3. Separated At Birth

Christian sidles into the cafe, hands tucked a trifle self-consciously in his pockets.

Jaden is seated at a table near the window, feet propped up on the other chair at the table. Wine glass in hand, he glances idly towards the door as it opens, then back for a second look at the young man.

Christian does much the same thing, blinking a couple of times. Some weeks you just can't win. But he brazens it out, with a diffident, "Afternoon, monsieur."

Jaden just stares a moment, before shaking his head slightly. "Afternoon," he replies, tilting his head slightly.

Christian ventures a tentative smile, and crosses to a free table, of which there are many at this hour.

Jaden's gaze follows him, then he motions to his own table. "You may join me, if you like, monsieur."

Christian pauses, reddening for no apparent reason; then shrugs. "Thank you." He makes his way carefully over to the table.

Jaden nudges a chair out with his foot, still watching him. "I'm Jaden," he says after a moment, offering a delicate hand to shake.

Christian says politely, "Pleased to meet you. I'm Christian." After a pause, he takes the offered hand in his own, if possible even more delicate one, and shakes it gingerly.

"A pleasure to meet you, Christian," Jaden replies, releasing the other young man's hand. He stares at him a moment more, then shakes his head, offering a smile. "Forgive my gawking, it is just that looking at you is very nearly like looking in a mirror."

"Oh!" Christian is startled into a laugh. "I ..." he peers at him, "I suppose so. That's... very odd."

Jaden grins, eyes dancing with amusement. "It is," he agrees. "One would think us related."

Christian snickers faintly, as though amused by some private thought, and nods.

Jaden reaches for his wine glass, then offers, "May I buy you a drink?"

Christian blinks. "...Thank you."

Jaden nods, and motions to the waitress, whose name he can never remember. "What brings you here?" he questions the pretty young man. "I haven't seen you about before."

The waitress glides over with a silent questioning look to Jaden, as Christian clears his throat. "I, um. Just arrived last week..."

Jaden motions to Christian, with a smile for the girl. "Wine for my friend, please, my dear." Looking back to Christian, he tilts his head. "Oh? Where are you from?" Nosy thing.

Christian glances after the departing waitress, then back to Jaden. "Er, Vezet. And you?"

"London," Jaden replies. "London, England. I've been here for some time, though."

Christian blinks once. "Really."

Jaden nods, taking a sip from his glass, then looking at Christian over the rim, lashes half lowered. Can you blame him for flirting? Christian's almost as pretty as himself. "I find I like Paris."

Christian grins a bit. "Yes. So do I." Safely out of Maman's reach.

Jaden chuckles softly. "And what brought you here?" he questions.

Christian bites his lip. Shrugs, with that edge of self-consciousness. "Curiosity."

Jaden tilts his head again, fiddling with his wine glass. "Oh? Is it your first time in Paris?"

Christian nods. "Yes." He glances down fleetingly, and leans on the table, arms folded.

Jaden gazes at him a moment. "Where are you staying?" he questions, nosy again.

Christian glances up again. "Oh-- Rue St. Michel." He seems about to say more, but doesn't.

Jaden nods at that, trying to place the street. "I think I know where that is. I still get lost quite a bit."

Christian grins that sudden fleeting grin. "That's understandable."

Jaden grins back, eyes warm. "You have a wonderful smile," he says impulsively.

Christian blinks, then flushes crimson, stammering. "I... er... thank you." He looks down at his hands.

Jaden can't help but laugh softly. "Amazing, I've met someone who blushes more than I," he says in a playful tone.

"Well, I--" Christian cuts himself off, and just shuts up for a bit.

Jaden reaches across the table to pat Christian's small hand. "I'm just teasing you," he murmurs.

Christian raises his eyes with a bit of a lopsided grin.

Jaden returns the grin, and winks, long lashes fluttering, then reaches for his wine again. "Do you come here often?" Oh, how lame, Jade.

Christian, raw innocent that he is, just blinks. "Well... I have been, so far."

Jaden nods, lounging back in his chair. "I'll have to come by more often, then."

Christian blinks again, and reddens. "It's, um, the people are, er... friendly." He very carefully does not glance toward the door.

Jaden chuckles at that, and nods. "Oh yes, they are. I have a few friends who come here."

Christian tilts his head at that, interest piqued. "Oh?"

Jaden nods again, smiling. "Well, Grantaire, for one." Gee, that's a lot. Jaden needs more friends.

Christian's eyes widen very slightly. He's been warned about Grantaire. "I... see." He essays a bit of a smile.

Jaden smiles to himself a moment, toying with his glass, then shakes his head slightly, and looks back to his pretty tablemate. "Have you met him?"

Christian clears his throat. "I... no, not yet. Tell me about him?"

Jaden glances about. "Where's that wine I ordered you?" Then he grins at the question. "What's he like? He's abrasive, and gruff, and often cross." His tone is rather adoring.

