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The Monster is gone.
Eliot is back.
Quentin is alive.

Nothing else matters.

There was a battle fought and so much blood but then its over. Julia isn't speaking but she's back in her body and Eliot is so weak he can barely stand, but he doesn't need to because Margo will carry him herself if she needs to. Kady is wounded but Alice says she's gonna make it. Penny23 disappeared sometime after the battle was over. And Quentin? Quentin is alive. He's not sure of anything past that.

They make their way back to Marina's apartment, quiet and clinging to each other, trying to accept the fact that they won. Its over. They get to breathe again. Nobody is quite sure where to go from here. Food is ordered and drinks are poured, but everyone moves in a sort of shell shocked silence. Eventually people start peeling off of the group in ones and twos to go find a quiet place to sort through their trauma.

Which is how Quentin ends up at the kitchen counter alone, nursing a drink long after everyone else has fallen asleep. His thoughts keep circling around unhelpfully. Eliot is alive. He's here and he's okay. I don't know if I'm okay, but at least he is. He remembers that first glimpse of seeing El instead of the Monster, that moment of realizing he's back. How he launched himself into Eliot's arms right as he collapsed to the ground. He remembers clutching him desperately, Margo on his other side, as they both had an overwhelming need to hold him and know that he was okay.

His thoughts are interrupted by slow footsteps shuffling down the hall towards him. Eliot appears around the corner, squinting at the light.

“Hey.” Eliot’s voice is rough and tired. He shuffles closer, leaning heavily on the wall and the counter until he's able to slide onto a stool across from Quentin.

“Hey.” Quentin says. “Shouldn't you be sleeping?”

“My stomach woke me up.” Eliot shifted in his chair with a wince. “I'm starving. Did It eat at all? When It was me?”

Quentin flashes back to all of the drugs and the alcohol. “Not really. Mostly cheese puffs and churros.”

Eliot huffs out what could be a laugh, if it didn't look like the sound physically pained him. “Great. Another reason I feel like death warmed over.”

“I'll make you something to eat.” Quentin stands up and moves slowly around the kitchen, gathering stuff from cupboards and trying to minimize the noise.

Eliot turns as far as his injured body will allow to try and watch him. “You sure that's a good idea, Coldwater?” he teases gently.

Quentin rolls his eyes, even though Eliot can't see that from where he's sitting. “I am perfectly capable of making a grilled cheese, thank you very much.” He glances back to see a hint of a smile on Eliot's face.

They sit in silence while Quentin makes food. There's so much to say but neither of them really know where to start or how to begin. Eliot finally clears his throat. “How long do you think it'll last?” At Quentin's look of confusion he clarifies. “The peace. The lull before the next apocalypse. How much longer before we gotta save the world again?”

Quentin sighs. “It never seems to last long, does it?” He flips the sandwich over in the pan. “Sometimes I wish we could take a break. Put everything on hold for a few days and just breathe.”

He slides the sandwich onto a plate and puts it in front of Eliot. “Lots of cheese. Hint of garlic.” he stops himself before he adds, just the way you like it. He doesn't know how much of the Mosaic timeline Eliot remembers, and he figures now is not the time to bring up all that.

“I can't remember the last time somebody made me a grilled cheese sandwich.” Eliot's voice is soft. For the first time since they got him back, he looks like something resembling the old Eliot. Quentin decides he'd happily make a million sandwiches if it meant Eliot kept looking like that.

Quentin takes his seat again at the counter as Eliot begins to eat. He finishes half of the sandwich before he speaks again. “Where would you go? If you could take a break.”

Quentin considers that. Between Earth and Fillory and the Neitherlands, there are no shortage of options. For some reason though, only one place seems right. “California.”

Eliot's eyebrows raise in surprise. “Really? California?”

Quentin shrugs. “Its where my dad grew up. He used to talk about it and his whole face would light up. You know I've never seen the Pacific Ocean? I've been to fucking Fillory but I've never seen the Pacific Ocean.”

Eliot looks thoughtful as he finishes eating. He pushes some crumbs around his plate and doesn't look up when he finally says, “Let's go.”

“Go?” Quentin asks. “Like, to California?”

Eliot looks up now. “Its like you said. We don't know how long we've got before all hell breaks loose again. But you need a break and I need a moment for life to be normal again, so...I don't know, let's pack the car and start driving.”

Quentin looks at the man in front of him. In some ways he's the man that he knows inside out, the man he met outside of Brakebills so long ago, the man he spent 50 years of another lifetime with. But in other ways he's completely different. Irreversibly changed by the events of the past year. “You really want to spend your moment of peace on a road trip with me?”

“Why the fuck not?” Eliot hold his gaze, eyes certain.

Quentin's the first to look away. Does Eliot remember that day in the throne room? Does he realize he's using Q's own words back at him? It was so long ago and so much has happened since then, Quentin's sure he's forgotten. It has to be a coincidence. Either way, it sparks a hope in Quentin that had been snuffed out. Maybe they have a second chance.

“Okay.” he says, looking back at Eliot with a smile. “Let's go.”

Chapter Text

Eliot stood in his room staring at the assortment of clothes on the bed in front of him. It was a mix of some clothes he had worn Before, a few pieces from Penny and Quentin's wardrobe that they'd given him, and one oversized sweater he recognized from where it usually lived buried deep in Margo's closet.

When they had gotten back to the apartment yesterday, it had suddenly hit him what he was wearing. The tackiness of the graphic tee and the fact that he was covered in blood had almost caused another panic attack. He remembers forcing his eyes shut and keeping them that way as Margo's soothing voice and steady hands helped him undress and step into the shower. He remembers standing under the water for what felt like hours until it ran cold, putting on the sweatpants and soft shirt someone had left him on the bathroom counter.

He doesn't know what happened to the other clothes. He doesn't want to know.

He remembers food, and everyone talking in hushed voices. He remembers gentle hugs from his friends as Margo tells them they're going to bed.

He remembers Bambi. Holding him as he finally let's the tears out. He doesn't feel better, but something in his chest feels a little less tight. He remembers talking with her until they both fall asleep, telling her about everything. The Happy Place. The Memory. The Mosaic.

He remembers waking up with this overwhelming feeling of hunger. It's the first time he feels human in a long time, and he follows that feeling as it drags him to the kitchen.

He remembers Quentin. Sweet, brave Quentin. His Q. He looks sad and broken, and something in Eliot aches to just gather him up in his arms and hold him until they both start to heal. But he can't. Whether it's because they've missed their chance or because Eliot is too fragile for a rejection right now, he can't tell. All he knows is he needs to be close to Quentin in whatever way he'll allow.

So he sits and he eats the food that his darling Quentin makes for him and he asks him to run away with him. And Quentin says yes. He feels another spark in his chest and realizes its hope.

Hunger. Hope.
Becoming human again, piece by piece.

And now he's here the next morning, trying to pack a suitcase and explain to Margo why he has to leave.

