He isn't drunk. He can tell because his tongue itches and his head feels too light and foggy. Sobriety for him isn't what it is for other people; his stomach is jittery and his clammy hands shake.
He isn't drunk; maybe that's the problem.
When his blood is flooding the workshop, he doesn't take the time to think about why it happened. He thinks instead: Enjolras is going to kill me. He thinks: I am going to die before he has the chance.
The saw is off before he has really processed anything other than right, this is a hospital-going injury, this is going to take stitches. He holds the bleeding hand over his head and fumbles with his good hand for the phone which has to be in one of his pockets (fuck the blood is coming so fast, it is running down his arms and dripping into his hair, this shirt is definitely ruined, okay, R, stay focused, stay alive, where is the goddamn phone) but when he pulls it out, he remembers the battery is dead because he sucks too much to charge it like a responsible adult. He can hear Enjolras's surly voicemail now, "why do you even bother with a phone bill if you're not going to be reachable?" too bad Enjolras doesn't know he's talking to a dying man or he would be nicer.
He feels scared now for the first time, because his initial instinct was that this seemed like the kind of situation where 911 is called for, and now he can't even text Courfeyrac to pick him up while he holds pressure on his severed artery and tries not to pass out from blood loss on the way to the ER. He's going to have to drive himself to the hospital.
He hesitates when he gets to the stairwell—his internal debate, active as always, points out that getting his heart rate up is probably inadvisable, but time is on the side of not waiting for the elevator. He thinks if he stops moving he might panic, and when you're leaving a trail of your own blood like a casualty in a particularly improbable horror film, you really can't afford to panic.
Holding the arm over his head is not doing fucking anything as far as he can tell; he hates to be cliché about it but the word "spurting" really does seem to describe best what is happening to his blood as he shoves his key into the ignition. He almost laughs when he has this thought, because how absurd is it that he is in the midst of bleeding to death and he is already imagining how he will tell the story to his friends next time they are drinking together? (Only if he doesn't really bleed to death. Only if there is a next time.)
Okay, focus. Luckily (using the word as Bossuet might, luckily in the event that he has to have a life-threatening injury, ha ha), he is at school and not at home. (Of course he's at school; he doesn't even have a wood saw at home.) School is ten minutes from the hospital. Home is twice that, and at this rate he does not have twenty minutes. He hopes he has ten. (Joly would know.)
The thing to be thankful for is that it is the middle of the night. There is no traffic. (No one to hit if he loses consciousness.) He takes a slow breath and blinks away the dark spots crowding his vision. Okay, he's really questioning the decision to drive now, but it isn't like he had another choice. What should he have done, screamed until the neighbors called the cops? At least this way he might make it to the hospital before he dies. Maybe.
Halfway there. God, this is so stupid. A stupid way to die. How could he be so stupid? He knows how to use a saw safely. He's serious about it. That's why he never mixes it with alcohol, no matter how much he needs the alcohol. (That's why he never uses the saw. He paints instead, because even drunk the worst he can do painting is make a mess.) Grantaire is not supposed to go out because his hand slipped on the saw.
How is he here? It is scary to think he drives with so little attention. (It is not as scary as the blood pooling on the floor of his car.)
He can't waste the time or energy parking the car, so he puts the hazard lights on and slides into a no-parking zone near the door. He feels the adrenaline energy leaving, and he feels so tired, and the door is impossibly far away. He wraps his right hand around the left, putting pressure on as best he can, but everything is so slippery in his blood—
He lurches into the ER, and he tries to ask for help but before he can even make words everyone is rushing around, calling for O neg and setting him on a gurney. Everything is out of his hands at this point so that is kind of a relief.
They can't stop the bleeding, but they can keep him alive until surgery, so they do. He has a bag of blood feeding into his good arm while it leaks right back out the other hand into some dressings. "Why do they keep giving this to me if I keep throwing it away?" he asks dizzily, and the nurse's assistant who is holding his hand and asking him questions to keep him conscious laughs.
