Meme prompt: Reincarnation AU. Established relationship. Javert and Valjean are moving into a new flat and have a lot of IKEA furniture to put together. Valjean is all: “I’ve got this, I used to be a wood cutter in my previous life, stand aside.” Except he turns out to be completely rubbish at it. Javert is not impressed.
Notes: So yeah it’s Valjean trying and failing to build an IKEA cabinet. That’s pretty much it.
Time into construction: 5 minutes
Progress: Components have been opened and are being inspected
It is only a cabinet.
Of course, it is currently in separate parts that have been spread across the floor for easy access, but it is still only a cabinet.
"I’ve got this." Valjean rolls up his sleeves to avoid getting them caught in anything, crouching down and picking up a stray nail that came with the kit. It looks unimportant. He is sure he will figure out where it goes eventually.
Javert is unimpressed as he sits on the blanket pile they have been using as a sofa, flicking through the manual. “Are you sure you don’t want to look at this first, Valjean?”
"I don’t need to, I know exactly where everything’s going," Valjean replies confidentially, and it’s not a lie if he believes at least 76% of his statement. He slips the nail into his breast pocket, giving it an affectionate pat. He likes that nail already. It is proof that he will get the job done. "You forget, I was good at labouring back in the past."
This mention of the past, of the lives that they once lived, has no visible effect on Javert other than a slight pursing of the lips. “Well, I wish you luck.”
Time into construction: 32 minutes
Progress: There is one board standing upright, although it wobbles when Valjean attempts to drive a nail into the base and nearly lands on his head.
"Would you like any help?" Javert offers, setting down a mug of fresh coffee on the floor beside him. He is not concerned for Valjean’s health; if a board hits him or he should sit on a nail, then it is his own fault.
"No, I’m nearly there!" Valjean’s voice is cheerful as always, although there’s a crinkling around his eyes that Javert has noticed occurs when he feels pressurised; a slight flicker of his tongue against his bottom lip only confirms his theory. Valjean is frustrated, and it serves him right. It is his fault for not bothering to read the manual.
Javert decides that if Valjean does not want the manual, then surely there is no harm in storing it underneath their blanket heap.
Time into construction: 58 minutes
Progress: Valjean is sure there is meant to be a nail that goes in that little hole.
He reaches around him, patting the floor and wondering if it has slipped into the slight gap between each floorboard. He needs to find it quickly, before his carefully balanced tower falls over like it already has twelve times before.
"Javert!" He calls out, finally giving in. "Have you seen a nail at all?"
Javert does not even bother glancing up from his laptop. “You mean the one in your pocket?”
Oh. Valjean gratefully reaches into his pocket and tugs out the nail, and in the process nudges the cabinet with the very tip of his elbow.
It crashes down around him and Valjean kind of wants to cry.
"You’re welcome," Javert adds as an afterthought.
Time into construction: 63 minutes
Progress: It is not the right nail.
It is very hard to resist the urge to pick up each and every piece of wood and fling them all out the window.
Time into construction: 87 minutes.
Progress: He has found the correct nail, and he has finally finished.
"There!" Valjean says triumphantly, pressing his palm against the side of it firmly. It wobbles, but it does not fall. "I told you I could do it! And you said that I needed a manual, ha!"
Javert glances up, and then says the words that Valjean certainly did not expect to hear. “What about that plank there?”
Valjean turns. There is a piece of wood lying directly behind him, that he somehow missed whilst he was caught up in his construction work.
He looks from the wood to the cabinet, and he wonders why such a loving God must torment him this way.
Time into construction: 191 minutes.
Progress: He will not give up. He must not give up.
"Valjean, it’s been over three hours. Maybe you should give in."
"I’m nearly there!" Valjean insists through gritted teeth, fighting to get the shelf to slide in like he is certain it should. "I shall see it done!"
Javert sighs, squeezing Valjean’s shoulder. “At least take a break.”
"I’m so close!" He insists and strains his arms, giving a whoop of joy that would be best suited to a child than a full-grown man. "There! You see? It finally fits!" He stares at the cabinet with undisguised triumph, and then his voice drops to a whisper. "My god, Javert, I have done it. I have assembled our cabinet."
Javert rolls his eyes, pressing a kiss to the top of Valjean’s head because right now the man needs some form of reward. “Yes, yes, congratulations.”
"And all without a manual, too!" He struggles to his feet and nearly buckles over, having being on his knees for a good few hours now. Javert clutches him, supporting him. "Isn’t that a good-looking cabinet?"
"It’s a good-looking cabinet," Javert repeats, and Valjean is so excited he does not care that the compliment is merely an echo.
Valjean continues to go on about ‘his’ cabinet all night, and Javert is relieved when he finally falls asleep, leaving him to creep out of the bedroom, tug out the manual, and rebuild the wrongly assembled cabinet from scratch.
It takes him all of twenty minutes.
Time into construction: 345 minutes.