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[personal profile] kingess
PAIRING: Courfeyrac/Combeferre, Enjolras/Grantaire
WORD COUNT: 50,000
RATING: T to M
WARNINGS: non-graphic rape/non-con
SUMMARY: Courfeyrac and Enjolras grew up next door to each other, with their families so close they might as well be related at this point. So when Enjolras's older sister gets engaged, Courfeyrac knows he'll be attending the wedding. Not a big deal. It'll be nice to havea  rbeak from law school and besides, weddings are fun! When it becomes clear that he's expected to bring a date--no, not just a date, everyone expects him to bring his significant other--to the wedding (and the week long festivities that precede it), everything seems a lot less fun and a lot more anxiety inducing. Not having dated anyone in the years since his last disastrous relationship and unable to tell his mother why he's given up on romance, Courfeyrac does the only logical thing--he brings along his new fake boyfriend, Combeferre.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This fic is freakishly long and will be posted in 8 parts. The subsequent parts will be up in a few hours. Special thanks to gaddmegan over at tumblr for her awesome beta reading and to cytisus for the art!



Chapter One

The phone call came when Enjolras was still at the law library. He was supposed to be looking up case studies for his Feminist Jurisprudence class, but he was rather distracted by a text he’d gotten from Grantaire an hour earlier saying he was making chiles rellenos for dinner—and while Enjolras knew correlation was not causation, correlation said that if they were having chiles rellenos for dinner then Enjolras was likely to spend most of the night naked in bed with his boyfriend. So when his phone rang, instead of checking the Caller ID, which he’d been doing religiously for the last two and a half months, he was thinking about all the things he wanted to do to Grantaire tonight and he answered the phone.

“Hello?” he said.

“Julien, darling?”

Shit.

“Mom?” He pulled the phone away from his ear to check the Caller ID. It was the Courfeyrac’s home number. His mom was getting sneaky, going over to the neighbor’s like that. Normally she called from her cell phone or from the home number.

He had a special ringtone to warn against her calls.

“I’ve been trying to get a hold of you for ages,” she said.

“Yeah, I’ve been busy,” he said. “Law school and all.”

“I’m glad I got a hold of you, though. We need to talk about next week.”

He pinched the bridge of his nose and wondered if he could just hang up on her and pretend his phone dropped the call. “Courfeyrac and I are driving up next Thursday. We’ll be there in time for the rehearsal dinner.”

“Julien, this is your sister’s wedding! She’s only going to get married once!”

“Statistically, half of all marriages end in divorce,” he said. “Odds are this is just going to be her first wedding. I’ll make it to the other ones. Besides, I’ll be there for the actual wedding. I said I was driving up on Thursday. Ceremony’s Friday. I don’t see a problem.”

“We’ve got so much more planned that whole week,” she said. “We need you here. Your sister wants you here.”

“Mom, I’m in law school and this is my second year—I’m interning with Myriel and Reed, I just can’t afford to take the whole week off.” Not to mention, he thought it was completely ridiculous that he was expected to take a full week off for his sister’s wedding in the first place. The wedding itself was only going to take an hour, tops. There was no reason that he needed to take a week-long vacation from school and his internship and the half-dozen other things he had on his plate at the moment to sit around for pictures and lunches with his new in-laws. “Not to mention, my friends and I are heading up a rally to raise awareness about police violence against people of color this weekend.”

“Don’t give me that, Julien,” she said. “I’m friends with Courfeyrac on facebook, and I follow both of you on twitter. I know that happened last weekend.”

Shit.

“I can’t take the whole week off,” he said again. “I just…I can’t.”

“This isn’t a debate. This is a family event—we want you here.”

“I can’t leave my boyfriend for that long,” he said, shoving his laptop back in its case. He felt a little guilty for using Grantaire this way, even though there was a time in their relationship when he really would have been uncomfortable with leaving Grantaire alone for any length of time—but Taire was doing so much better now and the depression and the drinking were both under control, and if Taire knew he were using him as an excuse like this, well, Enjolras knew how much he’d be hurt by the vote of no confidence.

