They wound up in the bedroom when Javert tried to wander off and dismiss Valjean with a wave of his hand, but Valjean persevered, until Javert stood with his back to the bed and his arms crossed. Valjean had tried to tell Javert to sit down, but that had just earned him a reprimanding declaration that Javert was a grown man, and bad news was bad news whether it was told standing up or sitting down.
So Valjean had begun, slightly jumbled, but more coherent as he went, to explain himself. He tried to do so as fully as he could manage, under that overpowering stare. It wasn't easy.
Valjean did not know what was worse. Javert's face gave away no hints, no suggestion of feeling. It was blank. He listened, and Valjean wondered if maybe he should have sat down himself, before he fell down.
He reached the part where he had found Javert face-down in the Thames, seeing the back of his head, the familiar body shape and thinking "surely not …", and then the hospital. And the decision to take him home. He kept it simple. Hearing himself, he winced. He had basically kidnapped an unsuspecting police officer, out of fear of what would happen if he didn't. It was intended to be a helpful intervention. It sounded unforgivable said out loud. It sounded ludicrous.
Javert did not move, or say a word, and Valjean shifted his weight from foot to foot, standing in the bedroom doorway and feeling like a child about to get a smack.
Then, Javert spoke. Deadpan and concise. It was the voice of a man who had not spoken in years.
'So you finally decide to come out with it. And all of it, no less.'
'I have tried to be an honest man,' Valjean protested.
'You are rough, and you are bumbling, and you do try. But it is hard for a man like you to be honest. Circumstance rarely allows it,' Javert said sternly, but tiredly. Then he lowered his eyes, and fell back to sit on the bed. Valjean stood still in the doorway, feeling the walls fall around him, and waiting for the other boot to drop.
Javert gestured to the bed beside him.
'Sit down, you idiot. I'm not about to deck you.'
'You have every right in the world,' Valjean said.
'Only you could manage to be smug and guilty at the same time,' Javert muttered. 'Like you're proud of yourself for wanting to be punished. I suppose I can empathise with that.'
Valjean started at that, puzzled. Javert looked up at Valjean from under his brow, meaningfully.
'I'm as guilty as you, 24601. Now come over here and sit down, for god's sake.'
Valjean tentatively approached, and sat two feet away on the edge of the bed, facing the figure who now sat with his elbows on his knees and his hands clasped before him.
'What you said … about feeling as if there was a distance between us?'
'I had to find a way to put it into words without the memories getting in the way,' Javert said haltingly. 'Without who we are … who we were … getting in the way.'
'We still are who we were.'
'Don't be a wanker. I was trying to communicate things slowly, and then you had to go ahead and open the floodgates.'
Javert look disapprovingly at Valjean, and Valjean tried not to cringe. He was bewildered. Javert knew? Did he remember when Valjean was gone one day, or did he never really have amnesia? He didn't dare ask.
'So many things out of my control have changed. I wanted to be able to control this, so I could change it for the better. You've had your say. Let me have mine.'
Valjean shut his mouth before any words could escape. The overwhelming desire to kick and shout nearly drove him to stand up again and do just that, to shriek, you knew, you remembered? How long? How long have I been made to prove myself a conniving, villainous, weak-hearted man by lying to you? But it quickly sunk away through the guilt that came of knowing that he had, indeed, been proven a liar, and was replaced by a desire to place his hand on Javert's shoulder.
'I was not made for domesticity,' Javert said slowly. 'I was made for stone walls and iron bars, and a strict regime. Laws that could not, not under any circumstances, be broken. There was never any excuse for weakness or rule-breaking. My morals and my ethics were always so clear-cut. It was the only way I could live.'
Valjean had known all this on some unspoken level, but hearing Javert talk this way about himself, especially in such a derogatory yet nostalgic tone, made him uncomfortable.
'When you saved my life, after taking me from that ramshackle barricade, when you freed me, and when you turned your back on my gun to carry away that wounded boy, do you know how that shook me? I was so sure that you were a common criminal. You were a thief. You ran from justice. You lied about your identity. You kidnapped a child. I didn't know how to see you as anything less than a demon.'
Valjean knew that Javert hadn't finished and he waited patiently, but his chest was starting to hurt. He had known that Javert hated him, but hearing it in such visceral detail filled his head and heart with a painful greyness. And now, after this terrible lie. If nothing else, Valjean had officially cemented his place as irretrievably evil in Javert's mind.
'I could never really pin down the feeling, though. The thoughts I had about you, those were simple. I thought you were an untrustworthy, selfish vagrant. But I felt you were … I don't know. I still don't. After all this time. Isn't that ridiculous? You were always so frustrating, on so many levels. You did not just spare my life. You saved it. Even though it would have solved your problems just to turn aside and let them shoot me. You didn't even have to get your hands dirty.'
'You were only doing your duty.'
'That is no excuse,' Javert said sharply. Then, his eyes trained firm and wide on the edge of the bed, he whispered it again. 'No excuse, at all. Everything's been torn down, for me. I don't know what the rules are any more.'
'You are the same man,' Valjean said gently. 'I have never thought of you as a man who could be remade into something else.'
'In all honesty, I'd hoped that might not be true,' Javert said dully. 'All of my rules are gone. Between the two faces I saw on you, the one that fit my tenuous, brittle reasoning has proven to be a lie. I cannot accept both masks, not both at once. And you are still frustrating, you know. We could have avoided this whole discussion. You could have kept me here, ignorant for all intents and purposes. I'd have played the fool and kept you warm at night. At the hospital, I was faced with a choice. So were you,' Javert said, and this time he faced Valjean completely, turning to clutch both of Valjean's hands in his. His voice didn't waver, and neither did his gaze. But somehow, the hesitance showed. Javert had never said anything like this before, and it was plain somehow in his directness.
'One world, or another. We both chose the same one. If I must decide between what I have believed all my life, and believing you, the only decision I can make is to believe you. And I never, Jean Valjean … I never knowingly make the wrong choice.'
It was as if he was pleading for Valjean to understand. And, more or less, Valjean understood. One final inner wall of conflict arose; Javert was vulnerable, he was clearly troubled, he had attempted suicide for god's sake, and the kind and decent thing to do would be to give him time to heal, to come to terms with everything and make an informed and level-headed decision.
But, the inner wall of conflict was badly and haphazardly erected against the wave of emotion that had been building for weeks. And Javert knew. He had known all along. He had willingly, and with full comprehension, gone along with Valjean's charade.
Because he had wanted to.
He wanted this. He wanted Valjean, and not behind bars, but standing beside him. And he had just confessed, in the only way he knew how.
Valjean collapsed forward into Javert's arms, and felt them loop around him, the weight of Javert's cheek on top of his head, hands bunching in his shirt, and he heard Javert's heartbeat hammer against his ribs. His resolve crumbled into the sea that swept away all coherent thought and utterly flooded his heart with a passion that had, all his life, gone unnamed and unacted upon.
Valjean lifted his face and pressed random kisses up and down the first expanse of bare skin he met, which extended up from the top of Javert's chest and up just under his chin, earning what sounded blessedly like a relieved sigh. It was relief, every kiss, the close contact. Sweeter than freedom.
'Does this mean we can drop the subject?' Javert asked. Valjean finally reached his mouth, and sealed it shut with a long, silent kiss.
When their mouths parted, they were laying on the bed on their sides, facing each other, Valjean's hand on the side of Javert's face and Javert's arms still around Valjean's waist.
'Do you still feel a distance between us?' Valjean whispered. Javert snorted, and pressed his nose to Valjean's.
'No. I can see you good and close from here.'