Cure For Loneliness

Author:   Pairing: Feuilly/Joly  Rating: PG-13

"You look tired," I said, concerned. It was an understatement.

"Just a little," Feuilly insisted with a weak smile on his pale face. He pushed a lock of his limp blond hair behind one ear and sighed. "It was a long day. As usual." He collapsed into the chair next to me.

"Are you sure you're feeling all right? Because it might be--"

Bahorel interrupted me with a laugh. "Don't go diagnosing the boy, Monsieur le Docteur. He's tired; that's all."

Enjolras stood up, signaling the beginning of the meeting. We all fell silent, but I continued to keep an eye on Feuilly.

* * * * *

I turned a corner and ran right into him. My glasses flew off and I fell down, most undignified. "Feuilly?" I exclaimed when I saw him. "What are you doing here?"

"I didn't know you wore glasses," he remarked, handing them back to me.

"Only when I'm trying to look academic," I admitted. "I don't really need them." Recalling that, for me, "academic" often translated to "silly," I put the glasses in my coat pocket rather than back on my face.

He offered me his hand and helped me to my feet. "I'm sorry," he said. "And as for why I'm here--I was looking for someone."

"Enjolras?" I hazarded. "He's in class right now; I think it ends at three."

"No, not Enjolras." His eyes met mine and suddenly I knew what he meant. Me? Why would he come looking for me? He would see me at the meeting later; what could be so urgent that he had to come to the university for me?

"Me?" I managed to say. My heart was racing; perhaps it was a side effect of the medicine I had been taking for my cold. "Why--"

What he did next was entirely unexpected, though, looking back on it, I should have noticed. He answered not with words, but with a kiss. When he let me go I stammered, "Feuilly, we--are in public." Panicking, I looked down the hallway. We were alone; I breathed a sigh of relief. Still, I pushed away from him and continued on my way.

"Wait, Joly!" he called after me, desperate.

Something inside me bade me turn around. "I'm sorry," I said, "but I must be getting home."

"Come visit me," he urged. "Tomorrow."

"I don't know where you--" I started to point out, but he shoved a piece of paper into my hands. It was a marvelously detailed map, showing the route from my flat to his. "Very well, then," I said, bewildered yet impressed. "What time?"

"Seven?" he offered.

"Seven it is."

We went our separate ways: I to the flat to rest for a bit before the meeting, he to find his way out of the university. I wished him luck, remembering what a time I had had trying to find my way around the place my first year. Now why did I just agree to that? I thought when I was halfway home. I think I know what he wants, and I don't think--my heart sped up again; I should really find a different medicine--I don't think I feel that way about him. Oh, I'm confused.

* * * * *

I was almost afraid to knock on the door, for it looked as though it might break if I did. I tapped lightly, cringing as the door creaked. Feuilly opened the door almost immediately, as if he had been sitting next to it waiting for me. "I was afraid you weren't coming," he said. "Sorry about the mess," he apologized as he let me inside. Fully half of the small room was occupied by a canvas and his paints. "Creative outburst, you see." I looked at what he had painted. It didn't look like much of anything, just a lot of tricolor. I supposed that was something, in its own way. Had I not known the significance of those colors, I might have concluded that he was too poor to buy more than two colors of paint. (The green spilled on the floor disproved that, anyway.)

"How did you come to live in Paris?" I asked him as we sat on his couch, a hideous grey thing that probably had all sorts of things living in it. (Mine wasn't in much better shape, but at least I kept it clean.) "Were you born here, or what?"

"My father left us when I was six," Feuilly explained, "and Maman and my sister and I moved here."

"Your sister?" I asked.

"Josephine. She was seven years older than me." He paused before continuing. "Maman caught fever and died two winters later. With no one to turn to, Josephine, fifteen by that time, found a factory job to support us. It hardly paid at all. Wasn't a year before she'd had to turn to selling herself. I didn't want her to do it; I begged her not to, said I could find work--of course I couldn't, being all of nine years old. She lasted three years in that business before she found herself with child." He stopped again and could not continue.

I guessed what must have happened. I had seen it often enough at the hospital. Whispering kind words, I held him close to me, wishing I hadn't brought up the subject. I hated inducing emotional breakdowns.

"After--she passed," he managed, "I had nobody. Still have nobody, just that I'm old enough now to work and take care of myself. Doesn't help with the loneliness." He collapsed against me, struggling to hold back tears.

"Shh, it's all right," I said, gently pushing his fair hair away from his face. I was made a little uncomfortable by the situation-myself as the comforter, rather than the one near hysterics. This was a side of Feuilly I had not seen before. He had always seemed so strong and independent-and I suppose he was, but only because he had to be. For a moment I felt guilty about my own comfortable existence.

I wondered if it would be possible to set up a hospital where people with no money could go. It would take a lot of money, and it would be dreadfully hard work. But is it really fair to leave them with no hope at all?

He lay next to me for a long time. I thought he was asleep, so I kissed him, not knowing what possessed me to do so.

He had not been asleep, as he soon proved to me. He returned my kiss, placing his arm around me and pulling me closer. The next few moments moved like a dream. My trousers were half off when I had a sudden thought. "Is the--is the door locked?"

"It hasn't got a lock," Feuilly informed me, shrugging.

"We can't--someone might--" I had spoiled the moment, I knew, but not as badly as, say, his landlord would have.

Feuilly got up quickly and moved a chair in front of the door. Presently he returned to me, and I ceased my worrying for a moment. We were both wearing very little, and quite aroused, when I thought of something else. "I'm sick," I said, moving away from him a little. "I have a terrible cold--I hope that's all it is, anyway."

"Does that mean--" he started.

"Just--ah!--a warning." I kissed him again, resolving not to disrupt things again until we were finished.

* * * * *

Afterwards he fell asleep, using my shoulder as a pillow. I was not offended; he deserved a good night's sleep.

I turned over to look at him (he had moved his head off of me by this time.) He looked so fragile, as if this harsh world could easily break him in two. He never showed this side of himself while awake. I felt as though I had been let in on a dark secret.

And he was beautiful.

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