First story in this 'verse: Wandering Souls
Rest for the Weary
Enjolras kisses him.
He doesn't do it immediately. Once Grantaire releases his bindings the blond Romulan is all business, sitting up, testing his body, firing questions at Grantaire in rapid succession as they plan their next steps. It's because of Enjolras' presence, his prodding and querying, his absolute determination that they move and move quickly, that Grantaire's able to keep going.
He shouldn't be doing any of this. He shouldn't be thinking of himself as Grantaire. D'tan is his name, and he should turn himself in to his superiors, plead temporary insanity and mental manipulation, but he won't.
There is something that is too right in the feel of Enjolras' fingers locked with his. There is something too familiar in the flare and spark of Enjolras' blue eyes as he questions their options, plans their escape, talks animatedly about their reunion with the seven other rebels.
Their reunion, because Enjolras already considers Grantaire one of them though Grantaire has never met them, but somehow even that, too, feels right.
And then they are in D'tan's ground car, an old, unmarked, untraceable vehicle that the Tal Shiar don't know about, and Grantaire knows that he's gone too far to possibly turn back now.
The thing that scares him, though, is that he doesn't want to turn back.
He wants this. He wants it to be true. He wants the camaraderie that Enjolras dangles before him, the possibility of eight others who know him, have known him, will welcome him with a soul-name all his own.
He wants to touch Enjolras' mind again, to wade into that font of burning passion that is somehow different from any other mind that he's touched, is both Romulan and not-Romulan, achingly familiar and completely unknown.
He wants Enjolras, his fingers aching to bury themselves in the male's too-long hair, to trace his pointed ears, to stroke his face and with each caress of his fingers glimpse snatches of Enjolras' mind and soul.
He wants too much, too strongly, too suddenly, an aching, terrible, confusing need that leaves him paralyzed.
Enjolras apparently wants something, too. He gives Grantaire a route to follow, waits until they're on a straightway that will last for several minutes, engages autopilot, and pulls Grantaire down into a fierce kiss.
Enjolras' lips are warm, swollen, demanding. His hands are more gentle than his lips, sliding from Grantaire's hair down his face, and Grantaire raises his own hands to trace Enjolras' features, matches him passion for passion.
Fire. There is fire in Enjolras' mind, burning bright in every stroke of his fingers, enveloping Grantaire.
I knew it was you.
A scattered flash of images imprints itself on Grantaire's mind, visions that aren't strictly sight because the others involved are tied soul-deep to Enjolras, have threads of memory and emotion leading off from them in all different directions, and Grantaire is going to drown. He is going to lose himself in Enjolras, in Enjolras' memories and emotions, and with a fiercer effort of will than he knew he was capable of Grantaire pulls his hands and his thoughts away from Enjolras.
It doesn't erase the knowledge he's gained, though.
Enjolras allowed himself to be captured.
Enjolras thought that he recognized their missing member, and so he allowed himself to be captured, seeing it as the safest way to get close to the Tal Shiar's Black Reaper.
The others had protested at first, some more vehemently than others, but eventually the vote had been unanimous, the plan set in motion.
Eventually Enjolras had come for him.
And he had repaid Enjolras with pain and disbelief.
His life, as well, for he can never be D'tan again, never be Tal Shiar again, but first he had given Enjolras only torture and threats and knowledge of the monster that he is capable of being, some of the terrible things he has done. Dishonorable things, but all in service to the ideal, except he has known for years that the ideal is not so idyllic.
So many that he's tortured, so many that he's killed, and how can it be this simple, how can he simply walk away and have Enjolras kiss him and think that the rebels he's hunted will accept him?
"Grantaire?" Enjolras' voice is quiet, his hands gentle as they trail over Grantaire's cheeks, his mind probing but not demanding, not forcing its way past Grantaire's defenses. "I am sorry if I moved too quickly. I just… I've missed you. I risked a great deal to get you back."
Grantaire's hands shake as he clasps both of Enjolras', pulling them away from his face. "I know. I saw. It was foolish. If I wasn't who you thought—think—I am, I could have prized the secrets of your allies from you."
