It’s not that any of them is surprised that Enjolras is a terrible patient. They might be slightly surprised to what extent Enjolras is a terrible patient, but they probably shouldn’t be.
God knows Combeferre has warned them, but they all thought he was exaggerating. Come flu season, he had a tendency to force vitamin C and warm scarves on Enjolras with surprising strictness usually associated with Joly, but no one really paid it much attention, except for the mummy jokes Courfeyrac kept making.
And then, one rainy October, Enjolras and Feuilly go to DC and Enjolras promptly forgets all about the admonishments and advice and scarves.
And while the trip is a sure success, it also ends up with Enjolras sick for the first time in all the years Grantaire has known him. Grantaire has witnessed him concussed and bloody before, sure, but this is a whole new ballgame.
The first few days, while Enjolras’ system is still putting up a fair fight, it’s actually moderately entertaining; Enjolras’ notoriously short fuse gets shorter and it’s easier to wind him up. His remarks get more cutting than usual, his shots aim closer to home, but if Grantaire is not immune to those, he can at least put up a good front.
It gets worse after that; with Enjolras’ nose clogged up, with him coughing up a storm, and with the way he rubs at his temples and blinks against the light, frowning like it offends him.
Grantaire won’t admit how much he wants to smoothen that frown, how much he wants to turn off the light and drag Enjolras to a bed, swaddle him in blankets and make him tea. Grantaire has never been one for tenderness, never one to be able to bring comfort, but right now he wants to learn how.
He tells Enjolras he looks like shit and that his arguments are unusually poorly thought out and then hightails it from Musain, turns to painting and caffeine for the next few days instead.
At least until he gets the summons to Enjolras’ place, via Jehan’s group text. Apparently the only way to force Enjolras to stay in and rest was to move the meeting to his place. It’s the least surprising thing Grantaire heard all week, but he does raise his eyebrows at the follow-up message from Jehan just to him: He asked after you specifically.
Well, goddamnit fuck him running, he doesn’t know what to make of it and he doesn’t want to make anything of it and what he really, really wants is just to not have to go.
He has to go.
He makes sure he’s late, secure in knowing it won’t get noticed, he usually is. He wishes he could indulge in liquid courage, but he’s been doing well enough for months, he’s not going to fuck it up.
He’s not going to fuck it up.
By the time he gets to Enjolras’ place, however, apparently everyone agreed holding an actual meeting was pointless considering Enjolras is high as a kite on meds. Now, Grantaire doesn’t suspect Combeferre of doing this on purpose, but he’s pretty sure Combeferre has done that on purpose.
Someone, probably Courfeyrac, had put on Lion King on dvd and when Grantaire arrives they’ve just got to “Be Prepared,” with Courfeyrac singing out loud and making faces and everyone else on the verge of at least humming. They’re sprawled all over the floor and the armchairs, with Enjolras a sole occupant of the couch. Grantaire wouldn’t even notice him under all the blankets if not for the mop of his hair, pulled up into something that you might charitably call a bun but resembles more of a messy bird’s nest.
A very pretty nest, but a nest nonetheless.
“Grantaire,” Enjolras says brightly, the first signal that something isn’t right up in his head today. Grantaire waves at him and slides down to sit by the couch, on one of the giant pillows someone dragged into the living room.
For some reason everyone is watching him. It’s fucking creepy.
“Wait for it,” Feuilly mutters long-sufferingly before looking pointedly at Enjolras, who still looks uncommonly pleased with Grantaire’s presence.
“Back me up here, Grantaire,” Enjolras says, and the tone and words are a familiar start to a discussion, even though he’s never aimed them at Grantaire before. Usually Grantaire can be trusted to do the exact opposite of backing him up. “And tell them that if they insist on a Disney retelling of a classic they could at least forego the tired rehashing of Hamlet angst and put on Mulan.”
It’s… not what Grantaire has expected. He glances at Combeferre, who shrugs at him and pointedly raises the Tylenol bottle from the coffee table.
