Grantaire is a hundred percent, absolutely not staring. At least, definitely not on purpose.
“R,” Bousset says exasperatedly, throwing a pretzel at him to get his attention. It gets caught in the tight curls of his hair and stays. This is the best thing that’s happened all night. Possibly all week.
Before any of them can take a moment to marvel at all of the events in their lives that have led to this very moment, and the sheer physics of that miraculous toss, a loud peal of laughter erupts from the other side of the bar again and Grantaire jerks his glance back in that direction. The Beautiful Blond One, as Grantaire has taken to calling him in his head (or Apollo, when he’s really smashed and feeling unbearably soppy), is smiling quietly at his rowdy group of friends, one of them regaling them all with an apparently hilarious story.
Joly hums amusedly. “R,” he say, and this time there is no accompanying miracle pretzel. Grantaire blinks back at the two men in front of them and finds them wearing frighteningly identical expressions.
“What?” he asks defensively, and they exchange a look.
They say it in perfect, freakish unison. If this is what being in a couple entails, Grantaire wants no part of it.
“You guys have got to stop doing that,” he says, leaning back in his chair with an easy grin and a shake of the head. “You are aware that ‘two parts of a whole’ is a figure of speech, right?”
“I detect deflection!” Joly pipes up, sticking a finger in the air. Bousset nods gravely.
Grantaire groans and deflates, slumping until his chin is resting on the greasy table top. He needs new friends; these ones know him too well.
He looks up balefully at the pair, Bousset and Joly blinking back pleasantly and sympathetically.
Groaning, he slouches until his face is smushed against the tabletop. “He’s so hot,” he moans into the table, and they make sympathetic noises. They keep coming back to this bar, ever since they got lost trying to make it to another place that they later found out was only one street over. It’s warm and relatively cheap, and the music’s good. Which all helps, although it’s hardly the reason why they’ve become frequent customers.
“Go talk to him, you ridiculous kumquat,” Joly says, stealing a fry off his plate. He’s too bereft to stop him. These are the new lows he’s stooped to.
“That’s easy for you to say,” Grantaire says, and eyes the bartender pointedly. The first night they came here, Joly and Bousset decided that she was the women of their dreams – although they’ve hardly told her that yet. Grantaire supposes it’s a bit more difficult with polyamory. It’s one thing to confess your love, it’s another to do it with your boyfriend. She stops by their table more than is perhaps necessary to flirt and refill drinks that have still a ways to go until they’re empty, and Joly and Bousset respond in kind. Sometimes Grantaire joins in on the banter, but mostly he just stares longingly across the bar and sighs. And gets really, really drunk. It’s not his fault, really, when Musichetta, the bartender, keeps giving them such cheap drinks. Ugh. Look at him – complaining about cheap drinks. Really, how did he get to this point of his life?
The Beautiful Blond One isn’t always here, and on the nights that he is, he doesn’t say much and hardly drinks anything at all. He mostly just looks at his friends and smiles, chipping in here or there.
He’s not Grantaire’s type at all, except he really, really is. Which is a problem. Because. Staring.
It’s a miracle he hasn’t noticed yet, although some of his friends appear to have. They catch his eye sometimes, curiously, before Grantaire manages to look away.
“Grantaire,” Bousset says, slapping at his cheek gently. “Come on, we came out here to celebrate, remember?”
He perks up somewhat at the reminder. He’s just been hired to do illustrations and graphic design for a small political newspaper – full-time, with benefits and everything. It’s a genuine Christmas miracle. “Yeah,” he says, bolstered somewhat. He takes a swig of his beer and eyes Enjolras as he stands and wanders over to the bar to get the next round.
“What better time to go put on the moves?” Bousset continues cheerfully. He lifts his arms out in an expressive gesture and hits Joly squarely in the face.
It takes about five minutes for the apologizing and assuring, and a few almost-tears, and by the time Musichetta swoops in with an emergency first kit that seems entirely unnecessary (not that Joly minds or points out), Grantaire is almost ready to go over there and talk to him (‘almost’ because one can never be truly ready to talk to hot people, not really).