“Your boyfriend? Since when have you had a boyfriend?”

Shitshit.

“Uhm—”

“Julien? How long?”

“Two and a half,” he mumbled.

“What? Weeks? Months?”

“Years,” he said, sheepishly.

“You’ve been seeing someone for two and a half years, and you never told your own mother? Shame on you! I raised you better than that.”

“It’s not that,” he said. “I wasn’t—I wasn’t trying to hide him from you.”

She tutted him over the phone. “Your boyfriend is coming,” she said, as though the matter were closed.

Enjolras groaned. It had often been said that he got his stubborn will from his mother, and he knew that if she was going to insist on Taire coming, then Taire would be coming. “We can still only come up for the rehearsal dinner and the ceremony,” he said.

“You’re coming for the week,” she said. “Both of you—my son, hiding his boyfriend from his own mother for two and a half years—you’re both coming for the full week, and that’s that. I want both of you in the family pictures.”

“Mom—”

“No, darling, this isn’t a discussion. I’ll see you next week. Oh, and tell Courfeyrac to bring whoever he’s with, too.”

“But, Mom, Fey’s not—”

“Julien, I have to go—your father’s on the phone with caterer right now. I love you and I’ll see you next week.”

The phone line went dead.

Shit.

He stared at the phone in his hand for a long moment before shoving it in his pocket and slinging his laptop case over his shoulder. He needed to go tell Grantaire about their very not-so-exciting plans before he broke the news to Courfeyrac.

~*~*~

  When Grantaire and Enjolras had gotten an apartment together more than a year ago, Grantaire didn’t know that the small one bedroom apartment could feel so much like home. Before then, he’d practically been living with Enjolras anyway. Most of his clothes had been at Enjolras’s apartment, as had a smattering of his more expensive art supplies. (He could be described as careless in a lot of aspects of his life, but he wasn’t careless about his art and his old apartment had been a dilapidated studio in a shitty part of town—one break in had been enough to convince him that his apartment wasn’t a safe place for his art.) But for all that he spent most of his nights there, it had always been Enjolras-and-Combeferre’s apartment and no matter how welcome he’d been, he was always just a guest.

But their apartment now was completely their own, with Grantaire’s various sketchbooks and graphic novels and mythology books mixed among Enjolras’s (obscenely overpriced) legal textbooks and his never ending stacks of posters and pamphlets and informational materials about a half-dozen different causes, and Grantaire felt at complete ease here.

The only thing that could make it better now would be to have Enjolras home.

Grantaire had texted him over an hour ago to let him know that he was making chiles rellenos tonight. And Enjolras was smart. He had to have picked up on the fact that whenever Grantaire made chiles rellenos that they almost always had sex for dessert. It was a sure-fire way to get Enjolras to come home after long hours hiding in the bowels of the UC Davis Mabie Law Library. (Grantaire worked part-time at the local community center teaching art classes and spent the rest of his time illustrating picture books or working on the webcomic that he and Jehan had started last year, but in reality his full-time occupation was making sure that Enjolras didn’t work himself into an early grave and he was damn good at that job, thank you very much.)

He figured he must have texted Enjolras when he was in the middle researching something, because otherwise he would have come home by now. If he didn’t come home soon, Grantaire would try calling—and if that didn’t work, he’d have to hunt down his boyfriend in person.

When Enjolras eventually walked through the door, Grantaire was sitting on the couch doing some touch-up coloring for the webcomic on his Wacom tablet—a gift from Jehan, who refused to tell Grantaire how much he spent on it. (“Money’s not an issue for me,” Jehan had said when Grantaire tried to give the tablet back. “You know that. Besides, if we want this webcomic to be as awesome as we know it can be, then you need to have the proper tools.”)

“We’ve got a situation,” Enjolras said, dropping his laptop bag off by the door. He didn’t bother kicking off his shoes before coming to the sofa Grantaire was reclining on. He lifted Grantaire’s feet, took a seat, and resettled Grantaire’s feet on his lap.

