AN: This was supposed to be like 5,000 words of silliness, but I don't ever know how to shut up. Your teeth will probably rot after reading this. Fair warning.
The thing is, Combeferre and Courfeyrac had never exactly approved of Montparnasse. With his ever-present leather jackets—they're actually all designer, he swears, and it's not like Jehan can tell the difference anyway—and deliberately-scuffed black combat boots, he had been exactly opposite what the two had envisioned in a potential partner for Jehan. It wouldn't be a problem if the combined will of the Dynamic Duo—trio whenever Enjolras bothered to pay attention to his friends' love lives—wasn't a force to be reckoned with. But with their lethal mix of Combeferre's rationality and Courfeyrac's ability to be Courfeyrac, nothing could stand in their way, much less Jehan and the concept of free will.
What they don't understand is that Jehan genuinely likes Montparnasse despite his very obvious flaws, ever since they'd met through a poetry reading Jehan had been participating in, that one time Eponine wanted to try her hand at profound poetry and simultaneously purge her mind of Marius. Perhaps trying to hook up with hipsters to forget Marius's freckly face wasn't Eponine's best idea, but she'd been addicted to bad decisions all her life, and at least this one may get her a dedication in a poem about love and sex and whatever else tortured artists write about these days.
"I'm done with shitty decisions," she'd said. At Jehan's disbelieving look, she'd taken another swig of her (non-alcoholic) drink. "I swear, no more pining away for fucking Pontmercy. No more unrequited love. I refuse to be Grantaire 2.0, except with, like, no ability to draw and a way better shower singing voice." She tapped her chin contemplatively. "Actually, would he be offended if I put that on a motivational Post-It Note? Not turning into Grantaire's actually a pretty damn good motivator. Shit, I need that on a Post-It."
Eponine promptly reneged on her resolution to stop making bad decisions by introducing Jehan to Montparnasse.
Jehan had known of Montparnasse, of course. Everyone knew about Montparnasse. When not participating in his various criminal activities, he seemed perfectly normal—if a bit aloof—and Jehan is pretty sure both Grantaire and Eponine have slept with him in fits of angst. Although their paths had crossed once or twice, Jehan had never had reason to talk to the other man until now. He's beautiful, a kind of beautiful that Jehan had always associated with Enjolras. But while Enjolras's beauty scares anyone but Grantaire away, Montparnasse's drew Jehan from the first moment Jehan decided he wanted to wax poetic about his tattoos and the way they clothed his pale skin.
Maybe Jehan had been influenced by the haze of beautiful words and the euphoric high from a standing ovation, but the next thing he knew, they were leaving the café, Eponine without a boy to take her home and Jehan with a phone number in hastily-scrawled cursive. Under different circumstances, Jehan would probably feel guilty for not playing wingman, but Jehan's friends weren't nearly as cute as he'd promised Eponine, and anyway, someone like Eponine probably couldn't be trusted around potentially irritating guys with so many of their hipster scarves lying around for her to use as possible weapons.
His friends think that this is Jehan's rebellious teenager phase come two years too late, but he's pretty sure that ill-fated emo phase from eighth grade counts as teenage rebellion. His hair still hasn't recovered from the black dye.
It hasn't been perfect, and they butt heads over the most mundane things, but Jehan has never been under the impression that relationships are conflict-free, though even he has noticed that Montparnasse purposely changes the topic of conversation whenever something mildly controversial comes up. Jehan likes his love stories a bit on the complicated side, thanks, and poets complain about their lives way too much to be fans of stability. Jehan can't comprehend why some of the smartest people he knows can't grasp the idea that Montparnasse may be good for him. They're not two halves of a whole or anything, but maybe, combined, they're a whole 90% of one.
Though sometimes, Jehan really has to wonder if his friends are right after all. He's a poet hung up on the idea of a perfect romance, and Montparnasse is a probable delinquent drug dealer with major narcissistic tendencies and a distinct flair for pissing people off. He doesn't like the idea of messing with fate, but for some reason, it feels like every day with Montparnasse is another battle won against the test of time. Jehan may not believe in stability, but he believes in permanence.
"What do you mean, you don't believe in love at first sight?"
Jehan has never harbored any unrealistic expectations about Montparnasse. He's not exactly the most romantic guy Jehan knows, and, well, no one can be as bad as Enjolras, but Montparnasse comes pretty damn close. Montparnasse just happened to pick the wrong day to say the wrong thing, and coming on the heels of yet another rejection, Jehan can't help but think that the world seriously lacks people who take him seriously. Rejection is practically a corollary to being a struggling poet, but even Jehan has his limits. He's a living stereotype—in love with love, flowers in his hair, enamored with the idea of being swept off his feet, preference for bad boys—and see, he knows stereotypes suck, but very little causes him to break out of his. Jehan may usually identify as a pacifist, but, like the rest of his friends, he's got a fighting streak in him waiting to burst at the right time.
Now is apparently the right time.
It's a strange sight, Montparnasse in his low-slung black boxers and untamable sex hair sputtering as he attempts to define his view on love. They talk, sure. They talk about a lot of things. Jehan's poetry, Montparnasse's tattoos, their mutual love for chocolate-glazed donuts—even Montparnasse's less-than-legal activities have been mentioned once or twice, though they're glossed over because of an irrational desire on Montparnasse's part to protect Jehan from the seedy underbelly of 'Parnasse's life. Despite all of this talking, love just isn't something Jehan discusses with his boyfriend.
Montparnasse scratches the back of his neck uncomfortably. "Jehan, I know you love your books and poetry and all, but love at first sight just doesn't exist in real life. Lust at first sight, sure, that's a thing. But you'd have to be, well," Montparnasse smiles at Jehan like he's an endearing little child he has to let down gently, "you'd have to be you to think that love at first sight can actually happen."
It's not the best example, but Jehan must still be experiencing secondhand sexual tension from the boisterous meeting of their political activism club, Les Amis, at Café Musain earlier. Before he realizes what he's saying, he blurts, "Grantaire fell in love with Enjolras at first sight."
Montparnasse pauses in his epic quest to find his jeans (they're in the fish tank, sweetie, I think my fish are eating them) and says sarcastically, "And that's working out so well for them. Look where they are now."
Jehan, of course, knows exactly where they are now. He even has as notebook dedicated to these two, though not even Jehan Prouvaire can fill up 100 college-ruled pages with variations on "are people really this stupid in real life" without sounding like a disgruntled YouTube comment on a Taylor Swift song. The story of them looks a lot like a tragedy now, so where they are is decidedly not a good place. If there was some award for most un-platonic, passive-aggressive, platonic acquaintance ever, Enjolras and Grantaire would win it.
Jehan barely remembers how this argument began. One minute their lips had been meeting in holy palmers' kiss—Romeo and Juliet isn't even his favorite Shakespeare play, but Jehan figures he's always had a thing for stupid kids in love—and the next, Montparnasse had been laughing at some throwaway comment Jehan had made, and there they are now, on two opposite sides of a chasm that couldn't even be bridged by their mutual desire to fall back into bed.
Montparnasse says, "Did I go too far?" He reaches out and strokes Jehan's arm, and his calloused hand is very nice and all, but suddenly, Jehan is tired of nice. There's something to be said about being a romantic—Jehan and his brethren simply don't like searching for problems beneath the seemingly shiny veneer of a new romance. He should have known though, from the way Montparnasse tiptoes around him when he's so brash and insensitive with the rest of the world.
Jehan breathes out shakily and runs his fingers through his hair, itching to braid it. It's the one thing he hates about morning afters. He usually leaves the braid in when he goes to bed—less broken hairs and easier maintenance—but Montparnasse has a habit of pulling out his hair bands, and Jehan has never worked up enough energy to ask him to stop.
"No." Jehan considers. "Wait, I mean, yes." Jehan barely even knew he felt this way before he hears the words tumbling out of his own mouth, but as soon as he hears them, he knows these words aren't just meant for Montparnasse, not really. They're for everyone he's met who can't seem to realize that there's more to Jehan Prouvaire than a slight frame and eyes full of wonder. "But not because of this. You never treat me like I'm a real person you're dating, not some ideal of innocence you think I am. Just because I don't regularly deal with criminals doesn't mean I can't protect myself. And just because I like writing poetry doesn't mean I don't know how the real world works."
He's so tired of being treated like this, like he's something to be protected just because he wears too much floral and likes braiding flowers into his hair. And God, he's gotten way too many indulgent smiles and condescending pats on the head. He knows his friends love his views on love, but once in a while, he'd really like it if they could see Jehan as someone other than their token romantic.
"What are you talking about? Of course I treat you like you're a real person." Montparnasse reaches out to pull Jehan back to his side, but he scurries away hurriedly. This talk has been put off far too long for Jehan to forgive Montparnasse so easily, and he knows he will as soon as Montparnasse touches him. They have a bad habit of fixing their arguments with sex, and Jehan can count on one hand the number of arguments that they've resolved using words instead of through rough thrusting and moans.
