Chapter 1: Chapter One
Glasgow was an old city. A sprawling city. It had personality, it had heart and history from all the feet that had pounded its streets across the centuries. It was alive.
It’s nature was intricate and complex, and in its nature it was somewhat like one of its denizens: Grantaire.
Glasgow was a hard place, a city with sharp edges. It was cultured, with its parks and museums and art galleries. Full of knowledge with its colleges and universities. Yet its edges were rough, a history steeped in alcohol and a reputation for violence.
Grantaire’s never seen the violence of the city though. Him, it welcomed peacefully with open arms. So far he’s never felt the need to live anywhere else and cannot fathom why anyone would want to.
It’s a rainy day, today. Rain is the predominant weather of the city. Grantaire liked it, it was as miserable and resonantly melancholy as he was.
He didn’t like an awful lot else though today, though that might have something to do with the fact that it was very early in the morning.
Grantaire hated mornings.
Whoever invented work starting at 7:30 am was a sadistic bastard. Never had he wanted to see 5am from this side of the day. It wasn’t right, 5am was for view when walking drunkenly back from a night on the town. When the city was silent and sleepy and the night was starting to die.
It was not when radio alarms should go off. Especially ones that were tuned to white noise at a very, very, loud volume.
He flailed wildly at the alarm clock, knocking it to the floor without actually managing to turn it off. He groaned. Curly hair sticking up at all angles he rose, padding over to where it landed, and turned it off. He yawned and went to turn on the coffee machine.
Ah coffee. Sometimes he wished you could IV coffee.
This blend was called ‘Molten Magma’ and, while it wasn’t his preferred taste, by gods did it wake him up. Thank god for Morrisons’ own coffee blends, some unpalatable, some bloody awful, a few actually good, and this one. This one which blew your brains out with caffeine. Fantastic.
Shame his blasted coffee machine took half an hour to make it and belched like a dragon as it worked. There was a reason R had named it Smaug.
He lingered around the toaster while he waited on it, toast and jam being at least a reasonable breakfast, poptarts were apparently not a ‘grown up food’ according to some of his friends but he was out of those at the moment anyway. He inhaled several cups of coffee the instant it was ready, ignoring how much it burned his mouth and then reasoned he should probably get dressed.
He pulled on jeans that looked half destroyed, a paint spattered t-shirt and ratty looking trainers. It wasn’t pretty but things he wore to work just got ruined. The hazards of being a kitchen porter, gods but he hated his job. 7:30 am to 5:30 pm if he was lucky, if he was unlucky and it was a busy night he could be there till eight. It was hard work in an overly hot kitchen and the only reason he got breaks was because he smoked. He had never been so glad for the dark future his lungs had ahead of them.
Work was tiresome and too long. It was repetitive. Clean that counter, mop that floor, fetch this, fetch that, and scrub dish after dish after dish. The day passed slowly. Grantaire was so bored his mind had gone numb, his washed raw fingers had too.
He didn’t want to be at work. It was dull. It was tedious. It was as if work was this strange transitional period from his being unfortunately alive in the morning to the exhausted realness of the evening. During the interim period nothing was real, everything was relative and the world was as big as the number of dishes still to be washed.
Finally, the last table of customers had left and he had only one set of dessert plates left to clean.
When he got out of work it turned out to be half six and he smelled of cigarette and that awful kitchen grease. The jeans hung low on his hips and his t-shirt was covered in stains as well as paint now but he just did not have any care left. He trudged back through the city, through Hyndland onto Byres road and then back round the museum till he was back at his flat, dragging his feet the whole way.
He threw himself into a shower and languished under the spray for far longer than was probably decent.
Once he was redressed, somewhat haphazardly, he downed a good fifth of rum, grabbed his hipflask and traipsed off toward Glasgow University itself in search of cheap booze, friendship and a good argument. All courtesy of an odd group he had somehow attached himself to.
He didn’t actually attend the university himself. He was enrolled at the art school for a while but his degree was on hold, he lacked the motivation, the drive, and more importantly the funds. He may or may not go back eventually. It was a decision that had not yet been made.
No he didn’t attend but it was only about a twenty minute walk from his flat and most of its social events had been better than his own ones and the drinks were better priced at the Queen Margaret Union than they were at The Art School Bar, as such this was where he hung out and this was where he met his friends.
At the union he grabbed a pint from Jim’s Bar on his way up to be social.
An interesting concoction.
Also called ‘snakebite and black’, snakebite being half cider, half lager. This being a student union it was the cheapest cider and lager on offer, Old English and Tennants respectively. The blackcurrant cordial sweetened the mixture slightly and supposedly made the taste more palatable, or at least a lot easier to drink.
For Grantaire it was cheap, marginally sweet and surprisingly potent.
A short trip up the stairs to what was called the Food Factory, although that was actually just the cantine within it, and he could slouch against a wall and watch his friends debate.
He called them his friends. They probably called him an annoyance and yet they put up with him anyway for some reason.
Enjolras was already in full rant about something. That brought a smirk to Grantaire’s face.
“We cannot let the rampant and disgusting homophobic and sexist discrimination by a supposed organisation of student support continue!”
The GUU or Glasgow University Union was quite different from the QMU, Queen Margaret Union. For a start it was here first, a fact the board never really wished you to forget, and for years it had been solely the men’s union, the QMU the women’s union. Yet long after the QMU started admitting men it still would not admit women. In the end they held a vote on the matter and the motion was overwhelmingly passed, however it took until 1980 and even then it took the University itself threatening to remove the lease on the building. Allowing women in never solved the problem of the attitude a lot of the members had. Old members became donators of funds upon successful post university business ventures and the attitude always lingered due to that influence. It wasn’t just the attitude toward women that was still lurking in the wings either, the attitude towards anyone lgbtq* spectrum, well.
It certainly explained the froth Enjolras had worked himself into.
It was a good cause to be fair but he got himself riled very quickly with very little mention of the subject.
Enjolras was like that about certain things. Any inequality or oppression or discrimination offended him but hit on one of his causes and you’d be forgiven for thinking he could start a revolution all by himself.
Enjolras was an interesting subject of study, and oh had Grantaire studied him.
Enjolras was English. Now this should not automatically be held against the man as one can hardly help the circumstances of one’s birth. At least that is what Grantaire had said, with an absolute shit eating grin, and it was not like he could talk really since his own accent was near nonexistent.
Enjolras was from a well off family. They would not have referred to themselves as wealthy, most everyone else Enjolras had ever met would have, especially those who he associated with now. They read the times, they had never drank any tea that wasn’t Earl Grey, they commented on the state the country was going to now, what with the immigrants and the labour government and the homosexuals. Oh, that’s right, they were also very, very, very conservative. In that old outdated way that should have gone out of fashion with the 1930’s yet they clung on to outdated beliefs and bigotry as if one could not be British without it. They also said British in a tone that made it absolutely clear in no uncertain terms that what they meant was English.
While Enjolras did love them, he could not help but be endlessly enraged and frustrated by them. Attending Glasgow University when he had achieved an Unconditional Acceptance from Cambridge had been somewhat of a rebellion against their ideals.
They still had not entirely forgiven him.
They still kept trying to persuade him to transfer.
Enjolras was still not having any of it.
It was amazing how stubborn the man could be. His parents weren’t fond of any of his causes either and if anything that just seemed to make Enjolras shout louder about them.
Grantaire secretly thought it was rather adorable.
Secretly because Grantaire did not find things adorable. He was not that kind of man.
He would ask you to ignore the fact that he owns a small fluffy white kitten.
“And what exactly are we supposed to do about it Apollo? Hmm?” Grantaire said with the smirk still painted across his face, and really he shouldn’t be baiting Enjolras he was far too sober to deal with the reactions the blond’s retorts might cause. “You’ve already told the SRC,” Student Representative Council, “You’ve already written to the Uni, you’ve had articles published in the Uni newspaper, you’ve held speeches in the cloisters and outside their door and yet they still seem to be ignoring you.”
Enjolras scowled at Grantaire in a manner that seemed to be well practised. “How did I know it would be you. Wouldn’t you be happier propping up the bar?”
Grantaire’s smirk widened. “You’re avoiding my question.”
‘Apollo’ huffed, “I will keep on until somebody does pay attention, whether it be the University or the Union, someone will listen. We will make them."
“Hmm, ‘We’ again. Well,” he drew out the vowel in a manner he knew irritated the other man. “I suppose they might listen eventually, but it won’t solve the problem.”
Enjolras looked confused. “How do you mean?”
“Well all the Old Boys, the previous members, the lifetime members, the donating members have to do is threaten to stop donating or, in fact, to promise to make a significantly larger contribution and the Union will roll right back over for them again.” It wasn’t said smugly, nor tauntingly, not this time, just simple straight facts.
The little revolutionary sagged somewhat. “Oh...Yes, I suppose they would. And the Union is in too much debt to resist those tactics.” He sat down looking pensive, Grantaire had a valid point it seemed.
The man in question pushed off from the wall and wandered over to a table at the back of the room, currently occupied by one medical student by the name of Joly. It was his usual seat and he didn’t feel like taunting Enjolras after he’d been deflated, it was never as thrilling. He collapsed into the chair with a small smile to Joly who looked back disapprovingly.
“Did you really have to make him look so dejected?”
Chapter 2: Chapter Two
A meeting is under way, with a difference of opinion.
Joly was a contradiction in terms. Happy and mellow and constantly worrying and neurotic. His personality should have clashed drastically with Grantaire’s generally cynical disposition, yet they somehow ended up very good friends. Joly made sure Grantaire looked after himself, Grantaire used unrepentant sarcasm to cut through Joly’s panic. They balanced the other out in some way.
Right now Joly was rather exasperated with Grantaire. “It’s an important issue, you know. Did you have to? Really?” His voice was filled with the sort of tired acceptance that came with prolonged exposure to the artist.
“Yes. Precisely because it’s important.”
Joly sighed. “You realise it just makes him more irritated.”
“I know,” Grantaire smirked. “Isn’t it glorious.”
“Grantaire...” There was a growing note of suspicion in his friend’s voice.
“What? He looks good when he’s trying not to punch me.”
“Ever think the direct approach might work better?” Joly rested his chin on his palm.
“What?” He turned to look at his friend in confusion. The med student raised an eyebrow. “Oh....wait, no Joly. It’s not like that.”
“Mmhmm?” Joly sounded unbelieving and unimpressed.
“Look, I’m attracted to everyone, just about, you know that.” He glanced over at Enjolras, “He just...looks good when he’s angry. That’s all.”
He sat back to watch Enjolras engage with Combeferre about something, more GUU stuff if the emphatic hand gestures were anything to go by. The man was certainly passionate, Grantaire would give him that. He just didn’t seem to realise that passion alone would never be enough.
“Someone needs to point out the flaws and futility now. Since you are all such bloody idealists, I’m afraid it has to be me.” He didn’t like bringing his friends down to his level. It was an unpleasant place to be at best, but he wanted to see them hurt less more so there wasn’t really much choice.
“So you taunt and bait us to deliver criticism so we can deal with the problematic issues now where we can work our way around them without too much trouble, rather than later when it would completely undermine our attempts at progress.” Joly surmised with a small smile. Grantaire blinked.
“Now hold on, now wait a minute. Don’t you try and make this out like I’m helping-”
“Thank you so much.” Joly interrupted, clasping R’s hand in an exaggerated fashion.
“I’m not helping.” The cynic exclaimed with as much outrage as he could possibly pack into only three words.
“You really are a good friend.”
“I’m a cynical bastard, is what I am, who’s going to drag you down to his level-”
Joly cut him off again “How can I ever repay you.”
“Will you stop you impossible little shit.”
They were both grinning ridiculously at each other by the end. So went most arguments between the two. Both too fond of, too good a friend of the other to ever mean the barbs they threw at each other. Joly leant over to ruffle the artist's hair but drew back with the beginnings of his 'Now let me tell you how are going to become sick' look on his face.
“Your hair is still wet.”
Grantaire gave him a look. “What did you want me to do, blow dry it?” He shook his head, splattering Joly with water.
“Hey!” Grantaire grinned at the expression on Joly’s face. His nose scrunched up in displeasure and surprise. Joly couldn’t help but giggle a little the moment he saw the grin. “I don’t know, blow dried might suit you,” the med student teased, knowing fine well it would make his friend look like a grumpy poodle. Grantaire elbowed him in the ribs, not unkindly.
Enjolras took his position again. Stood on a chair at the front of the cordoned off area, his very presence commanding attention. The cynic had still not worked out how he managed to do that, it was actually very distracting.
“Right, so we’ll work on the GUU problem some more once we have sorted through the issues involved a bit more thoroughly.”
Grantaire snorted, mirthlessly, “Which unless you can prove financial incentives are involved is going to be never.” He muttered under his breath. Joly elbowed him in the ribs, slightly harder than was probably necessary. Grantaire glared at him and rubbed his side.
“Now we are going to discuss publicity, funding and our next topic which is good consent and how to get the message out.” Enjolras always seemed so sincere, so full of honest enthusiasm, of faith in the cause, of hope in their success. He looked captivating, inspiring, beautiful. He looked distracting. While Grantaire had always envied him his visions, his ideals, his faith, he could not help but make comments to try and pull Enjolras closer to his level. Better the slow pull downwards now, than the sharp fall when all his illusions were shattered.
“Here we go again.” He sighed, slightly despondent.
Joly leaned in to whisper to him. “Don’t even try to pretend you don’t like watching him when he gets going.”
To be fair Enjolras looked magnificent at full force, but really that wasn’t the point here. “Can. You. Not.”
Despite his protestations Grantaire sat and listened to the discussion. Taking the information in but not really contributing. At least, he did when he wasn’t getting more Diesel from the bar. It had been a long day for him. Whilst he normally liked to point out flaws in Enjolras’ well placed plans or sarcastically sniped at his blind idealism, today he was tired and content to drink, watching his friends debate through the approaching drunken haze.
“You alright there R? You’re being very quiet this evening.” Joly asked gently, looking worried.
“Just tired Joly, work was hard, don’t worry about it.”
“If you say so.” Joly would still worry. He always worried about his friends, especially Grantaire who seldom looked after himself and in whom quietness could be a precursor for unhealthy and self-destructive behaviour. He left it for just now, but made a mental note to keep an eye on the artist. He had been becoming more and more quiet lately and for Grantaire that was just unnatural.
“So we are agreed?" The voice cut through Joly's musing and he looked up. "Combining fund raising and publicity is both simple and effective and it will give us some time to investigate other matters more seriously.”
Grantaire frowned at that and raised his head from staring into his pint his pint “No. Wait. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.” He leaned forwards scrutinizing Enjolras. “Am I hearing things or did you just suggest publicity and funding together because that heavily implies bake sale and if so that has to be the stupidest-"
“There are other methods of fund raising than bake sales.”
“But it is what you were suggesting.” It wasn’t a question, not really.
“That’s beside the point.” Enjolras was starting to look flustered, Grantaire couldn’t stop grinning.
“No, it really isn’t. What are you twelve? Who holds a bake sale?”
Combeferre interjected, “Ah, actually as treasurer I can attest that bake sales and the like are actually some of our most successful methods of fund raising.”
“And as the only person who bothers to keep up with our social networking we get tonnes of likes after them as well, so they’re great for publicity.” Courfeyrac grinned. Grantaire sighed in defeat.
“Fine. Fine have your blasted bake sale.”
Enjolras nodded decisively, ignoring Grantaire’s comment. “Now that that is decided we need to discuss what sort of event we are going to have to promote good consent and the awareness of what exactly that is.”
The cynic perked up again, this he could jump in on, this he knew something about. This, well, he had an idea for this, and not a bad one at all in his opinion. It wasn't often he actually pitched in with suggestions rather than bitingly sarcastic opinions, perhaps he'd actually get heard this time.
“We could do a pub crawl?” He suggested, not arrogant interruption this time, but tentative, genuine suggestion. Enjolras sneered.
“We are not doing a pub crawl. I cannot think of a worse idea, bars and clubs are where a lot of these things happen.”
The cynic just stared at him in disbelief, if he had made the short step to a logical conclusion it couldn’t possibly be that big of a leap for Enjolras. Perhaps he was disregarding because of the genral lack of positive participation from Grantaire, maybe if he just explained a little.
“That’s entirely my point.” Enjolras looked confused and Grantaire was starting to get actually annoyed.
“Look, would you just hear me out for once. Pubs and clubs and bars are where this stuff happens. A lot. A little bit of alcohol and people think you won’t say no, or they don’t have to listen to you say no. You might reach some people with fliers and protests but how many people actually read those things before they bin them? How many people actually stop and listen rather than walking past?”
“My point is Enjolras,” he said, getting more and more frustrated. "Is this is where your demographic will be. These are people you are guaranteed to reach. The people who you need to reach. We can put some posters up in the bathroom, some fliers out on the tables, hell, Sleazy’s lets people write on the walls. I’m an artist give me some cover and I'll give people something to remember us by.” Grantaire implored.
He was not often passionate, did not often contribute positively to the debates. However this was something they stood a chance at changing. This was something he even he was sick of seeing happen and considering how much time he spent in bars he saw it a lot. They just needed the right approach.
“You are more likely to reach them if your message is somewhere they will actually see.” With that he sat down and crossed his own arms, looking away from the blond.
Enjolras looked at Grantaire with mounting disbelief and perhaps a little bit of shock. He took a step forward. “You’re...that’s,” he stopped, took a breath and composed himself. “That actually is...well thought out and...might work but wouldn’t it be better to just go in and put up the posters and leave out the fliers and move on to the next place. That way we would cover more ground.”
The artist glanced over and shrugged. “You could, but good luck getting them to let you put things up if you’re not buying, they’ll tear them straight back down again.”
Enjolras sighed. “You don’t know that.”
“As someone who’s actually been in a bar yes, yes I do”.
“I’ve been in a bar-”
“The union does not count.” Enjolras looked about ready to start another argument at that, fortunately someone else had other ideas.
“I think we’ve gotten a little off topic.” Combeferre’s calm measured tone cut through the raised voices, leaving silence in its wake.
No one wanted to risk interrupting him. While he seemed mild mannered Combeferre could carefully deconstruct your entire argument and dissect your personality in a series of short sentences and it was never not unnerving. No one particularly wanted to be on the receiving end. Do not misunderstand, combeferre was a kind and wonderful person, but when he spoke he was in command of the room and everyone knew it.
“The pub crawl is a good idea, provided it doesn’t get carried away. It does seem the most affective way of getting our information seen especially in the sort of places these sort of things can begin. Keeping it from getting it carried away might be an issue and is something we will need to look into preventing." He gave a quick glance around to make sure everyone was following him before continuing. "As for funding and publicity as I said earlier bake sales have proved very successful for us in the past, combined with Enjolras speaking close by and fliers on the stall I think it could be very effective, regardless of how childish certain members may find it.” He looked pointedly at Grantaire over the rim of his glasses at this. The cynic rolled his eyes but nodded and took another drink.
Enjolras cleared his throat “Very well, fund raising will go ahead as planned combined with publicity. As for the pub crawl, well, I’ll think on it. Provided we can all be responsible human beings it should work that being said i’m not sure if everyone is capable of that.” Grantaire stared silently into his pint.
“Now, as for logistics...”
As Enjolras and the others worked out the where and when of things Grantaire went back to drinking, until Joly caught his eye.
“What?” He sighed.
“Look, I don’t think he meant-” His friend began.
“Please don’t start Joly, not right now, okay.” Grantaire was not in the mood to be either analysed or pitied. As much as he loved Joly, as much as they were as close as friend’s could be, the med student had a tendency to do both.
“Alright, the pub crawl was a good idea though.”
Grantaire looked up from his drink, “Really?”
Joly smiled softly, “Inspired.”
Grantaire looked down, “Watch, we’ll all prove too irresponsible for it, I will at least.” His drinking got out of hand easily, normally he didn't care, about it or anything else. At least so he told himself. This though, this was an event he had suggested that was actually being taken seriously for once. He felt the strange urge to try and behave himself. He wasn't entirely sure he liked that.
“Well you know how to stop him thinking you're irresponsible.”
Joly nudged him in the shoulder. “Be responsible. Don’t miss an event, be on time if you can, and try not to get so drunk you make an arse of yourself." He didn't ask the artist to stay sober. Joly wasn't sure he could but Grantaire's drinking was something they never discussed and he didn't want to bring it up now. "He’ll have nothing to argue about if you do all that. He'll probably be too shocked.”
“You think?” the artist looked marginally hopeful.
“You can only try.”
“Hmmm, alright. You know me, anything for a pub crawl.” Joly rolled his eyes, he loved Grantaire but some days he wondered if the man even knew what he wanted, let alone what was good for him.
“You’re incorrigible.” Was all he said. Grantaire simply smirked.
Chapter 3: Chapter Three
So I've been having a lot of personal issues lately including a death in the family so I'm afraid this has been awfully neglected. I'm back now so regular updates should be occurring provided I don't get the dreaded writers block. Sorry for the hiatus.
As the meeting drew to a conclusion Enjolras surveyed the members of his society. Bright young people, filled with belief and hope and the will to change things. Then there was Grantaire. Grantaire who doubted. Grantaire who sat and sarcastically, often drunkenly, deconstructed the things they stood for, the things they tried to accomplish, and he just could not understand why. The man was not stupid, if anything the arguments he posed showed he was rather intelligent and they were posed with an eloquence that was sometimes borderline poetic.
He did not understand it. Why would someone who seemed so against what they stood for come along to meeting after meeting after meeting. He couldn’t understand why someone with that intelligence would want to rot their brain with cynicism and alcohol. Grantaire was both an annoyance and an enigma, and tonight Enjolras’ confusion surrounding the man had deepened. Every meeting the cynic had ever attended he spent his time shooting down their ideas, as he had earlier this evening in fact. Yet he then turned around tonight and offered a suggestion, his own idea. Not just a positive contribution to the discussion but an outright event suggestion which he had then proceeded to back up with well formed arguments. It wasn’t a bad suggestion either, Enjolras could see the idea had merit. He just didn’t understand what the cynic thought he was doing.
“Oh now that’s a worrying expression. Usually you only get that look on your face when the university has thrown some particularly vexing red tape in the way of your plans.” Enjolras looked up at the voice to find Combeferre smiling kindly down at him. “May I sit?”
“Please, as if you actually had to ask,” he smiled back. Enjolras had known Combeferre since they were small. They were close friends, best friends and if there was anyone who could help him unravel the puzzling mess that was Grantaire, it was Combeferre.
“It’s not red tape vexing me this evening I’m afraid.”
He slid into the seat opposite Enjolras at the table, “Oh? What’s got you wound up this time?”
Enjolras sighed. “Grantaire.”
“Ah.” He nodded to himself, “I was wondering what you’d make of his behaviour tonight.”
“That’s just it ‘Ferre, I don’t know what to make of it. He doesn’t suggest things, not unless you count him suggesting that we should just give up. Where did this even come from?” He gestured sharply. “He doesn’t care, he’s never cared. Why input anything now. I don’t understand him Ferre. I really…” He paused, sighing. “Where did this even come from?” He repeated.
“Does it matter?” his friend asked softly.
Enjolras looked up in confusion.
“He wants to help, perhaps you should let him.”
“He wants an excuse for us all to get as drunk as he does and make fools of ourselves, make fool of the issue, he mocks me. Again.”
Combeferre looked at him in a mildly disappointed manner. “You don’t know that.”
“What do you want me to do, indulge him?” He asked incredulity seeping into his tone.
Combeferre spoke quietly, calmly. He knew Enjolras was worried but sometimes he just needed a little nudge in the right direction. “You said it yourself. He’s never shown much interest before, not in a positive way. You need to ask yourself if we really want to discourage that.” Enjolras looked pensive, troubled. He rested his head in his hands.
“You’ve given him an ultimatum. If he can prove responsibility, investment in this then you’ll give the idea a chance. I’m just asking you to see what he’ll do. He did make some good points…”
“Yes...he did.” That was the problem, really. Grantaire had made some very good points, had actually defended something rather than tearing it down. The problem with Grantaire, one of the many problems with Grantaire, was that he wasn’t unintelligent. He understood, deeply, everything the group talked about and he still sat and sarcastically pulled it apart.
“I suppose” Enjolras sighed heavily “There is no harm in seeing how things play out.”
“Everyone deserves a chance Enjolras.”
“Of course they do, I wasn’t denying him that.”
Enjolras winced. “I...I really didn’t give him much of one did I.” He was disappointed in himself. Combeferre was right, everyone deserved a chance, even Grantaire. Especially Grantaire if this might finally be what pulled him to their side. He didn’t even know the man, not really. Certainly not more than any of the freshers members and Grantaire had been there far longer. It struck him that there was probably something very wrong about that.
“Alright, lets see how he does with something he actually put himself forward for. I’m not holding my breath but...”
Combeferre smiled enigmatically. There was more than one realisation his friend needed nudging toward. This one he would have to be more subtle about. “But you hope he does well?”
The blond rolled his eyes. Combeferre’s seeming omniscience was less than amusing at times.
“As usual I get the impression you know more than you’re letting on, you know I prefer to work knowing all the angles.”
“Oh it’s not overly important and I’m sure you’ll figure it out eventually, you usually do.”
“Must you?” Enjolras sighed in exasperation. Combeferre’s silence verged on smug. “It’s really very frustrating you know.”
“Oh?” he wore an innocent almost owl like expression behind his glasses.
“Look at it this way. What would happen if I told you? You’d file it away at the back of your mind, strategise with it and probably use it a way that you would very much regret later-”
“And now I’m really curious.”
“However,” Combeferre paused a moment to indicate his displeasure at being interrupted. "If you realise it yourself you won’t just know it, as some piece or arbitrary information. You’ll feel it, you’ll understand the weight of the knowledge, you’ll understand what damage you could do with it.”
“I thought you said this wasn’t important.” Enjolras didn’t particularly like the sound of this now, he was starting to become suspicious.
“Well...it’s not important to our causes, you wouldn’t consider it important at the moment. It may be later.”
“Combeferre.” Enjolras bit out, tone tense. He could feel the headache building. “Sitting in on those philosophy classes have only made you worse.”
His friend looked over the rim of his glasses at Enjolras in a way that put him in mind of a teacher who had just been let down by their favourite student. “That was rather petty of you, don’t you think.”
He had the decency to look slightly abashed. “Sorry, it’s been a long day I’m not really in the mood for enigmas right now.”
“Then lets not think on it further and I’ll look forward to seeing how thing go with Grantaire over the next few meetings.” If Combeferre’s smile was now a little sly who would possibly be able to call him on it. Enjolras certainly didn’t even notice it.
The blond nodded, “It’s getting late, do you want to head back?”