“You just got back. You're not even healed yet.” She's trying to hold back her frustration and not yell at him, and for that he's grateful.

“I don't know who I am anymore, Bambi. And that's terrifying. I need to figure out me and I don't think I can do that here.” he gestures at the apartment, their friends, the city, all of it.

“I can tell you who you are.” her voice is choked. That emotion she keeps so firmly in check is bubbling just under the surface.

He sits beside her and takes her hands in his. “You can tell me who I was.” he says gently. “I don't know how much of who I was is still who I am. I don't know what's still here and what's gone forever.”

She sighs. “Well the Old Eliot would never talk about his feelings that easily, so you might have a point.” She gives his hands a squeeze and stands up to start packing his suitcase. “So a road trip, huh?”

Eliot rotates to watch her. “I don't know, it feels right. Transformative. Dramatic.”

Margo gives a sharp laugh. “Well I think it's safe to say that old trait is still going strong.” Eliot ducks his head with a tiny smile. “And Quentin?”

The smile falters. “What about Quentin?”

“Since New Eliot is all about communication, maybe talk about your feelings for him.” she says, gentle but firm.

Eliot studies his hands, fighting his gut instinct to deny his feelings. “What's the point? You know what I did. I fucked it up and I lost my chance.”

“You didn't see him these past few months fighting for you.” Eliot looks up at her. Her eyes are soft and something about the way she's looking at him makes him want to believe her. “That boy cares about you.”

She closes the suitcase and zips it up. She moves to stand in front of him, gently cupping his face in her hands. He leans into her hands, letting himself feel comfort.

“Time to follow through, my love.” she says. “Time to be brave.”

 

Chapter Text

It shouldn’t feel this normal. How easily they settle back into together.

They’ve been driving for about an hour. It’s still early morning, the sun is barely peeking over the horizon and its tinting everything a soft gold. Quentin insisted on driving first, after reluctantly agreeing to switch off with Eliot every couple hours. He glances over at Eliot sitting in the passenger seat, leaning against the window as he stares out of it, watching the New York suburbs slip by. He's nursing a travel cup filled with coffee, a bon voyage gift from Julia. The steam curls up around his face and something aches deep in Quentin's chest. A mix of he's here and he's safe and he's beautiful.

They haven't really talked besides small stuff ("you do realize the speed limit is more of a suggestion, Quentin?" "oh my god, El, look at the dog!") but it's a comfortable quiet. It's their steady breaths and the soft notes of the radio and the sound of the road under the tires. It reminds Quentin of the Mosaic, when they would work together for hours in silence, not needing to fill the quiet, content to just be in each others company. Lately everything's been reminding him of the Mosaic.

With every mile they leave the city, he can see Eliot visibly start to relax. His arms uncurl from where they had been wrapped so tightly around himself and he even goes so far as to slouch slightly in his seat. It's a little startling, he can't remember the last time he's seen Eliot 'Always Looking Like Perfection' Waugh slouch in his seat. But the more he looks at him, the more he likes the sight. Eliot looks comfortable, open, less guarded than normal. It's a good look on him. Fuck. I'm staring. Quentin quickly forces his gaze back on the road, hoping Eliot was too absorbed in his thoughts to notice.

He tries to think about something other than Eliot and his thoughts drift back to the terror of the past few months. Losing Eliot, being Brian, mourning his dad, fighting the Monster, almost losing Julia. Nope. Bad idea. Bad thoughts. He can feel that familiar edge of panic creep up, feels his fingers tense around the steering wheel, but he focuses on Eliot's breathing and starts to match his to that. Slow breaths. In and out. The panic slowly goes away.

God, I missed that. It's been so long without having Eliot around, he had almost forgotten how much of an effect he has on him. Even just being in the same space as him was enough to calm Quentin's brain. There was something about Eliot's presence that just grounded him, it always had, ever since that first day at Brakebills. He tries to subtly look over at Eliot and see if he noticed the start of his panic attack and...oh. Eliot's asleep. He's pulled the sleeves of his sweatshirt over his hands, where did he even get that sweatshirt?? I didn't think he even owned something like that, and he's curled up around his knees and his face is so still and un-worried.

Shit. He looks so fucking soft, it should be illegal. And it's so unlike Eliot but at the same time its very like Eliot? Its strange. And confusing. And all Quentin wants to do is cuddle up to him and take a nap too. He sighs. I'm in so fucking deep.

Quentin lets him sleep.

•••

“Are you sure you can drive? I mean, you are still injured.” Quentin worries, as they stretch their legs at a gas station. They've been driving for a few hours and are supposed to switch, which, thank goodness because he was really starting to get sore but now he's worried about Eliot. A near constant state of being for him, honestly.

Eliot gives another one of those not-laughs, like he remembers that he should be laughing but hasn’t remembered yet how to. “I’m not too injured to drive a car, Quentin.”

Quentin watches him settle into the driver's seat, sliding it back to make room for his ridiculously long legs. Honestly, who allowed his legs to be that long?? he thinks.

Eliot notices his concerned look and rolls his eyes. "I will say something if it gets to be too much. Okay? Happy?"

"Satisfied." Quentin concedes and gets into the passenger seat. He curls his legs up under him as Eliot starts driving and watches the world go past the window. He's lost track of time, so he's not actually sure how long they've been sitting in silence when Eliot's voice breaks it.

"I actually really enjoy driving.”

Quentin is slightly startled by this confession out of nowhere. He shifts so he's facing Eliot. “Really?” he asks. Eliot nods his head. He looks like he kind of, maybe, wants to say more? Quentin doesn't want to push him so he waits patiently, turned towards him but looking out the windshield.

“One of the side effects of living in the middle of Fuck All, Indiana is that you have to drive a good two, three hours before you reach any semblance of civilization.” Eliot finally says, words carefully chosen and sparkling with sass. Quentin grins. He'd missed this side of Eliot. The man who can charm a room with his confidence and wit.

"Where would you go?" he asks. Eliot's face changes slightly and Quentin studies it, trying to read it. Sometimes it feels like all he does is try and read Eliot. They spent fifty years together and he had gotten really good at it, but that was a different Eliot. One that had grown old and raised a kid and had a...a life partner. An Eliot who was slightly less terrified of letting other people in. This Eliot still had so many walls up, this Eliot didn't know how desperately Quentin wanted to be let inside those walls. Or did he? It was so confusing sometimes, having both Eliot's in his memories. He's drawn out of his head when Eliot answers his question.

"I used to drive to Fort Wayne on the weekends sometimes. Because they had a gay club." he says. Oh. Suddenly those walls don't seem as sturdy. He sees a sudden flash of another Eliot long ago smoking a cigarette, spilling his deepest secret, and telling him you are not alone here. He didn't realize that Eliot was still in this Eliot. Maybe that's how it is though. Maybe all we are is infinite past versions of ourselves all wrapped up into one, constantly changing and growing.