Jehan shakes his head. "You just think of me as some kid. I think love is grand and special, and sure, some people fall into it irrationally and some stories seem too good to be true, but you don't have to be condescending about it."
"I said one wrong thing—"
"I just wanted to say that. You know what, I don't want to fight—"
"Maybe—maybe if you don't think I properly treat you like an equal, you should talk to me. Jehan, you write all the time, and I know you know how to use words, but you never use them with me. I think you're pretty fucking cool, and I don't know why you put up with me, but we're really bad at this talking thing, aren't we?" Montparnasse has been trying to cut back on the smoking because he hates being dependent on anything, but he's always been a stress smoker, so he reaches into the jacket that's lying at the foot of Jehan's bed and pulls out his pack of Camel Lights. Practiced fingers get the cigarette lit and into his mouth before Jehan can protest—he hates the smell of smoke. So maybe Montparnasse is right. It's not like Jehan has ever told Montparnasse that either. Blowing out a stream of smoke, Montparnasse says, "How about you prove me wrong?"
"Prove to me that love at first sight's a real thing that works out." Montparnasse shrugs. "I don't mean to disrespect your opinions, Jehan, I really don't. It's just that, sometimes, the amount of belief you have in romance kind of boggles my mind, so I'd really like to understand."
Jehan says slowly, "You expect me…to try to get Grantaire and Enjolras to fall in love."
Montparnasse winces as he realizes the full implications of the task he has just laid out for Jehan. "Okay, so maybe that's asking a little too much—"
"I'll do it," Jehan decides before he can stop himself. "I'll get them together."
"You do realize Enjolras can't stand Grantaire, right? And I picked that up from ten minutes of hanging out with your friends."
"Sometimes, the best relationships spring from very…negative feelings," Jehan muses. "Maybe all they need is a little push," he says hopefully. Then, thinking, "Okay, maybe not just a little push—maybe a full-on intervention."
Montparnasse pulls those still-wet jeans over his legs, and Jehan really has to hate him for still looking like a model in waterlogged pants. It's unfair, really, and Jehan has to thank his lucky stars that Montparnasse's occasional tendency to be a dick is balanced out by how hot he is. Not that Jehan will ever tell Montparnasse that. Which, he figures, is part of the problem. "You know, you really don't have to do this just to prove a point."
Jehan almost smiles. "Oh yes, I do."
Enlisting Courfeyrac's help had been easy enough. All Jehan had to do was mention "Enjolras" and "sex" and "Grantaire" in the same sentence, and Courfeyrac had jumped on the bandwagon of love, dreams, and well-intentioned manipulation.
Courfeyrac bounces around like the fucking Energizer Bunny, and Jehan keeps expecting to be able to open him up and find a pack of those double-A batteries powering him. "When do we start? I have been waiting almost literally forever, okay, two years, for this. I have plans, and now you're here, and my plans may actually work." He hugs Jehan to his chest and strokes his hair lovingly. "They won't know what hit them," he whispers. Jehan should really be scared, but he's willing to do anything in the name of love, so who is he to judge Courfeyrac? "What do you have in mind?"
This is where Jehan winces. He hadn't really planned anything out past the initial desire to prove Montparnasse wrong. His favorite books had been absolutely no help at all. Catherine and Heathcliffe weren't exactly a model of the perfect relationship, Enjolras is no Mr. Darcy, and if Enjolras were Lucie Manette, Patria would probably end up as Charles Darnay, and Jehan likes Grantaire's head not severed from his body, even if Sydney Carton's death served as a kind of poetic redemption. Jehan had even resorted to Google. The most he'd gleaned from WikiHow is that Grantaire should be open and happy, but it's Grantaire, and a happy and open Grantaire would be fundamentally not Grantaire, so he'd nipped that idea in the bud.
He believes in romance and all, and it's all very nice and happy when someone else is executing the romancing, but it seems none of his ideas can apply to the stupidest couple he's had the misfortune to meet.
"Do you want to see the one where we get them passed-out drunk, strip them naked, and throw them into bed together or the one where we somehow brew Amortentia and force them to drink it? I have the schematic sketches for both of them right here," Jehan says. His notebook is covered with doodles, less "schematic" than "covered with hearts and flowers and love." He even has Grantaire's eyes as hearts beating to the sound of Enjolras's every word. Grantaire may be the artist—albeit, a halfhearted one—in the group, but damn if Jehan doesn't come in a close second with that masterpiece of a doodle. So what if Enjolras's eyes look a little demonic? He looks like that whenever anyone takes away his Nutella when he's studying anyway.
Courfeyrac regards him with an amused smile. "So basically your plans suck."
Jehan doesn't even hesitate before saying, "Yeah, pretty much."
"Good thing you came to the undisputed love god of this side of the universe." At Jehan's raised eyebrows, he clarifies, "That's, uh, that's me, by the way. If you hadn't already realized." Courfeyrac's desk is a cluttered mess, and Jehan wonders how anyone can think in the midst of all that chaos, but Courfeyrac manages to pull a stack of papers from underneath a precariously-placed copy of Asimov anyway. With just a few words here and there and what looks suspiciously like a blood stain on one of the crumpled sheets, Courfeyrac's notes are nothing compared to Jehan's organized lists. But Jehan's pretty sure they can't make the situation worse, and besides, Courfeyrac once wrote a Poly Sci paper on IHOP napkins before paying Bossuet to type it up for him—Bossuet broke three laptops before finally finishing—and still got an A.
"Okay, step one—"
The door creaks open, and Combeferre pokes his head into the room. His glasses are askew, and Jehan can hear the sounds of a documentary blaring out of Combeferre's room. He eyes them warily. "Courfeyrac, are you trying to get Jehan to buy your theory that Enjolras and Grantaire belong together? Leave the poor boy alone."
Courfeyrac pouts. "If you must know, little Prouvaire here brought it up. I'm not the degenerate."
"I don't see why everyone wants this to happen." Combeferre pushes his glasses farther up the bridge of his nose. "I mean, star-crossed romances never turn out well, do they? Romeo and Juliet, Holden Caulfield and happiness…"
"They're not star-crossed, and anyway, the only thing that's keeping them from having real sex instead of just eye sex is Enjolras's self-imposed imaginary chastity belt. Don't pretend you know his life!" Courfeyrac protests. After a pause, he relents, "Okay, well, you kind of do, but—"
"It's not even that I don't think Enjolras doesn't like Grantaire," Combeferre explains, "I just don't think he'll do anything about it." Jehan has always loved Combeferre. As one of the few somewhat sane people in their group of misfits, he's in high demand as the unofficial advice-giver. He's talked Jehan through a few rough patches, but for once, Jehan wishes Combeferre would stop thinking.
Courfeyrac grabs Combeferre's hand and gently pulls him onto the neon green beanbag chair in the corner of the room. "Sit," he commands, "and listen." Combeferre sighs and settles down for what he's sure will be the most ridiculous thing he's ever heard.
He's not wrong.
"First, we begin with a brief case study of Enjolras and Grantaire. Alcoholic cynic meets blond god. Blond god has a permanent stick up his ass, and not the fun kind, so cynic drowns himself in even more alcohol. They like arguing with each other, which causes sexual tension, which makes Courfeyrac uncomfortable, which is why we're sitting here today.
"Step one: we convince Enjolras that Grantaire isn't just a drunk. To do this, I propose either stripper method or the Elle Woods method." Before Combeferre even has the chance to ask because what the hell, Courfeyrac grins sheepishly and explains, "One-night stands are a reservoir of untapped knowledge, okay? Like, you'd think that sex wouldn't facilitate conversation, but you learn so much." His voice drops low, "This one girl had a theory that if everything else fails, you should just strip and jump whoever you're supposed to be seducing. Then again, she had really large boobs, so that may have something to do with it."
"Courfeyrac, we're trying to build a love to transcend the ages and also prove my boyfriend wrong. We're not going to depend on lust—"
"Which is why I vote for the Elle Woods method."
"What? The bend-and-snap?" As much as Jehan respects Elle, Grantaire is neither entirely legal nor at all blond, except for his short-lived surfer phase back in freshman year of high school, but Jehan has been banned from talking about that on threat of book-burning anyway. Grantaire claims he's been cutting back in the alcohol a little, but he seems just as intoxicated and uncoordinated at their meetings as ever, so his imitating the bend-and-snap would probably just turn into bend-and-snap-and-cause-himself-permanent-spinal-d amage.
Combeferre seems to break out of his vow of silence. "We are not staging a trial just so Grantaire can demonstrate his knowledge of hair maintenance methods."
