A/N--First fic, so be nice! This popped into my head when i realized that i was unsure at the moment of how many versions of Les Mis songs i had on my iTunes, and the thought of that troubled me more than i'd like to admit. So i had to count. And since my two current obsessions are Les Mis and Greek Myths...this was born. Please review, but be nice!
Grantaire was not sure how much he had drunk. There were two bottles of red wine in front of him, and one of absinthe, but—and here was the problem—he could feel with his feet at least three empty bottles of unidentified alcohol under the table. If he had drunken them--and that was if, because they could have rolled under his table-- and they were all wine, it would not be so bad. Excessive, but not fatal. But if one—or more—of those bottles was absinthe it might explain why he was feeling the way he was.
Of course, there might be more bottles under the table and he simply could not feel them.
So he was not sure how much he had drunk.
It did not matter in the long run. Even if he knew how much he had drunk, it would not have mattered. He felt elevated. He felt barely alive. He had never been this drunk.
There was someone talking in the corner. Someone with blond hair.
The hair was too blond. It looked more like a halo. The person under the hair must be a saint. He had to go over and look. If a saint had descended upon the Earth and chosen the café Musain to drink in, it was Grantaire's Christian duty to buy the saint a drink.
He stumbled over to the table where the saint was sitting. He was surrounded by other men. ' Cherubim and seraphim.' Grantaire realized ' And one has forgotten his halo at home.' He decided, since one sported no hair at all.
The conversation stopped when he approached them.
" Yes?" the saint said, after a moment of shock, " Do you want something?" The voice was beautiful too. So were the eyes. Like bluebird's eggs. What did bluebird's eggs look like? Were they blue? He could never recall seeing a bluebird, nonetheless a bluebird's egg, but he had the idea that they were blue. After all, hens are white, and they lay white eggs.
But some hens are brown, he reminded himself. That thought worried him for a few moments.
'But there are brown eggs too.' He finally realized, and felt a weight lift off his shoulders.
'But some hens are black.'
'There are no black eggs.'
Grantaire was still pondering this when the saint spoke again.
What do you want? Can we help you?'
The saint's voice brought him back to earth.
'Want to…want to…' he stuttered out, his voice all but incomprehensible, ' want to buy you a drink.'
' Did you hear that Enjolras?' one of the cherubim said, ' he wants to buy us a drink!'
'Do we know you?' a seraphim asked, ' I can't recall seeing you here before.'
'I think I know him,' the largest seraphim said, ' He sometimes frequents the café Voltaire. In fact, I think I've seen him in a few different cafés.'
'We thank you for your offer, citizen,' the saint said, ' but we are busy at the moment.'
' We'll take you up on it another time, be sure of that!' the cherubim with the curly hair said.
Grantaire remained standing at the table. He was mesmerized by the way the saint's halo glistened in the candle light. Like fire. If he reached out to touch that fire would he be bound to a rock like Prometheus, sentenced to never see the saint again?
If Zeus bound him to a rock, then the man in front of him could not be a saint at all. He had to be a god.
Yes, he looked like Apollo.
And if Apollo had come down to the café Musain, he had to buy him a drink.
And ask him questions.
Where was his lyre?
Apollo needed a lyre. He probably forgot it on Olympus.
"No lyre." Grantaire said. The men—they could not be cherubim and seraphim if the blond was Apollo. The big one could be Ares. He was frightening enough. The men turned and stared back at him.
" Excuse me?" one said. They did not seem to have noticed him standing there.
" No lyre." Grantaire repeated. " Forgot your lyre on Olympus, Apollo?"
" What did he say?"
" He's drunk, Bossuet, ignore him."
" I think he called you Apollo, Enjolras!" Apollo smiled.
" I'm afraid I don't have much of an ear for music, and my only attempts at seeing into the future are in the realm of what could be, not what will be." He said.
" It's a good name for you, all the same! I never thought of that. You are rather Apollonian, Enjolras."
" What's your name, any way, citizen?" That was from the curly haired one with the pretty smile. That could be Eros.