Grantaire looks back at Enjolras, who is watching him expectantly, and shrugs slowly. “I don’t know; there’s something to be said for their brilliant reconstruction of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in the guises of Timon and Pumbaa.”
“Oh no you didn’t,” Cosette snorts, as all the hopes for watching the movie in peace are forgotten.
Grantaire settles in for the discussion and he can’t help smiling through it. Enjolras is a little slower to form his arguments than usual, a little more prone to going off tangent and getting lost, but he’s still passionate, still a force of nature, knocking off his blankets twice and throwing a pillow at Courfeyrac once.
The movie ends in the background and most everyone starts gathering their things and leaving in pairs and small groups. Combeferre puts the kettle on and offers Grantaire tea; apparently the coffee is off limits until Enjolras can stomach some.
“Well, it’s been fun, but I should be going,” Grantaire says and moves to stand up, completely unprepared for Enjolras’ hand firm on his arm.
“Stay. I can’t read, everything gets blurry and my head hurts, stay and don’t let me die of boredom.”
Grantaire blinks at him, then blinks at him again. He’s not going to lie and say that’s the nicest thing Enjolras said to him, it’s not; he’s been praised for his art and for his arguments before, but it’s without doubt the most welcoming thing Enjolras has offered him.
He’s invited him to the meetings and rallies and lectures, and requested his presence at various social gatherings, but he’s asked for the cause and for their friends, never for himself, never with a hope tinging his tone.
“You have Combeferre,” he points out and Combeferre shakes his head simultaneously with Enjolras.
“Combeferre has class,” Enjolras tells him and leans forward, looking at Grantaire imploringly. “Besides, I want you to stay,” he adds easily, like it’s obvious, like Grantaire should know. Then he frowns when a thought strikes. “Sorry, I should have asked if you’re not busy. You probably have…”
“No,” Grantaire supplies quickly. A bit too quickly, if Combeferre knowing look as he places the mugs on the table is anything to go by. “I’m good, I’ll stay.”
“Make sure he doesn’t try and work,” Combeferre says. “I put all of his meds on the kitchen counter, they’re labeled with the right dosage.”
“We’ll manage,” Enjolras tells him, sharp but fond.
“I know you, you cannot be trusted,” Combeferre says, only half-teasingly.
Enjolras gives him a defiant look that Combeferre bears patiently. “Fine,” he says before sitting up straight. “But Grantaire can. He’ll make sure I take my meds and drink a lot of fluids and whatever else you have up on that list, don’t think I didn’t see you write that up. And if he stays, I won’t be tempted by my articles. It’s all proofreading now anyway,” he adds with a grimace and Combeferre gives Grantaire one final pointed look before relenting and gathering up his things to leave.
Grantaire almost doesn’t notice when he does, he’s too busy staring at Enjolras in disbelief.
“Did you just say I can be trusted?” he asks Enjolras. He sounds disbelieving, thank fuck he sounds disbelieving and suspicious, because he could sound like he feels: shaken, unsteady, desperate. He shouldn’t be asking, because he’ll get an answer, and it’s going to be pitying and matter-of-fact: Enjolras said that to get Combeferre to leave and stop mother-henning, that’s all that was.
“You’re more than capable of administering flu medicine,” Enjolras says, and it is matter-of-fact but it’s far from pitying. “And god knows you are more than capable of keeping me away from my work.”
“If that’s the service you need, I am indeed your man,” Grantaire tells him, making sure his tone stays light and breezy. “For once my distracting you will prove useful, wonders never cease,” he jokes and Enjolras turns to look at him, fully look at him. Grantaire stills under the gaze, knowing he’ll find fault and both terrified and curious to learn what it will be this time.
Instead, Enjolras gaze turns gentle. It must be the fever; he looks unfocused, soft around the edges. His face is flushed and eyes uncommonly bright, even for Enjolras. There are pillow creases on the side of his face and his lips seem dry, chapped.