Courfeyrac's jaw drops suddenly, and he tackles Combeferre in a hug. Jehan briefly wonders whether he should be worried that Combeferre's struggling for breath, but Courfeyrac usually shows his love for his friends through near-death experiences anyway.
"You—you didn't say no to setting them up," Courfeyrac whispers into Combeferre's hair as he rocks the skinnier boy back and forth. Combeferre doesn't even attempt to break out of Courfeyrac's death grip. He's known for the strength of his hugs, and the Amis have sworn off sharing a bed with him for that very reason. "You just said no to the plan. This means you're in. You can air all of Enjolras's dirty little secrets, I can think of ways to use them to exploit his weaknesses, and Jehan can infuse our plans with love." Courfeyrac lets out an undignified (at this point, Jehan would be surprised if he's still capable of doing anything in a dignified manner) squeal, and continues to hug Combeferre some more. Jehan takes Combeferre's lack of protest as an acceptance of Courfeyrac's crazy scheme.
"Just—just leave the planning to me, okay? Grantaire's going to be the next Elle Woods, and we're going to prove that there's something lying underneath his proverbial blonde hair and big boobs," he proclaims.
"Do you even have a step two?" Combeferre asks exasperatedly.
"Sure, step two is to make Enjolras burn with jealousy over the fact that someone's trying to make a move on Grantaire."
"That's not worse than your step one at all," Combeferre deadpans. "Doesn't it assume that Enjolras likes Grantaire to start out with?"
"You can't sink my ship!"
Before it can turn into an argument, Jehan asks, "Then what's step three?"
Courfeyrac's answer is simple.
"Oh, that's just the part where I collect money from all the bets I made—our plan is so going to work."
Jehan had never resented Enjolras for supplanting him as the Cutest Thing Ever in Grantaire's mind, not really. True, he'd always been Grantaire's go-to whenever he needed a dose of adorable, but Jehan could really do without the cheek-pinching anyway, thank you very much. As soon as Grantaire had met Enjolras, though, he'd fallen hard, fast, and completely. Grantaire's obsession with Enjolras is part admiration, part apparent masochism, and part idiocy. He'd tried explaining it to Jehan once, and apparently, it's because of some sort of combination of his looks and his ideals and his naiveté, and actually, now that Jehan really thinks about it, all he really got out of that conversation was that Grantaire really needed to get laid.
If the amount of yelling Jehan can hear even outside the door of Café Musain is anything to go by, Grantaire's mission to get into Enjolras's pants is futile at best. The Musain moonlights as a café, but Madame Hucheloup will serve them anything if they ask, and the boys come back week after week because of the alcohol.
Jehan waves weakly when he enters, and Grantaire actually waves back, smirking. He lounges lazily in his chair, his body angled toward Enjolras, and Jehan bets that Enjolras and Grantaire haven't even noticed the fact that they gravitate toward each other so naturally.
Grantaire still has Shakespeare's Sonnet XL written on his arm in permanent marker where Jehan had written it the night before. He had laughed when Jehan finally lifted the marker from his skin. Take all my loves, my love, yea, take them all: What hast thou then more than thou hadst before? "With the number of unhealthy love poems you've written on me," he'd said, the laughter not reaching his eyes, "it's a wonder Enjolras hasn't noticed by now."
"What? Did you want me to stop?" Jehan had asked.
"Of course not, little poet. Want to make a bet with me to see how long it'll take Enjolras to care?" Jehan knows what Grantaire is thinking but doesn't want to say. I wish he would care.
Jehan usually sits with Joly and Bossuet because their cute always manages to restore his faith in humanity, but when he spies the empty seat next to Courfeyrac, he takes it. "Did Grantaire insult Robespierre again? I thought his insane phase was over. He should know by now that the National Convention's a touchy topic for Enjolras."
Enjolras's indigant shout comes right on cue. "Robespierre was not a representation of the bourgeois, materialistic ideals that plague our society!"
"Because he was so revolutionary and didn't turn out to be just as oppressive as the old regime."
"He was manipulated by—"
Courfeyrac pouts. "Did you really have to mention Robespierre? Pretty sure Enjolras has superhero-level hearing whenever anyone mentions Conventionists." Grantaire usually just argues the opposite of what Enjolras believes in to annoy the hell out of the blond—Robespierre just happens to be one of the topics Enjolras believes very strongly in. Fortunately, Grantaire's well-read enough to argue almost anything. "Besides, they weren't even arguing about that at first."
It's Combeferre who replies. "Courfeyrac decided that today was the perfect day to carry out step one of his ridiculous plan, which, when you think about it, isn't a real plan at all but is really wishful thinking."
"Combeferre got a C on a paper and isn't in a very good mood." Stage-whispering, Courfeyrac says, "You may want to avoid him today."
"Courf…what did you do?"
"You know all the paintings that Grantaire did but refuses to show any of us because he's too scared we won't like them? The really good ones that we saw that time we snuck into his room to count exactly how many sketches he has of Enjolras in compromising positions?"
Jehan's eyes widen almost comically, but the situation isn't comical at all, really. He's had the same troubles as Grantaire once, before really deciding to take the plunge into a career that will probably just leave him as a poor poet in a crappy apartment. He'd spent many a night embroiled in existential crisis after existential crisis, wondering whether he was crazy for even attempting to place all of his eggs in such a fickle basket. But he'd gotten tired of all the worry and self-doubt, and one day, Jehan had decided that he can't do anything about the world being a bitch, so to hell with the consequences. Grantaire isn't there yet, no, but Jehan had been trying to help his friend. "Those were private. Courf, Grantaire hasn't shown anyone his serious work in years. Do you have any idea how crazy artists get about their pieces?"
"I just wanted to show Enjolras that Grantaire has more depth than Enjolras thinks he has?"
The volume of Enjolras's voice rises again. "Do you ever stop drinking? You could be so much more than you are now. You're so talented, and—"
"Stop trying to fucking dictate my life," Grantaire hisses. "I'm perfectly fine with no one expecting anything from me. I like it like this, actually. So you can fuck off with your trying to fix people and let me be."
Courfeyrac groans. "How did they go from Robespierre back to this?"
"What did you think would happen?"
Courfeyrac throws his hands in the air. "I don't know? I was kind of hoping that Enjolras would realize how awesome R is, they'd kiss, and we could skip step two and go right on to step three."
"I don't think that's how Enjolras and Grantaire work."
"Right, because they're both complicated as hell," Courfeyrac sulks. "Why can't they be Teletubbies and just love each other?"
From the escalating volume of their argument, Enjolras and Grantaire are most definitely not Teletubbies.
"I think you're just too scared to do anything important with your life."
"Oh yeah? I'd like to see you do all the designs for all your little posters and pamphlets and everything else you take for granted. The designs I do for free, you jackass, when I could be getting paid. You know exactlywhy I'm still here, but you won't admit it to yourself, and fuck, you take advantage of my weaknesses so beautifully without even realizing it. There's probably, like, some grand irony in the fact that I let you exploit me, but."
"It's not exploitation if I give you a choice, Grantaire."
"Really? I had a choice in all of this?" Grantaire says bitterly, breathing heavily. Jehan isn't so sure they're discussing Grantaire's work anymore. "You can't fix me, and I wish you would stop trying to inspire me to be a better me or whatever you think a better me would be." Grantaire doesn't usually get angry at Enjolras—how could he? Most of their arguments, while intense, only amuse Grantaire and mildly annoy Enjolras, now that he's gotten used to them. But from the way Grantaire is shaking and the way his eyes are blazing, anger doesn't even begin to describe what he's feeling then. "Besides, I show you my work, don't I?"
"That stuff, that stuff is great, sure. But this." Enjolras motions to a scene in 19th-century Paris, dark grey except for a few spots of red and gold. It's meticulously detailed—the beauty of the strokes and the obvious care taken in insuring perfection only serve to emphasize the misery and hopelessness the scene depicts. It took Jehan's breath away when he first found it in Grantaire's room and still takes his breath away now.
A man stands on top of a beaten-down wooden box, speaking to the downtrodden crowd gathered there. He's faceless, and he's not so much a man as an abstraction, but even Jehan can tell it's meant to be Enjolras, a fact that Jehan is willing to bet Enjolras has yet to figure out. A common theme of revolt connects the other paintings leaning against the wall: Bloody Sunday, peace protests during the Vietnam War, even one during Occupy. The only constant is the man in the paintings, the focal point. "This stuff is amazing, and I just can't see why you refuse to show it to anybody.
Grantaire face hardens, but Enjolras refuses to back down. After a minute, Grantaire leaves without a word. Grantaire must have perfected the art of walking out of meetings in a huff by now, and Jehan is afraid he'll leave one day and not return when he finally gives up on the one thing pulling him back to the Musain week after week.
"Time for step two?" Jehan asks Courfeyrac.
"Yeah, time for step two."