" Grantaire." Grantaire mumbled. Eros was rather fat. How did he fly with all that extra weight? He probably had a large wingspan. Grantaire fell into a chair. It caught him. The chair's arms were too big. And soft. And bald. And wearing a green coat.
" Joly, help, get him off me!" the chair said. Someone pulled him out of the chair and onto another chair. This one was the right size. Wasn't there a fairy tale like that? Chairs being just right.
Apollo was talking. Grantaire was riveted.
" Listen to me, citizen. It is not that we object to you, but we are rather busy at the moment, in matters that would not interest you, I'm quite sure."
" Another time, old fellow!" Eros said. Grantaire stared at Apollo.
" Want to buy Apollo a drink." He insisted.
" Another time, Grantaire. Please, leave us." Apollo said. Apollo's hair was floating around his head. Grantaire had to have some. He had to take it home and mount it on his wall.
Then, he understood.
" Oh." He said, " No ambrosia in Paris. That's why you don't want any." He stopped to think. " At least, don't think there's any ambrosia in Paris. Maybe in Marseilles. Ever been to Marseilles? My home town. Used to live there. Was apprenticed to a painter. Painted---fings." That word had not come out right. What were fings? " Things." He realized. " No ambrosia here. Sorry."
" Quite all right." Apollo said, looking mystified.
" He's off his gourd!" the one with the worker's cap said. His hands were stained with paint and ink. Hephaestus? Hephaestus was supposed to be ugly. Grantaire knew he was ugly. Nose too large. Eyebrows too thick. He could be Hephaestus. But the one in the cap looked like he could make beautiful armor.
" Don't have a gourd." Grantaire mumbled, and tried to get out of his seat. He fell back into it. He tried again. This time, success. He was standing.
There were maps on the table. Xs were on the maps. Grantaire looked at them.
" What's all this?" he asked, indicating the maps.
" Nothing." Apollo said testily.
" Looking for—"
" No. Please, citizen, we don't want to have to force you. Leave us."
" He's too drunk to understand a word any of us are saying, Enjolras." The one in glasses said that. That must be Homer himself. Homer was blind. This one could see a little. In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king.
If Polyphemus showed up in the café Musain, he would not buy him a drink.
But then again, if he did not, Polyphemus might try to eat him.
So, he'd buy him a drink, but not an expensive one.
Then he'd sneak out, tied to the bottom of a table.
Maybe Polyphemus would notice a walking table.
Why should he? Tables had legs after all.
There were three bottles he must have drunken under his table. What was in them?
" –Not getting anything done today anyway. Why don't we call it quits for the night, and meet again tomorrow." Homer said. He had probably been talking for a while. Homer did that. Wasn't there a whole book in the Iliad devoted to a description of Achilles' shield? How big was that shield, that Hephaestus could fit so much on it?
Why was he wondering that, Hephaestus was here, why not ask him?
" How big was the shield?" he asked Hephaestus.
" The what?" Hephaestus said, blinking wildly.
" The shield you made for Achilles. How did you fit so much on it? Did you carve everything very small?" Hephaestus looked at the other gods.
" My name's Feuilly. I paint fans. I don't make shields. What are you talking about?"
" Fans…s'hot in here." Maybe the gods gave off heat. He had found himself feeling several degrees hotter since he had sat down in the chair.
" Very." Ares said. " Look, Combeferre is right. We aren't getting anything done today, Enjolras, and we most likely won't until we hear back from the printer. Why not adjourn?"
" We won't get anything done with Herodotus here, anyway." Eros said. Herodotus was here? Grantaire looked around. Why were all the ancient Greeks suddenly in Paris?
Maybe he was not in Paris any more. Maybe the Greeks had not come to Paris, maybe he had gone to Greece. That would make more sense. But he could not remember going to Greece. He couldn't remember what was in the bottles he had drunken under his table, either, so that didn't really explain much. He had drunken them, even if he didn't remember it.
Come to think of it, he could not remember much. He had gotten up, come to the café, ordered a bottle of wine—he always started with wine, no point rushing things—and then---
Apollo was talking.
