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This…

This isn’t going well.

He can tell because he’s a professional with hundreds of hours logged in simulations and honest-to-God fieldwork. He’s been scattered across the world both as part of a unit and alone, weaving his way through some of the toughest hot zones in recent memory. He’s a goddamned professional. So he knows, he can tell, in that innate way all good agents have: this isn’t going well.

Also? Jehan is currently freaking out over the mic. When Jehan starts freaking out, Bossuet likes to say, you should probably grab your own ass and start hailing Mary because the end is so very nigh.

“All right,” Jehan says, voice breaking on the second word. He sounds like he forgot how to breathe somewhere along the way, or maybe his lungs have just gone helium-balloon tight. Either way, he’s not at his most comforting. “All right, okay, this is not insurmountable. We can so surmount this.”

Courfeyrac laughs; it hurts like hell, but hey, if he’s dying, he might as well go out with a trademark grin. “That’s a relief to hear, boss.”

The guy across from him—the one with the detonator, not the one with the body of an old-timey strong man—laughs with him. There are tears streaming down his face and hatred in his eyes, but he can’t stop cackling long enough to catch his breath: Courfeyrac’s got too strong a hold on him for that, even now.

For now.

“I just. I need to think. I need to— Can you reach the detonator?”

He’s asked that, and Courfeyrac has tried it, at least a half-dozen times. More. It’s like asking if he’s turned the CPU off-and-on first: he’s thought of it, okay? But he knows Jehan’s grasping at straws, and he doesn’t want to die having a tiff. “Sorry, boss,” he says. “It’s literally out of my hands. If I let up pressure…”

He doesn’t finish. The words are there between them anyway, and there’s no point in saying them: at this point, if he lets up pressure long enough to try again, he’ll definitely bleed out before he makes it across the floor.

“Shit.”

Courfeyrac laughs again, and the terrorists he has in his thrall laugh with him. They don’t have much of a choice. “You can say that again. So…is this where I tell you that you can have my collection of old cassettes?”

Don’t.”

“I’d rather you take them instead of Enjolras. Enjolras doesn’t understand the point of nostalgia; he has the soul of a turnip farmer. Let him have my good tech instead.”

“Courfeyrac, don’t. We’re going to get you out of this.”

He leans his head back against the corrugated metal wall. It’s dark down here, and dank. It’s like the set from some bad movie about the Russian mob or something. There are meat hooks hanging from the ceiling. He’s going to die surrounded by clichés. “I don’t see how, Jehan,” he murmurs. “It’s okay. I signed on knowing this could happen. We all did.”

The terrorist nearest him—a woman with shockingly bright red hair, fingers still curled around the gun that shot the gaping hole in his stomach—turns her face against the filthy concrete and snickers. Her eyes are glazed, but a line’s appearing between her brows. She is fighting, hard. If he doesn’t keep control of his emotions, he’ll lose his grasp on theirs. And the moment he lets the hysteria pass from them…

Boom. A new hole, probably in his head this time. Then the idiot with the detonator can do his detonating, and a whole lot of innocent people will get hurt. Killed. Jesus, if he can’t pull this off, a whole lot of innocent people will get killed. He can’t die knowing he let that happen.

If he has to die (and it’s looking like he has to) then he’s going to go out knowing his life meant something to the bitter end.

…and wow, he’s drifting, because he’s missed a good half of Jehan’s panicked-yet-inspiring speech about not giving up or something. “Sorry,” Courfeyrac croaks, closing his eyes against his grim reality. “Could you rewind that? I think I missed the best part.”

“You are such an asshole,” Jehan says, voice wobbling suspiciously. “Don’t you dare drift off on me. You have to keep alert so you can control those fuckers. If your powers slip—”

He knows all that. “Jehan,” Courfeyrac interrupts lightly. His head is swimming, and he feels so tired. He’s running out of time. “What’s the plan?”

His handler hesitates, and that’s really all the confirmation Courfeyrac needs: there is no plan. Not one that’ll work, at least. “Shit,” he says with a light laugh. It really is going to end down here.

“I’m working on something,” Jehan insists quickly—too quickly. “Don’t do anything rash, Courf. Remember: this isn’t insurmountable.

He lightly bangs his head back against the wall. Can he literally feel his life slipping away, or is he just being dramatic? Hard to tell. “Right,” he says. “You are so going to mount it. Gotcha. Look. I want to say all the necessary things to you right now, because you’re not just my handler: you’re my friend, and I love you. I love all of you. And I know this is going to suck for all of you. But I can’t let myself get scared or sad. I literally can’t. So you’re going to have to put up with smartassed and know that if I could let up on my powers right now, I’d be telling you just how much—”

Courfeyrac,” Jehan says, with a little sob catching in his throat, and no matter how hard Courfeyrac bears down, he can’t help but crack a little at the noise. Next to him, the redhead starts to stir, low laughter breaking up like dandelion fluff. Detonator guy grunts, and Muscles clenches his fist. He’s losing them.

Not yet. He tightens his muscles, grateful that the pain has given way to lightheaded shock (even though he knows that’s a bad, bad sign) and grabs hold of them again. As one, all three keel over in gales of laughter again…but there’s a bitter edge to it that he’s not sure he has the energy to fix.

“Put a tech on,” Courfeyrac says instead. “No, listen to me, Jehan. I know, okay? I know. And I know you did everything you could. We both did. Take care of my cat, don’t let Enjolras get his paws on my cassettes, and watch out for Marius for me. When Cozy gets back from deep cover, tell her to put him out of his misery and just kiss him already. And Bossuet—” The bright pain of it, the idea of never seeing his friends again, hurts more than the bullets. “Bossuet’s got Joly and Musichetta. Bossuet’s golden. Love you. You’ve been a great voice in my ear on all the worst ops. Now go away and put a tech on. Okay?”

There’s a long pause, like Jehan’s trying to think of a way to fight him on this. Then he sighs over their connection—the implant in Courfeyrac’s ear that is sometimes his only lifeline—and whispers, “Okay. I love you too.”

Then he disconnects, and for six terrible seconds, Courfeyrac is alone with what he has to do.

His fingers are already fumbling for the gun when the nervous tech says, “Hello? Ah, Agent, are you there?”

“Still kicking,” Courfeyrac says. “Is Jehan anywhere around? Can he hear me?”

The kid hesitates, then confirms, “No, he’s offline.”