“It’s always useful,” Enjolras tells him. “Why do you think I asked you to stay?” Grantaire has no idea. He thinks his face shows as much, because Enjolras sighs and settles back against the pillows. “I don’t want to sleep, I’d be up all night. I can’t read, can’t work, movies don’t hold my attention, but I know you will. What were you saying, before?” he prompts. “About fairy tales and men taking credit for the tales created and passed on by women?”
Grantaire welcomes having a topic to concentrate on, anything but the earnest look on Enjolras’ face.
Arguing with Enjolras is his favourite sport, partly because of how he looks when he gets worked up, obviously, flushed and bright; but also because Enjolras is quick and sharp and cutting, perfect rhetoric and vicious remarks, because he’ll dispute every subject and admit his ignorance even as he never relents, just steps back to research, bury you in new information and quote the sources. He’ll leave you breathless and panting for more, or maybe that’s just Grantaire.
Now, however, Enjolras’ is a little slower, a little softer. His arguments still land perfectly, but it takes him longer to form them, he listens to Grantaire more than he speaks, smiling slightly when Grantaire takes off on a rant. Grantaire gradually starts speaking quieter, watching Enjolras with concern.
It takes him a good while before he stands up and moves over to Enjolras to touch his forehead. He’s burning up; it doesn’t quite show on his face, he seems alert enough, but Grantaire still swears at himself for not noticing and sets off to get him his meds and a glass of water.
“I’m fine,” Enjolras tells him but accepts the pills anyway.
“I should have noticed when you didn’t yell at me for even mentioning Kipling,” Grantaire mutters. “You should sleep,” he adds, watching Enjolras swallow the pills.
“I don’t want to,” he says petulantly. Grantaire can’t help but smile, a little, and Enjolras smiles back, then sighs, very theatrically. “But I guess I should, you’re right. You usually are,” he adds and sits up, moving slowly to gather up his pillows and blankets.
“Enjolras, you delight in telling me how wrong I am.”
“Do I?” he asks absently and frowns at himself, then at Grantaire. “No, I don’t. I like arguing with you, you keep me sharp, focused. I think I like it more when you are right then when I am,” he adds, quiet, like he’s imparting a secret. He looks up and his frown deepens at something he sees in Grantaire’s face.
It could be the shock or the fucking disbelief, take your pick.
“Don’t… what did I say?”
Grantaire shakes his head. “Congratulations on the overall coherency, Apollo, but you are more out of it than I thought. I talk shit to piss you off, you know that. It’s not useful, I’m not…”
“You are,” Enjolras says forcefully. “You are amazing. Your mind, everything that you know and read and learned, and the way you string words together… It’s almost unfair, you know, to have that much talent and wit in one person. If anything angers me then it’s that you act like you don’t see this, don’t know this,” he mutters and sways forward, closer, too close. “Grantaire…”
“No,” Grantaire whispers, petrified. “You don’t mean any of this.”
“Of course I do.”
Grantaire shakes his head. “Then tell me when you’re not high as a kite on meds. Tell me when you’re in the right mind, if you still think it’s true.” Grantaire doesn’t expect him to..
Enjolras looks at him for a very long moment, his face inches away from Grantaire’s, his mouth pressed into a tight line. Finally, finally, he nods and pulls away. They’re both silent for a long while; Grantaire isn’t sure how to move on from this, from his traitorous heart skipping beats and wanting to pound its way out from his chest at the same time.
He needs a drink, he needs a shitload of drinks.
“I’m going to vomit,” Enjolras tells him matter-of-factly. “Excuse me,” he says, drawing himself up with all the dignity he can muster while wearing fuzzy pink socks and padding down to the bathroom. Grantaire winces in sympathy at the sounds of hurling and settles to carry the pillows and blankets to the bedroom.
He hears the door open and Combeferre come in, and he shuffles his feet back to the living room. “I think he’s ready to turn in, he’s just puking his guts out,” he informs Combeferre. “You’ll be alright? I need to be going.”
He doesn’t quite run out of there, but he walks rather briskly.
