his cheeks are flushed, eyes bright. He's clearly been on his way to getting drunk when Enjolras called. "You really didn't have to..." Enjolras starts.
"Shut up," Grantaire mutters and places his hand on Enjolras' shoulder, fingers accidentally brushing against his neck, as he passes him on the way inside. Enjolras shuts up.
His skin is tingling at the point of contact, his world zeroing in on Grantaire for those few seconds.
"So, paper due, huh?" Grantaire asks, already moving away. Enjolras misses his touch instantly. "You're the last person I'd suspect of leaving a thing like that till he last moment."
"I've written most of it during the past few weeks," Enjolras tells him primly, mildly offended. "I've moved onto editing now. I have a schedule," he adds.
"You are a crazy person," Grantaire mutters. "Fine, have it your way, schedule, Jesus. I'm gonna make coffee, do you want some?" He checks Enjolras' nod and moves on to the machine, starting it up. He opens three cupboards before he finds the mugs and hums to himself as he prepares the coffee maker, filling it with water and coffee beans. He swears when the beans spill over and bounce off the counter and onto the floor. "Sorry, I'll clean up in a moment."
Enjolras shrugs it off, not a big deal.
Except it is, to be honest. He realizes he has obsessive tendencies and someone making a mess in his kitchen usually drives him up the wall. This is why Courfeyrac and Bousset are not allowed there. And yet, with Grantaire, he watches the process with something warm unfurling in his chest, filling his veins. He likes the way Grantaire moves around comfortably and, god help him, he likes the mess.
The physical proof Grantaire is here, making a place for himself.
The coffee maker splutters and comes to a still. Grantaire looks at it suspiciously. "You have to..." Enjolras starts.
"Shh, don't interfere. If you step in, she's never going to respect me, it's a formative moment."
"It's not actually sentient," Enjolras tells him, watching with horrified amusement as Grantaire croons at the thing and runs his fingers over the chrome surface. "I honestly don't want to know what you are doing right now," he says.
"Quiet at the peanut gallery, we're bonding here. There's a good girl," he purrs to the machine and gently pushes the buttons. It comes alive under his hands with a quiet rumble and proceeds to smoothly produce rich brown coffee, filling the mugs. Grantaire mutters encouragements and continues to stroke the damn thing.
Enjolras shakes his head, partly because he's never seen something so ridiculous and partly because... Fuck, honestly, a grown up man shouldn't feel resentful towards a coffee machine. This whole thing is ridiculous and inconvenient and downright insane.
"Is your love affair going to take much longer? I'd offer to leave you two alone, but do have that paper to finish." And while his head is much clearer now that Grantaire is in his apartment, in his line of sight, his antics with the coffee machine are not exactly conducive to concentration.
"Hold your horses, Apollo, almost done," he says and reaches for paper towels, wiping off the smudges of spilt liquid, picking up the coffee beans that dropped earlier. Then he finally joins Enjolras on the couch, handing him one of the mugs.
Enjolras' fingers warm up instantly, but that's nothing compared to the warmth in his chest, in his stomach, coursing through his veins, when Grantaire gets so near.
Grantaire closes his eyes and breathes out, clearly affected just as much. "I don't understand this," Enjolras tells him, feeling lost and adrift. And still Grantaire is the only anchor he has, and if that's not petrifying he doesn't know what is.
Grantaire smiles thinly. "Join the club."
"We'll have to talk about this," Enjolras tells him, feeling like doing anything but that.
"Yeah. But I think you have that paper to write first," he offers and settles into the couch more comfortably, leaning against Enjolras' side. He brought his sketchbook along and places it at his side, busying himself with his coffee now, long fingers wrapped around the mug like it's something dear.
Enjolras opens his laptop and takes a sip of coffee. He feels mildly annoyed at the fact that it's better than the one he makes himself.
Grantaire falls asleep around the time Enjolras is furiously typing up a new conclusion. They've had a discussion about the previous conclusion section after Enjolras made the mistake of asking Grantaire for his opinion. It led to less of an argument than he expected but more, well, furious typing and revision.
It’s quiet when he wakes up, though, Enjolras has moved on from writing to reading, his laptop put away and a book in his right hand.
His left is carding through Grantaire’s hair absently, with Grantaire’s head pillowed on his thigh.
Grantaire isn’t quite sure how that happened, last he remembers he was sitting up, but he’s not going to complain. It’s not... it’s not all that surprising, they’ve already figured out the touching helps with whatever the fuck is going on, and Enjolras has always been a rather tactile person - Grantaire has been given his fair share of pats on the back and his arm gripped in the midst of an argument. (Half of the arguments he loses to Enjolras are lost because he gets distracted by this. The only reason Enjolras isn’t exploiting that is because he hasn’t noticed; Grantaire is proficient at pretending it’s all because he’s drunk.)
But this is a gentler touch than he’s used to, in fact it’s gentler than he would think Enjolras usually capable of, especially when it comes to Grantaire.
Not going to complain, at all. What Grantaire is going to do is lean into the touch without revealing he’s awake, he’s going to make the moment last for as long as possible, he’s going to... fuck it up by groaning with pleasure when Enjolras’ fingers find the right spot on the back of his neck.
Enjolras’ hand stills but he doesn’t move away.
“I’m not a stray cat,” Grantaire tells him, because there are other words pressing against his lips and saying them out loud would be courting disaster in ways even he isn’t comfortable with.
“I knew that,” Enjolras says, his tone serious, but the corner of his lips is pulled up in an almost smile. “How did you sleep?” he asks, as if he doesn’t know already.
“Better than I have in a long time,” he says honestly. He can see the dvd player from his vantage point, the bright green letters signalling he’s been out for less than three hours, but he feels rested, at peace.
Peaceful is not something that happens to him all that often.
Enjolras seems pleased at the admission though, relaxing almost imperceptibly; Grantaire would have missed that if they weren’t touching. His fingers move again, gentle on Grantaire’s neck, before he catches himself and clearly remembers Grantaire’s reproach.
Grantaire could kick himself, he really should.
“Good. Thanks again,” Enjolras offers, and yeah, there’s that, the main reason why he’s pleased Grantaire slept well - if he got some uninterrupted, painless sleep out of this, then Enjolras wasn’t completely taking advantage of him... Grantaire rolls his eyes mentally, because of course.
The deeply ingrained fairness and equality issues of Enjolras’ are, most of the time, actually attractive - when they’re not ridiculous. Like now, or like during any group outing when it comes to paying the bill. Enjolras will be the first to pick up the check, ready to pay for everyone, but the moment anyone insists on paying themselves, he’s going to pour over the numbers and have Combeferre check his calculations, to make sure no one pays a cent over what they should.
Courfeyrac and Eponine take great pleasure in changing their orders a few times and then sharing side dishes with everyone and stealing people’s fries, for the sole purpose of fucking with Enjolras when he gets like that.
Speaking of, fuck, he’s hungry. “How do you feel about breakfast?”
“Overrated but has its uses,” Enjolras tells him seriously. He holds Grantaire’s pointed gaze for three seconds before shrugging. “I could eat,” he offers.
“You’re gonna have to go outside for that,” Combeferre says, from where he’s leaning against the door to his room. Grantaire has no idea how long he’s been standing there. “The most nutritious thing we have in the kitchen is that spider behind the fridge.”
“I think it died of starvation last week,” Enjolras shrugs. Grantaire expects him to shift away, to feel emptiness and cold when he moves his hand away, but he doesn’t, doesn’t even flinch at the way Combeferre’s eyebrows are raised questioningly. “There’s coffee, though.”