"My fake ID was absolute shit but they would let me in anyway. I think the bouncer took pity on the poor queer hick.” Eliot's face twists at those last three words, and Quentin can practically taste the self loathing. He hates when Eliot gets like this, when he doesn't see himself the way Quentin sees him. Quentin's fingers ache to reach out and sooth and touch, anything. His arm. His face. His hair. He swallows hard and settles for a question instead. “Was it fun?” he asks.

Something about that question surprises Eliot and knocks every bit of self hatred and introspection off his face, like he never even considered that it was supposed to be fun. He considers a moment before answering. "It was never really about fun? I guess?" Eliot says. "I think...well it was more about surviving. I just, I desperately needed to know that I wasn’t the only one...like me.”

This time Quentin gives in and let's himself reach out for Eliot. He rests his hand on Eliot's arm gently rubbing one finger along his sleeve. Eliot glances at Quentin and gives him a smile. A real, genuine, you-can-see-it-in-his-eyes smile. Its small and it's weak but its so Eliot that it takes Quentin's breath away. Every time Eliot smiles at him, every time that he smiles because of him, it melts Quentin's heart in a way that he thinks he'll never be able to recover from. That's why I did it. Why I did everything these past eight months, he thinks. To see you smile at me like that again.

But then Eliot takes a deep breath and shakes himself and Quentin knows the walls are back up. Just maybe not quite as high this time, he hopes. He reluctantly brings his hand back to his lap, not ready to stop touching Eliot.

“But the clubs I used to go to in New York during college?" Eliot raises one eyebrow, smirking. "Now, those were fun!"

•••

A few hours, a lunch break, and another driver switch later…

“Eliot, look!” Quentin said excitedly. He could see something on the side of the road in the distance and pointed it out to Eliot eagerly.

“What exactly am I supposed to be looking at?” Eliot sounded less than impressed.

“It’s one of those things!! You know, the, the booth thing? On the side of the road? Where farmers set out their...their fruits, and vegetables! And people stop. And buy them.” Quentin was grinning and maybe even bouncing in his seat a bit. “We have to get some!”

“Are you seriously getting excited over a produce stand right now?” He couldn’t tell if Eliot sounded annoyed or fond. And okay, maybe he was being a little ridiculous but it looked so quaint and wholesome, he couldn’t help but get excited. Normally when someone pointed out his behavior like that it made him second guess himself, but when it was Eliot doing the pointing out he didn't mind so much.

He slowed the car down and pulled off to park on the grass next to the stand. They weren’t the only ones with the same idea, there were a handful of other people milling about the area. He quickly unbuckled and almost tripped over himself in his eagerness to get out of the car. He turned blushing to see if Eliot had seen and of course he had. Real graceful, Coldwater. Eliot just raised an eyebrow at him and followed him towards the stand.

There was something about the fresh produce that just made Quentin happy. It was natural and earthy and good, and it reminded him of home somehow. He pointed out different vegetables to Eliot, who made non-committal noises in return. And then they saw the fruit stand and Quentin stopped in his tracks. “El, look.”

Peaches and plums.

He dragged his eyes away from the fruit to study Eliot’s face. There seemed to be a million emotions on it. Sadness, maybe. Possibly regret. What looked like could even, maybe, be happiness? He latches onto the last one and tentatively says, “I’m gonna...get some.” Eliot finally looks at him and, oh yeah, that’s definitely a sparkle of humor in his eyes. It lights a fire in Quentin that he hasn’t felt in a long time. Holy hell, that feels good.

He knows his face is full of sass as he grabs a plastic bag and starts picking peaches to buy, but he can’t bring himself to care enough to stop grinning. He can feel Eliot walk up behind him, standing a little bit closer than necessary. And if he leans into the warmth of him a little bit, just to show him a particularly good peach, there’s no harm in that, right?

“You’re ridiculous.” Eliot says, but there’s no heat behind the words. “This is stupid. It’s insufferable.” Quentin ignores him and continues picking up peaches. “So I shouldn’t get any plums then?” he asks.

“No, get the plums!” Eliot answers far too quickly, and Quentin turns to give him a look. Eliot’s looking off into the distance at god knows what, exuding an air of nonchalance, and Quentin knows its all an act. But it’s a familiar act...Eliot pretending he doesn’t care even though he clearly does and Quentin pretending to believe him even though they both know he sees right through him...and they haven’t played this game in so long. That feeling of home grows stronger in Quentin's heart.

“Very well. Plums too.” He takes his time selecting a few, holding them up for Eliot’s approval. Eliot deigns to nod at them, indicating that they will suffice. Quentin brings them to the people running the stand, digging out some cash to pay for them. They settle back into the car, Eliot now with a bag of fruit in his lap. He hands a peach to Quentin and selects a plum for himself, and they sit in the car and eat.

Quentin breathing deeply.
Eliot smiling at him.
The sun on their faces.
Peaches and plums.

Yes. This definitely feels like home.

•••

The sun is just starting to set when they pull into the motel parking lot. It’s nothing fancy, but it looks clean and the sign says they have vacancies. He lets Eliot talk to the front desk while he grabs their bags from the car, and then they’re in their room and he can’t help but laugh at the look on Eliot’s face. “It’s a motel, Eliot, what did you expect?”

Eliot gives a dramatic sigh. “I suppose it’s not the worst place I’ve ever slept.” They don’t waste time, taking turns using the bathroom and getting ready to sleep. There’s two beds and Quentin tries to ignore the little voice inside his head that wanted there to only be one. They crawl into bed and turn out the lights almost immediately. Despite doing nothing but drive all day they’re both exhausted. Quentin snuggles into his pillow and gives a happy sigh, rolling so he can face Eliot’s bed. He can barely make out Eliot’s shape in the darkness, but he can see that he’s on his side rolled towards him too. They lay in silence for a long time and he can hear Eliot’s breathing getting slower as he drifts off.

“Hey.” he whispers, not sure if Eliot’s still awake.

“Hey.” Eliot’s voice is low and raspy and Quentin is definitely not gonna think about how that voice makes him feel. He swallows.

“Today was a good day.” he says. When there’s no response he thinks Eliot has fallen asleep for real, but then Eliot shifts and he can see his face.

“Yeah. It was.” Eliot gives him another real-genuine-Eliot smile through the darkness and Quentin thinks that maybe, somehow, they might just be okay.

“Goodnight, Quentin.”

“Goodnight, Eliot.”

 

Chapter Text

“What in the flying fuck are you doing?”

Margo may have only been on the phone, but her voice held just as much power as if she was in the room with him. Eliot sighed. Quentin had gone to take a shower and Eliot didn’t know how to be alone yet, so naturally he had called Margo. Somehow giving her an update on their journey had turned into her lecturing him. It was too early for this and he hadn’t even had his coffee yet. “Why are you yelling at me?” he asked, sounding much younger than he felt.

