Liar, e/R/amis in general, R

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Liar, e/R/amis in general, R

Postby Rebus » Thu Jul 11, 2013 9:40 pm

Part 1:

When Grantaire lies, he wants to be caught and knows he won’t be, knows that he’s getting away with everything, and no one will read anything further in his blown pupils and broad gestures and booming laughter, and that crushes him and thrills him, and he has never felt lonelier.

It had started out as a ploy to get Montparnasse to stop harassing him during a nightly visit - do a line, peace and quiet, and never again. He should have known better, should have realised that when it comes to him, everything can become an addiction. Not that he'll complain; stimulants are a good way to pick himself back up, to feel human again. That is, until Enjolras finds out.

When Grantaire lies, he has to move. Dig his fingernails into the soft skin of his palms. Bite his lips. Drag the toes of his worn-out trainers across the floor, through the ceiling, and drop into the room beneath, into the next, and the next, fall and dig and scratch his way through to the centre of the Earth, where Hell itself awaits with arms outstretched to welcome his blackened soul.

Because he is lying, and because he knows it, and because he generally assumes that all people are an extension of himself, Grantaire assumes that everyone else know as well. He assumes, as Joly leans across the table to fill his glass for the fifth - or was it the sixth? - time this evening, that Joly has seen the flicker of uncertainty in his eyes, heard the clicks and whirs of the cogs in his brain and the police sirens in his loud laughter. Assumes that Joly, like he himself, is merely pretending not to know. Waiting to catch him in the act. The act of assuming is a thrill, makes the entire business dangerous and therefore marginally more manageable, this lying to himself and to his friends.

"I’m just going out for a smoke", he says, and thinks, you liar. Joly, returning his easy grin, waves him off with a free hand, because he doesn’t know (and if he does?), but he doesn’t, or he wouldn’t have grinned so warmly, wouldn’t have waved so casually, wouldn’t have called out a final joke for Grantaire to shrug and grin at as he slips through the back door. Falling heavily against the brick wall of the backside of the Musain, he lights a cigarette and smokes the tightness from his chest into the breeze.

When Grantaire does things he shouldn’t, he likes to imagine he’ll be caught. Imagine that the sirens in his forced laugh are loud enough to alert the rest of the world of his dishonesty, that the harshness of his breathing in the cold night air will signal to passersby that he shouldn’t be here, shivering in the dark with trembling fingers threading through his pockets, clapping against his thighs, shaking against the un-weight of the plastic baggy that he withdraws with a sigh and a wide-eyed glance over his shoulder.

He imagines the sharp edges his name will take on in someone’s mouth - Enjolras, Bahorel, any of them - the drop of his heart into his left foot, the churning in his stomach, the flimsy explanations that he will never have to invent, because it is dark and cold and his friends are all packed cosy and well-spirited in their usual corner in the back room of the café. He dips his finger into the bag and snorts quickly. Stuffs the rest into the confines of his breast pocket. Returns to the others inside.

Each step back into the room, coloured by the flash of his teeth and the flush of his cheeks beneath his spreading grin, is like a step away from himself. He can see his feet detach from the rest of the body, this shade that he is becoming springing away like Peter Pan’s shadow, only there is no one with a block of soap and a sewing needle to stitch him back together here. Just too-loud laughter and another full glass, and another as the drugs and the alcohol (a terrifying combination, he thinks vaguely, without regret) kick in, until the hard wood of his skin begins to soften ever-so slightly, and the sawdust in his chest loosens up, falls away. For a moment, he imagines himself a real person, a laughing person, a drunk person, a talking person. A too-loud person, scolded by a scowling Enjolras from his position at the table beyond, a calling-out-nonsense person, staring unashamed into those blue eyes, teasing them, loving them.

And then the contact breaks; Enjolras returns his attention to whatever he had been discussing with Combeferre, leaving Grantaire to stare into his empty glass, sawdust in his chest, lead in his limbs, hot air in his head, lifting his gaze again, his blown pupils, his red-rimmed eyes to Joly, Bossuet - any of them.

The problem with being a good liar is never getting caught. When Grantaire lies, he hopes desperately that he will not be caught and knows that he will and prays that he won’t. Prays for someone to come along and bite through his skin, spit out the sour apple taste of his rottenness and throw him away. He is a convincing actor. No one bites.

Not as he laughs too loudly, gestures too broadly, speaks too quickly. Not as he twitches, flinches the thrum of electricity from his shoulders, tosses back the remainder of whatever was in his glass, sways, jerks his head, blinks.