He rose, gathering his things together, noting Combeferre doing the same and Joly attempting to organise the uncooperative, uncoordinated mess that was a drunken Grantaire into leaving as well. They headed off to their shared flat, Combeferre still smiling and Enjolras with a developing migraine.
A short while after their departure Joly was walking back to his own flat. Joly actually lived quite close to the Union and the medical building. This was fortunate for him as it meant he wasn’t often late for class or meetings. It was less fortunate for the western infirmary which was also close by and whose accident and emergency department could now recognise him on sight. They could also recognise Bossuet on sight but to be fair he wasn’t usually in there unless he actually needed to be.
Joly had stayed later than most after the meeting, making sure Grantaire was on his way home safe and sound before heading back to his own flat. He’d have walked his friend to his door if he didn’t know the absolute fuss Grantaire would make over it being in the opposite direction to Joly.
When he finally got back to his flat he sighed, dumping his things on the kitchen table and sat down. He worried about Grantaire. He drank too much, smoked too much and didn’t really seem to care at all about looking after himself. He was also being frustratingly obtuse about his emotions regarding certain politically minded friends of theirs.
“How was he tonight?” Joly looked up to see Bossuet standing in the doorway smiling down at him.
Bossuet was interesting person. He was a cheerful soul and a mess of walking contradictions. He was one of the happiest, calmest and most laid back of their group of friends. He was horrifically unlucky but it hardly seemed to bother him, he never let things get to him. He soothed Joly in ways that the medical student had never truly been able to explain. All he knew was laughing brown eyes and a shining smile had drawn in him and he’d never managed or wanted to get away from him.
Joly looked down at his hands. “I don’t know. He’s gotten better at hiding things from me.”
“He only does it because he doesn’t want to worry you, you know.”
“I know, he thinks he’s not worth worrying about. He thinks he’s not worth anything.” Joly’s voice was getting higher pitched, his hand movements a little frantic. Bossuet wrapped his arms around Joly where he sat, drawing him back against his chest.
“Hey it’s ok, Joly. He’ll be ok.”
Joly calmed a little, leaning into the embrace. “He’s gotten thinner, again. I think he forgets to eat sometimes and that job is killing him and I just…” He trailed off, tearing up, unable to find the words. “He’s my best friend. And he doesn’t take care of himself. And he does really stupid things to himself sometimes and I just get really worried ok.”
“Shh it’s ok, I know. Maybe you can talk to him about it sometime. Have a day to yourselves and catch up.”
“Maybe...maybe.” He smiled up at Bossuet. “You always know how to make me feel better.”
“Yeah well, I’m just lucky like that. Now come on ‘Chetta’s curled up already.”
Joly smiled and stood stretching. He pressed a soft kiss to his boyfriend’s lips and the walked through to climb into their oversized bed, where Musichetta was already waiting for them.
A week passed without Grantaire seeing much of his friends. Work monopolized his time and he spent most nights after work collapsing, exhausted, into bed or collapsing, drunk, onto the couch after attempting to substitute alcohol for companionship.
Today Grantaire was tired. not for any particularly significant reason. Work was exhausting, he hadn’t slept well in years and somedays…somedays he just ended up exhausted.
At least he had a day off today. He rolled over, tangled up in the mess of covers that was his bed, hoping to try and claw back a few more hours of sleep.
As he dozed a sickening paranoia trickled into his consciousness. That distinct sensation that he had forgotten something he was most definitely not supposed to forget to do on his day off.
He sat up bleary eyed and swore viciously. He had a fundraising event to go to, and he had promised, and if he didn’t go Enjolras was going to seriously reconsider his suggestion of a pub crawl.
He scrambled about, tumbling into and out of the shower and throwing some clothes on haphazardly. A massive green hoodie and some torn jeans that only just about stayed up, he grabbed a satchel with a notebook, some charcoal and his wallet as well as his contribution for the day, packed the night before when his brain had still actually been functioning, and dashed out the door.
It took fifteen, maybe twenty minutes to get to the union from his flat, it had been quarter past ten when he left and he needed to be there by half past. He was going to have to run, and University Avenue was a hill with a forty-five degree angle. Grantaire swore even more viciously and started off down Kelvin Way at speed. He didn’t so much sprint, it would probably kill him if he did and even if he didn’t he needed to last long enough to attempt the hill at the end.
He turned, crossing the road recklessly and narrowly avoiding a car, and then he was on university avenue and staring up at the hill, panting. He checked his phone: 10:23. Seven minutes to get up the hill and then along to the union. It normally took him at least ten.
He took off again, up the hill. His legs burned and his lungs were on fire and dammit he should be fitter than this it wasn’t as if he didn’t exercise. He’d never been good at running though, and there was a difference between short active bursts and any attempt at stamina with smokers lungs. It was times like this he considered quitting.
He came to a near hyperventilating halt next to the stalls, almost knocking Joly over.
His friend flailed and then turned around to panic slightly at the artist.
“Jesus R, are you all right?”
Grantaire drew deep, gulping breaths into his lungs. “Just...Fucking….Peachy…..Time’s it?”
Joly checked his phone “ Ten twenty eight.”
“Fuck...yes.” He collapsed on the ground, leaning against a table. Someone nudged him with their foot.
“Get up R, you’ll make the place look untidy.” He looked up to see a grinning face. Courfeyrac.
Courfeyrac was a friend to everyone. He was open and cheerful and loyal and charming. He had curly dark hair and dimples and a soft irish accent that only added to his charm. This meant that people tended to fall madly in bed with him, something he very much did not complain about.
He was often a little too hyper for Grantaire but putting up with his cheeriness was worth it for the absolutely insane antics the man often got up to. He was surprisingly close to Enjolras considering how light hearted he was in comparison to the blond. At least, Grantaire found it surprising, perplexingly it seemed to make perfect sense to everyone else.
“You shouldn’t be so flippant, what if he’s ill.”
“He’s not ill, it’s just his smoker’s lungs catching up to him.”
Grantaire nodded, still breathless and coming down from adrenaline and sheer panic. “That.”
Joly looked down, worried but disapproving. “You really should quit you know. They’re so bad for you-”
He held up a hand to stem the tide of all the ways he could fuck himself up and pulled himself to his feet. “I know Joly. If it wasn’t the only way for me to get a break at work I’d consider stopping.”
“Wait, wait, wait. How long is your shift?”
“7:30 to umm...well usually at least 7:30. Why?”
“And the only way to get a break is to beg off on a smoke break?! That’s illegal!”
“Yes it is. They don’t care.”
“There’s no proof and no one would back me up. They all like having their jobs too much. So do I, for that matter.”
“So what you’re saying is…you’d quit if you had another job.”
Joly smirked and it looked absolutely terrifying.
“Uh….Joly...what exactly are you planning?” The smirk widened. “Joly-”
Enjolras voice cut through the chatter “Right. Now that we are all here it’s time to get started.”
He looked around the gathered group and his eyes widened. Grantaire rolled his own eyes at Enjolras’ surprised expression when he spotted him.
“Yes, yes, shock, horror. I can turn up for actual events.”
“He even brought something to sell, didn’t you R.”
He turned to give Joly a look and dug the tub of brownies out of his bag, producing them with a sarcastic flourish and shoving them on the table with everything else. Everyone was staring at him, he could feel it. He pointed at Joly, “Blame him for any incidents of food poisoning!”
With that he traipsed off to sit on the stairs. He needed them to stop looking at him, to just go back to ignoring him in his uselessness. The pressure of their eyes was unnerving. He took a deep breath, blew it out slowly and with shaking hands lit himself a cigarette. He heard footsteps behind him.
“I don’t need whatever words you’ve come to offer me.”
“Even if they are my words?”
He looked up to see a softly smiling Jehan leaning over him. “Oh...um hi Jehan”
Jehan was an interesting creature. They had shoulder length hair, just a touch longer than R’s, but it fell in waves as opposed to tight curls. They wrote poetry, read romance novels and dressed somewhat like a lunatic. They were also tall and quite strong and god help you if you hurt one of their friends, pissed them off or for some reason implied that poetry and flowers weren’t at all something they should be interested in.
Their hair was strawberry blond which is to say it was an odd shade of dark blonde that was heading toward ginger. They were a classic Romantic, something often thought of as soft in these times but it came with a hard edge and a certain morbid curiosity that most overlooked. They owned faux velvet poet shirts and wore them completely unironically. Today it was a pale green shirt and bright orange skinny jeans amongst various ridiculous accessories. They looked completely comfortable in their own skin, it was something Grantaire greatly envied.
They stepped around and sat next to Grantaire, bumping their shoulders together.
“Don’t be, I know you don’t like it when people stare like that. Did you really make the brownies yourself?”
“Yeah...but I don’t know how good they’ll be. Normally there’s an extra ingredient but I didn’t think our glorious leader would appreciate me getting his potential activists incredibly stoned.”
Jehan laughed, it was soft and melodical and generally unfair from Grantaire’s perspective. His laugh was either deep and booming, a mildly disturbing giggle or slightly maniacal if he had some kind of wicked idea brewing. Jehan’s laugh sounded like something out of an Austen novel; it was a nice laugh but he hated Austen.
“No, I don’t think he would have.”
Grantaire slumped against his friend, tired still from all the running about but also a little drained from his brief interaction with Enjolras. He sighed. Jehan cuddled up to him without so much as a by your leave and ended up sprawling the both of them all over the stairs. They were going to seriously get in someone's way in a moment. Jehan couldn’t care less, Grantaire was comfortable as always. Grantaire simply couldn’t bring himself to move.
“It’s alright to feel uncomfortable, you know.” Grantaire raised an eyebrow and looked down at the poet stretched across his chest.
“When they all look at you like that. It’s alright to feel uncomfortable when they put you on the spot or leave you out in the open, exposed to piercing glares and absent stares and adoring gazes alike.”
“That last bit didn’t rhyme.”
“Oh do shut up, I’m trying to make things less awkward for you.” Jehan sat up a bit to look Grantaire in the eye.
“As much as you like to laugh and joke and poke holes in everything, being thrust out into the spotlight by someone else unnerves you a bit and that’s ok. They shouldn’t be surprised that you’re capable of things. And you should feel bad about feeling bad about it, or being angry. It’s justified. That’s all.” They poked Grantaire in the nose, prompting the cynic to scrunch up his face. Jehan laughed again.
“Stop sulking about and go irritate our friends, you know you want to.” Thin lips quirked into a grin and blue eyes lit up at the suggestion. Grantaire pulled them both to their feet and pulled the poet in for a hug before traipsing back to the stall. He stole one of his own brownies before they were all sold and watched as Bahorel’s deafening shouts and Courfeyrac’s charming smile drew people into the area.
Joly pulled Grantaire aside while people flocked around the stall. “I’m glad you came.”
“Yeah well, said I’d try and be responsible didn’t I?”
“I mean it R. It’s good to see you in daylight for a change.”
Grantaire ducked his head with a smile. He nudged Joly’s shoulder. “S’good to see you too.”
“It’s been ages since we’ve spent time together we should catch up next time you’re not horrifically overworked.”
“This catch up won’t involve a nicotine based intervention will it because the way you were going on-”
“No, no. It’s fine. No intervention I promise.” He laughed.
Grantaire relaxed “Movie day?”
“Did someone say movie day?” Courfeyrac looked disturbingly gleeful.
“Ah...yes? Me and Grantaire were just--”
“Awesome I love movie days, we need another group thing it’s been ages since the lot of us got together as a friend thing rather than a society thing.” He turned to the others. “Hey guys, R and Jolllly are planning a movie day. Whose in?”
There were various cries of affirmation and Joly sighed, shoulders slumping in defeat. Grantaire slung an arm around him.
“S’okay Joly, you can come over before the rest of these idiots and we can catch up then yeah?”
He smiled. “Yeah, okay. Thanks Grantaire.”
“Please it’s nothing, you’re not the one becoming a recluse.” Joly laughed.
The rest of the day went fairly smoothly. Grantaire hung about for as long as he could manage, having work the next day and still needing to catch up on sleep. He lingered around his friends and joked and chatted, making them laugh and helping Courfeyrac charm people into buying their goods. The bake sale was a resounding success.
He had avoided straying too close to Enjolras, distracted himself with Joly’s worrying and not so subtle plotting, Courfeyrac’s antics and Jehan’s poetry. In this fashion he managed to go the whole day without arguing with the blond.
It left Enjolras feeling strange. Glad, if pleasantly surprised, that the cynic had put the effort in to help them but subtly off, as if something had been missing from the day without their usual debates. He resigned the thought to being an oddity of emotion and nothing more and filed it away in the back of his brain.
Meanwhile Combeferre filed the information away for entirely more constructive reasons.
Comments and constructive criticism really help improve my writing so if anyone has anything to say, please let me know.
Chapter 5: Chapter Five
Grantaire and Joly have a much needed discussion
One two year hiatus later and I'm back
It didn't take too long to get supplies together. Grantaire's flat was conveniently situated near a few shops even if they were things like tesco express as opposed to an actual big supermarket. Still they managed. What was probably too many massive bags of crisps, sweets, chocolate, hummus because Joly was determined to eat something healthy, beer, wine, mixers, and a couple of bottles of spirits that Grantaire was running low on.
Joly had collected money from a few of the group to cover most of it and someone was probably going to order takeaway at some point in the evening.
Grantaire had hurried them along and almost slammed the door when they were back in the flat. Joly watched his shoulders relax once they were back inside and knew not to put off the talk too much longer. They needed to clear the air between them and something was weighing heavily on Grantaire.
Being outside had weighed heavily on the cynic in ways Joly was not yet aware of. Today he felt low. Every extra pound, every greasy lock of hair, every shift of his slightly tattered clothes he felt eyes on him. Watching, judging. Some days he didn't care, today he cared too much. To be back in his flat was a much needed relief. He felt safer and although he knew both his flat and himself still looked a mess, there was time before everyone else came over and Joly had already said he would help.
He shoved the crisps and things haphazardly in a cupboard, while Joly was putting away the rest, and grabbed a beer before shoving the box in the fridge. He could see the look it brought but there would be a lot more of it later. He was just getting a head start on the lightweights. That’s all. He didn't want to lag behind.
He slouched against the counter top and waited. Joly raised an eyebrow. "You really think I'm going to start this conversation here?" he sighed. "Let's get comfy at least" He wandered through to the living room, collapsing onto the sofa. Grantaire followed, quiet today, and curled up in the other corner of it.
"Don't pretend you don't know what this is about, R."
"Au contraire, there are so many of my fuck ups this could be about. How could I possibly know which one you'd choose." He looked away. "Don't stall then. How have I fucked up this time?"
Joly frowned this was already going worse than he'd hoped. "You've not fucked up R. It's nothing like that. I'm just worried about you."
Grantaire sighed heavily. “You worry too much."
“Do I? R, every time I see you there’s less of you to see. You’re getting thinner, again. You’re always tired, always working, always drinking, always smoking-”
“I thought you said this wasn’t going to be an intervention.”
“It’s not but...but we hardly ever see you anymore and you’re falling apart. I don’t think you look after yourself, at all. I mean-” He paused and ran a hand through his hair as he always did when he was stressed before slouching back into the sofa in exasperation and defeat. “You’re going to get scurvy at the very least you know.”
Grantaire sighed. “Look. I’m not going to tell you things aren’t a bit difficult at the moment. My shifts are long and I don’t get a lot of days off and I mostly spend what time I do get off sleeping.” He shrugged. “Work is exhausting and stressful and I don’t really have a lot of time to do anything else. I can’t afford to go part time.”
“That’s exactly what I mean. You don’t get breaks except to smoke and I bet you don’t eat during your shifts either. Every time I see you you’ve gotten thinner. That place is killing you.” Joly’s voice broke on the last sentence. Grantaire shifted across the sofa and wrapped an arm around his friend.
“I’m not disagreeing but this is all I’ve got at the moment Joly.”
“You still need to take care of yourself more. I refuse to watch my best friend waste away.” He poked the artist in the stomach. “You used to be squishy and cuddly.” He pouted.
Grantaire chuckled. “I know, and I miss it too but I just don’t-”
“Don’t you dare say you don’t have time I will make you have time.”
“I was going to say energy” He raised an eyebrow. “Exactly how are you planning on making me more time? If you have a time machine and have been holding out on me I swear.”
Joly giggled. “Oh I wish. No, nothing like that but, well. If you don’t have the time or energy on your own I’m just going to have to help, and so can bossuet, and Jehan and-”
“You are not roping all our friends into looking after me, I’m not an invalid.”
“You need people R. You always have. I don’t mean as a crutch you’re just” he waved his hands trying to find the words. “You’re more yourself when you spend time with people. Being on your own all the time isn’t good for you.”
Grantaire nodded. He knew Joly was right but he couldn’t ask so much of his friends. “Joly, I appreciate what you’re trying to do but,” he trailed off with a sigh.
“I’m not saying there needs to be someone here all the time and I’m not saying we are going to do everything for you but a text to remind you to eat, a visit on your day off so you have some company. Would it really be so bad?”
“I suppose not.”
Joly cuddled up to him more. “I refuse to apologise for caring.”
Grantaire suppressed a chuckle. He supposed he would have to concede that point.
The artist stretched and got to his feet with a groan. “I suppose we had better make a start on this disaster area.”
“You say that like you don’t love the place.
“That I’m not even going to try and deny.” He smirked.
Joly wasn’t joking either, he loved his flat.
No no, I think perhaps you don’t quite understand the depth of the feeling. Grantaire fucking loved his flat.
It was his sanctuary from all things normal, sensible and reasonable about the rest of the world. It was also his sanctuary from the general awfulness and the mess that was his life. He didn’t know how he’d been so lucky. It had looked run down and uncared for on the website but it turned out someone was just very bad at taking pictures.
It was massive. The rooms were large with high ceilings, he had a cupboard that looked like it had been a pantry back when the tenement was built in the 19th century, twice as tall as he was with shelves and deep enough to fit about two people lying down, he had filled it with books and booze. The kitchen was kind of shit, it was all right size but the layout was really weird, it had a table that looked like it had been lifted from a high school in it and for some bizarre reason absolutely no drawers, he hadn’t realised until after he moved in and oh my lord was it more annoying than he thought possible, he had a tendency to throw things in cupboards and shut the door quickly in the hope they would stay in there. The cooker was on a slant, this caused its own unique problems, it also hated him. The bedroom was reasonably sized and filled with paint and canvasses, the wardrobe however was evil and possessed and he didn’t want to talk about that thank you very much.
Unfortunately right now it was total mess. Well, that might be a slight exaggeration but anyone who has known Grantaire for longer than ten minutes knows that he is a little bit prone to exaggerating.
Joly helped him gather up the dirty plates and cups to put in the sink. They would need to do the washing up but there was a silent agreement to leave it until later.
“Right.” Joly said, donning a pair of latex gloves. “You grab that bin bag and follow behind me. I will rid this flat of rubbish and anything else you’ve left lying around.” There was a pointed look in the cynic’s direction.
Grantaire looked sheepish and rubbed the back of his neck. “Look. Just because I left those grapes out for a little too long that time doesn’t mean I’m in the habit of doing that sort of thing.
“A little too long. A little too long? They were practically making their own wine Grantaire.”
“It was once.”
“Which is still once too many.”
In this manner they went about the flat. Living room, hall, bathroom and finally kitchen. Even Joly wasn’t about to brave the chaos of the cynic’s bedroom. With several bin bags full and ready to be taken out Grantaire started on the dishes while Joly tried to find a tea towel that he found clean enough to dry up with. It took them a good three hours but by the end the flat was clean if still a little cluttered and untidy and there were enough dishes for people to eat off of if someone did order in some actual food at some point.
Joly took a seat on the sofa to rest while Grantaire set about pulling two enormous bean bags from the even more enormous hall cupboard and dragging them into the living room. He followed this up with a pile of pillows and blankets and finally a spare duvet.
“Building a nest are we”
“Forgive me for wanting my guests to be comfortable.”
Joly laughed and pulled Grantaire and the duvet up onto the sofa, fully expecting that by the end of the night R would be curled up surrounded by all things soft and comfortable. Their friends would arrive soon, for now they stayed cuddled together enjoying each other’s company.
Chapter 6: Chapter Six
In which movie days are had.
The first to arrive was Courfeyrac which was to be expected really. He had his arms full with an inordinate amount of popcorn that appeared to have come straight from the cinema. Grantaire took one look at him, stepped aside to allow him entrance to the flat, and outright refused to ask.
The door had gone again shortly after and upon opening it Grantaire found an exasperated Bahorel and a sheepish looking Bossuet. He stepped aside and Bahorel stomped in. It turned out that Bossuet had meant to arrive first but spilt something on himself and had to get changed. He had found Bahorel along the way or, more accurately, Bahorel had found him. Having pulled him back by the back of his shirt from walking into oncoming traffic. In Bossuet’s opinion some people need to learn how to indicate when they turned corners. In Bahorel’s opinion Bossuet needed to look where he was going.
The moment Joly heard this he was up, fussing around his boyfriend and chastising him for almost getting run over. Again.
Bossuet weathered this the same way he weathered all previous worries from Joly, with a continued sheepish expression and repeated apologies.
“Musichetta sends her regrets.” He said, over Joly’s ongoing tirade. “She got called in to cover someone’s shift so isn’t going to make it.”
Joly fell silent at this, pouting.
“Oh come on love, you’ve still got me.” Bossuet said, pulling his med student back onto the sofa.
“Only because Bahorel somehow managed to save your life.”
Bosseut simply chuckled and cuddled up to his boyfriend, partially squashing Grantaire in the process.
“Hey now, my sofa is not nearly big enough for this, especially with you two sprawling all over each other.” He stretched and stood up.
“Oh R I’m so-”
“Don’t even start.” He interrupted Joly. “I’m getting another beer and then I’m getting one of the bean bags, don’t try to apologise, don’t try to stop me. There is nothing wrong with wanting to sit together especially as Chetta isn’t here.” He gave them both a look. Joly still pouted.
Grantaire slouched his way over to the fridge, taking a beer and a couple of extra cans so he wouldn’t have to keep getting up. He got a glass as well in the hope that it would stop Joly staring knowingly at him quite so often.
He kicked one of the giant bean bags until it was in a messy pile in front of the sofa and sat down, beer and glass getting put on the coffee table. He popped the tab on the beer, pouring half of it into the glass, and was quite content for a few moments before Bahorel started idly swatting at him and messing with his hair. After a short exchange of swearing and insults Grantaire shuffled himself and the bean bag closer to Joly’s legs and away from Bahorel.
“Oh come on don’t be like that it was only a bit of fun.” Said Bahorel. Grantaire stuck his tongue out at him.
When the door went again Grantaire refused to move citing that he didn’t want Bahorel messing with his stuff while he was gone causing another round of good natured swearing from both sides. He needn’t have bothered. Courfeyrac had a tendency to take over as host for any social gathering regardless of whether it was in his house or not and was already opening the door for Jehan.
The English student turned poet smiled warmly at Courfeyrac and kissed his cheek before floating through to the living room and sitting between Grantaire and Bahorel quite happily.
“Cease your warring good friends tonight is for companionship not conflict.” He said, nestling into his own bean bag with a contented sigh.
Courfeyrac, having remained quite restrained by his standards, finally gave in to his impatience. “Can we choose a movie yet, it’s important to pick ones that set the right tone but we don’t want anything too serious.” He bounced at the group.
“Courf not everyone’s here yet.” said Bossuet.
“We don’t know how long the rest will be.” He whined.
“They’re your best friends, you should have some idea.” Laughed Bahorel.
“Well...okay I don’t think ‘Ferre will be too long. It depends on how stubborn Enjy is being.”
“Then we can wait.” said Jehan, smiling softly.
“Wait…Enjolras is coming?” Asked Grantaire with a slight note of panic. He had honestly not expected that their leader would want to come to the event. He rarely came to things like movie days in general and he certainly hadn’t expected him to come to something Grantaire was hosting.
Joly raised an eyebrow behind him and Bossuet elbowed him gently shaking his head. Now was not the time.
“I don’t know.” Courfeyrac shrugged. “I told him to come and Ferre told him to come but he said he had coursework to do even though I know that his deadline for it isn’t for another month yet. He doesn’t get out enough if it isn’t Uni or society or protest related but he’s being stubborn about the whole thing.”
Grantaire sighed and finished his drink, pouring out the next can. He had just reached the end of it when the door went again. He slumped down in his bean bag as he heard Courfeyrac open the door with an exaggerated “Finally!”
Combeferre arrived with a smile and pushed Courfeyrac out of the way of the door as he dragged a loudly protesting Enjolras into the flat behind him.
“I do not need to socialise more.” The blond grumbled.
“Yes you do and now that you both are finally here we can decide on what we’re watching and before you say it Ferre we are not watching the entire Lord of the Rings franchise I want to actually stay awake.” Said Courfeyrac.
Combeferre sighed and cleaned his glasses. “You have no taste.”
“I have excellent taste, now-”
“If you won’t watch Lord of the Rings then I’m not watching Mean Girls. Again.” Said Combeferre, replacing his glasses. Courfeyrac deflated slightly.
There was much debate over what to watch given that they needed more than one movie. Bahorel at one point suggested both Hawk the Slayer and Krull, at which Grantaire threatened to eject him from the building entirely. Eventually Bossuet suggested they watch Tremors. Everyone had seen it before so they didn’t have to pay too much attention, it had some elements of suspense, so bad it’s good quality, and it had Kevin Bacon. There were also enough hilarious sequels to last them however late the night ran on to.
“Trust you to suggest a movie where the protagonists encounter rapidly escalating amounts of bad luck.” said Grantaire, Bossuet just laughed.
“That was very sarcastic of you Grantaire and I don’t think it was entirely necessary.” Said Joly.
Grantaire stuck his tongue out again.
“You are aware you’re not actually six years old.”
Grantaire just grinned and shrugged before turning to the rest of the room. “So are we doing drinking games? I know some excellent rules for Tremors.”
“Yes!” shouted Bahorel as the rest of the room murmured their various versions of no.
“Oh why not.” He grumbled.
“This is supposed to be a day to chill out day not a massive party. Drinks are fine but let’s not go too overboard considering we might have a pub crawl coming up,” said Combeferre. Joly nodded his agreement and mumbled something along the lines of losing track of how much R had drank already.
Grantaire squinted up at him from the bean bag. “I’ll have you know I’ve only had four beers and I’m not even tipsy yet.”
“Yet.” said Joly, Bossuet and Bahorel at once. Grantaire shook his head at having such incorrigible friends and not having enough tongues to stick out at them all at once. Such was the tragedy of his life. He tried to look suave while he poured the rest of his beer into his glass but his hand slipped and he ended up dropping in the whole can, to the great amusement of his friends.
