The Missing Piece
Jean Valjean looked at the loaf, unattended in the kitchen window, and his stomach growled ominously and painfully. His face was pressed up against the glass, almost as if he was trying to inhale the goodness of the bread through the thin pane that separated them. It would be so easy to take it, he thought darkly. It would keep his sister and her children from death for one more day. The family who owned the house, and the bread, were more than likely to overlook its absence, just as they overlooked the poor that lived virtually on their doorstep. They hurried by; they showed no mercy. Valjean's face contorted against the glass in anger. Why shouldn't he take his revenge against the society that had shut him and his sister out with no-one to support them? He took a step back from the window and raised a fist to smash it.
He did not hesitate, and he barely felt the blood oozing from the cuts on his knuckles as he pulled them back through the jagged glass, his hand tightly clutched around the bread. For a single moment, he rejoiced in his grim resourcefulness, bringing the small loaf up to his face and breathing in its heady aroma. It was still warm from the oven. Valjean was longing to take a bite, but he knew that his family had more need of it than he. He would take it to them without delay, and they would survive another night. They would deal with the next day when it dawned.
It was only as he moved away from the house that Valjean noticed the shouts, the hue and cry that was going up as neighbours noticed the crime and began to alert others along the street. He had been discovered, red-handed in the most literal sense of the words. Valjean began to run. If he could just make it back…
Large hands tackled him to the ground and the loaf tumbled down the street away from him. He would get five years for it, he knew. Five years in which his sister's family would starve thanks to the bastard that was the law.
From the moment the handcuffs clicked closed around his wrists, Jean Valjean was planning his escape…
Note: And thus the story is complete, and the events of the Brick unfold in the way Hugo always planned… I hope you enjoyed this little foray into 'what could have been', because I do plan on writing more fics based on this premise in the future!