ExR Week Day 1 ~ Painting
To say he was surprised to find Enjolras on his doorstep at 11am on a Sunday was an understatement, but there he was clear as day.
“Enjolras?” he said, not quite keeping the question out of his tone, and causing Enjolras to look at him quizzically. Before he could say anything in response Grantaire got ahold of himself enough to ask, “What are you doing here?”
Enjolras blinked at him and Grantaire was suddenly very aware that he’d neglected to put a shirt on in his hurry to answer the door. In his defence the heat all day had been unbearable.
“Is this a bad time?” Enjolras asked. He was dressed for the weather, shorts and a cropped t-shirt, but aside from his skin looking a little darker even than usual the heat didn’t seem to be phasing him all that much. In fact the sun seemed to be agreeing with him quite nicely.
“Huh?” Grantaire replied, before shaking himself and his head. Conjuring a smile he moved aside to allow his unexpected visitor into his home. “Not at all,” he said “Come in.”
If he had thought Enjolras looked out of place standing at his front door, it was nothing to how he looked standing in the middle of his lounge peering curiously around at the eclectic collection of junk that was scattered around the room.
Grantaire couldn’t account for it. Sure they’d been getting better recently. More civil. Even friendly on occasion. But they hadn’t graduated to visiting one another unannounced. Well, until now at least.
Grantaire shut the door and headed for the sofa, where a folded pile of laundry was still sat from the day before. He pulled on the first t-shirt he could find. Already regretting it. God damn the weather.
“To what do I owe the unexpected pleasure?” he said, turning back to Enjolras; who had apparently completed his inspection of the living room and was looking right back at him. At least he could blame his flush on the heat of the day.
“The rally next week…”
Grantaire groaned. Was that next week already? Whose godforsaken idea was it to hold a rally in the middle of June!
“Enjolras it’s going to be 37 degrees outside,”
“I’m aware,” came the reply, with a clear but unspoken ‘so what?’
“I know you seem to have a superhuman resistance to temperature but most of us don’t. Extreme heat and angry mobs don’t tend to make for good combinations,”
Enjolras frowned at him. Not the old ‘why do I even bother you’re impossible’ frown that was once followed by a sharp retort. They were better now, and this one was newer. Softer. This frown was 'i wish i understood you’ or perhaps 'i wish i could make you understand me’. After a few seconds of silence he took a deep breath and let it out.
“I’m not going to make you go.” and Grantaire sighed, knowing that he would. He always would. Enjolras continued “I came because Joly mentioned you used to paint a bit… That you might have some old supplies for making signs,”
'Used to paint a bit’. Honestly it was all Grantaire could do not to laugh out loud. He didn’t, but he wasn’t completely sure what his face had done, because Enjolras seemed to take it as some sort of dismissal, saying quickly, “Sorry. It was a long shot. I can buy some I just thought… If we… If you had stuff to spare but…”
“No no I do,” said Grantaire hurriedly, “I have some stuff you could use.”
Truthfully he had a whole studio full. Though he hadn’t been in there for a long time; except to dump other junk.
“Oh. It’s just you… Pulled a face,” Enjolras said, gesturing at Grantaire.
“What Joly said about me painting 'a bit’?” He headed out of the living room, beckoning Enjolras to follow “It was just a bit of an understatement is all. Given I dropped out of art school,”
“I didn’t know you went to art school,” said Enjolras, and strangely he sounded annoyed by this. Grantaire couldn’t help but laugh this time as he stopped at the door to the spare room, turned art studio, turned junk cupboard.
“There’s probably a lot about me you don’t know Enjolras,” he glanced at him, he looked annoyed about that too. Grantaire opened the door and stepped inside.
“Sorry about the mess.” he said, “But you should find whatever you need in here. I had all sorts of stuff.”
Mess was a bit of an understatement too. There was barely a few feet of completely clear floor. Canvases and boards and easels were piled along the walls and there were shelves and boxes crammed full of assorted other supplies. As Enjolras began to rummage Grantaire left him to it, heading into the kitchen and pulling the freezer open. He relished the cold air for a few seconds and then pulled out a tray of ice and reluctantly let the door close.
When he got back to the room he found Enjolras had swept whatever he didn’t need off to the sides, and was now standing with more things than he could possibly carry spread out across the floor. He was looking at it all as if trying to decide how to get it all out in one go.
And if that wasn’t him all over.
Grantaire shook his head and rattled the tray he was carrying loud enough to grab Enjolras’ attention.