With Jehan there to guard his beanbag Grantaire felt secure enough to nip into the kitchen for a quick cigarette. Technically as it was his flat he could smoke anywhere but he didn’t want to make his friends feel uncomfortable and he just knew it would start Joly off again. He needed a moment to himself anyway. He loved being around his friends more than just about anything but they could be a little overwhelming all at once and he really hadn’t been prepared for Enjolras to be here as well.
He rolled his shoulders back, spine cracking, and blew out a long stream of smoke. Instant stress relief, at least a little bit. He wasn’t looking forward to the day that Joly finally got him to quite. He knew it would come eventually. He knew his best friend too well and he wasn’t exactly subtle at times. He just wished he knew what he was actually planning. He resolved to worry about it when it became an issue. Right now he grabbed some more beer and headed back in to sit with his friends.
Half way through the movie when everyone was beginning to edge towards tipsy, and Grantaire was finally at least one beer past this point, Feuilly showed up. Between working part time and a project deadline fast approaching he didn’t have a lot of spare time on his hands at the moment. The small amount he did have he would rather spend with his friends than anywhere else.
He took a seat next to Bahorel in the other ridiculous, bouncy, weird ikea chair after filching a couple of beers and some popcorn. Enjolras who had lit up at the arrival of Feuilly now slouched back down with what he would vehemently deny was a pout at his friend sitting so far away. Enjolras greatly admired Feuilly for the amount of responsibilities he managed to balance as well as how hard he had worked to get where he was. Feuilly’s busy life meant that he didn’t spend a great deal of time with any of his friends including Enjolras. As such monopolizing Feuilly’s time was a precious thing that all of the savored, especially Enjolras.
Grantaire greatly envied Feuilly for being able to get so much of Enjolras’ attention. Not that he had any intention of admitting this. Enjolras was merely attractive, very attractive, and quite distracting. In his defence he was very easily distracted. That was all. Really.
Bossuet and Joly sat giggling on the sofa as they watched the interactions. Sharing a look or ten about how emotionally blind their friends happened to be. Enjolras was too far away to hear any of it and despite Feuilly not being especially close either he still looked up and grinned at them both. Grantaire flushed a little at what he managed to overhear, glared at all three of them, finished his beer and swiftly opened another one. He’d had rather a lot at this point, at least by his friend’s standards, and was starting to feel pleasantly warm. He might actually be able to ignore their antics soon. Unfortunately for him his best friend was not about to ignore his.
Sitting behind Grantaire, Joly worried about his friend’s mood, especially considering their earlier discussion. Bossuet came to a silent agreement with Joly that the artist was drinking too much too fast and snuck away for a couple of moments. Before Grantaire knew it an entire duvet had been dumped on top of his head. There was a muffled exclamation followed by muffled swearing, which considering the creativeness of the language used was probably for the best, as Joly proceeded to tuck him in tightly. He saved uncovering Grantaire’s head for last for the sheer hilarity of watching a fluffy mound of duvet curse and struggle.
Bahorel burst out laughing at the sight. “Be careful Joly, lest the grumpy cover monster cuddle you into submission.”
Feuilly couldn’t hold back his giggles at this. Grantaire glared at the both of them and let out duvet dampened curse.
“What was that?” Said Feuilly.
“Is sounded like ‘Mmmph’.” Said Bahorel.
“Ah, ‘Mmmph’. Such a shame I don’t speak duvet.”
The artist extricated himself from the covers enough that he could respond.
“I said, fuck you both.” He followed this up with a creative if rather obscene gesture and was pelted with cushions by the two in retaliation.
“If you think I’m giving these back you have made a grave error my former friends.” He gave brief exaggerated evil laugh and proceeded to pile the cushions up around him to give him some extra comfort and support. Feuilly and Bahorel paused briefly before resuming their barrage with balled up blankets instead, almost burying Grantaire by the time they were done. He shuffled about the blankets and cushions some then wrapped the duvet around him a little more comfortably and sat holding his beer in both hands.
“You look like a beer dragon,” said Courfeyrac.
Bahorel looked over at him. “What the fuck is a beer dragon?”
“A dragon that hoards beer, obviously?”
Grantaire ignored them both and snuggled a little more into the soft, warm, nest he had built, covers up to the bridge of his nose. As he went back to watching the movie Joly stroked his hand through the artist’s unruly curls.
As time went on and they started on the sequel Grantaire drank less and relaxed more. He very tactile, always had been, and Joly’s touch was soothing.
Jehan smiled at the sight, happy to see their friend contented for a change, and stole a couple of blankets eliciting a grumpy noise to be emitted from the depths of the nest. They laughed at how cute the artist looked buried in covers and cuddled up against him.
Enjolras rolled his eyes at the continued antics. He honestly didn’t know what he expected coming over to the cynic’s house but this was ridiculous. “Why do things always get so weird whenever you drink too much.” He huffed in a disapproving manner.
The nest formerly known as Grantaire made a sad noise.
Much to the blond’s surprise none of his friends seemed to like the sad nest noise and he was suddenly on the receiving end of a room full of glares. Flustered he tried to apologise but by that point his friends had become distracted by cuddling the nest. Enjolras looked over confused at Combeferre who he found was trying desperately hard not to laugh, hand covering his mouth. He sighed and wrote it off as a lost cause for just now with the intention to quiz his flatmates on things more at another time. He ignored the thought that the enormous pile of covers and dark curly hair was cute, he absolutely refused to think on such things.
The nest, meanwhile, was happy to be on the receiving end of so many hugs and became contented once more.
Towards the end of the second movie Feuilly and Combeferre organised ordering a large amount of Chinese food for the group, noting Joly’s request to order from the good take away not “the one that gives you food poisoning”. It arrived part way through the third movie and Bahorel stood in front of the nest, waving a tray of kung po chicken in an attempt to coax Grantaire out. It was a marginal success. The artist extricated his upper half enough to grab his food and couldn’t be bothered to cover himself up again.
Despite his reservations it had been a good night. He was warm, surrounded by soft things and pretty blissed out from all the affection, and he had one of his favourite foods. All in all it had turned out well.
Later, as everyone was leaving Joly and Bossuet pulled him to one side.
“I just wanted to say that I’m glad we got to spend time together today, even with everyone else.”
“Company does you good R. You look more relaxed than I’ve seen you in months” said Bossuet, driving the point home.
“Just remember we’re here if you need us.” With that they both hugged him and followed the others out.
Grantaire, feeling better than he had in a while, looked around at the fall out left from the evening. He shrugged and went to crawl into his bed. Tidying up could wait until the morning.
Chapter 7: Chapter Seven
Grantaire tries to keep his mood stable and Enjolras tries to figure out Grantaire.
Just to make everyone aware that I don't have a beta for any of this so I'm sorry for any errors.
Grantaire was awoken by a sensation that felt akin to tiny little knives pricking his flesh. He jerked awake, looking down to see a disgruntled looking ball of white fluff sitting on his chest.
“Ah, I did wonder when you were going to express your displeasure at me.”
It swatted at his nose with a paw.
“I know, I know you hated being shut up in here yesterday but I couldn’t let you out.” Grantaire picked it up in both hands and rolled over onto his front. The little ball of barely suppressed disdain held out in front of him.
“I’d never live it down if they saw you, even more so if they knew what I named you, you stubborn little thing.” He shook it gently. “By all accounts, and my letting agreement, I shouldn’t have you. I certainly can’t afford you.” He sighed as the little creature batted at his curls. “But who was I to leave a sodden little kitten sitting out in the rain. You already looked half drowned.”
The kitten mewed, high pitched, tiny and adorable. Grantaire cuddled it to him, burying his face in soft fur. He was still tired from last night and didn’t want to move much, if at all. The kitten twined its tiny claws in the artist’s curls. When Grantaire finally pulled his head back there was a sharp tug to his scalp and he was faced with a snowy white kitten trying to look innocent with thick black curls wrapped around its paws.
It took some time to untangle the mess but once it was done he sat the both of them up. “Now then, if I let you out you must promise you won’t get into my paints again.” The kitten mewed and blinked up at him. “I mean it, don’t give me that innocent look you mischevious little hellion. It took forever to clean my oils out of your fur, next time I shall simply dump you in a bowl full of turpentine and be done with it.” The kitten mewed again and Grantaire rolled his eyes.
“As stubborn as your name sake you are.” He stood up, opened the bedroom door and set the creature down gently. “Go on then little Apollo, off you go to cause your mischief. Go sleep in one of your own sunbeams or something.”
Grantaire stretched and set about getting dressed. He had a flat to clean after last night. He could just leave it but it would be a shame after all the effort Joly had went to helping get the place in shape. All in all it didn’t take too long to get all the rubbish and cans cleared away and after making sure Apollo was fed and watered he sprawled out on the sofa.
He looked at his phone which had been buzzing intermittently since he got up and showed no fewer than twelve texts all from Courfeyrac. He put it back on the table, he probably didn’t want to know anyway. The coffee machine belched its displeasure at Grantaire having the audacity to turn it on. “Yes, yes, you are fire, you are death, now hurry up I need caffeine.” He shouted through to it, flinging one arm over his eyes.
Eventually the wretched thing fell silent, signalling that the coffee was done. Grantaire got up and fixed himself an Irish coffee. He thought it appropriate considering he was going to have to deal with Courfeyrac’s nonsense. While it was cooling he fetched one of his sketchbooks, some charcoal and a couple of books on greek mythology. He had something of an epic planned if he could ever get his inspiration and attention span to stick around for long enough. Epics required research.
It should be noted at this point that Grantaire’s bookshelves are a thing of beauty. The shelves themselves were cheap ikea stock and bowed under the weight of too many books. The books though, oh the books. He owned everything from classic and gothic literature to Shakespeare and Chaucer to Catullus and Tacitus to Homer to books on mythologies from around the world and poetry to fantasy and satire. He read everything and anything that grabbed his attention became a brief obsession before he moved on to something else. A wide range of interests for a short range of attention.
More delicate topics were shelved in the large cupboard which also held a wine rack and some suspicious looking unmarked kegs. Here, amongst other things, were the collected works of Wilmot and selected works of De Sade, not Sodom though. He wouldn’t wish that book on anyone let alone himself.
Coffee now a drinkable temperature, he picked up the mug and his phone and sat up on the window ledge, looking out at the world. He looked at his notifications, thirteen texts now, and rolled his eyes. Checking his messages they were all variants on the theme of “Who’s a good beer dragon? You are! Yes you are!” and “You are so cute when you’re cuddled up why do you never let me hug you?!”. He deleted them and sent an abrupt two word text back expressing his displeasure. He doubted it would have any effect. Courfeyrac had never listened to requests for him to fuck off previously there was no reason he would do so this time.
He spent the rest of the afternoon alternating between sketching ideas and cross referencing mythology and metaphor in the books. By half five his hands were nearly black with charcoal and there was a smudge of it across his cheek too. It had been a productive afternoon.
Grantaire rose and stretched. He washed his hands and grabbed his satchel to head off to tonight’s meeting. It had been a peaceful day all in all, he hoped the trend would continue into the evening.
He took a seat at the back of the meeting, away from Joly, Jehan, or Bahorel for a change. He was content to watch his friends comings and goings as he sipped his pint and continued sketching. It was interesting to watch how the various little groups of his friends interacted.
You had the triumvirate of leadership that was Enjolras, Combeferre and Courfeyrac. He was still confused by the inclusion of the latter but they all seemed to get along well enough, not that he would know.
Then there was Bahorel and Feuilly, flatmates and partners in crime. While Feuilly was always busy and often late to meetings he still seemed to find enough time to get up to mischief with Bahorel. Enjolras had a tendency towards embarrassing Feuilly by accident. Bahorel had a tendency towards almost starting riots. Everyone liked the both of them, regardless of the trouble they caused.
Jehan was sitting alone today. They seemed melancholic. An unfortunate disposition that had been affecting the English student more and more of late. Grantaire worried for them, he didn’t know the cause but he would help Jehan if he could. They deserved better.
Musichetta had the evening off it seemed and was cuddled up with her boyfriends at their own table. Grantaire envied the three of them greatly. They were so lucky to have found one another, and so happy.
The artist felt his mood dip, it wasn’t fair of him to be jealous of what they had. They were his friends. He should be better than that for them. He put away his sketchbook and thought to bait Enjolras a little to perk himself up.
The blond did not have time for him tonight. He was too busy with his plans. A few vicious responses were all Grantaire received and all they succeeded in doing was to send his mood diving further south. He called it a night and slumped home, dejected.
The next day the dark mood had dug its claws in deep. There would be no shaking it for a while.
He had work in half an hour. He had work in half an hour, it took twenty minutes to get there and he wasn’t even slightly dressed yet. He wasn’t even really out of bed yet.
His alarm had gone off at five and he had pressed snooze until it was seven and now he was just sitting on the edge of his bed, quilt wrapped around himself, staring into space. He had absolutely no motivation to move which, considering that the penalties for being late ranged from being shouted at angrily by the head chef to being fired, was fairly impressive. Right now he just didn’t care.
He very much needed the money but he hated his job and the thought of facing it right now was proving very difficult for him to deal with. The problem was that because of this dark mood today was a Bad Day. Yes, these ones did get capital letters.
Some days he coasted through on even, some days his mood took a sharp downturn and some days were just Bad. The days that were Good were few and far between at the moment. They had been for a while.
Today wasn’t the worst he’d had but he was still having problems. Anxious nausea gnawed at his gut and he was fighting back tears every other minute, despair and apathy ached in his chest and he just felt like he couldn’t today. Right now he knew that wasn’t going to be good enough.
Little Apollo nudged at his hand in worry, he looked down at the kitten and petted its head.
“I know, I know. I don’t have time for this.” He sniffed.
Grantaire wiped the tears from his cheeks that he hadn’t managed to stop and stood shakily to pull on some clothes. He swept up his hair into a very haphazard bun, there was barely enough for him to do it really. It would be hidden under an awful bandana anyways so it was not as if it would matter.
He pulled on his, now rather ratty looking, army boots and a coat that had seen much better days. He quickly put out some food and fresh water for Apollo. He filled his flask with whisky and shoved it in his pocket, picked up some chewing gum to hide the smell of it from his boss, and a pack of cigarettes and shoved them in another pocket.
If there was one thing he knew about days like this it was he wouldn’t get through it without a drink.
Enjolras had no reason to be awake this early. He had no classes today, there were no society events to organise. Still he was awake and already caffeinated, currently nursing his second mug of black coffee and musing over what was fast becoming the enigma that was Grantaire.
He sighed to himself in frustration.
Combeferre shuffled into the kitchen, yawning, still half asleep. He had on slippers, boxer shorts and a sweater, his glasses were a little askew and he made quite the odd picture.
“Why are you up. Why am I up. We have nothing going on today.”
“I’m thinking, I don’t know why you’re awake Ferre.”
“I smelled coffee.”
“Ah, sorry. I needed to concentrate.”
Combeferre made himself a coffee and some cereal. He also made Enjolras a bowl of cereal and pushed it pointedly towards the blond.
“Breakfast is better for concentration than caffeine what’s bothering you.”
“I notice that didn’t stop you from making yourself a coffee anyway,” He raised an eyebrow and his flatmate only to get an unimpressed look as Combeferre righted his glasses. “Grantaire. Grantaire is what’s bothering me as usual.”
Combeferre braced himself for the rant that was sure to follow. Really Enjolras was beginning to exasperate him over this.
“I don’t understand him. He’s so intelligent, I know he’s intelligent, he counters my arguments at every turn without so much as a pause but why must he be so obtuse. It’s not as if he disagrees with our causes, Joly has assured me, repeatedly and at length I might add, that Grantaire is sympathetic but he insists on shooting down ideas and deriding me and I cannot understand why Ferre.” He ran a hand through already dishevelled curls and gulped more coffee.
Combeferre opened his mouth to impress his point about breakfast over coffee but Enjolras was by no means finished.
“I thought we had finally been getting through to him. He’s been showing up for meetings, not only that but he’s been on time, twice. He showed up to the bake sale, he baked brownies for the bake sale and they were good and he was on time and he hates bake sales. He’s not exactly quiet about that you know.” Combeferre nodded reassuringly, encouraging Enjolras to continue. This was most likely better if not bottled up and for all he knew perhaps his friend might edge himself further towards the goal Combeferre was hoping for.
“He suggested an event. A pub crawl admittedly but it makes sense for the cause and he backed himself up with well thought out arguments and he actually defended something like he believed in it. He hosted a social event. He even suggested it according to Courf. Things were going so well and I don’t know why I expected it might actually last.” He paused for breath and a couple of mouthfuls of cereal lest Combeferre start looking disappointed in him again. “Then last night. Last night it was like we were right back to the beginning again with him picking apart my arguments for no discernable reason and being argumentative for what I can only presume was the sake of it.” He sighed, “Even at the movie night he got drunk and ridiculous. I don’t know why I let myself expect better of him.” Enjolras shook his head, eyes focused on the cereal he was now poking at absentmindedly with a spoon.
Combeferre rolled his eyes. “Grantaire did not get drunk at the movie night and don’t you even consider interrupting me, you’ve had your rant now it’s time for my reason.” He cleared his throat and continued, “Grantaire did drink a lot at first and I won’t say that he wasn’t planning on getting drunk, however,” He stressed when Enjolras looked ready to interrupt him regardless, “Joly and Bossuet managed to keep him sober with what you called ridiculous behaviour. I’m sure you recall being on the receiving end of our friends ire when wrote off Grantaire’s, well for lack of a better word cuddliness, to him being drunk.”
Enjolras flushed at the memory, his friends had not been impressed and Grantaire had been unreasonably cute when he had snuggled up. A thought he refused to dwell on. “Well really what else would it be. He’s not like that normally.”
“Actually,” said Combeferre with a smile now bordering on smug, “I’ve seen Joly, and some of the others, placate our resident cynic with touch multiple times.” Enjolras looked up in confusion.
“Don’t worry it’s never been very obvious I wouldn’t have expected you to notice.”
“But you did?” he asked.
Combeferre hummed in agreement. “During my observations of our friends I have discovered that Grantaire seems to seek out touch the most often, albeit the most subtly, and also that touch has the most positive effects on him.” He looked into his coffee as if it held all the solutions to his friends’ multitude of problems. “Honestly he seems quite touch starved for someone who is our group of friends.”
Enjolras stared at his flatmate for a moment, drumming his fingers on the counter top. “You are aware that our friends are not actually science experiments for you to observe, right?”
“Of course not.” Combeferre looked a little insulted at the suggestion.
“It is a little creepy that you pay such close attention Ferre, just a little,” he shook his head, he was getting distracted. “Besides, Grantaire cannot possibly be touch starved. That’s insane. Our friends have absolutely no concept of personal space boundaries, especially Courf. I suppose I’ll concede your point about him not being drunk though.” Despite his words Enjolras resolved to pay a little more attention to the cynic. Something seemed off and he couldn’t quite figure out what it was. It was frustrating.
“On the subject of the pub crawl,” said Combeferre, bringing Enjolras back to the present.
“Oh yes. Well, I suppose he has proven himself more responsible than I gave him credit for at the very least. I’ll update the forum if you want to handle the mailing list. I’ll text Courf to update social media since he’s always complaining we don’t use it enough and he can handle the posters as well.”
Combeferre smiled at him and went back to his breakfast. “Make sure you finish your cereal first.”
Enjolras rolled his eyes and took a pointed spoonful not caring if he looked petulant.
Chapter 8: Chapter Eight
Pubcrawls and revelations.
Grantaire felt a little in shock. For the past few days he hadn’t been able to go anywhere on the University campus without seeing a poster for the pubcrawl he suggested. It wasn’t going to be a spectacular turnout, based on what Courfeyrac had said. Their regular friends and a few of the freshers but it was better than nothing.
The cynic had his own plans for the evening. Since he found out the crawl was going ahead he’d been making a few preparations. He wasn’t going back on his promise to give people something to remember them by. He had declared a temporary truce with Courfeyrac over the duvet incident at the movie night for long enough for them to plot things between the two of them. Tonight was going to be good for him and good for the society, or so he hoped. He’d show that blond maniac what he was capable of.
He wasn’t even pregaming, for once, he wanted his head about him at least at the start of this.
Grantaire filled up a satchel with everything he was going to need for the night and tried to arrange things so that it wasn’t going rattle too much. It didn’t take too long to get to the first bar.
“Did you bring everything you needed,” asked Jehan smiling at him from across the table. Grantaire patted the satchel but kept silent about it’s contents. “What’s even in it?”
“Secrets and plans. You know that line from that thing, hair full of secrets, yeah? Like that but with this bag.”
“Alright, oh mysterious one, but I expect to find out later on, or else,” the poet glared at him. Jehan could be quite terrifying when they wanted to be.
“Who are we still waiting on,” he took a deep gulp of his drink. Just because he was taking it a little easier than normal didn’t mean he wasn’t drinking at all.
Grantaire’s brow furrowed in confusion. “How is Feuilly here but Bahorel isn't?”
“He decided,” interrupted Feuilly, “to wait for me at the flat.”
“First time for everything.”
Feuilly laughed. “Yeah but he didn't tell me he was going to, so I came here straight from work. He texted me he’ll be here soon.”
Bahorel was Glaswegian. There the description could easily have ended. Bahorel was a Weegie, born and bred. His voice deep and his accent softer than some and not indecipherable. He was loud, enthusiastic, overly friendly and familiar, cheeky, crude and absolutely fantastic. He drank, he fought, he shouted at the obvious, and oblivious, tourists. He enjoyed himself and he enjoyed his life. Bahorel never did anything by halves. His personality seemed all exaggeration and extremes at first, but past the blustering and bravado he was surprisingly genuine and a very loyal individual. He was also a terror on pub crawls.
He barged through the door, voice as loud as his personality. “Friends, students, countrymen, lend me your beers,”
“No?” said Grantaire, pulling his drink towards him and guarding it with his arms.
“If I give you my beer I am certain I won’t be getting it back,” said Feuilly, “So definitely no.”
“It was a turn of phrase, though if any of the freshers want to get me a beer I’m not going to be ungrateful.” Bahorel sat down heavily next to Grantaire, shoving the cynic a little before throwing an arm around him.
“Never let anyone tell you, you're not as bad as me. Because you are. At least,” said the artist grumpily.
Bahorel affected an utterly unconvincing look of innocence for all of three seconds before narrowing his eyes at Grantaire. “What are you drinking R?”
Grantaire, who had been sitting drinking something in a martini glass completely unironically tensed up. “It's an espresso martini, it has both alcohol and coffee, why wouldn’t I drink it,” he puffed himself up defensively and looked back at Bahorel, daring him with his eyes to call it a girly drink.
Bahorel reached over with an enormous hand and ruffled his hair. “ You really think I’m, that narrow minded. How many times do I have to tell you I'm cool with this stuff before you relax.”
“Sorry,” the artist slouched back down, he was used to assuming the worst of situations, normally because that’s what he got. Bahorel was one of the most accepting people he’d ever met. He should have known better. “Could you possibly engulf a little less of me between your arms please. I’m getting claustrophobic here.”
“No, you’re not, you love it. And don't worry I only wanted to know what it was so I can get one seeing how no one seems to be getting me a beer,” he grinned and got up to go to the bar.
Grantaire shouted back, “And don't think I'm forgiving you for that pun either.”
Jehan nudged him, “Oh shush you love puns. Your entire name is one.”
Enjolras stood on a chair, much to the disapproval of the barman, and cleared his throat in an attempt to garner some of the group’s attention.
“Everyone,” He clapped his hands together over the din and waited for the group to fall quiet. Joly and Bossuet were still giggling together over something until they noticed the silence around them and Enjolras’ unimpressed gaze. “I’ll keep this brief,” there were some cheers from the corner that held Grantaire and Bahorel, Enjolras rolled his eyes. “Just to say please try to keep things a little more controlled than usual. I know what some of you are like when you’ve been drinking and I’m not trying to ruin anyone's fun but please remember we are here with a purpose. Thank you.” He got down from the chair and went back to his whispered discussion with Combeferre, their heads bent together.
“Was that directed at me?” Bahorel and Jehan shared a look behind Grantaire’s head. “That was directed at me wasn't it. You know in alcohol’s defence I do some pretty stupid shit whilst sober.”
“I don’t think that’s really a good defence, R” Said Bahorel.
“For someone determined not to be a lawyer, you’re supposed to know as little about defense as possible, and as such I’m ignoring that comment.”
Enjolras got up and passed around posters to be put up as they went from bar to bar. Whilst this was happening Courfeyrac sidled up to Grantaire.
“You got the goods?”
Grantaire smirked, “You know it.”
“Ooh gimme, gimme!” Courfeyrac made a grabbing motion with his hands.
Grantaire chuckled and pulled a package of something out of the satchel before passing it to courfeyrac.
“You’re the best, R,” he planted a sloppy kiss on the artist’s cheek. Grantaire wiped it off with a look of affected disgust.
They hit a few bars in the center, or just off the center, of town before heading up to Sauchiehall street where a lot of the students drank. There were a lot of bars and Enjolras felt the need to reiterate his point about no one going too crazy. Grantaire who had restricted himself to one drink per bar was only feeling a little buzzed. He’d stick to almost sobriety for a little longer.
After postering in a few more sedate places they headed to Nice and Sleazy. People went there in droves and bar walls were covered in sharpie graffiti. Joly was getting a little disturbed by how much Grantaire was giggling to himself, he hadn’t drank nearly enough for that sort of nonsense.
“What are you up to?”
“Nothing! Nothing whatsoever,” his friend grinned back at him, “Yet. Wait and see.”
The artist lurked about until the table next to the front window, and a suitably large space of wall, became available before dragging Bahorel and Feuilly over as his accomplices.
“Wait, what?” Said Feuilly.
“Cover me, and hold your breath.”
“What do you mean hold my breath?” Protested Bahorel. There was a rattling noise behind him, an oddly familiar sound not unlike ‘shka shka shka’. “R” he asked with growing suspicion and glee, “Did you bring spray paint?”
“Maybe,” Grantaire drawled, drawing out the A sound. “I may also have made a stencil , just as base, we need to get this done quickly.”
“Get what done quickly, what are you doing? Do you go around graffiti-ing the city?”
The artist huffed a laugh. “No way, I can't measure up to what’s already out there.”
“I don't remember there being much artsy stuff.”
“I meant in sarcasm, this city is fucking hilarious,” he put down the spray paint and peeled off the stencil. “Right just gotta do some details in sharpie and a little acrylic and we’re good to go.”