When Jehan tells Montparnasse to help him find the perfect man, he doesn't think Montparnasse would literally be able to find the perfect man.
But here he is, in all of his entrancing brown-eyed, blond-haired, six-foot glory. Jehan's always had a thing for really nice arms, and damn. Simon's a med student who volunteers at an animal shelter in his free time and plays a mean violin. He also enjoys walks in the rain, the occasional shot of Kahlua in his rocky-road ice cream, and has no arrest record. The most important person in his life is his sister, and they unfailingly sit down for Sunday brunch together in order to foster a healthy brother-sister relationship. If there were a job for professional perfect boyfriend, Simon's application would knock everyone else's out of the water.
During the entire time Simon gives Jehan his life story, Montparnasse smirks in the background, mouthing "literally perfect," and the manic glint in Courfeyrac's eyes only increases. Jehan is almost worried that Simon would find them all insane, but Montparnasse assured him he'd warned the guy beforehand, and Simon seems unfazed by Courfeyrac rubbing his hands together like a mad scientist. So he gets kudos for that at least.
"Thanks for this, by the way," Jehan says.
Simon shrugs and takes another sip of his coffee. "I owed 'Parnasse one anyway. Don't worry about it. Who am I supposed to be seducing?"
Courfeyrac motions in Grantaire's general direction, and it's just their luck that Grantaire chooses just then to let out a loud laugh. He holds a bottle in his hand, and his face is ruddy from the alcohol. Usually, Joly worries too much about Grantaire's health to allow him to get too drunk, but Joly's home with Bossuet and Musichetta, and being the health advisor to a self-destructive cynic must get exhausting sometimes. Usually, Enjolras ignores the other man (read: tries to ignore) while Grantaire tugs at his metaphorical pigtails—and sometimes pulls his actual hair—until Enjolras's annoyance spills over and they argue well into the night. It's just how they interact, and as much as it doesn't seem like it, they are friends. However, tonight, Grantaire and Enjolras have decided to actually follow through in their promises not to speak to each other, and Jehan can already tell Enjolras is getting restless without the usual 8 o'clock rant he subjects Grantaire to.
Simon raises an eyebrow. "The really drunk one who's trying to not make it obvious that he's staring at the blond?"
"That'd be the one," says Courfeyrac.
It only takes a minute for Simon to coax Grantaire into a conversation about art (apparently, he's always been fond of 19th-century art, the bastard), and for the first time that night, Grantaire's smiles seem to reach his eyes.
Any other time and Jehan doubts Grantaire would be interested with Enjolras a mere five feet away, but a drunken Grantaire is a flirty Grantaire, and if the flirting isn't obvious yet, he doesn't know what is. Enjolras, unfortunately, is a generally oblivious person, but even he's glancing up from his laptop every five minutes or so. Jehan is almost glad that Courfeyrac is wrapped up in that conquest he's making—as much as Jehan is happy that Courfeyrac is right, smugness and Courfeyrac mix about as well as oil and water. Grantaire may think that Enjolras is some sort of god, but Jehan knows Enjolras can be subject to human vices too, and, well, Enjolras judges people. A lot. Half caught between wanting to figure out what the new guy's deal is and acting like he doesn't care what Grantaire does and with whom, Enjolras completely neglects the paper he's supposed to be working on.
Grantaire and Simon have started talking about that new gym that just opened downtown—Grantaire needs to new place to box, and Simon has strict workout schedule—when Enjolras finally gives in and approaches the two, striding purposefully with a flyer for their meetings under his arm. Enjolras does this sometimes—tries to recruit more members for Les Amis whenever someone new is introduced to the group—but this time, there's an undercurrent of tension and a set to Enjolras's shoulders that speak of more than a mere routine recruitment.
"I still think this is a dumb idea, but, you know, at least it may be funny?" Montparnasse slips an arm around Jehan's shoulders, and Jehan leans into his body.
"You're still not forgiven, you know," he says. "Even if you found Simon."
Montparnasse pulls Jehan closer and plays with his long hair. Jehan has decided to braid daisies in it today. Jehan thinks they're cliché, but 'Parnasse has always liked how simple they are. "Yeah, wait until Enjolras finds out…"
"Finds out what?" Jehan says slowly, suspiciously. "Secret violent tendencies, obsession with One Direction, supporter of Starbucks?"
Then he finds out.
"How can you be a Republican?" Usually, Enjolras is calmer when speaking to people who don't share his political opinions, but usually, he doesn't have to deal with people who just flirted with Grantaire only five minutes ago. Even Grantaire looks faintly horrified at this revelation, and Grantaire isn't one to dislike someone for their politics. "How can you be part of a political party that refuses to acknowledge that you have rights, that refuses to acknowledge that so many people have rights?"
"Yeah, like the right to get laid," Courfeyrac mutters under his breath.
"There we go." Montparnasse doesn't even try to hide his laughter, and Jehan wonders if he picked Simon just to irritate Enjolras like this. If he did, he gets a definite A+ for creativity, but then again, Montparnasse has never passed up a chance to piss off Enjolras, a problem that Jehan should definitely try to remedy if he and Montparnasse are in it for the long run, but seeing Enjolras mad does have its perks.
"Whoa, dude, calm." Simon raises his hands in surrender, and it only serves to further enrage Enjolras. "I think your hair may get puffier if you get even more worked up."
If it were possible, Enjolras's face turns even redder, his hands clenching and unclenching as he sputters and tries to find a suitable comeback.
"Oh, dear God."
"Is he doing this on purpose? This is brilliant." Courfeyrac's tone verges on worshipful.
It takes Enjolras a full fifteen minutes to finish his rant on Why the Republican Party Sucks and Everyone Should Just Be a Socialist Already Dammit (mixed with parts of his My Hair Is Beautiful So Shut Up rant), and Grantaire seems to enjoy this way too much for his own good. Simon may have been warned about their collective crazy, but Enjolras's unique brand of crazy must be experienced in person. By the end, unlike most of the people Enjolras tries to convert, Simon looks completely unfazed, which is possibly the worst insult he can give Enjolras. Out of politeness, he takes a flyer, but anyone can tell he has no intentions of actually showing up to one of their meetings. Enjolras gives it up as a lost cause and sits down at his laptop to do more nothing.
All their friends have separate roles in the group, and Jehan is a fixer, so before Enjolras can protest, Jehan is already in the empty chair next to him, saying, "I thought we'd decided that you would stop yelling at people who don't agree with you if your friends are trying to make new friends." Automatically, he pulls a marker out of his pocket and grabs Enjolras's arm. Pressing the tip of the marker into Enjolras's wrist, Jehan begins writing. If anyone needs poetry etched into his skin, it's Enjolras.
Enjolras only snorts in response.
Jehan decides to risk scaring Enjolras away. "You know what I think? I think you wouldn't have been half as bad to him if he hadn't been flirting with R."
"He's a Republican, and their political views may be contagious through sex, okay?" If Enjolras weren't their ever-so-fearless leader, Jehan may even describe the expression on his face as a pout. "I'd rather Grantaire keep being his cynical self that that."
Jehan pauses in his writing to regard Enjolras fondly. "You know how everyone thinks I'm the most adorable one?"
"I have no idea why they think that when you're here." Enjolras shakes his head, but Jehan can see he's fighting back a smile. If anyone else had tried to pull that, he'd have them crying on the floor just to prove just how not adorable he is, but Jehan can get away with anything, really. It's one of the perks that comes with being Jehan Prouvaire, along with a green thumb and hugs whenever he needs them (and especially when he doesn't).
"You and Simon have a lot in common, actually." Jehan may be a gentle and sweet soul or whatever, but sometimes he just can't resist, and Enjolras makes the teasing so easy. "You're both smart, driven, and like, literally perfect."
"I'm not literally perfect."
"Try telling R that."
"I don't know," Enjolras muses, "seems like he's found a new ideal for perfection, hasn't he?" Enjolras doesn't seem to even notice Jehan's there anymore, and it's weird enough that Enjolras is hinting at his feelings at all. He's not an emotional robot—he loves his friends deeply and passionately—but romantic love is not his forte. Jehan doubts he's even defined what he feels for Grantaire, but it's impossible to spend so much time with the cynic without his getting under the Enjolras's skin. Enjolras shakes his head, snapping out of it. "Anyway, I should go. It's been a long day."
Jehan places the cap back on the marker. "You should talk to him. About what happened on Thursday, I mean."
"I still stand by what I said. He could be so much more than he is now."
"I don't mean go backon what you said. I just said to talk to him."
They both look over at Grantaire at the same time, which may not have been the best idea. Grantaire's eyes are bright as he whispers into Simon's ear, keeping a casual arm around the other man's waist. Enjolras just shakes his head and gathers his stuff, shoving it into his backpack without his usual care.