Grantaire sat up a little, trying to get a better look at Enjolras’s face. “A ‘government trampling of human rights’ situation or a ‘Bahorel started a fistfight with some homophobic asshole’ situation?”

 “This is serious,” Enjolras said. “My mother expects us to stay the whole week for my sister’s wedding.”

Grantaire felt he deserved an award for not rolling his eyes. Enjolras had been scheming for ways to get out of spending the week with his family since his mother mentioned it to him months ago, and Grantaire didn’t have much sympathy for him at this point. He knew Enjolras got along with his family far better than Grantaire did with his own, and while spending the week without Enjolras would undoubtedly suck, he didn’t think it was as big of a deal as Enjolras was making it out to be.

“I suppose the poor starving masses are going to have to survive without you for a week.”

“Taire.”

“To be fair, I did say that your mom was going to win out in the end, Enj. You should have expected this.”

“Taire, we’re both going.”

Grantaire cocked his head to the side. “I believe your exact words on the matter were, ‘No, Taire, you don’t need to worry about coming. I wouldn’t want to inflict this horse and pony show on anyone.’”

“Yeah, well, when I said that, my mom didn’t exactly know about you, but now she does, so she expects you to come. The community center won’t mind you taking off for a week, will they? But still, that’s not the biggest problem. Courfeyrac is—”

“Excuse me?” Grantaire said, his mind scrambling to process what my mom didn’t exactly know about you could possibly mean.

“What?”

“Did you just say that your mom didn’t know about me before now?” he asked, swinging his feet off Enjolras’s lap and sitting up.

“Yeah.”

Anger and the first tendrils of self-doubt spiked through him. Was his boyfriend ashamed of him? Was that why he hadn’t told his family he was seeing someone? “Enjolras, we’ve been dating for over two years!”

“Yeah.”

“And it never occurred to you to tell your parents that you were seeing someone?”

“Well, no,” he said. “I’m an adult and it’s not really any of their business who I date and seriously, Taire, this isn’t the biggest concern we have—”

“No,” Grantaire said, “it damn well is. We’ve been having dinner with my grandmother every other Sunday for two fucking years, and you couldn’t be bothered to tell your parents about me?”

“It never came up!”

“Maybe because you were supposed to bring it up!”

Enjolras dragged his hand through his hair. “I’m sorry, okay? My parents and I have never talked about my love life before. It didn’t occur to me to say anything. And look, I’m sorry and I swear I’ll make this up to you or whatever, but we need to go talk to Courfeyrac about this before his mother calls.”

“Wait,” Grantaire said, his mind still scrambling to make sense of everything. “What does Courf have to do with any of this?”

“It’s complicated,” Enjolras said, which was what he and Courfeyrac had been saying for the last six years whenever anyone asked them about the strangely co-dependent relationship between their families. (Freshman year, it’d taken several months before they all realized that Enjolras and Courfeyrac weren’t, in fact, related.) “I’ll explain when we get there.” He stood up. “We really do need to hurry.”

Grantaire groaned as he got to his feet. Great. A field trip. Instead of taking the time to make sense of everything now, he’d have to wait in suspense. “I can’t fucking believe you didn’t tell your parents we were dating.”

Enjolras waved his comment off. “What’s that cupcake place that Fey likes so much? I’m going to need a peace offering.”

“It’s not far from his place,” Grantaire said. “We can stop on the way.”

When they got to the door, Grantaire grabbed his wrist before he could lock the door.

“You owe me big for this,” he said.

“Yes, yes, of course. I love you and you’re perfect, but seriously,” Enjolras said, looking worried, “if we don’t talk to Courfeyrac soon, this is going to blow up in my face.”

It was a fifteen minute walk to stop by the cupcake shop and then get to the apartment Courfeyrac shared with Jehan and Feuilly. Grantaire cradled with cupcake box against his chest while Enjolras rapped on the door with his knuckles.

Jehan answered the door. His short brown hair was disarrayed and there was red ink on his fingertips. They must have interrupted his grading.

“Is Courfeyrac home?” Enjolras asked.

“You don’t want to see him right now,” Jehan said, shaking his head.

“I need to explain.”