He pushes his way out of the booth and makes his way all the way over to the other end of the bar before he even manages to think about backing out. It’s a good thing he’s so drunk, really. By the time it crosses his mind, Blondie has already noticed him and is blinking up at him with stunningly blue eyes.
He drops into the seat next to him at the bar and smiles lazily, holding his beer with two hands so he doesn’t notice how they’re trembling.
Blondie blinks, taken aback. “Hello,” he says, and he sounds surprised, but not like he’s getting ready to pepper spray him at a moment’s notice, so that’s good. If the others notice, they don’t pay too much mind, or at least pretend not to. Grantaire likes them already.
“Your hair is like a halo,” he blurts out, when he realizes that Blondie is waiting for him to say something, and immediately regrets every decision he’s ever made in his life (as if he didn’t already). He flushes pink in mortification and barely suppresses the urge to slap his hand over his mouth. Instead, he rambles. Which is, perhaps, an even worse idea. “I mean, even Ovid couldn’t have imagined such a glorious mane. You put Aphrodite to shame, truly. Don’t tell her that, though, you’ll end up as a lion, or a statue, or some horrific river of blood or something. The Greeks were creative in their punishment.”
Blondie himself flushes a particularly gorgeous shade of red. “You must be very drunk.”
Grantaire nods. Thank god he is. “Grantaire, actually, but that, too.”
The beautiful man studies him for a second, eyes tracing over him and – perhaps was it Grantaire’s imagination or did they linger on the curves of his lips? “Enjolras,” he says at last, with a smile that is both sharp and utterly disarming.
Fuck, Grantaire thinks desperately, and wets his lips. If he wasn’t already fucked by the time he finally had to nerve to talk to him, he definitely is now. This – this is probably not going to end well.
It ends well.
It ends almost too well.
It’s all electric skin, needy hands, and delicious little moans and whimpers Grantaire would not have guessed Enjolras was capable of making. He arcs up against him and whines and begs and drags his nails down Grantaire’s back and Grantaire breathlessly, hopelessly falls in love.
(His good luck couldn’t have lasted anyway).
He wakes up with his hair matted and wild, and feeling like something had crawled into his mouth and died during the course of the night.
There are lean, pale arms wrapped around his body, and little warm, wet puffs of air on his neck from Enjolras’ still sleeping breath, and when Grantaire remembers last night, he feels his chest giving in on itself. He gives himself a moment to give in. To squeeze his eyes shut against the dawn, feel his breath dragging against his throat, feel every fucking point of contact between him and the beautiful man whose bed he’s lying in. Whom he fucked the night before.
He gives himself that moment, something clawing at his lungs and thundering against his rib cage, to let himself revel in it, pretend it’s something more than it could be, then slowly picks himself out of the mess. Part of him hopes Enjolras will wake up, ask him to stay. He doesn’t (it’s okay; Grantaire’s never been able to believe in the impossible).
He dresses as quickly as he can, and as an afterthought finds a post it (Thank you for letting me stay the night - R). He leaves it on the counter and, with one heartbreaking glance backwards at Enjolras’ breath rising and falling in his sleep, slips out into the soft dawn.
It’s still dark outside when he finally gets back to his own apartment, the clock on the mantel reading a quarter past six. By the time he gets out of the shower and has managed to find something suitably appropriate for office-wear, there are wisps of soft orange and pink lighting the horizon.
He’s passing by the kitchen to pour himself some more coffee – it’s gone cold, unfortunately, but he chugs some down anyway – and is nearly back out the doorway when his phone vibrates importunately, clattering against the counter top where Grantaire left it last night.
He vaguely remembers turning it off silent when he got home just an hour ago and dutifully ignoring the dozen messages until he got at least a drop of caffeine into his system, something he’s beginning to regret.
Considering briefly the consequences that would result from putting the messages off until after he finished his first day, Grantaire finally sighs, deciding it isn’t worth it, and drops onto his couch to flick through them.