Courfeyrac closes his eyes. Good. He hadn’t wanted Jehan to have to live with this. “Okay, cool beans. So, here’s a recap of the situation, for your report. Listen close, because I need to get moving, so I can’t tell you twice. I’ve been on the trail of a HYDRA cell for the last month. For the last two-point-five weeks, I’ve been folded into their operations. Today I discovered there’s— There’s a bomb. Threaded through the New York subway. Jehan dispatched a team to start clearing the area and defusing, but I’ve got my eye on the detonator.”

Detonator Guy twists to look at Courfeyrac, grinning stupidly. They’re not laughing anymore, but that’s okay: he can keep them stable until it’s time.

“Things went FUBAR when I made a play for it. I shot five of them,” he’s a really great shot, no matter what Enjolras likes to say, “but one of them got me with…I don’t even know what kind of gun it is. Something we’ve never seen before. I can’t get my legs to work. I can barely get my arms to work. I’ve lost a lot of blood, and I’m pretty sure my body’s going into shock. I’ve got one bullet and three targets left, all of them armed. I can’t get to their weapons, and I can’t get to the detonator. I’ve got them under a humor thrall, so they’re too hysterical to act, but it’s slipping.”

Pause.

I’m slipping.”

“Maybe you could shoot the one with the detonator?” the kid offers hesitantly.

It’s obvious he hadn’t read Courfeyrac’s file. “Can’t. It’ll let the others out of thrall, and I only have the one bullet. They’ll just take care of me, then pick up the detonator off of Dead Guy. No dice. So. Here’s what’s going to happen instead.” He tightens his grip on his guts—whole front of him slippery and nearly black with blood—and reaches again for the gun. It clatters out of his hands, fingers big and clumsy and not wanting to work, but after a few false starts, he manages to lift and cock it.

The mechanical noise is loud beneath the rushing in his ears.

“I’m going to switch them from hysterical to suicidal,” Courfeyrac says, keeping his tone light because he isn’t ready to make the switch yet. “I’m too hurt to make it happen unless I go over the falls with them. I want my record to state that I did this with a clear head in the line of duty, but keep it sealed. I don’t want anyone but you, your direct supervisor, and the brass to know this is how it ended.”

The kid makes a scared noise, and Courfeyrac bites the inside of his mouth. He can feel the tears coming, feel the trembling disquiet. He lets it come, lets it brew like a storm in his chest before he deliberately pushes it out, casting it over the three HYDRA agents. Their quiet giggles begin to still. Turn into sobs. He can play people like an orchestra; he is the master of the human instrument.

“Stay on the line until you hear four gunshots,” Courfeyrac says. “But don’t say anything. I have to go somewhere very dark to make this happen, and I can’t— You seem like a nice kid. I’m sorry you have to witness this.”

“Oh my God,” the tech breathed.

Courfeyrac lifts the gun, feeling its weight. The HYDRA terrorists are curled in on themselves, hands on their own weapons, following along in his footsteps. It takes every bit of willpower he has to lock them into his full control, but he’s trained and trained until he’s the master of his empathic abilities; he can do this.

“Tell Enjolras I said something really witty at the end,” he murmurs. “Come up with whatever, just make it good. Oh, and tell R to stop fucking around and make a move already. Or just let him hear this part of the recording, since he’s got to sign off on your work anyway. R—stop fucking around. I haven’t said anything, because wow, invasion of privacy and ethical use of powers and blah blah, but you want it, he wants it, just go for it already. I swear on everything, I swear on my cat, that it’s going to work out. He just wants you to make the first move because he’s an idiot.”

He takes a breath and puts the gun against his lips, like he’s kissing the muzzle. Courfeyrac watches as the HYDRA agents hesitate, and he deliberately thinks about how much he loves life, how much he’ll miss his friends, all the things he won’t experience. The bitter waste of it all, and the pall of sadness…it’s enough to give him that extra boost, and as one all three lift their guns and put them in their mouths.

This is it. It’s time. “Remember,” Courfeyrac says, lips brushing cold metal. He holds onto his sadness, lets it bloom in his chest. “Listen for four shots.” He braces himself.

“Belay that,” a sudden, second voice interrupts. It’s cool and clipped, wears authority like a cloak. It’s almost powerful enough to pull Courfeyrac under its thrall, even over the mic. “Go find Agent Jehan and tell him there’s been a new handler assigned to this case. Authorization code Delta Charlie Whiskey Delta Epsilon 23005. I want all additional lines to Agent Courfeyrac shut down immediately; I’ll take it from here.”

The kid gives a shaken acknowledgement, and there’s a subtle shift in sound quality as the second line closes. Courfeyrac is alone with three suicidal HYDRA agents, a gun with a single bullet, a body that’s rapidly falling out of his control, and…

He has to smile at the irony. “Heeeeey,” he croons, letting the pall of depression lift a little; the agents lower their guns, but they still remain curled up on themselves. “It’s the Gun Show.”

“…pardon?”

“That’s what the field agents call you,” Courfeyrac explains. “You’re high enough up the ladder that no one knows your name—which, hey, spooky even for a spook—and you’re so good you only get called in when things are really fucked up. You know: calling in the big guns. You’re the big guns. So…the Gun Show.”

There’s a breath of a laugh, and it curls warm inside Courfeyrac’s chest. He doesn’t get a save from the Gun Show often—he’s good enough that things rarely go this sideways, and Jehan’s usually so on point that even when it gets all fucked up, they can muddle through together. But sometimes without warning, there’s a soft click over the line and he’s there. Sometimes, when he’s really lucky (unlucky?), that clipped, precise voice he’s come to love from afar fills his ears.

Either he’s going to die today with that voice in his head, or the Gun Show is going to pull something out of his ass and save him. It’s kind of like a Christmas miracle.

“Crap,” Courfeyrac says, shaking his head hard. “Sorry, I drifted. I’m drifting. What did you say?”

A faint hesitation. “How bad is it?”

He looks down at his soaked hand and the brackish puddle haloing his body. Wow. That’s a lot of blood. “Bad enough.”

“Agent Courfeyrac,” he begins, but Courfeyrac interrupts. The Gun Show prefers to work in absolutes.

“I’ve got maybe half an hour, tops, before I fuzz out for good. It’s already a struggle to keep control of the agents.”

There’s another hesitation, though this time Courfeyrac knows Gun Show is just re-reading the SitRep. “You’re certain you can’t make it to the second gun?”

He glances at the redhead; her fingers are curled tight around the grip. “Not without losing control. My legs don’t want to cooperate, and I can barely lift my own gun. Sir.”

Fuck.”