“And toilet paper, so we have the essentials,” Combeferre agrees. “Buy some cereal on your way, maybe,” he adds and heads for the coffee machine. Grantaire shakes his head at the both of them and moves to sit up.
“The diner two streets down should be open by now, you should come with us.”
Combeferre nods, leaning against the kitchen counter as he stares at the coffee machine expectantly, as if watching it would make it work faster. “I would, but then again, there’s a perfectly fine bed back in my room and I don’t have class until midday. So, no chance in hell, you’re on your own,” he adds, turning his head enough to glance at Enjolras pointedly.
Grantaire isn’t sure what it means, but there is a hint of concern in Combeferre’s gaze, a hint of worry, and maybe he should forego breakfast and head home, or maybe straight to a bar. Except most are probably closed.
But they do end up in the diner, digging into the really enormous stacks of pancakes they serve there. Enjolras checks his messages on the phone and frowns at them as if they personally offended him, firing off quick replies as Grantaire gulps down his coffee.
“I wanted to say,” he starts and damnit, Enjolras actually puts down his phone, giving Grantaire his full attention. Grantaire chose his moment precisely to avoid this. “Sorry for the weirdness with Combeferre,” he says, gesturing between them but mostly at himself.
It gets him an unimpressed look. “Combeferre has known you for a while, I’m pretty sure he’s accustomed to your particular brand of weirdness.” He holds Grantaire’s gaze before sighing, running his hand through his hair, and leaning back in his chair. He stretches his legs with the movement, gently kicking Grantaire’s ankle. “I’m pretty sure that’s on me, and besides, Combeferre has been my roommate for the past three years, not to mention we’ve lived with Courfeyrac for a while. There really aren’t many things left capable of surprising him.”
“I don’t get this,” Grantaire says, and they both know he’s not talking about Combeferre. He’s talking about... this whole damn thing, whatever it is. “What the fuck is even...”
“Do I look like I have any idea?” Enjolras mutters, his tone taking on a frustrated tinge, and the thing is, he looks like he always does; unflappable, unshaken, like nothing could touch him (least of all Grantaire). He’s just on the opposite side of the booth and yet he seemed as painfully unattainable as he always has been.
His hand in Grantaire’s hair seems like a dream already,
“Don’t worry,” Enjolras says, and his voice is gentle again, comforting. Of course, the next words out of his mouth completely miss the point of Grantaire’s anxiety, so there’s that. “We’ll figure it out, things will get back to normal,” he says, more like he’s trying to convince himself and not Grantaire.
Obviously, because who the fuck would like to be in any way tied to Grantaire, dependent on him. Enjolras isn’t an idiot.
“I should go,” he says, fishing out his wallet. He can’t remember what the price on the pancakes was, so he’s going to fuck with Enjolras’ calculations. He drops the bills on the table and stands up, narrowly missing Enjolras’ hand as he reaches out. “Let me know if you need me for anything else,” he adds and heads out, ignoring Enjolras calling out his name.
He calls out only once, it’s easy to ignore.
Easier than ignoring the wave of nausea and the twisting in his stomach; he’s clearly eaten too much pancakes and too fast.
Yeah, let’s go with that, because the alternative is just fucking annoying.
“I got you Captain Crunch and you’re going to like it,” Enjolras informs Combeferre, who predictably has been lying about getting back to bed. He’s dressed and sitting at the kitchen counter, armed in post-its and highlighters, attacking the pile of papers in front of him.
“Everyone has their own burden,” Combeferre agrees. “How are you doing?” he asks, pointed.
And as much as Enjolras meant it earlier when he told Grantaire that Combeferre isn’t easily surprised, he’s also not easily silenced when he has something on his mind, and Enjolras has clearly given him some cause for concern.
“It’s nothing,” he says lightly and can practically taste the lie, bitter on his tongue.
What on earth did he say to make Grantaire run like that, practically flinch away from his attempt at touch, after he’s fallen asleep on Enjolras so comfortably just a short time before?
(And that’s another whole thing he’s not quite allowing himself to think about, how right that felt.)
“Clearly,” Combeferre nods, crossing his arms.
Enjolras sighs. You can’t win with Combeferre, he’s learned that one a long time ago. And you’re going to end up grateful you gave in as soon as you do.
He sits down at the counter, running his palm over his face before he speaks. “It’s going to sound insane,” he warns and starts. Combeferre listens attentively, without interruption, for a long while. Then he begins to ask questions, prompting Enjolras to elaborate on the details. Sometime in the middle of Enjolras’ account of his previous life he reaches for his laptop, typing without looking at the screen. When he glances down it’s only briefly, making sure he looks up at Enjolras as often as possible.
His questions get more specific, about dates, days, people. Enjolras speaks easily; he remembers most now. The details of the final night at the barricade are still a little hazy, but that’s more due to their hectic nature than to issues with his memory.
He realises he sounds insane, but at least Combeferre is polite enough not to say that right off the bat. “Alright, that’s basically it,” he says and can’t help but laugh, at the whole thing, at himself. “What do you think?”
“If this is an elaborate prank, then it’s incredibly well researched and Courf will be very proud of you.”
“That’s great, I live for his approval,” Enjolras says dryly. Combeferre nods magnanimously.
“He’ll be glad to know that,” he says before growing serious. “Fuck, I don’t know, Enjolras. It’s the same with Grantaire?”
“The headaches and all, yes. I don’t know... I don’t know what he remembers. If he remembers. You don’t,” he points out.
“I think I’m glad I missed out on that,” Combeferre says and stands up, starting on the coffee machine. It splutters at him and he opens the cupboard, rummaging in there for beans. “You don’t know if Grantaire remembers,” he prompts and Enjolras sighs. This is why talking to Combeferre is good for him, but why it is also the worst thing.
“I don’t know how to talk to him sometimes.”
“I’ve noticed,” Combeferre says noncommittally. He’s looking at Enjolras like he’s waiting for him to figure something out and sighs when the understanding doesn’t immediately dawn. “Alright. I’ll drive you for an MRI tomorrow, we’ll start there.”
“I thought you believed me.”
“I do. Do you believe yourself enough to risk it? I’d drag Grantaire there as well, if I thought he’d listen to me, but you’re the one who came to me talking of being a reincarnated French revolutionary.”
“I honestly hate it when you make sense.”
“As I said, everyone has their own burden.”
“You’re painting,” Eponine says, clearly determined to win the State the Obvious game.
Grantaire isn’t sure how long she’s been standing in the doorway; he’s had his headphones on for the past... whoever knows how long, he lost the track of time for a bit. She let herself in with the key he gave her for emergencies (which this isn’t) and then proceeded to scare him by, well, standing there when he turned.
“Well done, correct action identification,” he tells her, disentangling himself from the headphones cord and getting paint (well, more paint) in his hair again. “Give her a drink,” he tells the invisible bartender.
“And drinking,” she adds and wow, she’s really good at this game, full marks. At his look, she shrugs and picks up his beer, taking a swig. “Hey, no judgement. It’s five o’clock somewhere,” she adds.
“You’re a walking cliche, ‘Ponine.”
“Haters gonna hate,” she agrees and jumps onto the kitchen counter, swinging her legs. “So, you’re painting,” she repeats pointedly. Grantaire rolls his eyes at her.
“And that would be great news if I was working on the assignment piece, or on that commission I have due next week that is actually going to pay. Well, is going to pay if I finish it,” he mutters.
“And instead you’re painting... what is this, exactly?”