11:33 Joly Saint Nick: USE PROTECTION!!!! And have fun love u, u sweet sweet starfruit
11:34 Big Bald Beautiful Bousset: Blond guy and R, sittin in a tree
11:34 Big Bald Beautiful Bousset: k i s s I n G
11:40 Joly Saint Nick: HIV/AIDS is real, baby walrus
11:50 Big Bald Beautiful Bousset: Joly says to use protection.
2:14 Ep: Heard you went home with some hot blond
2:14 Ep: Lucky.
5:43 Joly Saint Nick: ?????????
5:45 Joly Saint Nick: How was it u magnificent mauve armchair????????
6:01 Joly Saint Nick: have u been brutally murdered and cannibalized or was it so good ur still knocked out
6:05 Joly Saint Nick: txt me back u bruised plum
6:06 Joly Saint Nick: if u don’t within the hour im calling the police
6:06 Joly Saint Nick: again.
6:10 Big Bald Beautiful Bousset: pls teXT JOLY BACK HES WORRIE D
6:10 Big Bald Beautiful Bousset: srry caps
Swearing under his breath, Grantaire fires back responses to all of them with just enough time to avoid the police showing up to his door for the third time this year. Immediately, Joly texts back.
6:45 Joly Saint Nick: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
6:46 Joly Saint Nick: nevr worry me like that agn or ur grounded for a month
6:46 Me: Sorry Joly ://///
6:50 Joly Saint Nick: I forgive u u dum horse
6:55 Joly Saint Nick: soooooooo how was it?????
Grantaire bites his lip, slumping against the couch. How was it? He remembers Enjolras – Enjolras, what a dumb, beautiful name – and how warm and solid and so, so fuckable he was underneath him, writhing and moaning and – he barely manages to tamp down a hard-on.
6:55 Me: remember that waiter u n Bousset took home last year?
6:55 Joly Saint Nick: how could we forget???????
7:00 Me: exactly.
Grantaire is in the middle of laughing at Joly’s response when his alarm rings and he’s swearing again, shoving his feet into his shoes.
First day of work. Great.
There’s a certain charm to the office that Grantaire can’t help but fall in love with a bit. There are Christmas lights strung up in one corner, despite the fact that it’s now March, and one wall of this floor is painted a lovely sea green, with a very large portrait of Danny Devito in the middle of it. Working here might actually not be too bad, he thinks as he eyes the very large crystal bowl of expensive looking chocolates on reception’s desk.
“Grantaire!” a grinning man pops up at his shoulder. He’s the same man Grantaire met at the interview, a lanky Brazilian guy with physically impossible dimples. “I don’t know if you remember me but I’m –”
“Courfeyrac,” Grantaire supplies helpfully, and Courfeyrac grins again, wide and unabashed.
“Right,” he says, beaming. “C’mon, I’ll take you to your new boss.”
Grantaire frowns, step stuttering as he processes that. “I thought you were going to be my boss,” he says, brow pinching.
“Nope, I’m just HR and occasional photo journalist,” he says cheerfully. “Though I do believe you’ve been acquainted with the actual editor-in-chief.” He winks cheekily in his direction, and that. That is definitely not good.
Grantaire stills before catching up with Courfeyrac’s bouncy strides. “May I ask how?” he’s asking as Courfeyrac throws the door to a corner office open. The question becomes less relevant as the man inside turns around in the middle of a heated call.
“Quite frankly, sir, we here at the l’ABC tend not to partake in the exploitation of the poor and otherwise voiceless. Oh, don’t pretend, Montparnasse, you and I both know –” Enjolras pulls his hand roughly through his blond curls, gripping the hair at the base of his neck. There’s a pink flush on his neck and on the apples of his cheeks as the other end of the line makes their retort and it takes a while for him to realize there are people in his office. His eyes catch impatiently on Courfeyrac – not yet noticing Grantaire just outside his office and currently hoping for the world to swallow him up. “We can continue this conversation another day. My answer is still no. Good bye.”