She says something about buckets but he has trouble following it because he is thinking about how much he wants to paint her. She is exquisitely strange to look at, dark skin and honey curls and large, shockingly blue eyes. Everyone who sees her must fall in love with her. She's an unusual combination. Striking. Her hair is brown but with light behind her it's almost gold, not gold like Enjolras, but golder than you'd think for a girl with skin like hers, and those eyes are so blue—
He realizes he's babbling all these thoughts out loud when she laughs at him again. "I bet you offer to paint all the girls," she says, and her oddly blue eyes sparkle with mirth, but there is fear there too. He can still see that.
"I'm an art student, not a creepy perv," he says. "That's how this happened. Wood saw, stupid project." As she nods along, he remembers that he has told her this several times already. "I'm not hitting on you, I'm really gay as it happens, but you're just so beautiful and I think we could make great art." He frowns.
"What's wrong, Grantaire?" she asks, leaning forward. "Talk to me."
"I'm sorry if I offended you. I'm not really in control of what I'm saying right now."
She sighs in relief. "Everyone is surprised by my eyes," she tells him, and her small fingers tighten on his hand. "I'm used to it. What kind of thing do you paint usually?"
So he tells her about art school, even though he hates art and would rather talk to her about wine, because she really wants him to keep talking. Her name is Cosette and she is twenty and in nursing school, and she smells like almonds and roses, soft and feminine. She is the kindest and loveliest person, maybe even prettier than Enjolras, but don't tell him or he'll get jealous even though he hates to get attention for his looks—
"Is there anyone you want us to call?" Cosette asks. "We can let your family know you're here."
Grantaire doesn't want his family to know he's here. But Feuilly, his roommate, maybe Feuilly should know—Feuilly can lock the door to the workshop, because Grantaire isn't sure he did it when he left. Everything is kind of a blur. The school is very serious about locking up. He could get his keys taken away for leaving it open in the night, maybe disciplinary action—
"What's Feuilly's number?" Cosette asks. "Do you remember?"
"No." Who knows phone numbers anymore? They're all in the phone, but it's dead. It's in the car—he knows he still had it on the way over—but the battery is dead, so it's useless. Oh, god, the car. "I think it's in a fire lane," he mumbles.
"We moved your car," Cosette promises. "You left the keys, it was all really easy. Don't worry about that."
He goes into surgery sometime around dawn, and Cosette kisses him on the cheek and whispers "be good" as they wheel him back, which is fucking priceless, because she's known him for a couple of hours and she already knows exactly what to say.
The surgery is a success. A raving success, even, because he gets to keep all his fingers (no one said anything about losing fingers, but there was a lot of blood coming from his hand, all right, it could happen), and his ulnar artery is all bound up and not leaking his vital fluids all over the place anymore, which is a huge plus. Also they give him morphine.
When he wakes up in the recovery room, Eponine and Joly are sitting by his bedside. Both have pink eyes like they have been crying instead of sleeping, but Eponine at least smiles really big when she sees him watching. Eponine is a fucking trouper.
"Hey tough guy," she says. "Heard you had an accident."
He licks his lips. His mouth feels dry. "How?" It seems to be the longest sentence he can string together at the moment. He tries to scrub his eyes but one hand is wrapped in gauze (really heavy gauze) and the other has a bunch of tubes shoved into it, so he gets tangled when he tries to move it.
"Cosette called," Joly says, and he's less good at hiding how worried he is than Eponine; his voice has gone all rough and miserable. "She thought I might know who she should call. She saw my name in your contacts and we know each other a little." They would, Grantaire thinks, from the hospital. Where they both work. He can be so stupid sometimes.
"Phone's dead," he says.
"One of the nurses has the same one and Cosette convinced him to lend her the charger," Joly supplies. "She called Eponine too because according to your phone she's your sister?"
For precisely this type of event, Grantaire and Eponine have marked one another as emergency contacts in the address books of their respective mobile devices. They look enough alike that they have never been questioned, and neither of them wants their birth families anywhere near the hospital beds they sometimes land themselves in.