Hopefully it is obvious, how wide his pupils are, how pale and manic he looks. Hopefully it’s glaringly obvious. Hopefully not. Hopefully yes. Hopefully they notice right away, or not at all.

He leans heavily over the table to tug the pitcher out from the crook of Joly’s elbow.

Hopefully they notice now. Never. Immediately.

"Grantaire?" Wide, round eyes over the curve of a shoulder. For just a moment. "Haven’t you had enough to drink," asks Joly quietly, biting his concern into the thin line of his lower lip.

On the left, shuffling his cigarettes, staring hard at the screen of his phone - Bahorel. He knows. Knows that Grantaire is a liar and an addict and a black hole. Hears the drumline in his chest, feels the lump in his throat, the itch in his fingers to move, move, move.

He says bluntly, his eyes on his empty glass, "Do you think I’m an asshole?"

What he means is, I am drunk and high beyond belief and I lied to you about the stop we had to make at my flat on the way here and the three times I’ve said I was smoking or peeing, and I lied to everyone. I lied the entire time. About having a cold. About everything. The entire time.

When Joly opens his mouth, Grantaire knows, there is no point in listening. He doesn’t want to be comforted, to have the gnawing, empty feeling between his ribs filled with placations, with excuses, with the idea that human beings are allowed to be as flawed, as cracked and imperfect and wrong as he is. He thinks, I am a bad person, and he says, Forget it. You know, I was reading something interesting the other day… Launches into a rant directed at the floor, the window, the tabletop. The others will only ever get one half of the story when it comes to Grantaire. A slanted, crooked half-truth. To the room at large, he complains about humanity and throws about references to obscure literary figures and Greek philosophers and smiles and laughs and is there. To the floor, the window, the table, he says with his eyes: I’ve been lying all along, and I can’t find it in me to be sorry, but my chest is tight and my throat is dry and I am drunk and high beyond belief and I want you all to like me. To love me. To hate me.
Last edited by Rebus on Thu Jul 11, 2013 10:33 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Lies, e/R/amis in general, R

Postby WhoIam » Thu Jul 11, 2013 9:57 pm

I read this on Archive of Our Own already... and just so you know, I want the second half. And I know there is or will be a second half. So don't try to hide it from me.
All the world's a party, and I'm usually the awkward wallflower in the corner with a glass of water and a copy of Les Mis.

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Re: Liar, e/R/amis in general, R

Postby Rachel » Thu Jul 11, 2013 10:04 pm


Seriously, that was just... wow.

Clearly, I have fantastic luck in the dating field.

Quotes to live by:
"This is highly illegal!" ~Inspector Javert (The Girl Nextdoor)

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Re: Liar, e/R/amis in general, R

Postby Rebus » Thu Jul 11, 2013 11:34 pm

Oh god, thank you both! Thank you thank you! That gif has me grinning every time I see it.

And I have decided this will come in three parts now, because I'm not done yet.

Toes digging into the floor. Through the floor. Through the ceiling of the level below. Straight to hell.

Joly: “Sit down.”

But, now he is in his element. Shoving the hands that try to grasp at the sleeve of his hoodie, he takes a long swig of Bahorel’s drink and launches back into his sermon:

“Where does any of this leave us?” (Another sip.) “Is the future in India? India and the future? Boris Johnson from the Telegraph ships it, but I’ve never believed in the two-thirds society, and if we’re being honest, India doesn’t even make the cut there. A one-fifths society, then, and nowhere near ready to go charging off into the future with the rest of the world on its heels. No, I tell you - “

Bossuet at his elbow, tugging at him. “Come on, Capital R, sit down for a minute; take a break.”

When Grantaire is ranting, he cannot stop and doesn’t want to and hopes for an interruption (something, anything, because he is going to regret having opened his fat mouth in the morning). In such moments, his body becomes its own entity, takes control. Without pausing for thought or reason, he reaches down, hobbling, kicks off his shoe, strips off a sock.

“I free you of the task of calming me down!” he says loudly, thrusts the sock at a nonplussed Bossuet, who doesn’t understand the reference. “And where was I?” Surely they can see the twitch in his every movement now, the flush in his cheeks, the burning red of his eyes and his black, plate-like pupils. They watch him cross to the table, pour himself another drink (his eighth? ninth?), and they are helpless to stop him and will give up in a moment, allow him to finish up his rant, drain his glass and collapse into his corner in peace. The humiliation, as this occurs to him, pierces his chest like a knife, falls into his stomach like an anchor dragging him from one frenzied point to the next.

