the first three days | an it’s for you fic
combeferre, enjolras, jehan (background jehan/courfeyrac)
"things change. but that doesn’t mean they get worse."
set right after words fly up.
“How is it?”
Combeferre glances around his childhood bedroom, trying to find a way to describe it.
“Surreal,” is all he can come up with.
Enjolras makes a sound like a snort through the phone and Combeferre knows he understands.
“You’re not the same person you were last time you lived in that room,” he says simply.
Combeferre sighs and reaches behind himself to touch through his shirt the place where his tattoo is — the tattoo he got the day he decided he was done with this place and moved out for good. “My mom can’t stop crying,” he says in a low voice, “and my dad has barely said three words to me since I’ve been back.”
“What were they?”
“ ‘About time, too.’ ”
“I hate him,”
“You’ve always hated him,” Combeferre says fondly.
“I hate anyone who’s terrible to you,” Enjolras replies fiercely. Then, quietly: “I really miss you.”
Combeferre winces because he really misses Enjolras, too. “I’ve only been gone a few hours,” he says, reaching out to fiddle with his comforter.
“Yeah, but you can feel it here. There’s an absence and it’s tangible.”
Combeferre sighs. “I want to come home,” he whispers like a confession.
“I know,” Enjolras says, and he does. “I want you to come home, too. You’re doing a really admirable thing, though.”
“I can’t help but notice you didn’t say I was doing the right thing.”
“Well, I’m very selfish and want you here,” Enjolras replies. Combeferre can almost hear his smirk. There’s a little pause before Enjolras asks, “What do you have to do now?”
“Unpack,” Combeferre sighs, staring at his suitcase.
“Can I stay on the phone with you while you do?” Enjolras asks.
Combeferre smiles. “Please.”
Combeferre has been gone for three days when Jehan wakes up in the middle of night, physically aching at how much he misses him.
Courfeyrac is asleep and breathing deeply and peacefully with one hand resting in Jehan’s hair and the other laid across his boyfriend’s arm (which is clinging around Courfeyrac’s waist). Jehan thinks for a moment about waking him, but he knows that wouldn’t help quell the pain in his heart. So, carefully because Courfeyrac is a light sleeper when it comes to Jehan, Jehan slips out of his arms and slides out of bed, grabbing his phone as he goes and padding out into the living room instead. Grantaire’s door is open, which means he’s probably over at Enjolras’ tonight, and all the better, Jehan thinks as he dials. He feels terribly guilty for calling so late when Combeferre is almost certainly fast asleep, but when the other line clicks on and he hears Combeferre’s voice, he nearly starts crying with relief.
“Hello?” Combeferre sounds groggy, but not annoyed. He sounds like Combeferre.
“Hi,” Jehan answers in a gust of air, his voice a little higher than normal.
“Jehan?” Combeferre asks. Jehan imagines he’s reaching for his clock to check the time. “Are you all right? What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” Jehan answers quickly. “Sorry, no, nothing’s wrong everyone is fine. I’m just —” He takes a big breath. “I miss you.”
“Oh, Jehan, I miss you, too,” Combeferre tells him. “I miss you a lot.”
There actually are tears in Jehan’s eyes now. “It’s really hard,” he says quietly, “without you here. And I’m just not sure how we’re all going to manage if it’s this hard and it’s only been three days.”
“You will be fine,” Combeferre says, sure. “It will get easier and you will be fine. And then I’ll be back and everything will be like it was.”
“Nothing is ever like it was,” Jehan says gravely. “Things change and nothing ever goes back to how it was. And I wasn’t ready for that, I liked things. Courfeyrac loves me and Enjolras finally realized how he feels about Grantaire and they’re happy and you were here. That was good, I liked that. And now everything is different. And if you don’t come home soon, it will be changed when you get back and I don’t want you to have to come back to something you don’t know. I don’t want that.”
Combeferre sighs. “You are too good,” he says softly. “And you’re right. Things change. But that doesn’t mean they get worse. I’ll come home and you and Courfeyrac will be even more deeply in love than you are now; you’ll have your own special nonverbal language that only you two speak and you’ll be so used to loving each other that it will be natural and easy and I will love seeing that. Enjolras and Grantaire will start to figure each other out and their insecurities and they’ll learn to communicate and I imagine they’ll fight, but I think they’ll learn and they’ll grow and I’ll come back to a healthier best friend because Grantaire will be watching out for him. And yes, things will change and you all will learn to live without me, and maybe I’ll have to work to fit back in, but if that happens, I’ll be okay with that. Because I belong with you guys and I know it. It’ll be okay.”
Jehan heaves a shuddery sigh. “I wish you were here right now,” he says. “I really want to hug you.”
“Is Courfeyrac there?” Combeferre asks him.
“Go wake him up,” Combeferre orders gently. “Hug him instead.”
“He’s not you,” Jehan protests.
“No, but you love him.”
“Yeah,” Jehan says reluctantly. “But —”
“Do you know he did this yesterday?” Combeferre asks.
Jehan blinks. “What?”
“Yeah, he called me at three in the morning my time to tell me about some stupid idea he had. Ended up telling me he missed me.”
“He didn’t tell me that,” Jehan says quietly.
“Go wake him up,” Combeferre says again. “This will be easier if you stop trying to hide from each other how much it hurts you both.”
“What about you, though?” Jehan asks, sniffing. “Who will hug you?”
Combeferre is silent for a minute. “I’ll be back soon,” he says.
“You don’t have to lie to me,” Jehan answers. “I’d rather you didn’t.”
“Okay,” Combeferre concedes. “It’ll probably be at least a few months. It’s hard. I hate it here. I love that you guys call me in the middle of the night because even though it means I don’t sleep very much, it also means you love me and you miss me and that means a lot to me. I truly believe you will all be fine without me. I’m not sure about how I’ll be without you. I miss you. I wish I was there so you could hug me, too. But this is necessary, and I am here, and someday I’ll be back. That’s the truth, all of it.”
“I love you, Combeferre,” Jehan tells him. “That’s my truth.”
“I love you, too, Jehan,” Combeferre sighs. “Thanks for calling me. Go hug your boyfriend.”
Jehan doesn’t want to say goodbye and hang up, but he does.
Combeferre doesn’t let himself hesitate before hitting another contact on his phone.
He honestly doesn’t expect Enjolras to answer — usually Enjolras turns his phone off at night to avoid being drunk-texted. But the phone only rings twice before he hears his best friend say his name.
“Is everything okay?” Enjolras is asking, sounding concerned.
“Will you come visit me?” Combeferre asks quickly, before he can lose his nerve. “While I’m out here?”
“Yes,” Enjolras responds instantly. “Of course I will. I have a huge paper due in two weeks, but I can come the weekend after I turn it in.”
“Two weeks?” Combeferre says, trying not to feel so hopeful. He might see Enjolras in just two weeks?
“Is that okay? I can fly in on Thursday afternoon and I’ll bet I can skip my Monday classes so I can stay all weekend if that works for you.”
“That’s fine,” Combeferre answers, grinning now. “That’s perfect. Just come, please.”
Enjolras smiles and holds the phone a little tighter. “I’ll be there,” he promises.