“I agreed to let you go on this ridiculous road trip because you promised that you would talk to him!" Margo's voice dripped with frustration and sarcasm, and yet somehow it still filled him with warmth. Fuck, I missed her.

"I know! It's just…" his voice cracks. He hates how small his voice sounds now, how quick it is to fill with emotion. "Talking is hard."

There's a moment of silence. When she speaks again, her voice has lost its edge. Slightly. It is still Margo. "Well if it was easy, darling, everyone would do it. But you're king of fucking Fillory. If you can rule a kingdom, you can talk to Quentin."

He sighed. Why is it so much easier to talk about this with her? "I'll try, Bambi."

“You better. Or I’m gonna track your asses down and lock you in a room together until you do.” she said.

Eliot laughed. Well, he half-laughed and half-exhaled dramatically, but it felt more natural than any other laughs he’d attempted so far. “I love you.” That also came more naturally. Before...everything, he’d been so hesitant to say those words, never wanting to show his affections. People can’t reject what you don’t give them. It was different now though. Now he was intimately aware of how short life can be.

“I love you too, dumbass.” Margo said. “I gotta go, Josh is setting something on fire in the kitchen.” And with that, she was gone. Eliot shook his head fondly, tossing his phone on the bed beside him. He could hear the sound of the shower turning off and glanced toward the bathroom. Quentin hadn’t bothered to close the door behind him completely when he’d gone in, and now through the jarred opening he could see Q standing in front of the mirror, brushing his teeth, wrapped in nothing but a towel. Eliot realized for the first time just what kind of hell Quentin had gone through this past year.

When you spend fifty years together, you see your partner’s body in every possible state. He’d seen young Quentin, toned and strong from laying tiles and farming the earth. He’d seen middle aged Quentin, hair starting to grow in random places and shoulders that always ached. He’d seen old Quentin, all hunched back and frail limbs.

He’d never seen Quentin like this.

He looked like he’d lost more weight than he could survive. Quentin used to complain about his ‘extra layer of chub’ as he called it, envying Eliot’s lean frame and tight stomach, but it was what Eliot loved most about him. It was what made him Quentin, smoothing out bones and corners and making him soft-curved-warm-beautiful-perfect. Now everything was sharp edges. His shoulders were bony, his stomach caved in from not eating, and dear god Eliot could actually count his ribs. Seeing Quentin like this awoke something foreign and overpowering inside of him. He wanted to press his lips to every inch of Quentin, apologize for everything he put him through, and promise that he would do anything to make it better.

Eliot was used to his attraction to people roaring through him like a forest fire, lighting a million sparks beneath his skin, craving heat and friction regardless of who it was with. This was different. This was more of an impossible ache deep in his gut. It felt like every atom of his body was yearning for Quentin, like a part of his very core had been taken away and embodied in Q, and everything in him desperately wanted to be reunited. Almost like we spent a lifetime together, and now we’re not. He knew how to calm the forest fire, could easily fix it with a heated kiss or a good fuck, but this ache? This ache was yearning for closeness; for arms wrapped around each other and refusing to let go; for Quentin's head resting on his chest, matching his breathing; for gentle kisses on eyes and nose and cheek, kisses that say I’m here, I love you, I’m never leaving you again.

Sometime during Eliot’s reverie Quentin had gotten dressed and was now leaving the bathroom, walking towards him with a concerned look on his face. “Eliot? Are you okay?” Oh god, what is my face doing? Get it together, Waugh. He didn’t want to make Quentin hurt anymore than he already had. He couldn’t do that to him.

“Yeah. Uh, just lost in thought.” He managed to give Quentin a watery smile that he’s certain Q didn’t believe. “Now come on, it’s time for breakfast. And you’re gonna eat lots and lots of pancakes for me, okay?”

Quentin laughed, and if he’s confused by the randomness of that statement it doesn’t seem to bother him. “Alright, sounds good to me.”

•••

"No."

"Come on, El! It'll be fun!"

Eliot sighed. He looked out the car window at where Quentin had dragged him. Whitaker Ranch, according to the sign. He hadn't really been listening at lunch when Quentin had explained where he wanted to go, but now he remembered something about "going for a ride" and "old friend from cowboy camp". He turned back and Quentin was giving him that look, the one that always melted his resolve and made him agree to whatever it was just to make Quentin happy. Goddamn it.

"Fine! But you're going wherever I want tomorrow, no complaints. You owe me." he said.

Quentin grinned and basically leapt out of the car. Eliot reluctantly followed him, taking in his surroundings warily. A man emerged from one of the buildings and waved at them.

"That's Cody!! Come on." Quentin grabbed his arm and practically dragged him towards his old friend.

"Coldwater!" Cody pulled Quentin into a hug, and was it just Eliot or did it last just a slight bit too long? "Hot damn, look at you!" He gave Quentin a very obvious once over that made the smaller man blush, and Eliot decided he did not like this man at all. "Come on this way, I've got a couple horses all set up for you guys."

Eliot let Quentin and Cody walk ahead, chatting excitedly, and he took the time to study Quentin’s old friend. Cody looked nothing like Eliot, he was all broad shoulders and bulging arms, and Eliot couldn’t help his feelings of inadequacy. Was this the type of man Quentin wanted? He had finally worked through his feelings enough to accept that Quentin was bi, Margo had helped with that, but there was still a part of his brain that said that Quentin would never choose him. Not when he could have a Cody.

There were two horses tacked up behind the stables, next to a trail that led into the woods. Quentin eagerly walked up to one and started petting it. He always had been soft around animals, it was something Eliot loved about him.

“This is Sasha, she’s my best girl. She’ll give you a nice easy ride.” Cody said. He smirked at Quentin. “It’s been a while since camp, you able to mount okay or you need a hand?”

Quentin rolled his eyes. “I think I can manage.” He slid one foot in the stirrup, and Cody placed a hand on the small of his back to steady him. Quentin boosted himself up and swung one leg over, settling into the saddle as Cody let his hand follow the movement and come to rest on his thigh. Eliot wondered if there was a way to get a horse to step on someone’s foot.

“Well done.” Cody said and Quentin’s face tinged red again. Quentin turned to look at him, motioning to the horse that was clearly for him.

“El, do you need help…”

“I’m fine.” He interrupted. He might be injured but he’ll be damned if that stops him from showing off. He quickly mounted his horse with a level of grace that seemed more fitting for ballet then riding. He felt a twinge of pain in his stomach from old wounds, but when he saw the look on Quentin’s face it was worth it. Q’s eyes had gone wide and slightly glazed over and his mouth hung open slightly. It was the same look he gave Eliot when he used to weed the Mosaic garden in the summer and it was simply too hot to wear a shirt. Eliot grinned with satisfaction. See, Cody? he thought. I can make his brain go blank too.