“Fuck if I know,” he shrugs. It’s only half a lie. It’s more realistic than most of his recent paintings and he’s sure Eponine can tell at least who the man in the centre is, there’s no lying about that. It’s the barricade, the one from his dreams... Memories. Dreams. And he still doesn’t know what this is, why it’s happening, why is he remembering that.
She nods, studying the painting. It’s a little better than the way she’s been watching him seconds ago, but only a little; he still feels too exposed as she takes in the painting, head tilted in thought. “It’s great, R. One of your best, I think. I guess you’re excused, if that’s the reason.”
“The reason... fuck, I missed the thing,” he mutters and she nods, smiling slightly when he smacks his palm over his forehead, and then wider when he takes the hand away. He probably has red paint all over his face now, lovely.
The ‘thing’ is a picnic slash bake sale slash fundraiser that Eponine has been planning with Jehan and Cosette. He should have remembered, he’s done posters for it a few weeks ago and helped Feuilly with the stand. “Sorry,” he tells her and she shrugs in the painting’s direction.
Mostly, though, he’s pissed he missed the cupcakes.
“I would like to say I saved you some red velvet, but we sold all of those fuckers,” Eponine tells him with satisfaction and downs the rest of the beer. “I’ve figured I’d check on you though. It was either me or Enjolras, so consider yourself lucky.”
“Enjolras,” he repeats flatly. He’s not sure what he surprises him more: that Enjolras was at the bake sale (granted though, it was for a cause) or that he noticed Grantaire wasn’t.
No, he’s being uncharitable again. It would have been true some time ago, but he’s pretty sure Enjolras is pretty damn aware when Grantaire isn’t around now. He’s called Grantaire once and left a polite message, sent him two shirts via Courf and has been keeping Grantaire updated on the whole medical tests spree Combeferre has him on. The texts are increasingly more sarcastic and frustrated, which is actually kind of the best thing.
The whole thing is too much and he’s being taunted with what he can’t have, so he’s determined to outwait it, hiding out in his apartment.
Yes, he knows, brilliant plan, just great. He’s being punished by a headache from hell, too.
“Yeah, you know you are fucked when Enjolras is concerned about you,” Eponine tells him, then peers at Grantaire suspiciously. It might be because he can’t hold back a groan before sitting next to her and banging his head on the kitchen counter. She pats his shoulder, and if it’s possible to pat someone’s shoulder sarcastically, she’s doing exactly that. “I should have let him come over, shouldn’t I.”
“No,” he says, too quickly.
She doesn’t call him on it, but purses her lips and asks if he wants to go out for a pizza. He would, but that seems to be a group outing, with Cosette and Marius and Joly, and that means more people will be roped into this (that always happens) and one of those people could be Enjolras. So he tells her he’s fine and promises to eat. She looks a little like she wants to check the state of his liquor cabinet, too, but instead she just punches his shoulder and tells him not to be an asshole and to call if he needs something.
Grantaire locks the door behind her and turns off his phone.
On the plus side, he finishes the painting.
On the downside, by nightfall the headache gets so bad he feels like puking and he only has himself to blame.
It gets him an embarrassingly long time to realise that the pounding he hears isn’t just in his head but is actually someone at the door, and by then Enjolras actually calls out his name.
The first thing he says when Grantaire opens the door is, Grantaire shits you not, “Why do you insist on being difficult.” He sounds really put upon, too.
“I told Eponine I’m fine,” Grantaire points out.
“Lying through your teeth.”
“And how the hell would you know that?”
Enjolras gives him a look, like Grantaire is being particularly dense. “Because I’m not,” he offers and, oh.
He looks like shit, now that Grantaire can concentrate and his vision isn’t blurry anymore. He looks worse than he did last year when he took every damn elective on the planet and completely failed to think it through and consider how it would be come finals time. He looks like he hasn't slept much and eaten less. He looks wrecked.
"Sorry," Grantaire offers, because that's his fault too, he just hasn't thought how his hiding out would affect Enjolras.
The brief look that passes through Enjolras face couldn't be interpreted as anything else but completely pissed off, and Grantaire wants to apologize again and ask what he's done now except he realizes with some surprise that Enjolras is pissed at him on Grantaire's own behalf. "Don't apologize. Shit," he mutters, running his hand over is face. He bites his lip, looking at Grantaire in consideration, and honestly, that's just patently unfair. "Can I come in?"
Grantaire wordlessly steps out of the way and lets him in, it's the least he can do. When the door closes Enjolras reaches out instinctively and then hesitates, lets his hand drop as if unsure if it'd be welcome.
Hysterical laughter bubbles up in Grantaire and comes out as a muffled snort. Enjolras looks away from him and that's when he sees the painting. Grantaire feels him go completely still, caught on an inhale and tensing up.
There's no mistaking the fact that it's a painting of Enjolras, even if you can't see the man's features; the posture and the hair are unmistakable. But he's pretty sure that's not what makes Enjolras clench his fist to the point where his knuckles go white.
"You remember," he says quietly, barely above a whisper.
Grantaire breathes out.
It takes him a long few moments before he dares to look at Enjolars’ face. His eyes are fixed on the painting still, bright and too blue; his face is flushed and his expression is one of awe. Grantaire’s stomach twists painfully, rush of heat filling his veins.
“I wasn’t sure I haven’t imagined that.”
“Well, it might ease Combeferre’s mind, he’s still not convinced I’m not delusional,” Enjolras says brightly and turns to him. This time he doesn’t hesitate before reaching out, his fingers encircling Grantaire’s wrist. His skin burns at the touch. “May I...”
“Please,” he says, the word ripped out of him before he can even consider his answer. He finds himself swiftly pulled closer, Enjolras’ arms going up around him, his head bowed to fit in the crook of Grantaire’s neck. They’re both breathing harshly and Grantaire can feel his hands aren’t the only ones shaking.
It doesn’t take them long to relax against each other, though, and Grantaire is amazed, petrified, at how well they fit together, slotted against one another like two pieces of the same puzzle. He lets himself breathe in Enjolras, lets himself run his hand through Enjolras’ hair and tangle the other in his shirt.
He can practically feel the shape of Enjolras’ mouth against his neck as it forms a smile. “Thank you,” Enjolras says and Grantaire doesn’t know what could he mean. Is he thanking him for the painting or for remembering, for being the only other person to remember at all? Is he thanking Grantaire for allowing them to touch like this, or is this about Grantaire dying in the previous life, for the cause, for Enjolras, with Enjolras?
None of those should warrant Enjolras’ gratitude.
He lets Enjolras hold him anyway, for as long as he wants to. Time stretches out around them, irrelevant, their breathing slowing down, matching. Grantaire can feel Enjolras’ heartbeat under his fingertips and he’s pretty sure his own rushes to match.
“I should...” Enjolras starts, pulling away but not letting go of the back of Grantaire’s neck, his hand a comforting weight there. He abandons the sentence midway and shakes his head at himself before trying again. “How did you sleep these past few days?”
Lying probably wouldn’t do him any good, Grantaire supposes. “As well as you can probably imagine.”
“That bad, then,” Enjolras mutters and Grantaire can’t help but shrug and grin softly at his disgruntled tone. “Alright. Would you mind if I stayed the night, then?”
Would he mind... would... Oh, for fuck’s sake, this whole thing was insane to begin with, but this takes the cake. He probably stares at Enjolras for too long, because the man starts to backpedal.
“I’m just saying, this could help...”
“Stay,” Grantaire tells him. “I’m guessing you haven’t slept well either,” he adds and steps away reluctantly, slipping away from Enjolras’ grasp. “Do you need something to sleep in?”
