There is a certain breed of fragile person who disappears completely into a relationship. Everyone knows someone—Grantaire has mocked and despaired of several in his time—who has become entirely wrapped up in and dependent upon their partner.
Grantaire doesn't want to be that guy.
He really, really doesn't want to be that guy.
He might have become that guy.
It's true that he hasn't put a lot of effort into boundaries in the five months he and Enjolras have been together. He hasn't focused on maintaining habits independent of Enjolras, because he didn't think he had to; Enjolras is emphatically not someone who demands constant attention. Complete attention, yes. Constant attention, no. And it isn't like Grantaire has ever had any problem asserting his identity without Enjolras's approval.
So why, with Enjolras out of town for the week, has he completely lost track of how to function?
He flops onto his back and throws the sketchpad across the room.
Feuilly ducks as it hits the wall near where his head would have been. "Watch it, fuckface," he says mildly. He bends to pick up the pad, and his face screws up as he examines it. "Wow. This is… something."
"It's shit," Grantaire grumbles. "I know it's shit. You don't have to pretend."
"Nothing you do is ever shit," Feuilly says, rolling his eyes. "It's unfinished."
"It's unfinished because it's shit." Grantaire rolls over onto his stomach. "What do you want?"
"Oh, I'm very well, and yourself?" Feuilly grins cheekily and sits in the lawn chair that is the only other furniture in Grantaire's bedroom.
Grantaire sighs, scrubbing his face with one hand. "Sorry. I'm not in a very good mood today."
"I'll say." Feuilly sets the pad on the floor by his feet. "I came to ask if you'd be interested in filling in for me at Marie's thing this weekend. I'm double-booked, and they really liked you last time."
Grantaire wrinkles his nose. "Absolutely not."
"Didn't they tip you enough last time?" Feuilly asks. "I told you they'd cover a week's worth of drinks, even for you."
"The money was not the problem," Grantaire mutters. "I'm just not interested in a gaggle of middle-aged housewives pinching my ass all night. I can't be around drunk people and not be allowed to have a drink. It isn't in my constitution."
Feuilly shrugs. "Okay, I'll ask someone else."
"Shouldn't be too hard. Any toilet-trained ape should do. Or one of those exceptionally stupid dolphins who sometimes paint in aquariums." Grantaire laughs. "For god's sake, it's like paint by numbers but they took away the hard part so no one has to count."
Feuilly shakes his head. "Your loss," he chirps. "What've you got going on today?"
Grantaire gestures around the empty room in answer.
"More sulking and throwing things, then." Feuilly leans back. "Have you tried texting Enjolras? I'm sure he'd like it almost as much as you would."
"He's busy," Grantaire growls.
"I'll see what our friends are doing tonight," Feuilly says. "You've got to get out of this apartment. For my sanity." He stands.
"Fuck you, too," Grantaire says as Feuilly leaves the room.
Enjolras only feels his phone vibrate in his bag because his hand is reaching for his notebook to take notes on the lecture that will be beginning in fifteen minutes.
R: I've been thinking about you all day
Enjolras rolls his eyes and is about to slide the phone back into the inside pocket of his messenger bag when it vibrates again.
R: Probably because I'm wearing your underwear
He chokes, and looks wildly side to side, but no one seems to have noticed.
Can you please not do that?
R: I guess I could take them off if it'll make you happier
You know that is not what I mean.
R: Am I making you uncomfortable?
R: Are you imagining licking down my belly and sliding your fingers under the waistband?
R: I am
This is inappropriate.
R: When you get home we can do a reenactment. I can bite your collarbone the way you like
Stop it. I'm in public.
R: Afraid someone will notice how pretty you are when you blush?
I'm going into a lecture. I'm turning my phone off.
R: All right. I'll stop
R: For now
Enjolras jams the phone into his bag as Combeferre settles into the seat next to him with a little wince; he's mostly healed from his encounter with Montparnasse in July, but the rib still twinges sometimes.
"Are you okay?" Combeferre asks. "You look a bit flustered."