He doesn’t expect that. The Gun Show is the ultimate agent. He’s top of the food chain for a reason, always cool, always collected, always professional. He doesn’t curse; no one’s ever seen him, but Courfeyrac is positive he never has a hair out of place, either. He’s probably this middle aged guy with steel grey hair and perfect business suits. Some kind of super-control freak. He’s still the hottest thing over the airwaves, but Courfeyrac hasn’t lost enough blood to say that. “Yeah, that’s what I’ve been saying,” he says instead. Then, because he has lost enough blood to be an idiot after all, he adds, “I’m glad you came. I’ve been wanting to hear your voice.”

“You’re going to be hearing much more of it once we get you out of there,” the Gun Show says. Courfeyrac swears he can hear typing over the connection. “I plan on chewing you out for this stunt. Enjolras or Bahorel are our blaze of glory agents—I thought you had more sense.”

Courfeyrac snorts and lets his weight collapse back against the wall again. He can’t keep up the depression, so he switches tracks. Goes for peaceful. He’s feeling pretty peaceful right now. He probably should have his head checked. “It’s not about glory, you know,” he says. “I just want to do the right thing.” Lines of explosives tracing the subways of New York—all those people, both underground and above. He closes his eyes. “I just want to help people.”

There’s a long pause, then the Gun Show clears his throat. “I know,” he says, voice dropping lower, gentler. More human than most of SHIELD’s agents would believe. “It’s always been about helping people with you. You have…a good heart.”

He cracks open an eye, as if the other man is actually right there and not a voice thousands of miles away, hovering somewhere up on one of the hellicarriers. “Because you know me that well,” he says, dubious.

The Gun Show doesn’t miss a beat. “But I do know you. Agent Etienne Courfeyrac, aged 26, codenamed Maestro, even though you hate that name—”

“—I hate that name,” Courfeyrac says at the exact same time.

“Your empathic abilities used to trouble you when you were young, until you learned to channel them into figuring out what people needed and helping them. You can feel the emotions of others, but you can also control them, making you ideal at infiltration as well as crowd control. You work best alone despite your gregarious nature, because you haven’t yet mastered the fine control necessary to avoid catching a partner in your empathic web.”

He closes his eyes again, tipping his head back. He can feel himself drifting once more, but it’s just his body this time, not his mind. His thoughts are all tangled around the soothing, precise tones, the gentleness underlying them. He’s never been able to sense the Gun Show’s emotions—his powers don’t work through wires like that—but he’s still always been able to tell…he’s a good person. “Sounds like you’re reading from my file,” Courfeyrac murmurs.

“Ah, then how about we delve into something a little more personal?” More tapping of keys. “You have four sisters, three of them still living. Your eldest sister was a mutant whose manifestation triggered a seismic event that killed her and your mother. Your father took you and your sisters from your native Brazil to the United States, where he met and married Olivia Enjolras. Mathieu Enjolras, a junior agent of SHIELD, was the one who helped you through your own manifestation…and eventually drew you into the fold.”

Courfeyrac spun a single finger in the air. “Still nothing you couldn’t get from my file,” he sing-songed. “A spook at your level’s got to have access to all the details.”

“Hm.” The Gun Show was silent for a moment, though, weirdly, Courfeyrac didn’t feel his loss, even in these final moments as his life steadily ticked down. He could feel him there, as if the real man where curled by his side, flesh and bone and warmth and not a series of wires and sound. “How about this, then. You drink coffee with Head Technician Grantaire every morning you’re on the helicarrier, even though you hate the taste of it. You bring back a rock from every new place you visit to leave on Joly’s desk. You collect puns and write them in a moleskin journal to share with Enjolras, and sometimes, when you laugh hard enough, you snort—which only makes you laugh harder.”

Courfeyrac’s eyes fly open and—and holy hell. “Okay, you just won grand poohbah of the spooks,” he says, startled. “How do you know all that? I mean, fine, spy organization, your job to know things, but—”

But those weren’t important things. They weren’t even really notable things. They were just…quirks, silly pieces of himself. Something nobody would care to notice, much less collect into a cascade of trivia—all the tiny parts that made him him. Not even Cossette, one of the best spies SHIELD had, would think to pick up those kinds of details.

Which.

Huh.

“Wait, are you on the main carrier?” Courfeyrac demands. All the brass, the superspooks and top agents, have their own hidey-holes. Courfeyrac wouldn’t even be able to pick more than his direct supervisors out of a lineup. Jehan’s a handler, and even he admits that he only knows what one or two of them looks like. “Do you live with us? What the hell!”

The Gun Show hums. That’s it—just hums, low and mildly agreeing.

“No way,” Courfeyrac protests. This is just plain bizarre. “We’d know if one of the brass was stationed on the carrier. We’d know— I’d know you. I’d notice you. I wouldn’t be able to help but notice you.”

“I am very, very good at not being noticed,” the Gun Show notes. “It’s part of my job.”

He can barely see the room full of clichés anymore. Or, more accurately, he barely notices them. A small part of him wonders whether that’s the point—whether he’s being distracted from his plan and the drifting pain and the fear—but most of him is too busy boggling over the idea that he may have been living side by side with his secret crush all this time. May have been passing him in halls. May have been sharing meals in the mess, elevators up and down floors.

It doesn’t make any sense. “Did you ever talk to me? I wish I’d known it was you,” he says, a little wistfully. “I’d really like to talk to you.”

“You’re talking to me now,” the Gun Show points out, but Courfeyrac just snorts. This—this maybe or maybe not saving his life crap—doesn’t count. Maybe the Gun Show ultimately agrees with that, too, because he adds in a much quieter, much more intimate voice, “I’d really like to talk to you, too. Later. When I bring you home.”

That sounds promising. “Any miracles in your back pocket?” he says hopefully.

Silence over the line.

He shouldn’t have gotten his hopes up. “Well, this is nice, too. If I’ve got to go, this is as good a way as any to— Hey,” Courfeyrac adds. He tries to sit up, but he can’t seem to get his body to obey him. It feels heavy and languid, dragged down as if by weights beneath the rising dark of the tide. A few yards away, the redheaded woman gives a shuddery sigh, and a part of Courfeyrac wonders if he’s going to be able to take them down with him anyway. He’s never tested his powers like this: maybe, when he slips away, he’ll be holding on so tight to their minds that they’ll follow him into the dark.

Maybe that’s the plan after all. Keep him talking, keep him content, and ease him and the threat into the deep. He’s…pretty okay with that, actually. There are worse ways to go.

“Courfeyrac? Courfeyrac?