“T-shirt and some pants would be great,” Enjolras agrees. It’s much less awkward than it would have been a week ago, considering they’ve been wearing each other’s clothes almost exclusively for the past few days.
So, he’s not freaking out about that, but he is freaking out about the fact that in a few moments he will be sharing his bed with Enjolras. It doesn’t even matter that it clearly is platonic and just for convenience’s sake, so they both might get some decent sleep. It’s still more than...
He gets Enjolras a pair of pajama pants and an old worn-out t-shirt and finds one of the good towels, telling him that bathroom is all his. It gives Grantaire time to silently panic and freak out and then rush to make sure nothing particularly embarrassing could be immediately found in the bedroom. And once Enjolras is done, he continues the freak out mode in the bathroom, brushing his teeth and staring at himself in the mirror. The shades under his eyes only accentuate the panic, so that’s great.
Enjolras is already under the covers, propped up against the pillows but with his eyes closed. Grantaire turns off the light because it’s better than staring like an idiot, trying to commit the image to memory and hating himself for it.
Well, he doesn’t have to try, he’s unlikely to forget the sight of Enjolras in his bed.
He stumbles getting in (obviously, why would he not) and Enjolras shifts to the side to make more room. But it’s not like Grantaire’s bed is big and they still end up close, touching their shoulders together.
Enjolras moves again, rolling to his side, head propped up on his elbow, looking at Grantaire in the darkness. He reaches out, hand flat on Grantaire’s chest, as if to steady him. It’s comforting. Grantaire expected awkwardness, forced stillness and bumping elbows, but it’s comfortable, it’s easy. He’s not sure if it’s a side effect of the whole thing but they fit easily again, like Enjolras belongs in Grantaire’s bed, like they could, should, have this.
Grantaire had no idea you could feel this peaceful and this petrified at the same time.
“I’m glad it’s you,” Enjolras says and Grantaire is both glad and disappointed that he can’t see the look in his eyes. It could mean a number of things again, but Enjolras is still wrong.
“I’m the last person you needed in your revolution, Apollo, and that’s still true.”
“Grantaire,” he mutters, sounding sad and reproachful. “Why do you always think so little of yourself?”
He doesn’t think Enjolras would be satisfied with any response Grantaire might offer to this, so in lieu of answering, he tangles their fingers together and shifts down so he’s facing Enjolras, their breathing evening out. Enjolras sighs but allows him this and Grantaire closes his eyes, letting sleep claim him.
He wakes up all wrapped up in Grantaire, their legs tangled together and Grantaire’s head pillowed on his chest. He makes a noise of protest deep in his throat when Enjolras shifts to move his arm, which has fallen asleep. The groan turns into one of satisfaction when Enjolras puts that arm around him.
Enjolras can feel something tender and soft stir inside his chest, under the ribcage, swelling with affection.
He knows Grantaire hasn’t believed him yesterday, but he has spoken true; there’s no one he’d rather have remember than Grantaire. His own recollection of their previous lives is... he knows it was real, he knows he’s been there, but there’s a distance when he thinks of it, and it’s not only about the time. It has been a lifetime ago in more ways than one. They’re both different now, in a myriad of ways, and the same in only a few.
Grantaire is happier now. Not happy, perhaps, not unconditionally and truly, but he smiles more, he loves his friends and enjoys himself often, if sometimes at Enjolras’ expense. Enjolras prefers this. But there’s still a shadow there in his mind, he still doesn’t think much of himself, and Enjolras doesn’t know what to do to help him see.
“Jesus fuck, do you always think this much first thing in the morning?” Grantaire mutters into his chest. “It’s a serious problem, Apollo, stop that,” he says, raising his head and resting his chin on Enjolras’ chest, looking up at him.
Enjolras feels words bubbling to the surface in him, stopping in his throat. He can’t yet say them. In the past, he’s been known to compose full speeches for the purpose of convincing Grantaire to something, even though he hasn’t consciously realised that’s what his careful arguments were for.
But he has a habit he’d rather not cultivate, of saying the wrong thing to Grantaire, or the right thing at absolutely wrong time, and he can’t say the words now. He shakes his head instead.
“That’s what you’re choosing to complain about? Have you actually met me?”
Grantaire snorts, his breath tickling Enjolras’ chin. “Once or twice, yeah. But I hadn’t realised you’d make for such a great pillow though.”
“Glad to be of service,” Enjolras tells him and grimaces when a shadow passes across Grantaire’s face. So he did manage to say something wrong.
Grantaire pulls away, kneeling up on the side of the bed, peering at the time on the alarm clock. “I should get going, today is the class day.”
“Do you honestly have only one class a week?” It still manages to surprise Enjolras. What he means is, how, how on earth.
“And studio, but yeah. Admit it, you wish you were me,” he says mockingly and Enjolras gives him a look.
“You have one class,” he points out.
“I forgot who I was talking to,” Grantaire mutters in the general direction of the ceiling, or the universe. “Hey, thanks,” he says, growing serious again, too serious. Enjolras knows they should talk, but he liked the smile too much.
“All pleasure’s on my side, I’m sure,” he says and moves to get up, picking up his shirt from the back of the chair where he left it last evening. “I’ll see you at the meeting, right?”
“I have no decent plans for tonight, so I just might be there,” he nods, as if they both don’t know he will come.
Grantaire sends a text that he got held up and he might be a bit late to the meeting. Enjolras frowns at his phone and then allows the conversations before the meeting to run long, allows Marius to finish the story about the dinner he had with Cosette’s father and how wonderful the man is.
Combeferre keeps giving him pointed looks, but honestly, it’s not like Enjolras hasn’t postponed meetings before, if someone was running late.
“Not for Grantaire though,” Combeferre points out.
“Grantaire hasn’t called or texted ahead, before,” Enjolras shoots back and swears internally when it draws Courfeyrac’s attention, who seem all too pleased by this recent development. Honestly, everyone should mind their own business.
Well, maybe not Combeferre, he needs Combeferre.
“Great, we can start now,” Combeferre says, but he’s smiling. And sure enough, Grantaire makes it through the door, shrugging off his coat.
“Hey, Enjolras, is that your shirt?” Courfeyrac asks in a scenic whisper and is promptly ignored. “What, are we not talking about the fact that this has been going on for the past week or so?” he mutters.
Combeferre clears his throat and starts the meeting, talking about the responses they had after the last one. Enjolras makes a beckoning gesture at Grantaire and pointedly ignores both the fact that Grantaire looks surprised by that and that Courfeyrac starts laughing into his sleeve.
Grantaire slides onto the chair next to him and somehow it makes it easier, to breathe, to concentrate on Combeferre’s voice, everything.
“Was it that bad today?” Grantaire asks quietly, looking confused. “I don’t think I even had a headache, but...”
Neither had Enjolras, he realises now. He hadn’t even thought about it for the whole day, there was no pain at all, no nausea, nothing. He still feels relieved to see Grantaire, to touch him, even if it’s just their thighs pressed close; but it has nothing to do with the, with the thing.
“No, it was fine,” he says flatly and turns his attention to Combeferre, even though he remains completely aware of Grantaire right next to him, more aware than he’s ever been of anyone or anything.
This becomes a pattern, during the next few weeks. The headaches are mild when they appear, to the point where Enjolras forgets how this whole thing has even started, but he becomes all tangled up in Grantaire all the same. They sit close at the meetings and spend every other night together, touch frequently and keep on borrowing clothes (that Enjolras tries to give back and Grantaire always forgets to. so at some point they practically exchange wardrobes).
