In which Grantaire is Audrey, Enjolras is Seymour, and Félix Tholomyès is the evil dentist, because why not, and because screw that guy in particular.

CW for domestic violence, though not shown.


IV.
"Suddenly Seymour"
Little Shop of Horrors

God, he shouldn't have been doing this. This was stupid. He was going to pay for this, one way or another, tomorrow, when it was over. Because it wasn't possible he'd get away with it.

People like him didn't get away with anything. Let alone leaving.

Grantaire shivered and wrapped his arms around his chest, staring at the gate in front of him. Rain pounded the Rue de Bac, cold as hell with a November wind whistling between the buildings. His thin tee-shirt clung to his chest, and his matted hair plastered to his forehead, dripping freezing water between his eyes. He'd have stuck it out, any other night. He deserved everything that had happened, he should have stuck it out.

But it was so fucking cold.

And he'd come all this way.

He gritted his teeth, swallowed his pride, and buzzed the intercom.

A pause—a long one, it was two in the morning—and then a voice, sleepy and metallic through the speaker. "Who is it?"

Grantaire froze, suddenly terrified. What was he playing at? He couldn't…

"Two in the morning is a hell of a time for—" the voice began.

"It's Grantaire," he said, in a voice he barely recognized. "Can I come up?"

The voice went silent, and the gate buzzed open immediately.

Grantaire stumbled gratefully through the gate and into the tiny foyer of the apartment building. He paused a moment, doubled over, catching his breath. He'd all but run from his and Félix's place on the Boulevard Alexandre Dumas, which in the rain had wiped him out. His chest ached, and as the shock faded, he began to realize how much he hurt.

He hadn't thought of it, really, when it was happening. He didn't much, anymore.

His black eye was worse than he'd thought, and as he pressed his mouth tight together, the taste of blood from his split lip brushed against his tongue. His side, too, ached, and as the memory of Félix's sharp kick against his ribs flashed back, he clenched his fists and forced it away. No. That was not happening now. It had happened before, but it wasn't happening now.

What was happening now was, he was going to get himself up these stairs. After that, he'd figure it out.

By the time he made it to the third landing, Enjolras was waiting for him in the doorway.

It was strange, seeing Enjolras outside the Sorbonne. Grantaire had never seen him this late at night, nor dressed this way, looking the polar opposite of put together. Enjolras wore a crewneck sweatshirt, gray with the university name printed across the front, and sweatpants with the logo of his lycée on the thigh. His golden hair was a wreck, sticking up in unfathomable directions as if he'd been repeatedly carding his fingers through it, struggling to put together a thesis statement or a philosophical argument so long after dark. But his blue eyes were wide-awake, stunned. Grantaire's chest tightened as he tried, then failed to meet Enjolras' eyes.

"Jesus, R," Enjolras said. "What happened?"

Grantaire looked at the floor. "I'm sorry it's late," he said.

Enjolras stared another moment, then sprang into action.

"Come in, shit, you've got to be freezing. Sit down, hang on a second—"

He ushered Grantaire into the living room and almost bolted back into the bedroom.

Grantaire carefully removed his soaking-wet shoes, looking around. He knew where Enjolras lived, but had never been here before. At first, they hadn't known each other well enough for that. They'd met on the debate team their first year at the Sorbonne: Enjolras the charismatic, unapproachable star of the team, Grantaire the disrespectful third-stringer who sat in the back and made rude remarks when he thought of them. The walls had gradually fallen between them, but by then Grantaire had started seeing Félix Tholomyès, casually and then seriously, and Félix forbade Grantaire to visit Enjolras alone. Said he didn't want Grantaire hanging around someone like that. Jealousy, he figured.

If Félix could see Grantaire now, he'd kill him.

It was a figure of speech, when Grantaire thought it at first.

But then he wasn't so sure.

Grantaire shuddered and sat on the very end of the futon, his thighs barely touching the fabric.

Enjolras' flat was—as Grantaire had expected—minimalist and spotless. His bookshelves were packed full and alphabetized, first by author and then by title within author. The futon sat opposite them, near the desk where Enjolras had evidently been working when Grantaire rang. The desk lamp was burning, and the laptop was open, though the screen had gone to sleep by now. Beside it, a copy of Foucault was balanced open with Enjolras' phone as a paperweight, showing a heavily highlighted page two-thirds through. He had a paper due in three days, Grantaire recalled—Enjolras had mentioned it the other day, in passing.