“Alright, looks like you’re all set.” Is it just Eliot or does he sound slightly less smug now? “Just follow this trail, it’ll circle you around and bring you back here. Have fun!” Quentin grinned and nudged his horse forward, leading the way. Eliot fell into place behind him and oh my from this angle he could really appreciate the way Quentin’s hips moved as he rode. Fuck. Mmkay. Maybe I should stop objectifying my friend. Quentin looked over his shoulder and grinned at him.

“Enjoying the view, Waugh?”

He grinned back. Or maybe not.

They rode for a while and it was actually fun? It was soothing and relaxing, the easy gait of the horse, the sound of birds in the forest, Quentin telling him funny stories from cowboy camp. They reached a small creek and stopped for a minute to enjoy it. They dismounted and Quentin found a big rock to sit on, pulling Eliot down to sit next to him.

“This is nice.” Quentin said pointedly. Eliot didn’t respond, not wanting to give him the satisfaction. Quentin saw through him as he always did and nudged him with his elbow, grinning. “This was a good idea.”

Eliot rolled his eyes. “It’s not bad.” He couldn’t stop a small smile from escaping. Quentin chuckled. Eliot focused on the point where there legs brushed against each other and wondered if that was intentional on Quentin’s part or a mere accident.

“So Cody?” Eliot said and Quentin stilled beside him. Fuck. What are you doing, Eliot?

“What about Cody?” Quentin asked, quietly.

Well, you’ve opened this can of worms. Might as well commit. “I couldn’t help but notice the way he was looking at you. What’s the story there?” he asked.

Quentin picked at a loose thread in his jeans, lost in thought. “We met at cowboy camp when I was fourteen. I was an anxious and awkward mess and he was the first guy who didn’t seem to mind that. We had a pretty intense couple of weeks, and then camp ended and we headed home. We kept in touch but just as friends.”

Why does that hurt worse than any battle wound? Eliot knows he doesn’t have any right to feel betrayed, for god’s sake, he was the one who turned down Quentin. Dumbest decision of my life. One that I’m going to regret ‘til the end of my days. He tries to put on a brave face and smile.

“You should ask him out. Maybe something can happen now.” he says.

Quentin startles, confused. “What? Eliot, no. I don’t want anything to happen with Cody.” Eliot looks at him surprised. “Cody was great when I was a teenager and figuring out what I wanted, but I know what I want now. And it’s not him.” And then Quentin was looking at him, all honest and true, and it took his breath away. Eliot didn’t dare hope that there was something in that look, something that said you are what I want. Eliot looked away, couldn’t take it anymore.

Quentin stood up. “We’d better start heading back.” Eliot followed him back towards the horses. Quentin slid one foot into the stirrup, boosted himself up….and completely launched himself over the horse and onto the ground on the other side.

Eliot laughed.

Eliot genuinely laughed.

Like the -can’t breathe, rips out of you, makes you double over- kind of laugh.

And it felt so. damn. good.

Quentin looked up at him from the ground, looking so goddamn shocked that he just fell off a horse, and it made Eliot laugh even harder. He could see Quentin’s expression change as he watched him, his eyes softening and a small smile growing on his face. He started laughing too. He motioned to the horse and shrugged.

Eliot walked up and offered his hand, still chuckling. Quentin took it and pulled himself up, stumbling as he stood and falling into Eliot. Eliot placed his hands on Quentin's hips, steadying him.

“That was very graceful, Q.”

“Shut up.”

Quentin looked away blushing. Eliot realized his hands were still on Quentin’s hips but he hadn’t made any move to step away. Eliot swallowed. “Why don’t you, uh, try that again? And I’ll make sure you don’t fall this time.”

Quentin nodded. “Yeah, that’s a good idea.” He walked around to the other side of the horse and Eliot immediately missed his warmth. He mounted this time without incident and Eliot let his fingers graze his calf briefly before turning to mount his own horse.

“Ready to go?” he asked.

“Yeah.” Quentin smiled at him.

•••

Eliot finished grabbing the bags and went to find Quentin in the motel office. It was taking longer than usual today. He found him leaning on the counter, shifting his weight from foot to foot like he only did when he was nervous.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, looking between Quentin and the woman behind the counter.

“Um, well, they only have one room left, and, uh, it’s only got, um, one bed?” Quentin stammered out.

“That’s fine.” Eliot found himself saying before he thought it through. Jesus fuck. What am I doing?

Quentin looked at him concerned. “Are you sure?”

Eliot shrugged. “What else are we gonna do, sleep in the car?” He was aiming for nonchalant. It didn’t work.

“Yeah, okay.” Quentin said and he took the key from the woman. He thanked her and they headed to their room.

They got ready for bed and everything was going fine until Quentin noticed Eliot’s wound had gotten all inflamed from the horseback riding.

“El, your wound! Fuck, I knew I shouldn’t have made you go.” Eliot watched Quentin reach out like he wanted to touch, but stopped himself, his fingers hovering inches from Eliot’s stomach.

“It’s fine.” Eliot said.

Quentin shook his head. “No, it’s not. Come here.” He grabbed Eliot’s hand and dragged him over to sit on the bed, digging through his bag until he found what he was looking for. “Julia sent this with me, said to use it if it opened back up or got worse.” He opened a small box and inside there was a mix of human and magical healing remedies. Quentin dug through the contents until he found a salve. “Can you, um, can you lift your shirt?” Quentin was avoiding looking at his face, instead just motioning to his torso. Eliot opted for taking his shirt off completely instead. Quentin inhaled. “Oh...kay. That works too.” I am definitely going to hell. Eliot knew that a better person wouldn’t act like this, would accept defeat and back off, but Quentin’s words this afternoon had given him hope. And if Quentin was gonna keep meeting him halfway like this, keep giving him his time and affection? Eliot was tired of feeling guilty for taking what Quentin so freely gave.

Quentin unscrewed the jar, almost went to dip his fingers in the mixture himself, but then seemed to think better of it. He offered the jar to Eliot. “Okay, so it goes, um…” he trailed off.

Eliot tilted his body, angling it so Quentin could reach the spot better. “Can you? Please?” his voice came out at almost a whisper. He had promised to be brave. Asking for what you want was brave. At least for him it was.

Quentin seemed to melt at the request. “Of course.” He coated his fingers in the salve and reached out tentatively. His touch was impossibly gentle when his hand finally landed on Eliot’s skin.

It felt like sparks on his skin. In the best way possible. Eliot couldn’t help the sharp inhale he took. Quentin froze. “Did that hurt?” he asked.

Eliot shook his head. “No! It’s good.” he said softly. He closed his eyes and let himself bask in the feeling of Quentin’s fingers on his skin. He marvelled again at how he was allowed to have this. Even after everything, after every fuck up and mistake, this beautiful kind man was still here, caring for him. His eyes opened when Quentin took his hand away, instinctively leaning to chase his touch.

“Hold on, let me cover it.” Quentin got a bandage and tape from the box and gently pressed it over Eliot’s wounds, smoothing the tape down with his thumb. “There you go. All better.” He finally looked up into Eliot’s eyes. His eyes were so warm and inviting, Eliot just wanted to wrap him up in his arms and never let him go. He settled for leaning in and resting his forehead against Quentin's. He had a brief moment of worry that it was too much, but Quentin just smiled and leaned into him as well.