"I'm fine," he says quickly. "It's a little warm in here, that's all."
Combeferre looks confused, but says nothing more as the lecture begins.
Enjolras remembers very little of what is said for the next two hours.
Grantaire will never admit this to Feuilly, but he does feel better after texting Enjolras. Which is probably why he goes along with the plan to go out that evening.
"You're looking smug," Cosette says as she kisses his cheek.
"That's a look I haven't seen in a while," Eponine says, raising one eyebrow. "That's the I got a rise out of Enjolras look."
"You really are just like that problem child from the third grade, aren't you?" Cosette says. "I take it project long distance is going well?"
Grantaire shrugs. "You could say that."
"Does this have anything to do with the email I got from Combeferre about how weird Enjolras is being?" Eponine says. "I should smack you for that. He's really nervous about the presentation tomorrow."
"I'm sorry for inadvertently upsetting your boyfriend." Grantaire rolls his eyes. "Just tell me—weird how? Did he spill food on himself? Turn all red? Take a cold shower?"
"He took two," Eponine says. "And he took his phone with him."
Grantaire grins. "Excellent."
"You are wicked," Cosette says, shaking her head. "I don't know why he puts up with you."
"You know, teasing him isn't exactly what I meant when I suggested getting in touch," Feuilly says, setting a beer in front of him.
"Zywiec?" Grantaire snorts. "You're an odd duck. But if it gets the job done." He takes a swig. "It'll do."
Three hours and seven beers later, he isn't nearly as upbeat about the whole thing. "I feel like a goddamn war bride," he slurs over the pie someone has brought him.
Jehan's glance over his head is half amused and half concerned. "You won't be on your own long," he says, sympathetic as ever to the pangs of love. "He'll be home in three days."
"I don't know if I can make it," Grantaire confesses. He feels maudlin and ridiculous, but he can't quite make himself stop. "It's so quiet and empty. I can't sleep."
"What—at all?" Feuilly asks.
Feuilly spits out a string of profanity that might shock Montparnasse.
"I was going to suggest you stop drinking," Eponine says. "But I think this calls for another round." At the wide-eyed glares that come her way, she says "What? If he passes out, at least he'll get a little rest."
"I thought you couldn't sleep with him," Cosette says, brow furrowing. "He moves and he talks and—what, was that a secret?"
Courfeyrac giggles, and Grantaire feels fingers in his hair.
"Got used to it, I guess," Grantaire says. He pushes the plate away and pillows his face in his arms. "Where's my drink?"
"Here," Feuilly says, setting it in front of him. "Last one, okay? The bartender is giving me shifty looks and asking who's driving."
Grantaire fumbles in his pocket for his phone. Enjolras. Enjolras is the only thing that matters. He has something to finish, doesn't he?
It comes out Hey beybee I WAs thining about u, but Enjolras doesn't respond right away, so maybe a more direct approach is necessary. LIke a porn xxx
Antinous (12:01:33 AM): What are you doing?
PIking up were we lefft of, Grantaire sends. Jehan's voice is asking him something, but he shrugs it off. I wabt too pull ur prettyy hair
Antinous (12:02:16 AM): It's three AM here. My presentation is in five hours.
Grantaire frowns. That's not what Enjolras is supposed to say. He types out a new message, the most seductive one he can think of. Suk my divj
Antinous (12:03:01 AM): I'm going back to sleep. I'll call you tomorrow. Drink some water. Love you.
Jehan wrestles the phone away from him. "Finish your beer," he says. "Then I'm taking you home. This is ridiculous."
Enjolras rises at six-thirty the next morning and turns his phone on. He has six further texts from Grantaire—the first two are noticeably obscene, and two more are so garbled they might be accidental. The fifth is only the letter "q" over and over again. The sixth text is not from Grantaire at all.
R: This is jehan. I took his phone away so you can have some peace. Think he misses you. Dont worry, ill take care of him. I hope you werent too disturbed. Good luck tomorrow!
"You okay?" Combeferre has returned from his run and is stretching (it's most effective after a workout, he's informed them) in the doorway.