"No." Enjolras' smile is serene. "Another might have tried, but they would not have succeeded. And you… you would not hurt me."
He has hurt him. The proof of that is in the blood that seeps through in small green patches on Enjolras' clothes, that oozes sluggishly from some of his nail beds to stain Grantaire's hands appropriately.
But he didn't kill him. He isn't planning on betraying him. "I am… eternally grateful for what you did. I just…"
"You've had your entire world broken and reassembled. I understand." Enjolras leans forward, until their foreheads are touching, and his breath is hot against D'tan's face but he doesn't kiss him again. "When you're ready, when you understand, when you can accept it all, come kiss me. I will be waiting."
With that Enjolras releases him, though there is a hunger in those blue eyes that makes Grantaire's heart hammer more than anything has in a long time.
They drive the rest of the way in silence.
They're met at Enjolras' safe house by a female Romulan.
Her name is Combeferre. Grantaire knows that before they're even introduced, and there's a lurching, painful ache in his chest as soon as his eyes catch hers.
Enjolras loves her dearly.
That is true of Enjolras and all his people, though, and Grantaire stands frozen as borrowed memories, borrowed emotions tangle with his own spotty half-memories of lives that aren't his. Bodies that aren't his own, faces that aren't his own, but they belong to him anyway, and he has known this person before. Never mind that the images he has of her don't match this female with her short-cropped hair—shorter even than Enjolras', though Enjolras' hair is far longer than a male would usually keep it—he knows the soul that stares out from that face.
He knows it, and he can't face it, because she loves Enjolras and he still has Enjolras' blood smeared on his hands.
Enjolras' hand on his elbow keeps him from retreating, though, and once his feet have decided to stay that strange paralysis takes over again, and he stands and watches as Enjolras flings himself into the female's arms.
"You're hurt." Combeferre murmurs the words into Enjolras' hair, her hand rising to press gently at the appropriate places on Enjolras' face, melding with him without fanfare or any additional preparation.
"Less than I expected." Enjolras' sigh is one of relief and contentment as he melts into Combeferre's arms, his body relaxing, the driving energy that had controlled him since his release seeming to dissipate within the span of a second. "More than I had hoped."
"Let me treat you." Combeferre steers Enjolras toward an adjacent room, her hand dropping away from Enjolras' face. "And then you need to rest."
"Can't we—" Enjolras begins to straighten, then settles his head against Combeferre's shoulder, another sigh pulling itself from his body. "No. You're right. I'll rest and let you treat me. You won't run, Grantaire?"
It takes Grantaire a moment to process that the words have been directed at him, another few seconds to find an answer. When it comes it seems to slide from somewhere deep inside him, beyond his sluggish conscious thoughts. "I've found you. I won't go anywhere without you."
Enjolras smiles, a tired but pleased expression, and allows Combeferre to lead him away.
Combeferre emerges from the back room, alone, almost two hours later. She's in different clothes, though of a similar cut and color, and Grantaire wonders why before deciding that he doesn't want to know. If the change of clothes is due to bloodstains, he's to blame. If it's due to something else…
"You look tired." Combeferre's voice is quiet, calming. "Come sit with me a bit."
Grantaire hadn't even realized that he has been pacing a path in front of the door, a guard position that he hadn't been asked to take up. His feet follow Combeferre's soft command, guiding him toward the small couch that rests against the left-hand wall, and he settles down stiffly on the opposite side of the couch from Combeferre.
"Enjolras will rest." Combeferre's voice continues to be soothing and calm. "When I feel he's recovered enough, and before there's a chance for danger to get too close, we'll move on."
Grantaire nods. "Good."
Combeferre's eyes study him intently, and for over a minute the female says nothing. It's a simple interrogation trick, one that Grantaire has used many times, a way to discomfit and stress a prisoner. It's also quite effective, even if you know what's being done, and he finds himself shifting uncomfortably. "I'm not going to betray you. I gave him my word."
"I don't think you will. Not intentionally, at least." Combeferre's lips twitch up, a grim parody of a smile. "I will need to give you a thorough exam, to ensure your masters didn't mark you in some unseen way to make you easier to track, but I don't believe that you'll willfully betray us."