“No,” Jehan said. “You really don’t want to see him right now.”

Enjolras paled. If Grantaire weren’t so annoyed with him, he would have reached out to grab Enjolras’s hand.

“Did his mom already call?” Enjolras asked.

Before Jehan could answer, Courfeyrac emerged from the back of the apartment and Grantaire could only recall a handful of times when Courfeyrac had looked this pissed off before—and he didn’t think he had ever seen that expression directed at Enjolras.

“You son of a bitch,” Courfeyrac said.

Jehan looked between Enjolras and Grantaire at the doorstep and Courfeyrac standing behind him.

“Would you look at the time?” Jehan said, without even glancing at a clock. “I’ve got more tests to grade. I’ll just leave the three of you to it, then.” He grabbed a stack of papers off the coffee table in the living room and disappeared to the back of the apartment, squeezing Courfeyrac’s shoulder as he passed.

“Can we come in?” Enjolras asked after Jehan had left. “I brought you a cupcake.”

“It’s a Better Than Sex cupcake,” Grantaire added, holding out the box.

The look Courfeyrac gave him suggested the joke was neither funny nor terribly clever, but he took the proffered box anyway. Enjolras seemed to take it as tacit permission to enter and Grantaire followed him.

“You’re still a son of a bitch,” Courfeyrac said again, setting the cupcake box down. “And your little peace offering does nothing to change that.”

“It was an accident,” Enjolras said. “I’ve been ignoring her calls for two months—I was just trying to get out of spending the whole week with them.”

“Because heaven forbid you spend some time with your family who you actually really like,” Courfeyrac said. As was often the case when he was upset, his tone was downright acidic. “I mean, it’s not like your parents are like the fucking Pontmercys. No. Your parents are good fucking people and instead of just agreeing to spend time with your fucking family—you tried to run from it because it was inconvenient for you.”

“I’m sorry,” Enjolras said. “I didn’t mean to tell my mom about Taire and that’s what’s put you in this mess in the first place.”

“Yeah, and what the hell is that about in the first place?” Courfeyrac snapped. “You’re madly in love with him and you’ve been dating for-fucking-ever, and you didn’t tell your mom?”

“Thank you,” Grantaire said sulkily, collapsing onto the couch. He still had no idea what was really going on here, but he was glad that at least someone thought it was ridiculous that Enjolras hadn’t told his family.

“Not helping, Taire,” Enjolras said.

Grantaire didn’t particularly care.

Enjolras turned his attention back to Courfeyrac. “Look, I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to put you in this position—”

“Sorry,” Courfeyrac said. “But your lack of intention doesn’t exonerate you from this.”

“I know, I know and I’ll do whatever I can to make this up to you.”

“Not to derail the conversation,” Grantaire said, “but what exactly does Enjolras need to atone for?”

Courfeyrac sighed and deflated a little as he let go of some of his anger. “We were supposed to go stag to Lisette’s wedding together,” he said.

“And now that I’m bringing you,” Enjolras said, “Courfeyrac needs to find a date.”

“Not a date,” Courfeyrac said. “A significant other. Because you’ve been hiding your relationship for two fucking years, my mom’s gotten it into her head that I’ve been doing the same.”

While Grantaire thought it was absurd that Enjolras’s parents and Courfeyrac’s mom were operating under the delusion that Enjolras and Courfeyrac were colluding to hide boyfriends from them, he was beginning to understand the depth of the problem now and he couldn’t say that he blamed Courfeyrac for his anger.

Enjolras winced. “Courfeyrac, I’m—”

“Sorry doesn’t cut it, okay? You know why I don’t date anymore,” he said.

“We’ll find a way around this,” Enjolras said. “We’ve got nearly a full week until we need to leave for home, and we’ll figure this out. I promise.”

He was using the tone of voice that Grantaire always considered his “earnest leader” voice. It was a tone that usually commanded trust and loyalty and Grantaire loved Enjolras’s “earnest leader” voice because Enjolras always meant exactly what he said when he spoke like that.