Feuilly looked back over his shoulder and his jaw dropped. “Oh. My. Fucking. God.” The background was a large red cloud of spray paint, Grantaire not having bothered to define the edges. Over this, which must have been the stencilled part, was a bed with the covers and pillows hanging off the edge and above it the words ‘Good Consent’ in large capital letters and beneath it ‘Only yes means yes’. All of this part was in black and Grantaire had gone around the edge with a black sharpie adding all different gender symbols and was now putting some details on the bed with a tiny tub of red acrylic and a small brush. “You’re a genius.”
“I’ve been telling you all that for years,” he deadpanned.
Throughout all this Enjolras had been busy putting posters up in the bathroom and when he came out to announce it was time to move on to the next bar he was absolutely stunned by what he saw. He stared at Grantaire for a moment in shock before a brilliant smile came over his face. The cynic didn’t know what to do with himself to be quite honest, he couldn’t remember anyone looking at him like that.
The moment was broken by Bossuet hurriedly ushering them all out the door. Apparently writing on the walls was alright but spray paint was far from permitted and if they didn’t leg it they’d probably get barred.
The moment they were outside Jehan flung themself at Grantaire. “Oh R it was so beautiful,” they gushed, “And so clever. You must show me more of your art next time I’m over. I mean it. No excuses.”
Courfeyrac who had spent the night sticking stickers absolutely everywhere and on everyone finally managed to corner Enjolras in the next bar. The blond’s hair was now full of stickers, each of them on an individual curl. It made his hair droop a little and he was looking at courfeyrac with the most unimpressed expression Grantaire had ever seen on a human face.
“Where did you even get these.”
“R made them. Well I came up with the idea for stickers but he did the art and the writing and got them made up.”
Enjolras removed one sticker from his hair with an expression of disgust and turned it around so he could look at it. It said good consent in a clear bold font with a trans symbol behind it.
“Some of them say No Means No and some of the say Silence Means No and they all have a range of gender symbols for each background including nonbinary and agender and everything else we could think of and aren’t they great,” gushed Courfeyrac.
Enjolras smiled a little, impressed at the amount of thought that went into them. “I’d like them a lot more if you hadn’t filled my hair with them. This is almost as bad as the glitter."
“There was glitter?!” said Grantaire, who had previously been content just to watch the two of them.
“It took days to get rid of it all. Days Courfeyrac.”
That was it for Grantaire. The mental image of Enjolras with a hair full of glitter being grumpy for days because it just wouldn’t go away, was the last straw for this conversation. He crumpled in fits of laughter.
Enjolras huffed and pouted, pulling the stickers out of his hair one by one and sticking them on Courfeyrac’s jacket. “See how much you like them when they're stuck to you instead.”
Grantaire’s laughter tapered off into disturbing giggles. He watched Enjolras as he tried to get his breath back, marvelling at the fact that their illustrious leader was indulging in something so ridiculous. The blond was actually pretty fun to be around when he let himself relax and god now he could understand why he was such good friends with Courfeyrac, everything made sense now he had some actual context. Combeferre, Enjolras and Courfeyrac balanced each other out it was so obvious now.
Previously Grantaire had only really thought of Enjolras as being attractive, and especially so when he was angry, in a kind of abstract unattainable way. The same way the statue of David is attractive. Hot, but still made of marble. Tonight he had seen a much softer, much more human side. You know, he was actually rather cute when he pouted and incredibly awkward when he wasn’t trying to overthrow something. Grantaire just wanted to wrap his arms around him and fluff the ridiculous golden hair on that adorable dork.
Oh. Oh dear. That’s not how things are supposed to go with Enjolras. That’s definitely not what he should be thinking. He wasn’t supposed to be endearing and human. This was just going to make things infinitely worse for him. Grantaire tore his eyes away desperate to look at something that wasn’t Enjolras and caught sight of Joly smirking knowingly. He stalked over to what would possibly be his former best friend.
“Joly,” he trailed off, “Is there something you’d like to tell me?”
“Oh, R. I’m sorry. I did hint at it a couple of times but you weren’t having it.”
“You knew, you actually knew. How could you know when I didn’t. I mean,” he looked away, torn. “I’ll admit that I thought maybe, I was a little more attracted to him than I probably should be but, not like this, this is dangerous territory Joly, this is emotions.”
“It’ll be fine, R,” said Joly, not unsympathetic, and wrapped his arm around Grantaire.
“It will not be fine this is emotions, do you have any idea how bad I am at this sort of thing. Oh my god I am not drunk enough for this.”
Joly hugged him and petted his hair, trying to soothe the artist. It wasn’t working wonderfully well. As they left that bar to head on to their final destination of the night Grantaire clung to Joly and Bossuet, both trying to cheer him up. Eventually he dropped back, no use in ruining their night because of unwelcome revelations. It didn’t take long to reach Driftwood. The atmosphere inside was laid back and by the time Grantaire was inside there had already been an order placed for an unreasonable number of plates of nachos, as well as chips and onion rings. Bahorel and Feuilly were busy at the bar doing something that was making Joly gesture emphatically and worriedly in their direction while Bossuet was trying to coax him back to his seat.
Grantaire slid into a chair beside Jehan for the second time that evening, laying his head on a delicate shoulder and sighing. “I am cursed Jehan. The universe abhors me and as such it tries to end me prematurely with shock and dismay and unluck. How often have I claimed to be ignorant? No matter, I am ignorant no more and I envy those who still possess such things. Ignorance truly is bliss and robbed of it my bliss is undone. I am a wretch, Jehan, the worst of this earth.”
Jehan hummed in sympathy and acknowledgement, cuddling up to the artist. “You are become so eloquent my friend. Be it alcohol that has loosed your tongue, or ignorance robbed that has unweighted it.” They giggled a little, speech a little slurred. “But I fear I understand your melancholy better than you might think. Mayhaps we share an affliction my friend.”
Grantaire blinked up at them in confusion. Jehan smiled and kissed his forehead, if a little sloppily.
Grantaire jumped, startled by the shout from an enthusiastic Bahorel, accompanied by a broadly grinning Feuilly. “Cheap Tequila,” he added. The two were already well passed tipsy, something Grantaire quite envied at the moment.
“You my friend,” said Feuilly, “Are entirely too sober.”
“And entirely too sad,” said Bahorel, “Tonight's a night for fun and you are going to have fun whether you like it or not.”
“I’m not quite sure that’s how fun works but I’ll take the tequila.”
Cheap tequila, Grantaire, Bahorel, and Feuilly had the potential to quite possibly be the most disastrous combination possible. They escalated each other’s antics at the best of times and with those inhibitions removed who knew what they would get up to. Jehan was positively delighted with the idea.
They watched the three of them take shots and encouraged Bahorel and Feuilly’s efforts to cheer up Grantaire. Every so often they would deliver carefully chosen words to steer their friends’ ideas in the right direction. Eventually Bahorel and Feuilly encouraged Grantaire to come on an adventure with them. Grantaire, quite drunk by this point though not to the degree the other two were, agreed. Jehan looked on with a discernable smugness at their success.
“Oh, R wait.” Jehan stole one of the artist’s pens and scribbled a time, date, and the word ‘picnic’ on Grantaire’s arm. “There, now you can’t forget the promise you made me.” They laughed.
Grantaire thanked Jehan and bid them goodbye with a kiss to each cheek. Bahorel, not one to be outdone, gave an exaggerated bow and kissed Jehan’s hand with a wink and a solemn pledge that he would be in their sweet company again soon. Feuilly rolled his eyes, hugged Jehan and, swaying slightly, directed them all out the door. Jehan managed to contain themself for long enough for the three to leave before collapsing in a fit of giggles.
They crossed over the motorway in fairly short order and Bahorel swung around a lamppost in a manner somewhere between singing in the rain and an attempt at pole dancing and ended up sliding down onto the ground. He sprawled out, flat on his back.
“Help. I've fallen and I can't get up.” This was said with the least amount of effort made to move as possible and also the least amount of care, one hand clasped dramatically to his forehead.
Feuilly and R both attempted to move the enormous lump that was bahorel with little success, pulling at limbs and poking him in the side with their feet. They glanced at each other and with devilish grins, much to Bahorel’s mounting trepidation, tickled him in unison. The boxer took off running. They chased him across the streets and alleyways for a while before all of them came panting to a halt. Grantaire leaned against a wall and lit up a cigarette, blowing the smoke towards bahorel who frowned and grabbed him in a headlock. The artist struggled and eventually managed to free himself, glaring at bahorel who grinned back.
Feuilly who had previously been indisposed what with him being spectacularly sick in a phone booth, running on a stomach full of tequila being an ill advised pastime, straightened up, stretched and declared himself to be perfectly fine. Then he set eyes on Grantaire’s satchel and a wicked idea struck him
“Here, R, chuck us some of that spray paint.”
“Oh fuck yes,” the artist said throwing a black can to Feuilly and shaking another of his own.
“Oi, what about me!” Never had a pout looked as out of place as it did on the face of Bahorel.
“You have all the artistic ability of a bowl of porridge,” said Feuilly shaking his can.
“And you have as much sense of humour as a wet mop. I can fucking scrawl a word in spray paint I never said I was going to paint the fucking Mona Lisa,” Bahorel spat.
Grantaire giggled and threw him a can of spray paint. “Red,” he said “to match your temper.”
“Should’ve given it to Feuilly it’d have matched his hair.”
Feuilly attempted to spray paint Bahorel. “How about black to match your heart,” he huffed.
Grantaire got to work tagging a building, not caring deeply about drawing anything intricate just a few sprawling vines and sarcastic phrases.
“Down with this sort of thing.” Feuilly read. “Nice,” he went back to working on his own design, somewhat more intricate if just as sloppy in his current state. Bahorel wrote ‘You’re Cute’ on on a pillar for no discernable reason before spotting a gas meter sign and added a few extra letters.
Grantaire peered round his shoulder. “Orgasm Meter!” He laughed uproariously, everything hilarious at this point in his drunkenness.
In this manner they went about the streets on their way back to the west end, tagging whatever they thought they could get away with in other equally ridiculous and obscene things. They came to the gates of Kelvingrove park, locked of course at this time of night.
The three of them grinned at each other in shared mischief. Something being locked had never stopped them before. Bahorel and Grantaire boosted Feuilly part way up the gate, he being the lightest. Next Bahorel helped Grantaire up far enough that between his own climbing ability and some help from Feuilly he made it to the top. Finally Bahorel hoisted himself up as far as he could, strong arms carrying him high enough that the other two could grab onto him. The way down the other side proved much simpler.
The park was not the safest place after dark but only the terminally stupid would have approached these three and as such the park for them was peaceful and quiet. Feuilly climbed a statue or two, Bahorel ended up squeezing himself onto a swing set somehow and demanded that his flatmate push him so he could go higher. Feuilly, in a most agreeable state at the moment, complied.
Grantaire meanwhile was waxing philosophical over by the slide. “Ah the world is alive tonight. The stars they shine and glimmer, while I am dimmed and numbed from the light of one. In fact he is no longer a star, no longer a shining untouchable, unreachably, entity but a human one, if still shiny. Shining? Hmm.” His brow furrowed in some confusion not remembering where he was going with this.
“R if you don’t lighten up I’m going to drown you in the river Kelvin, it’s not far, it runs through the park, and I totally will do it.” He said leaving Bahorel to swing aimlessly.
Grantaire stuck out his tongue at him and lit another cigarette. “See if I share this one with you.”
“But I'm all out.” He whined
“So?” said Grantaire.
“If you wanted a cigarette maybe you shouldn’t have threatened to throw me in a river.”
“Grantaire, I’m sorry.” Feuilly blinked at him innocently, bottom lip trembling. “Please can I have a cigarette, please please please?”
Bahorel watched them go around in circles this way with a booming laugh and overly fond eyes. Not every realisation had yet been reached. If Combeferre were present he might have smirked, he might even have taken notes.
Enjolras, meanwhile, was sitting in Driftwood annoyed and confused as to where three of the group had mysteriously vanished. He was not worried, well maybe about Bahorel and Feuilly but certainly not Grantaire. He was absolutely not worried about the artist. At all. Jehan draped themself across the blond’s shoulders.
“Don’t frown so, tonight’s been very successful.”
“Except for the fact that three people have mysteriously vanished without saying goodbye?”
“Shush, they said goodbye to me and they were fine Enjolras. Relax, enjoy yourself. If Joly isn’t getting stressed about it then they can’t possibly be doing anything dangerous.”
Enjolras squinted as he processed that logic. While he had to conclude Jehan had a point, Joly and Bossuet were rather distracted off in a corner to themselves so he doubted Joly had been paying attention. That said it had gotten rather difficult to process things for some reason and if Jehan said it was fine it probably was. Enjolras leaned back into them, perhaps it was alright to relax for a while.
Combeferre hid a smile behind his drink, content that things had moved forward tonight, although some of his friends did appear to be significantly more dense than others.
Chapter 9: Chapter Nine
Enjolras awoke the next day on his deathbed.
At least, that was what he would have Combeferre believe.
“You are not dying,” said Ferre with some finality, this argument having gone on far longer than it really ought. “You have a hangover, which is not entirely surprising considering you had a drink in each bar which is far more than I think I have ever seen you drink before.”
“They wouldn’t have let us put up posters if we didn’t buy drinks,” he whined from beneath the covers.
Combeferre put his face in his hands and let out a strangled laugh.
Enjolras poked his head out a little, “Ferre?”
“Yes?” He said, a little worried by his friend’s sudden descent into hysteria.
“No one said the drinks needed to be alcoholic.”
“…..oh”, was the slightly delayed, sheepish response.
Combeferre shook his head at the ridiculous man he happened to call his best friend. How Enjolras could orchestrate entire protests with ease but still managed to have no common sense for everyday life he would never know. “I'm going to get you some aspirin and a glass of water.”
“Did Grantaire really spray paint a mural on the wall at Nice and Sleazy or did I imagine that?”
He chuckled, “No, Enjolras, you didn’t imagine it. It was very good.”
“Oh.” Enjolras sounded distant, not shocked but not quite expecting it to be real.
Combeferre smiled to himself as he got up. As he was leaving the room he just heard a barely whispered “It was beautiful.”
Grantaire’s phone was ringing. It sounded not unlike someone attempting to drill into his skull with sonic force alone. He groaned into the pillow, not awake, not happy, and distinctly hungover before picking up the phone. “What.”
“That’s not a very nice way to greet your best friend.”
“Joly it is not even noon.” He groaned.
“What would you say if I told you there was a job going at the Mitchell.”
Grantaire raised an eyebrow, since when had Joly started looking at jobs for him. “I’d say it’s a shame they’d never hire me.”
“R!” Came the exasperated response from the other end of the line.
“They wouldn’t, you know they wouldn’t, they’d take one look at me and I’d be out the door, there wouldn’t even be an interview.”
“It’s a library Grantaire not a convent, they’re not that strict.”
“You know what I mean, and I might not mind a convent.”
“Grantaire!” Joly could hear the smik in his voice. “And actually I don’t know what you mean. Stop trying to distract me. Provided you show up showered and in clean clothes I doubt they’d turn you away libraries don’t generally discriminate.”
“I don’t have any relevant qualifications”
“You have an advanced higher in English and French along with everything else you graduated with and you have the relevant knowledge.”
“Look just apply, and if they seem dubious about how much you read show them a picture of your bookshelves that should be enough proof for anyone.”
“I...I don’t know” Joly really wasn’t going to let this go was he.
“Grantaire your job is killing you and there is no harm in applying.” He pleaded, only to be greeted by silence. “R?”
There was a sigh, “Ok, I suppose I can send in my CV.”
“You’ll thank me” “If I get the job, which I won’t.”
“Don’t make me send bossuet over to cheer you up.”
“You’re actually letting him out of the house on his own again, Joly I’m horrified.”
“He is a grown man and, whilst he is accident prone,” he heard grantaire fail to stifle a laugh at the other end of the phone and rolled his eyes, “he is able to look after himself, unlike some people.”
“Hey! I do so look after myself.”
“Start eating regular meals and I might start believing you.”
“I don’t have time to eat during shift.”
“Which is why you’re going to apply for that job at the Mitchell Library!”
“Wow yes, sure ok, anything you want so long as there’s less shouting.”
“Good. I’ll see you at the meeting on friday?”
“Umm yeah, I think so. I’ll be late but I should still be there”
“Good. See you then R. Bye.”
Grantaire stared blearily at the phone in his hand before flopping back down in the bed and pulling one of the many pillows over his head. Being a responsible adult could wait until at least afternoon, though he normally liked to postpone it as long as possible. Apollo wound his way around the door, jumped onto the bed and began an attempt at washing Grantaire's exposed shoulders. The artist tried shaking him off, yelped at the press of claws he got in return, and resigned himself to being owned by the tiny kitten at least for the moment.
“How is he,” asked Bossuet.
“Grumpy, tired and still in bed, probably hung over as well,” sighed Joly
“Maybe you shouldn’t have called him the morning after a pub crawl.”
Joly flailed his arms in exasperation. “I’m not hungover, you’re not hungover.”
“Well we didn’t hit the tequila the way R did, I don’t imagine Feuilly or Bahorel are feeling too great today either. He did have a little bit of a crisis last night.”
“No he didn’t, he had a slight realisation last night. The crisis hasn’t hit him yet that will probably happen the next time he sees Enjolras when he’s sober.”
Bossuet paused for a moment and looked down at his boyfriend. “How bad are you expecting that to be.” Joly winced. “That bad, really?”
“I don’t know, love. The last time he was actually emotionally invested in a relationship it ended pretty badly, I’m not even sure that’s the issue here though. He put enjolras on such a high pedestal, and the way they argue.” Joly sighed again.
“You think things will get worse before they get better?”
“I think things will get worse until Enjolras stops being emotionally constipated.”
“I don’t really think that’s fair Joly.”
“He looks at R as his own personal annoyance, punishment even, rather than as a person.”
Bossuet sighed, stilling Joly’s waving arms and bent a little to kiss his temple. “Don’t worry so much, I think it will work out fine.”
“How can you be so sure?”
Bossuet smiled at Joly and hummed noncommittally. “Let’s go back to bed, you might not be hungover be we got in pretty late. With that he scooped joly up in his arms and carried his slightly wriggling boyfriend back to bed.
“What if you drop me.”
“I’m not going to drop you.”
“You drop everything!” Bossuet just laughed.
The week passed in a haze of too long shifts and not enough sleep, by the time Wednesday rolled around Grantaire was exhausted. After a long sleep, a shower and a quick trip to the shops Jehan had arrived at Grantaire’s flat as promised on the pubcrawl and they had set off. The way familiar to both of them.
Jehan and Grantaire had an odd relationship. They were not the best of friends, yet they understood and accepted parts of each other’s personality that most people found difficult to comprehend. That and they were both Romantics, in the original sense. Jehan’s fashion was strange at best and they both had leanings toward centuries old poetry, waxing philosophical about death and the point of existence, and they had a slightly morbid penchant for skulls and lingering around graveyards.
Today found them both in the Necropolis. A massive 19th Century graveyard that only the wealthy would have been able to afford. Hundreds of beautiful gravestones but with over five thousand buried there almost all of the ground most likely covered unmarked graves. The thought should have been unsettling, for these two it was comforting.
They now sat at the apex of the first hill, the height of the first loop of the winding path that led from the bridge at the entrance. A blanket had been spread beneath them and they basked in the shade of the trees above them, perfectly content on this lazy Saturday afternoon to relax and enjoy the peace this place afforded them. They had brought a picnic. Jehan had eaten nearly all of the fruit, where Grantaire had eaten the better part of a loaf of bread and half a tub of hummus. He lay now with his head on the blanket and soft fingers carded through his hair, he took a swig from a water bottle filled with pear cider.
Upon entering the necropolis the two had noted a new sign, more prominently displaying the rules than the last one. Upon seeing the “No Alcohol” symbol R had pointed, laughed, and exclaimed “It’s like they knew I was coming!” He was now on his third bottle and was feeling pleasantly hazy.
The artist half opened one eye “Are you putting flowers in my rat's nest Prouvaire?”
“It wouldn’t be so bad if you actually looked after it and yes. There were pink daisies, the contrast looks wonderful.”
Grantaire huffed and went back to being sleepily drunk.
“Look at us both. Love struck fools trapped in the realm of unrequition, forever crippled with the pangs of yearning.”
Grantaire raised his eyebrows, eyes still closed “And who are you pining after? You could have anyone.”
Jehan looked down at the cynic sprawled out on the ground in front of them. “Anyone?”
“Well anyone blind enough to ignore your fashion sense”
Jehan thumped his shoulder. Grantaire grinned cheekily, eyes still shut.
“Did you mean it though?”
“Well,” he weighed the thought in his head, “I wouldn’t say no...”
He heard Jehan shifting about for a moment and was about to ask what the poet was doing when soft lips were pressed against his. It was chaste and brief but lovely none the less and when Jehan pulled back Grantaire’s eyes fluttered open.
“Jehan…” He trailed off, tone tense, eyes serious.
Jehan laughed, “Don’t worry, it’s not you.”
Grantaire let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding. “Then why?”
“Because we’re both lonely. You need touch, and don’t argue with me about it.” The artist shut his mouth having been about to object. “You don’t just like it, you need it. Hugs and kisses and hands stroking through your hair, I see it. It calms you, comforts you. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you so relaxed and content as when you ended curled up in that nest at the movie night.”
“I was drunk.”
“No, you weren’t. But you were heading toward it at an alarming rate before then. You didn’t seem to drink much after.”
Grantaire turned his head away. It was true, touch grounded him. It made him feel safe and real but it was a strange quirk of his and not one he liked admitting to. Joly knew, of course, but that was it really.
Jehan continued, “You need to be touched. And you said you wouldn’t say no. I need to touch. I have all this affection dammed up inside of me and the best I can do is channel it into overly enthusiastic hugs and toying with our friends hair. Neither of us can have what we want, who, we want. Why not take some comfort in each other and ease our loneliness a little.”
Grantaire turned back to Jehan, looking up into his friends open, earnest face. “I still think you could have them if you tried.”
“And I’m telling you I can’t. Trust me, there are reasons.”
He quirked an eyebrow and sat up. “Perhaps one day I’ll get to know what they are? Who it is?”
“Perhaps,” they said with a secretive but sad smile.
“Hmm.” This could work, could help with the darkness and the emptiness. How many times had he looked at Jehan, at any of his friends, and wished they would just reach out and touch him. “Just as friends?” He wasn’t kidding that he wouldn’t say no to Jehan but while physical attraction might be there he didn’t feel anything more romantic than friendship for Jehan.
“Just as friends,” Jehan confirmed with a smile. “However far this ends up going, I just don’t feel, um, that sort of pull for you.”
“You’re hot, and you’re my friend but….,” he squinted at Jehan a moment, “that’s about it.”
He grinned and leant in to kiss the poet. It was soft and sweet and soon deepened. When they broke away Grantaire grabbed the next bottle and lay back down, this time with his head in Jehan’s lap. He let the poet continue to untangle and weave flowers into his curls. They spent the afternoon trading lazy kisses as Grantaire got progressively less sober and persuaded Jehan at least partly along with him.
As the sky began to darken they stirred from where they lay together, both knowing they would have to leave soon. Grantaire pushed himself up on one elbow and leant over the poet, initiating a filthy kiss before sitting up fully with a smirk.
Jehan stretched where they lay against the blanket and looked up at Grantaire with bright eyes. “We should do this more often.”
“That we should.”
“You partake in other things than alcohol as well, as you mentioned at the bake sale.”
“Is that you asking me to make you some proper brownies because I can totally do that.”
“Hmm that would be nice I think. Text me when you’re not working and I can come over?”
“Sounds good Jehan.”
Chapter 10: Chapter Ten
Cosette and Coffee Shops
Please be aware that there is some possibly contraversial character development in regards to Grantaire in this chapter. This was not a sudden decision and was intended to be an aspect of his personality from the point I first started planning this fic. Just a little psa.
Grantaire actually had the day off work, but today was a special day and he was happy to be a little late to a meeting if it meant indulging in it.
Today was a cosette day and those days were very different
Grantaire had been sitting in the coffee shop for about ten minutes. His coffee was almost cool enough to drink and he was half way through a meatball panini.
He was wearing his comfiest pair of jeans and his shirt was faded like he was, both washed out and worn out. It was much the same for everything he owned. He was just pouring some whisky into his coffee from a hipflask when a shadow fell over the table. He looked up to see a frowning Cosette in a pretty pastel green sundress.
“R, that's rather a lot,” she said.
“Well I need it, it's been a rough few days.”
“Want to talk about it,” she asked sitting down at the opposite side of the table.
He thought about it for a moment but a lot of what he was feeling he didn't really know how to put into words. Thoughts and feelings only half realised. He sighed, “Not really.”
Cosette watched as he shifted in his seat, obviously uncomfortable in his own skin today. He had moments like this sometimes. Cosette was one of the few privy to those moments. It had happened by accident really. On a day where Grantaire was at his breaking point and just couldn't deal with it anymore. Cosette had been there to rub his back as he worked through the sobs, and to wipe away his tears afterwards.
Since then they made arrangements to meet up every so often to try and ease the feeling a little for him but today was obviously worse than normal.
Sometimes Grantaire hated his body, just a little. Oh he was always unhappy with it to some degree, he had never seen himself as attractive. At the moment his ribs were starting to show through which while that was completely fine for other people he preferred himself a little more on the squishy side. Joly was right about him missing meals. Sometimes though it was more than that, he just felt strange or if not wrong then not quite right.
Somedays he would laugh and drink beer and get into brawls with Bahorel, others he would let Jehan weave flowers into his hair and felt no different between the two, he never had. On one very special night he had let Courfeyrac talk him into dresses and stockings, blushing and feeling as comfortable in his skin as he ever had. Courf was very strange when he was drunk but not at all in a bad way. He didn't really understand though, for Courfeyrac it was all fun and games and Grantaire had made sure that he faked not remembering the morning after. It had shaken something loose in him that he hadn’t known was there.
He had tried all sorts of labels and some felt fine for a while, until they didn’t, and others never felt right. He was still who he had always been, but now he knew that he also like skirts and dresses and makeup and nail polish and a whole lot of other things he hadn’t previously considered he was allowed to like. What was wrong with that. After a long while he had come to a rather stubborn decision that he was having absolutely none of it. Gender was just something he didn’t really understand in regards to himself, or in regards to the world.
He had resolved to do what felt right for him, but this could often be a little harder than he really wanted it to be. His work wasn’t exactly accepting and he was scared about what his friends would think of him. Their society claimed to be about equality for everyone but he had found that people were rarely as open minded as they claimed to be.
Cosette had found out on the day he just couldn’t bury it anymore. Bahorel had also found out, though that incident was a whole other event in itself. Bahorel had been very accepting but had to keep reassuring Grantaire that everything was fine, that it didn’t change anything for him. The artist had spent his whole life being judged and condemned for things that were out of his control. He had a hard time accepting that not everyone was so cruel.