Courfeyrac gives up the jokes at some point, because he’s almost out of material. It’s a blessing.
There are moments when Enjolras almost takes that one step forward, almost leans in and kisses Grantaire, because it would be so easy and they’re so close already, but he always hesitates and always talks himself out of this. It’s too good, too comfortable, and, with fear coiling coldly in his stomach, he thinks he doesn’t want to lose this.
And then there’s the week of Christopher’s wedding to Genevieve, one that Enjolras is required to attend even though family gatherings make him want to commit murder. He’s pretty sure he’d get away with it, too, if he got Combeferre to help him with body disposal.
“How’s that going to work with,” Grantaire asks, gesturing between them. They keep referring to the whole thing as the thing and it’s beginning to be ridiculous.
Well, maybe not beginning.
“I don’t know,” he admits and tugs at Grantaire’s hand. Grantaire doesn’t resist and ends up draped half over him as the Star Trek original series marathon keeps playing on tv. “You could come with me,” he offers impulsively, even though he knows the answer.
He wants to be wrong, though, and he hadn’t realised how badly.
Grantaire snorts, as if that had been a joke, and shakes his head. “I’m terrible at weddings, jesus. Black hole of despair, exactly what every bride wants. Besides, I have that deadline.”
Enjolras purses his lips and frowns and lets it go, asks how the painting is coming along. At least that’s a subject that brings some enthusiasm back into Grantaire.
So, he goes to the wedding alone, and it turns out that the thing really fucking disapproves. It’s fine until the airport but when the plane takes off, practically the moment they leave the ground behind, he’s hit by a wave of nausea and a pain that can’t be explained by issues with flying (which he doesn’t have).
The flight attendant fusses over him with sympathy, offers him water and painkiller, and he forces a smile and lies that he’ll be fine when they land.
He calls Grantaire the moment he can, fingers stumbling over the keys as he frantically dials. “I’m so sorry,” he says when Grantaire picks up, sounding wrecked.
“Jesus fuck, if I had known, I might have chosen the fucking wedding over this,” Grantaire mutters. “Actually, no, weddings are the worst. But this thing is not much better, can you please tell me why? Why us? I know I have sinned, but this is getting ridiculous.”
“I’m sorry,” he says again and Grantaire laughs, not unkindly.
“I don’t think it’s your fault, Apollo, though we might have seen this coming. The universe is a bitch.”
“You should stay at my place,” he says, and he hasn’t really thought about it, the words just spilling out of his mouth. “I’ll call ahead for Combeferre, he’ll get you the spare key.” He sighs when Grantaire doesn’t say anything. “If clothes help, this should help too.”
“And what about you?”
“I’m pretty sure I’ll feel better when you do.”
“I’d coo and say it’s very sweet of you, but I suspect this is just sheer logic,” Grantaire tells him, and he’s smiling, Enjolras can tell. That does actually make him feel slightly better already. “Alright, that sounds like a plan. Call me when... call me if you want,” he corrects himself and Enjolras doesn’t like the hesitance in his voice, the uncertainty, but he’s too tired and his head hurts too much to get into this now.
“I will,” he promises instead and disconnects before calling Combeferre and telling him Grantaire will be coming over and to please not be so audibly smug at him over the phone.
He tries to keep his promise and talk to Grantaire, but the next two days are hectic with wedding preparations and family gatherings and whenever he does have a moment and dials, the call goes straight to voicemail. He’d be more worried, but Combeferre says Grantaire’s fine.
The fact that his headaches are bearable and he can function like a semi-normal person support Combeferre’s assurances, but Enjolras would feel better if he actually got through to Grantaire.
When he finally does answer, Grantaire sounds exhausted and sleepy and if Enjolras had any brain at all, he’d ascertain he’s alive and let it go. But he’s been dealing with his family for two days now and he’s getting a new headache that’s entirely unconnected to the thing, and well.
“What’s the point of me calling, if you’re not going to pick up?” he asks, and well. You can see where it goes wrong.
“I told you I had that deadline, Apollo.”
“And you’re working on that 24/7?” he says, not bothering to hide the doubt from his voice and Grantaire huffs in annoyance.
“I went to the bar with Bahorel and I got exceptionally drunk, is that what you wanted to hear? If you really needed to talk to me, you should have just called the bar landline, they know me well enough.”
“I don’t doubt that,” Enjolras says and swears at himself and at how cutting he sounds to his own ears. “Grantaire,” he starts and sighs.
“What’s so important, Apollo?” he asks, sounding resigned, still exhausted.
Enjolras swallows the guilt and the frustration (with himself, with Grantaire, with everything) and sighs again, letting the anger melt away. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have disturbed you,” he says politely.
“I’ve had a long day,” he admits. “I’ve managed to piss off my father, disappoint my mother, and... you know what happens when you have a headache at a wedding and aren’t in mood for smalltalk and, well, basically...”
“People assume you’re bitter,” Grantaire supplies helpfully. “Been there, only as you can imagine, I also got spectacularly drunk,” he adds, clearly daring Enjolras to comment on that and Enjolras bites his lip because no, he’s not going to.
“Do you know what happens in a hypothetical situation where you also used to date the bride in high school?”
This manages to surprise Grantaire into a loud laugh, so at least Enjolras has achieved that. It makes him feel better than he had for the entire day, and this is why he called, why he needed to talk to Grantaire, hear his voice. And then obviously he said the wrong thing again and almost screwed it up.
“It can’t be that bad unless the bride took you at face value and offered to run away with you,” Grantaire says, still laughing, then falls silent when Enjolras doesn’t say anything. “Apollo? Oh, for god’s sake, only you,” he mutters, clearly amused.
“Yes, well. Tell me about your day,” he says, because talking about this is even more mortifying than actually going through the conversation with Genevieve.
“I told you, I had a deadline, so I painted a lot. Then I drunk a lot,” he adds, a challenge in his tone again, like he wants Enjolras to yell at him about that.
“Tell me about the painting.”
“You don’t honestly want to hear me prattle about that.”
“I do,” Enjolras says quietly and Grantaire is silent for a very long moment, like he’s trying to judge how sincere that response was. And then he starts talking, his tone soft and increasingly excited and Enjolras settles against the pillow more comfortably to listen.
Grantaire has never spent much time in airports; he’s flown twice in his life and rarely has the occasion to pick someone up from one, but he likes them quite a bit. People move with purpose around him, but then there are ones who just wait, folded into the plastic chairs or sprawling on the benches, waiting to check in or waiting for someone they love. Just waiting.
He brought his sketchbook and the two paperbacks he’s currently in the middle of, but they’re all safely tucked inside his bag and he chooses to watch the people around him when he’s not staring at the arrivals board.
The relevant number has just changed to green.
It takes only few minutes before his cellphone is ringing. “I’ve landed,” Enjolras says, sounding a little breathless.
“I know, and only half an hour late, well done,” Grantaire says flatly. They hadn’t discussed this, Enjolras isn’t expecting him here. Grantaire almost talked himself out of coming in the morning but he kept pacing the room and his stomach was turning with anxiety and he’d be useless if he chose to do anything else today, so.
Here he is.
“You’re here,” Enjolras says and it has to be a good thing, he doesn’t sound angry or annoyed or... “Where are you?”
“By the arrivals gate, where do you think. I’m the one in the green shirt and with tragic hair, you can’t miss me. On the second thought, do you want me to make a cardboard sign?”