“Thank you.” Eliot said. He knew if he stayed there, breathing the same air as Quentin, he was going to do something that he shouldn’t and he still wasn’t sure where Quentin stood, so he made himself stand up. “We should go to bed.”

He shuffled to his side of the bed. It’s still my side, even if we haven’t shared a bed in months, he thinks. It was my side for fifty goddamn years. He eased under the covers, careful not to disturb his bandage. Quentin packed up the first aid kit and turned the light off, sliding into bed beside him and curling up on his side, facing Eliot. Eliot closed his eyes and tried to slow his breathing and relax. He was suddenly very aware of the fact that Quentin was just a few inches away from from him.

“Hey.” he said.

“Yeah?”

Since apparently we’re being honest today.

“I’m glad you’re here with me.” Eliot tried to put all of his feelings into that one simple sentence.

Quentin was quiet for a long time and Eliot started spiraling into the all too familiar I fucked it all up again. But then Quentin reached a hand across the space between them and rested his on Eliot’s in the darkness. He rubbed a thumb against the fragile skin of Eliot’s wrist. Eliot curved his fingers around Quentin’s hand, too tired to fight the reflex and desperately needing Quentin to not take his hand away.

“Me too.” Quentin said. Maybe Eliot was projecting, but he could swear there were feelings in that sentence too.

“Goodnight, El.”

“Goodnight, Q.”

Chapter Text

Quentin woke up feeling safe.

He laid in bed, in that hazy state between waking and sleeping, and revelled in the feeling. It had been so long since he had felt like this. There had been too much at stake, it felt like his brain hadn’t stopped going a mile a minute, even when he would sleep. He would fall asleep stressed and wake up stressed, and lived in a state of permanent exhaustion. But now it was like someone had flipped off the anxiety switch and everything had slowed down enough for him to truly relax. He took a deep breath and enjoyed the feeling of warm and safe and held.

Wait. He was being held.

He pulled himself out of the haze and remembered where he was. In a motel. In bed. With Eliot.

Eliot, who at the moment was curled around him, pressed against his back, gripping Quentin to his chest like he was afraid he was gonna leave.

Arm tucked around his ribs. Legs tangled together. Face pressed into Quentin’s hair.

Holy shit.

Quentin knew he should move. The last time they had actually, genuinely talked about their feelings for each other was when Eliot had turned him down, and he wasn’t sure where there boundaries were with each other but he was pretty sure this had to be crossing them. But it felt so good. It had been too damn long since Quentin had been held and taken care of and it was soothing a part of his soul that he hadn’t realized had been aching. So yeah, maybe he was being selfish. Sue him. We just saved the world, again, for the umpteenth time. I think I’m allowed to be selfish right now.

He ran his fingers along Eliot’s hands, gently, careful not to wake him up. He realized he couldn’t remember the last time he’d actually touched someone else’s skin like this. Maybe that’s why this feels so good? Or maybe it’s just cause it’s Eliot. He got lost in the curve of Eliot’s hands, in the length of his fingers. He’d always loved how a simple touch from Eliot’s hands was enough to make him melt and forget everything. He missed the days when Eliot knew what his touch did to him, when he would touch him on purpose just to see his reaction. Fingertips pressed into his hips, a hand gently squeezing the back of his neck. He missed Eliot’s hands doing...other things too.

Oh. Fuck.

He glanced down at his pajama pants and his growing problem. That’s new. It had been a minute since Quentin was invested enough in living to feel anything like that. Yeah, it’s definitely time to move now. He carefully slid out of Eliot’s arms and slipped into the bathroom. He leaned against the counter and let himself feel heartbroken for a moment. I just don’t understand how Eliot can remember everything that I remember...and not want to do it all again? Unless he didn’t remember, but how could he not? How could Eliot not remember their years spent together, waking up wrapped around each other every morning, exploring each other’s bodies every night, calming each other down from panic attacks, giving each other pep talks when they felt like giving up, being each other’s best friend and partner and lover? The idea of Eliot not remembering any of it almost hurt worse than the idea of him remembering and not wanting it. Almost.

Quentin stayed in the bathroom until he was fully calmed down, wiped the tears from his eyes, and headed back into the room. Eliot was awake now, rolled onto his back and staring at the ceiling. He turned his head to look at Quentin when he came out, giving him a soft sleepy smile. It made Quentin’s chest hurt.

“Morning. Did you sleep okay?” Quentin asked.

Eliot gave a long, contented sigh. “Best night yet.”

•••

“This can’t be happening.”

Eliot was being dramatic, and even though it was a slight bit annoying, it was adorable more than anything.

“We’re driving through the south, Eliot, what did you think it was gonna be?” he asked.

Eliot furiously pushed all of the radio buttons from his spot in the passenger seat. “I didn’t think it was going to be country music on every. single. station!” His pushes got more frantic as he desperately tried to find a station that he might have missed.

Quentin laughed and tried to push Eliot’s hands away from the controls. “Stop! Calm down. You’ve already been through every station five times, you’re not gonna find anything else. It’s either country music or silence.”

Eliot flung his hands up in exasperation, a dark look crossing his face. “Fuck Hoberman for not having a car with an aux cord!” He huffed and crossed his arms, sulking.

It was fucking adorable.

Until Quentin started connecting the dots about why he might be so opposed to country music. Dots that included a childhood in Indiana and some very bad memories. Shit.

“Hey, we can turn it off? The music. If it’s…” he trailed off.

Eliot side eyed him. “If it’s what?”

“Triggering?” he said the word quietly, unsure. Eliot’s face softened.

“It’s not that, Q.” he gave Quentin a gentle smile. “But...thank you.” He looked like he wanted to say something else that bordered on sentimental, but then thought better of it. “I just think it’s the most ridiculous music in the world. I mean, listen to this!” He turned up the volume and they both fell silent to listen to the lyrics.

And in the middle of The American South, in Josh Hoberman’s car, Quentin Coldwater and Eliot Waugh listened to an old country singer croon out the lyrics…“Drop Kick Me Jesus, Through the Goalposts of Life”.

What the fuck is this!?” Eliot practically screeched, motioning at the radio, staring at Quentin with wide eyes.

Quentin lost it.

He was wheezing from laughing so hard, and Eliot kept gesturing at the radio and stuttering like there weren’t any words appropriate enough to describe the absolute lunacy of the song. He turned to look at Quentin with that wide-eyed incredulous look and Quentin lost it again.

“Drop kick me, jesus?” Eliot asked.

Quentin regained enough control to be able to respond, “Through the goalposts of life!”