“Do you want me to paint your nails today or are we doing something else.” Cosette asked, smiling at the artist.
“Yes...please. Nails and um...maybe you could show me how you do your eyeliner. I only ever manage a smudged mess. Have you ordered or?”
“Mhmm, caramel latte and a cheese and ham panini.”
“I shouldn’t have introduced you to caramel syrup you have it in everything now.”
“Don’t say that, I love it. There is nothing wrong with indulging in something I enjoy.” She smiled and giggled a little, “That goes for you too you know.”
Cosette was wonderful. She was happiness and light in a world that to Grantaire was often the exact opposite. Her presence was soothing. She offered comfort and acceptance without even questioning whether it was something he needed. That did not mean that she didn’t ask questions. If Cosette wanted to know something it was usually in your best interests to tell her. Surprisingly devious she could be very cunning when she wanted to be and knew very well how to get her own way. God forbid you thought that she was stupid, a pushover, or easily ignored. Cosette’s soft exterior concealed a core of pure steel. She was steadfast and strong, she bent but did not break. In another life Grantaire thought he might have been a little in love with her but things just hadn’t worked out that way. Considering recent events that was probably for the best.
Cosette’s coffee and food arrived as she set out the polishes she had with her. “Do you have a meeting tonight, oh and any colour preferences?”
“Yeah, and green if that's ok.”
“Green is fine I have three different shades with me. Won’t I make you late?”
He smirked at her, “Dearest cosette you are more than worth the amount of ire I will receive for being late.”
She giggled again, “I love it when you talk like that, I don’t know what it is. Your winding sentences are almost poetry sometimes.”
“If you want real poetry you should meet Jehan”, he smiled a little softly as he thought of when he’d last seen them at the necropolis.
“Now that’s an interesting look, I dont think I’ve ever seen you smile like that before. Which green do you want there is a dark almost turquoise, a medium, and a kind of pastel mint.”
“Oh you choose, and don’t start.”
Cosette raised an eyebrow at him over her coffee, “Just for that you’re getting a gradient of all three.”
“Am I not covered in enough paint without you dabbing nail polish halfway up my hand?”
“You had the option to choose and you declined it, now about Jehan?”
“Its nothing, well nothing like youre thinking anyways.”
“Oh really?” She smirked.
“They are my friend Cosette.”
She huffed in annoyance at being denied her gossip and set about filling his nails.
Grantaire pulled his hand back, “Wait let me get another coffee before you start so I’m not interrupting you half way through.”
Cosette organised her polishes while he went up to the counter. Base coat, white, the greens, top coat and glitter. Grantaire would protest the glitter at first but she knew that once it was on he would spend the rest of the day smiling at his hands and turning his nails so the sparkles caught the light. He deserved nice things so he was getting the glitter regardless of what he said. She also pulled out some liquid latex to put on his hands so they didn't get stained with the polish. If he was nice she’d actually put it on.
Grantaire returned with an enormous cappuccino and poured a healthy measure of whisky from his hipflask into the coffee again
“I know i know but it's been a mess of a week ok.”
Cosette looked at him with a measure of suspicion. That was twice he’d used that response but if something good had happened with Jehan then whatever he was trying to ignore must be really bad.
Grantaire groaned, “No.”
“No I don’t want to think about it much less talk about it.”
“Cosette no”, he whined.
“Cosette yes.” She retorted, “You know I’m not going to let it go so you might as well give up now and save yourself some time.”
“My life's motto.”
“What?” She asked, confused.
“Might as well give up now and save myself some time.”
“Oh fine alright, you win, you win. You always win. You and your wily ways you.”
“Less deflecting, more talking.”
“Ugh. Well, there was a society pubcrawl a last week and well.”
“Enjolras is um, well he’s a lot more human when he’s not um,” he waved a hand trying to find the words. Cosette grabbed it half way the motion.
“I know its not easy for you to sit still but I do need you to keep at least one hand stationary while I work on it.”
“No, no, its ok, now about Enjolras.”
“Could you please stop smiling like that its very disconcerting.” Cosette just batted her eyelashes at him and continued to smile.
Grantaire rolled his eyes. “Ok so when he’s not preaching? I’m not sure that’s the right word, espousing the virtues of revoltution to a crowd you know what I mean. He’s more human and well, kind of cute.”
“Yes I must, you’ve been talking about how hot he is when hes angry for about forever R are you finally admitting there might be a little more than that?”
“Well, maybe, yeah.”
“Oh my gosh!”
“Look he was pouting at Courfeyrac and it was adorable and he wasn’t shouting at me and he liked my art and the pub crawl was my idea and it was actually going well and I wasnt even really drunk yet but I think he was kind of tipsy and I just wanted to cuddle him and fluff his hair and Cosette he’s so awkward when he’s not speaking about his causes and Courfeyrac apparently filled his hair with glitter once and he just looked so insulted by the idea but not in the way he does when I’m picking apart his arguments. He was nice and he wasn’t cruel to me and I just.”
He shook his head and gave himself a moment to breathe, “I just didnt realise that it wasnt just lust. How did I not know that?”
“And that. I have heard that so many times this week, how did everyone else know and I didn’t. Ugh this is sp awful.”
“Oh I’m sorry R, I didnt mean it like that it’s just that when someone is all you can talk about it’s not normally just because you think their hot when they argue with you.”
He hung his head in despair.
“Oh dont do that I need to put your base coat on and you’ll end up dragging your hair through it.”
He looked up, “Do you see why I’m spiking my coffee?”
“Yes R. Im not saying I approve but I can understand why you think you need it.”
“I dont think I need it, I do need it.”
She huffed and hit him on the knuckles with a nail file.
“Stop being pedantic.”
He stuck out his tongue.
Cosette stuck hers out back at him and then smiled. Ok now I need you to hold still while I put on the polish, as you told me about Enjolras without too much trouble I’ll put some liquid latex on your fingers so we can just peel it and any excess polish off your hands at the end.”
“Wait were you not going to do that if I didn’t tell you? You wern’t were you.”
“Well you told me so it doesnt matter what I was going to do if you weren’t”
“Oh hush and hold still. Now tell me about Jehan.”
Grantaire heaved a sigh and told her what went on at the necropolis.
A few hours later, with well dried nails, glitter included, and his eyes smoked out with shadow as well as liner at Cosette’s insistance Grantaire headed to the QMU for the meeting. He was half an hour late and was nervous about showing up as he was. It had taken all of Cosette’s persuasive powers for him not to nip home first and take off the eye makeup. What was the point of her putting it on him if he did that, she had said.
He kept his head down, grabbed a drink from the bar and headed up to take a seat at the back of the food factory. Enjolras was in full swing. Hands emphatically gesticulating as he spoke about the fact that Glasgow Pride had been made a paid event and that there was a movement for an alternative free pride day instead.
He smiled softly as he watched the blond work. He wasnt angry right now, just passionate about the cause and his audience. To Grantaire his fiery nature made him almost glow. He was beautiful. His sat down and stared at his pint, heart sinking at the realisation that Enjolras would probably never see him as more than an outsider to the group, as a nuisance. Things had gotten so much more complicated.
As Grantaire was lost in thought Jehan draped their arms around his shoulders and gave him a kiss on the cheek. “I like your eyes R. Oh and your nails, I didn’t see them before. they look almost like Absinthe louching.” The cynic smiled and flexed his fingers he hadn’t even thought of it like that but Jehan wasn’t wrong. “Thanks, I like them too.”
Chapter 11: Chapter Eleven
Grantaire put some brownies in the oven and rolled a couple of joints as they baked. He had sent a text to Jehan earlier in the day and they would be coming over soon to hang out.
He was curious as to how the afternoon would go considering that he’d never gotten high with any of their friends except Joly and Bossuet before. That combined with the recent shift in he and Jehan’s friendship meant that he was feeling a little nervous. Which was ridiculous but he had never claimed to have a rational mind.
For now he lit a normal cigarette, it felt wrong for him to get a head start on Jehan and it would help calm him a little.
The door buzzed and he went to let Jehan in. Grantaire leant against the doorframe and watched as his friend bounced up the stairs. Today Jehan wore yellow patent doc martins, grey leggings, a tartan skirt and an enormous green jumper. They threw themselves at Grantaire the moment they were up the stairs.
“You literally saw me three days ago.”
“Still missed you.” Jehan kissed him on the cheek and danced past him into the flat. Grantaire chuckled and shut the door.
By the time he was in the living room Jehan was already cuddled up on the couch.
“I’m just going to get the brownies out of the oven.”
“Oh I’m so excited.”
“Yeah well they need to cool so you’re going to have to wait a little while yet. Do you want something to drink?”
“Cool.” He grabbed some cans of lemonade from the fridge for himself as well as Jehan. He wasn’t really feeling up to mixing his vices today. Grantaire set the cans on the coffee table and collapsed back on the sofa with the poet. He stubbed out his cigarette in the ashtray and lit up a joint to share with Jehan.
They passed it back and forth for a little while, savoring the taste of sweet smoke, getting a light buzz and catching up on the past week in a way they hadn’t been able to at the meeting.
“Why don’t you do your nails more often R? Oh and your eyes they were really pretty.”
Grantaire looked down at the gradient of green on his nails and smiled a little. He turned his head to look at Jehan more face on and took another hit before passing the joint to Jehan. “It’s, uh.” He ran a hand through his hair, feeling awkward. “I like nail varnish, and make up, to a certain extent.”
Grantaire smiled at them, “You are just so open with everything aren’t you.”
Jehan smiled back.
“So, I don’t feel like it’s something I can wear all the time. I can feel people’s eyes on me and I’m just too bitter and too tired I think to deal with that all the time.”
“There’s actually a little more to it than that. If you’re willing to listen. I know you won’t judge me and, I think, I’d like to be able to talk to someone about it. Well, someone else.” Jehan blew out a plume of smoke and waited for their friend to continue.
“Sometimes I...sometimes I’m not so sure about who or well really about what I am. God I’m wording this badly. What good is a reputation for eloquent epic length rants if I can’t actually manage them when I need to. Sometimes I wear skirts okay. I’ve even worn a dress, once, and I was very drunk. I just, I’m not saying that I feel any less, I don’t know male I guess, when I do so and some days maybe I do feel less but I’m not doing any of those things. Fuck. I’m still not doing a good job of explaining this am I.”
Jehan passed the joint back to Grantaire. “Relax R, simplify.”
Grantaire nodded and took a breath. “Basically, gender’s fucking confusing, and I’m fucking confused.”
Jehan leant over and kissed the artist on the cheek. “Gender is confusing. But you are lovely the way you are and whatever other way you choose to be. I would never judge you for it.”
“Well, I didn’t think you would considering things.”
Jehan giggled. “It can be hard to talk about first, I know. Do you need me to change pronouns?”
“No, please no, I’m confused enough already and I think I like my pronouns as they are.”
“Okay.” Jehan curled themself around Grantaire in a warm hug, “I’m so happy you felt like you could tell me.”
“That’s wonderful, could you not smother me with your sweater.”
Jehan laughed and moved their arm. “Sorry, you know my own feelings on gender. If you ever want someone to talk to about it or help exploring the things that make you feel more comfortable or more yourself please tell me. I’ll be happy to help.” They let out an excited little squeal, “And I’d love to go skirt and dress shopping with you, oh and there are so many other things we could try.” They bounced on the sofa a little, excited. “Who else knows, you said you spoke to someone else about it.”
“Oh, well Bahorel caught me in a skirt once and I may have gone off it at him in panic. He’s been pretty cool about it since though so,” he shrugged, “I don’t really know, and Cosette. She’s the one who did my nails actually, I’m horrible at doing them myself. If you see them smeared with cheap black polish it’s my doing. Anything nice looking is hers. She did the eye makeup too, I only own one eyeliner and I just come out looking like I haven’t slept in about a decade.”
Jehan gently pulled the joint from his fingers, took a hit and then put it back. Grantaire had never managed that much grace in his entire life and Jehan didn’t even have to think about it. He huffed unhappily.
“We three should meet up at some point then. A nice relaxing day expressing ourselves fully and you wouldn’t have to hide yourself because no one there would judge you.”
Grantaire finished off the joint and then draped himself all over Jehan, clinging to them in utter gratitude. “I’m so glad I’m friends with you.”
“I don’t think the other’s would judge you either.”
“Maybe, but I’m not ready to tell them.” Jehan nodded and petted his hair.
Grantaire reluctantly got up and stretched. “Brownies should be cool now. You want some.” He took Jehan’s excited bouncing as a yes and went to plate up.
They were delicious. Soft and gooey inside and very chocolatey with just a hint of the extra ingredient. They ate several between them, only just starting to feel the effect of the first joint and lit another.
Jehan went and had a look at Grantaire’s escaping bookshelves, things were starting to flow from them onto the floor at this point. “They are vaguely sorted by genre.”
“I can see that and oh you have a poetry section, I didn’t know you liked Robert Frost and is… Oh my god R is that John Wilmot.” They laughed, “Oh you little libertine you. I bet you have de Sade somewhere as well.” They looked around, acting scandalised but with a broad smile on their face.
Grantaire rolled his eyes. “Only a few of his books and and I disagree with him on so, so many different things.”
“Still a libertine.”
Grantaire stuck his tongue out and held out the joint. Jehan giggled and took it, slouching back down on the couch. The two of them sat talking about Grantaire’s dubious choices in literature for a couple of hours as the brownies took effect. Grantaire finally passed Jehan the end of the joint. He felt blissed out, calm for once and a little giddy. His head was full of fluff and he could feel each pulse of his heart, although some of the places he could feel it in were causing some interesting side effects.
“Here, there’s not much left you have the last of it.”
Jehan took it and looked at Grantaire for a moment. They felt utterly unreal, floating and peaceful. It was a beautiful sensation. “Or we could share the last hit.”
They took a long slow drag and held their breath in their lungs, stubbing out the end in the ash tray. Then, taking Grantaire’s face in their hands, they leant over and pressed a kiss to his lips, breathing the last of the smoke into the artist’s lungs. Grantaire let out a small moan as they broke apart.
“Fuck Jehan I’m not sure you should have done that.”
“Like shotgunning a little too much mmm?”
Jehan leant in and kissed him. Slowly, languidly, too blissed out to put any real fire behind it but somehow that just made the lazy kiss that much better.
When they parted Grantaire grabbed another brownie to split between them and then curled around Jehan.
They traded a few more lazy kisses. Grantaire, getting more needy with each kiss, ended up straddling Jehan. After a while they broke away, both flushed and Grantaire buried his face in Jehan’s neck.
“Fuck Jehan. I’m gone. So gone, so fucking blasted.”
Jehan smiled and ran their hands up Grantaire’s thighs. R rolled his hips involuntarily and let out a groan, he was hard.
“Mmmm, me too.” They arched up, hard as well, the slight friction causing them both to groan before ending up giggling. Grantaire grinned and kissed Jehan again. Jehan just kept up a steady roll of their hips. “Is this, is this okay R?”
“Yeah, fuck yeah it is. More than okay.”
“Fuck Jehan. Can I...can I blow you or something?”
“Oh yeah, that would be wonderful.”
Grantaire slid off of Jehan’s lap and onto his knees. His pupils were blown, eyes a little bloodshot and his lips were swollen from kissing. He gently, and with only a little fumbling, got Jehan’s boots and socks off. Then he slowly ran his hands up their thighs to the waistband of the leggings. Jehan raised their hips enough for Grantaire to slowly peel both leggings and underwear down their legs, and giggled when they were flung in some vague direction behind him.
He kissed his way up their legs and Jehan rolled their head back against the back of the sofa. Everything was a little more intense when they were high, just a little more sensitive than normal.
Grantaire kissed and licked his way up the length of Jehan’s cock before taking it into his mouth. Jehan moaned, pleasure feeling hot and cold together. At once the focus of their mind while blanking it.
Grantaire moaned and bobbed his head, repetitive motions always felt good when he was high and he liked having things in his mouth even when he was sober. He sucked and gripped Jehan’s thighs with his hands spreading them wider. He relaxed his jaw and let Jehan's reflexive thrusts drive their cock deep into his mouth
Jehan twined their fingers in the artist’s hair, directing him gently. Sensitive as they were right now it probably wouldn't take long. Each slide of Grantaire's mouth around them pushing them closer and closer to perfection. They bit down on the knuckles of the hand not gently tugging at the artists curls. Hoping the little touch of pain might stave things off longer. It did the opposite. Soon they were rolling their hips into Grantaires mouth, gasping and moaning before spilling themself.
Grantaire groaned and swallowed it all before pulling back to bury his face in the skin of Jehan’s thigh, head still beneath the skirt, panting and desperate as he stroked himself to completion. His loud moans echoing off the the walls.
He rested for a moment to catch his breath before grabbing some tissues to clean his hands off with and collapsing onto the sofa with Jehan.
“Sorry about the volume, I’ve always been loud.”
Jehan cuddled into him, “Mmm don’t worry about it, means you enjoy it. You are very good at that by the way.” Grantaire just smirked.
They stayed curled up for a little while, enjoying the blend of weed and endorphins. “I’m hungry.” Said Jehan, still leaning against Grantaire.
“You’re munchied is what you are.”
Jehan buried their face in Grantaire’s shoulder and whined. The cynic pet their hair. “Ah don’t worry about it, I kinda am too.”
Jehan looked up and twined a finger into R’s curls. “Pizza?”
“Mmmm definitely pizza and maybe like mozzarella sticks or chicken wings or something.”
“And dessert, oh oh and juice, let’s get dr pepper.”
“Fuck yeah definitely, though we might have to go out for that.”
“Can you imagine us attempting to go shopping right now.”
“Fuck, okay. Okay umm maybe call someone to bring us food?”
“Oh, Oh Bahorel, he never goes to class anyway.”
“Yes awesome, where the fuck is my phone.” He flailed about trying to find where it had gone while Jehan giggled. He finally managed to reach it but fell off the sofa in the process sending both of them into fits of laugher.
Grantaire dialed Bahorel’s number while he crawled back up next to Jehan, still snickering and put the phone on speaker.
“Hey R what’s up?” Bahorel’s tinny voice echoed from the speakers. Grantaire didn’t even get the chance to say anything before Jehan was leaning over and whining into the phone.
“Rel,” they said drawing out the name, “Bring us pizza.”
“I’m sorry what?”
“Bring us pizza and um dr pepper and desserts and mozzarella sticks and, and all of the food.”
“Jehan what are you talking about and why do you have R’s phone.” At this point Grantaire couldn’t contain himself any longer and burst out laughing.
“R is that you? Wait do you, DO YOU HAVE ME ON SPEAKER!”
“Fuck me you are loud.”
“Maybe later.” Giggled Jehan with an exaggerated wink, this of course just sent Grantaire into another fit of laughter.
“Wait what is going on over there?” There was more laughter, from both of them this time. “What the fuck guys are you high? Wait. Are you high. Are you high and you didn’t invite me! ”
“Rel stop being such a drama queen and bring us pizza!”
“I am outraged that you had the audacity to get high and then call me for pizza.”
“I will do this on one condition.”
“I still have over half a plate of brownies left and some more outside of those. You are welcome to join in.” Drawled Grantaire.
About an hour later Bahorel showed up at the door with an unimpressed expression, two sixteen inch pizza’s, nutella crepes, mozzarella sticks and a lot of dr pepper. He took one look at the giggling, clingy dishevelled messes that were Grantaire and Jehan, stomped past them to put the food on the coffee table and whirled back around.
“Alright you two I demand an explanation because there is way more than just a little bit of toking going on here.” He stood, hands on his hips and an eyebrow raised.
Jehan slunk over to Bahorel, limbs loose, and pulled him into a hug. “Thank you, so, so, so, so, so much for the food you are the best person.”
“Jehan if your eyes were anymore bloodshot they would actually be red.”
“Ooh does it look good, do you think I should get sclera lenses?” The poet sighed into Bahorel’s chest. Grantaire laughed and leaned against a bookcase.
“What. Has. Happened.”
“Oh alright you spoilsport. Oh actually R is it alright if I tell him things, you can say no.”
“Ah go for it, I’m sure everyone will find out about some of it at some point or other.”
Jehan stepped back to look at Bahorel straight on, the boxer raised an eyebrow at him.
“So as you probably remember from the pub crawl our lovely artist came to a bit of a realisation about our illustrious leader.” Bahorel relaxed his stance, knowing that the days following it mustn't have been great for Grantaire.
“Well,” Jehan continued, “Since the both of us are relatively unattached and horribly clingy things we decided to help each other out. R’s going through some gender things at the moment as well so I’m going to help out with that too.”
“Wait so is this like a friends with benefits sort of thing?” Asked Bahorel with his eyebrows up to his hairline.
“Yes,” said Grantaire, “Look we’re both lonely affection starved wretches it makes sense. God and don’t ask me about gender, everythings complicated.”
Bahorel took in this new development with a nod and walked over to pull Grantaire into a massive bear hug. The artist made an odd squawking noise as the air was squeezed out of him.
“You fucking tell me if you’re feeling shitty. Alright?” Said Bahorel, “I’ve no issue with you draping yourself all over me and I’m not gonna fucking judge you for it you colossal tit. Don’t just suffer in silence.”
He released Grantaire who took some exaggerated gasping breaths before Bahorel then dragged him over to the sofa, picked him up and deposited him on the boxer’s lap. Jehan smiled at the action and slid onto the sofa, curling themselves around the both of them. “See R,” They said, “Nothing to worry about.”
“Yeah, yeah, you were right. Don’t be smug.” He cuddled into Bahorel, at least until he started tensing up.
“What...is that noise?”
“That scratching noise, it sounds like something coming through the walls do you have an alien infestation or something.”
“Oh my god you’re not even high yet.”
“There it is again.” Bahorel jolted causing Grantaire to flail a little in order to stay balanced. He could hear the noise now and he knew very well what it was. He sighed.
“It’s not aliens, and don’t you look at me like that Rel I know it’s not aliens and if you promise not to mock me I’ll show you what it is.” Bahorel nodded in acquiescence and Grantaire got up and traipsed his way through the hall to his bedroom door.
He opened the door and looked down in complete unamusement. “Ugh fine. Come on then, out you come you irritating little shit.”
Apollo who had been making a good attempt at stripping the paint of the door with his claws padded out and went to explore the interesting sounds in the living room. The moment the fluffy white kitten stepped into the room Bahorel and Jehan were up cooing at it.
“Oh my gosh R it’s so cute how could you keep it shut up like that.” Jehan near squealed.
“Because he likes getting into my paint and as many other chaotic things as he’s capable of.”
“What’s his name?” Grantaire blushed at Jehan’s question.
“Grantaire what is his name.”
He sighed knowing that there was no living this down. “Apollo.”
Jehan gasped a small “Oh” and clasped their hand to their mouth. Bahorel sat motionless for a moment before completely cracking up. Jehan hit him with a cushion.
Apollo took the opportunity to climb up Bahorel’s jeans and curl up in his lap. The boxer petted it’s fur with a mild look of awe. “He’s so soft, how do you own something so pure.”
“He’s not pure he’s as much trouble as his namesake.”
“Oh R-,” Started Jehan
“Oh don’t, let’s just not talk about it eat some junk food and get wasted.”
“Oh if you’d told me before I came over I would have got some catnip and he could have gotten stoned with us.”
“Jehan you are not corrupting my cat”
“It’s your cat it's already corrupted.” Said Bahorel, trying to grab some pizza without squashing Apollo.
“Fucking excuse you .”
They ate what was really a completely unreasonable amount of food while Bahorel devoured brownies and smoked his way to catching them up. Then the three of the lazily watched reruns of Babylon 5.
By the time Bahorel went to leave the world was pleasantly hazing for him and he felt a lot closer to his friends. He was glad they had called him even if they did get a head start on him. He said goodbye to Grantaire with his usual kiss on the cheek then, after standing back for a moment said “Fuck it,” and kissed Grantaire fully on the mouth.
“You ever need cuddles and Jehan is busy, or anything else yeah? S’not like I’m not single.”
“Thought you had an arrangement ?”
“I do but it’s not a closed thing or a regular thing so. Whatever you need yeah?”
Grantaire hugged him, unable to believe how amazing his friends were especially now he’d started being honest and open with them. “Thanks man. I’ll see you later alright?”
“See you R.” Bahorel left with a smile and Jehan crawled into Grantaire’s bed to crash out. The artist took a look at the disaster the three of them had managed to make of the flat, shrugged and went to climb in with Jehan. The two curled around each other and drifted off to sleep.
Apollo looked up at the bed and mewed. When no response was forthcoming he jumped and dug his little claws into the bedspread, climbing up onto the bed. He padded his way between the two sleeping forms to the head of the bed and, nuzzling up against Grantaire on his way past, found the softest fluffiest cushion and curled himself up on it to nap.
Chapter 12: Chapter Twelve
The courtyard in front of the Kelvingrove Art Gallery was bustling with activity. Tables were being put up, banners hung, signs were being nail gunned together as hot gluing hadn’t worked and if Bossuet had done it properly the first four times instead of doing it quickly he might not be having as much trouble with them.
Enjolras watched the efforts, smiling. Everything was coming together nicely.
Joly stood by the sign table watching Bossuet with a wary eye, nail guns being dangerous at the best of times. He had his phone in one hand and had sent Grantaire a text to see if he was coming along.
“Any word?” Asked Bossuet, finishing another sign. So far there had been no incidents. If anything this worried Joly more about how severe things would be when something finally did go wrong.
“He says he’ll be along in a few minutes, his flat’s only round the corner after all.”
“Do you think we’ll end up back there afterwards?”
Joly smiled wickedly. “If I have any say in the matter we will. Things have been a little more interesting around here lately.”
Bossuet laughed, finished the last sign and realised he’d nail gunned the bottom of his shirt to it. “Oh.”
“I knew it.” Joly threw his arms up, “I knew things were going too well. Come here will you and I hope that you are as bad at nail guns as you are at hot glue guns because otherwise we’re going to have to cut you out of this mess!”
Jehan and Bahorel were off to one side. Sitting on the low wall in front of the museum and leaning against each other.
“I must thank you Bahorel.”
“Being so understanding about both mine and Grantaire’s need for touch,” they cuddled a little closer as they said this, “I appreciate it, we both do.”
Bahorel slid an arm around the poet’s waist and leaned his head against Jehan’s. “Don’t be fucking ridiculous. Everyone knows I’m a great big cuddly bastard as if I would have turned either of you away.”
Jehan sighed contentedly and smiled at their friend’s response. “I mean it though. Thank you. How are things with her by the way?”
Bahorel smiled “Things are fine, very fine. I have another session with her next week.”