He blinks and tries to shake himself, lax hand reflexively pressing tight against the gut wound he can no longer feel. Shit, did he slip under for a moment? He tips his chin, head rolling heavy on his neck, and notices that his thrall hasn’t broken—his three prisoners are deep in some kind of soporific trance. So. That answered that.

Courfeyrac? Please.”

“Sorry,” Courfeyrac mumbles. “Just. Drifting. I’m back.” He wonders if his voice sounds slurry, like the dying men he’s taken confession from. It doesn’t sound any different to his ears, but that doesn’t mean much anymore. The world is an odd strobe of deepest black toying at the center of his vision. “Totally back. What do you look like?”

“Pardon?”

Courfeyrac grins weakly. This is starting to feel weirdly flirtatious. “What are you wearing?” he croons.

Pardon?

“Sorry, dumb joke. I was just—”

“Average,” the Gun Show cuts him off. “Tall, but not too tall. Glasses. Ordinary. Nothing special.”

He lets out a low breath, trying to sound dismissive. “You could have just described any of us,” he points out.

There’s an odd weight to the other man’s hesitation: intent. “No,” he finally says, and his voice has taken on a new quality—something that makes Courfeyrac’s skin prickle in awareness. “There’s nothing ordinary about you.”

Oh God, if he’s hallucinating in his final minutes, he doesn’t want to know—he wants to sink into death thinking this man cares. “What’s your name?” he asks, feeling strangely desperate. He’s always wondered, but all at once he has to know. He has to hear it, say it, at least once. “No one’s on the line but us, and it’s not like I’m going to live long enough to give you away.”

Courfeyrac,” he says, sounding torn.

Please. I’ve been obsessing over you ever since I first heard your voice. I’ve been— On that side of the desk, you don’t get it. Handlers. You just don’t— Sometimes, the voice in my ear is all I have. When I’m…” It’s getting harder and harder to talk. He still can’t hear it, but now he knows he has to be slurring. His tongue feels too slow for him not to be. “When I’m all alone in the field, the voice in my ear is all I’ve got. You guys keep us sane. You keep us safe, if you can, and you—”

He turns his head weakly, keeping his eyes shut. The darkness at the center of his vision is too big, too terrifying if he doesn’t. Not long now. “Yours is the voice that brings us home. God, I just want to go home.”

“Combeferre,” he says, and there’s pain in that voice. “Henri Combeferre. I watch you, sometimes. I try not to—I’m on the helicarrier to blend in, not daydream about our best agents—but you’re always the brightest object in any room. I can’t help myself.”

The missed opportunity is so bitter on his tongue he almost can’t stand it. “So in other words…Enjolras has never been around at the same…time.” Enjolras, rising star of SHIELD, beautiful and fierce and shining. There’s a reason R is only the most devoted of his acolytes.

“I don’t understand how anyone even sees Enjolras when you’re there,” Combeferre says, so sweet, and it’s enough to make the tears come at the very end. Dying in a dank rom, blood a black halo around his useless body, aware of the three hostiles slipping into welcoming death with him…this is how it’s all going to end for him.

He has so much left to do. He’s 26—he’s barely even tasted life.

“Combeferre,” he says, voice breaking. Afraid.

“It’s okay,” the gentle voice in his ear says, lifting him up and up and up even as everything else goes so very dark. That one spark, that connection, is all he has left. In the end, it’s all he needs. “I’m bringing you home.”

A pause, then: “They’re in place. Courfeyrac, hold on and try not to catch the extraction team in your thrall.”

Drifting. Drifting, drifting, lost with only that voice to hold him—words break up, don’t mean anything anymore, but he has the voice until the end.

“Courfeyrac? Courfeyrac? Agent Courfeyrac, answer me. Fuck. Now, now, go in now. Courfeyrac, hold on.

Sound, crashing, breaking, cresting. Like ocean waves, like—a memory. A day at the beach with his family, playing with his sisters in the surf. White-capped waves breaking over his head and the pressure like an explosion somewhere nearby. Warm fingers on his chilled skin.

“HQ, we’ve got him,” a voice, sharp and assured. Enjolras. “Courfeyrac, you will hold on.”

So demanding, he doesn’t say, can’t say. He’s lost under that wave.

Then, with the last bit of strength he has, he thinks: Combeferre.

And then nothing.

**

…until who knows how much later, surfacing from groggy sleep with a pained whine. His brain feels fuzzy and his mouth tastes like he’s swallowed Bahorel’s old socks and there are machines beeping near his head.

“Aw, hospital,” Courfeyrac croaks a whine. He hates being in the helicarrier’s hospital.

There’s a startled movement near him, followed by a crash. A really loud crash. Courfeyrac cranes his neck to see over the arm of the hospital bed, watching as Marius—no mistaking that sunburst of red hair for anyone else—starfishes on the floor. It’s as if his gangly arms and legs have all gone to sleep at once and he’s trying to force them into coordination.

Gaze ticking to the hard hospital chair where Marius has probably been sleeping for God knows how long, Courfeyrac makes a chagrined face and swallows back his laughter. Yeah, okay, maybe that’s not so far off the mark. “Need a hand?” he offers as Marius manages to scramble up to his knees. There’s a deep indentation bisecting his freckly face and his eyes are wild. “How long have you been here?”

“Almost three days.” Marius grabs the arm of the hospital bed and drags himself up. He looks rumpled and wild and is swaying on his feet. “Oh my God, Courf.”

He winces. “Three days? Wow. Guess I’m just a lazy ass, then.” Marius doesn’t laugh—just keeps staring—and he guesses he doesn’t need much more to grasp onto the truth. “I got pretty close, didn’t I? To dying?”

It’s like he’s cut a marionette’s strings. Marius steps back and just crumples, very nearly missing the hard-as-nails chair and crashing to the floor. He catches himself at the last moment and eases himself back; he’s paper-white. “They medivaced you in,” he says. “On one of the quinjets. They had to call it a few minutes from base.” He winces, and Courfeyrac winces with him. “I mean, they had to declare you dead.”

He vaguely remembers Enjolras’s order and hot fingers against his skin. “Enjolras is going to have my head.”

“He’s been terrorizing the doctors,” Marius agrees.

“So how did I…” Make it. “Do the whole Lazarus thing?”

“Oh!” Marius brightens. “Feuilly was on the team that brought you in. He kept using his powers to shock your heart back into beating until the quinjet made it to carrier airspace. Bossuet got hold of one of those wing packs—like the Falcon uses?—and flew Joly in once you were in range.”