Enjolras returned with a thick down comforter in his arms, which he handed to Grantaire before sitting on the opposite end of the futon.

"Get warm," he said. He pulled his knees to his chest, as if he were the one who'd been out in the rain.

Grantaire held the blanket on his knees, but made no move to use it.

He didn't deserve that.

He shouldn't have left Félix. It was stupid, to think that he could. He deserved what had happened to him that night. The black eye, the split lip, the bruises along his ribs that he knew would start feeling worse soon, once the cold wore away. He even deserved the end, finding himself thrown out of their apartment in the cold and the wind and the rain at two in the morning, without a coat.

He deserved that. Because Grantaire was a mess. He was lucky Félix loved him. He was lucky anyone did.

People like Grantaire didn't deserve to be treated kindly, which, he assumed, was why no one ever had treated him kindly before. Grantaire knew he should have stayed on the front steps, shivering and waiting for Félix to let him back in, so he could apologize through tears for whatever he'd done. That was how it had always gone, in the past.

But it was so cold, and it was raining so hard, and something inside Grantaire had snapped.

Enjolras bit his lip, then pressed a fist to his mouth. He looked to be debating whether or not he could speak. But when Grantaire persisted in saying nothing, he seemed to decide he had to.

"R, I know you care about Félix, but—"

"Here," Grantaire said, and handed the blanket back to Enjolras. "I'll just get it dirty."

"Oh, for fuck's sake," Enjolras said, then snatched the blanket back and draped it over Grantaire's shoulders himself.

The thick down felt like a dream against Grantaire's skin, damp and chilled. It took the sting out of the cold at once, and he felt his shivering begin to subside. He pulled the blanket around him tighter, cocooning himself in it, away from the world. It smelled of Enjolras. The sharp bite of his soap, Irish Spring, the ghost of the Gauloises he smoked occasionally in times of stress, of that indefinable something that was simply Enjolras, simply him.

Enjolras wrapped one arm around Grantaire's shoulders. The heat of his body penetrated straight through the blanket, and made Grantaire shiver.

"Hey," Enjolras said. "Hey, lift up your head, R. Look at me."

Grantaire, mutely, did as he was told. Enjolras sat almost hip to hip with him. Beneath the messy sweep of his hair, his blue eyes were kind, and gentle.

"It's okay," Enjolras said. "I know things were bad, but they're going to be okay."

Grantaire shook his head. It was hard to tell, even to himself, whether he were shivering or disagreeing. "They won't," he said. "I fucked up. Jesus, Apollo, he's pissed, he's so pissed."

Enjolras' hand tightened slightly on Grantaire's shoulder, as if it wanted to form a fist. He took a small breath, then let it out, releasing his grip at the same time.

"And I have to go back there," Grantaire said, rambling now but unable to help it, "and when I go back, how am I supposed to explain, he'll be—"

"No," Enjolras said. He took both of Grantaire's hands in his. Confident, now. The way only Enjolras could be. "You don't have to go back. You can stay here with me until you decide what you want to do. But you don't have to go back to that piece of shit."

Grantaire felt the tears building, fast and inevitable. Enjolras didn't understand. How could he? Look at him. He was beautiful. He was brilliant. He was confident and ambitious and perfect. He was easy to love. Not like Grantaire, who was lucky Félix even condescended to touch him at all. Félix could snap his fingers and Grantaire would do anything he asked, because no one else would ever love him, no one else ever could, that was obvious.

And it didn't make sense that Enjolras was being so kind to him, and it didn't make sense that Enjolras was still holding his hands, and it didn't make sense, fuck, it didn't.

"I can't stay here," Grantaire said.

Enjolras shook his head. "Yes, you can," he said. "I'm here for you, R. I promise."

Fuck. Grantaire was really going to cry. He was. Right now. Here in front of Enjolras, who was being kind to him for no fucking goddamn reason, who was being so gentle and so understanding and why, why would he do that—

And the tears started, and there was nothing else for it. Grantaire hated himself for it, his shoulders shaking with tears. Before he knew what was happening, Enjolras wrapped his arms around Grantaire, inside the cocoon of the blanket, and the tears came faster then, in the embrace of those lean, strong arms. Grantaire buried his head in Enjolras' chest and sobbed, just sobbed, until it ached and his head spun and he had no tears left to cry.

He felt empty, exhausted, something else he couldn't define.