"Ah." Grantaire nods, appreciating Combeferre's caution. He's certain that the Tal Shiar haven't implanted any tracking technology in him—is certain that he would have found it himself if they did—but there is no such thing as too much paranoia where the Tal Shiar are concerned. "Why do you believe me?"
Combeferre's shoulders rise and fall in a graceful shrug. "Because he does."
"I've melded with him." Grantaire's fingers pick at his pant leg, a nervous gesture, and he forces them to stop. "I could have forced him to bring me here. I could be using him as a way to get to the rest of you."
"You haven't forced him to do anything. You haven't altered his mind. I would know." Combeferre's smile is genuine, now, her eyes distant, her hand spreading as though to lie gently against Enjolras' face and gain access to all that he is. "I know his mind too well, as he knows mine. He is unchanged, and he believes in you."
"Why?" Grantaire finds his eyes moving toward the closed door to the back room where Enjolras remains. "I am Tal Shiar."
"You are Grantaire." Combeferre hesitates, the first hint of uncertainty in her face. "You remember now, yes?"
"I… remember pieces. Random fragments of lives that can't have been. I remember fighting. I remember dying. Over and over and over again." A shiver wracks his frame. When it's passed Grantaire raises his head, meeting Combeferre's eyes again. "I remember him. I remember… all of you. I remember… that making it worthwhile."
"It's always hard, the first few days." Combeferre reaches out slowly, her hand lying on the cushioning between them. "At least, when it's done like this, sprung on you like this. The memories will sort themselves out. I can't promise they'll all make sense. It's very rare that any of us remember a complete narrative. Just the parts that… marked us most deeply, I think. Between all of us we can usually get a general idea of what happened, if it will help you, but often I try simply to let the memories be. If they have something important to tell me, they'll come; if they don't… this life is this life."
"In this life I am a spy and an assassin and a torturer." Grantaire doesn't move to touch Combeferre's hand, his eyes staying locked on the female's. "In this life I am a man who is supposed to kill you all. In this life I am the man who tortured Enjolras, who was intending to torture all of you and all of those you named, so that I could support the Star Empire."
"Yes." Combeferre nods. "That is who you have been. This isn't the first time I've seen your work, Black Reaper, or at least the remains of it. But that's who you've been. Enjolras does not believe that's who you will be, and neither do I."
"It can't be that simple." Shaking his head, Grantaire stands to pace again. "I will be hunted down—you will be hunted even more strongly. Tal Shiar don't defect. Tal Shiar don't abandon their duty. And how can you continue to do your work, how can you continue to act as insurgents, if you have me in your midst?"
Combeferre straightens, crossing her legs and continuing to study Grantaire evenly. "And what do you propose as other options?"
Grantaire is quiet.
"Come now. If you say that Enjolras' plan is not feasible, tell me yours." Combeferre waits a moment, and then her expression softens. "As I see it, you have four options. The first is that you can betray Enjolras, try to return to your masters and beg them for forgiveness. You can try to continue serving them, knowing that you had this opportunity and turned it away. This is assuming they will take you back, of course."
Grantaire nods, swallowing hard. "That is an option, hypothetically, but it is not one I can take."
Even if the Tal Shiar accepted him back, he could never do his job again. He would see Enjolras in every supposed traitor that he tortured, Feuilly in every one that he betrayed, Joly in every one that he injured, other phantom faces disapproving of every step of his necessary but dishonorable actions, and he could not bear it.
Inclining his head, Combeferre raises two fingers. "Your second option is to run. Wait until my back is turned, and then flee as quickly and as quietly as you can. If you are lucky you will be able to stay away from your masters for weeks, months, perhaps even years. Perhaps you could even defect to another empire—perhaps the Humans or the Klingons or the Vulcans would take you."
The breath rushes from Grantaire's body as though he's been struck, hard, in the gut. He could not do it. He could not abandon his people. He could not betray his people.
He could not leave Enjolras.
"That is your second option." Combeferre's voice draws him back out of his thoughts, and he stares at the female, wondering if his confusion is obvious on his face, if that is the reason for the pity and concern on hers. "Your third option, of course, would be to kill yourself."