“You are ridiculous,” Enjolras says, and he sounds fond, of all the things. “Wait there. I’ll be right there,” he assures and disconnects and Grantaire shuffles his feet and sticks his hands into his pockets and waits.
Sure enough, there’s Enjolras, there’s no missing that hair of his among the sea of people. He’s smiling and he’s breathtaking, he always is, but even more so now, despite the clear weariness, his smile is wide and happy and...
He drops his suitcase and his hands are on the sides of Grantaire’s face and Grantaire expected a hug, he was waiting for it, but then Enjolras is kissing him, really kissing him, and his world is spinning out of control.
He lets himself have this, the small moment of sheer perfection, Enjolras hand on his neck, in his hair, Grantaire’s resting on the small of his back. They’re unbelievably close, pressed together with no space for a breath, Enjolras exploring his mouth like he’s longed for the taste. Like he’s waited for this, like Grantaire has, for years, for lifetimes.
“So, you missed me,” Grantaire jokes when they pull apart. Two girls giggle while passing by, and the sounds of the airport filter back in, as the world around them apparently still exists. “Were the headaches really that bad?” he adds and Enjolras shakes his head and pulls him close again.
His hand is on Grantaire’s cheek, forcing him to look up at him. “I did miss you,” he says, his tone forceful, as if they’re having an argument on politics and he thinks Grantaire is wrong and could he please get the point finally. Grantaire actually liked this tone before, but now it goes straight to his dick. And his heart. It’s a problem. “Can we go home?” Enjolras asks and Grantaire rarely can deny him anything and he never could deny him this.
Enjolras keeps a hand on him all the way to the cab, like he needs to be touching Grantaire; on his back, on his arm. In the cab he reaches out to tangle their fingers together and then gives the driver Grantaire’s address.
Grantaire squeezes his hand too hard at that, floored that this could be what Enjolras has meant when he said home.
“Is this alright?” Enjolras asks, sounding concerned and uncertain.
Grantaire can’t even.
“I’m not quite sure what the whole trip has done to you, but I think I’m enjoying this.”
Enjolras shakes his head. “I’ve wanted this for a long time. It’s only that when I saw you waiting at the airport I didn’t have the time to talk myself out of kissing you,” he says and then frowns at Grantaire. That’s not a good thing, Grantaire wants to go back to the smiles. “Is this alright?” he asks again. Like it could be not. Like Grantaire could not want this.
“Yes. And we need to be back home soon, so I can show you exactly how alright this is,” he says, leaning in to kiss the frown away. Enjolras shivers under his lips, honest to god shivers, and pulls him closer, kissing him hungrily again.
They stumble out of the cab when it stops in front of Grantaire’s place, and Grantaire is pretty sure Enjolras overpays for the ride because he doesn’t even look at the bills he takes out of his wallet. They kiss on the stairwell and Grantaire stubs his toes against the suitcase, and he’s bound to have a pretty awesome bruise from the doorknob, from where it digs into his back when they kiss against the door, Enjolras’ knee between his legs, Grantaire’s hand in Enjolras’ back pocket.
They shed clothes on their way in and Grantaire pretty much hyperventilates when he pushes Enjolras’ shirt off his shoulders, but he can’t freak out now, not when there’s Enjolras’ collarbone he can kiss, not when he can run his hands all over that chest. Enjolras retaliates by sticking his hand down Grantaire’s pants, palming his dick, and holy fuck.
“R,” Enjolras starts, pulling away, and no, this is the opposite of what Grantaire wants. “Wait, just...”
“If you’re going to ask if this is alright again, then I’m going to kick you out and go straight for the liquor cabinet,” Grantaire threatens and punctuates it with a bite to Enjolras’ shoulder. Enjolras tries to laugh and groan and glare at the same time.
It shouldn’t be attractive, and yet.
“I was going to suggest moving this to the bedroom.”
“You sound way too coherent, how can I make sure that doesn’t happen again?” he asks, already pulling at the zipper of Enjolras’ pants. Enjolras groans and stumbles when the back of his legs hit the bed, and he pulls at Grantaire’s hand again, and they fall onto the bed together, kissing again.
“More of this,” Enjolras says helpfully, kicking off his shoes. It’s uncoordinated and clumsy and he knocks something over and Grantaire has never loved him more than now, when he grins sheepishly and breathes harshly and reaches out to touch Grantaire, to get him ever so closer. “You have no idea how much I’ve wanted this.”
Grantaire laughs into his mouth, because he has trouble believing this. He has a tangible proof Enjolras wants him enough, sure, but there’s no words for how he wants Enjolras, no language that could encompass all of the deep-seated need for Enjolras that’s etched into his bones and drowned in his blood. But Enjolras wants him enough, and that’s amazing all in itself.
“Fuck, I love you,” he mutters against Enjolras’ lips, completely unprepared for the way it prompts Enjolras to kiss him back, eager and desperate, like he’s trying to devour Grantaire. He moans, licking into Grantaire’s mouth, and moving his hips, rubbing himself off against Grantaire.
There’s a whole number of things Grantaire would like to do (no, really, he has a list), but most of them would mean having to stop kissing Enjolras, and that simply isn’t an option, so he just tumbles to finish undoing Enjolras’ pants. Enjolras groans and attempts to help, his hand closing around Grantaire’s dick, and Grantaire shivers and bites his lip, draws it between his teeth.
They find a rhythm rather quickly, breathing harshly between kisses, and Enjolras places his left hand on the back of Grantaire’s neck and right before he’s coming, he brings their foreheads together.
They kiss lazily afterwards, Grantaire falling forward, probably too heavy for Enjolras, but it doesn’t seem like he minds, keeping him in place, hand carding through Grantaire’s hair with amazing tenderness.
“We should have done this a long time ago,” he mutters against Grantaire’s skin, but there’s no regret in his voice, only a soft promise that there will be more. Grantaire hides his face in Enjolras’ neck and, for now, lets himself hope.
Grantaire wakes up to Enjolras kissing his way down his neck, muttering words against his skin that Grantaire can’t make out but wants to keep forever.
He closes his eyes tight immediately, wishing for the dream to last as long as possible, and then remembers, he’s not actually dreaming. Yesterday has happened. This is happening.
Enjolras’ mouth slides lower, joined by his hands as he explores Grantaire’s chest and oh God.
“Enjolras,” he says, pleading. He doesn’t know what he’s actually pleading for, he only knows he’s on the verge of begging and Enjolras is still moving downwards and yeah, that, there.
“Mhm, morning,” Enjolras mutters against his skin and looks up, his eyes warm and bright, the corner of his lips pulled up by a smile.
Okay, so maybe Grantaire is still dreaming, or maybe he died (again) and this is the best heaven ever, or maybe he’s hallucinating, or maybe...
“You think too much, it’s a problem,” Enjolras tells him and grins, like the asshole he is, and oh fuck, he’s licking at Grantaire’s dick and his brain short-circuits and goes bye bye and he can’t quite come out with the scathing response he had ready.
Mostly ready. It was a work in progress.
He’s only able to repeat Enjolras’ name, over and over, to the point where it should lose all it’s meaning and become weird, but it never does, it means more each time, and everything is Enjolras, everything.
Grantaire reaches out, because he needs to be touching him more, needs more of this, needs him closer, and Enjolras hums around him, sounding like he’s pleased and happy and, well, Grantaire comes embarrassingly fast but yeah, no, he’s not embarrassed by it at all, he’s fucking ecstatic.
“Come here,” he asks of Enjolras, reaching out, finding the right thing to plead for now. “Please come here,” he says and Enjolras does, his movement slow and lazy, and he’s kissing Grantaire again, his dick rock hard against Grantaire’s thigh, and he makes the best, the absolute best sounds when Grantaire starts stroking him, as slow as he can, wanting to draw this moment out for forever.