" Tomorrow at the same time. Until then." The gods were leaving. Grantaire could not stand that. He tried to run after them, and fell over. A table came crashing down. A bottle of absinthe rolled in front of him. So he had drunken two bottles of absinthe—or was that the same as the first one? How many bottles were there?
Arms were picking him up. Too many arms. By god, it was a hundred-hander! He was in Tarterus! How did he get there?
No, there was Apollo. Apollo and his friends had picked him up.
" Are you all right?" Apollo asked. Grantaire looked into his eyes.
" I am not worthy to stand before the gods." He said.
" Have some coffee. Sober up." Apollo advised. " And do not, under any circumstances, drink that much absinthe on an empty stomach again."
" How'd you—how'd you know I haven't eaten?" Apollo smiled at him.
" I came in here this morning when the café opened—I was the first one here. I saw you come in shortly after me. You have not left since then, and you have been drinking an astounding amount of wine and absinthe, and eating nothing. Unless you ate before you got here, which I do not rule out, you probably have had nothing in your stomach all day."
He truly was Apollo. He had predicted the future. Well, the past, but time was not linear to the gods. The past was harder to predict than the future.
Apollo was leaving. Grantaire wanted to follow him, but he was unable to move in that direction. Someone had put a spell on him. He was tied to something. He could not move. By the time strength returned to his limbs, and he was coherent enough to move, he had lost Apollo completely, and two of the other gods were chatting in a corner. The rest seemed to be gone.
" Back to Olympus already?" he asked, and stumbled out of the café.
The next day he was back at his usual table. He had eaten, but he had not drunk yet. Not even wine. He wanted to see if his absinthe-fueled hallucinations had meant anything. Had he really seen that beautiful man who he thought of only as Apollo? The green faerie could do wonders, but he had never known her to cause him to hallucinate an entire conversation with at least eight men.
He still did not know how much he had drunk the previous day.
He had heard Apollo tell the other men they would meet the next day. He hoped he meant they would meet in the same place, or Grantaire may have lost his Apollo forever. The mere thought of it made him finger the coins in his pocket, aching for a glass of eau-de-vie.
But at noon on the dot, the hair no one could mistake floated through the door, under it Apollo.
" Apollo!" Grantaire called out. He realized it would be ridiculous to call him this, but he had not remembered the man's name. He knew one of the gods—men—had said it, but damned if he could remember.
Apollo was ignoring him. Of course he should be. If a crazy drunk had harassed him in the middle of business, he would ignore them too. Grantaire pulled himself to his feet and grabbed Apollo, cornering him. Apollo looked surprised, but did not say anything.
" Look—listen, I mean--I'm sorry about yesterday." He said, " I don't remember how much I drunk—it must have been a lot. It made me hallucinate. I'm not always like that—I don't want you to think badly of me. My name's Grantaire. I'm from Marseilles. And you?" Apollo smiled at him.
" Marcellin Enjolras." He supplied. It was the most beautiful name he had ever heard.
" Great to meet you." He said, " Listen, to make it up to you, can I buy you a drink?" Apollo lowered his eyes.
" I haven't the time." He said, and began heading for the table he sat at yesterday. Grantaire followed him.
" I haven't the time tomorrow, either."
" The next day?"
" Then when?" Grantaire said. He was aware he was pleading with this man. He did not know why.
" I never have the time. I'm sorry."
" Never have the time to drink? What's your business?" Apollo—Enjolras—paused in unpacking the satchel he was carrying
" Freedom." He said. Grantaire was struck silent. " By the way, have you any political opinions?" Grantaire thought.
" I was a republican. I even used to be a bit of an Herbertist."
" Ah!" Enjolras exclaimed, clearly in admiration.
" Not much any more though." Grantaire clarified. He hated to do it, since Enjolras had so clearly liked that answer, but he found it difficult to lie to this man.
" Why not?" Enjolras asked.
" Got bored." Grantaire explained, " Got bored in hoping for something that didn't exist, and never would." Enjolras looked troubled.
" Do you truly believe that? That the republic will never exist?" he asked.