Again he rocks back as though struck. The thought had glanced across his mind, fleeting, a way out of the tangled net of emotions that he is trapped in, but to hear another say it so simply…
"I very much hope you do not do that, either." Combeferre rises, paces to him and takes his hand, the contact fire-warm, the touch of other nerves against his telling him that there is honest concern in Combeferre's thoughts. "It would be a terrible loss, a terrible disappointment, one I do not want to face."
"And what option would you have me take?" Grantaire tries to smile, the expression forced. "There has not been a pleasant one yet."
"Stay with us. Help us. You can give us information that we don't have, and we will give you a place to stay and a cause to fight for that is just, is proper, is—" Combeferre's hand trembles in his as the female cuts off her own speech. "Every move that we make, every loss that we take, we try to ensure that it counts, Grantaire. And we will ask you to do nothing that violates your own sense of duty and honor."
They will not ask, perhaps, but would they need to? He has Enjolras' blood on him; somehow in the last twelve hours he has come to believe that he cannot be stained more heavily than that. Could they possibly trust him, after this?
Can he trust himself, caught between all that he has been and all that Enjolras promises him could be, has been, will be true?
"You are not the first of us to have been a monster, Grantaire." Combeferre steps closer, her hands claiming both of his. "Not all of the memories that I have are terrible, but some of them… I am quite capable of doing awful things. Unforgivable things. There have been times, in the name of science, in the name of progress, in the name of society, that I have forgotten the worth of the individual, and I have been a monster."
He can see the knowledge in Combeferre's eyes, feels the utter horror and despair seeping between their clasped fingers.
"When I have been alone…" Combeferre closes her eyes, her voice falling to a barely-audible register. "Sometimes I did nothing. Sometimes I remembered the individual, and lamented the lack of progress, and spoke pretty words or wrote a few sentences but I did nothing. And sometimes I was the opposite. Sometimes I was the scion of Progress, and I was just as terrible as any other scion, just as unapproachable, just as monstrous. But with them…
"With them I fly. Together we all fly." Combeferre's eyes open, shining. "And that, I think, is why we always find each other. We are a balance, Grantaire. I don't know why or what or how we began traveling through lives together, but the nine of us complete and correct each other in ways that others cannot. We could all be monsters—we have all been monsters."
"Enjolras untouched is fire destroying everything. It is… a hard thing to see." Combeferre's hand rises, brushes at the edges of Grantaire's hair. "None of us will begrudge you what you have been."
An ironic smile twists Grantaire's mouth. "Because you know me from other lives. Because of what I have been before this."
"Yes. Because you are Grantaire. Because we know your heart and soul." Combeferre's hand hesitates, and then she shrugs. "I believe that all people are capable of goodness, just as all people are capable of terrible actions. We would not spurn any who tried to change course, I hope. But you are one of ours, and we have missed you, and thus we can trust you more easily. We… need you, I think. We are incomplete without you."
"And that's why Enjolras came for me." The words are a whisper, and Grantaire swallows hard. "That's why Enjolras went through… all of this."
"He wanted us to be together. He wanted us to be complete. He wanted you. He always wants you to stand by his side." Combeferre's smile is soft and gentle again as she glances toward the door separating them from Enjolras. "He is… glorious in this life. A Romulan body holds fire well."
"Any body that he has would be glorious." Grantaire can feel heat rise to his cheeks as he is assaulted by flashes of a dozen other lives, other feelings.
"Yes." Combeferre's smile takes on a teasing edge. "Most of his bodies are."
"Are you… and him…" The question won't come out properly, perhaps because he doesn't want to know the answer.
"He is, for each of us, what we need and wish him to be, so long as it doesn't interfere with his own wants and needs." Again there is a gentle brush of Combeferre's fingers across his forehead, the faintest touch of Combeferre's mind against his. "As we all tend to be for each other. Have I slept with him? Yes. Will I continue to do so? Probably. Does that mean that you shouldn't approach him if you and he desire it? No. We've been through too much for jealousy and matters of the body to come between us."