That was quite an image. “I hope someone got video footage of that,” he says with a low laugh.

The laugh seems to be enough to relax Marius. He leans back in his chair and grins back, tired but genuine. “Bossuet had to do some quick talking to get the brass to let him try. We all thought for sure they’d say no, but then, all of a sudden, the Gun Show was on the line, and he ordered them to allow it. I didn’t even know he was involved until then.”

Combeferre. “Yeah,” Courfeyrac murmurs, toes curling in pleasure. “He took over for Jehan there at the end.”

“Well, he was furious the brass was trying to make Joly wait in the carrier for the quinjet to reach the hanger. All the doctors on the jet were saying it’d come down to minutes, and Joly and Bossuet were shouting, and Jehan was arguing with the medical teams here, and R was actually halfway into cracking the codes that would let them go out into airspace anyway,” good old R, “and then suddenly his voice was just booming over the coms. Like Oz the Great and Powerful. That’s actually what people have started calling him now, instead. It was really impressive.”

God, part of him wishes he could have seen that. “And so he shouted down the brass and Joly and Bossuet were allowed to make their epic flight to cross paths with a jet.”

“Yeah,” Marius says earnestly. “They were really lucky they made it. One foot off-course and they would have been a mess on the windshield.”

Lucky.”

Marius grins with him. “I know! The irony. Everyone’s been rubbing Bossuet’s head for some of that luck ever since.”

Courfeyrac glances longingly toward the door. He wants to be out there with them now. “And Joly managed to heal me right up? No problems?”

“Well.” The laughter dies, like a radio dial turning off-station. “Almost. You were dead, so there was a lot of— Of damage to fix. He’s been doing the healing in stages, to minimize the strain on both your systems. You’ve got maybe one or two healings left to go.”

Courfeyrac tries not to wince. Healing something big takes a lot out of Joly—like he uses his own life force to charge his powers or something. He hates the thought of doing that to his friend. “So he and Bossuet are sleeping it off, then? I hope? But the others—they’re around, yeah? Maybe if I can’t go to them, they can come to me.”

But Marius is already shaking his head, wide, crooked mouth twisting into a grimace. “I’m sorry, but they’ll only let one or two of us in at a time. Doctor’s orders.”

“Bullshit.” He struggles to sit up, craning his neck to look over Marius’ shoulder. One wall is taken up by a huge picture window looking out into the rest of the hospital suite. He can see movement beyond that window—a single doctor in a white lab coat hovering nearby, as if he had paused to check in on Courfeyrac and is now re-reading his notes. He’s tall and slender with dark brown skin and chunky black glasses. He looks vaguely…familiar. “Is that my doctor?”

Marius twists around to follow his line of sight, visibly brightening. “Oh, yeah, that’s him. Well, technically he’s one of the R&D guys, but he’s apparently one of the best general practitioners on the carrier despite that, so he got reassigned while you were recovering. He’s been incredibly conscientious.”

Another favor from Combeferre, or was Enjolras and his shouting to thank? It shouldn’t matter to him, but it does. “Pop out into the hall and ask him, will you? I feel really okay. I mean, I could probably get up and go back to my room if—”

Not a chance.

“—if I didn’t have overprotective friends keeping me in place. So, hey, if I’m stuck here, and I can’t go to my friends, then they’re going to have to come to me.” Pause. “All of them. Ask him? Marius?”

He can sense Marius hesitating—probably worrying that all the excitement would be taxing for him or some-such nonsense—but all Courfeyrac has to do is turn on his biggest, most earnest puppy dog eyes and Marius is crumpling like wet tissue. He doesn’t even have to use his powers (not that he would against friends; ethics and all!) because he’s just that good.

“Oh, well, okay,” Marius mumbles, standing and stumbling toward the door. There’s a flush rising high on his cheeks. “I guess it doesn’t hurt to, um, ask.”

Courfeyrac settles back against his mound of pillows, pleased, and watches as Marius catches the doctor’s attention. The doc has a good profile, features neat and precise. He frowns, dark brows drawing together as Marius (no doubt) fumblingly explains—then glances through the big picture window toward Courfeyrac.

Courfeyrac immediately widens his eyes and sticks out his lower lip. When those brows just arch, he makes it tremble, then lifts his hands into little curled begging paws. He’d make the whining noise, too, if he thought the doctor could hear him. His friends (Enjolras) hate when he pulls out the full sad dog routine because they (he) can never say no.

He can feel his eyes watering; his brows invert into an upside-down V. He is the master of his craft.

The doctor snorts and quickly covers his mouth to hide a grin; white teeth flash very bright against dark skin. He shakes his head, but it’s not a negative. In fact, Courfeyrac doesn’t need Marius’s little bounce to know they’ve gotten the green light.

Weirdly, something about the doctor’s expression makes something…flutter low in his belly, but Courfeyrac pushes that restless feeling aside as Marius swings back into the room. He just had a near death experience—he’s probably still not fully up to snuff. It’s fine. It’s nothing.

“Okay!” he says, focusing instead on how he’s going to sneak booze and snacks into a hospital wing, “let’s page R and get this Hey I’m Not Dead party started.”

**

As it turns out? It’s not that difficult to sneak booze and snacks into a hospital wing.

It’s just a really, really bad idea.

**

Like. A really bad idea. They’re all going to be feeling that one for a day or two.

**

…two, as it turns out.

**

He really needs to start reevaluating his life decisions.

**

Nah. YOLO.

**

“Ugh, stop it,” Courfeyrac groans, swatting at Joly as he tries to check his eyes again, for like, the fiftieth time. “They’re fine, I’m fine, everything is fine. Look, I’m standing under my own steam and everything!”

It’s been a few days since he woke up in the SHIELD helicarrier hospital, and he’s about ready to start climbing the walls if they don’t let him out. Ever since the debacle with the sickbed party (which was epic, according to Bahorel, though funnily enough, most of them can’t seem to remember exactly what happened; not even Enjolras managed to stay sober for this one), he’s been restricted to two visitors at a time, max. His mysterious doctor never seems to come into the room to check on him when he’s awake—or run tests, or ask question, or poke at him the way Joly always loves to…or, really, any of the usual doctor things—but he always seems to be there. Hovering not too far away, drifting closer to the big picture window the moment Courfeyrac gets it into his head to say fuck the rules and do something reckless.

His doctor? Has a scary sixth sense for trouble, and a single raised eyebrow is usually enough to have Courfeyrac sheepishly sliding back into bed.

But not today. Today Joly is on duty and Scary Doctor is nowhere to be found and he is being released.