" I believe in nothing." Grantaire said. " Except a full glass." Enjolras nodded, and returned to unpacking his satchel. Grantaire impulsively laid a hand on Enjolras' arm. Enjolras stopped and looked at him.
" I could believe in you." Grantaire said.
" Citizen Grantaire," Enjolras said with an exasperated sigh, " You know nothing of me but what you saw under the influence of absinthe."
" Well, I'd like to find out more!" Grantaire exclaimed wildly. Enjolras returned to unpacking his satchel. " Enjolras, listen to me!"
" I am what I do, Grantaire." He said calmly. " If you cannot believe as I do, you will not understand me."
" Perhaps I can." Grantaire pleaded. Enjolras stared off into the distance. He looked troubled, though Grantaire could not, for his life, place why.
" Very well. Sit down. Stay sober. The others will be here any minute."
" The ones you saw yesterday. The Society of the Friends of the ABC."
" Abaissé? As in, the oppressed ones?" Enjolras looked into his eyes.
" That's right. Do you see what our business is now?"
" I think so."
Three of 'the others', led by the one Grantaire had christened Eros, burst in at that moment. They were noisier than they had been yesterday. Grantaire found himself longing for a drink, but one of Enjolras' explicit instructions was to stay sober. It was out of the question.
" Ah, who have we here!" Eros exclaimed, " Aren't you the one who was—"
" Grantaire is a novice." Enjolras explained. " I believe he is a friend." Eros clapped him on the back good naturedly.
" Glad to hear it. I'm Courfeyrac, this is Joly and Bossuet."
" Lesgle." Bossuet explained. He was the one without the hair. " Bossuet's a nickname."
" A nick name he can't get rid of!" Joly said laughingly.
" Bossuet, have you heard back from the printer yet?"
" I visited him this morning—he made some excuse, and disappeared. I'm not sure if he's even—"
And they were off. For the rest of the after noon, Grantaire listened as they discussed the various republican—treasonous—revolutionary—activities they were up to. There was a pamphlet being printed which was their first order of business, but the one he had called Ares—Bahorel—was also doing research into where they could get gunpowder, and the little one with the long hair—Jehan--was working on converting the men at the Freemason's lodge.
Grantaire could not keep up with it. Their enthusiasm, their idealism, their drive, it was all too much. This was a world he could not comprehend, a world he was not sure if he wanted to comprehend. They believed in this revolution of theirs, more so than they believed in their lives. His brain was spinning. He felt worse than he had the day before, after drinking an unsure amount of absinthe and wine. He felt lost—confused.
He wanted a drink.
When the meeting was over, and the men were dispersing, to drink, chat and attend their business, Enjolras turned to him.
" What do you think, citizen?" he asked. Grantaire dropped his eyes.
" I still believe in you." He said. Enjolras frowned, but he nodded.
" Then you do not believe in the republic?"
" No." Grantaire admitted.
" Then you cannot believe in me. I have given my life to the republic. I have no room for anything else. I am sorry." Grantaire recognized a dismissal when he heard it. He slunk off to a table, dying for a drink. He was not alone for long before Courfeyrac, Bossuet and Joly joined him.
" You're quiet." Courfeyrac remarked with a dazzling smile, " Enjolras must have taken a liking to you--he doesn't, as a rule, invite outsiders to our meetings. I generally wind up bringing in the new recruits, and Enjolras warms up to them over time. You must have made quite the impression on him."
"Only under the influence of alcohol." Grantaire said miserably, already starting in on his second bottle.
"Must be more than that." Joly commented, " If he thought you were just another drunk, he would have ignored you. You must have said something to him, or done something. Are we going to be seeing you around more often?" Grantaire shook his head.
" Enjolras does not like me."
" It isn't that." Bossuet explained, " He's very cold at times—very—but it's not because he does not like you. It's because he is—" He trailed off. All four men stared briefly at their leader, still hunched over some paper or other when the rest of them had moved on to more frivolous pastimes.
" Enjolras." Bossuet finished, obviously having no other word for the man.
" I believe in him." Grantaire said, having nothing more to say, and kept on drinking.