Fourteen Years Ago
" 'Ferre! Get in here! I wanna pick a movie and I need your help."
At the sound of Enjolras' shout, Combeferre turns to look at his other friend standing in front of the oven. Courf is intently staring at the timer above the stove and doesn't even return his look to respond.
"Go help him choose. I'll bring the pizza down when it's done."
"Are you sure you're ok up here without me?" Combeferre asks. "Wouldn't want to leave you to burn the house down in my absence."
"Screw off," and Courfeyrac, literal five-year-old that he is, sticks his tongue out at Combeferre. 'Ferre flips him the bird and saunters off to the stairs, ignoring the other boy's mock gasp of outrage.
Combeferre finds the third member of their sleepover party downstairs in front of the flat screen, trying to choose a movie between the never-ending DVD collection and digital orders Courfeyrac and his parents have queued up. Enjolras is flipping through lists of documentaries On Demand with impressive speed.
"I have it narrowed down to one about the First Nations history with colonialism in Canada and one about the bloodiest revolutionaries throughout history," he says as a way of greeting. Combeferre groans.
"Enj, we do a lot of that on a regular basis. Tonight's special, we should watch something fun."
Enjolras, at fifteen, is not yet so grown up to be above pouting (he also knows what an angelic visage his pout is; 'Ferre thinks at least three girls have written poems about it throughout their middle school years.)
"What do you suggest then?"
Combeferre grabs the remote and exits out of the On Demand que. Then he turns around to rummage in the bins behind them under the coffee table.
"Oh God," he hears Enj mutter, but he ignores him and pulls out the VHS he was looking for.
"Can we watch this?" he asks. Enjolras tries to give him a hard stare, he tries his hardest, 'Ferre can tell, but 'Ferre is also pretty good at getting what he wants when he decides to use his many charms (big eyes and dark eyebrows work wonders when logic won't).
Enjolras relents. "Fine. But don't try to pretend we both don't know why you want to watch that movie in particular."
Combeferre's stomach does a flip; he busies himself with prying the VHS out of its case and placing it reverently in the player. He is further saved from having to answer because Courfeyrac comes down with the pizza dish in one hand and paper plates and cups balanced in the other.
"Food's ready!" he chirps. "And it's not even slightly burnt." When Combeferre doesn't immediately rise to the bait (still getting his flustered-ness under control) Courf tries again. "Combeferre. Note that the house still remains standing around us." And Combeferre does turn at that, unable to help but smile at Courfeyrac's dramatic flourishes. He pointedly ignores Enjolras' equally pointed look, turning on the VHS player instead.
"Ooooooooooooooh!" Courf squeals. "The Rescuers Down Under, my favourite!" He runs over as fast as he can with the food in his hands and sets it down to squeeze the fuzzy blue pillow, a staple at all sleepovers he hosts (it's long enough for the three boys to all use to sleep, and it feels like what sleeping on clouds must feel like to Combeferre.)(Of course he knows you can't sleep on clouds but he's always wished you could.)
"I wanted to watch a documentary, but 'Ferre said we had to watch something special because tonight is 'important'." Enjolras is still pouting, but it's all fun and games now. Courfeyrac's eyes soften at Enjolras' words, but he doesn't say anything. Combeferre has always been able to read his two best friends better than even all the library books he checks out, and just as quickly. Courf doesn't have to say thank you, it's there to read in his intense gaze.
'Ferre nods to Courfeyrac, not wanting to make the moment weightier than it needs to be. Tonight is special: it's the last night the three boys are going to be living this close to each other. Courfeyrac's family is moving across town in a week, and Enjolras leaves tomorrow for his summer vacation home in Cape Cod. Tonight is the last night the three of them will be together for the bulk of the summer, and in the fall Courf will be in a different school district. And they will all begin high school. Combeferre can't help but feel like everything is changing, like the world has just started spinning a tad too fast and he has to run so as not to trip and fall off the edge.
But he doesn't want to think about the impending goodbyes just yet and it's clear the others don't either: Enjolras stands to dim the lights and grab blankets while Courf keeps staring at Combeferre with soft and slightly sad brown eyes. Then they sit down to watch the Disney movie, trying to pretend that things aren't changing for a little while longer.
It's hours later, and Combeferre is still thinking about the look Courf gave him and what it might mean. He is fluent in the language that is Courfeyrac – he could probably teach a whole workshop on what Courf says with his eyes alone – but what has quickly been dubbed as 'The Look' in his mind is puzzling him. Combeferre doesn't like to be puzzled. Not for too long, at least, and certainly not where Courfeyrac is concerned. 'Ferre can't help the sigh that escapes him: as if he's been anything but puzzled in regard to Courfeyrac lately.
He stares at the other boy sleeping beside him, watching the steady rise and fall of his chest. Courfeyrac always breathes so high and fast because that's how he always talks (yes 'Ferre knows his breathing patterns, shut up!) but it is mesmerising to watch the deeper breaths that come with sleep. It is mesmerising to watch Courfeyrac period, but Combeferre doesn't let himself do that often, hasn't let himself do that since the end of seventh grade when he realized why he was so captivated.
'Ferre studies his crush now, imaging what it might be like to touch Courf's bouncy curls, so much darker and looser than Enjolras', and far longer than Combeferre's own hair. He traces with his eyes the slope of Courf's nose to his lips. Lingering there feels too intimate, even now in the middle of this still night where no one can catch him. Back up to the nose then. Combeferre thinks it looks like the noses all the Renaissance sculptors gave their masterpieces, strong and long and straight.
Parceling Courfeyrac's face into pieces like this makes it easier to take in and appreciate (in those rare stolen moments Combeferre feels he can admire his friend without being too creepy.) Otherwise, everything that is Courfeyrac completely overwhelms 'Ferre. Courf is so big and bright and boisterous, so free and loud that he is overwhelming even without the whole "feelings" aspect added in. And when it is added in…well, 'Ferre parcels his friend's attractiveness into individual parts and pieces, otherwise he will be overwhelmed and will completely give away his feelings with one look or ruin his and Courfeyrac's relationship for good. Or both. Both is a distinct possibility.
Courfeyrac stirs slightly and Combeferre freezes. Is he waking up? No, the other boy just rolls over and buries himself further into his sleeping bag. He is now face to face with Combeferre, and just close enough that, had they been awake, it would have been too close to be comfortable. But they're asleep, or Courf is rather, and 'Ferre has it bad for one of his best friends that is soon to be moving away. Nothing could make any of this more uncomfortable for Combeferre. Maybe he's just destined to always feel this way about things.
He stares at Courf for a moment more, wondering if he dare move – whether he wants to be further or closer he is unsure. In the end, he just closes his eyes, feeling Courfeyrac's warm breath brush past his nose. Enjolras is snoring on the other side of Courf, but they both have enough practice tuning him out that Courf stays asleep and Combeferre falls into sleep more readily and happily than he is sure he will for a while to come.