Well, for the given value of forever, which is until Enjolras groans and tosses his head back and says, through gritted teeth, “Grantaire, if you don’t hurry the fuck up I’m going to do something drastic.”
To be honest, Grantaire is the tiniest bit curious as to what this might entail, but no one can say he’s an inconsiderate lover, so he slides down and takes Enjolras into his mouth, not willing to stop until Enjolras comes, gripping Grantaire’s hair and swearing under his breath.
They shower together in Grantaire’s tiny bathroom and then Enjolras drags him out for coffee and breakfast. They have to part for a while when Enjolras has class he can’t miss, and he actually sounds reluctant when he says that, and the thought that if he could, Enjolras would choose wasting time with him rather than go to class thrills Grantaire.
They meet again for the meeting and for once Grantaire arrives early, not quite sure if he should, not quite sure how Enjolras is going to react now they’re in public and among people who know them.
Enjolras looks up from a conversation he’s having with Combeferre and Feuilly, and it sounds serious and important and Grantaire loathes to interrupt, but then Enjolras looks up and smiles, first absently then with more focus when he concentrates on Grantaire fully, his eyes flicking over him, like he’s cataloguing the details.
“Haven’t seen you in a while,” Enjolras says, smiling, and Jesus fucking Christ in heaven, is this Enjolras flirting? In public?
Courfeyrac grins like it’s Christmas, Grantaire can see him.
It gets even worse when it quickly turns out that if they kept touching a ridiculous amount before, now it’s practically impossible to keep their hands off each other. Grantaire doesn’t mind the jokes that causes but he thinks Enjolras will never live them down.
To his credit, he doesn’t seem like he minds either.
Grantaire doesn’t know how long this will last, how long this could last (experience says, not that long), but for now he feels happy. He’s not even regretting the fact that it will eventually end because he would have had this, Enjolras, this, and it’s more than he could have hoped for.
It all goes to hell on a Thursday afternoon, and blindsides Enjolras completely. It’s true, sometimes (often) he does say the wrong thing, says something cutting and unthinking and cruel, but how does this qualifies he couldn’t tell.
The day starts well enough. The weather has been moody for the past few days but it’s really having it all out now; it’s been raining heavily since early morning and for once Enjolras is happy his class was cancelled because they can stay in, sprawled on the couch, each lost in their own book.
They’ve already fucked this morning, on this very couch, slowly and lazily, with Grantaire in Enjolras’ lap, touching himself when and how Enjolras told him to. They’ve taken a shower and ate leftover Chinese and Enjolras let Grantaire sketch him; something he doesn’t quite like because feels like he’s supposed to stay still, but he does like the look of concentration on Grantaire’s face, the way his eyes are clear and alert and the way he takes in Enjolras, his eyes raking over him, studying him.
Enjolras picked up a book in the middle of it, assuming that if it disturbed Grantaire’s process he’d be told, but Grantaire continued with the sketch before fishing out his own paperback when he was done. Enjolras’ legs are thrown over his lap and every once in a while Grantaire runs a hand up his thigh; no purpose behind it, just an absent-minded caress, just a fulfillment of the need Enjolras knows well; of needing to touch as much as possible, all the time.
It’s a good day, and then he ruins it.
“You want some coffee?” he asks, moving to stand up. Grantaire frowns at him, pulled out of his novel and trying to make out some sense of the words.
He nods and then shrugs. “You sure you don’t want me to make it? She likes me better,” he says smugly and he might be ridiculous, but he’s not wrong; the coffee machine behaves better for him than it does for either Enjolras or Combeferre.
Enjolras realises it’s insane, but it’s still somehow true. “You’re ridiculous,” he tells Grantaire anyway, fondly, and half kneels on the couch to hover over Grantaire and kiss his forehead, then the dip of his nose. “I love you,” he offers, brushing his lips against Grantaire’s, and feels him shudder.
Grantaire reaches out, steadying hand on Enjolras chest, and he’s shaking, looking hurt, angry, for some reason Enjolras can’t fathom.
“Since when?” he asks, and what sort of question is this?
Enjolras doesn’t even know the answer, he’s been head over heels before he even noticed and what sort of question is that. “I don’t know, a while, does it matter?” he asks and it’s clearly the worst thing to say because Grantaire snorts bitterly and shakes his head, pushing Enjolras away, gentle but firm, and stands up.
“Of course it matters, Apollo,” he says, and there it is, the nickname that he might consider teasing and benign but Enjolras knows he only wields it when he’s trying to distance himself from Enjolras, when it’s bad, when he hurts for some reason. Enjolras wants to reach out and pull him close but he’s clearly unwelcome now. “Could you love me before you remembered?” he asks and it doesn’t make sense.
“You didn’t think much of me before, did you. And if you love me for dying with you, for being that man, let me tell you, Apollo, I’m not. I don’t think even he was that man; he didn’t die for your cause, didn’t care about anything but... You love a shadow of a man, one that doesn’t exist, and not me. And I don’t think I can take this. I thought I could, but...” he shakes his head again and moves to leave, takes the few steps towards the door before the pain hits him.
Enjolras can feel it in his stomach, like he’s been punched in the gut; in his chest, like he’s heart is being ripped out. He can feel it, but he thinks it’s a mere echo compared to what hits Grantaire, who’s the one leaving. He doubles over and crumbles to his knees, swearing. “You fucking bitch, of all the times, why do you even,” he mutters and his words are slurred, shaking. “Don’t,” he says, because Enjolras is at his side, kneeling down and touching his back gently. “I need to fucking leave, I need to not be here.”
“I know,” Enjolras says. He wants to keep him here, to kiss him and assure him that his love is real and true and that Grantaire needs to stay with him, needs to... but he doesn’t have the right words now, doesn’t have the strenght of certainty, he’s too surprised by Grantaire’s words. And Grantaire needs him to be sure, to be certain and above all, needs him to be honest, and right now all he has to offer is the comfort of his touch. “Just allow me this,” he pleads and puts his arms around Grantaire, holding him close, rubbing his back soothingly. He doesn’t give in and doesn’t try to kiss him, however much he wants that, just rests his chin on Grantaire’s head and holds on until he’s not shaking any more, until his stomach settles a little and his heart isn’t pounding its way out of his chest.
“I’m fine,” Grantaire insists and Enjolras lets go.
It hurts only a hundred times worse than he thought it would.
He stands up. “I’m going to the library,” he offers because Grantaire clearly needs to be away from him and doesn’t look like he would make it far on his own right now. “Take as much time as you need.”
“Enjolras, I’m not staying at your....”
“As much time as you need, R,” he repeats firmly. “We’ll talk later. I love you,” he adds, because he needs to keep saying this.
“I’m sure you think so,” Grantaire tells him sadly and Enjolras balls his hands into fists, fingernails digging into his palms, and doesn’t respond, pushes the words down; the last thing they need is another argument. The last thing Grantaire needs is his anger.
“We’ll talk,” he insists, a promise and a threat, and Grantaire closes his eyes and nods, and breathes out.
It’s five am when someone starts pounding on Grantaire’s doors, and Grantaire swears he’s going to kill the asshole with no sense of timing.
Of course, it’s Enjolras. “You have a spare key,” he points out.
“I didn’t want to presume,” Enjolras says and well, alright, he does have a point and Grantaire would probably be fucking pissed if he did use it and let himself in, but still, it’s five am.