“I made iced tea.” he said, and if the look on Enjolras’ face was anything to go by, he wasn’t quite so untouched by the heat as he appeared. He abandoned his collection of art supplies without a glance and almost downed the first glass of iced tea in one go. Grantaire smiled. It was always good to be reminded that Enjolras was just as human as anyone, despite apparently believing he could carry half of Grantaire’s art studio home with him if he just arranged it right.
“Thanks,” he gasped out holding the glass of ice to his head.
“There’s a joke here somewhere about Apollo being affected by the sun but since I know how much you hate that nickname I’ll stop looking for it,” said Grantaire. Enjolras rolled his eyes at him, and then turned his attention back to his pile.
“Gonna take a few trips,” said Grantaire, “How many signs are you planning on carrying anyway?”
“Combeferre’s completely swamped at work so I was going to make him one too, plus I thought I’d take some extras for another time or in case… well in case I mess it up,” he blushed slightly as he said it.
“Not on the artsy side huh?”
“Well,” said Grantaire, “If you don’t fancy walking to and from your flat five times, you’re welcome to make your signs here. I promise not to tell anyone if you make a mess of one.”
“You wouldn’t mind?” asked Enjolras, looking at him with a hint of relief in his eyes. Apparently he hadn’t been completely convinced he could manage the transfer in one go. Grantaire shrugged in lieu of an answer. “Thank you,” said Enjolras, and he reached out to grab the pitcher of iced tea from the tray Grantaire was still holding.
Enjolras had been at it for only fifteen minutes - fifteen painful minutes - before Grantaire gave in and offered to help. When he had meant when he said he wasn’t ‘exactly’ artsy, was that he was practically useless. Not only did he have almost no concept of prepping or planning, instead just diving straight for the paint (red, because why break the habit of a lifetime), he also apparently had no clue how big to make the letters so he wouldn’t run out of space mid-word, nor did he seem to notice that the words were going diagonally down instead of sitting straight.
“I did say I wasn’t very good at this,” he said defensively as Grantaire snatched the brush from his hand and pulled the poor offended board away from him.
“It’s fine, I can fix it,” said Grantaire, and he retrieved a second board for Enjolras to work on, “Here, and for Gods sake at least mark out what you want with pencil first before you go charging on,”
Enjolras just nodded, reaching sheepishly for a pencil.
They worked together in silence for a while, Enjolras spending much of his time sketching out letters then re-doing it when it still wouldn’t fit. Grantaire in the meantime was so caught up in what he was doing it was several minutes before he realised this was the first time he’d so much as held a paintbrush in almost three years. When the thought finally occured to him, he paused and pulled back, staring down at the brush in his hand. Enjolras must have noticed, despite the fact that he was still pouring over his own sign, because he chose that moment to speak.
“Why did you drop out of art school?” he asked, breaking Grantaire out of his revery.
“What?” he asked, having barely heard him.
“I wanted to know why you left art school. Did you not like it?” Enjolras asked again, still not looking up at him. Grantaire slowly turned his own gaze back to the now almost entirely red board and lowered the paintbrush back to continue.
“I loved it actually. I mean… some of it was dull as dishwater, that’s school right? But I liked working on my projects,”
“So if you loved it so much… why?”
Grantaire took a breath. Normally he’d answer that with some sort of joke to move past it and with most of his friends that would probably work. This was Enjolras however, and Enjolras often didn’t have time for people avoiding things. He was upfront with people himself and he often expected them to be equally upfront. So Grantaire weighed his options. He could tell Enjolras he’d rather not talk about it, and Enjolras would almost certainly respect that. Or he could tell him the truth.
He wouldn’t judge him would he? Not now. Not after everything he’d gone through that year. Everything all his friends had helped him through; even Enjolras… Especially Enjolras.
“Discovered I loved alcohol a bit more,” he said, trying to make it sound casual, trying to make it sound like it wasn’t a big deal. Enjolras finally looked up.
“I’m sorry,” he said, and he looked it, really genuinely sorry, “I shouldn’t have brought it up,”
“You didn’t know,”
Grantaire took a gulp of iced tea and as he swallowed he forced the memories down with it. Enjolras was still looking sorry, so he did the first thing that came into his head to make him stop. He reached out and painted a stripe of red from the top of Enjolras forehead to his nose. The squawking noise of protest he made and his scramble backwards was enough to dispel the lingering bad memories and Grantaire burst out laughing.
Enjolras stopped a few feet back glaring at him. It was hard to take him too seriously however with the strip of red halfway down his face. In fact it only made him laugh harder.
