The rain outside the hospital window kept coming down harder, and Enjolras found himself mildly envious of it. The freedom. It was poetic in a way Jehan would have sighed happily over if Enjolras shared his thoughts, but the rain could just do what it wanted, what it needed to. Combeferre would have been happy to explain the exact science, but Enjolras' mind chased after the metaphor. The rain made him think of tears and how he wished he could just break down and cry. He didn't give a shit about masculine stereotypes; that certainly wasn't holding him back. The tears just wouldn't come. It would have been a welcome release, but he found himself every bit of the marble his friends teased him about.
Every time he looked at Grantaire, pale and still, he wanted to cry. Every time he realized that the last words he'd said to him that evening were. "Don't be late." It wasn't as if Enjolras didn't tell Grantaire he loved him. They exchanged those words all the time. Why couldn't that have been what he called, distractedly, as Grantaire headed out the door?
Enjolras stared out the window at the rooftops of surrounding buildings, wishing it were the familiar sights of Paris he saw. He wanted to be home. The exchange program had been amazing; he'd had some incredible experiences. Until the attack, Enjolras had been enjoying it thoroughly. But now he felt totally out of his element. He had never mastered speaking English without a strong accent, which Grantaire teased him about but assured him was charming. But he didn't want to be a novelty; he didn't want people to try on his behalf to speak broken French at him. He wanted people to stop mangling his name and for someone to assure him that he wasn't going to have to return home a widower. They weren't married, but that was exactly what he would have been sans legal ties. Grantaire was his life, and though it was cliché, he had taken that entirely for granted. Grantaire wouldn't leave; he'd always be there. Enjolras had assumed that was the way things were. Until an outside force had intervened and now here they were. In the midst of a healthcare system he didn't understand. Joly could explain some of the details, but definitely not all. And that just made Enjolras' eyes burn harder with tears that would not fall.
He lowered his head onto the bed, on a clear spot on the mattress near Grantaire's shoulder. It wasn't the most comfortable position, but short of climbing into the bed, which surely would have been frowned upon, it was the closest he could get. He held Grantaire's hand, focusing on the warmth, the occasional twitch. Grantaire's fingers never squeezed his purposefully in return, but Enjolras could pretend for the moment. He could close his eyes and imagine the hiss of the ventilator was anything but a machine keeping the love of his life breathing while his lung healed from a knife wound. That Grantaire wasn't waking because he was exhausted from a late night, not drugged to aid his recovery and ease him through alcohol withdrawal. Enjolras knew the twitches might well be part of the withdrawal process, but he couldn't let himself focus on that. He just had to know his love was alive.
After what seemed like hours, Enjolras felt a hand on his shoulder. He expected it to be Marius or Joly, but he looked up into the most welcome face he could have seen. "Ferre."
Combeferre didn't ask how he was or even how Grantaire was. He just pulled Enjolras into a hug, running his fingers through Enjolras' hair like he'd done when they were children and Enjolras needed comfort. Enjolras held on tightly, melting into the embrace. Combeferre always knew exactly what he needed, and he must have come straight to the hospital from the airport and he must have been exhausted. But despite all that, he'd come to Enjolras first. "Merci, frere," he whispered. "Tum'as manqué."
"Moi aussi," Combeferre replied, his grip not loosening. After a moment, he stopped stroking Enjolras' hair and simply held him, humming an old tune softly. The one they'd loved as children and comforted each other with as they'd become adults. And, finally, that broke Enjolras. It was a choked sob at first, but then he was able to relax and cry into Combeferre's shoulder, knowing Combeferre would never judge, but just hold him and let him have this release.
It wasn't all awkward chats with his boyfriend's dead father. Sometimes, in the moments of clarity that surfaced between disturbing dreams, Grantaire's mind took him to other places. Familiar ones. So familiar, in fact, they would have been boring if he considered them as events of the every day. Only the little things that changed, the people who joined him, made it any different.
This time, he was sitting on the L train on his way back from a friend's loft in Brooklyn, waiting to get back into Manhattan so he could transfer to the C train and get back home to Enjolras. They didn't have many evenings when Marius was out of the apartment all night. Just another moment in his life. Only this time, as he sat doodling on the sketchpad he always carried with him for such occasions, a woman sat down beside him and put her arm around his shoulder. "Oh, Rayne."
Grantaire had started. "Rayne" was the only version of his first name he let anyone call him, but he was very selective about who did. Technically, the Amis were allowed; they just didn't. Maybe Enjolras, a few times. But it had been a nickname given to him by his sister when they were children; she'd been learning his name and "Rayne" stuck. The only one who called him that regularly since his sister died was...the woman sitting beside him. Who was, as far as Grantaire knew, still in Paris. And definitely hadn't been on the train with him that day or any other in New York.
"Aimee?" Grantaire frowned. "Considering my previous visitors have been, um, kind of dead, forgive me if I'm not overjoyed to see you."
"Well, perhaps the situation calls for a mother's touch." Aimee Duchene had been a nurse at the local hospital where Grantaire had spent too much time in the emergency department as a child. She'd reported his family several times, though they always dodged the system. Still, she fought for him, taking him under her wing, going against the rules to find him outside of the hospital and offer a safe haven. She'd been the only adult he'd trusted when he was young, and he still viewed her as a mother figure. She had adopted him in everything but legalities and name.
"What are you going to do, talk me into living?" Grantaire shrugged. "Already agreed to that. I honestly don't know why I'm still here, in this...weirdness."
"Maybe I'm not the one you should be asking," Aimee offered, nudging her glasses back up her nose.
"Then why are you here?"
"It's your head, mon petit," she reminded him. "Have you seen her?"
"Her?" Grantaire asked, though he knew exactly what she was getting at. When she only smiled cryptically at him, he asked, "You mean Michele?"
"Yes, your little flower." Aimee smiled. She'd known Michele was the light of Grantaire's life; she'd been there when he was six and gushing about his new baby sister. And when he was thirteen and inconsolable at losing her. "Ask her."
"I'd need a drink for that," Grantaire muttered. He'd seen Michele, but glimpses of her had been fleeting. A flash of red hair, a giggle, then she was gone.
Aimee leveled a look at him. "That's another problem in itself, isn't it?"
"Hey." Grantaire had no idea why he was so defensive. "You never ride me about my drinking when you're really here; why now?"
"Because some drink to remember." Aimee kissed his cheek, standing as the train pulled into the next stop. "And some drink to forget."
Grantaire shook his head. "Hey, you can't just quote 'Hotel California' at me and get off a train that doesn't even exist!" But she did exactly that. Figured. No one ever listened to him, not even in his own mind.
And then he heard it. A giggle. He turned.
Michele stood on the platform, the train clearly having no intent of moving to the next station anytime soon. "Come on, Rayne!" She giggled again and was dashing off, into the crowd.
This time, he followed her.
So sorry for my ridiculous absence. Life again. And tumblr ate my soul. So...yeah. :) But definitely more coming soon; I just wanted to get this posted before heading off to a show!
Merci, frere. Tu m'as manqué. - Thank you, my brother. I've missed you.
Moi aussi – Me too
Mon petit – My little one