Before he leaves, Enjolras finally remembers to check what Jehan wrote on his arm. Jehan had written erotic poetry on Enjolras's cheek once, and Enjolras had never been able to live it down. "How Do I Love Thee? Aren't you too hipster poetry nerd for this poem?"
Jehan brushes his hands over the words, written in an uncharacteristically messy scrawl instead of Jehan's typically careful calligraphy. "It's a classic," he explains, "and besides, I thought it fit your situation pretty well."
Enjolras blanches, but before he can begin his inevitable protest, Combeferre grabs him and pulls him away, muttering under his breath about an essay due that he completely forgot about, and, "Shit, Enjolras, you're my ride, okay, I need to get home right now." Enjolras doesn't seem the least bit apologetic about the fact that this is the end of their conversation, and it's actually adorable how Enjolras thinks Jehan will forget this conversation.
Jehan notices that he leaves the poem written on his arm as he leaves.
Courfeyrac throws himself into the seat next to Jehan and lets out a long breath. "Good talk?" he asks. There are no less than five phone numbers written on his arm, and if Jehan has had a good talk with Enjolras, Courfeyrac must have had many great ones.
"I think your plan may have actually worked."
"…What?" Courfeyrac actually has the gall to sound surprised. Clearing his throat, he says, "Uh, of course, it did. Why wouldn't it? I'm a love god, remember?"
Joly and Bossuet have been itching to introduce the rest of Les Amis to Musichetta, and from what they've said about her, she's just about the coolest theatre major in all of theatre majoring history. Grantaire assures them that Musichetta will most definitely live up to standards—he's had a drink with the three of them once or twice—and if the Amis don't love her from the get-go, they're not doing it right.
Musichetta gets out of work late, and by the time she shows up to their meeting, it's already winding down. Jehan honestly doesn't know why she hasn't shown up before now. From the first moment, when she responds to Courfeyrac's drunken groping with a smirk and "this is why boobs rock," it's clear she'll fit right into their ragtag bunch. Though they'd planned to leave, they decide instead to stay, and Courfeyrac wants to flirt with the new barista anyway, so it's no trouble.
"Damn," Bossuet says, "I wish you could have met Enjolras. Sitting through one of his speeches, is like, necessary to being friends with us. He'll kind of blow your socks off. You'll have a blast trying to make him mad, but he'll probably like you anyway because we like you and you're awesome." Bossuet giggles, and because Bossuet's giggling only ever reaches that high a pitch when he's drunk, it's pretty obvious that he's pretty shitfaced. "Remember when you two met, R? Courfeyrac was basically bouncing off the walls because you and," he giggles some more, "Enjolras," he points at Grantaire and Enjolras's empty chair in turn, "the idea of you two getting along."
When the Amis first started on their crusade to right the world of all wrongs and have some beer in the process (much to Enjolras's chagrin), Enjolras had taken to recruitment and making sure his friends showed up to every meeting with a single-minded focus. Through his incessant texts, emails, and phone calls, he'd gotten the group to show up to almost every Thursday meeting, whether they were drunk, fucking, or lying in a ditch to die a slow and painful death from what he believed was a new strain of the swine flu. Though Enjolras had been the sole reason for them to come at first, after a while, Thursday meetings just became a permanent thing even when Enjolras couldn't show up because of some project or other. To be fair, it's not like they actually get work done during those meetings Enjolras doesn't grace with his presence, but they make up for it in drinking and gossip anyway.
"Yeah, why isn't he here?" Grantaire asks casually. When Courfeyrac smirks at him, Grantaire backtracks quickly, "I mean, not that I care. Obviously, he doesn't care what I do, so I don't care what he does, and he's kind of being an asshole—"
"Econ paper. He was almost done before I left, but I think he got distracted by some online politics forum," Combeferre interrupts. Frankly, Combeferre looks like he'd rather be joining him at their flat rather than stay in the café with their increasingly rowdy friends, but Marius isn't there, and Eponine's dress is especially low-cut. If Grantaire is being obvious about his crush, where does that put Combeferre?
"Oh." Grantaire shifts awkwardly in his seat, obviously dying to ask. He picks up his drink and holds it in his hand as his mouth twitches, trying to find the right words.
Finally, Combeferre takes pity on him. "I mentioned you once, and he just made this sound like he was dying and ignored me. Make of that what you will."
There's a cheer from the corner of the room as Musichetta manages to beat Feuilly in a thumb war for the fifth time in a row. Courfeyrac yells something about how good she must be with her hands, and she climbs on the table to give a grand bow. "Thank you, thank you."
"Where did you learn that technique? I mean, going under, and that feint! That was pure genius. I don't even know," Feuilly says in wonder.
Musichetta shrugs. "Natural talent, I guess." She jumps off the table, somehow managing to balance in her stilettos, and makes her way over to Jehan's table. Slipping an arm around Grantaire's shoulders, she asks, "Where's your boyfriend, R? He was cute."
There's a silence, and light begins to dawn in Musichetta's eyes as she realizes that she's just dropped a bomb. Grantaire's face turns red at a rate Jehan never thought possible—Jehan is a chronic blusher, so he should know—and a strangled noise escapes his throat. Jehan pauses, his pen hovering his notebook.
"Um, you know, the blond one? I saw you two making out at the bar a couple of days ago?"
"Simon?" Courfeyrac squeals.
"Uh, yeah. Um."
"Simon?" Musichetta croons. "Is that his name?"
"Yeah, we introduced them," Courfeyrac says before he realizes that he's not supposed to be proud as he takes credit for this new development in Grantaire's life. Courfeyrac is just really, really slow sometimes.
"We're not, um, actually dating." Grantaire blushes again.
"Let me tell you something," Musichetta begins, "With someone that pretty, you have to snag them before they go off and hook up with your best friend's cousin. And do you know how you'll find out? You'll catch them in bed together roleplaying Snape and Hermione Granger having a sordid affair. You can't erase shit like that from your mind."
"Oh man, what a sad life you lead," Eponine says. "At least your ex was creative, right? I'm pretty sure mine ditch me for vanilla sex."
Musichetta shrugs. "It's okay. I took care of it. I don't think his dick works properly anymore."
"I'll keep that in mind," Grantaire deadpans.
Later, when Bahorel and Grantaire are attempting to best each other's rendition of Sexyback with Eponine as their judge, most of the Amis have gone home, and Musichetta, Joly, and Bossuet are doing something that verges on public sex in a corner, Jehan finally finds time to speak to Courfeyrac.
"Why didn't we consider what would happen if Grantaire actually likes the guy we set him up with? I mean, it may not be anything serious, and Grantaire's entitled to a sex life, but what if it is?"
Comprehension dawns in Courfeyrac's eyes. "We're fucked," he breathes.
"We are definitely fucked," Jehan agrees. Then, absently, "Don't curse, Courfeyrac. It's not polite."
Courfeyrac (Sent at 11:31 PM): omg so like r's new bf is that republican dickwad who insulted ur hair? musichetta saw them making out at the corinth 2 nites ago?
Enjolras (Sent at 11:33 PM): What do you have against the shift key? Also, so what?
Courfeyrac (Sent at 11:34 PM): uh arent u going to tell r off 4 caring about his lonely soul or watever
Enjolras (Sent at 11:38 PM): He can date whomever he wants.
Courfeyrac (Sent at 11:40 PM): whom uses who and whom right anyway e ur ridiculous also u yelled at marius and tbh u kind of have to b fair so go yell at r and tell him hes not allowed
Enjolras (Sent at 11:45 PM): I thought you were trying to make me less of a "dictatorial control freak"?
Courfeyrac (Sent at 11:46 PM): NOT WHEN IT CONCERNS R
Enjolras (Sent at 11:47 PM): Why does it matter?
Courfeyrac (Sent at 11:48 PM): u dont get it do u D:
u sir r the densest person i have ever met
i cant even with u anymore
Enjolras (Sent at 11:51 PM): ?
Courfeyrac (Sent at 11:53 PM): Why am I even friends with you?
Enjolras (Sent at 11:55 PM): now you capitalize?
Courfeyrac (Sent at 11:56 PM): My grammar shows when I'm upset. Deal with it.
Grantaire's sister shows some tendencies towards actually being sane—surprising, given that she shares common genetic material with Grantaire and that the Amis actually like her. Grantaire had even made her a My Favorite Sane Person t-shirt once, but the next time she came to visit, she and Courfeyrac had gone to a comic book convention to cosplay Star Trek characters, and Grantaire is a part-time crusader for truth whenever the truth serves his goals. The "slightly" couldn't fit in between Grantaire's typically large block letters, and so he'd given the shirt up as a failure, and well, Grantaire still hasn't met anyone sane enough to bestow it upon.
