Sleep had become the enemy.
For a man possessed of such endless energy, he had rarely known a full nights rest. But these days, when he reclined in the dark privacy of his room for those few hours of quiet calm, the shadow of Sleep took hold of him, body and soul. A deathlike grip, deep and powerful, pulling him down further into foreign, nameless places, an unwilling prisoner unable to control his own fate.
It may be said that Javert feared nothing. Yet he began to dread the embrace of sleep. It was not the possibility of death, waiting for him, should he sink too far or fast, that caused such dread, but the idle pantomime of dreams.
Dreams from which there was no escape.
Dreams which forced him, night after night, far down into that black place, where the faded mirror of the secret self is held up for revelation. Held, without regard for shame, passion, or guilt, forcing Javert to confront the things he would forever deny.
The image haunted him, even in sleep. A man, the same as any-- yet so far removed from his kind as to appear a god?
No! He was a man! A convict-- a poor and bitter example of a broken life wasted in crime. Whatever he may have been when he walked the earth free and unfettered, it was lost forever. A shroud now masked all potential, all good works, all innocence-- that being was dead and dust. In its place stood one of the Unwashed, the Degraded, the Lost. An enemy of the people-- a common thief, surviving only to be contained, controlled, numbered and forgotten until ransomed from the state by Death.
Brutish, and powerful, Valjean was the animal nature of instinct, passion and strength concealed in the body of man. He was as far removed from Javerts logic, intellect, and order as hell is to heaven. But which was which?
One a beast, the other a machine.
In the natural order of things-- if natural order can be said to exist-- there should be no exchange, no contact between two such opposites. But the dreams? There can be found no laws to govern there-- no natural order. Night after night, Javert was forced to confront the black places of his own soul that made him more fallible, more human than he wanted to believe. Places which were bleached white and vanquished by the light of day.
As chief of the guards, Javert had watched the creature, sweating, his muscles tense as he slaved in the quarries. He had the look of a hunted beast in those eyes. Wild and cunning. What thought occurred behind them, when they were raised boldly to stare at his jailor? The urge to destroy? To turn captor into captive? He showed no fear, no respect, no human emotion, but studied Javert like a tiger studying prey. A man may seethe with hatred, but a beast?
And Javert would return the stare just as boldly. His was the real power, was it not? The office he held, the uniform he wore-- but in those damnable dreams, there was no office or uniform to defend him.
Perhaps it was an involuntary tremor of excitement that had repulsed Javert to his core and fed the recurring images in sleep. The curious sense of some strange arousal, something stirring within him that he would dare not recognize or confront. But was in any different than the fervor felt by men in battle? When the blood is up for cause of life or death?
He would not believe it possible that he envied-- or worse, desired-- the convict Valjean. Yet his dreams spoke otherwise, when those muscles were taut within in his grasp. Hard, scarred flesh hot against his own, a sea of tangled hair washing down over his face, his arms, lashing him, flooding his senses. Rough hands coursing along his own lean frame, causing him to shudder with sensations never known. Was is ecstasy?
There were never any words, in his dreams. They had no place, no purpose. The sight and scent of Valjean, the dark undefined space around them-- the mind struggling to resist, the body yielding to surrender, and for time unmeasured Javert was powerless to refuse.
He would wake, short of breath and panting, in a tangle of bedclothes. His skin wet with sweat, his pulse pounding, and mind clouded with images he could not forget. There was guilt, remorse-- and the heat of a fire that had yet to be extinguished.
Then the light of dawn would clear the room of phantoms. Breathing would return to normal, heart no longer racing, and Javerts sense and logic would remind him that the convict Valjean was not there.
Escaped, or dead.
He was gone.