Epilogue: New Year's Eve
The movers are supposed to be here for the piano in fifteen minutes. Enjolras has been at the farm for an hour already, but they haven't had time to do anything more than kiss each other hello.
They haven't had time for more than that at all, in fact. Enjolras has been busy organizing the data on the Thenardier case to hand over to the prosecuting attorney's office, and Grantaire has been helping his father total up the accounts to see how they're doing for next year. (Not too badly, as it turns out. And there's a fifty-acre plot of land next door that's rather suddenly appeared on the market--Grantaire's father is thinking of expanding.)
Tonight, Grantaire is driving down to the city with Enjolras for the New Year's Eve party he's throwing, after which they will hopefully, finally get some time alone together. Grantaire has already stowed an overnight bag in the back seat of Enjolras' car, including a small stash of lube and condoms, just in case.
The moving van rolls down the drive, and Grantaire watches Valjean and Javert climb out and open the back doors. Enjolras fidgets next to him. "Are you sure they don't mind doing this?"
"Relax," Grantaire says. "Cosette's dad is a pro. Here's how it's going to play out: Valjean and Javert are going to load the piano into the van. They're going to have a shouting match about how to load it or secure it or where to position it so that the van's handling is least affected. Javert is going to threaten to quit at least twice, and Valjean will completely ignore him."
"Uh-huh," Enjolras says. He still looks skeptical, but then Valjean knocks on the door and he doesn't have another chance to express his concerns.
Valjean and Javert successfully extract the piano from the room, but, as predicted, the trouble starts when they get it out to the van.
When Javert starts shouting about quitting, Enjolras leans over to Grantaire. "Should we help them, or offer to mediate...?"
Grantaire gives him an incredulous look. "Why? This is quality theater, right here. I'd go in and make popcorn, but I'm afraid of what I'd miss."
"If you say so," Enjolras says, all tolerant amusement. "Listen, I wanted to tell you something, before we get distracted by, um, anything."
"You should look into the NDA that ARTco gave you."
Grantaire frowns. "What about it?"
"Well, without overstepping my bounds or anything, I requested the text of their standard NDA. And I searched the tweet you sent--it's publicly viewable, after all, or the ARTco team couldn't have found it. Anyway, it doesn't look like your tweet technically violated the NDA. The phrase 'corporate takeover' had already been used by the press, so you weren't releasing private information. You might be able to get a settlement out of them--not the full value of the severance package, but something. You'd have to talk to a lawyer, though, if you wanted details."
"I see." Grantaire clears his throat. "Hey, Enjolras, you wouldn't happen to know any lawyers who could advise me about suing my former employers, would you?"
"I know a great one, his name is Courfeyrac," he replies brightly. "I'll give you his card."
"I'm pretty sure I've already got it," Grantaire mutters, but he smiles.
"Okay. That's the last shop talk for today, I absolutely promise." He reaches out and catches Grantaire's gloved hand in his. "Have I mentioned that I'm really glad you're coming down tonight?"
"You have," Grantaire replies. "And I appreciate your offer to give me a ride. Bahorel threatened to zip-tie me and throw me in the trunk of his car if I didn't agree to come."
"He's a master of hyperbole. I'm sure he would have let you ride in the back seat."
"Well, thanks for saving me from the zip-ties, anyway. I can't wait to see this hipster boho factory loft of yours."
Enjolras makes a face. "It's not that bad. And it's not just mine, anyway. I have a roommate--Combeferre. You'll like him."
"I'm sure I will," Grantaire says.
"I just hope the piano fits up the stairs."
* * *
The piano fits. There's a space for it beneath one of the tall windows, on a side that faces the late afternoon sun. It looks perfect there.
"Are you sure they're not going to kill each other on the drive back?" Enjolras asks, as Valjean and Javert take their leave.
"Nah. Cosette would be very disappointed, and they wouldn't risk that."
"Is it safe?" someone asks, peering out of a bedroom door.
"It's safe," Enjolras says. "Come out and meet Grantaire."
Enjolras' roommate steps out of his bedroom. He's tall and dark and thin, with a pair of wire-rimmed glasses that seem to be in danger of falling off the end of his nose. "Hi, I'm Combeferre."
"Grantaire." He reaches out to shake Combeferre's hand. "Enjolras said you're a surgeon?"
He nods. "And you're the lumberjack artist, right?"
"Uh...I guess I am."
"It's great to finally meet you. Enjolras has been refusing to talk about you for ages."