Cosette is a hero. "Remind me to make her a present," he says wearily. "Where is… everyone?"
"Only two allowed at a time," Eponine says. "There's a whole parade waiting in the lobby but they can't come in until I say so. Next of kin and all." She pushes his curls off his forehead—he hopes someone has washed the blood out of his hair, because if not that's disgusting—and smiles at him. "Any special requests?"
He has one, but he isn't sure Enjolras would come. The morphine hasn't made him loopy enough to volunteer for that kind of rejection. It takes at least six shots for him to start acting that stupid.
Enjolras probably went to class instead of coming to wait for Grantaire to wake up.
"He's here," Eponine says softly, and Grantaire is worried he's said all this aloud except Joly looks very confused. "Everyone's here. Feuilly and Courfeyrac and Marius and Bahorel—and Enjolras, of course." Of course.
"Too tired," he pronounces. "Head hurts. Next time," and then he closes his eyes again.
Next time he wakes, Enjolras is sitting next to his head while a doctor flips through the chart at the foot of the bed.
"—full recovery," the doctor is saying. "He might even get to go home tomorrow if his vitals keep going up. He's doing very well, and I wouldn't worry." The doctor is Combeferre. Combeferre is not one of his doctors.
Enjolras relaxes against Combeferre's hands on his shoulders. "Good," he says simply, pulling his knees to his chin.
Combeferre notices Grantaire is awake first. He retracts his hands from Enjolras slowly. "How are you feeling?" he asks.
"Like I sliced my hand open with a wood saw and had a near-death experience," Grantaire croaks. "Also, thirsty."
Combeferre pours him a cup of water and heads for the door. "I'll tell the others you're awake," he says, shooting a significant look at Enjolras over the rims of his glasses. "Courfeyrac and Joly will be glad you're more yourself."
Enjolras leans in. "Does it hurt?" His voice is uncustomarily quiet.
"Like fuck," Grantaire agrees cheerfully. "I'd show you but I don't have access to any of my hands at present."
"Don't do that anymore," Enjolras says, words trembling despite a clear effort to keep his tone mild. "I did not like it."
"What a shame," Grantaire says wearily. "I was planning an encore next week. Thought maybe I'd slit my own throat next time."
Enjolras glares. It is a weak imitation of his usual glare, and that would be sad if it weren't so hilarious. "You weren't—"
"Accidents happen to sober people too," Grantaire points out. "I'm not a big enough idiot to get drunk in the workshop. Contrary to popular belief, I'm not suicidal."
Enjolras smiles at him, then, and reaches out to touch Grantaire's good hand with one of his own, a hand so fine it must have been carved from marble (real people aren't that beautiful, except maybe Cosette, but Grantaire would need another look at her to be sure, sometime when he isn't actively dying). Enjolras's hand is soft and warm.
"Knock knock," Courfeyrac says from the door, holding up a bouquet of purple lilies. "I come bearing gifts."
Enjolras drops his hand like he's been burned. Grantaire could kill Courfeyrac.
"Hey Grantaire!" Marius pokes his head in the doorway behind Courfeyrac, and now Grantaire has a new person to kill, because they're only allowed two at a time, and Enjolras is pushing himself out of the chair. Grantaire wants to tell him to defy the arbitrary rule and stay, or maybe just to kick Marius out, but Enjolras can be stupidly law-abiding when he feels like it, so the words stick in Grantaire's throat and he watches his favorite golden hair in the whole world (Cosette will forgive him) exit the room.
Courfeyrac and Marius graciously pretend not to notice that he is in a bad mood. (They never do this when he is not in the hospital.) They chatter idly about the people they've seen in the waiting room since the early hours of the morning, and tell him how Laigle brought donuts and took Joly home to rest but replaced him with Musichetta, who had made the donuts. (Musichetta and Jehan have apparently passed the time since her arrival braiding one another's' hair and rating passing boys on attractiveness.)
"You look much better than when I last saw you," comes a musical voice from the doorway, and there is Cosette, in street clothes now and holding a plush bear or something equally monstrous. "Still pale, though."