Christian's eyebrows go up a bit. "...So I hear." Strange, strange Englishmen. He glances over at this last question, to see if the waitress is on her way back, which she is finally.

Jaden flashes the waitress a grin, and digs out payment, then turns back to Christian. "But he can be very sweet sometimes, as well."

Enjolras walks into the cafe just then, and sees his dear sib--er, cousin, sitting at a table with someone he does not know.

Christian blinks slowly at Jaden. "I see," looking a bit baffled.

Enjolras clears his throat. "Bonjour, Caron."

Jaden nods, smiling. "Most people just do not know him, is all." He glances to the door at the voice, and stares a moment, before smiling again.

Christian jumps nearly out of his skin, and turns with a look partly guilty, partly relieved, partly plain old startled. "--'lo, Enjolras," he says when he can breathe again.

Enjolras's eyebrows lift a little when Jaden stares at him. "Bonjour, Monsieur," he says to this stranger with a sharp look at Christian. "Are you giving my cousin wine?" He looks rather worried, but more upset than anything.

Jaden blinks a few times. "Hello," he replies, then glances at Christian, then back to the dashing Enjolras. "Only one glass. I'm sorry?"

Christian blinks, then levels one of those 'you're-reacting-again' stares at Enjolras. "This is Jaden," he says, mispronouncing it. "Jaden, my c-cousin M. Enjolras, have you met?" Only stammering a bit.

Enjolras answers icily, "I don't drink." He isn't really paying attention to anything, he's very worried about his sister, and he has a class shortly.

Jaden shakes his head slightly, qawking at Enjolras again. "Not really, though Grantaire has spoken of him. A pleasure to meet you."

Christian winces faintly at mention of Grantaire, and braces himself for the sparks.

Enjolras glowers at Christian. "You are a friend of Grantaire?" he asks in the tone normally reserved for 'You eat human flesh?' and shakes his head a little. "Christian, I have a class shortly. I will see you when I get home." That isn't a question at all.

Christian takes a couple of perhaps unduly deep breaths, and looks about to protest, but: "Yes."

Enjolras nods shortly. "Good."

Jaden blinks again, looking between the two. "What's wrong with being a friend of Grantaire's?" he grumbles softly, and shakes his head.

Christian winces again, shaking his head slightly at Jaden. Don't go there. "Afternoon, Enjolras," he says a little desperately.

Enjolras clears his throat. "He is a useless reprobate whose only purpose in life is to waste it worshiping the bottle. I hope that all of his companions are not as shiftless as he is. I am sure that my cousin will not be affected by such idiocy."

Christian wavers between tears and a glare, one hand clamped white-knuckled on the edge of the table.

Enjolras nods to Jaden as if he has not just insulted the man's friend, and to Christian with a warning look. "Good afternoon," he says in a neutral tone, and walks out the door.

Violet eyes go very wide at that, as Jaden's jaw drops. "Well! I know the French can be rude, but really! He happens to be a good friend of mine! And he is not a reprobate!"

Christian takes in another of those gasping breaths, and, ignoring the insult to his countrymen, says reproachfully, "They don't get along."

Jaden just stares after Enjolras a moment, eyes still wide. "I should call him out!" he fumes. "What a thing to say!"

"I could have told you," Christian says a little crossly, seemingly defensive of his 'cousin'.

Jaden reaches for his glass, and downs the rest of his wine, subsiding sulkily into his chair. "That's not the point. He was rude."

"Well!" begins Christian, but can't exactly deny it. He quiets, frowning.

Jaden frowns as well, though it's almost more of a pout. "And he tells you what to do? What if you don't wish to go home?"

Christian bites his lip rather hard. "...I'm staying with him. And," inspiration strikes, "if he gets too mad he could write to --my parents," mind your pronouns, Chris, "and they might fetch me home, and I'm not leaving." This last with all the stubbornness a sixteen-year-old can summon.

Well, Jaden can't argue with that, though he can certainly sulk more. "Humph," he replies, crossing his arms over his chest. "Grantaire isn't like that at all. Really he isn't."

Combeferre walks into the cafe and sees dear Christian, who looks terribly upset, and another angry person. "Bonjour! What's wrong?"

Christian rubs at the back of his neck crossly. "I wouldn't know," he murmurs. And then his face lights up as he looks over. "Oh! --Bonjour."

Jaden glances sulkily over at the new arrival, and nods in greeting, then flags the waitress down for more wine. "Bring a bottle," he mutters.

Combeferre frowns at Jaden's unhappy face. "I am Etienne, monsieur. What is your name?"

Jaden stands politely to offer one small hand to shake. "Jaden," he replies.

Combeferre takes the hand with a smile. "Enchanté. What's the matter with you and my friend Christian?"

Christian mutters, slipping a bit, "Marcelin."

