Author's note: This is based on the play, not the novel, so events in the story may not correspond exactly to what's in the book. For the record...yes, I'm aware that VH didn't intend any such feelings between these two men (in fact, I think I can hear him banging on the walls of his coffin from here). But hey, where's the fun in fanfic if you can't make your own interpretations?
That said, enjoy. :)


Hot sun beat down on the naked backs of the prisoners. They moved in a line, chained together, ankle to ankle; the clink and rattle of chains mingled with the sound of shovels smacking earth as soil flew through the air. The prisoners were dirty, thin, scarred. They worked ceaselessly, these murderers, rapists and thieves, suffering for the suffering they had caused, paying for what they had taken from society.
Inspector Javert marched up and down the lines of prisoners. In his hand was a whip; at his hip, a pistol. His keen eyes were ever alert for signs of sloth. His dark hair was pulled back in painfully tight queue, emphasizing the harsh lines of his thin, clean-shaven face. He was young, but already, his features--thin lips, a narrow blade of a nose, and those large, ever-watchful gray eyes--seemed chiseled from granite.
Javert paused to watch a particular prisoner. This man was 24601: he did not deserve a name, not until he'd served his sentence. He'd been here for four years. One more year to go. *And I will be glad to see him go,* Javert told himself. He was trouble, that one; a wildness burned in his eyes, like the fires of hell. He rarely spoke, but his eyes constantly mocked Javert.
The inspector stood, clutching his whip, watching as 24601 shoveled alongside his fellow prisoners. His body was hard, lean but not emaciated; muscles bunched and shifted beneath the sun-bronzed skin, beneath thin white lash-scars and other, thicker scars whose origin Javert could not guess. He panted in the hot sun, sweat rolling down his neck and back. His long, dark hair was disheveled, spilling across his broad shoulders.
Now, he stopped, glaring over one shoulder at the inspector. "Why do you watch me?"
"Because I know you, 24601. Do you think I'm a fool? That I don't see what's going on in your mind? I know you're looking for a chance to escape."
Valjean raised one dark brow. His eyes moved, taking in the dust and toil around him. "Wouldn't you?"
Javert's jaw tightened. "No. If I were ever convicted of a crime, I would serve my sentence willingly. But it's a moot point; I am not a criminal. I'm not like you, dog."
"Of course not. Javert, in his lily-white purity, would never sink so low as to steal a mouthful of bread for a hungry child. Javert would never dirty his spotless hands with so despicable an act. Javert is the law, and the law is never wrong."
The whip flicked out, quick as a striking snake, and bit into Valjean's back.
He made no sound, though his muscles went rigid with pain. A drop of water rolled down his beard-roughened cheek. Only sweat, thought Javert.
"You will learn to respect the law, in time. There can be no excuses for thievery." Javert turned and walked away.
The day wore on. At last, the sun's torturing fire began to cool as evening spread its cloak across the sky. The prisoners were rounded up and herded like cattle toward the jail, their backs bent with exhaustion. Javert rode alongside them on a young gelding, watching carefully lest any make a run for it. He had no real fear of that; they were almost too weary to walk.
In moments like these, it was easy to forget that they were criminals, and pity tugged at his heart. He pushed it firmly away. They had turned from the light of their own free will. They deserved no mercy.
Valjean raised his head and glared at Javert through his lank, sweat-damp hair. Javert held his gaze, though something inside him seemed to soften and tremble. The rebellious fire in Valjean's eyes made him angry, but it gave him other, stranger feelings as well; feelings he didn't understand or trust.
At last, Valjean looked away. Javert let out his breath. He hadn't even realized he'd been holding it.

The next morning, Valjean made his move. While the prisoners stood, waiting to be chained, he simply bolted like a rabbit. Javert's eyes widened; he hadn't thought anyone would be bold or stupid enough to attempt such an escape, and for a moment, he couldn't move. He could only stare, jaw hanging, as Valjean ran across the open field, toward the woods in the far distance; a lone prisoner, running, unarmed and helpless. An easy target. "Stop!" he shouted, finding his voice at last. In one smooth, fluid movement, he mounted his horse and was off after the prisoner. Within moments, he had caught up to Valjean. "Stop, you idiot, or I'll shoot!"
Valjean didn't waste breath on words. He didn't even look up as he ran.
Knowing he didn't have the skill to shoot a moving target from horseback, Javert quickly brought the gelding to a halt, dismounted and raised his pistol. Dismounting had cost him valuable time, and Valjean was ahead of him; far ahead. He gritted his teeth, unable to believe that Valjean's childishly simple plan--if he had planned this escape at all--was working. *Should have shot him while I had the chance...*
He fired now, and missed. Lowering the pistol, he ran. Valjean was fast, but he had been weakened by his years in prison, and Javert was faster. Once he was close enough, he fired again.
This time, Valjean went down. Then, incredibly, he stumbled to his feet and resumed running. Javert let out a hoarse cry of disbelief. He flung down the pistol and tackled Valjean, pinning him to the ground. The large, powerful body heaved beneath him; blood and sweat mingled on Valjean's flesh. "You fool," Javert whispered hoarsely. "Why? Why did you make me shoot you?"
Valjean said nothing.