He slams his phone back onto the receiver with a final snarl and sneer and shakes his head, hair still ruffled and extraordinarily… distracting. “Courfeyrac, thank goodness,” he’s saying, flipping through some papers on his desk irritably. “Have you got the new cartoonist yet? He was supposed to be here fifteen fucking minutes ago. I don’t have to wait around waiting for some idiot who can’t even be bothered to show up–”
“Enj,” Courfeyrac says exasperatedly, and Enjolras’ eyes flicker sideways. The second they land on Grantaire, he can see all the color draining out of his face.
“Oh,” he manages to squeak out, blue eyes wide and blinking furiously. The high red on his cheekbones is coming back, and with full force. “Oh. R.”
“Um,” Grantaire says, and it’s bad form to quit on the first day, right? “Hello.”
“Is something wrong?” Courfeyrac blinks innocently between the both of them, and it gives Grantaire somewhere else to look besides the undone first button on Enjolras’ shirt and the pale expanse of skin right above his collarbone. He swears he can see a forcefully repressed smirk somewhere in that deceivingly sweet smile and oh my god, he knows. Briefly he remembers seeing someone vaguely Courfeyrac-like at the bar through his post-drunken haze. He grimaces. It’s barely his fault he was too focused on Enjolras to notice his other hot friends.
“Of course not,” Enjolras snaps, and when Grantaire looks back at him he can feel his eyes burning into his. “If you could leave us for a second, Courf.”
“Of course,” Courfeyrac all but purrs, winking lewdly. He barely waits to get out of the office before starting to cackle like an old woman who’s just caught her grandkid making out with the neighborhood bad boy. Great. Wonderful.
“So,” Grantaire says weakly. He forces himself to relax his shoulders and shove his hands into his pockets so Enjolras can’t see him twitching. “About last night –”
“It was unprofessional of me,” Enjolras says curtly, smoothing his hand over his hair until it falls back into place. “I hope that we can still work cooperatively together, and if you decide to continue working here, I assure you that it won’t happen again.”
And ouch, if that doesn’t smart.
“What if I want it to?” the words come out before he has the chance to think about it, but before he can take it back, Enjolras’ eyes are snapping back to his.
It’s not disgust or irritation gleaming in the other man’s eyes, but… hope? Interest?
Whatever it is, it’s enough.
“What if,” Grantaire says, softer but bolder this time. He steps forward, and his hands tighten into nervous fists in his pockets. “What if I want it to happen again?”
There are probably a thousand rules against sleeping with your boss, but fuck, he’d give anything to feel him underneath him again, moaning his name against his shoulder.
Enjolras is silent for a second, eyes wide and improbably bright and impossibly blue. For a second, Grantaire can feel his heart slamming against his chest, and for a second, the universe hangs by a thread.
Then Enjolras is surging forward, leaning over his desk to crash his mouth against Grantaire’s. Their teeth crash, their noses bump, and it’s imperfect and sloppy, but it’s the happiest Grantaire remembers being in the longest time.
“Thank god,” Enjolras says, fists clenched in Grantaire’s shirt and still awkwardly draped across the desk. “I was really, really hoping you’d say that.”
Grantaire laughs, breathless, into Enjolras’ mouth. Yeah, he could like working here.
There are benefits to owning your own business, Grantaire thinks, and one of them is being able to date your employees without being fired.
“- and don’t forget to change the byline, Bahorel needs to be on there, too,” Enjolras says, clipboard in hand as Combeferre stands patiently by. “And tell Marius that he needs to have all the Russian translations done by Saturday at the very latest –”
“Enjolras,” Combeferre interrupts, taking the clipboard from his hand and smoothly replacing it with the handle of a suitcase. “I’ve got it.”
He sighs, scrubbing his hands over his eyes. “I know, I’m sorry,” he says, because if there’s anyone he trusts to run a paper for a weekend, it’s Combeferre. “It’s just with the deadline coming soon, and everything –”
“Enjolras,” Grantaire is saying sternly, not even pretending to hide his soft smile. “We need to get there before sundown, remember? They only hold the reservation for that long before they open it up.”
Enjolras turns to take his boyfriend’s hand in his own. “I know,” he says, and presses a chaste kiss against his temple. “I love you.”
Grantaire’s breath catches in his throat, and god, it’s been five years, but he’s never gotten tired of it.
“I love you, too, idiot.”