Author:   Pairing: Bossuet/Pontmercy  Rating: PG

The hour was late and the room was dark, lit only by the flickering candle that had worn down to the last inch. Marius sat, his chin propped up on his hand as he forced his eyes down to another page of nonsensical foreign words. 'Come now,' he told himself, 'this isn't so difficult, is it? The sooner you've learned this, the sooner you can start earning money'. This, of course, was easier said than done. Why did English have to be so very difficult?

He sighed, staring helplessly at the page. A tiny voice in his head told him that all this was pointless. He couldn't speak English, he knew he couldn't, he certainly couldn't translate English at such a late hour. 'Go to bed,' whispered some small, sane part of his mind, 'you won't get any more work done tonight and you know it'.

Any sensible man would have done so too. Courfeyrac would have accepted this inevitability long ago - in fact, in the time he'd spent agonising over whether or not to give up and call it a night, Courfeyrac had probably already gone to bed. Most likely with several grisettes joining him. Not Marius, though. Marius was nothing if not stubborn and with a will borne of pure obstinacy he stared resolutely at the foreign gibberish.

Considering the addled state of his mind, he was most glad of the unexpected knock on the door. With a burst of relief and gratitude for this - oh, any - distraction, he was out of his seat and halfway towards the door in a moment. He stopped the split-second before his hand reached the handle. A tic in his neck and a twinge at the back of his mind told him something wasn't quite right.

He stood, frozen in time for an instant, and an instant was all it took for the door to unexpectedly be yanked open before he reached it. Marius' gaze flickered down to his still-immobile hand and then back up to the face of his visitor.

"I knew you were in," Bossuet adopted an air of injured pride as he swept past Marius into the room, "and I was fairly sure you were awake. Really, Marius, you must learn to open doors more quickly. Anyone else would have assumed you were in bed and left."

Marius turned to Bossuet with the dignity that only he could assume in such a situation and frowned. "You hardly gave me time to reach the door, let alone open it." He paused for a moment. "How did you get it open, anyway?"

"Don't you ever wonder why you pay so little for this room? That lock's been broken for months." Bossuet grinned at Marius' horrified reaction. "Oh, don't worry, Pontmercy. You've nothing anyone wants to steal. I only feel sorry for the poor fool who wasted his time breaking the lock."

"I see," Marius nodded stiffly, fighting back a yawn, "and what, other than this urge to blurt out your misplaced sympathy, brings you here tonight?"

"Can't a fellow drop by to see a good friend?"

"Of course. But usually a fellow's likely to be better received in the daytime. I don't suppose you've heard of such a thing as sleep?"

Bossuet laughed. "Well you certainly haven't! Don't tell me I've roused you from some deep slumber, Marius, I know you better."

"You know nothing of the sort."

"I know you well enough to be certain that you've just spent an entire evening translating some indecipherable English drivel," and with no further warning, Bossuet homed in on Marius' desk and scanned the ledger with its three immaculate words of translated prose. He held it up triumphantly, "...and not doing a particularly good job of it at that! Really, Marius, at this rate you'll have died of starvation before you finish the first page. Why don't you just admit that you're attempting the impossible? I'll lend you some money--" Bossuet broke off here and reconsidered this, "Joly. Joly will lend you some money and you can give up on this translating business. In fact, why not abandon your studies altogether? Life is so much more pleasant when it isn't cluttered with trivial things like work."

Marius rolled his eyes. "Abandon work? Abandon study, just as you did, and end up like you? I'd sooner have myself shot."

"Oh, that could be arranged," Bossuet smiled airily, "just drop by the Cafe Musain around noon and you're almost guaranteed to end up shot eventually."

At this Marius allowed a smile to tease the corner of his lips, which, of course, made Bossuet's smile widen. It faded, however, when Marius stepped closer to him, so close that he could practically taste the hint of stale coffee on his breath. Marius' voice had taken on a slightly darker tone.

"And so we come to the real purpose of your visit do we, Eagle? Tell me, is Enjolras sending everyone out recruiting or are you the only unfortunate one?"

"Don't be a fool, Marius." Bossuet's smile never faltered but his voice hitched slightly. "I'm not here to canvass for Enjolras' damned cause any more than I am to teach you German."

"Really?" Marius' tone lightened but those blue eyes still held Bossuet fast. "Then why, may I ask, are you here?"

Bossuet's smile was sudden and brilliant, "To distract you. You work too hard, my friend, you take everything so seriously. What you need is a distraction."

"Really? And I suppose you've got the ideal distraction lined up, hmm? Wine, women and song courtesy of your good friend Bahorel, perhaps?"

Bossuet grinned. "Certainly wine and I personally wouldn't object to women and song." He paused and looked up slyly, his eyes drifting up to fix on his friend's. "Only, as you've pointed out already, it's terribly late and right now I think you're a little tired for singing."

Marius raised his eyebrows and opened his mouth but whatever retort he had planned was stifled by a loud and unmistakable yawn. Marius knew perfectly well that it was impossible to smirk indulgently but Bossuet went ahead and did it anyway. "I think that says it all, really," Bossuet chuckled, giving Marius an affectionate pat on the cheek.

Marius nodded dazedly, finding himself much more receptive to Bossuet's touch than he normally would. "Yes," he agreed, "yes, I think it does."

He straightened suddenly and placed his hand over Bossuet's with the intention of removing it. "And on that sentiment, Eagle, I think it's time I was going to bed. And since I can't imagine any way you can distract me while I'm there, I suppose you'd better be making your way home."

Bossuet sighed and smiled again, completely indulgent this time. He took Marius' arm in his and, guiding him towards the bed, reached for the buttons of his shirt.

"I can see," said Bossuet, "that you have a lot to learn about distractions."

Story Index