Courfeyrac didn’t seem to be as trusting at the moment. If anything, he looked bitter. It was a very un-Courfeyrac-like expression. “Sorry,” he said. “But I can’t take you at your word just now.”

Grantaire felt some of his own annoyance at his boyfriend fade when Enjolras looked like those words hurt worse than a punch to the gut.

~*~*~

Courfeyrac had been staring at his bedroom ceiling for approximately fifty-seven minutes when he heard a soft knock at the door. He didn’t need to ask who knocked. Only Jehan ever knocked with that sort of hesitant confidence.

“Come in,” he said. He was sick of his self-imposed isolation and Jehan had never failed to make him feel less lonely.

Jehan let himself into the room, his fluffy cat, Walt Whiskers, cradled against his chest. He took a seat on the edge of the bed and let the cat crawl over to Courfeyrac. “How are you doing?” he asked.

“Shittily.”

“I don’t think that’s been accepted into the English language yet,” Jehan said, “but you get points for trying.”

“I feel awful for yelling at Enjolras—”

“To be fair, sometimes Enjolras needs to be yelled at.”

“And I feel even worse about this stupid wedding.”

“Do you want to talk about it?” Jehan asked.

And that was the great thing about Jehan—he never pressured anyone to talk when they didn’t want to. He offered up a listening ear and the quiet comfort of a friend, but he never pressured and he never prodded and he had a knack for knowing when he needed to back off, which wasn’t something Courfeyrac could say of a lot of his friends.

“It’s a clusterfuck,” he said, sitting up. He grabbed Walt Whiskers and settled the cat in his lap. Some things were easier to deal with when you had a fluffy animal to cuddle. “I was looking forward to going to the wedding. I was ready and I was prepared for all the ‘tell me about your love life, Courfeyrac’ questions I was going to get, and it was all going to be fine, but Enjolras had to open his big fat mouth and now he’s ruined everything. My mom thinks I’m dating someone—no matter what I said, I couldn’t convince her that I wasn’t and she kept going on and on about how exciting it was that I was seeing someone and—I mean, I was only on the phone with her, so I couldn’t see, but I know she was winking at me every time I told her I wasn’t in a relationship with someone.”

“Does she know?” Jehan asked gently. “About you being ace?”

“No.”

“She might believe you about not seeing anyone if she knew,” Jehan said.

“I just—I can’t tell her, Jehan. I can’t—and it’s stupid, I know, it’s not like parents have been known to kick their ace children out of the house when they come out, but still—”

“You don’t have to justify not coming out to your family,” Jehan says. “It’s a personal choice and there’s no wrong or right way to go about it.”

“I know, I know,” Courfeyrac said. “I just—my mom is Christian, okay? Like really Christian.”

“Has she ever had a problem with Enjolras? He came out to both your families when you were still in high school, didn’t he?”

“She’s never had a problem with gay people in general. She walks the whole ‘God made him that way’ line and she’s fine with it, really, but asexuality? She’s not going to think God made me this way, not when she thinks God expects us to multiply and replenish. No. This is going to look like my choice and she’s going to think I’m being selfish and my mom’s got this thing about me settling down and having babies and having a happily ever after, you know? She was really messed up when my dad walked out on us and I know how lonely she is and I know she wants nothing more for me to have what she doesn’t and I hate disappointing her, Jehan, and I don’t know what to do anymore.”

“I know you’ve sworn off dating,” Jehan said, “but you’ve still got plenty of people who like you. Could you ask one of them to come along?”

Courfeyrac shook his head. “This is a Big Family Event, you know? It’s not the sort of thing you bring a casual date-mate to. Besides, the problem isn’t that I need a date, the problem is that I suddenly need to have a significant other and you know why I can’t do that anymore.”

Jehan was, in fact, the only one of their friends who knew all of the reasons behind Courfeyrac’s self-imposed dating moratorium—and he intended to keep it that way. What happened was in the past and he had made peace with it as best he could, but there were certain scenarios he refused to put himself in anymore and having a romantic partner was one of those scenarios.