Safe, he realized suddenly.

He felt safe.

What business did he have feeling safe?

Grantaire sat up, retreating back to his edge of the futon. "You don't have to do this," he said. "I know you want me to leave, I shouldn't have come, I'll go—"

"I don't want you to leave," Enjolras said. "I don't." His voice wavered, and now it was his turn to look away. "R, you deserve so much more than this. If you knew how much it's been killing me to see how he treats you, and I tried to say to you, I tried…"

He swore and drove his fist into his thigh. Grantaire flinched and drew back.

He knew in his head he shouldn't be afraid, that Enjolras was only angry with himself, that Enjolras would never hurt him, but still, he couldn't help it, thinking of the way Félix had—

Enjolras turned white, seeing how Grantaire had inched back. His mouth opened slightly, and he looked about to stammer out an inelegant apology. Then, sensing—correctly—that Grantaire really did not want to talk about it, Enjolras slipped his hands under his own thighs. A conciliatory posture.

I didn't mean it. I would never.

You're safe. I'm sorry.

He couldn't have done anything that would mean more to Grantaire.

"What do you need tonight?" Enjolras asked.

It was so hard to believe that Enjolras was genuine.

Grantaire wanted so badly to believe it.

"It's really okay if I sleep here?" Grantaire asked, in a very small voice. "I won't be in your way?"

Enjolras nodded. "It's more than okay. Let me find you something dry to wear, and you can sleep in my bed so you—"

"Don't be fucking stupid, I—"

"No, it's fine," Enjolras interrupted, already moving back into the bedroom. "I've got another two hours of work to do anyway, so I wasn't going to sleep. I'm behind as all shit. Here…"

He was lost, briefly, to the closet, searching for something Grantaire could wear. It would be a tough search. Grantaire was three inches taller and twenty pounds heavier than Enjolras, but sweats were forgiving, and tee-shirts ran large.

Grantaire, still wrapped in the blanket, watched softly as Enjolras, without asking any questions or expecting anything in return, turned his flat and his life upside-down to make room for Grantaire in both of them.

He didn't deserve this. But he wanted to become the kind of person who did.

#

The next morning, Grantaire awoke in Enjolras' bed. He didn't open his eyes for a long moment, his head half-buried in the pillow, breathing in deep. The sheets smelled like Enjolras. The tee-shirt and sweats felt like him. The whole flat seemed to contain the essence of Enjolras, like a faint mist, like a ghost.

Nothing had ever felt more comforting. He smiled.

His face ached, the bruises along his ribs shooting pain now, as he'd known they would, but his smile shone bright despite that.

After a moment, he pulled himself out of bed and crossed into the flat's only other room.

The curtains were still open in the living room, and thick morning light spilled gold across the floor. Enjolras was curled up on the futon, underneath a throw blanket that was too short to cover his feet and ankles. He had no pillow, but had folded one arm beneath his head and slept on his own forearm. The same heavily annotated book of Foucault lay on the floor near his outstretched hand, pages slightly crushed against the floor.

A little light reading before bed, Grantaire thought faintly.

Grantaire hadn't said a word, but Enjolras shifted under the blanket, then opened his eyes. He stretched slightly, then sat up with the blanket still around his shoulders. Seeing Grantaire in the doorway, he smiled.

"Morning," he said, and ran the back of his hand across his eyes. "You sleep okay?"

Grantaire nodded. "Really good. Listen, I'm sorry I fucked up your morning—"

"Grantaire, if you apologize one more time, I'm going to make you sit through a sixty-slide PowerPoint about how not-mad I am. I'll use a laser pointer and everything."

He laughed. "Point taken."

Enjolras grinned. His smile was the most beautiful thing Grantaire had ever woken up to.

"But…but thanks," Grantaire said, and bit his lip. "Seriously."

"It's nothing," Enjolras said with a wave of his hand. He walked toward the flat's small kitchenette, pouring water into his old coffeepot and then tipping that into the tank. "Coffee?"

"Yeah," Grantaire said. "Thanks."

On the bedside table in Enjolras' bedroom, Grantaire's phone vibrated, a series of quick buzzes—call, not text. Grantaire walked back toward it, checking the name.

Incoming call from: Félix Tholomyès.

Grantaire paused a minute.

Then, without saying a word, he hit "decline," blocked the number, turned off the phone, and left the room to join Enjolras in the kitchen.