Author:   Pairing: Combeferre/Bahorel  Rating: PG-13

Jealous? No, of course he is not. It is not in the nature of Nicolas Bahorel to be jealous. On the other hand, a mere three months ago he considered it against his nature to fall in love.

Blasted Aubin. Damn him for being so attractive.

Damn him for his warmth, his honesty, his intelligence.

Damn him for his smile, his eyes, his slender frame.

Damn him for his gentle kiss.

Bahorel turns and stalks out of the café, leaving an oblivious Combeferre still wholly absorbed in Feuilly's discussions, with the fan maker's hand resting easily, protectively, on his arm.

* * * * *

They had agreed from the start that nothing would come of this relationship. Aubin had his own future mapped out before him, his idea of marriage and family almost reality even at this stage. He had no uncertainties about what was expected of him and no doubt as to fulfilling those expectations. There would be no room in his life for a lover like Nicolas. His was to be a life of comfortable living and improvement, both for himself and for his people. Only now, in his youth, could he afford to idly waste his time with a man unrefined and unlikely to change his ways.

It was an affectionate relationship. Aubin adored the freedom of Bahorel's lifestyle, a lifestyle which allowed him to accommodate a lover who needed a place to relax and sit back from the life which he had created for himself. One which could provide an escape from Aubin's own world, in which he worked tirelessly for what he termed the advancement of man.

Bahorel simply adored Aubin.

* * * * *

"How can you live in this state?"

"Like what?" Bahorel surveys his home. "I'll admit that my apartments not exactly up to Joly standard of cleanliness, but I am not living in squalor." He makes a face and scowls slightly.

Aubin laughs at that and tugs the taller man towards him.

Later on, curled in a comfortable position on Bahorel's bed, Aubin whispers to him.

"Before I go home, promise me something."


"That you'll tidy up before I arrive next time." He smiles.

"Next time?"

Aubin kisses him again and nods. "Next time."

* * * * *

Bahorel had never been able to deny his young Combeferre anything he wanted and Aubin knew it from the moment he walked into a spotless room the next time he visited. Nor could he ever debate a point quite so well with him. It amazed Bahorel that no matter how hard he tried, the final conclusion was always in Combeferre's favour.

He never denied Aubin the choice of spending time with or without him. Never pressure, if Aubin spent time with him, it was always Aubin who decided when, where and for how long. Though unsettling, it was in some way comforting, this lack of control over the relationship. Bahorel had never experienced it with any mistress he'd had before and would never surrender himself so completely to another again.

* * * * *

"You knew what this was the second it began." Aubin's eyes are cold, so cold. There is no flicker of their usual tenderness. "It was never meant to last long."

Nicolas, lost for words for the first time since he was ten years old, can only thump the wall behind the pair of them in frustration.

"I love you, Aubin," he confesses. "Doesn't that mean anything?"

Combeferre's arms surround him, but the kiss that accompanies the embrace is a kiss of comfort and nothing more, there is no longer any evidence of the passion that had passed between them before.

"Of course it does, love," Aubin soothes, "but I will not change my mind."

Nicolas does not cry. Nicolas wouldn't allow himself that weakness, particularly in front of the person who made him so weak. He recoils from Aubin's touch and silently leaves the building.

Alone, Aubin sits down on the bed that is not his own - but how familiar it is! - and wonders if he has done the right thing. Later on he will return home and perhaps it will be Yves who will listen with a sympathetic ear to the hopes and fears that once upon a time Nicolas had considered his own.

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