“I just want to be thorough,” Joly protests, smacking Courfeyrac’s hand when he tries to swipe his old-fashioned stethoscope. His silky-fine brown hair is sticking up in untidy tufts and he looks exhausted—the last bout of healing after so many long, sustained rounds really took it out of him. His green-blue eyes are alert, however, and if Courfeyrac knows his friends (which he does, very, very well), Bossuet’s somewhere nearby, ready to rush Joly into a long nap after they’re through here.

…it’s just taking an unreasonable amount of time for them to be through here.

“Didn’t Scary Doctor already sign off on my release?” Courfeyrac whines. From this angle, he can see the elevator that will take him out of the hospital wing and back to the main hub of the carrier. R is on duty today, and he promised he’d keep it waiting on this floor for him. R is the best; he loves R. He really wants to be on that elevator. “I’m fine; I can go.”

Joly? Just ignores him. Joly is one of the few people he’s ever met who is immune to every bit of his charm.

The light above the elevator door is taunting him. Jehan promised to be in the mess with as much of the crew as he could gather, waiting for his triumphant return. Jehan is the best handler in the history of SHIELD. There will be non-hospital food and drinks and laughter and feeling like he’s really, truly alive again, after everything… But he has to get there first, and, “Joly! Come on!”

“And, done,” Joly says, prodding him once hard in the side, just to be contrary. He straightens, delicate-boned face serene despite the violet smudges beneath his eyes. “You are the picture of health once more.”

Courfeyrac bounces on his heels. “Does this mean I can go?” He’s already inching toward the door just in case Joly says no.

Joly doesn’t say no. Instead he sighs (smile only partly hidden) and waves Courfeyrac off. Courfeyrac lets out a whoop and books it, sprinting through the open door. He pauses and does and about-face maybe three steps into the hall, jogging back to leave a smacking kiss on his friend’s temple (Joly protesting and batting at him) then spins back around and runs full-tilt toward the elevator. He can see Bossuet unfolding from one of the waiting room chairs as he passes, heading further in to find Joly, but Courfeyrac doesn’t pause to do more than wave.

He has a goal. That light above the elevator is calling to him.

He skids to a stop before the closed door and presses the call button, craning around to find the hidden camera. “R, I’m ready!” he calls, waving once to catch the techie’s attention. There’s only a moment’s hesitation before the doors swing smoothly open, elevator music starting up before he’s even a full step inside.

But not actual elevator music. A song. A very pointed song, celebrating Courfeyrac’s return:

The Boys Are Back in Town.

He really does have the best friends ever. Courfeyrac turns and presses the button for the mess room floor, grin so wide it hurts. He’s so fucking grateful. Days ago, in that dark room, he’d thought he was going to die. He’d thought thousands of people were going to go down with him, because he wasn’t fast enough to save them. Now? New York is safe, the HYDRA cell has been routed, and he’s back. He’s really, truly back.

The doors begin to close with a soft whoosh. He smiles beatifically up at the camera.

…and then, just before they close all the way, an arm slides between them. The doors bounce open again, and Scary Doctor is there—still in his white lab coat, glasses a little crooked, dark brows arched. His breathing is a little off-tempo, as if he’d run to catch the elevator.

Courfeyrac crumples back against the far wall, defeated. This is so unfair. “But you signed off on my release,” he whines. Above him, the music changes to You Can’t Always Get What You Want. R is such an asshole.

Scary Doctor just chuffs a soft laugh—then deliberately shrugs off his lab coat, as if in answer. He drops it on the tiles behind him and steps fully into the elevator, adjusting his glasses before leaning in to press the already-lit button for the mess hall. The message is clear: he’s not here to stop Courfeyrac.

Oh thank God,” Courfeyrac says in a single breath. He splays one spread hand dramatically over his chest, lips curled into a teasing smile. “I thought for sure Scary Doctor was going to try to herd me back to bed. I am so tired of being in one room, you have no idea. I thought I was going to lose my mind if I had to spend another hour staring at that ceiling.”

Scary Doctor just arches a single brow, and the elevator begins moving smoothly.

“So now that I’m all healed up, is your turn in the hospital all over? I assume that’s what the dramatic disrobing was about. Are you glad to be going back to R&D? Are you just as desperate to get out of there as I am? Was I the worst patient you’ve ever had? You can tell the truth: I can take it.”

He just shakes his head slightly, lips curled into an almost-shy smile. It’s strange that Courfeyrac hasn’t heard him speak once. He’s not even sure Scary Doctor does speak. It’s seemed rude to ask. But he has hazy memories (semi-surfacing from sleep, bleary in a dream-drenched way) of a dark, handsome face leaning over his as he checked on him in the night, of confident hands adjusting dials on monitors, of warm brown eyes meeting his behind black-frame glasses. Of warmth and worry and affection and…

Dreams. Totally dreams.

“I’ve been told by pretty much every doctor I’ve ever had that I’m their worst patient…at least until they get their hands on Enjolras. Then their tune changes, trust me. There is nothing in any dimension or any timeline or whatever than Enjolras on his sickbed.” Scary Doctor is still smiling, chin tipped down to the floor but eyes ticked over to watch Courfeyrac. They’re bright with amusement, and they feel—

—familiar-yet-not.

“I know you from somewhere,” Courfeyrac starts to say, trying to place where he knows this man from—when suddenly the elevator gives a hard lurch and everything comes to a screeching halt. The lights black out; the world shudders. Courfeyrac pitches back with a cry, off-balance, and slams his elbow against the wall. “Son of a,” he begins.

“Are you all right?” Combeferre asks at once, alarm underlying his usual calm, and in the pitch black of the elevator, for a confused moment, he thinks he’s hearing him through the earpiece, like usual. He even reaches up to touch his ear, baffled—but then cool hands are finding, framing his face in the dark, sliding up into his wild mass of dark curls as if looking for an injury, and Combeferre is saying again, right fucking there, “Courfeyrac, did you hit your head? Are you all right?”

It all crystalizes then. He’s so stupid for not figuring it out before.

“Oh my God, you’re Scary Doctor!” Courfeyrac nearly shouts. He can feel Combeferre startle and begin to pull back, but he reaches out to catch his wrists before he can, heart winging almost-painfully in his chest. He feels lightheaded and amazed and so very glad.

He’s touching Combeferre. Combeferre is more than a voice in the darkness.

His eyes are actually tearing up, and oh God, he wants to kiss him.