When Grantaire is speaking, he feels at once alone and alive. An actor on an empty stage, the lights blinding so that he cannot see the audience, but is aware of their blurred presence somewhere beyond the boundaries of his own nose. It is a thrill. His chest feels impossibly hollow.

“I tell you there is no point. If you want to know something about the world, know this: the most beer is consumed in the Czech Republic, the most brandy in India, the most chocolate in Switzerland - “

The strong hands around his shoulders are unrelenting, drag him down along with the hollow weight in his chest, the black hole that is devouring him with every breath. Forcing him into a chair, the hands clamp over his mouth, tug his chin up, jerk his head to the side to meet the narrowed eyes of Bahorel, who softens almost instantly but doesn’t let go. Despite himself, Grantaire leans into those hands. Needs them to ground him, to force the wild energy bursting from him in solar flares back inside, into the bones, the muscles, the skin, the whirlwind of his overstimulated mind.

Bahorel says: “Fuck.”

And that’s it. Fuck. Because Bahorel knows the signs. Bahorel has tried everything once - for the sake of it, he’d always said. And Bahorel knows Grantaire, knows him like a brother, like the inside of his own mouth. Every rough spot, every crease. Bahorel has managed to crack open the eggshell of his mind, peel back the skin, like paint from a wet wall, and read the person drowning in the rotted, brown mush he found there. All that he says with a single word, quite simply, with his fuck.

That fuck strikes a fear into Grantaire that is almost sobering and terribly intoxicating. Fuck. He feels himself rising again, hears the clunk of his one shoe and the soft patter of his own bare foot on the floor, feels the stone eggs in his stomach - the dread - the slap of the cold against his cheeks, the dark that seeps into his eyes, into his thoughts. He drowns for a moment. Stock-still, gasping through the stitches in his chest. When his faculties have returned to him, when he can hear the stomp of Bahorel’s boots and Enjolras’s inquiry (“What’s wrong with him now?”), those words like a slap, like the sting of the wind against his cheeks and his nose and his bloodshot eyes; he runs.

The running with only one shoe on a frozen street, with a belly full of beer and a head full of racing thoughts and hot air and wires short-circuiting is exhausting, but his muscles are wired, push him further until he stumbles, panting, against a brick wall.


These hands are not Bahorel’s, are too small and too soft and exert a different kind of pressure entirely. These hands burn, and he struggles against them in vain, clawing at the skin as they clamp down on the scrawny, wasted muscle of his upper arms.

“What the hell is wrong with you?”

“Oh, fuck off!” Because his thoughts are racing, and he is sweating and could cry if his eyes weren’t so dry, and he can’t think of anything clever to say. Because these are the last hands he needs on him right now, because his muscles are twitching and his blood is boiling and he feels like he might climb out of his own skin if they let go of him. He prays desperately for them to keep hold.

“You live near here, don’t you?” Finding purchase on the sharp edge of his shoulder bones, Enjolras slams his own ribcage against Grantaire’s protruding one. “Bahorel went off in the other direction to find you. I don’t think we’ll reach him before we’d get to yours. Come on, Grantaire, stand up and help me here - “ Those hands again, dragging him to his feet, pinching, tight and warm and full of some unidentifiable force, an emotion burning white-hot beneath the pale skin, branding the imprint of Enjolras’s palms into his pallid, bony arms. “What are you on?”

He says nothing, but he does allow for Enjolras to guide him aggressively down the side-street.

As they half-stumble, half-walk, Grantaire focuses on the piercing cold, the wet, the scrape of gravel against his bare foot. Enjolras must despise him. Enjolras is disgusted - must be, and suddenly his footsteps are too loud, pounding against his eardrums. He feels the cold of the street through his foot, the icy flames of the breeze licking at his throat, the itch in his fingers. The tightness of his skin. Claw it off, he thinks. Cut it off. Let it die.

When Grantaire is ashamed, he wants nothing more than to be able to dig a hole large enough for him to curl up in, fall asleep in, fall into a coma in and stay in for the rest of eternity. Or until he’s not ashamed anymore. Or until the rest of the world have forgotten him, forgotten whatever it was he was ashamed of.

There are no holes in this street large enough for him to hibernate on, and Enjolras’s hand at his elbow allows no chance of escape. So, he smiles. “The stripling smiled,” he quotes, head filled momentarily with Shakespeare and vice-like grips and cold, blue eyes. In truth, the stripling smiles inanely.

At the beat-up black door of his building, he stops suddenly, smiles wider. “You were an admirable chaperone, but I think I’ve got it from here.”