It's not proper. It's not honorable. But Grantaire finds it… fitting, somehow, as everything has been fitting around Enjolras, and a tired smile blooms on his face as he nods, the incline of his head saying that he understands. And even if he doesn't quite understand, at least he can accept this.
Madness, all of this, but he can easily accept it, and he finds it more comfortable than the last decade of his life.
"Ah, Grantaire…" Combeferre's arms wrap around his shoulders, pull him into a tight embrace. "I am glad to have you back. I am glad to have us complete. And I will be very glad when this shadow finally passes from you."
"This 'shadow' is my life. My past. My identity. My…" Swallowing, Grantaire closes his eyes and embraces Combeferre in return. "But not my future. Not anymore."
"We are what each needs. We are complete together." Combeferre's words are a warm whisper against his ear. "May I kiss you, Grantaire?"
He hesitates, just for a moment, gratitude and confusion and resentment all tangling together at having to choose, having to decide. And then he remembers, once more, that he has made the most important decision he will have to make, and it is far easier to let his lips say the word they want to say. "Yes."
Combeferre's mouth is gentle, where Enjolras' was fierce. Combeferre's tongue is softer, teasing, coaxing, encouraging, and Grantaire finds himself tightening his arms, pulling the female to him. Combeferre responds to the heat, to the desire, one arm holding Grantaire close while the other skitters lightly over Grantaire's features, fingertips seeking the appropriate nerves.
He doesn't see anything new in Combeferre's thoughts. There is simply a repetition, a reinforcement of all that Combeferre has said.
We could all be monsters.
He does not want to see the examples, and so their shared thoughts shy away from it.
We are complete together.
So many minds, so many bodies, but he is starting to realize that he loves them, these souls he has never met, these rebels he has been hunting, that he has loved them dearly and will love them dearly again.
And we are very glad to have you home, Grantaire.
Enjolras' desire is fire, burning, enthralling, beautiful; Combeferre's is ice, and it burns, as well, but it is a slow burn, the beauty in it less obvious but no less true once he gives himself room to see it.
When Combeferre pulls back, it leaves Grantaire shaking almost as badly as he had been when he unbound Enjolras.
He doesn't fight Combeferre steering him toward the couch. He doesn't fight Combeferre settling him down. He doesn't protest when Combeferre tells him to sleep.
He simply closes his eyes, allows his ears to be filled with Combeferre's singing—songs in three, four, five different languages—and allows conscious thought to drift away.
Enjolras' hand on his shoulder rouses him from his sleep, and Grantaire follows the other two as they make a hasty retreat from their safe house.
He doesn't ask where they're going.
He doesn't need to know the where. They will tell him when he's proven himself trustworthy.
He knows who they're going to meet, and the desire to see the others again—to touch Joly, Lesgle, Prouvaire, Bahorel, Courfeyrac, Feuilly—is almost overwhelming.
There is an easy way to distract himself from that, though.
When Enjolras turns over control of their craft to Combeferre, Grantaire steels himself, lays a hand on Enjolras' arm and, when the male turns to face him, cups Enjolras' face with his free hand.
"I would like to return your kiss." Grantaire draws a breath, other words sliding to the tip of his tongue. "If you will permit it."
"If you desire it… if you will stand with us…" Enjolras leans toward him, until their foreheads touch. "I would like nothing more."
The kiss starts off gentle, gentler even than the kiss with Combeferre had been, but fire sparks between them, and by the time they pull apart Grantaire is flat on the floor and Enjolras is sitting on top of him.
Enjolras trails one fingertip from the tip of Grantaire's left ear down to his chin. His voice is husky, his blue eyes bright. "Being with us won't be easy."
"No." Grantaire breathes the word. "But it will be worth all the hardship. Being with the Tal Shiar… is not."
"Living to subjugate and coerce others can never be worth the price." Enjolras' lips press gently to Grantaire's forehead. "Protecting their freedom, though… that cause is worth every drop of blood in my body."
Grantaire isn't sure he agrees with that. He's quite happy to have Enjolras' blood remaining in his body. He will probably do things that Enjolras will not agree with in order to ensure that Enjolras survives his dangerous mission for as long as possible.
But for now, though, for these precious few moments, he will simply rest, and allow Enjolras to bring him home.