“Well,” Jehan said, reaching over to scratch Walt Whiskers behind the ears, “this is only a short-term solution, but you could bring a pretend girlfriend along for the week, couldn’t you? You could ask one of our friends, not just a casual acquaintance. You know any of them would help you out if you asked.”

“I can’t bring a girl along,” he said. “It’d just get her hopes up.”

“What about a fake boyfriend, then?” Jehan suggested. “Plant the idea in her mind that maybe the happily ever after she has planned for you isn’t the one you’ll have. She’s probably not going to get grandkids out of you—not biological ones, at least—and bringing a boyfriend might help her realize that because you and your partner just aren’t anatomically equipped for it. Baby steps.”

“Since when has pretending to be gay been a baby step for anything?”

Jehan laughed. “When have you ever done anything the conventional way?”

“Do you really think bringing one of our friends along as a fake boyfriend would work? Do you think someone will agree to it?” He had a hard time picturing it for himself. There’d been a point in his life where he could have easily pulled off a fake-relationship with any of his friends. There’d been a point in his life where he’d been flirty and affectionate with just about everyone he cared about, but those days were behind him.

He wasn’t sure he could even remember what being in a relationship felt like.

Jehan gave him a tender smile. “Any of us would walk through fire for you,” he said. “Spending a week with you and Grantaire and Enjolras and your families is hardly any sort of burden.”

Courfeyrac nodded and allowed himself to start nurturing the tiniest flame of hope that he could make this work.

~*~*~

By the end of the week, Courfeyrac still had no one to bring to the week of wedding festivities. Apparently Enjolras’s sister had picked the worst possible week to get married. None of his friends were available and Courfeyrac wanted to pretend that that didn’t bother him, but it did. Anxiety was starting to claw through him—enough so that he was starting to have nightmares again—and if he couldn’t find someone to be his fake boyfriend by tomorrow, he was screwed.

Combeferre, saint that he was, had noticed the change in Courfeyrac’s mood and invited him to do lunch, even though Courfeyrac knew that Combeferre just taken some sort of licensing exam earlier and that he probably hadn’t slept at all this week and that he had to be exhausted.     

Still, Combeferre dragged him off to the Musain for lunch and told him tell him what was going on.

“Everyone is busy,” he said to Combeferre after he explained the situation to him. “Everyone, Ferre. Bossuet and Joly are meeting up with Chetta down at Disneyland for their anniversary. Jehan has to proctor stupid state exams at his school. Marius has some thing with Cosette and her dads—he’s a nervous wreck about it, by the way—and Feuilly can’t afford to take off work for a weekend—never mind a whole week. And Bahorel—well, I didn’t ask Bahorel because I don’t think we’d make a convincing couple. But still, Ferre, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do at this point!”

“I can do it,” Combeferre said, swallowing a bite of his sandwich.

“You—what?” Courfeyrac said.

“I can do it,” he said again. “It’s actually perfect timing. I just took the USMLE and I’ve got the next two weeks off before I need to get back to work, and it’d be nice to get out of Sacramento for a bit. You and Enjolras are always going on about how beautiful Seattle is, and if I’m not mistaken, there are some museums up there that I wouldn’t mind seeing. If there’s time, of course.”

“Are you serious?” He couldn’t believe this. It was too easy.

“Why wouldn’t I be serious?” Combeferre said, adjusting his glasses.

“Aren’t you straight?”

“I prefer to think of myself as heteroflexible,” he said. “Besides, were you planning on having sex with whomever you’re taking to the wedding?”

“Ugh, no.”

“Then I don’t think it’ll be a problem,” Combeferre said. “Look, when we lived together, you cuddled with me all the time. I’d be up late studying and you’d just come out of your room and curl up next to me and do your readings for your classes. And don’t you remember? Marius thought we were dating for nearly a month when you met him at the beginning of junior year. I think we can pull off being fake boyfriends for a week.”

“Ferre, I could kiss you,” Courfeyrac said.

Combeferre just laughed. “The only thing I don’t understand,” he said, “is why you just didn’t ask me from the start, Fey. You’re one of my best friends. I’d do anything for you.”