"Fine," Enjolras says, a little more sharply than he intends. Then he sighs. "Sorry. I'm just nervous."
Combeferre nods. "Me too. But it'll be great. We're beyond prepared for this."
He can tell by the tremble of Combeferre's smile that he doesn't feel as confident as he's pretending to, but Combeferre has always been good at being comforting even when he is not comfortable. "You can have the first shower," Enjolras offers. "I'm going to run over my notes again."
"So," Combeferre pants as the last person leaves the lecture hall. "I think that went well, don't you?"
It's such a classically Combeferrian thing to say (and Enjolras is so happy, a potent mixture of relieved and energized) that Enjolras can't stop himself from hugging him.
Combeferre laughs, arms circling Enjolras's shoulders. "So many people," he murmurs. "Joining in the letter-writing campaign and calling their Senators about the bill. Because of your speech."
"It was as much your speech as mine," Enjolras corrects, pulling back. "You wrote most of it. I never would have found those vaccination statistics if not for you."
Combeferre smiles and runs his hand through his hair. "I'm going to Skype E—my mom. She made me promise to tell her how it turned out."
Enjolras shakes his head. "You're not a secret anymore. You don't have to lie if you're going to Skype your girlfriend."
Combeferre flushes; he is sensitive to charges of secrecy, particularly from Enjolras (still a little ashamed of the way Enjolras found out). "I thought you might not… that is, I wasn't sure everything was okay with Grantaire. You've been a little off since yesterday."
"Things are fine," Enjolras says. "Go call your girlfriend."
Enjolras's shaky legs drop him into one of the lecture hall's empty chairs and he dials Grantaire's number—marked by an R, the way Grantaire always programs himself into the phones he steals—almost without thinking about it.
"Hey," rasps a hoarse voice on the other end of the line. "How'd it go?"
"Hey yourself," Enjolras grins. "It went wonderfully! I think I really got through to them about the importance of responsible healthcare legislation. Afterward, people from campus organizations all over the country kept coming up to us and asking if we had tips for them to use at home."
"Slow down," Grantaire laughs. "You're talking really fast. Are you on something?"
Enjolras bites his lip. "Enthusiasm."
"I've never had a good reaction to that enthusiasm stuff. I get anxious and break out in a rash." There's rustling, like Grantaire is sitting up in bed, and Enjolras remembers that it's three hours earlier at home.
"I didn't wake you up, did I?" he asks. (He knows he did.)
Grantaire huffs out a breath. "Of course you did. That's not even, like, a question. It's seven-thirty."
"I'm sorry," Enjolras breathes.
"I wanted you to," Grantaire says. He yawns, half into the speaker. "I think I texted you last night? I think I'm sorry about it."
"Don't be," Enjolras says. "How are you doing?"
"I'll live," Grantaire sighs. "As long as there isn't a quiz on your presentation. I'm still ninety percent asleep and my head is pounding."
"No quiz," he promises. "You don't have to work today, do you?"
"That's good, at least." Enjolras runs his fingers over the strap of his computer case.
"I can't wait to see you," Grantaire says. "When's your flight?"
"I left you a copy of my itinerary," Enjolras chides.
"I think Cosette threw it out when she cleaned up," Grantaire says. "I'm hoping I remembered it wrong and you'll be home tonight."
Home. A twinge starts up under Enjolras's ribcage. "I leave tomorrow night."
"Let me come get you at the airport," Grantaire begs.
"I'll get a cab," Enjolras says. "It'll be really late when I get there. Technically morning. I know how you hate mornings."
"I'd do morning for you," Grantaire says.
"No," Enjolras says. "But I'll be there when you wake up."
There's the pain again, a burning in his chest. He wonders if it's something he ate; he makes a note to ask Combeferre for antacids when he gets back to the room. "I can't promise," he says. "What if the flight's delayed?"
Grantaire growls his displeasure. "Don't joke about that."
Enjolras laughs. "I'll see you soon, okay?"
"Okay," Grantaire grumbles.