Exhaling heavily, Enjolras forces his hands into the gaping pocket of Grantaire’s hoodie, withdraws the key. “Do me a favour,” he says, jamming the key into the lock.

“Anything.” The answer comes instinctually, springing from his tongue like a diver and splashing up to cloud the depths of his too-dark eyes. “Black your boots.”

“Stop talking for five minutes,” says Enjolras stiffly. “And be serious.”

They cross the threshold, Grantaire leading, with Enjolras’s hand cutting into the blood supply of his left arm. Because he is ashamed, he climbs the steps in twos. Tilts his face away and flushes and says softly, “I am wild.”

Enjolras, scowling behind him, does not respond.

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Re: Liar, e/R/amis in general, R

Postby Rebus » Wed Jul 17, 2013 12:08 pm


He is ashamed of the way the door sticks in the middle, the way his hip bones graze the dented wood on their way through, the way they ache.

He is ashamed of the litter of empty bottles and crushed cans across his floor, on his sofa, covering the kitchenette.

He is ashamed of the musty odour and the dust on the packing crate that he calls a coffee table, of the small mound of white powder strewn across one board, of the straw he’d recycled from his fast food dinner and cut into thirds.

Mostly he is ashamed because the flat, in all its chaos, mess and filth, is a reflection of himself. He can feel Enjolras’ eyes on the denim sofa, his skin burning as though they were directed at his own crooked form, taking in his protruding springs, doing inventory on the rips and stains in the fabric of his being.

“Well, I’m here now.”

When he is ashamed, there is nothing Grantaire would like more than to be able to kick a hole into the floor and hide in it. To close his eyes and pray not to be seen. To fight, or flee; he stands his ground, because there is nowhere to run. And because he is tired.

“So, thanks for bringing me home and everything. I mean, not that it was necessary. It wasn’t really necessary, but I know you felt obligated, because, well - I have no idea. I mean, I could have found my way back? I do it quite often. My feet know the way on their own, by now, which might not be the best sign, but I’m not complaining. Better than having to resort to leaving a trail of breadcrumbs behind me when I head for the - ”

“What is that?” Enjolras points, but it’s unnecessary; he can tell what ‘that’ is by the way the words curl round the tip of the blonde’s tongue. They cut through him, through his tissue paper bravado and nervous grin and sit, heavy and far too large at the back of his throat. Without looking, Grantaire knows that Enjolras means the powder on his table and the grill lighter and the blackened spoon he had flung carelessly onto the sofa before heading out that evening.

Without looking, Grantaire can see the cogs working in Enjolras’ brain, hear them crack and steam against one another as his thoughts whirl in overtime and he sees and combines and reasons with himself.

“A spoon,” he says slowly, shuffling over to nudge it self-consciously beneath a checkered pillow. “I do have a few of those, yes. Very handy for the odd occasion I’ve decided to treat myself and spring for cereal or ice cream, or something.” Pocketing the grill lighter, he places himself between Enjolras and the table, bends awkwardly to block its occupants from view, and forces a laugh. “Yeah, great things.... spoons....”

Because he is lying, and because they both know it, he has to hide his eyes. His eyes will betray him, with their sporadic blinking, with their gaping pupils; he scratches at the floor with the toe of his shoe, eyes on the nervous dance of his fingers across the frayed hems of his sleeves.

“Grantaire,” begins Enjolras, and he can’t help flinching away from the warning sirens in that one, soft word.

“I have five spoons!” he announces loudly to the floor, to his fingers, to the room at large and everything in it that is not tall, slender, blonde and glaring at him. “I bought them at IKEA on sale. They were really cheap. They’re kind of shitty, but, I don’t know - spoons. I don’t use them much, anyway. I mostly just order pizza.”

If he were an atomic bomb, Grantaire thinks, he would be plummeting to Earth. Right over his flat. The wind in his hair, nothing to reach for and grab hold on and steady himself with. He would be falling, and any second he’d land and explode, and the neighbourhood would be gone, decimated; Enjolras, the packing crate cum coffee table, the mound of powder, the spoon beneath the checkered pillow, the scuffed toes of his sneakers against the scuffed wood of the floor, the empty bottles and cans and papers and things that have been stacking up for ages beneath his nose. Decimated, nothing but a crater to be steeped in the aftermath. His own, personal Chernobyl.