“It’s five am,” he mutters. “What’s so fucking important?” he asks. His heart is trying to pound its way out of his chest and he wants the traitorous bastard to just calm down; there’s rarely any point in hope and he doesn’t think this will be different.
“I have an answer for you,” Enjolras says and he sounds drunk. He isn’t, Grantaire knows the signs better than anyone, but he sounds like it; elated and excited, his face flushed and his eyes bright and he’s looking at Grantaire with enough heat that Grantaire’s resolve is melting, burning, turning into ash.
This is so fucking inconvenient and it’s five am and he should close the door and go back to his bed and probably scream into his pillow in frustration but it’s Enjolras on his doorstep and so he shrugs instead. “Alright.”
“At the protest,” Enjolras says, making Grantaire grimace. Of course he knows what protest they’re talking about, and that’s the worst answer, that’s when this started and he can’t have Enjolras love him, think he loves him, because the universe decided to play a practical joke on them. He can’t. He forces himself to listen to the rest though, like the idiot masochist he is. “I was already on my way over to you before I even realised. It surprised me, but it wasn’t a new thing. It really wasn’t a new thing,” he says, with a strange inflection that makes Grantaire frown at him.
“Enjolras,” he starts and is promptly ignored as Enjolras carries on. Good, Grantaire doesn’t know what he was going to say in the first place, because he wants Enjolras to stop talking, it’s like daggers into him, but he needs to hear it all.
“I’ve been falling in love with you for months, and I haven’t noticed,” he says earnestly and Grantaire whimpers, he can’t help it, fuck. “It seems like you always figure it out before I do. It’s been the same before, Grantaire. It’s true, I haven’t known I loved you until you stood by my side as we died, but it has started before, I’ve fallen in love with you before. It took me a while in this life too, but Grantaire, this you must know - I got here on my own. Then and now. I don’t think I could live a life where I don’t eventually fall in love with you,” he finishes and stills and waits, his eyes fixed on Grantaire’s.
Grantaire swallows, his throat dry, and licks his lips before speaking, his voice hoarse. “That’s a half-decent answer,” he allows, barely hearing himself over the frantic beating of his heart, his pulse rushing, deafening to his own ears.
“Grantaire,” Enjolras mutters, sounding exasperated. He catches Grantaire’s gaze again and smiles, bright and blinding, at something he sees there. “I love you,” he says and Grantaire finds himself smiling back and trying to push it down.
“It’s five am, you loon.”
“You’ve mentioned. I love you,” he adds, sounding like he might laugh, and Grantaire is overwhelmed with affection, something joyful and hopeful stirring under his ribcage; not the all-consuming and scorching love he usually feels for Enjolras, one that burns and hurts a little (or a lot, sometimes), but something new, light and wonderful.
“You might as well come in, I guess,” he allows and steps to the side, and reaches out to catch Enjolras sleeve when he enters, tug him close. Enjolras is smiling as he stumbles into Grantaire, reaching up to touch the side of his face, fingertips buried in his hair.
“That’s all you have to say?” he asks and Grantaire snorts and turns his head to kiss Enjolras’ palm.
“I told you before, you asshole.”
“Refresh my memory.”
“I love you, can we go to sleep now? It’s five fucking am.”
“You seem really fixated on the time all of a sudden,” Enjolras tells him. “I have a class in three hours,” he adds with regret.
“I didn’t say that,” he mutters and kisses Grantaire, slowly, agonizingly slowly, like he intends to do this for those next three hours.
Like he intends to do this forever.
“Well, you’re the one with great ideas and eloquence this morning, give me your other options,” Grantaire says and Enjolras grins brightly, ready for the challenge.
He oversleeps for the class and he doesn’t care. He only wakes up when his phone rings shrilly, and he tumbles to find his pants and fish it out of the pocket.
Grantaire is up already, Enjolras can hear him moving around in the bathroom, humming quietly, and he can’t help the wide grin that pushes its way onto his face. He probably looks like a loon, but there you are.
“Remember when you told me you are a reincarnated French revolutionary and I basically told you you were fucking nuts?” Combeferre says, and if Combeferre swears, this is serious indeed, Enjolras is awake instantly.
“You were more diplomatic than that,” he says cautiously.
“I really wasn’t. The point is, I remember,” he says, sounding amazed. “It’s hazy, was it hazy for you at the beginning? Anyway, I just...” he stops and Enjolras can hear a woman’s voice in the background but he can’t make out the words. “Ah, yes. Eponine remembers as well and she says to tell that fucker that he’s dead to her for not telling her. I assume she means Grantaire.”
“Both of you remember it? Do you know if any others...” Enjolras sits up, running his hand through his hair, already planning a meeting. He needs to know what this means, he needs to...
“Eponine, I’m not telling him that,” Combeferre says, scandalised, and Eponine must have gotten closer to the receiver, or just raised her voice, because Enjolras can hear her now.
“That’s not what you said last night.” And Enjolras wishes he didn’t hear her.
“I said a lot of things last night, ‘Ponine.” Truly, he wishes he wasn’t on the phone for this conversation. “Enjolras,” Combeferre says, his tone flat again, bordering on apologetic and arriving at mortified. “We need to talk about this, say an hour before the meeting, at Musain?”
“Make that two, Grantaire will probably tag along,” he offers. “Combeferre.”
“I know. I just need to... I need to take this in. How,” he says and Enjolras hears him shake his head. “We’ll talk,” he promises before disconnecting.
“Grantaire will tag along to what?” Grantaire asks, leaning against the doorway. “Because it sounds serious and Grantaire doesn’t tag along for serious.”
Enjolras’ thoughts are still racing, but they arrive at a sudden stop when he looks at Grantaire, just in pajama pants and with his hair wet from the shower, dark curls dripping water onto his neck. Everything comes to a sudden stop.
“Morning,” he says and Grantaire grins like a cat, stepping forward to kneel up on the bed, sliding into the triangle of Enjolras’ legs, his hand already running up from Enjolras’ knee.
“And to you too. A very good one, at that. So, what’s that about?” he asks, gesturing at the phone.
“Two things. One, I think Combeferre and Eponine and dating. Or sleeping together. Or both.”
Grantaire nods, like Enjolras is being slow. “Yeah, that’s been going on since the protest, where have you been?”
“I’ve been distracted,” Enjolras tells him and tilts his head to nip at Grantaire’s jaw, slide his mouth down the inviting curve of his neck. Grantaire makes a sound that is worth cataloging for later, for further exploration. There’s going to be a lot of time for that, Enjolras will make sure.
Grantaire looks pleased with himself when Enjolras has to practically tear himself away to continue. He looks pleased and smug and Enjolras remembers not liking that look all that much during their countless arguments but right now, this is the best look, one he’s going to strive for. Grantaire looks happy.
It takes him a moment to continue and Grantaire has to prompt him, tapping his finger against Enjolras’ jaw. “The second thing?”
“Right. They remember. Him and Eponine, I’ll have to call others and...”
“Discreetly ask if they’ve been reincarnated recently? Can I listen in for when you call Marius? And Joly. And God, Courfeyrac, this is going to be fantastic.”
“I don’t know what it all means.”
Grantaire shrugs, not looking terribly concerned. He slides in closer, practically climbing into Enjolras’ lap, and kisses him lightly. Enjolras stops him from pulling away and licks into his mouth, eager to prolong the kiss, eager for more.
“You’ll figure it out,” Grantaire assures him. “And until you do, well, I’m here,” he offers, his tone light, but the look in his eyes is anything but.
And yes, this is more than enough.