Grantaire doesn’t see Enjolras for the next two days. He’s quite content with that, that’s normal, that’s safe. The next meeting is scheduled for Friday and he’ll go and sit in the back and pretend nothing has happened.
Because nothing did and he needs to stop giving Enjolras’ words so much weight and his body needs to stop overreacting and his heart needs to shut the fuck up. That would be nice, some peace and quiet. As it is, the situation is idiotic.
Really, it’s a wonder he’s not back drinking, drowning the thoughts and seeking cure for his shaking hands, but a small part of him that thrilled at Enjolras’ words also balks at disappointing the man.
He told you it was idiotic.
There’s someone pounding on his door and he puts away his coffee and the book he considers burning once he’s done because it’s some serious fuckery. “What?” he asks and then blinks at Enjolras.
“Wait,” Enjolras says and holds his cellphone to his ear. “Tell him,” he instructs and hands the phone to Grantaire.
“Hello?” Grantaire asks suspiciously and hears an amused huff in return.
“I am to tell you Enjolras is off his medicine now, and that he is of sound body and mind. I can vouch for the former, the latter is still undetermined, due to this request. But yeah, clean of any drugs, good luck?” Combeferre tells him and disconnects. Grantaire frowns at the phone and hands it back to Enjolras.
“Can I come in?” Enjolras asks and Grantaire moves to the side wordlessly. Enjolras strides in briskly and then hesitates in the hallway, stuffing his hands in his pockets.
He looks nervous, which is alarming, because Enjolras is never nervous. The closest Grantaire had seen him to it was before the interview he had with Lamarque, but even then it came closer to anxious, buzzing with excitement and energy.
“Are you sure you’re not still sick? You look feverish,” Grantaire tells him and doesn’t know whether to cower or smirk at the glare Enjolras throws his way before composing himself and stalking further into the apartment. Grantaire follows him and leans against the doorway, waiting.
“I haven’t been honest with you,” Enjolras says and fuck, they really could have avoided this if Enjolras only pretended he didn’t remember anything.
“You were under the influence, if there’s anyone who won’t begrudge you anything said like that, it’s me. Don’t worry about it.” He’s amazed how calm he sounds, how composed, when underneath his skin his blood is ice and fire and his fingers tremble. He crosses his arms and hides his fingers in the material of his shirt.
“No. Not then,” Enjolras says and cards his fingers through his hair in frustration, with Grantaire, with himself, who knows. It’s not the first time he’s done this recently, his hair is a right mess. He’s standing in the middle of Grantaire’s small living room, his back straight and his head up, like he’s readying for a fight. “I’ve been determined to hide my feelings from you and I think I’ve managed too well.”
“What? No, you’ve always been perfectly clear with me.”
“Then how can you think I don’t like you?” Enjolras asks, a little too loud, taking a step towards Grantaire before he steels himself and drops his hands to his sides. Grantaire stares at him. “Because that’s what you think.”
He’s not asking, but Grantaire nods anyway. “I annoy the fuck out of you,” he supplies.
“Sometimes,” Enjolras agrees. “You frustrate me, yes,” he says, like he needs Grantaire to see the difference. Grantaire doesn’t really. His look must convey it, because Enjolras frowns and drops his gaze, breathing in and out before he looks up again. “That’s not what I wanted to start with. I’ve made… No, let me start again.”
“Fuck, Enjolras, did you prepare a speech?” Grantaire asks incredulously and then glances down at Enjolras’ hand, stuck in his coat pocket, clearly turning something over and over. “Do you have cue cards?”
“No,” Enjolras lies. “For fuck’s sake, just let me… I love you. I’m in love with you,” he clarifies, maybe because Grantaire is staring at him like he’s insane; it doesn’t help. It makes absolutely no sense, none, and Grantaire is going to tell him that as soon as he’s able to form words, as soon as he gets his breathing under control, his voice back, his heart back…
Well, no chances on that last one, but a guy can hope.
“Grantaire,” he prompts, and the ‘say something’ is clear.