Would his soul creep across the Earth, the energy of his being seep into every living thing and every dead one, infecting, poisoning like radiation? When Grantaire thinks of death, he thinks of radiation and empty bottles and charred spoons and postmortem defecation. It’s the idea of having his arse wiped by some pitying soul before he’s packed into a box and tossed into a hole in the ground that frightens him off, usually. Haven’t the rest of them got enough to put up with, with him living, to be saddled with the responsibility of wiping his arse in death?

Enjolras says: “Grantaire - ”

“Tomorrow,” he responds, his voice cracked, his eyes closing just a millisecond longer than he’d intended, “I will equally regret and be thrilled about the fact that you know my name well enough to say it like that, but - ”

“Will you stop blabbering for a moment and - ”

“But now is not tomorrow, and tomorrow is another day, and - look, I’m not a sassy, green-eyed Southern Belle, and you’re not Clark Gable, so can we just skip this bit where you ask me what the fuck I’ve been doing up in here in my free time - which is kind of too much time, probably, I’ll give you that - because I’m not really drunk. At all. And I’m sort of starting to feel the beginnings of a comedown, and I’m going to be in a really shit mood, and I’m going to be kicking myself about this in the morning, as it is. Or, OK, let’s be honest - we’re being honest - in the afternoon? Because I generally wake up at about half-past two, or something, I never check, and the point is that I’m going to be kicking myself and I’m probably going to be thinking a lot about that shitty wardrobe I never bought on sale at IKEA, which - if we’re being honest again - probably would collapse beneath my weight, anyway, but as of tomorrow, I’m sure I’ll be in the kind of headspace where it would seem worth the shot, because I mean, Sweden is like the suicide capital of Europe, basically, so I’m sure they’re either really good or really bad at building sturdy clothes’ rods, and - ”


His eyes on the floor (his audience), he misses the two, swift steps that bring Enjolras to his side, is blind to the rise of a pale hand until it is squeezing his shoulder. He keeps his eyes on the floor, because he’s afraid of what he’ll find if he looks up, and he knows what he will find and is afraid that the act of looking up will solidify it, somehow, make it realer than it should be, than it already is.

“Please go,” he says to the floor. “I’d rather you left.”

Because it’s painful to be seen like this, as raw and flawed as the denim sofa with the spoon beneath the checkered pillow and the age-old marinara stains from countless nights spent dangling pizza over his open mouth, feeding himself like a baby bird, surrounded by the litter he hasn’t been able to motivate himself to clean up, mildly aware that he needed to pee and unable, for some odd reason, to stand up and make the ten second trip into the bathroom.

Because he’s ashamed, and his flat is his hibernation hole, his four-walled coma, and Enjolras is too close. Too big. Too much.

“If you really - ”

“Please, go.” Louder. Painfully serious; he wonders briefly if he’s ever been so serious in his life and decides that now is not the time, aches against the sudden absence of Enjolras’ hand on his shoulder, gulps down the protests waiting to spring from his throat, should he open his mouth. He bites his lips. Clenches his jaw. Says nothing.

Grantaire doesn’t have to look to see the firm line that Enjolras’ mouth has mutated itself into. Doesn’t have to see those eyes, like smouldering coals in the dark of his unlit studio; he can feel the burn against his cheeks, his forehead, his ears.

“Fine,” says Enjolras curtly. A beat, as though he’s chewing his words down to size: “I’d suggest, if you insist on [the rustle of a sweatshirt, an arm, a gesture] all this, that you consider the effect it has on your friends the next time you decide to come to a meeting under the influence.”

Grantaire waits for the snap of the lock against the doorframe and the clatter of angry footsteps to fade from the hallway and into the street below before raising his eyes. Waits and breathes and runs his fingers along the frayed hem of his sweatshirt, along the crusty bits where he’s swiped the back of a sleeve-draped hand across his nose. Waits and counts the seconds and shivers against the prickle of hair standing up on the back of his neck. Counts the seconds. Counts his laboured breaths. When at last he is certain, beyond all shadow of a doubt, that he is alone, he pivots on his heel, snatches the spoon from where he had stashed it and falls into a heap on the sofa.

If he were being honest with himself, he’d admit that he’s shaken, that he’s nauseous and cold and an idiot for even considering another hit, but he’s tired. His feet scratch at the floorboards; his fingers prick impatiently against the blunt edge of the spoon. When Grantaire lies, he has to move. Dig his fingernails into the soft skin of his palms. Bite his lips. Drag the toes of his trainers across the floor, through the ceiling, and drop into the room beneath, into the next, and the next, fall and dig and scratch his way through to the centre of the Earth, where Hell itself awaits with arms outstretched to welcome his blackened soul.

If he’s being honest with himself, he thinks, he was always one for dramatics.

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