To Fly In Vain

Author:   Pairing: Joly/Bahorel  Rating: PG

No more now, fond heart, with pride no more swell,
Thou canst not raise forces enough to rebel.
I attempt from Love's sickness to fly in vain,
Since I am myself my own fever and pain.

-- John Dryden and Sir Robert Howard

"I am ill indeed," said Joly. "And I can find no cure. Nay, even my disease is not found in any books, try as I might to find it. I fear I must resign myself to my fate."

The café was quiet, for most of the crowd had headed off to welcoming beds. A neglected game of dominoes sat on a table and the player who had caused its neglect, Grantaire, sat asleep in a chair. Joly and Bahorel, who had also been playing before Grantaire decided that unconsciousness was a better way to spend an evening, were now the only others who remained, and they happily were sharing the last of the wine.

"And what fate is this?" asked Bahorel. "To become an invalid?" He smiled, always amused with Joly's imagined ills, and very seriously whispered, "Death?"

"Worse!" said Joly. "For mine is a love sickness, and it threatens to consume me with its ill effects. Do you know I actually put ink to paper this morning attempting to write an ode to my love?"

"Horror!" Bahorel said. "Then you are far beyond help, my friend."

"Alas," said Joly. "Ahh, for my carefree youth, when I was untroubled by such things."

"Youth!" laughed Bahorel. "You are a child yet."

Joly frowned. "I am not. And do you not know that one of the effects of love's sickness is that it ages your heart beyond its years? I feel eighty."

"And what other effects do you suffer?"

"A loss of appetite, a tendency toward absent-mindedness, a pain in the chest," Joly lamented. "And a rash, although that could be due to something else entirely."

"Then this is serious," said Bahorel. "And no cure, you say? Poor boy. But it seems to me that a cure is not hard."

"No?" Joly said.

"No. You must attain the object of your desire, and then these evil effects will be replaced with the joy of love had. A simple enough solution in my eyes." He eyed the bottle that had been sitting for some minutes in Joly's hand, neglected. "Some wine for the rest of us?" he said.

"Oh, yes," said Joly, handing it over. "But things are not so simple. You assume that I want to attain this person. But I do not. It is foolishness to be sick over them, for I know that they have no desire to look on this poor man or any man at all. Meanwhile I spend my days in ecstasy and agony, depending on whether they deign to speak to me or no. I cannot survive like this much longer, else I collapse in utter confusion. My mind rebels, but my body insists. An unhappy predicament."

"But a predicament that we all are in at some time," said Bahorel. "Unless we are of the name of Enjolras and can think not on such things of the flesh."

"Ahh, Enjolras!" Joly said, quickly drinking more wine.

"Ahh," said Bahorel, suddenly thinking that he understood things quite well. "We cannot all be golden gods, and we must learn not to set our sights on those who are."

"Well, I know that," said Joly.

"A distraction is what you need," Bahorel said.

"Distraction? What kind of distr--"

Joly was stopped very suddenly, finding himself being kissed, in a rather surprising and not unpleasant way.

"Now," said Bahorel, pulling away, "how is your sickness?"

"Not so fickle as to have run away at that," said Joly, trying to appear at least somewhat perturbed at being unexpectedly assaulted.

"Then we shall have to try harder," said Bahorel, leaning in again, and try harder he did.

"Dear me," said Joly, a little out of breath. "What is this for?"

"I am simply helping," Bahorel said, all innocence. "But I must confess that the look on your face amuses me, though I fully expected a more heated reaction. Not really a bit of protest, my friend! Perhaps our love sickness was not such a dire ailment as we thought."

"Oh, go away," Joly said, feeling more confused than ever. "You are just laughing at me, and I have had enough of that. You! Always stirring people up just to amuse yourself. Some consideration please. I have just taken you into my confidence, and you jest. Just leave me to my fate and go be troublesome elsewhere."

Bahorel made no move to leave though, continuing to drink the wine with a smile on his lips.

"Insufferable," said Joly, throwing an empty bottle at the other man.

"Unjustified!" said Bahorel, ducking away from the bottle. "I've done nothing to deserve having things heaved at my head."

Joly erupted with laughter. "I cannot stay angry," he said. "If you want a fighting partner, look elsewhere, for my temper disappears as quickly as it comes."

"Then it is good that I do not want a fighting partner," said Bahorel. "And I will return your confidence with one of my own now. I was not trying to help you. Indeed, I am a selfish man, and I have acted only for my own gain. I have lately been afflicted with same disease that you so lament this evening, and I sought to conquer it."

"By distraction?" asked Joly.

"By attainment," said Bahorel.

"Oh," said Joly. "That is unexpected, though not as unwelcome as I suspect you think it is."

"No?" Bahorel said.

"I think I could be convinced to be distracted," said Joly, remembering the kisses, which had been remarkable. "If you could be bothered to stay around here more often, I'm sure I could manage it very well indeed."

"I believe I could do that," said Bahorel.

While enjoying the next kiss, Joly reminded himself that before he welcomed the other man to his bed, he should destroy the sheet of paper entitled 'Ode to Henri Bahorel' that still lay on his desk. Sometimes it was best, in these matters, to let everyone feel they had been the triumphant party.

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