“I figured you’d be too busy—med school and all.” It wasn’t like he was oblivious. Combeferre worked himself just as hard as Enjolras did, but Combeferre didn’t have his own Grantaire to look after him and make sure he ate and slept and took care of himself. Courfeyrac had been reluctant to burden him anymore.

“It’s worth it,” Combeferre said. “You’re worth it. We leave tomorrow?”

“It’s a twelve hour drive, so we’re leaving early.”

“You driving?”

“Enjolras is. He insisted. We’ll probably pick you up around six.”

“Anything I need to bring?”

“Clothes for a wedding? I don’t know. Pack light. We’ll be staying at my mom’s so you don’t need to worry about towels or bedding or any of that shit.” He hesitated for a moment. “Seriously, though. Thank you. You have no idea how much this helps.”

Combeferre’s smile was comforting. “It’s no trouble at all, Courfeyrac. Besides, who knows? It might even be fun!”

 

Interlude—November, Six Years Ago

Courfeyrac came out to his friends in a rather rousing game of Two Truths and a Lie during Thanksgiving break of their freshman year. As was the case with most friend groups, they had all managed to fall together in a series of unexpected (and rather fortuitous) events and by Thanksgiving they all knew each other well enough that various flings were starting to crop up among them. Eponine and Bahorel had slept together at least twice and there was…something going on between Joly and Bossuet, though Courfeyrac wasn’t sure what yet. At Halloween, Courfeyrac had gotten drunk with Grantaire and made out frantically for a half hour. When Grantaire had tried to progress matters by fumbling with Courfeyrac’s zipper, Courfeyrac had pushed him away—and Courfeyrac was grateful beyond words that Grantaire didn’t fight him.

But it’d been a close enough call that Courfeyrac wanted things out in the open among his friends. Just in case.

They were playing what Bahorel referred to as “Extreme Two Truths and a Lie,” meaning that they put wagers on every round and they were supposed to take a shot each time they failed to spot the lie, but mostly they just drank whenever they felt like it. Jehan, who was an astounding liar despite his guileless face, was winning when it came to Courfeyrac’s turn and maybe outing himself in a game wasn’t the brightest of ideas, but he was just drunk enough to not care.

“I’ve swum—swimmed? Swam?—whatever. I did the swimming in the ocean with dolphins,” he said. “I’m asexual, and one time, I got kicked out of Canada.”

He listened to his friends try to reason out his claims and he was unsurprised to hear that most of his friends immediately assumed his asexuality was the lie. It was a fair assumption, he supposed. Asexual representation in media absolutely sucked and most people thought that the word asexual solely referred to single-celled organisms. And Courfeyrac knew he was flirty and affectionate and most people assumed that he slept around. He didn’t mind those assumptions, for the most part. But these were his friends. He wanted to be honest with them.

Only a handful of his friends argued that the lie had to be one of the other two options.

“Are you kidding me? He flirts with everybody—no way he’s not into that.”

“Yeah, which is why it’s too obvious of a choice!”

“But Canada! No one gets kicked out of Canada!”

Enjolras, who had been forbidden at the beginning of the game to wager on Courfeyrac’s round (and vice versa), stayed silent. His only form of communication was to raise his eyebrows, as if silently asking Courfeyrac if he was sure about this.

Courfeyrac just nodded.

In the end—a completely unsurprising outcome of events—most people put their money on the idea of Courfeyrac being asexual, though Bossuet chose Canada (“Guys, not even I could get kicked out of Canada!”), and Jehan, Joly, and Combeferre put their money on swimming with dolphins, though Joly readily admitted that he was probably wrong but felt it was important to vote this way to express his opinion that swimming in the ocean was disgusting and no one should ever do it.

“So, Courfeyrac,” Grantaire said once the conversation died a little. “What’ll it be?”

Courfeyrac just smirked as he scooped up the asexuality wagers. He just made himself a wealthy man. Well, wealthy by college student standards.

“What?” Bahorel said. “No. You’re lying.”

“Not about this.”

“Dude, I’ve seen you pant after anything that moves. You’re not a plant.”