"Massive blood loss will do that to a person," he quips, "but they're doing what they can." He indicates the bag of blood draining steadily into his body. "You shouldn't call people ugly, especially when they're in the hospital."
She leans down to kiss his cheek (same as she had before the surgery, only she has showered since then and he hasn't). "You're more alert," she tells him, "and cleaner," she adds with a wicked gleam in her oh-so-blue eyes. She is just as mysteriously beautiful as she was last night, so maybe it wasn't just the blood loss talking.
He isn't the only one thinking this. Courfeyrac eyes her with interest, but Marius is riveted, mouth gaping like a fish.
"Cosette, may I introduce my friends, Courfeyrac and Marius. This enchanting creature is Cosette. She saved my life last night."
Cosette blushes, and under her golden brown skin the pink glows like a sunset. He's definitely going to have to paint her. "You'll have to come up with a way to thank me," she says.
"Oh, I will. Coffee maybe? Then we can talk more about the portraits I'm going to paint of you."
Marius looks like he is having a heart attack.
She laughs, and it's a sound as lovely as she is. "Looking forward to it," she says. She looks around the room. "You're packed to capacity in here," she says, "so I'm going to go. I just wanted to stop by and see how you were doing."
"Thanks," he says, "but if you leave that stuffed animal here for me, I will seek vengeance on your entire family."
He is released from the hospital the next morning with firm instructions to change his bandages twice a day, not get the wound wet, do no heavy lifting, drink lots of fluids, and rest like he's an invalid in a nineteenth century novel. Additionally, he is to return to the hospital if the pain intensifies or any number of other warnings, which he nods and pretends to listen to, but really he lets Feuilly and Joly do the listening for him.
Grantaire is winded just from riding the elevator down to the parking garage. Joly is pulling out front to take him home, but his car is here somewhere and he wants his iPod out of it (as well as, preferably, Feuilly to drive his car home so he can stop paying for parking). He freezes in dread when he sees he car, because he has a powerful flashback to the complete crime scene his car looked like the last time he was in it. Two days later, he might be better off having it towed for scrap than trying to salvage it.
But it's fine. Well, not fine—there's a limit, obviously, to how clean a person could get a car that has had that much blood in it. But it's better than he dared to hope. At least, it looks like the car might have been a prop in a horror movie several years ago instead of this weekend.
"Combeferre took care of it," Enjolras says from behind him, and Grantaire jumps. How long has Enjolras been there? "We thought you wouldn't like if your car was still a biohazard when you got out."
He swallows. "That must have been—thank you. It was… pretty bad in there." He feels dizzy in a different way from how he feels without blood.
Enjolras laughs. "Pretty bad might be an understatement. But yes." Enjolras steps closer and brushes the back of Grantaire's good hand with his own. "It's good to see you outside the hospital."
"It's good to see you." He can't seem to put more words on that, just: it's good to see you. It always is. His heart pounds in his ears, a strong and comforting sound.
Enjolras's lips curl in a soft pink smile. "I know," he says, and he wraps his arm around Grantaire's shoulders. "I know." He nuzzles into Grantaire's (clean, thank whatever God may exist) dark hair. "Come on. I can take your car. I've got a bunch of your favorite horrible movies queued up on Netflix. Fancy a marathon?"
Grantaire nods. "I can't wait to see your face when you see Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure." He licks his lips. "You are going to freak."
Enjolras raises a golden eyebrow. "We'll see," he says, tugging Grantaire toward the car. "After you get sitting down and take a pain pill. Don't think I don't know it's hurting you. You're obvious."
It does hurt, but most of the weirdness of his behavior is unrelated to his pain. "Thank you," he says. He falls asleep on the way back to his apartment. He dreams of Enjolras's lips.
Note: Thank you for reading! This is based on a true story, although not one that happened to me. Uh... yeah, pretty much that's what I have to say for myself. I hope you enjoyed it. Let me know how it should have ended because I definitely do not know.