"So… goodbye," Enjolras says.
"Wait." Grantaire clears his throat. "I love you."
"Love you too," Enjolras says. "I promise it won't be long."
"It feels long."
Enjolras shakes his head. "I'll call you. Just don't pull any more funny business, okay?"
"You liked it." There's a smile in his voice for the first time this call.
"Goodbye, you beautiful bastard."
"No, planes almost never crash," Combeferre explains patiently into his phone as the airport speakers crackle overhead. "It's really safe, and even if they do, it's more survivable than you think—no, Mom, it's—I have to go now, okay? They're boarding." He rolls his eyes at Enjolras. "They won't let me on the plane if my phone is on. I will. I promise. Okay. Call you when I'm home. Bye."
He huffs out a sigh and collapses against the seat.
"There's still an hour left of our layover," Enjolras says. "She's going to think something terrible has happened when you take too long to call her back."
"She'll track the flight number," Combeferre says. "It was just to get her off the phone. Eponine's texted me seven times while I was on the phone." He starts typing furiously on his phone.
"You have two women worried about you," Enjolras says. "Who'd have thought? In the whole world you managed to find two of the last surviving people who still get anxious when other people fly."
"Eponine isn't worried," Combeferre says, but his brow creases. It isn't like Eponine would tell him if she were worried. "Maybe I should call her. Just to say goodnight."
Enjolras waves him off. "I'm going to walk around a bit before they call us on."
I'm getting on my plane soon, he types to Grantaire. I'll see you in five hours.
He pulls his reusable water bottle from his backpack and fills it at the water fountain.
R: Good. If you don't, I'm holding you personally responsible for the consequences.
I'm not responsible for air traffic, Enjolras argues.
R: You can make it happen through sheer force of will. I believe in you.
Enjolras tucks his phone into his pocket and heads back to his gate.
Combeferre offers to split a cab with him from the airport, but he says no before he thinks about it.
Grantaire's apartment is in the opposite direction.
He goes there straight from the airport. It's just past four in the morning when he pushes open the door (not locked, especially not tonight) and creeps through the silent living room toward Grantaire's bedroom.
"You're here," Grantaire sighs, shifting in the darkness to make room in the bed.
"You're awake," Enjolras whispers, sitting next to him and pressing his face to Grantaire's neck, which smells like shampoo and the sheets and him.
"Haven't slept well since you left," Grantaire tells him, pressing kisses along Enjolras's throat. "I missed you."
"I heard something about that," Enjolras breathes, untangling his arms from Grantaire's. "Are you wearing my shirt?"
Grantaire's fingers go to the top button of the pajama shirt he's wearing. "You don't mind, do you? It's—they smell like you, it's the only way I could sleep."
Enjolras leans forward to kiss him. "How did you get that?"
"I'm a genius with a fire escape," Grantaire says, tugging Enjolras down onto the bed. He leans back against the pillows, draping an arm across Enjolras's stomach and laying his head on Enjolras's chest. "I'm so glad you're here."
"Me too." Enjolras yawns. "I was afraid you'd want to do something other than sleep."
Grantaire squeezes Enjolras's middle. "You know how I feel about mornings."
"Activity before eleven should require a special permit," Enjolras sighs. "Today, I'm willing to agree."
"I fucking love you," Grantaire murmurs.
They both wake at one in the afternoon, and only then because Feuilly is laughing at them.
"Get out," Grantaire growls, and he throws one of Enjolras's shoes toward the door.
Feuilly shuts the door enough to protect his head. "Amateurs," he croons. "Don't think I'm not telling Courfeyrac."
A low groan starts in Grantaire's throat. He starts to lunge out of bed.
A warm finger on his wrist stops him. "Stay," Enjolras says.
Author's note: Thank you very much for reading! As always, comments appreciated. I still haven't given up on this verse (although I feel closer to the end than the beginning), but I understand why you might have thought I had- I've become very busy in my non-fandom life. I will, however, still be writing. I have a tumblr, and you can come say hi at notanearlyadopter if you're more comfortable over there. Love to all!