Jehan punched his roommate in the shoulder. “One: that was rude. Two: telling someone they’re lying about the way they identify is a shitty thing to do, so don’t.”

“But—”

“But nothing,” Jehan said.

But Bahorel had been drinking a bit more than the others tonight, which was making him cantankerous, and he’d just lost no small amount of change. He turned to Enjolras. “You’ve known him forever—tell me he’s lying.”

Enjolras gave Bahorel one of his stern looks. “He’s not lying.”

“So do you, I don’t know, dude, do you even get hard?” Bahorel said to Courfeyrac.

Joly spit out the shot of tequila he’d just taken and Eponine raised her hands in a defensive gesture.

“I am not drunk enough for this conversation,” she said.

“It’s not his job to educate you,” Enjolras said. Courfeyrac recognized the steely defensive tone in his friend’s voice and knew that shit was going to get bad if Bahorel kept this up. “I can send you some links.”

“It’s fine,” Courfeyrac said. He should have anticipated the questions and he blamed the lack of foresight on his not-quite-sober brain. “For the record, dude, my junk works fine,” he said to Bahorel. “And I’ve had sex before—I’m capable of it, sure—it’s just…meh. It’s not something I want.”

“Maybe you—”

Jehan put his hand over Bahorel’s mouth. “If you’re about to suggest that it’d be different if he did it with the right person, don’t.”

“I’m not trying to be rude or anything,” Feuilly said, casting a wary glance at Enjolras, “but if you’ve had sex, how can you be asexual?”

Courfeyrac sighed. This was the sort of conversation he should have when he was sober and not half-drunk and sleep deprived. “So, Asexuality 101, I guess,” he said. “It’s about the lack of attraction more than it is the behavior. So like, sometimes you probably see a girl and you think she’s hot and you think it’d be nice to do sexy stuff with her or whatever, yeah? I don’t have that. I see a girl—or sometimes a guy—and sometimes I think ‘oh she’s pretty’ or ‘he’s cute’ and sometimes I think it might be nice to cuddle and watch a movie with her or him, but that’s it. I don’t—I don’t know. It’s weird, I guess.”

“It’s not weird,” Jehan said with a gentle smile before he turned his attention to the others. “If we’re done with the Q&A, I’d really like to know whether Courfeyrac has been kicked out of Canada or if he really did swim with dolphins.”

“Oh, right,” Courfeyrac said. He had momentarily forgotten that they were in the middle of game. He reaches for the money Bossuet placed on getting kicked out of Canada. “Sorry, Boss,” he said.

“What? Seriously?” Bossuet said. “This is just my luck.”

Joly patted his knee.

Courfeyrac just smiled. “Enjolras and I tried to spend a weekend up in Vancouver over the summer. I think we had like sixty bucks between us, some stuff for sandwiches and a two-liter of root beer in the car. They turned us away at the border for ‘insufficient funds.’ But I’ve never been to any bit of ocean that is remotely warm enough for swimming in and the only dolphins I’ve ever seen were at SeaWorld.”

That, of course, got Enjolras and Jehan talking about the lack of ethics at SeaWorld and any institution that penned up large mammals like that, and the matter of Courfeyrac’s sexual orientation was promptly forgotten.

Later that night, when Courfeyrac and Grantaire stumbled back to their shared dorm room at the end of the hall, Grantaire grabbed his arm just before they went into their room. Despite how much he’d drunk that night, Grantaire looked surprisingly lucid.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

“For what?” Courfeyrac asked.

“When we were making out at Halloween—I mean, I didn’t know. I didn’t mean to put you in a situation that would make you uncomfortable. I’ve got my issues, but I’m not a shithead, you know?”

“Dude, don’t worry about it. I like kissing. I enjoy it. It’s just not that sexual to me. And you stopped when I told you to. That’s when I got uncomfortable and that’s when you stopped. It’s fine. You’ve got nothing to apologize for.”

“You sure?”

“Course I’m sure,” he said, smiling and gently pulling his arm out of Grantaire’s grip. “We’re still cool. Promise.”

“Cool.” 

[
Part Two
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June 2015

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