Jehan giggled, “Looking forward to it?”
“Yes. Very much so, yes.” His smile faltering as he caught sight of Feuilly trying to help Joly get Bossuet out of the mess he had gotten himself into and then shook his head to clear it.
Jehan nudged him gently but Bahorel just shook his head again. “It’s nothing.” He said and smiled at Jehan, a little more melancholy than before. Jehan raised an eyebrow but nodded and went back to cuddling up to his friend content to drop the subject just now and happy to snuggle.
Grantaire eventually slouched his way down the road from his flat. It was a two minute walk so it was almost impossible to be late but he still left it as long as possible before leaving, feeling lazy. He had taken some time with choosing what to wear today, jeans that weren’t too destroyed by his job, some comfortable boots and a sleeveless black t-shirt that read ‘Down With This Sort Of Thing’ across it in white font. He wandered up to Joly in it looking completely unapologetic. Joly giggled and went back to untangling Bossuet.
“What? That’s what you guys are about isn't it though, down with this sort of thing?” Bossuet laughed at him and Joly shooed him away before he could get involved.
“Don’t he’ll end up nailing you to it as well you know what his luck’s like.” Said Joly. Grantaire shrugged and went to see what everyone else was doing.
Courfeyrac was standing by a table filled with fliers for the various organisations that supported their cause or were running similar events. He was grinning broadly and wearing a green t-shirt with ‘Kiss Me I’m Irish” written across it in black lettering.
Grantaire grinned and walked up to him. “Don’t mind if I do.” He planted a sloppy kiss on Courfeyrac’s lips and then broke away laughing.
“Well you’re in a good mood today. Should I wear this shirt more often?” Said Courfeyrac, cheeky as always. Grantaire just winked at him.
“What exactly is going on over here.” They turned to see Enjolras standing next to them with a look of confusion. They pointed at each other’s shirts.
“You are awful,” said Enjolras staring at the t-shirts, “The both of you. I don’t know why you’ve started teaming up against me but I won’t have it.” He turned on his heel and stomped off to the other end of the group. Grantaire and Courfeyrac watched him go, turned to look at each other and then burst, simultaneously, into fits of giggles.
Standing with Combeferre Enjolras could still hear them and allowed himself a small smile. The t-shirts weren’t too disruptive, honestly they could have done much worse and it was good to see everyone getting along. It was even better to see Grantaire at an actual rally, and sober, and he actually seemed to be enjoying himself. If his chest felt a little tighter and his cheeks a little warmer at that thought then Enjolras ignored it. He also chose to ignore the flutter he had felt in his stomach at the sight of Grantaire’s outright chiseled arms. His job might be terrible but clearly there were some benefits.
Courfeyrac looked over at Jehan and Bahorel and nudged Grantaire with an elbow .”Hey, R. Are Jehan and Rel you know, a thing .”
“Well if you want to get technical they’re both things. I’m a thing, you’re a thing.” Courfeyrac scowled at him. “If, however, you mean are they dating then the answer is no. No they are not.”
Courfeyrac let out a sigh and the artist raised an eyebrow at him. “There isn’t anything wrong with having cuddly friends, Courfeyrac.”
Courfeyrac felt a knot in his chest loosen and rubbed at it in confusion, not understanding what it meant. Grantaire looked at him and then back at Jehan and wondered about the possibilities for Jehan’s mystery romance.
Enjolras was glorious at public speaking. He was up on the makeshift stage they’d cobbled together, without Bossuet’s input, and was in full revolutionary flow.
As Grantaire stood and watched Enjolras work he was struck with the worry of what was going to happen to the idealist after he graduated. When he started using his degree alongside everything else he was going to end up becoming a problem for somebody. If he was enough of a problem that someone, if not multiple someones, would try and bring him down somehow. That was a sight Grantaire was pretty sure he could live without seeing.
Combeferre seeing Grantaire’s worry threw an arm around his shoulders in an attempt to be comforting. The artist looked at him for a moment before shaking his head.
“When did you go from a shy little medical student to the all seeing eye, Ferre.”
Combeferre laughed for a moment before correcting him. “Observation is something I have always been good at. However, I am good at looking forward as well. You think you’re the first to wonder about what trouble Enj is going to get himself into? Please,” He pushed his glasses up his nose from where they had slid down slightly. “I’ve already started drafting a few ideas in regards to contingency plans.”
“Thank you. Er, I mean um. It’s good that someone’s going to make sure he doesn’t get himself er” He trailed off as Combeferre waved a hand for him to stop backpedaling.
“Not to go too much into the matter as I can see that you are already turning red. But I do understand both what you mean and what you are trying not mean.” He sighed softly and lowered his voice a little. “Your secret is safe with me R. It’s not my place to tell Enjolras.”
Grantaire stood still for a moment in shock before enveloping Combeferre in a hug. “Thank you, Ferre. Really thank you.”
“Don’t worry about it, now I’ll leave you to your thoughts, I have some more organising to do.”
Grantaire nodded at him and turned back to watch Enjolras speak once more.
Courfeyrac looked over at Combeferre in some sort of discussion with Grantaire. His gossip senses were tingling. “What was that?” He said, falling into step with Combeferre.
“What was what?”
“You’re going to have to be more specific.”
“That with Grantaire that, what were you saying, what are you up to. ”
“What makes you think I’m up to anything?”
“That smug smile you are trying so hard to keep off your face.”
“I don’t know what youre talking about.” With that he strode off ahead to make sure they had enough fliers for after the speech.
“Ferre?” Courfeyrac called after him. “ Combeferre ! Oh god dammit. I am so not giving this up. I will find out your secrets.” He whirled off to go and spy on Grantaire, hoping he’d be able to figure things out a little more, pout firmly in place.
Grantaire was making a concentrated effort to keep his mouth shut during Enjolras current tirade despite disagreeing with near half of it. Joly stood next to him beaming with pride. Something that was not helping the artist be any less sour.
“See I knew you could do it.”
“Yes oh sultan of smugness.” He stuck his tongue out at Joly and then lit up a cigarette. “How’s Bossuet?”
“Missing the bottom half of his shirt, unsurprisingly. I don’t know what I’m going to do with that man. Did you apply for that library job by the way. You did say you were going to.”
Grantaire rolled his eyes, “Firstly yes I handed in my CV but the closing date isn’t up yet so I won’t hear back until at least then. Secondly I don’t need to know what you’re going to do with Bossuet.”
Joly hugged Grantaire. “I’m still proud of you.”
The artist conceded the point that he did actually really enjoy being hugged and relaxed into Joly with a happy sigh.
After the speech there was the handing out of fliers and signing people up for the email list. Courfeyrac was frantically adding people to their facebook group that only he cared about and there were discussions here and there about various points of the day.
Eventually people dispersed and they were left with the task of clearing up. Tables, signs, parts of the stage and basically everything they couldn’t carry themselves was loaded into Feuilly’s van and driven off back to storage. After that had been done and Feuilly and Bahorel were back from that errand it was decided they’d all go to Bar Gumbo for some food. Joly’s suggestion of piling back to Grantaire’s vetoed because the artist had work the next morning.
Courfeyrac made sure he grabbed the booth directly behind Enjolras and Combeferre and didn’t make even the slightest attempt not to eavesdrop.
“I can’t believe how well everything went today. The only casualty was Bossuet’s shirt.”
“Mmm,” Said Combeferre around a mouthful of sandwich.
“Everyone helped out and there were no disturbances. I don’t think we’ve ever had one go so well.”
Combeferre swallowed. “We got some donations as well. Only minor but it’s still something. And you’re right everyone did help out.”
Enjolras gave him a look. “I will concede that he helped, and that he was sober, and that he didn’t interrupt my speech and well, he was actually rather good today wasn’t he.” Enjolras paused for a moment recalling Grantaire’s cautious socialising without any attempts at trouble making, and his arms. He was still having some difficulty getting past that. “The shirt though.”
“Oh stop the shirt was funny and you know it was. It was certainly funnier than Courfeyrac’s.”
“I can’t believe Grantaire actually kissed him.”
“I can’t believe how many other people kissed him.”
“Please tell me you’re joking. Please tell me I don’t have to have another discussion with Courfeyrac about picking people up at the rallies.”
“Just a few pecks Enj, no one was serious.”
“Oh thank goodness.”
“He looked rather good in that shirt, don’t you think.”
“Oh, well. Yes. I suppose he did.” Enjolras tried desperately hard not to blush. “Did you know his arms looked so um”
“Muscular? Yes, he does a lot of heavy lifting at work and he sometimes goes to the gym with Bahorel provided it’s not early in the morning.”
“How do you know all this?”
“Perhaps because I actually talk to him?”
“Yes oh. I thought you were going to give him more of a chance.”
“I am. ”
“You’re still treating him like an outsider, talk to him. Maybe not right now but at some point actually talk to him.”
“Oh fine. I suppose you’re right, you usually are.”
“That does not mean you get to be smug.”
“It’s good that you’re thinking about Grantaire more. I mean not just Grantaire but all of us. You shouldn’t suppress your emotions as much as you do. It’s bad for you.”
“Don’t pout at me. You need both a passion for your causes and empathy to be a good speaker and a good leader. People aren’t going to follow you if they think you’re an emotionless drone. Keep bottling things up and that’s what’s going to happen.”
“Oh very well. Maybe I do keep things to myself too much. Maybe I do try to ignore my feelings. I’ll try harder provided you don’t keep lecturing me.”
Combeferre inclined his head in acquiescence and took another bite of his sandwich. Enjolras went back to looking at their friends around the bar. His eyes caught on Grantaire, laughing with Joly and Bossuet, Jehan leaning over the back of their booth to join in with whatever was going on. Grantaire gesturing dramatically with his hands much to the amusement of everyone else. Did he always paint his nails, Enjolras couldn’t recall noticing before. He smiled to himself. Maybe Combeferre was right. Maybe Grantaire was worth knowing a little better.
Combeferre radiated an aura of silent smugness and Courfeyrac who was now leaning over the booth a little let out a small squeal at the realisation of what was going on. Combeferre caught his eye and he ducked back down hurriedly. There was no way they weren’t having a discussion about this later Combeferre had been keeping secrets. Big secrets.
Later when they had all left the bar to go back to their respective flats, Courferyrac kept quiet and walked back to Enjolras and Combeferre’s flat with them. He had pleaded wanting to hang out with Ferre as his reason for tagging along. Enjolras, exhausted by the day’s events hadn’t bothered to question it.
Enjolras yawed as the door shut behind them. “Sorry you two but I’m just going to head straight to bed I think. I’m kinda dead.”
“Don’t worry about it.” Smiled Combeferre, “You did good work today, we all did, you deserve a rest.”
“Thanks.” He hugged them both then headed to his room.
Courfeyrac waited until Enjolras’ door had shut firmly and he could hear the sounds of the blond getting ready for bed before he rounded on Combeferre.
“You devious little thing, you.”
“I’m just making sure that our friends see all the options available to them.”
“Combeferre the secret matchmaker and mastermind. Combeferre the omniscient. Combeferre knower of all.”
“Two of those things mean the same Courfeyrac.”
“I cannot believe you have been plotting this sort of stuff and didn’t involve me. Me the master of all things love-y. Me”
“You. You who are as subtle as a brick to the face and who keeps secrets as well as Bossuet keeps good luck. You.”
“Combeferre ,” Courfeyrac gasped, outraged, and clasped one hand to his chest.
Chapter 13: Chapter Thirteen
Got a little writers block on this chapter but I think I managed to push past it fine enough.
Grantaire was draped across a chair in a way that could not possibly be comfortable but he made look effortless. He was wearing a tank top again but had a hoodie draped over the back of the chair as well. Summer in Glasgow was hot and damp and unpredictable. Enjolras couldn’t really blame him. He could, however, be annoyed at the unreasonable musculature of Grantaire’s arms. Again.
It was 2pm and they didn’t have a meeting today and even if they had it wouldn’t have been until 7. Yet here Grantaire was, sprawled out on one of the chairs in the Food Factory, one leg over the arm of the chair, the other on the floor, an arm over the back of it and he was sideways across it. They were metal chairs, he couldn’t get comfortable sitting in them normally let alone like that. None of this however answered the overarching question he had.
“Why are you here?” Enjolras asked the question rather loudly and Combeferre looked up from his book with an expression of outright murder. Courfeyrac, sat next to him, was trying very, very hard not to burst out laughing.
“Why are any of us here. What is here, what are we, who am I?” Grantaire mused, enjoying watching Enjolras face cycle through various fascinating shades of red as he attempted to get his temper under control.
“I meant,” He said after a lengthy pause wherein his face returned to its normal colour, “Why are you in the union you’re not normally around during the day.” There that sounded reasonable and civilised surely. So why then was Combeferre still looking at him like that.
“Oh, fair point. I had some holiday days saved up from work and if I don’t use them they have to pay me for them. As they really, don’t want to do that I was effectively forced to take some time off.” He grinned. Joly threw a plastic spoon at him.
“Stop acting like you’re not enjoying the time off. And you deserve it. And they should give you the time off when you ask for it not when they realise you haven’t taken a holiday in a year and a half.”
“Not my fault they keep refusing me them.” He shrugged and Enjolras wondered how he managed not to impale his shoulder on the back of the chair.
“That is exactly my point. ”
“Don’t you have a final exam to be cramming for.”
“Oh don’t remind me.” Joly collapsed head first onto the table. Combeferre pet his head absentmindedly and went back to his own textbook, content that Enjolras wasn’t actually about to start another war between him and Grantaire.
“When's you’re next exam?” The artist asked, not unkindly.
“He just had his last one.” Piped up Courfeyrac before the blond had a chance to answer, “He’s free .”
“You don’t need to sound so bitter. You chose your modules you knew you’d have a late exam.”
“That doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it.”
“Ah, glorious freedom. A wonderful feeling.” Said Grantaire.
“One I take it you’re enjoying now that you have some time off.”
Grantaire inclined his head in agreement. Enjolras smiled at him and he could have sworn his heart stopped for a moment. Then Enjolras came and sat down at the table with him and he was certain that his heart did actually stop.
“What are you doing?” He winced at how much of an accusation that sounded like.
“Can’t I sit with you?” The blond looked at him, concerned. “I don’t want to interrupt everyone that’s studying so I thought-”
“No! I mean, yes! I mean, it’s fine. I don’t mind it.”
Enjolras smiled at him again and Grantaire thought faintly that he might really be able to get used to looking at that.
“You know….it struck me recently that I know pretty much all of our regular members well, except for you.”
Grantaire blinked in confusion. “Um well we don’t exactly talk much.”
“I know, I was wondering if we could maybe change that.” Unbeknownst to either of them Joly, Combeferre and Courfeyrac lifted their heads to look at them in unison.
Grantaire wasn’t sure that he could breathe right now. “What?”
“Well,” Said Enjolras, somewhat awkwardly, “I’m supposed to be the president of the society. It doesn’t exactly reflect well on me if I don’t know the members of it. Especially if they’ve been coming for a while, which you have. I know we don’t exactly get along, most of the time, but perhaps if I understood you a little better that might change?” Enjolras finished, looking worried.
In the background Combeferre looked like he might have actually swallowed his textbook, Joly was biting his nails in anticipation and Courfeyrac was clinging onto Combeferre in the hope that he might be able to stop himself from making any loud adoring noises.
Grantaire swallowed but nodded at Enjolras. “Alright. If you want to know me I’m not going to stop you, but I’m not promising that you’ll like me anymore. I’m just not that great a person.”
Joly’s hands went to his hair as he struggled to keep from yelling at his best friend for being a colossal idiot.
“Well,” Enjolras smiled, “I guess I’ll see.”
The three of them relaxed and cautiously went back to their studies, watching the other two every now and then to make sure things didn’t go explosively wrong. For once, they didn’t.
The two talked for a couple of hours about this and that. Opinions on the world, politics, the society, their beliefs. Enjolras found Grantaire to be frustratingly skeptical of far too much but he was willing to concede when the artist had a point, which was surprisingly often. Grantaire in turn found Enjolras to be almost blindingly naive but couldn’t fault the blond for the foundation of his beliefs, nor the fact that his causes were justified. Grantaire eventually had to leave, already having plans with Bahorel for the evening. Though if the boxer had known what Grantaire had left behind to come see him he would probably have let the artist have it.
Combeferre drifted over to Enjolras not long after Grantaire had left. “That seemed to go well.”
“Hmm,” Enjolras nodded and looked up at his friend with a smiled. Combeferre was pleased to note he looked a little dazed though was realistic enough to know that Enjolras most likely did not know why, at least not yet.
“Your talk with Grantaire, it seemed to go well.”
“Oh. Yes, it did.” Enjolras sighed, his brow furrowing a little, “Did you know how infuriatingly intelligent he is?”
“Joly may have remarked upon it, once or twice.”
“It’s insufferable. He knows so much about so many things but he’s so pessimistic about all of them. For everything he says he once believed in he just picks it apart with skepticism now. It’s well…”
“Frustrating. I don’t understand how he can be so right about things but at the same time brush them off as nothing.”
“Do you feel better for having talked to him?”
“...yes. Yes I think I do. I won’t claim that I understand why he is the way that he is but I think I know better why everyone else seems to get along with him. I really didn’t give him much of a chance did I?”
“Well, you’re making up for it now.” Combeferre patted him gently on the shoulder.
“You are being very proactive with your support for this.”
“I just want the society and our group of friends to run smoothly.” He smiled.
“Hmm.” Said Enjolras, somewhat suspicious. Combeferre was keeping an awful lot to himself lately and he wasn’t sure he trusted it.
“Speaking of the society weren’t you talking about getting some banners done? Why not ask R?”
“Oh,” Enjolras startled out of his thoughts at the suggestion. “Well, he is an artist I suppose, and that graffiti on the night out was really beautiful actually.” He thought on the matter for a moment. Grantaire certainly had talent. “Do you think he would be willing to help out?”
Combeferre smiled somewhat indulgently, “I think the only way you’re going to find out is to ask him.”
“Hmm. I’ll consider it. Now, I did actually want to talk to you about some things if you’re not busy studying.”
“I can take a break, what is it you need?”
As Enjolras explained about the next event he was thinking of running and some logistics that needed figuring out Joly immersed himself back in his studies. Courfeyrac meanwhile went back to doodling little hearts with “E+R” written in them on his revision notes. He was, as always, overly invested in all such things within their friendship group.
A few days passed and Enjolras had eventually taken heed of Combeferre’s worryingly enthusiastic encouragement following his previous discussion with Grantaire and had headed over to see him regarding the subject of banners and perhaps to talk with him a little more. He buzzed Grantaire’s flat twice and was waiting impatiently to be let in.
The harsh sound of the buzzer startled Grantaire out of the light doze he had fallen into and he scrambled to let whoever it was in. The intercom had been broken the entire time he’d lived in the flat so all he could do was hope he hadn’t let anyone in that shouldn’t be there.
He stretched. Today was far too warm. He had woken up that morning and found himself far, far too warm. There was absolutely no way he had even considered getting fully dressed. He had pulled on a loose black skirt. Once it had fitted his waist perfectly but Joly wasn’t joking when he said the artist had lost weight. He hoped he might put some back on if he indulged himself now he had some time off. He hadn’t done much other than sketching today. He’d begun a sketch of Jehan the last time they were over, draped across his couch in a faux velvet poet’s shirt and little else. It was coming along nicely.
He yawned. A knock at the door caused him to blink in confusion. Apparently whoever he let in wanted to see him. He opened the door to find Enjolras looking at his shoes. The blond looked up and his jaw dropped. Grantaire’s brow furrowed in confusion until he remembered what he was wearing. Fuck. For all Enjolras preached equality he could count on one hand the number of people that had reacted well to this sort of thing. There was a reason only Cosette, Jehan and Bahorel knew.
Enjolras appeared to realise he was staring and shut his mouth with a snap. He cleared his throat.
“You’re wearing a skirt.” That was not actually what he had meant to say but his brain was a little overloaded with the sight in front of him.
Grantaire stiffened up and fixed a glare at the blond. “Yeah. And ?”
Enjolras looked up and something in his chest tightened. Grantaire, who spent his time espousing how no one would listen to their voices, who spoke of how they would change nothing with their protests and demonstrations, Grantaire who argued it was human nature for the world to be the way it was. That there would always be bullies, there would always be greed and violence and discrimination. That they would always get put down and nothing would change.
Grantaire. That Grantaire was standing there in a skirt, and what seemed like very little else, jaw clenched, glaring at Enjolras. Daring him to attempt to judge the cynic for it. Grantaire, whose eyes were hard but not unsurprised, was stubbornly prepared to stand his ground.
For the first time it crossed Enjolras’ mind that Grantaire might not be this way out of sheer blind pessimism. The cynic stood ready to bear his judgement as if he had always done it. Grantaire, he realised, had been made this way by the world. Something or someone had pulled him under and now he struggled to even see the surface surrounded by shining idealists.
Something close to a small measure of understanding dawned on Enjolras and for the first time he didn’t want to wave away the man’s pessimism. He wanted to find out where it came from.
He realised the artist was still waiting for an answer.
“Nothing. I just...didn’t realise you wore them.” That didn’t sound awkward or forced at all. Come on Enjolras, get it together.
He took in the sight again, from the bare feet and ankles being brushed by low hanging black fabric to the way the folds fell as the skirt hung dangerously from Grantaire’s hips. He did not linger there, he certainly paid no attention to Grantaire’s bare chest or his muscular arms.
“It suits you, you should wear them more often.”
Grantaire looked shocked, all the anger and vitriol he’d prepared seeping out of him in the face of acceptance. Confusion rushed in to replace it and he fought back a blush at the compliment. He rubbed the back of his neck with one hand “Um….thanks?”
Enjolras was beginning to see the damage the world had done. Damage that he had probably contributed to with his ignorance and refusal to know the cynic. Something heavy pulled at his chest. “Can I come in?”
Grantaire stepped a side and opened the door fully. He wasn’t sure what was going on lately. At what point had he lost control of what was happening in his life, because the past few weeks nothing had felt real. Enjolras wasn’t supposed to think Grantaire looked nice in a skirt. He was supposed to accuse Grantaire of mocking their cause and tell him not to come to the next meeting. Enjolras, in fact, was definitely not supposed to be showing up at Grantaire’s flat for no previously agreed upon reason without another society member to act as a buffer so he didn’t actually have to talk to Grantaire. What was even happening.
Enjolras made himself comfy on Grantaire’s sofa but the artist took a chair across the room in the hope that the distance might allow him to think a little clearer.
“So, what brings you to me, of all people?”
Enjolras bit his lip. “I was wondering if you might do us some banners if it’s not too much trouble. We can reimburse you for any supplies.”
Grantaire relaxed a little. Ah, he was here on a mission for the society. Suddenly the world made sense again. He could handle this. “Sure, what kind of thing are you after?”
Enjolras detailed various slogans and symbolism, colours of the causes they supported and Grantaire nodded along.
“I can manage that, it might take me a few days I’ll need to pick up some more paints, not everything works on fabric, and I’ll need to get the material too.”
“I can get you the fabric, Combeferre has the measurements we need already sorted. Just give me a receipt for the paints and we’ll pay you back.” Enjolras smiled, he hadn’t even had to argue the need for the banners. The artist seemed happy to help provided he wasn’t being asked to do something outwith his normal remit.
“Okay. I’ll do some sketches today and I’ll send you a photo of anything that I think would work particularly well and you can let me know if you want me to go ahead with it, yeah?”
“Okay, that sounds good.”
“Alright,” The artist sighed, relieved that left alone in his flat the two of them had somehow managed to not start argument. “Well if that’s everything-”
“Um, actually…” Enjolras began, somewhat sheepishly. Grantaire froze. “I was wondering if I could talk to you for a little while.”
Talk to him, alone in his flat, with no escape and no back up. “About what?”
“Well,” Said Enjolras, picking at the bottom of his shirt, “I still don’t really know you very well. Which is awful of me really considering we pretty much have the same group of friends.”
Grantaire sat in shock. This. Again. He thought they’d already done this a few days ago. That had been nerve wracking enough.
“So,” Continued the blond, “Um I wanted to just talk to you and maybe get to know you a little better. If...if that’s alright.”
“Yes, well. Last time it was only really related to the society and your beliefs.”
“Well yes but-”
“This time I thought maybe I could learn more about well you , of course you can ask me questions as well. I don’t mean for it to be one sided or um. Yeah. That.” Why was he so awkward when he wasn’t giving speeches Grantaire was going to think he was an idiot.
The artist could feel a blush creeping up his neck again. He nodded at enjolras feeling like the world had been pulled out from under him “Alright, ask away. What is it you want to know?”
Chapter 14: Chapter Fourteen
Grantaire waited until he heard the outer door down stairs shut behind Enjolras before he began to panic.
“I’m calling Cosette and Jehan. And Joly. Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.”
He wandered around the flat somewhat frantic trying desperately to find his phone only to turn around part way through his third search of the living room to find it had been sitting on the coffee table the entire time.
“I’m an idiot.” Worse, he was a mess of issues squeezed into a roughly human shape. He clearly had not been designed to deal with these sort of eventualities. He called Cosette first, he didn’t think he could handle the barrage of emoji’s he would be subjected to if he tried texting her.
“Cozz, help.” He hadn’t even waited for her to say hello.
“Oh no, what’s happened?”
“Enjolras.” He heard Cosette quietly swear at the other end of the line.
“What did he do now?”
“He turned up at my flat.”
“He turned up at my flat, Cozz.”
“Why? By himself?”
“Yes and because he wanted to ask if i’d do some banners for the society.”
There was a pause. “Well that’s not so-”
“ And he wanted to get to know me more.”
“Oh, R.” She said with a sigh.
“It’s worse than that.”
“What do you mean-”
“I was wearing a skirt.”
“Oh. did he react badly?”
“Well no but-”
“Then what’s the problem?”
Grantaire pulled the phone away from his ear to stare at it for a moment. Unable to believe she had actually just asked him that. “A skirt cosette, just a skirt. ”
“What do you mean just a skirt?”
“I mean just a skirt!” This was not supposed to be a difficult concept to understand.
“You were shirtless?”
“What part of just a skirt are you having problems with?” The word skirt was beginning to lose all meaning.
“Stop exaggerating, so you were shirtless in a skirt that’s not the same as just a skirt.”
“Yes it is.” He sing songed sarcastically.
“Yeah I don’t exactly do the underwear thing.”
Silence at the end of the phone. He was just about to ask if she was still there when an outraged, “I’m sorry ?” Echoed out of the speaker.
“You heard me.”
“You mean you were wearing just a skirt ?!”
“That’s what I’ve been saying!”
“Oh my god R!”