Emma is what Grantaire could never be—their parents' idea of a perfect child. Her days are filled with law school textbooks and Very Important Internships, so the trips she makes to see her brother are few and far between. Their friends, especially the ones who've known Grantaire since childhood, haven't forgotten that Emma used to be the only one who could calm their friend down in his darkest hours, and so when Emma sets up residence in Grantaire's apartment, Les Amis make it a point to spend as much time there as possible.
"I swear, you guys like Emma more than you like me." Grantaire waves his brownie-batter-covered spoon accusatorially, and Courfeyrac reaches to lick it out of spite. Joly's face turns red as he snatches the spoon out of Grantaire's hands and throws it into the sink, muttering about the germs in Courfeyrac's spit. "You know, I wasn't actually going to keep using the spoon, Joly, like, I kind of know what basic hygiene is," Grantaire says, amused.
Joly can barely hear him over the rush of running water—Grantaire should really be forcing Joly to foot their water bill soon—but he still manages to reply, "This is coming from the guy who used to play in the mud and throw mud pies at me."
"We were in elementary school."
"You don't even wash your hairsometimes," Emma adds.
Grantaire shrugs and uses a new spoon to continue the mixing. "What? You don't think my luscious locks are beautiful just the way they are? When you see them, there's something that you would change? When, uh—actually, hair can't smile, so scratch that reference. What?" he says when there's silent disbelief. "Courfeyrac has shitty taste in music, and it's not my fault his place is the easiest to crash at when I'm drunk."
"It's not that bad," protests Courfeyrac.
"Bahorel threatened to pour all my beer down the sink because I let you be in charge of the music tonight. I had to blackmail him with embarrassing baby pictures." Grantaire shakes his head. "He was such a sweet-looking kid. No idea what happened."
Here's another thing about Emma: she loves parties. She loves people in general, really, and Grantaire's protests that he doesn't really host parties go unheeded. Besides, Emma is his sister, and no matter how much they drive each other up the wall like siblings usually do, he'd go out of his way to accommodate her. His friends aren't made for partying without catastrophe, and Enjolras isn't made for partying at all, so Emma's expectations of a grand old time are usually dashed. But she had this feeling that tonight was going to be a good night, and Jehan is pretty sure that quoting overplayed pop songs must be a family thing.
It's a very typical Les Amis gathering after everyone assembles, meaning that Jehan calculates it's going to take about five minutes before they regress to their middle-school selves, if their middle-school selves enjoyed consuming copious amounts of alcohol. Almost everyone's had a drink or two, and even Marius doesn't look too annoyed that Cosette has left him to debate Disney movies with Courfeyrac.
Sure enough, five minutes later, Courfeyrac yells, "Truth or Dare!" before taking his usual spot on the oldest, most holey chair in the room. There's a collective sigh, but the Amis like tradition, okay, and Truth or Dare is as traditional as drinking games during Enjolras's many speeches. (One shot for every time he says "revolution"? Do you want all of us to get alcohol poisoning?)
Emma pulled Grantaire away into his room ages ago, and Jehan is tasked with interrupting whatever sibling bonding time they were having and convince them to join the game. It's not his fault he's a naturally curious soul. If he manages to catch the last bits of their conversation, he's not complaining. Emma is, as usual, needling Grantaire about his love life (it's on her list of five favorite topics of discussion with Grantaire, along with his career prospects and why he still hasn't seen Supernatural, what is wrong with him). Emma may not be an Ami, but she likes tradition as much as they do.
"So, Bahorel mentioned a Simon?" Emma asks.
Grantaire's snort sounds derisive even through the door. "Bahorel's an idiot." Grantaire's voice drops low, and Jehan can't make out their next few minutes of conversation before Grantaire says, "I don't know, Emma, I'm just afraid I'll ruin it."
"You never told me about him. I know you hate our family, but it's me. Remember? Your sister? The person you're supposed to confide in and play Barbies with?"
"Emma, last time I played Barbies with you, you turned her into Attorney Barbie and made her try to convict me in Ken's murder. I'm pretty sure cutting off all of his hair and clothes doesn't constitute murder. And, like, Emma, I mess things up, okay? I just do, so."
"Shh, shh, you don't mess everything up. I mean, yeah, you mess up a lot of things," Emma laughs, and Jehan can imagine Grantaire glaring at her, "but not everything. Do you love him?"
There's a pause. "I think I do."
"Then why not just tell him? It'd be so easy—"
Before Jehan can hear exactly how easy it would be, Courfeyrac barrels down the hall and knocks on the door, loudly. "If you two don't come out to play truth or dare now, I'm going to start singing. Everyone's banned me from singing already, and it was between Bieber and me, so it must be that bad." He turns to Jehan. "Weren't you supposed to get them?"
Jehan doesn't reply. He's never really considered a world where Grantaire moved on from Enjolras—from day one, it'd been clear that Enjolras wasn't a fixation that could be cured by mere mortal practices, like throwing another guy at Grantaire. He hadn't been too worried when Simon had come into the picture, and besides, Simon isn't really Grantaire's type anyway. He's too Abercrombie model hot, and clean-cut, and perfect, and—actually, Jehan just described Enjolras, but he stopped imagining anyone but Enjolras as Grantaire's type after the first time Grantaire painted the man. As a friend, he probably should be happy Grantaire's finally found someone he can love healthily, but Jehan can't help the burst of irrational anger that flares up because Jehan was wrong, so wrong, and he's never been wrong about love.
Emma opens the door, dragging Grantaire by the wrist behind her. "We're coming, we're coming." Les Amis' Truth or Dare games have an infamous reputation of enlightening everyone about more information that they thought they wanted to know, and if there's any place to interrogate Grantaire about his love life some more, it's here.
Grantaire mouths "save me" to Jehan, but Jehan only shrugs his shoulders helplessly.
Thirty minutes into the game, Courfeyrac has already risked being caught for public indecency, Joly's still holed up in the bathroom after Feuilly dared him to touch mold, and from the way Combeferre and Eponine glanced at each other when Bahorel asked her the kinkiest place she's ever had sex, there may be more to that relationship than meets the eye.
Finally, the evitable happens.
"Enjolras, truth or dare?"
Enjolras shifts uncomfortably, wanting to opt out, but Combeferre elbows him, so he reluctantly coughs out, "Dare." Every time he's chosen Truth in their last five games, he's been questioned about his feelings, and if there's anything Enjolras hates more than social injustice, it's discussing his feelings, especially if said feelings are for Grantaire.
Jehan almost feels bad for doing this, he really does, just not enough to, you know, not do it. "Seven minutes in a closet with R." At Enjolras's panicked expression, Jehan says, "Look, I'm not expecting you two to make out or anything, but I'm really tired of this thing where you guys don't even talk to each other, and you two need to resolve it."
Jehan fixes Enjolras with the best puppy eyes he can muster, and he can see Enjolras visibly melting. Struggling, Enjolras finally pleads desperately, "Can't we do this in private?"
"There's no better time than the present," Combeferre pitches in.
"Really, Combeferre? I thought you'd be on my side."
"Is no one going to ask me how I feel about this?" Grantaire pipes up.
"See, baby brother, you don't really have a choice." Emma pats Grantaire on the shoulder. For someone who's never really liked Enjolras, she seems entirely too enthusiastic for Enjolras and Grantaire to make up. She's known about Grantaire's devotion to Enjolras from the very beginning, but she'd never really seen why Grantaire constantly hurts himself for someone she doesn't think is worth it. "If it helps, it's not like Enjolras has a choice either, so you're in good company."
"Yeah, no, not helping."
Enjolras's shoulders slump. "Look, if we do this, will you leave us alone?"
The room turns into a sea of nodding.
"Fine," Enjolras says, twisting his mouth, "but none of you can listen at the door." He points to all of them in turn. "Don't you even try."
As soon as the door shuts behind him, Courfeyrac jumps up and says, "Oh man, they sure are stupid. Keep talking, everyone, make it seem like we're still playing or something. Prouvaire and I have some idiots to eavesdrop on."
Marius opens and closes his mouth in quick succession before finally saying, "But Enjolras explicitly told us not to listen in."
Bahorel pretends to wipe a tear from the corner of his eye. "Aw, Courfeyrac and Jehan are turning into rebels. I'm so proud of you two."
Jehan should just become a professional spy—he's getting really good at this eavesdropping thing. He tries to make his footsteps as light as possible, and when he presses his ear to the door, he can tell he's caught Grantaire and Enjolras mid-argument.
Enjolras is whispering, but Enjolras just happens to be Enjolras, and his whisper is most people's yell. "I don't see why you don't just show everyone—"
"You know, why—we talked about this, and I really don't think it's a good idea."
"Is this where you refuse to let yourself have nice things? That you're not good enough or some shit? That if other people know, it'll make things real, and God forbid you have to deal with something important to you being real?" Jehan rarely sees Enjolras like this when he's speaking to Grantaire, but he knows he's capable. Although Enjolras tries his darnedest to hide it, he cares about the cynic. His voice is tender as he says, "Other people knowing won't change anything."