“Hi,” he says instead, voice wobbly—then he laughs, because this is fucking ridiculous. This is one of those farces Jehan likes to read, only ten times better because it’s Combeferre here, with him, touching him. “Oh my God, I can’t believe you were right there all along.” Just like that, the memories slot into place, and he very nearly smacks his palm to his forehead. God, he really is an idiot sometimes. “I’ve seen you before, in the labs! You were always there when I went to go bug Eponine, all this time, and I had no idea.”

“Courfeyrac.” Combeferre’s voice is low and gentle and only a foot away. Courfeyrac can feel his breath against his face; it makes his toes curl. “I hate to interrupt an important revelation—”

“Life-altering, actually. If we’re keeping score.”

“—life-altering, yes, very well, but I need to know before you go on… Are you okay?”

He blinks, tilting his head. He doesn’t let go of Combeferre’s wrists, thumbs sliding up and down the delicate tracery of veins and fine bones in the dark. He swears he feels Combeferre shiver. “Why wouldn’t I be— Oh, the elevator. No, I’m good.”

“You didn’t hit your head?”

“Funny bone. Haha, right?” He pauses. “So now that we’ve established that I’m perfectly fine, can I go back to being gobsmacked that you’re actually here?”

Combeferre gives a breathless laugh, and fuck, it feels so good hearing it, knowing he caused it. He lets go of Combeferre’s wrists and reaches up to find his face, fingertips ghosting across high cheekbones, crinkly dark hair, the delicate shell of an ear. Combeferre’s breath catches audibly, and Courfeyrac can feel the rapid thrum of his pulse when he sweeps his fingertips down the long column of his neck.

“You’re here,” Courfeyrac murmurs; his voice sounds throaty. “You’re real. I can’t believe you’re real and here.”

“I’ve been here,” Combeferre says. His hands, freed, drop to Courfeyrac’s waist. His thumbs press deliciously hard against the wings of his hipbones. It should feel weird, how intimate they’re being when this is really the first time they’ve ever come face-to-face, but it isn’t. It isn’t at all. It feels like everything in Courfeyrac’s life has always been barreling headfirst toward this moment, and he doesn’t even care how silly and cliché that sounds. “All along. Noticing you. You are…very, very difficult not to notice.”

He arches into the touch, arms sliding around Combeferre’s neck. This does feel like jumping blindly into something…and yet it seems so inevitable at the same time. Courfeyrac is the master of his emotions, has been since he first manifested his powers, and he knows he can trust what he’s feeling.

What he’s feeling, through those powers, from Combeferre.

This isn’t sudden. This isn’t reckless. This isn’t some shallow, meaningless crush.

“Oh,” he breathes, closing his eyes happily. “You don’t know this now, but we’re going to be ridiculously in love with each other someday very soon.”

Combeferre laughs—Courfeyrac loves that he can make the Gun Show, Scary Doctor, laugh so much—and slides his hands around to the small of Courfeyrac’s back. They’re pressing together slowly, like puzzle pieces finding their match. It’s all so inevitable. “Is that so?”

“Yup.” Courfeyrac tips up his face, knowing deep to his bones Combeferre is tipping his down. “I know these things. You can ask anyone.”

“I trust you.”

And that…that matters more than anything. That goes right through him like a bolt of lightning; all at once, he’s through with waiting. Courfeyrac rocks up onto the balls of his feet with a low noise, finding Combeferre’s mouth in the darkness. It’s warm and sweet, lips already faintly parted, and it’s all he can do not to melt against him as he tangles his fingers in the back of Combeferre’s collar and kisses him.

Combeferre moans, light and trapped in his chest, as if he’s been wanting this for years. Courfeyrac shudders and chases the moan with his tongue, too impatient to wait—he swipes along the curve of Combeferre’s bottom lip, teasing at the corner in a question that Combeferre answers with another, louder moan. Lips parting further, inviting, grip on his hips going tight. Shivering at a burst of heat, Courfeyrac surges up against his trim body and licks into his mouth, needing the taste of him now, now, nownownow.

Their tongues brush, slicking hot and wet, and it doesn’t take much to swallow the noise Combeferre makes. Courfeyrac rocks up, deliberately letting their hips drag together; the simmer of pleasure uncurling low in his stomach is incredible, better than anything he’s ever felt.

…until Combeferre twines their tongues together, then catches his lower lip between his teeth and tugs, and, fuck, okay, that just upped the ante.

Courfeyrac twists up into the increasingly frantic first kiss, biting at Combeferre’s mouth in retaliation before sucking away the sting, riding each restless move of Combeferre’s hips. Their breaths are coming in sharp pants now, already, so very fast, like a spark touched to bone-dry kindling, and he’s—

He’s hard, getting harder by the moment, hips pushing up again and again for that friction as he tears at the hem of Combeferre’s shirt, trying to pull it free from his pants. He opens his mouth wide for Combeferre’s tongue, sucking on it with ever-growing desperation. The first grind of their erections together makes them both jolt, stumbling in the pitch black elevator, slamming up against a wall. Courfeyrac briefly wonders if Combeferre is going to pull away then, but he just deepens the kiss, shifting the angle of their hips before thrusting up once, hard.

Sparks flare through his body, and he breaks away to cry out.

Wanted you,” Combeferre husks, gripping the waist of Courfeyrac’s pants. He thrusts again, driving their cocks together, and the heat that arcs through him is dizzying. “For so long. Watching you, wishing I could—”

Courfeyrac drags his nails down Combeferre’s spine, pushing up beneath the loose hem of his shirt to find hot skin; he gasps when Combeferre’s clever fingers pop open the button of his fly. They are doing this, oh God.

“Driving me insane, unable to say anything to you, wanting to touch. Listening in on your ops with Jehan sometimes and having to walk away before I could let myself step in.” His knuckles are brushing against the quivering line of Courfeyrac’s stomach, and the sound of the zip being pushed roughly down is very loud. The only other sound is their harshly panted breaths. “You don’t understand how perfect you are, how—”

“Show me.” He turns his face to catch Combeferre’s mouth again, hungrily driving their tongues together. He’s dying; if he doesn’t come with those perfect hands on him, he is going to die. He hasn’t felt like this since he was a teenager. “Oh fuck, show me, show me, I want to feel you—”

“—have to have you, I just, you drive me crazy, so full of life—”

“—want you to fuck me right here—”

Christ.”