And then Eliot was laughing too, because honestly what other response is there when this sort of thing happens to you? Quentin swayed along to the slow steady beat that can only be described as a waltz, which just added to the bizarre quality of the song. Eliot was holding his side because it hurt to laugh this hard, but there was no possible way he could stop. And then the song has circled back around to the chorus and they were both scream-singing,

“Drop kick me Jesus, through the goalposts of life!”

•••

Quentin had his feet on the dash and he was in full relaxation mode. His favorite part of road trips was when you reach that point when you’ve been driving so long you sort of zone out into your own brain space, and you’re listening to the music but you’re not really hearing it, and you’re watching the world zoom by but you’re not really taking it in because you’re so lost in your own thoughts, and when you finally come back to yourself and check the time, three hours have gone by.

So when Quentin came back to himself and realized they were off the main road and winding their way up a big hill (small mountain?) he was a tiny bit confused.

“Eliot? Where are we going?” he asked.

“Remember yesterday when I said you owed me one? Well I found something and this is what I want to do.” Eliot said.

“Okay.” Quentin said, relaxing back into his seat. He was more than happy to let Eliot lead them on this little adventure. He had noticed that Eliot had this newfound ability to ask for what he wanted. Eliot had always been good at bossing people around, giving orders and demanding things from people, but it had always been an impersonal thing. He had never asked for things that he truly wanted, never shown people anything under that carefully crafted facade of imperiousness. God forbid the great Eliot Waugh be vulnerable. But now? He was asking for road trips and asking for Quentin to take care of him, and every time he asked for something new and showed Quentin that small, vulnerable side of him it made his heart melt even more. He wanted to give Eliot everything he ever asked for. He wanted to give Eliot everything.

Eliot slowed down as they passed a sign that said ‘State Park’, following the signs to a parking lot. The lot was almost empty, just a handful of cars and no hikers anywhere to be seen. Quentin would never deny Eliot what he wanted, but his concern for his health took over.

“El, are you sure you should be hiking?” he asked.

“I’ll be fine. It’s a paved trail, barely a quarter of mile.” Eliot spoke quietly, like he couldn’t bear the thought of Quentin telling him he couldn’t do this. It broke Quentin’s heart. “Please, Q. I just…” Eliot sighed. “I need to see something...vast. And bigger than myself.” Quentin wasn’t sure he understood that need, but he also didn’t understand everything about what Eliot had gone through while being locked in his own head. And as he was quickly discovering, it was impossible for him to say no to Eliot, especially when he was pleading with him like this.

“Alright.” he conceded. “But we’re gonna take lots of breaks and you have to sit down and rest when I tell you to, okay?”

They made their way slowly down the trail, in no hurry to reach the end. Quentin was glad there was no one else around, he was enjoying being in the fresh open air with Eliot all by themselves. It felt good to stretch their legs after so many days in the car. He made Eliot pause and sit for a minute halfway up, on principle more than anything. Eliot rolled his eyes but humoured him. He’d been quiet on their walk, lost deep somewhere in his own thoughts. Quentin wished he would tell him what he was thinking about so deeply, but he didn’t want to push. He’s been through enough, I have to trust he’ll open up in his own time.

They continued on, finally reaching the end of the trail, turning a corner and emerging onto a rocky outcrop that opened up onto...the entire world.

At least that’s what it felt like to Quentin. He could see for miles and miles and miles, the land stretching until it disappeared into the horizon. The endless forest dipped and swayed in the breeze like a giant green ocean.

Quentin felt so small.

He was overwhelmed with the feeling of the vastness of this world, of how long it had suffered this life and endured. It had been here long before him and his insignificant problems, and it would continue on long after he had gone. But in this moment he was here and he could witness it and all of a sudden that was the most important thing in the world. The fact that the world was vast and beautiful and enduring, and so was he.

He understood now why Eliot needed this. He turned to look at him and lost his breath at the look on his face. He looked like he was experiencing every emotion that Quentin was, and a million more on top of that. Eliot blinked and a single tear escaped and ran down his face.

“El…” Quentin couldn’t help the word, it was practically ripped from him by emotion, and he walked towards Eliot, arms out. Eliot wordless reached for him, pulling him into a fierce hug. Eliot gripped him desperately, clinging to him like he couldn’t get Quentin close enough to him. Quentin fisted his hands in the back of Eliot’s shirts and clung back. He let a few of his own tears escape as he felt Eliot take a deep shaky breath against him.

But then Eliot was pushing him away, hands on his shoulders, and Quentin tightened his grip on Eliot’s shirt, not wanting to let go yet.

“Okay, listen to me.” Eliot said. “I need to tell you things. And I need you to hear them. Okay? Because they are too important to not be said anymore.” Now that he had started talking, the words tumbled out of him quickly, like he couldn’t say them fast enough.

Quentin’s heart dropped to the pit of his stomach. He had no idea what Eliot could need to say but he had a gut feeling he was about to get his heart shattered again. He reluctantly let go of Eliot and took a half step back to let him speak. “Okay.” he said.

“Okay, ready? Here goes.” Eliot took a deep breath. “I’m in love you.”

Quentin froze. Wait, what?

When Quentin didn’t respond, Eliot kept going, determined now to say his piece. “I am in love with you and I’m a fucking idiot for not telling you.”

He started pacing back and forth in front of Quentin, unable to stay still. “I was starting to fall in love with you before the Mosaic, and then we were there, and you were there, every day, wanting me, forgiving me no matter how much I fucked up. And I fell in love with you, Quentin Coldwater.”

Eliot stepped forward and took Quentin’s hands and he can’t breathe this can’t be happening is this real? “I’m in love with you, Q, and I am asking you, if there is a part of you that still loves me, can we try?”

Quentin looked up into those big hazel eyes and his heart was screaming yes you idiot say yes but there was that small-shattered-broken part of his heart that surfaced and made him speak, his voice high and pained. “But you said you wouldn’t choose me!”

And he could see it in Eliot’s face, how that made his heart break. He could also see the instinct flare up to deflect, close up, turn away, and he watches as Eliot pushed past it to keep talking. And in the midst of all the emotions and the pain, he couldn’t help but be so proud.

“I’m an idiot! I was terrified of how strongly I felt about you. You... are good, and you were offering me something real and I was so scared of fucking it all up, so I ran. Because that’s what I always do. I run.” Eliot’s voice broke and he swallowed hard. “But I am so tired of running.”

Quentin stood, staring at the man before him, the man he had chosen to love in several lifetimes. The man who was holding his hands and telling him that he was choosing him too. The man he had fought gods for, to bring back to himself. The man he hadn’t dared hope he would get another chance with.

“Please say something.” Eliot begged.

Quentin needed one last question answered. “So you remember? The Mosaic?”

“I mean I don’t remember every second of every day, but I remember.” Eliot squeezed his hands at that last word. Eliot remembered.

“You remember, and you want me?” he asked.

“More than anything in this world and the next.” Eliot breathed out, almost reverently, and that was it. Nothing else mattered but that.
Quentin pulled Eliot towards him, closing the space between them. Leaning up. Leaning in.