“Look will you just come over or something?” He was beyond exasperated, she was not at all helping his levels of panic and this was only marginally better than the emojis. He managed to catch a promise of her heading right over before he hung up the phone to text Jehan. Jehan didn’t even bother to string him out and promised to be over immediately. Good that was the response he had actually been looking for.
Cosette turned up at his door and didn’t even wait to be invited in before she was barging past him into the flat and shutting the door behind her.
“Go and put some underwear on.”
“I don’t like how they feel, it’s restrictive. What’s the point of wearing something flowy if I feel restricted.”
“I am not talking to you until you put underwear on now go.” She had both hands on her hips, there was going to be no arguing with her. She turned him round bodily and pushed him towards the bedroom.
“Alright, alright.” Grantaire complained. He stalked off sulkily to try and find the loosest boxers he owned. It took a while but he finally found something that wouldn’t irritate him immensely. He’d just gotten them on and rearranged himself when the door went again.
He opened it to find Jehan on the other side with several mysterious looking bags. Grantaire raised a confused eyebrow and let his friend into the flat.
He rolled his eyes. “Don’t you start as well.”
“You look lovely though.”
“No really. I bet he didn’t know what hit him.”
“Honestly I’m just surprised he didn’t yell at me.”
“Why would he yell at you? He’s for gender expression.”
“I don’t know I thought he’d think I was mocking it or something.”
“If everyone could stop saying that at me, that would be fantastic right about now.”
“You do look good though.”
Jehan giggled and looked the artist up and down with a not so innocent expression. “ Really good.”
Grantaire tried not to blush and wondered what his life had become and wondered again at exactly what point he had lost control over it. While he was musing his friends arranged themselves in the living room.
“Right,” Said Cosette from where she was sat on a beanbag across the other side of the coffee table. “ We are going to make you feel better and you are going to sit and try to relax for once.”
The artist had the familiar feeling he was struck with around Cosette that arguing with her was going to be utterly pointless and he was no longer in control of how his afternoon was going.
Jehan was sprawled on the couch and Grantaire went and sat at their feet. The artist leant his head against one of Jehan’s legs, attempting to ground himself with the touch. Cosette was fussing about getting nail varnish out and nail files and had declared she was going to do Grantaire’s toenails to match this time, seeing as he was barefoot already.
Sensing how tense their friend still was Jehan reached a hand down and tipped Grantaire’s head back. They bent down and kissed the artist softly. Grantaire melted into the kiss with a soft moan, body relaxing almost instantly. Jehan held the kiss for a few moment’s hand stroking through the artist’s hair. When they thought Grantaire had calmed enough Jehan released him. The artist cuddled more into their friends legs, more at ease now.
The two of them looked up at Cosette.
“You know, I never really understood what you meant when you said you were so tactile but I think I get it now."
Grantaire half smiled and nodded.
“Touch really does ground you doesn’t it, you relaxed so easily with that. She frowned, you know you shouldn’t have to hide it from people R. If it makes you feel better you should be able to go to someone when you feel stressed.”
“Too many questions.”
“Could you please stop saying that?”
“I mean it though, that was beautiful. It really was, anyone who would judge either of you for that doesn’t deserve to be your friend.”
“That’s what I’ve said and it’s not like he only has me. Bahorel is happy to help too and Joly and Bossuet don’t mind him curling up around them. He just feels like people will judge him too much for doing it in public.”
“That’s because they will.”
“You mean you think people will jump to conclusions and shame you for it.”
“I stand by what I said. If they do that they don’t deserve to be your friend. If they find it confusing and want to ask some questions I can understand but if after that they can’t accept it then they’re not worth it R.”
Grantaire didn’t really know what to do with himself and Cosette just reiterating that it was beautiful and he looked so much happier for it and so much more relaxed wasn't helping with that. “How could anyone begrudge you that.”
Grantaire ducked his head and tried to pretend he wasn’t shy. Jehan pulled over one of their mysterious bags with a flourish. It turned out to be filled with baking supplies.
“Baking therapy is the best therapy.” They got up from the couch and pulled Grantaire up with them, nudging him towards the kitchen. This apparently had to be done before his nails so that he didn’t mess them up.
“I got this recipe from Bahorel, did you know he bakes?” Grantaire shook his head. They were making some form of cookies with pieces of Toblerone through them. It certainly sounded delicious in theory.
“Oh my he’s so good at it too.” Jehan cooed happily.
“You two have been quite cuddly lately."
"I know isn’t it great, he’s like you but not quite as pronounced and he doesn’t care about doing it in public.”
“Yes! I get to be affectionate at people and they don’t think it’s weird oh it’s so wonderful R and thank you so much because if it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t have anyone and-”
Jehan swatted him lightly, “Let me thank you! Oh my god.” Grantaire laughed and pulled Jehan into a loose hug, draping himself over the poet.
Once the cookies were safely in the oven, although considering the ongoing war Grantaire had with his oven safely might not be entirely the right word, he was ushered back into the living room where Cosette had all her supplies laid out. Jehan emptied the rest of his bags revealing various kinds of makeup and hair products.
“Oh are we making him over?” Cosette squealed. Jehan nodded.
Grantaire looked down at the array of products, barely any of which he recognised, and shrugged. He’d invited the both of them over and asked for their help he might as well trust that they knew what they were doing. He sat himself down in front of the sofa again, hands presented across the coffee table to Cosette. Jehan sat up behind him, cross legged on the sofa, with a comb, a hairbrush and an incredibly intent look on their face.
“Can you do those absinthe nails on him again they looked so pretty?” They asked.
“Grantaire?” asked Cosette.
“So long as you don’t draw actual green fairies on them I’m fine, I quite liked them.”
“I can’t do that kind of fine detail and you know it. You want Feuilly for that.”
“I’m not asking Feuilly to do my nails.”
“Then you do it you’re an artist.”
“What part of I don’t want it on my nails do you have difficulty with and besides it would look alright until I attempted to do my other hand, I’m not ambidextrous.”
“Methinks you doth protest too much.” Said Jehan somewhat smugly as they tried to work out where to begin with Grantaire’s hair.
“Jehan!” Grantaire tried turning around to protest even more but had his head forceably turned forward.
“Don’t move or I’m going to end up pulling your hair. I don’t want to hurt you.”
“You’ve a better chance of turning me on than actually hurting me.” He smirked, Cosette hit his knuckles with a nail file.
A few hours later, cookies having been rescued from the oven and entirely devoured, Grantaire sat with green gradient finger and toe nails. His hair had been brushed out of it’s tangles and swept back from his forehead, a lone curl dangled rakishly over one eye. Cosette had smoothed pale foundation over his face to even out his complexion and highlighted his cheeks and brow. Dark red lipstick stained his lips and she had smoked out his eyes and smudged them with eyeliner. Jehan said he looked devastating. After spending half an hour staring at the stranger in the mirror Grantaire almost agreed with them.
He’d tried calling Joly part way through the process but he’d not been able to get passed his friend chattering excitedly about Enjolras actually speaking to him and wanting to know him to discuss anything in detail. He loved Joly but he was being too much an optimistic, romantic dork at the moment to engage in a sensible discussion.
Cosette eventually had to head home. She said good bye with a kiss to each cheek and almost skipped down the stairs. Grantaire didn’t know how she managed to be honest.
Jehan lingered leaning seductively against a wall. Grantaire raised an eyebrow at them.
“It’s not my fault R, you look so tempting right now.” They laughed and pulled the artist toward his bedroom before leaning in to leaving a few teasing bites along his neck.
“I don’t want to mess up your lipstick.”
“Fuck the lipstick.”
Grantaire pulled Jehan into a filthy kiss. The poet scratched his nails down Grantaire’s back causing him to let out a moan. When they pulled away the both of them had lipstick smeared across their lips.
“How is it that just makes you look hotter R?”
“You wouldn’t say that if you could see what you look like Jehan, you look so wicked.”
Grantaire pulled them in for another kiss that left them both gasping.
“Uh huh.” Was Jehan’s breathless reply.
Chapter 15: Chapter Fifteen
Sorry for the delay with this one.
The heady heat and sticky air of the past few days finally broke and the heavens let loose a deluge on the city below. Grantaire mused sarcastically to himself that he hadn’t even been aware that Glasgow had a monsoon season.
He sat up next to the window and watched the rain come down in sheets. It looked like the last few of his work free days would be wet. He didn’t mind that much he liked the rain really. As much as he did sometimes complain. It soothed him in a way he found difficult to describe. It was calming. Being out in it felt like some kind of release for him and being inside with it tapping against the windows while in the distance lightning flashed and thunder rolled was unbelievably relaxing.
He had wrapped a duvet around himself and was sipping a mug of hot chocolate. Really it should have still been too warm for either of those things but he had been outside when the downpour started and was feeling somewhat shivery as he slowly dried out.
He smiled at his green nails wrapped around the mug and snuggled a little deeper into the warmth of the covers. Today seemed like a good day, perhaps he would actually finish one of his paintings. Later though, right now he was content to sit and listen to the rain.
Across the city Enjolras watched the rain from his window as he not so quietly went insane.
Combeferre was trying desperately hard to help him through what was happening but was gradually becoming more exasperated. This was not helped by Courfeyrac who had arrived after a text from Combeferre taken one look at the unfolding drama and gone into the kitchen to make popcorn. He was now sitting on the arm of the sofa eating it and occasionally throwing bits at Enjolras when he thought the blond was being particularly dense or Combeferre when he thought he was edging towards unnecessary sarcasm.
Enjolras had been babbling about his visit to Grantaire’s the day before for a good hour now but very little of it was making any sense. He had come home the previous day, advised Combeferre that the artist was happy to help with the banners and then shut himself up in his room. He had at some point ventured out for food but had, probably by design, managed to do so while Combeferre was too preoccupied with something else to notice he had done so.
Today he had not come out for breakfast or coffee, in fact Combeferre had been starting to wonder if he would come out at all when he had finally emerged at midday. His hair was a sleep ruffled mess and he was still in his pyjamas the medical student had initially thought he might be ill especially from the flush to his cheeks but it turned out that he had woken up blushing and didn’t seem to be able to stop it.
Combeferre had restrained himself from asking what the blond could possibly have been dreaming about that the blush was still going. He had an inkling of what it might be anyway and asking Enjolras to put it into words would probably have resulted in him making even less sense that he was already.
So far all either Combeferre and Courfeyrac had been able to work out was that after securing the artist’s help with the banners Enjolras had taken Combeferre’s advice about trying to learn more about him to mean sit in his living room and interrogate him for two hours.
Interrogate was a strong word probably. Enjolras had asked a lot of questions which Grantaire had actually answered although to varying degrees detail. However it seemed like he hadn’t given the artist much of a chance to ask questions of his own or even give the indication that such questions were welcome. Combeferre looked about ready to actually hit him while Courfeyrac was trying poorly to stifle his laughter.
Combeferre finally managed to steer the conversation away from how badly Enjolras appeared to have executed getting to know Grantaire better and down to the actual heart of what seemed to be causing his current freak out.
“And he was shirtless and barefoot and really I think that might have been the only thing he was wearing and-”
“You don’t know that.” Combeferre was beginning to sound tired.
“Well, I mean, maybe I do.” Enjolras kept fidgeting which was never a good sign.
“The skirt. I mean it really was only just being held on by his hips it was hanging pretty low, like really low. Like, if he was wearing anything under it I think I would have be able to see the waistband.”
“Oh my god, Enjolras.” Said Combeferre, completely beyond exasperated by this point, “I cannot believe you looked.”
“He has this line of hair leading down, it draws the eye okay it’s not my fault it’s-
“Treasure trail.” Both Enjolras and Combeferre turned to look at Courfeyrac.
“I’m sorry?” Said the blond.
“That line of hair, from navel down yeah?” He said through a mouthful of popcorn.
“Well, I mean yes but-”
“It’s called a treasure trail.”
There was a pause as Enjolras contemplated asking a question he wasn’t sure he wanted to know the answer to. Eventually he gave in to his curiosity. “Why?” He asked.
“Well because if you follow the trail.” Courfeyrac gestured with his hands in a way that made the blond blush even more scarlet than he already was
“Okay never mind I get it.”
“Are you sure?
“Yes I’m sure Courfeyrac.”
“I get it!”
“Courfeyrac stop.” Said Combeferre, massaging his temples.
“Booo, you’re no fun.” Courfeyrac tried to throw the rest of the popcorn at him, lost his balance and fell backwards over the arm of the couch. Combeferre sighed deeply and turned back to Enjolras.
“You’re getting hysterical, calm down.”
“I will not calm down.”
“No, listen this is...This is new okay, this is news to me, this is really blinding and confusing and I dont know whats going on or who I am or who R is anymore. Okay? I am allowed to be upset and anxious. I am not calming down.”
Combeferre blinked owlishly at the tirade. “Fair enough.”
Enjolras paced the length of the floor in front of the living room window. He ran a hand through the mess his hair currently was.
Courfeyrac pulled himself up from the floor. “I’m sure it wasn’t that bad. If Grantaire thought you were bullying him or something he’d have asked you to leave at the very least.”
“He seemed really uncomfortable around me though.”
“Maybe he’s confused because you’ve gone from berating him to wanting to learn more about him rather abruptly.” Said Combeferre.
“ It was you’re idea! ”
“I didn’t think you would be quite so black and white about the whole thing.”
“How else was I supposed to be?”
He sighed. “It’s alright Enjolras, it’s my fault. I know what you’re like with these things I should have explained things better. I’m sorry.”
“Maybe he was uncomfortable because you showed up at his house with no warning and he wasn’t exactly dressed for company?” Offered Courfeyrac with a shrug. He’d answered his door naked before and felt perfectly comfortable but he knew it wasn’t a universal sentiment.
“Also R’s house is kind of his sanctuary in a way it’s like where he’s most himself I think. Having someone suddenly show up in that place when he’s used to them being negative at him probably put him off balance.”
“Oh. I really didn’t think of that at all. I’m awful.”
“Nah. It’s ‘Ferres fault for forgetting you’re not used to this stuff. It’s fine.” Combeferre glared at him over the rim of his glasses again. It made him look a bit like an angry librarian. Courfeyrac grinned back.
“How do I fix it?” Enjolras stared at his feet, quiet for once.
“What do you mean? There’s nothing to fix.”
“Yes there is. I made him uncomfortable when that wasn’t my intent and I’m still trying to work out how to make up for being so awful to him before.”
“Maybe talk to him again, less interrogation, more give and take and like on neutral territory.”
Combeferre raised his eyebrows in surprise at the good suggestion, Courfeyrac smirked.
“Okay that sounds promising umm what do you suggest for location.” Said the blond, looking up again.
“A coffee shop?” Combeferre pitched in before Courfeyrac had the chance to suggest something ridiculous. “It’s public so there’s less chance of either of you letting things get out of control if you do argue and it’s not either of your territories if that makes sense. I’m making you sound like your warring nations, sorry Enjolras.”
“Well they kind of are-”
“ Courfeyrac .”
“What? I’m helping.”
Combeferre glared at him briefly before turning back to Enjolras. “Ask him at the next meeting. No, actually, ask him after the next meeting. Take him to one side or catch him when he’s on his own. Try to be nice.”
“I am nice.” The blond pouted.
“Alright,” Enjolras sighed. “I’ll try not to antagonise him, I presume that’s what you actually meant.”
“Now um...about the rest of it?”
“What do you mean?”
“The um...the him being attractive bit.” He trailed off awkwardly. Courfeyrac squealed.
“Just take it as it comes Enjolras, don’t do anything drastic. Just try for friendship first, try and keep it relaxed and see where things go. You sound like you still need some time to process it and R seems to be having some problems processing you being nice to him at all. So I’d keep quiet about it for the moment. If you know what I mean.”
“I think so. Just be casual and friendly?”
“Yeah but also yourself. At least as much as you can be.”
“Okay, thanks. I can try that. Thank you for being more specific it really helps you know.”
“We know Enjy I’m just sorry I wasn’t earlier.”
“Okay. It’s fine. Okay. I’ll talk to him after the meeting tomorrow.” With that decided Enjolras felt like he was back on a bit more even footing. He wasn’t used to feeling like this, especially about Grantaire but taking it slowly was something he thought he might be able to manage. He went to put the coffee pot on. He’d gone without his caffeine fix long enough today.
Whilst he went through what were almost automatic motions for him by now his mind drifted back to the state he had woken up in this morning and the dream that had preceded it. He ducked his head and focused on getting a mug and some milk out, blush back with a vengeance.
Grantaire had spent the rest of the day lazing about until the point where he did actually feel the urge to pick up his paint brushes and work on something. He finished of the last few strokes of a landscape he’d been working on for some time. He’d managed to make a lot of progress on it today the calming effect of the rain allowing his inspiration to flow more easily. It was a view of the city, mainly of the skyline. Its rooftops and spires instantly recognisable. The tower of the university standing proud at the center, the near silhouetted greys and reds of the sandstone buildings giving way to lush greens of trees representing the city’s vast parks. Toward the bottom the colours rippled together and faded before they reached the edge of the canvas. At the moment it made it look like he’d misjudged how large the painting needed to be, but he had one finishing touch to make.
He shook up a plant mister he’d filled with some paint thinner earlier in the day. Cheap and most likely turpentine but it would do the job he needed. He sprayed a mist at the top of the canvas, repeating until the paint ran just a little. Tiny rivulets of paint trailing lines down to the base of the canvas. He added a little more further down and the most over the base. It gave the effect both of it raining in the landscape and of the painting having been caught out in the rain. Representative of both his own and the city’s inherent melancholy and the wonderfully rainy weather.
He smiled at the finished result and set it aside to dry. He might even show that one to someone for once.
Chapter 16: Chapter Sixteen
Finally set up in my new flat and fixed my computer problems. There should be less delays for the last two chapters. Sorry for the wait everyone.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Grantaire made the mistake of mentioning the finished painting the next time Jehan was over. The poet was not willing to let Grantaire’s reluctance stop them from seeing their friend’s work.
Jehan was not in the habit of letting things go once they got a hold of them. Grantaire hardly ever mentioned his art let alone showed it to anyone. A newly finished painting was too good to ignore.
“I’m not taking no for an answer. Not after what you painted on the pub crawl. You said you’d finished a painting, I demand you show me.”
“Nope. Not working.” They raised an eyebrow at the artist. “You can sigh my name in despair all you like, I’ll use it as fodder for my poetry later, but right now I am going to see that painting.”
Grantaire whined, unhappy and nervous about showing someone other than joly his work. The med student was the only one he normally felt safe about showing them too. His demeanour and subconscious thoughts, or at the very least suppressed and ignored thoughts, had a tendency to come out through his art and Joly had been the only one he felt a close enough connection with to feel comfortable with revealing so much of himself.
Jehan and he had been getting much closer lately, since grantaire had decided to be more open with them. He wanted to grant his friend this privilege, wanted to trust jehan enough but he was still somewhat hesitant. It felt wrong that it wasn’t joly that was viewing it first. Whether because it would be going against the unintended tradition that had formed or because he felt like he had been ignoring Joly lately. They were supposed to be best friends.
Joly himself had been somewhat busy. Between studying for and taking his exams he hadn’t had a lot of spare time and, understandably so, he preferred to spend what little time he had with his partners.
The artist ran his hands through his hair in frustration. “Look can you just… give me a minute?”
Jehan crossed their arms over their chest, looking distinctly unimpressed.
“No, really I mean it.” He said, backing out of the room. “I’ve just got to make a phone call.”
In a minor state of panic he dialled Joly. Realistically Grantaire knew his friend was studying and was probably too busy to help him figure out the mess that was his brain right now but it couldn’t hurt to try.
He heard the click of the phone being answered and took a breath, maybe if he got it all out at once his friend wouldn’t be able to ignore him.
“Hey R, Joly’s kinda busy right now he has an exam tomorrow.”
Bossuet’s voice at the end of the line shattered the burgeoning hope. Grantaire let his head fall back against the wall next to his front door and sighed, letting out the breath he had taken.
“I know, I know. I just need to talk to him for a minute I promise.”
Bossuet had never been able to resist any of their friends, especially Grantaire. “Okay, only a minute though.”
There was a series of muffled noises. Then a worrying clattering sound followed by a distant “See what I mean, you drop everything. ” Which signalled the phone being handed over to Joly.
“Hey R, is everything okay?”
“Hi Joly. Umm as okay as things ever are with me. I’m sorry for pestering you in the middle of your exam related nervous breakdown.”
“I am not having a-”
“Please, I’ve seen you study before.”
Joly sputtered in indignation at the other end of the phone.
“Anyway, I’ve uh… I’ve finished a painting and um-”
“Oh that’s great R. You know I’d come over and see it but well…”
“Exam, yeah I know.”
“I can come over when It’s finished if you like?”
“That would be awesome, but umm thing is-”
“Grantaire, your stalling, what’s happened?”
“Nothing’s happened. It’s just that Jehan is over and they want to see the painting.”
“Well… I guess but… it feels weird that it isn’t you. I mean, you’re normally the first to see them.”
Technically Joly was normally the only one to see them but he was going to ignore that for the moment.
“I feel, and I know I’m being ridiculous, but I feel almost as if I’m betraying you. By letting someone else see it first.”
“I’m really beginning to get sick of people saying my name in that tone.”
There was a sigh and he could almost hear Joly rolling his eyes.
“You’re not betraying me by letting Jehan see your painting first. I’m actually really happy you feel like you can show them to someone else.”
“Yes Grantaire. I’ll come over soon, after my exams are done, and you can show me it then. I’m fine with Jehan seeing it first.”
Grantaire let out a breath. “Thanks Joly. I’ll let you get back to cramming.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
After a brief exchange of goodbyes and good luck for Joly’s exam Grantaire hung up and slouched back to the living room. Jehan raised an eyebrow at him.
“Okay.” Grantaire sighed, partly in acceptance, partly in defeat.
“Really?” Jehan perked up, uncrossing their arms.
“Yes really. Come on then.” Grantaire led Jehan to the large walk in cupboard that he mainly used for storing books he didn’t have room for on his bookshelves and various bottles of unusual alcohol. It was also where he sat his most recently completed paintings, at least until he was sure they were completely dry at which point they got stored with the rest of his art.
He leaned against a wall so that Jehan could squeeze past him and get a better look at the painting.
Jehan stood staring for a moment before turning to engulf Grantaire in an enthusiastic hug.
“Oh R it’s so beautiful !”
The artist accepted the hug without issue but stilled in confusion at the words.
“Oh it’s so lovely and melancholic and you’ve captured the city so well and that rain effect is ingenious and the colours oh Grantaire the colours they are so much more vibrant than I was expecting and not at all the palette I had imagined you’d used but it works so well and it just looks so much more memorable and it’s just so lovely R!” The poet gushed along this line for several minutes before pulling back from the hug to study Grantaire’s face.
“You shouldn’t hide your work away from people.” They said, softly. “And you certainly shouldn’t look so confused that I like it R, it’s wonderful . One of these days you are going to get used to accepting compliments.
Grantaire blushed a little, rubbing the back of his neck with one hand, and offered a half smile at Jehan. The poet summarily kissed him until he relaxed back to his usual demeanor. They stayed there for a little while, exchanging more kisses lazily until Jehan had to leave.
“Don’t think you’re going to get away with not showing me the rest of them R. I will be over again and you will be showing me more paintings.”
Grantaire laughed a little sheepishly. “Alright Jehan. Now run along. I’m not having Bahorel call accusing me of monopolising your time.”
Jehan laughed and swatted at Grantaire’s shoulder before heading out the door. They hoped their friend would work on another painting soon. Grantaire’s inspiration was rather fickle according to the artist and Jehan thought it such a shame when the work he produced was so obviously poured straight from his heart.
As they walked Jehan couldn’t help but reflect on the fact that the melancholy nature of Grantaire’s painting, and Grantaire himself, resonated with the melancholy in their own soul. Jehan was torn their love was in love with another , at least Jehan suspected so, and Jehan felt some measure of love for that other as well. It seemed that neither of them had any interest in the poet.
They shouldn’t dwell on it so much. Grantaire and Bahorel understood even if they did not know the details. Both trapped in heartaches of their own. They offered comfort to the poet and were so kind as to ask nothing in return. Even though they too accepted the understanding and affection Jehan gave back as a man in a desert would accept water.
Jehan shook their head to clear the thoughts. They were nearly at the boxer’s flat and as much as he was willing to provide comfort to Jehan they always felt bad about turning up already in a bad mood.
By the time Jehan reached Bahorel’s flat they had managed to perk themselves up a little bit, though from the raised eyebrow Bahorel had greeted them with it looked as though the boxer could still tell something was wrong.
Bahorel got Jehan cuddled up on the couch with some tea and pulled the poet into his arms before deciding to broach the subject. He hated seeing any of his friends feeling down and Jehan was beginning to hold quite a firm place in his heart as a very good friend.
“Hey.” He ran a hand through Jehan’s hair. Summer had brought out the reddish tones a little more and it was starting to look truly ginger for a change.
“Are you okay?” Bahorel murmured softly. Jehan was tucked into the crook of his shoulder.
“As much as I ever am,” Jehan smiled.
“That’s not an answer Jehan.”
The poet sighed, “I know. But it’s as much of an answer as I’m able to give.”
They took a sip of their tea. It was still warm in Glasgow but it had been very wet the passed few days and Jehan was thankful for something warming to drink. They nudged Bahorel gently. “What about you?”
“Hmm? What about me?” Bahorel’s attempt at innocence went about as poorly as every previous attempt he had ever made.
“Don’t.” Even Bahorel had topics that were off limits.
“I’ve seen the way you look at him.”
“Bahorel.” The poet sighed in frustration.
“Did I push you?” There was a pause after he asked this. He had tensed up as Jehan prodded him for answers and began to relax a little now as it looked like the poet might back down.
“No.” Said Jehan. “No you didn’t. I suppose you have your reasons as much as I have my own.” The poet nodded to themself then nuzzled into the boxer a little more. “Very well. I’ll respect your silence. As you have respected mine.”
“Just remember I’m here if you need to talk. So is R for that matter.”
“I know.” Bahorel rolled his eyes and tucked Jehan tighter into him. “And if I ever want to talk about it I know who to go to.”
“Okay. So long as you know.”
He pressed a kiss to the poets hair. Soft and lacking what most would see as passion, but filled with something just as powerful in its stead. An affirmation of friendship, a seal on their agreement. Secrets kept but the knowledge they exist shared.
In the wake of his exam Joly dragged Bossuet along to see Grantaire. He was determined to see his friends new painting but more than that he was determined that Bossuet would see the work too. Somehow Grantaire thought that his work wasn’t good enough to be seen by other people and that was something that needed to be remedied immediately.