"Refusing to talk about me?" Grantaire gives Enjolras a sidelong look.
"I didn't want to let on how much I liked you," he admits. "So I kept changing the subject, which I now understand was just making matters worse."
Combeferre nods. "So much worse. Listen, I hate to run, but I need to go out and get the champagne."
Enjolras frowns at him. "We don't have champagne? That's kind of a core component of a New Year's Eve party."
"I know. I've been meaning to get it, but I've been on call. I can go now, though--I have a couple of other errands to run anyway, so it'll probably take me a couple of hours."
Combeferre smiles at Grantaire. "I'm glad you came down."
"Me, too," Grantaire says. Combeferre lifts a coat off a hook and walks out the door. "Oh, I like him," Grantaire tells Enjolras.
"Good. If you didn't, we'd have had to break up."
"I especially like the part where he point-blank told us that he'd be gone for a couple of hours, in case we wanted to have sex."
"Did you miss that? 'It'll probably take me a couple of hours'?"
"I mean, if you don't want to, that's fine. Obviously. You can play the piano and I can sit and listen to you rapturously."
"Believe me, you would not be in raptures if you heard how terrible I am. I need to find an instructor to bring me back up to speed."
"Well, then. I guess we could find something else to do with our time," Grantaire says.
Enjolras eyes him grimly. "You're going to make me say it, aren't you?"
"Oh, yes. Definitely."
He takes a deep breath that isn't quite a sigh. "Grantaire, would you please come to bed with me?"
Grantaire takes Enjolras' hand. "Lead the way."
Enjolras' room is the lofted space above Combeferre's bedroom. It's open on two sides, which ought to make it feel exposed, but instead it's just bright and airy. Enjolras' bed is neatly made, because of course it is, and it's a king.
Suddenly Enjolras goes quiet, and Grantaire squeezes his hand. "You okay?"
"I'm just thinking. My parents made me take etiquette lessons when I was a kid...but somehow I never learned the proper way to ask someone to fuck you."
Grantaire laughs. "Well, I don't really know about etiquette, but I'd be happy to oblige."
Enjolras kisses him, and after that, there's very little talking. There's some sighing, a little bit of laughter, and something that Grantaire will insist was not a whimper, and afterward they're both too breathless for words.
"What time does the party start?" Grantaire asks, when he's confident that he can form a complete sentence.
Enjolras sits up just enough to see the clock on the bedside table, and then he drops his head back to Grantaire's shoulder. "Two hours."
"Okay." He closes his eyes. A little nap isn't going to hurt anyone...
"We need to get up," Enjolras says.
"Yeah." Grantaire doesn't open his eyes.
"Or we could just lock the door, cancel the party, and stay in bed all evening."
Grantaire smiles. "Somehow I don't think your friends would let us get away with that. Anyway, I don't know about you, but I could use a shower."
"We could save water if we went together," he suggests.
Enjolras laughs into the curve of Grantaire's shoulder. "You can't possibly--"
"Nah. But I could wash your hair for you, if you wanted." He's recently observed Enjolras' tendency to melt when someone's hands are in his hair. (Enjolras' reaction to someone tugging on his hair is even more delightful, as Grantaire has only just discovered.)
"Promise?" Enjolras says sleepily.
"I promise," Grantaire says, and Enjolras leans in to kiss him again.
* * *
Grantaire loves Enjolras' friends. Bahorel has promised to teach him jiu jitsu in exchange for boxing lessons, Jehan wants to commission a tattoo design from him, and Courfeyrac's drink-mixing skills are unmatched by most professional bartenders. By eleven-thirty, he feels as if he's known them all for years.
At five till midnight, Courfeyrac starts handing out flutes of champagne. Enjolras tilts his glass to watch the bubbles run up the sides. "You know, I've never really been a fan of the whole midnight New Year's kiss," he says, and Grantaire feels something deflate a little inside of him. It's not like he doubts Enjolras' feelings--how could he, after this evening?--but he as cheesy as the ritual is, Grantaire had been looking forward to it.
"That's all right," he says, flashing a smile that he doesn't quite feel. "We can just toast, then, I don't mind--"
"Wait, let me finish. I was never a fan of it, because I didn't really get the point of it. But now I think I do."
Enjolras nods. "Begin as you mean to go on, right?"
In the background, Bahorel is leading the countdown chant. They're only on fifteen, but Grantaire can't wait any longer. He tips his head up and kisses Enjolras.
Enjolras smiles against his lips, and a new year begins.