It’s going to happen, oh God. Courfeyrac’s so hard he can feel beads of precome leaving a slick trail against his briefs, and Combeferre is just pulling at his clothes now, all finesse gone. There’s so much to talk about, so much to figure out—for all they’ve known each other so long, they barely know each other, and Courfeyrac wants to fix that, wants to know everything—but the desire to strip Combeferre bare, to fist his cock and be shoved back against the wall and fucked, claimed, owned… It’s all too much. It’s all-consuming.

This has been a long time coming. It has to happen now.

Which, of course, is why the elevator lights suddenly come on and the fucking thing begins to move with an ear-splitting screech.

Courfeyrac curses and stumbles, grabbing hold of Combeferre as his balance shifts. He needn’t have bothered—Combeferre’s got him in a vise-like grip, head coming up sharply at the sudden change, eyes wide. He looks gorgeous, lips slick and kiss-bruised, glasses akimbo, eyes blown nearly black with desire. His perfectly tidy shirt and khakis are a mess.

Courfeyrac isn’t much better.

“…oh my God,” Courfeyrac says, blinking rapidly. He’s all at once very aware that his pants are open, he’s impossibly hard, and they’re zooming toward the (very crowded) mess hall. “Oh my God.”

Above them, drifting through the speakers, a song clicks on: Love in an Elevator.

Courfeyrac hides a helpless laugh against Combeferre’s shoulder. Combeferre simply adjusts his glasses and glares up at the hidden camera. “I hope you do realize, Agent Grantaire,” he says coolly, so very prim and in control and hot that Courfeyrac has to bite Combeferre’s shoulder to keep the laugh-moan in, “that as a senior member of this organization, I have full license to kill without any questions asked?”

The music cuts out. Sheepishly, almost.

“Clever man.”

“You are so the Gun Show,” Courfeyrac whispers against his neck, still shuddering with hopeless laughter. Combeferre chuffs his own laugh, turning his face to catch Courfeyrac’s in a warm, sweet kiss. Then, reluctantly, they separate and begin pulling their clothes back together.

“Well this is a right mess,” Combeferre sighs, trying (and failing) to smooth his rumpled shirt back into some semblance of order. “I suppose there’s no hiding it now.”

“Did you want to?”

Combeferre looks up at that, meeting his eyes. His expression is hard to read, but Courfeyrac can feel his emotions buffeting against his walls—he wouldn’t be able to ignore them if he tried. The caring there, the warmth, the love already putting down root…it’s all there, zinging between them. Unspoken but undeniable. “No,” Combeferre says, in that tone of voice that is just for Courfeyrac. “I don’t think that was ever an option for me.”

“I wish it hadn’t taken so long for us to really meet,” Courfeyrac says, reaching out to take his hand. Their fingers slot together easily, naturally, as if they were meant to be. Already he’s starting to think that maybe they were. “That it didn’t take a near-death whatever to make this happen.”

Combeferre squeezes his fingers. “I’m sorry,” he says. “I was a coward. But no more.”

“For either of us. No more.”

Combeferre tilts his head; the elevator is one floor away from the mess. “Are you ready to face your friends?”

“Yes.” His heart gives a helpless flutter and he tightens his grip, all at once, strangely, afraid. There are so many questions he has, so many uncertainties. Will Jehan still be his handler, or will Combeferre take over for good? Does he want that? Does Combeferre? Will it change things, being with someone so high up on the SHIELD food change? Will his friends look at him differently? Will he care? “Wait, no,” he says, turning to Combeferre. He meets those brown eyes and tries to share in one look all his doubts and hopes and fears. Then he leans in and kisses him once, hard. He still can’t believe that he’s allowed to have this. It’s all happening so fast.

“Okay,” Courfeyrac breathes against his mouth, slowly pulling back. He licks his lips, and watches (heat curling through him again, banked but not lost) as Combeferre does the same. “Now I’m ready.”

“You’re sure?” There are layers and layers of meaning to that question. There are so many things that need to be decided.

Later. They have time. “Yeah,” Courfeyrac says as the elevator slows on the right floor and the doors begin to open. He keeps his hand in Combeferre’s, squeezing his fingers with a slowly growing smile. “I’m sure.”

Combeferre’s return smile is dazzling. He’s dizzy at the sight of it. They step out of the elevator together.

…and Courfeyrac murmurs, sotto: “Here comes the Gun Show.”

He’s never going to tire of hearing Combeferre’s startled laugh, his voice in his hear, his everything. Never, never, never.

**

Coda:

“Courfeyrac, would you please be more careful?” Jehan sounds exhausted. He has every right to sound exhausted, Courfeyrac figures—he and Enjolras have been on this op for weeks now, and neither of them have exactly been on their best behavior. “We’re trying to draw their attention, not start another World War.”

“Wouldn’t that just make our newest SHIELD pal feel at home?” Courfeyrac muses. The look Enjolras shoots him at that is nearly enough to startle a laugh out of him.

Courfeyrac—”

There’s a soft click and another voice comes on his private line, as clipped and cool and collected as ever…only Combeferre no longer bothers trying to hide the layers of warm affection threading underneath. “Courfeyrac, could you please stop antagonizing everyone and focus on finishing your job? You’re only prolonging your stay in the field; I’m beginning to think you’ve got cold feet.”

“What, me? Never.”

Enjolras shoots him another exasperated, utterly baffled-annoyed look. He’s been wearing a series of are you shitting me and I will destroy you and I am reluctantly fond of you but you are trying my patience expressions over the last few days. “Excuse me?”

“He’s on the line with his boyfriend,” Jehan interrupts. “I can tell. He always gets that cross-eyed look on his face.”

Combeferre is still talking. “—move in with me. If you’re not certain.”

Courfeyrac pinches the bridge of his nose. “I am so certain. And I am not cross-eyed. And I am hurrying, Enjolras; hold onto your ass and get off mine, all right?”

Both Jehan and Combeferre laugh while Enjolras glowers. This? Is not new. “I’ve got to focus,” Courfeyrac adds. “I have a gorgeous and all-seeing boyfriend to get back to. Love you!”

And because his life is so very weird, all at once, in stereo, Jehan (bemused but automatic), Enjolras (confused but reflexive), and Combeferre (deeply affectionate and earnest) all say: “I love you too.”

There is deeply awkward silence. Courfeyrac just shakes his head.

“This is never going to get less weird,” he says, turning back to his work with renewed focus. He’s got work to do; he has a boyfriend to finish moving in with.

Life? Is good.

“Oh. You were talking to him. Well. You are impossible,” Enjolras grumbles.

“I’ll see you at home,” Combeferre adds, voice shaking with laughter as he cuts the line. Jehan just sighs.

So so good.