Grantaire was surprised to hear his door go again. He wasn’t expecting anyone else today. Maybe it was people wanting to speak to next door. People pressed his buzzer a lot by mistake. He let them in anyway. A minute or so later a knock at his door proved him wrong and he opened to door to see Joly and Bossuet standing there. Bossuet had a smile on his face as usual but Joly looked exhausted.
“Don’t tell me you came here straight from your exam?” Joly nodded in response. “And people think I’m mad. Come in then.” He stood aside as they came in and watched as Joly went straight for the walk in cupboard. Grantaire shook his head. He should have known Joly wouldn’t let the fact he’d finished something go so easily.
Bossuet bumped Grantaire’s shoulder with his arm and shuffled his feet a little nervously.
“Could I see your painting too?”
“It’s just I’ve always been curious about your work but I didn’t know if you would be okay with showing it to other people.”
Grantaire stood in shock for a moment. He didn’t think anyone really wanted to look at his art, he’d always thought Joly had just been humouring him. Now there had been two other people wanting to see it in one day. He nodded, somewhat dazed and Bossuet went off to look at the painting as Joly came back out of the cupboard.
“Grantaire,” Said Joly, “It’s beautiful. I like that you’ve started moving towards more vibrant colours.”
“I’ve always used unreasonable loud colours thank you very much.”
“Yes but for a while there it was all red, black and gold wasn’t it.”
Grantaire looked away guiltily and missed Joly’s indulgent smile. Joly hugged him, tightly. It had been too long since they had seen each other and he had missed Grantaire terribly.
“Hmm, not quite as squishy as you were before but you’re getting there.” He pulled back with a smile. “You’re looking so much better R. The time off work has done you good.”
“Letting people in more has done him good too,” said Bossuet, coming back into the hall. “Your arts amazing R, don’t think you’re not showing me everything from now on. Jehan’s been a good influence on you I think.”
“And Bahorel’s been a terrible one but then that’s nothing new.” Joly laughed. Grantaire ruffled his hair until the med student started to splutter because he couldn’t see anymore.
Grantaire’s phone rang. He looked at it in suspicion. Who would call him at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. He looked at the display but didn’t recognise the number. He shrugged and answered it, he could always hang up if it was some kind of cold caller.
“Hello?” Said the artist. Joly and Bossuet looked at him curiously.
“Umm yes this is Grantaire speaking...oh?...Um yes. I’m free on that day...yes...okay...thank you.” He hung up the phone.”
“What was all that about?” Asked Joly.
“It was the Mitchell library. They um...they asked me to come in for an interview next Tuesday.”
Grantaire had about three seconds of blank stares from Joly and Bossuet before they both piled on top of him.
“Oh my god R! Oh my god! You got an interview. I’m so proud of you!” Joly was almost screeching with excitement.
Bossuet just kept laughing. Grantaire lay underneath them in shock. Eventually when they both calmed down he got up to go to the fridge. He needed a drink.
Joly and Bossuet shared a look for a moment before Bossuet smiled and Joly shook his head in fond exasperation.
“R, do you mind if we join you for a while. Looks like you have a few things to celebrate.” Said Bossuet.
“Yes.” Said Joly, “You’re past the first hurdle now and I think that definitely deserves a toast.”
Grantaire fetched them each a bottle of beer from the fridge with a grin. Drinking with friends was always better than drinking alone. “So,” he said once they were all set up in the living room. “What shall we toast too?”
To successes,” said Joly, ”Small as they may be, and progress.” He smirked at Grantaire. “In all areas of life.”
Grantaire flushed under the implication but raised his bottle anyway. “Alright then. To success and progress.” They both echoed him and clinked their bottles together.
The rest of the evening was spent laughing and catching up before Joly begged off wanting to get an early night so he could study more in the morning. Bossuet shook his head.
“A little break could be good for you, you know? You’ve only got one exam left.”
“Exactly,” said Joly, “I’m not going to let all the work I’ve put in so far go to waste by failing the last one. I can party once my exams are over.”
“Oh alright then.” Bossuet knew that in the ongoing war with Joly’s paranoia this was not a battle he was going to win. “We’ll be over again once his exams are finished. Or maybe we can get a night out arranged with everyone.”
“Sure.” Said Grantaire, happy that his distance the past few weeks hadn’t impacted negatively on his friendship with the two of them and for once looking forward to what a group night out might bring. He showed them out and goodbyes were said with hugs as much with words.
He kept drinking, long after they had left. He figured he’d already started, he might as well keep going. Joly would not have been impressed if he knew. Which was why Grantaire had no intention of telling him. As the night grew long he crawled into the chaos of covers and blankets that passed for his bed. Passing out on the sofa would only lead to him waking up aching all over.
Grantaire lay in bed, head spinning pleasantly. He felt a lot better. This wasn’t the best or healthiest coping mechanism he knew but after everything that had happened today he would settle for whatever made him feel better.
It was 1 am and he could hear the strains of drunken singing drifting in through his window.
“Oh ye canny shove yer granny offa bus!”
He giggled to himself. Of all the childrens songs to pick, if you were going to pick a children’s song to sing, that one was one of the stranger. It was comforting to hear. It took him back to the brief moments of his childhood that were carefree and he could actually act like a child. There weren’t as many of those memories as there probably should be. Something else he should probably talk about to someone at some point. There were so many things.
He never mentioned his family. Not to anyone. For the most part nobody asked anyway. Those who did had long since given up, tiring of Grantaire dodging their questions. He stretched and sighed. Best not to dwell on those thoughts. He was trying to feel better, not worse.
Tomorrow he had a meeting to go to. He wondered if this strange new aspect to Enjolras would present itself there as well or if things would return to the way he had grown used to. Despite how far out of his comfort zone recent events had thrown him he wasn’t sure he wanted his life to go back to the way it was. His shining Apollo smiled at him and asked him not only how he was but who he was. Perhaps it was something he could get used to after all.
This, as you may have noticed, is part of a series I'm calling the Glasgowverse. The second part of the series is already partially drafted but once the final chapter of this is up I will be taking a few weeks break before the next installment is posted.
Chapter 17: Chapter Seventeen
Another week, another meeting, and things seemed to return to normal. At least from Grantaire’s perspective.
He spent the evening curled up between Jehan and Bahorel feeling far too smug about it. Joly and Bossuet were having what appeared to be a minor competition as to who could be the better boyfriend to the other. Musichetta, girlfriend to them both, was the impartial judge. All three of them had come over to sit with Grantaire for a while and catch up.
Bossuet made the mistake of mentioning Grantaire’s painting and now Musichetta was dying to see it and Bahorel was pretending to be sullen that he wasn’t invited over. Grantaire had raised an eyebrow at him and promised he could come over and see it sometime. When that had failed to appease the boxer appropriately Grantaire had leaned over and whispered into Bahorel’s ear the promise to do something filthy with him. Bahorel had calmed down enough to start looking smug himself and Jehan was trying not to giggle at the both of them.
Enjolras appeared to be in fine form tonight. At least from the outside. He was consciously keeping his arms folded so the rest of the group couldn’t see his hands shaking. He was nervous about speaking to Grantaire after the meeting. Especially considering everything that had happened over the past few days. Courfeyrac and Combeferre had assured him it would go well so long as he relaxed and treated Grantaire as his equal.
Combeferre was having some difficulty keeping the subtle smile off of his face and Courfeyrac was outright grinning. They had sat together all night, nothing particularly unusual, but had their heads bent together most of the time. Whispering back and forth about Enjolras’ chances and the hope that Grantaire would be open to accepting an olive branch when it was offered to him.
Jehan, having calmed from their giggles, looked over at the two of them and sighed. Grantaire wrapped an arm around their waist beneath the table, out of sight of prying eyes. The sadness in Jehan’s eyes when they turned to him confirmed Grantaire’s suspicions and fears over the identity of Jehan’s mystery love. It was Courfeyrac. That in itself was going to cause a whole load of problems he was sure. For now all he could do was show Jehan the same comfort they had shown him, and hope that Bahorel would follow suit.
At the end of the meeting Feuilly showed up to steal some of Enjolras’ time. Combeferre’s lips pursed in frustration. Courfeyrac nudged him and shook his head with a smile. Enjolras wasn’t going to give up on his chance so easily now he’d finally gotten a clue as to his own emotions. In the meantime Courfeyrac would run interference.
He stood and squeezed Combeferre’s shoulder in a silent show of solidarity before bouncing over to Grantaire’s table and pulling up a seat opposite the trio.
“Well now. Aren’t you a cozy bunch.”
Bahorel levelled a look his way but Grantaire spoke up. “Haven’t I already had a discussion with you about there being nothing wrong with having cuddly friends? I’m sure I have.”
“Besides,” said Jehan. “You were certainly cozy enough yourself with ‘Ferre a minute ago.” They purposefully avoided looking up at Courfeyrac.
“Well yeah,” said Courfeyrac, “But ‘Ferre’s my best friend. Last I checked Feuilly was Bahorel’s best friend and Joly was R’s. And um…well everyone’s yours Jehan.” He shrugged. “No offence.”
Jehan took a deep breath and bristled while Grantaire put his free hand on Bahorel’s knee in the hope it might stop him from doing something stupid.
“If Jehan is everyone’s best friend, or everyone is their best friend,” said the boxer. trying to keep a lid on his temper. “Then surely it’s reasonable for Jehan to be cuddly with anyone. Grantaire will cuddle anything that’s put in front of him provided it’s soft and unprotesting.” This prompted a small noise of protest from the artist. “And as for me, if you’d actually paid attention to when me and Feuilly are together you’d notice that I don’t normally hug that much because while I might be a big cuddly bastard he is not.”
Bahorel took Grantaire’s hand beneath the table and squeezed it, knowing the artist could handle his strength and needing at least a little release of his anger.
“Woah, hey,” said Courfeyrac, hands raised defensively. “I’m not judging. Just didn’t know you three were a thing. No need to start sounding like a lawyer.” He was back peddling and he knew it but the last thing he wanted was Enjolras to try and move forward with Grantaire only to find out the artist had already moved on.
“We’re friends .” Spat Jehan, not without venom. They grabbed their things and stomped off eyes watery.”
“Wait, Jehan I didn’t mean-”
“Oh I think you’ve said quite enough to Jehan.” Bahorel stood, towering over Courfeyrac. “Hey R, wil you be okay here if I go and check on them?”
“Sure ‘Rel, don’t worry about it. Just look after Jehan.”
“Thanks man.” Bahorel stalked off. Intent on doing some damage control.
Courfeyrac stared after him for a moment, looking torn. He turned back to Grantaire, confused. “I didn’t mean to upset them.”
Grantaire crossed his arms and raised an eyebrow at the man who was supposed to be biggest people person in their ragtag group. “The fuck did you think was going to happen.”
Courfeyrac looked like he’d been slapped. “I...well-”
“Courf. Don’t get me wrong. I get that the three of us have been a lot closer lately. I even get that you’re not used to seeing me so cuddly. I’ve always been tactile but I’ve always kept it hidden. Only Joly and Bossuet really knew about it. “ He gestured to the two of them. “You’ll notice neither of them have been pestering me, Jehan or Bahorel about it. Jehan’s always been affectionate if people actually let them. Bahorel isn’t much different either he’s just a lot louder and larger about it so for some reason people seem to expect and accept it more.” The artist sighed, uncrossed his arms and leaned forward across the table.
“Courfeyrac, ‘no offence’ but considering how affectionate you are I don’t think you’ve got any place to be commenting on the rest of us. ‘I’m not judging’ but it feels a little hypocritical. It also feels a little defensive. It is also none of your business. If there was something going on between Jehan, ‘Rel and me it would be on us to tell you if and when we were ready. Not on you to go pointing fingers.” Never let it be said that Grantaire wasn’t capable of being cutting when he needed to be. No one hurt his friends not even another one of his friends.
Courfeyrac had the decency to look thoroughly chastised. “You’re right. I’m sorry.” Maybe he had been defensive of more than he’d thought. “I fucked up didn’t I.”
“You leapt tall conclusions in a single bound and then put your foot squarely in your mouth.”
Courfeyrac winced. “Is there anyway I can make it up to you. All three of you that is. Especially Jehan.”
Grantaire looked at him, assessing how genuine the offer was. “I don’t know what you can do to make it up to Jehan or Bahorel. You’d have to talk to them about it. Talk, not just ply them with gifts or chocolate. I know what you’re like. As for me well.” He stopped and looked around at their friends before nodding to himself. “Just keep an open mind okay. I might have some stuff to tell everyone at some point. It would be nice to have someone at my back, just in case.” He looked away.
“Grantaire,” Courfeyrac was hesitant, whatever was going on with the artist sounded serious. “You know you can tell us anything right? I know I don’t really get to say this after the mess I just caused but we’re your friends. We’ll have your back anyway.”
The artist shrugged. “We’ll see.”
Combeferre wandered over with Enjolras in tow. “You don’t mind if I borrow Courfeyrac for a moment do you?”
“Go right ahead.” Said Grantaire, although this time without malice.
Combeferre nodded to him in thanks and guided the still stunned Courfeyrac out of his seat and away to the corner where his laptop was set up.
Enjolras figeted, nerves coming back again now he was facing Grantaire.
“Um,” The blond started. “Could I talk to you for a moment?”
Grantaire blinked, wondering if this was going to be a repeat of their earlier discussions and wondering what had his Apollo so off balance.
“Take a seat.” He offered.
“I would rather do this a little more privately, if you don’t mind.”
The artist shrugged and stood. “Lead the way.”
Enjolras let out a long breath in relief that things were going smoothly at least so far. He lead Grantaire out into the stairwell that led to the third floor. It was separate to the staircase that connected the rest of the floors and lead to the private study rooms, amongst other things.
Privacy assured he felt as though he could relax a little more.
The key here was to stay focused. If he let himself drift off topic or to his causes they might get into an argument and that’s the last thing that he wanted. He couldn’t be too focused though or this could end up with him grilling Grantaire like the last two times which was also something he didn’t want to happen. So focused but casual, friendly. He could do that. He’ll just ignore his shaking hands and the cold sweat he was having and everything would be fine.
Grantaire stood in silence, looking at the blond. He was decidedly confused.
Enjolras’ inner monologue was busy reminding him not to get distracted by Grantaire’s arms this time, or his chest. He was wearing a shirt now so it shouldn’t be that difficult. Grantaire waved a hand in front of his face. He started a little, embarrassed, concentration broken.
“No, no. It’s okay. I just don’t think I’ve ever seen you looking so worried before.” Grantaire smiled, without bitterness. Enjolras’ stomach did a flip.
“I just wanted to say that. How I came off at your flat and at the union earlier in the week? I’m so sorry.”
Grantaire’s mouth dropped open in shock.
“I mean it. I really do. I hadn’t meant to interrogate you like that. I just...I realised that I didn’t really know you, at all and I thought the best way to remedy that was to ask questions. While that may be true I didn’t really give you the chance to ask me any questions in return. I don’t just want to know you I want you to know me too. All of our other friends like you, sing your praises even, at least as a friend. That’s not the view I had of you at all and I think maybe that is something I should change, if you’ll let me.”
Grantaire shut his jaw with a snap.
“From what I’ve learned about you, from my questions and from our friends, I was wrong about you. I was wrong on multiple levels and I’ve treated you really, really , badly because of the preconceived notions I had about you and that was never the person I wanted to be. I pride myself on being above prejudice but when it’s come to you I’ve fallen very short.” Enjolras steeled himself for what he was about to ask.
“I was wondering if you would like to go and get coffee with me at some point soon. So you can ask your own questions without having to worry about being interrupted or Courfeyrac unsubtly eavesdropping.”
Grantaire laughed. He felt like his world is imploding, but in a good way.
“I think if I can get past the nonsense I’ve filled my head with in regards to you that we could be friends and...I’d like that. I’d like to try at least, and I’d like to do things properly this time.”
“A fresh start?” Offered the artist.
Enjolras relaxed a little at the fact he hadn’t been immediately rejected and smiled shakily back at him. “If you’ll let me.”
Grantaire didn’t think that was a request he would ever have been able to refuse. He knew he must be smiling dopily as he agreed to meet up with Enjolras in a few days. Enjolras gave Grantaire his phone number with a blush, just in case something came up and didn’t even ask for Grantaire’s in return.
They drifted back through to the rest of the group. Parting for a smiling Enjolras to leave with a smug Combeferre and a Courfeyrac too confused by how his evening went to tease Enjolras for once.
Grantaire went to sit with his remaining friends in a state of mild, but happy, shock. He explained what just happened to them, although he kept the fact he now had the blond’s phone number to himself.
Joly who had sat for the explanation with a growing grin finally broke the silence that had followed. “So you could say that he actually Apollo-gised ."
The joke was met with much groaning and empty food containers being thrown at Joly.
Worry for jehan drifted through Grantaire’s mind but he shrugged it off as something to focus on once he’d calmed down a little. Bahorel was with them, things would be fine.
Feuilly looked around for his best friend and flatmate. Confused to find him missing, although that had been happening quite a lot lately.
Jehan was outside on the steps having a cigarette. They didn’t smoke them often but after the blow up with Courfeyrac they felt like they could use one. Bahorel was standing behind them, leaning against the wall. They’d had a long discussion about things. Courfeyrac and Jehan and Bahorel had confessed to the own mess he’d managed to make of his love life to show Jehan that they weren’t alone. Jehan had sworn to keep the boxer’s secrets. It was not a promise they had made lightly.
They felt closer to him now. Before it had felt a little lopsided, their little trio of friendship-plus. Now he felt like they understood Bahorel more and there was the potential to be as close as Jehan and Grantaire were. It was nice, they thought, to finally have friends that understood them. To have people they could be completely open with.
Jehan turned and offered Bahorel a watery smile, tear tracks drying on their cheeks. Bahorel stepped off from the wall and enveloped them in his arms. Jehan clung back and tried not to cry again.
Grantaire was attempting to psych himself up before heading out to meet Enjolras. He was mostly failing. He’d spent the past half hour pacing in front of his wardrobe because he didn’t know what to wear. It shouldn’t even matter what he wore. This wasn’t a date. It was just two almost friends going for coffee, alone. Totally not a date. He was so stressed he was about close to pulling his hair out. His buzzer went, which was odd because he wasn’t expecting anyone and no one had texted him to say they were going to swing by. He buzzed them in, perhaps it was just a very late postman. There was a knock at his door a minute or so later and he opened the door to find Cosette staring at him with a sympathetic look. He raised an eyebrow at her in suspicion. She pushed past him into the flat and shut the door behind her, leaning against it.
“So.” She said, “I just know that you’ve worked yourself into a state over meeting Enjolras later.”
Grantaire bristled. “I have not.”
“Grantaire your hair is sticking out at every angle possible don’t tell you haven’t been running your hands through it the entire morning.” She levelled a look at him.
The artist sighed, “Alright so maybe I’ve been over thinking things a bit.”
Cosette nodded at him. “Okay, show me where your wardrobe is. It’s time to get this show on the road and I’m going to make sure you don’t need to worry about anything else.” Grantaire was her friend and anything that nudged him incrementally closer to happiness was something she wanted to be involved in.
Grantaire ushered her through to his bedroom. Half the wardrobe was currently spread all over the room and Cosette made a face at the sight of it. She picked through the wardrobe first and then the rest of the room. Eventually settling on a pair of clean jeans with some artistically worn holes in the knees an old band t-shirt and the softest, cleanest, hoodie Grantaire owned.
“Here, wear these.” She said.
“Are you sure? I mean are they enough?”
Cosette swatted him on the arm. “You said it yourself, it’s not a date. Which means you need to dress and act casual. These clothes should be nice and comfy for you. Now, get changed and come sit in the living room so I can paint your nails. Just because it’s not a date yet doesn’t mean I can’t pretty you up a little.”
“What do you mean yet?” He asked as Cosette strode out of the room. When she didn’t answer him he sighed and set about pulling on the clothes. Fortunately he’d showered when he got up.
Dressed and feeling much more comfortable now that he wasn’t in too tight or too formal clothing. He appreciated that Cosette had given him a soft hoodie with long sleeves. It soothed his need to be touched all the time. When he traipsed through to the living room Cosette already had her polish laid out ready for him.
“I’m just going to do something simple today.” She said tapping a bottle of nail polish against the palm of her hand.
“Whatever you want, you’re better at this stuff than me.” Grantaire sat down opposite her and stretched his hands out over the coffee table. Cosette smiled happy that R trusted her and started to file his nails so they were a little more even.
Grantaire let the repetitive motions calm him down. It was nice to let Cosette look after him sometimes.
“Before you move on to the polish can I grab us some coffee?”
“No.” She said firmly.
Cosette put the nail file down and looked at him. “Grantaire you are jittery enough without adding caffeine to the mix and you’re going to be having coffee when you meet up with Enjolras anyway. Get us both a lemonade instead.”
Grantaire nodded, reluctantly admitting she was right and went to fetch two cans from the fridge. Cans open he presented his nails to Cosette again who quickly finished up filing to move on to the polish. She painted them a matte black this time and dragged a brush with barely any green polish across the middle of the nail in one swipe so it looked like the stroke of a paint brush. Satisfied with her work she instructed Grantaire to hold still while the polish dried.
“Can you text Jehan for me, seeing as how I can’t move.”
“Sure.” Cosette picked the phone up from the table. “What do you want me to say?”
“Just tell them you came to rescue me and I’m ready for my ominous Enjolras meeting.”
“It’s not ominous.”
“Just send it they’ll appreciate my wording.”
Cosette rolled her eyes but obediently typed out the text. A couple of minutes later Jehan texted back.
“They said that you should call them if you need support but to try and have fun and not die.” Said Cosette. “Why do the two of you think Enjolras is going to execute you or something.”
“Just a running joke about Apollo, don’t worry about it.”
Grantaire winced at the tone. Honestly he felt bad about Jehan. The poet had calmed down a bit since the meeting but was still angry with Courfeyrac. They knew now that Grantaire had chewed Courfeyrac out for them and they had thanked him for it. The past few days Jehan had mainly been hanging around with Bahorel but they, Grantaire and Cosette had arranged to go on the shopping trip they talked about weeks ago as therapy for Jehan and celebration for Grantaire. Cosette just wanted to go shopping. Grantaire had promised brownies for afterward and Cosette had made him promise normal brownies as well. The artist had gracefully agreed. Honestly he couldn’t wait to just spend the day having fun with his two friends, but there was something else to get through first.
When his nails finally dried it was just about time for Grantaire to leave. Cosette insisted on camping out in his flat for the day, he had wifi and she’d brought her laptop. She would be fine. Besides she wanted to know the outcome of the not-date as soon as possible. Grantaire smiled and kissed her on both cheeks.
He slid on some boots that weren’t too battered and shrugged his leather jacket over the top of his hoodie. Then he said goodbye and left for the coffee shop.
He sent a text to Enjolras the second his front door closed behind him. After a minute or so he received a reply with confirmation. He sent another text saying he was on his way and set off properly.
Enjolras was already waiting for him when he arrived. He’d stolen a couple of comfy armchairs and a table in a cozy corner of the room. He waved at Grantaire when the artist had tentatively pushed the door open and peered into the coffee shop.
Grantaire smiled back at him and Enjolras tried to ignore the butterflies in his stomach. R slouched over, cheeks a little flushed. “Um, hey.” He said.
“Hey.” Said Enjolras.
Grantaire shucked off his jacket and satchel and draped them over the side of his chair. “Just give me a minute to order something okay?”
“Sure.” Enjolras smiled and took a sip of his chai latte.
The artist went up to the counter and leaned his elbows on it while he waited to be served. Despite how much he felt like he needed a drink to get through this Cosette had forbidden him from taking his hip flask and confiscated it before Grantaire could try and sneak it out the door. He was doing this sober, whether he wanted to or not. A young girl came up to the counter and he ordered a mocha and gave his table number before going back to sit with Enjolras.
The coffee shop was comfy. Enjolras bit his lip out of nerves. Grantaire felt like he was actually about to have a heart attack.
“So,” Enjolras began. “Any questions you want to ask me or anything you’re curious about feel free. I know I’ve basically interrogated you...twice. It only seems fair.”
Grantaire looked at him. Taking in the mussed hair and the soft jumper hanging of one shoulder. He looked adorable. It reminded the artist of the night of the pubcrawl. His glorious Apollo pulling stickers out of his hair and pressing them onto Courfeyrac, complaining about being pranked with glitter. He sighed. There would be plenty of time to ask weighty questions once they knew each other a little. First it would be nice if they could both relax around each other and they couldn’t do that while Enjolras was so hesitant about talking to him.
“Look.” Said Grantaire, “I have a lot of problems. I know I have a lot of problems. But that doesn’t mean I’m broken okay? I don’t need fixing.” He laughed a little to himself. “I need to get my life together, but I don’t need fixing. And I think I’ve made some steps in the right direction lately. Sorry, I’m getting off topic, I do that a lot. My point was, you don’t need to walk on eggshells around me. I’m an adult, as much as I hate to admit it, and I’m not the most stable of people but I promise you I can take it. Okay?”
Enjolras smiled shyly and nodded. “Okay, R.” Grantaire grinned back at him. The blond cleared his throat. “You said you’ve made some steps to getting things together, what do you mean?”
“Ah, umm, well. I applied for a new job. The Mitchell Library has a position going so I thought...why not. They called me back and I’ve actually got an interview in a couple of days.”
“Grantaire that’s fantastic.” Enjolras beamed at him, genuinely happy that the man might be getting out of the job he hated and into something better. “I’m sure you’ll do great at your interview.”
Grantaire blushed and rubbed at the back of his neck in awkward embarrassment. “Yeah. I think I would genuinely love the job although I’m not sure they’ll hire me. I’m kind of a mess, you know? On the other hand I’m worried that they will hire me because I knows Joly is going to make me quit smoking if I get the job.”
Enjolras looked at him, examining his face and committing this new, more open Grantaire to memory. “Considering how much I see you smoke it’s probably for the best that you quit. You can’t possibly be doing your lungs any favors. That said,” he paused to make sure the cynic was definitely paying attention. “If your chances of getting this job are pretty good maybe start cutting down a little bit at a time before you quit. Joly is a good friend but he also seems like the type to make you go cold turkey and that’s not going to be easiest of things.
Grantaire laughed and nodded. He knew a good idea when he saw one.
He and Enjolras continued trading questions and anecdotes back and forth for hours. Relaxing in each other’s presence the more time went on.
They discovered some shared interests and had a few light hearted disagreements over preferred philosophies. In the quiet corner of a coffee shop in the west end of Glasgow a tentative friendship was formed and hope twinkled on the horizon for both of them.
Thank you to everyone who stayed with me for this. Eventually this will become a series. I have part of the second fic drafted but I'm going to be taking a few weeks off after this.