"I'm not—this isn't just about me and my complete lack of self-esteem, you know?" Grantaire's voice breaks. "It's, I mean, what if other people don't think I'm good enough?"
Courfeyrac slumps against the door in defeat. "I did not just set up this entire game of Truth or Dare for Enjolras and Grantaire to talk about R's paintings. Seriously, who can resist the seductive, dark temptation of a closet and not make out?"
Jehan slaps a hand against his forehead. "Please don't ever say the words 'seductive, dark temptation' again. You were not made for purple prose. At least they're making up, right? Maybe now meetings can go back to normal."
Courfeyrac mumbles something about his plans being blown to dust.
Remembering what he'd overheard earlier, Jehan says, "Oh, there's something I have to tell you, something important."
Before he can, however, Grantaire's voice suddenly rises. "I don't care what you think, I love—"
"Seriously? Do you really?" Enjolras bites back.
"Okay, so not making up after all," Jehan says, "How did they go from talking about Grantaire's paintings to arguing about Simon anyway? I feel like there's some great irony in this that I should appreciate, but I just want my friends to make up."
Courfeyrac's eyes widen in disbelief. "Grantaire's in love with Simon?"
The door slams as Grantaire comes bursting through, Enjolras hot on his heels. Eponine looks at her phone with a shit-eating grin, ready to demand why they hadn't completed the dare, but Grantaire must be more inebriated than Jehan previously thought because he next thing he knows, his friend is standing on a table, drink in the air, a wide grin on his face. "Does everyone hear that? I'm in love!"
In the corner by the stereo, Combeferre finally manages to convince Bossuet to lay off the T-Pain for a minute before Combeferre dies from bad autotune—Courfeyrac had paid Bossuet to keep the music playing at all costs—and the lull in Courfeyrac's questionable music choices is perfectly timed. The sound reverberates through the room. Emma's shaking her head, and when Enjolras reels back, she's the first one to take his arm to steady him. They make eye contact, and some form of silent communication passes between them before Emma nods almost imperceptibly. Okay, what, Jehan's been on the end of Emma's rants about her brother's unhealthy obsession with Enjolras before. She doesn't like him, never has, and Jehan is missing something, but he doesn't know what the hell it could be.
Grantaire stares at Enjolras defiantly, as if daring him to contradict this declaration. Enjolras stares back, only the slight twitch in his clenched jaw betraying his emotions, looking like he'd rather be anywhere but there.
But then again, Enjolras being emotionally constipated is a tradition, and the Amis sure like their traditions.
Grantaire shows up to their meetings less and less. Without Grantaire as a constant source of dissent and disruption, the meetings usually end early, although Jehan doesn't know whether it's because Enjolras purposely ends them like this or if Grantaire's interjections actually wasted that much time before. The lack of arguments leaves an empty space in the Amis's natural balance. Even Bahorel, supposed tough guy that he is, has professed to missing the cynic with every fiber of his being. He'd denied it later, but Bossuet has it on video. They'll probably have time to disseminate it before Bossuet accidentally loses/breaks/burns his phone again.
One day, when Grantaire finally does show up, he looks positively debauched. Wild hair, swollen lips, shirt askew. Enjolras had arrived just a few minutes earlier, and he glares at Grantaire as he sets up his laptop. Grantaire just smiles serenely and sits in his usual spot, using Enjolras's precarious stack of notes as a footrest.
"Ate something disagreeable, oh fearless leader? Your face looks a little red."
Enjolras growls, no really, and turns back to a piece of notebook paper covered in a mess of scribbles. Grantaire has refused to make any more poster and pamphlet designs until Enjolras apologizes—Enjolras probably would have kicked him out by now, but he's everyone else's favorite drunkard—and Feuilly finds their fight too amusing to offer his services, so Enjolras has resorted to trying art. Unfortunately, the man hasn't an artistic bone in his body, so what probably started out as a halfway-decent collection of lines has turned into what looks like a naked lady with four breasts.
"You can't even condescend to talk to me anymore?"
"You're drunk," Enjolras says, refusing to look at Grantaire. "I'm not talking to you until you're sober."
"Okay, first, that's never actually stopped you before, and two, I'm not actually, so thank you for always assuming that I'm always drunk. You have so little faith in me, Apollo. Really, it's like a stab wound to the heart."
Enjolras looks like he's dying to ask, but Courfeyrac beats him to it. "Where have you been, anyway? You don't usually miss this many meetings."
"Oh, I've been here and there, nothing special. Why, did anyone miss me?"
"Don't listen to Bossuet!" Bahorel shouts across the café. "Whatever he shows you on his phone, don't believe it's me. It's just my uglier, more sentimental twin. I didn't miss you. You mean nothing to me, you fucker."
Eponine hits the back of his head. "Oh shut up, Bahorel. We all know you're a teddy bear."
"I think Enjolras has been missing you…" Courfeyrac grins and turns his chair towards Grantaire. "Or is he going to deny that too?"
Still refusing to make eye contact with Grantaire, Enjolras says, "There's nothing to deny."
"Really, Enjolras? Are we still fighting?"
"What fight? There was no fight. There was me giving you advice and you refusing to take it."
Grantaire chuckles darkly. "Advice? Is that what we're calling it now?"
Enjolras and Grantaire are both well-versed in the act of being stubborn, but one of them usually caves after a week or so. To be honest, Jehan has never seen them in such agreement before, even if the agreement is not to agree. It'd almost a beautiful show of solidarity.
Grantaire shakes his head. "Fuck this, I'm going home." Jehan almost wants to hold him there, to shut Grantaire and Enjolras in a closet again, but with the way they're acting now, they'll skip the conversation altogether and jump straight to the attempted murder part.
Before he leaves, Grantaire sends a few texts on his phone, making sure Enjolras can see. Jehan almost wants to slap Enjolras for being cliché enough to rise to the bait, but stupid kids in love will be stupid kids in love.
"Who're you texting? Simon?" Enjolras calls out acidly. "He's a distraction from the Cause."
"Oh, shut up. You love Cosette. And you know I don't believe in your cause anyway." Grantaire smiles lasciviously. "As a matter of fact, I did. Told him to wait for me at home. Got a problem with that?"
Jehan swears that Grantaire's practically skipping out the door as Enjolras's draw drops.
As soon as he's out the door, Enjolras phone beeps with a text. His eyes scan it rapidly before the throws the phone on the table with a muttered curse and an exasperated sigh of "Grantaire."
The entire meeting, when they're planning their next protest against police brutality, Enjolras is completely out of it, fidgeting with the hem of his shirt and drumming his fingers on the table. His phone receives a stream of texts, and with each quick read, Enjolras seems more and more distracted. If Simon were right about one thing, it's that Enjolras's hair definitely gets puffier when he's agitated.
Combeferre lays a hand on his arm and asks, "Are you okay?"
Enjolras motions to his phone and grits his teeth. "Lamarque's telling me that there may be problems with getting the permit for this weekend. Do you guys mind if I step out? I should really meet him to talk about this."
They see him off with waves and "good luck's." He's barely out the door before Eponine says, "You know what I just realized? We're R's best friends, and we've never really met his new boyfriend."
Courfeyrac sets his drink down. "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
"It's time to meet Simon?" Feuilly suggests.
"Group field trip!" Bahorel yells.
"I can pick locks," offers Bossuet. "Well, actually, I accidentally knock the door own before I finish picking the lock, but, you know, it works anyway."
Combeferre grimaces. "Maybe we shouldn't mob Grantaire's apartment…"
But everyone's already piling into their respective modes of transportation in an unofficial race to see who can invade Grantaire's privacy first. What are friends for, really, if not for mobbing other friends' apartments in an epic quest for love?
Grantaire's apartment isn't the nicest—the walls are too thin and the front door doesn't even lock properly—and those are definitely the sounds coming out of that bedroom. Not even, like, sweet, gentle sex. No, this is the rough that kind leaves bruises. Maybe, if the Amis were a different group of people with some sense of propriety, the situation could be construed as awkward. But these are the Amis, and they pride themselves on their crazy. Bahorel actually lets out barking laughter before Feuilly has the good sense to kick his shin and shut him up.
Someone's muffled voice moans, "Grantaire," and Marius blushes to the roots of his hair. Actually that voice sounds a lot like—
"Should we interrupt them?" Eponine asks.
There are ten people piled against the door with their ears pressed against its paint-peeled surface, and the fact that the couple inside the bedroom has yet to notice is a testament to how involved in their coupling they are. Courfeyrac has somehow wormed through the mob to make his way next to Jehan, and he whispers, "Would it be awkward if I just opened the door right now?"
"Courfeyrac, would you want your friends to walk in on you having sex?" Jehan says. "Okay, you know what, don't answer that."