In hindsight he should really have seen the retribution coming, but even if his eyes had been open he was laughing to hard to really do much about it when Enjolras came back at him, swiping a paintbrush across his forehead. From there sign making was entirely forgotten and it was only when Grantaire finally managed to wrestle the paint brush from Enjolras hand (his own Enjolras had knocked across the room a few moments before) that the fight subsided. Grantaire took stock of them both. Pushing Enjolras to the ground had seemed like the best way to incapacitate him and remove the paintbrush at the time but now he was severely regretting the decision. Enjolras was lying beneath him, flushed and breathless with laughter, covered head to toe with specks of paint in whatever colours Grantaire had managed to reach. He suspected he was in a similar state, though he doubted he pulled it off in quite the same fashion. God it would be so easy to lean down and kiss him right now. A small part of him even believed it might be okay. That Enjolras might welcome it. There was something in the way he was looking at him that said maybe…
He pulled back.
Enjolras followed him into a sitting position a few moments later. Grantaire avoided looking at him, he knew he was red beneath the streaks of paint on his face, but he could still chalk it up to a paint fight in ridiculous heat.
“We should get these done,” he said, his own sign was almost dry already, “Come on, I’ll write out your letters for you and you can paint them… You can stay inside lines right?”
Enjolras was quiet for a few seconds, then he cleared his throat, “I think I can manage that,” he said.
In the end, they made three signs. One for Enjolras, one for Combeferre and one Grantaire insisted was a spare in case for whatever reason they lost one, but he showed up with it at the protest despite no such need. Enjolras didn’t comment on that, and he was grateful.
It was three weeks later, and, thankfully, decidedly cooler the next time Grantaire opened his door to find Enjolras outside. He was even wearing a shirt this time.
“Need a head start on your next protest sign?” he asked, but Enjolras shook his head.
“Actually I made my own this time,” he said, “You’ll be proud of me, the letters all fit and everything,”
Grantaire raised an eyebrow as Enjolras picked up a large piece of paper up from where he’d left it leaning against the wall.
The words “Will You Go On A Date With Me!” were written bold and bright red. They were a bit uneven, and still slanted downwards, but Grantaire barely noticed, he was too focused on the words themselves.
Silence reigned for several seconds and Enjolras was starting to fidget slightly as Grantaire struggled to comprehend what was happening.
“Well?” he prompted after the waiting apparently became too much.
“Huh?” Grantaire replied, glancing up at him.
“Are you going to answer or would I do better to paint it on your head?”
“Are you serious?”
Enjolras fixed him with his most exasperated stare.
“I mean… Sorry,” Grantaire said, “It’s just. Why? I mean when did you…”
“When we had that paint fight last time I was here,” said Enjolras, blushing slightly, “Afterwards I thought you were going to kiss me,”
“I thought about it,” Grantaire admitted, knowing he was bright red himself,
“I realised I wanted you to,” Enjolras said.
Whatever self-control Grantaire had flew out the door the moment those words left Enjolras’ lips and he made as if to follow it, but instead he reached out a hand to Enjolras and pulled him into a kiss. It was three weeks late, and a little desperate for it, but Grantaire could live with that so long as he never had to wait three weeks to do this again. If the way Enjolras threw himself into it was any indication, that wasn’t likely.
As they pulled apart Enjolras eyes flickered over him, then paused somewhere around chest height, and, inexplicably he started to laugh. Grantaire blinked, for a moment thrown off, and unsure if he should feel offended. He glanced down and groaned. He actually liked this t-shirt, and now it was dotted with red paint.
“Sorry, I made it right before I came here, it mustn’t have completely dried” said Enjolras, calming his laughter, “But you know, you never did answer me,”
Grantaire was about to speak, when he had a better idea. “Wait there,” he said, darting back inside. He returned a few minutes later, and watched Enjolras’ eyes widen at the sight of a paintbrush bathed in green paint.
“No!” he said, backing away.
Grantaire raised an eyebrow, “I thought you wanted an answer?” he said, smiling.
“I changed my mind,”
“Are you sure? I think you’ll like it?”
“Really, I’m okay,”
He tried to back away further, but Grantaire was too quick, reaching out with his spare hand to grab Enjolras’ and pull him in. Enjolras closed his eyes instinctively, but Grantaire instead adjusted his grip on his hand and took pity on him. When he opened his eyes again, they went immediately to the word in large green capitals on the back of his hand, but Grantaire said it out loud too.