The bullet was extracted from his shoulder, the wound cleaned and bandaged. Valjean was allowed three days to recover; he was kept locked in a small, windowless cell with nothing but a cot and a basin of cold water.
Now, he was stretched out on the rack, naked save for a loincloth. His broad back, crisscrossed with old, faded whip-scars, lay exposed.
Javert stood before him, whip clenched in one white-knuckled hand. "You brought this on yourself," he said. "Don't blame me for what's about to happen."
"Get on with it." The deep, hoarse voice held weariness, nothing more. All the defiance seemed to have bled out of him.
Javert clenched his jaws. "Why? Why did you try to run? You had one year left, and then you would have been a free man. Now, you'll spend the next fifteen years of your life in chains."
"Fifteen..." Valjean's body stiffened, then went limp. A soft, hoarse sob escaped him. "Dear God."
Javert stood silent, trying to deny what that sob had done to his heart. It should make him glad to hear Valjean sounding so tired and broken. Instead, it felt as if someone had slid a knife between his ribs and was slowly twisting.
Then Valjean twisted around to glare over his shoulder, and the fire was back in his eyes. "Go on, *scum.* Strike me."
The whip fell, bloodying Valjean's back...then dropped to Javert's side. He couldn't bring himself to lift it again. He stood, hating himself for his weakness, hating Valjean for making him weak.
Valjean twisted in his bonds. "Hurry up, damn you!" he shouted. But his voice was ragged, and he sounded close to tears.
"No," said Javert. His voice wavered. "No more." He straightened and, with a skill born of long practice, pushed his feelings away; into the secret depths of his heart, where his conscious mind never went. When he spoke again, his voice was as hard as ever. "You're still recovering from your wound. In your condition, a beating might kill you. It is not my place to take life, even the life of a criminal."
Valjean laughed. "So you'll keep me alive, knowing I'd rather die than live another fifteen years in this hellhole, and make yourself look more compassionate in the process. Very devious, Javert."
The scorn in his voice cut Javert, but he kept his face impassive. "I am trying to save you. If you were to die now, you'd awaken in hell. By keeping you alive, I offer you a chance at salvation. Serve your sentence, repay society, and perhaps God will forgive you."
"And you're God's closest associate, of course. You must be. You know the state of everyone's soul and their chances at salvation. How convenient, that God happens to think exactly like you."
Javert's hand tightened on the handle of his whip. "Do not mock the Word of the Lord."
"I'm not. I'm mocking you, Javert."
Javert shook with rage. Why did he let this prisoner manipulate his emotions? Why could Valjean move him to anger or pity with a word or glance, when he had spent years of his life feeling nothing but a cool righteousness? Even now, with Valjean stretched on the rack before him, completely at his mercy, he couldn't shake the sense that the prisoner was still in control, still the stronger of them.
And here was the strangest thing: a part of him liked the feeling. A part of him didn't want Valjean to break...because when he did, that part of Javert would break, too.
He tried to speak, but the words seemed to freeze in his throat. At last, turning, he walked away, leaving Valjean on the rack.

Over the years, Javert had become a master of self-torture. He did not see it that way, of course, but the impossibly rigid ethical standards to which he held himself were a constant source of pain and self-doubt. Relentlessly, he scrutinized his own soul, searching for some hint of impurity. And on the surface, he found nothing. The top layer of his mind looked much like one would expect it to: orderly and immaculate. But Javert's mind was a labyrinth of hidden corridors and locked rooms filled with memories he didn't want to confront and feelings he did not want to acknowledge. During his waking hours, the things in those rooms did not trouble him...but when he slept, those dark secrets crept out, like poison leaking from sealed containers in the depths of a cool, clear lake. It might have surprised Valjean to know that his hard-hearted tormentor, whose whip he had tasted more times than he could count, often awoke in the darkness with tears on his cheeks.
Now, Javert knelt by his bedside, hands clasped, eyes closed as he silently prayed. He prayed for guidance, for control, for strength and discipline. He prayed for the soul of 24601. Then he climbed into bed and slept.
If someone asked Javert if he was afraid of hell, he would have smiled and said that the righteous need not have such fears...but when he slept, he was often haunted by visions of fire and flesh-eating worms, of chains and whips, of being eaten alive by monstrous bird-headed things and leprous demons. When he woke from these dreams, shaking and sobbing softly, he would hurry to the window and look out at the stars, glowing soft and clear against the blackness. He would pray feverishly, tears burning in his eyes: *Oh Father, what have I done to offend you, that you would send me such dreams? I've tried to be a good Christian. Please help me, spare me, help your child, save me from hell.* He would pray, and when at last the fear began to fade, he would climb back into bed and fall asleep. The next morning, memories of those times would be dim, like something seen through dirty glass...but the fear remained always, buried in the locked rooms of his heart where his waking mind never went.
Tonight, however, his dreams were sweet.
Warm, strong hands caressed him, awakening a flutter of pleasure in his belly; a feeling so foreign it was almost frightening. But the fear melted as the unseen lover pressed a firm kiss to his throat. He felt the rub and scratch of a beard against his skin, smelled the musk of male flesh. The hands settled on his shoulders, rubbing and kneading gently, then one slipped down to touch him so intimately that he gasped.
He knew those hands...the hard, calloused palms, the long fingers and prominent veins, the nails broken and ragged from hard work.
He woke sweating, his heart beating so hard that he could feel it in his throat. Shaking, he threw off the covers, got out of bed, and stood before his wash-basin, splashing cold water over his face. He looked into the mirror, at his own pale face. His hair, freed from its usual tight queue, was wild and disheveled, his dark gray eyes wide and haunted.
He had dreamt of making love to Jean Valjean.
He felt as if he'd been punched in the stomach. His guts knotted, and he emptied his stomach into the basin, as quietly as possible. A soft, choking sob escaped him. "God forgive me," he moaned.