"But I want to see if this Simon is actually worth fighting with Enjolras over."
"Um, guys," Bossuet says tentatively on the other side of the mob, "I may have done something to the door. I don't actually know what? But it's me, so are you really surprised?"
Indeed, the door is shaking on its hinges, and their combined weight only makes it worse. Joly lunges toward the doorknob in a desperate attempt to save the door, but it's too little too late, and it falls in front of them, landing on the carpet with a soft thump.
The man in Grantaire's bed is definitely blond alright. Jehan even thinks that it's Simon for a minute. At least that would make sense.
But there's no mistaking that yelp. It's the give-me-back-my-Nutella yelp, the don't-make-get-off-this-politics-forum yelp, and now, apparently, it's the shit-I-just-got-caught-in-the-passionate-throes-of -sex yelp.
Enjolras dives beneath the covers in order to save what's left of his dignity, and Grantaire lies there stunned for a few minutes before following suit. The rest of the Amis are split on whether to laugh, jump up and down in joy, stand stunned, or back out into the living room in order to save their innocent, innocent souls. It's a standoff to see who's going to make the first move, but finally, comprehension dawns on Jehan. "It was never Simon, was it?" he asks slowly. "Were you two even fighting at all?"
Suddenly, Jehan remembers the texts, the way Enjolras seemed more annoyed by Simon than he really ought to have been, the way Emma seemed to do a 180-degree turn in her opinion of Enjolras. He'd never been as astute as Combeferre, but he'd always thought he could pick up on love at least. Trust Enjolras and Grantaire to ruin that for him.
It's too bad he can't even hold a grudge against them.
Courfeyrac stamps his foot. "I thought we were friends! Friends don't lie to each other."
Enjolras sighs and runs his hand through his hair. "Can we put on some clothes first? You know, before the interrogation?"
Grantaire presses his body against Enjolras's beneath the blanket, and Enjolras allowing Grantaire to do so is so strange a sight that Courfeyrac actually has to rub his eyes to make sure he isn't dreaming. "Maybe we shouldn't," Grantaire suggests, "I'm kind of liking this."
"Oh, you know you love it."
They're staring at each other fondly, seeming to already have forgotten that their friends are standing in the doorway. Jehan had wanted his friends to return to normal, and no, this isn't normal at all, but maybe this could be their new normal. He hopes it is. Jehan shakes his head in amusement as he closes the door to give them some privacy.
Enjolras's face is pinched as he forces the words out, but he can't deny his friends anything, especially now that it's been established that he has been lying to them for a while. "It started when we were at that marriage equality march last October—"
"That was eight months ago!"
"—and it just…it just happened."
"Yeah, we magically fell into bed, and all our clothes magically disappeared," Grantaire says sarcastically, but the fact that he's stroking Enjolras's still-messy hair softens the sarcasm somewhat. Enjolras leans into the touch, and Jehan resists the urge to take a picture. "Happens to the best of us, really."
"We didn't want to say anything in case we broke up before anything really happened," Enjolras explains. Grantaire shoots Enjolras a look, and there's probably a story in there about Grantaire's depression and his believing that he's not good enough, but Jehan knows when to pry and when to let relationships work themselves out on their own. Even now, Grantaire touches Enjolras like he can't believe the other man is allowing him to. Their relationship is a work-in-progress, sure, but whose isn't?
Remembering the conversation he overheard when they were both in the closet together, Jehan can't believe he didn't pick up on all the hints. No, he can't believe Courfeyrac, who's practically the king of overreacting, didn't notice.
"But it's been eight months." Courfeyrac still sounds wounded.
"We just didn't know how you'd react," Grantaire says. "And when you thought I was with Simon, I just couldn't resist playing along. Simon's nice and all, but." He waves a hand in the air as if to indicate a multitude of faults that he can't properly articulate.
Enjolras frowns. "Did you really think R would go out with a Republican?"
Grantaire snorts and says to Enjolras, "Just to spite you, I probably would. But he was too…not you, anyway."
And that just about sums up Simon's biggest fault.
Combeferre's been watching the proceedings with raised eyebrows. It's no secret that although he and Grantaire are good friends, he thinks the other man is a bit of an irresponsible asshole at times. Jehan doesn't know how he feels about the way his best friend is tenderly holding Grantaire's hand or the way their legs are pressed together like it's second nature. He clears his throat suddenly, and his friends turn to him, anticipating.
He and Grantaire lock eyes, and it'd be a pretty funny face-off if Jehan wasn't so worried that Combeferre would disapprove. Combeferre's opinion means a lot to Enjolras, and though Combeferre wasn't opposed to the idea of these two being together before, he's never been confronted with their actually being together, has he? Even Grantaire looks worried, and his smile falters for a minute.
"If you hurt my friend, I'm going to hurt you," he threatens. And then, Combeferre, sweet, pacifistic Combeferre who wouldn't hurt a fly, says to Grantaire, who boxes in his free time and enjoys getting into bar fights with Bahorel, "I could probably take you."
A moment passes as Grantaire tries to figure out whether this is a joke. Finally, he cracks a small smile. Understanding passes between them, and though Grantaire tries to hide it, it's clear that Combeferre's subtle approval counts for more than he can express.
"What are you waiting for? Kiss!" Courfeyrac yells. The chant picks up, and a rousing chorus of "kiss, kiss, kiss" fills the apartment. It's all very Disney-movie-esque, and Jehan wouldn't be surprised if flowers started falling from the ceiling and a musical montage started playing.
Grantaire attacks Enjolras, his lips trying to capture the blond's like a particularly enthusiastic puppy. Enjolras attempts to push him off, his face burning as he remembers his expectant group of friends. Jehan doesn't think he's trying very hard anyway, and when Grantaire finally succeeds, Jehan's ready with pen and paper to immortalize the moment.
He almost starts with words, but this time, he tries to do it Grantaire's way. See, Grantaire's the artist, but even Jehan can draw two stick figures holding hands, join them with a messy heart, and call it a masterpiece.
Courfeyrac (Sent at 11:00 PM): y didn't u tell me? im ur best friend well maybe tied w/ combeferre. wait im tied with combeferre rite? i bake u cookies u dickwad.
okay burnt cookies once. its the thought that counts.
y rnt u replying.
ha, see wat i did there. rnt you. like r. like grantaire r. shit im so good at puns u dont understand.
R YOU HAVING SEX IS THAT WHY YOU RN'T SAYING ANYTHING
haha see r. its funny. laugh
"I never meant to make you feel like I didn't take you seriously. You're just so…you," Montparnasse says. Their talk is long overdue, and now that Grantaire can openly make doe eyes at Enjolras—and actually get some in return—Jehan decides that it's way past time for he and Montparnasse to discuss exactly what's wrong with them. Montparnasse chuckles around the cigarette in his mouth. "I'm never underestimating the powers of love again. Or you." 'Parnasse breathes out the cigarette smoke. Jehan knows that he's stressed—he's not the best at expressing his feelings—but really, the smell is horrible.
"To be fair, I didn't actually do anything…"
"But you saw it when I couldn't. I know that I'm an asshole sometimes, but I've decided from now on that I'm going to listen to you." Montparnasse's face softens, and Jehan doubts that anyone else would be able to see this other side of Montparnasse, but he does, and frankly, this is why they work. "But you have to tell me what's wrong, okay? Use those words of yours."
Jehan had never thought that he'd become entangled with someone like Montparnasse. He's rarely sweet, he's probably involved with a couple of gangs, and he's an all-around bad influence, according to almost all of Jehan's friends. But Montparnasse probably never saw Jehan coming either, and, really, love is an unpredictable fucker anyway. Their relationship is a work-in-progress too, and Jehan's going to fight the odds until the fight leaves his body.
"You are allowed to be an asshole once in a while, you know. If we keep bottling things up, we're never going to resolve anything. And I can take it. Look at my friends."
"I'll try my best to be a part-time douchebag," Montparnasse says sarcastically, but there's only fondness in his tone.
Jehan shifts in his seat awkwardly. "Now that we're trying to not suck at communication, can I just—this one thing?"
Montparnasse shrugs. "Sure."
Jehan nods at the cigarette. "I, uh, I actually hate it when you smoke." Jehan Prouvaire has always loved words, but he's never been so scared of them before. Words communicate undeniable truths, and if he and Montparnasse can't start with this tiny first step of a truth, their masterpiece may crumble before it's even completed.
Montparnasse gapes at him, probably wondering why he never mentioned it before. Well, if Jehan knew, they wouldn't have problems, would they? He's trying, they both need to try, and if Montparnasse wants Jehan to use his words, so be it. Montparnasse is probably going to regret it one day, when he realizes that getting Jehan to talk is infinitely easier than getting him to shut up.
After a moment, Montparnasse snuffs out the cigarette silently, and Jehan swears there's a small, amused smile playing at the edges of his mouth.