“No, you don’t.”
“Yes, I do,” Enjolras says and seems to realise he’s making an argument of a four years old. “I’m sorry, I didn’t want you to know. Didn’t want you to have to deal with this. But apparently I can’t stand knowing you think I don’t-- don’t think the world of you.”
And the thing, the crazy thing here is that he’s telling the truth. He’s not indulging Grantaire or trying to make him feel better or making fun of him (Grantaire wouldn’t ever even suspect him of two of those, but he could be guilty of one). Enjolras looks like this is the last thing he wanted to admit, like he truly never thought of telling Grantaire; he looks worried of Grantaire’s reaction.
He looks open and hurting and young and scared. Grantaire finds himself standing in front of him before he even registers he’s moved. “Tell me again,” he asks.
“No, the other thing.”
Confusion flickers over his face before he stumbles upon the words. “I love you. This doesn’t have to change anything,” he adds quickly. “The last thing I want is to make you uncomfortable.”
“You’re an idiot,” Grantaire tells him, the exhilaration swelling up in his chest. His hands are shaking and he reaches for Enjolras’ fingers, lacing them tightly with his. “You are a complete, utter, ridiculous idiot, and if I didn’t love you, I’d punch your pretty face right now.”
“Wait, what?” Enjolras asks, grasping for words, and then someone moves (Grantaire wants to say it’s him, but he’s not one hundred percent certain) and they’re kissing, making a much better work of this than of talking. Enjolras’ fingers are in his hair, tugging him closer, as if he could get closer, his other hand on the small of Grantaire’s back, somehow already under his shirt.
It’s like he doesn’t want to waste any time, now, and that desperation gets to Grantaire more than anything else, makes him groan and bite at Enjolras’ lip and try and maneuver them towards the couch, onto which the stumble in a heap of limbs and groans.
“We’ve wasted so much time,” he mutters into Enjolras’ neck and feels Enjolras shift underneath him, pull back to look at Grantaire and his eyes are full of wonder and awe and tenderness Grantaire never expected to see there. He also looks annoyed as fuck, it’s really great.
“Well, it’s not just my fault, you were hiding as well--”
“Enjolras, I’ve been obvious as fuck. I thought everyone knew. I thought you knew and tolerated me politely,” he says and Enjolras’ look turns to horror before he’s kissing Grantaire again, apologetically.
“I didn’t know.”
“I’m getting that,” Grantaire tells him and kisses his forehead. Then kisses it again, frowning. “You sure you’re alright? You’re burning up.”
“There’s a really bad line in here that I refuse to say.”
Grantaire smacks his shoulder lightly. “Not what I meant. But seriously, I’m pretty sure you still have a fever, and did you walk all the way here in just this coat? Not even a scarf? Enjolras…”
“You’re ruining the moment.”
“You should seriously be in bed.”
“You might be improving the moment,” Enjolras mutters and kisses the corner of Grantaire’s mouth. “I’ll go to bed if you go with me,” he says, and some people might make it coy or flirtatious, but Enjolras says it matter-of-factly, a statement of intent, and fuck, that shouldn’t be hot.
“Your terms are acceptable,” he says, proceeding to remove Enjolras’ coat and then starting work on his shirt. It’s difficult to stop touching Enjolras once you start, he finds out.
But the thing is, he’s allowed now. He’s more than allowed, he’s welcome to, Enjolras responding in kind as they stumble towards the bedroom, pausing to kiss against three different walls, Enjolras’ hands all over Grantaire. He has a hard time (pun intended, so help him god) stopping, getting Enjolras to stop for long enough to get them both under the covers.
Once he does, however, Enjolras is easily convinced to just lie against him, his face hidden in Grantaire’s neck, fingers idly skidding over Grantaire’s stomach. “Tell me again,” he says and Grantaire is happy to oblige.
“I love you.”
Enjolras mutters something that sounds like a promise about tomorrow, and settles in to sleep, his even breath making it easy for Grantaire to slip into a very comfortable slumber.