Jaden warms up a bit at Combeferre's friendliness, then snorts and drops back into his seat, tossing his head at Christian's words. "He is unsufferably rude."

Light dawns. "Ah, yes, everyone's favorite person." Of course. Who else would send two people into such a tizzy and then leave? "He can be, yes. May I sit with you?"

"Please," Christian says at once, even though it isn't his table.

Combeferre glances at Jaden for permission.

Jaden nods to Combeferre, and offers him a smile. "Please do," he agrees.

Combeferre sits, then. "Merci." He asks with a gentle smile and a slight sigh, "What has our dear Marcelin done now?"

Christian gives a slightly sulky shrug.

Combeferre raises an eyebrow. "That bad?"

Jaden tosses his head again, sighing. "He was saying nasty things about Grantaire." Christian isn't the only sulky one.

Christian sits up a little straighter, but shuts up as Jaden speaks. The resemblance to an errant pair of young brothers is remarkable.

Combeferre stops himself from laughing, but only just. Instead, he grins, which is not particularly conciliatory. "That, at least, is nothing new. To be fair, François tends to tease Marcelin when he has the time."

Jaden snorts as well, shaking his head. "Well, it was still rude," he mutters, crossing his arms again.

Combeferre shrugs a little. "I don't deny that, Jaden." He looks at the two of them with their defensive postures and resemblances. "Are you sure you know who your cousin is, Christian?" he asks teasingly. "You might really be from some other branch of the family."

Christian blinks, and blushes, glancing at Jaden bemusedly.

Combeferre adds, "But that would mean that Jaden would also be related to Marcelin, and so I'm sure that even if he knew it, he would deny it at the moment."

Jaden looks over at Christian in turn, and shakes his head, grinning a bit. "Were I French, I might wonder," he replies.

Christian has to giggle at that, and then has to moderate it to a chuckle, ducking his head.

Combeferre grins. "I wouldn't know about the English, but my people are apt to take love wherever they can find it." He becomes slightly more serious as he hears a nearby churchtower chime the hour. "I need to be going, my friends. Jaden, I can tell that Marcelin has made a bad impression on you, but I promise you that he can be a wonderful person, as witnessed by his cousin. He is not all bad, though he has his moments, same as anyone else."

Jaden makes a noncommittal sound to that, but nods slightly. "Perhaps he was just having a bad day," he concedes.

Combeferre nods. "It happens to the best of us, and Marcelin can be that." He winks at Christian. "It was good to see you again, Christian. Take care of your cousin. Remind him that he lives on earth, at least until the angels help him ascend."

Christian nods, having to agree with this even in the midst of his pique. Then he smiles at Combeferre, with rather thinly veiled adoration, and nods. "Afternoon."

Combeferre stands up. "It was a pleasure to meet you, Jaden." He waves and goes out, whistling a cheerful tune.

Jaden nods again, falling silent while Combeferre speaks to Christian. Then murmurs, "It was a pleasure to meet you, as well."

Jaden watches him go, then sighs faintly, shaking his head. "He's nice, at least."

Christian nods earnestly. "He's..." He catches himself. "...very pleasant."

Jaden tilts his head at Christian, arching a brow. "Indeed." He smiles, looking faintly amused.

Christian, of course, goes red, and changes the subject rather suddenly. "Anyway, I apologize for Enjolras."

Jaden chuckles at the blush, and nods. "It's not your fault," he replies, waving a hand.

A hand goes up to rub at the back of his neck again, and Christian glances down, stuck for words again.

Jaden offers a smile. "I'm sorry I upset you, speaking ill of your cousin. I was just upset."

Christian shrugs with self-conscious carelessness. "It's all right. God knows he annoys me too sometimes."

Jaden nods, and reaches to pat his hand.

Christian offers an awkward grin, and eases his hand away, reaching for the glass. Marcelin be darned.

Jaden refills his own glass from the bottle the waitress brought. Maybe R is rubbing off on him. "Why don't you wish to go home?" he asks.

Christian's face darkens, and he says nothing.

Jaden tilts his head slightly. "Sorry if I'm prying. I was just curious. Myself, I left, because I didn't wish to be wed to this cloying, clinging woman."

Christian's eyebrows shoot up, but all he says is, "Ah."

Jaden wrinkles his nose. "She was truly awful. I still can't stand the scent of rose perfume now."

Christian snickers a bit at that.

Jaden grins at him. "Paris, the city of freedom?" he teases.

Christian half laughs. "You should say that to Marcelin. He'd like you better, maybe."

Jaden chuckles, and shakes his head. "Perhaps I will, then."

Mention of Enjolras, however, seems to remind Christian of the time. He looks toward the door, and sighs. "I should go."

Jaden looks faintly disapointed, but nods. "Perhaps I'll see you again. Good day, Christian."

Christian flashes one of those quick nervous grins. "Au revoir." He gets to his feet, and with a wave slips out.

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