And then Eliot’s lips were on his and the whole world faded away.

It was the most gently Quentin had ever been kissed. It was an apology for broken hearts and stupid words. It was a promise of better days. It was I love you.

And then Quentin remembered that this was Eliot and he was kissing him and Quentin could do everything he’d been wanting to do for months.

Quentin melted into the kiss, letting go of Eliot’s hands so he could wrap his arms around Eliot’s neck. Eliot slid his arms around his waist, where they should always be dear god why did we ever stop doing this, and pinned Quentin against him, tilting his head, deepening the kiss.

They kissed with a fire, like they were trying to make up for lost time, nipping at each others lips and sharing breath. Eliot’s lips were so soft under his, his tongue hot and wet against his own, and he remembered in a rush how much he loved kissing Eliot. Every kiss healed something deep inside of Quentin, and he broke away with a gasp because it was too much and he needed to feel everything.

Eliot pressed his forehead to Quentin’s, panting. “What’s wrong?” he asked.

Quentin gave a soft watery chuckle and realized he was crying. “Nothing! Not a single thing.” He leaned in for another soft chaste kiss. “Everything is perfect.”

Eliot nuzzled into the side of his face, leaving a trail of kisses along his jaw.

“I love you.” he murmured into the skin there, pressing the words into Quentin like a tattoo.

He moved up to press kisses into his temple and forehead. “I love you.” he whispered again.

He kissed his way down the bridge of Quentin’s nose, landing on his mouth again, giving him a slow languid kiss. “I love you.” he mumbled against Quentin’s lips.

“I love you too.” Quentin whispered back, capturing Eliot’s lips again and never letting him go.

•••

Eventually they remembered they were on a road trip and they should, you know, keep driving. They made their way back to the car slowly, very slowly, because Eliot was injured after all and needed frequent breaks. And if those breaks turned into making out on the side of the trail, well that was just how it was gonna go.

They finally made it to the car and Quentin insisted it was his turn to drive. He refused to let go of Eliot as he drove, holding his hand and occasionally bringing it up to his mouth for sweet kisses. Quentin babbled about whatever thought crossed his mind and Eliot kept interrupting him to say “I love you.” Every time he said it, Quentin’s brain would short out and his heart would start racing again. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that.

He leaned across the divide to kiss Eliot again, slow and tender. Eliot laughed into his mouth, pushing him away with one hand on his chest. “Eyes on the road, Coldwater!” he teased. Quentin grinned. He didn’t know much about Heaven but he had to imagine it felt like this.

They found a motel for the night. Quentin felt a thrill go through him when Eliot asked for “a room with one bed, please”. The rest of the evening passed in a haze of gentle touches.

Getting into pajamas. Kisses on bare shoulders, lips moving against bare necks.
Brushing teeth and hair. Hugs from behind, tracing fingers up and down arms.
Falling into bed together. Limbs tangled together, feeling each others heartbeat under fingertips.

Quentin tucked himself up against Eliot, burying his face in his neck, melting into the feeling of his warm arms encircling him. He gently rubbed his open mouth against Eliot’s neck, enjoying the feeling of Eliot’s stubble against his temple. He could feel Eliot’s hands slip under his shirt, tracing lazy designs on the small of his back. A part of him reminded himself that he was in bed with Eliot you can do things if you want, but a bigger part of him just wanted to lay in his love’s arms and be held. There would be plenty of time for other things later. He felt Eliot press a kiss to the crown of his head, breathing deeply.

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

Yup. Never gonna get tired of that.

Quentin fell asleep feeling safe.

Chapter Text

The thing about being trapped in your own mind is that you can't access your senses while you're in your Happy Place. Everything you think you're experiencing is what your subconscious pulls from your memory, it's all dulled and diluted. So when you come back into your body all of your senses are heightened from not being used, and everything tastes and smells and feels ten times more intense than before.

All Eliot wanted to do was fill his senses with Quentin.

He had woken up a few minutes ago to the wonderful bliss of Quentin Coldwater asleep in his arms and he was ready to take full advantage. He still couldn't believe yesterday had actually happened, that by some miracle Quentin had still wanted him, was still in love with him. My brave, wonderful Q. Last night had been perfect, soft and tender and exactly the kind of healing his broken soul had needed.

But this morning he had woken up with a very different need. And judging by the fact that the beautiful man sleeping in his arms was also sporting morning wood, he guessed that he was feeling that need too.

Eliot pressed his nose to the skin underneath Quentin's jaw, inhaling deep. He had missed Quentin's smell, a mixture of soap and cedarwood cologne and himself. With his heightened senses, it felt like he was inhaling Quentin into his very soul until the smell of him was surrounding his entire being. It was intoxicating.

Eliot nuzzled into Quentin's neck, trailing slow, wet kisses down towards his shoulders, wanting to overpower every sense until the only thing he could taste-hear-smell was the man he loved. He felt Quentin stir, giving a soft sigh.

"Eliot." Quentin's voice was low and raspy from sleep, and the sound went straight to his dick. "Mmm, that feels good."

Eliot hummed happily, moving back up Quentin's jaw until he captured his lips in a kiss that quickly became filthy, licking into his mouth. Quentin arched into him and moaned, gripping the back of Eliot's shirt.

sweet fucking hell.

He had never met anyone who loved being kissed as much as Quentin. He kissed like it was the only thing he ever wanted to do, like he would be happy to just keep kissing until the end of days. He melted under Eliot's mouth, opening up warm and soft and willing. He whined when Eliot broke away, that cute small sound that Eliot loved.

Eliot grinned as he pulled back far enough to gently tug Quentin's shirt over his head. He needed more of Quentin's skin on his, needed to worship every inch him. A part of his brain still told him that he didn't deserve this, didn't deserve the happiness that Quentin could give him. But another part told him that this is what Quentin wanted, and he'd be damned if he wasn't gonna give Q everything he ever wanted.

Quentin shifted on the bed so he was on his back, spreading his legs and tugging Eliot so he laid between them. Eliot thrilled at how naturally it felt, the two of them fitting together like puzzle pieces, like they had been made to fit together like this. Then Quentin rolled his hips, grinding up into Eliot with a breathy sigh, and Eliot lost all ability to think.

His head fell to Quentin's chest, mouth finding the soft area where his neck met his shoulder. He sucked gently, pulling skin between teeth, in a way he knew was gonna leave the most beautiful mark. Quentin let out a whine at the sensation, his hand reaching up to tangle in Eliot's hair and keep him there. He tilted his neck to expose skin, silently asking for more, and who was Eliot to turn him down?

He nibbled and sucked across Quentin's skin, chasing the sting with his tongue to soothe it. Quentin's sounds filled his ears, his low groans and gentle gasps creating a beautiful symphony around him.

He moved down and licked at a nipple, teasing, enjoying the sharp gasp Quentin gave in response. His hands clutched at Eliot's back under his shirt, stinging where his fingernails caught skin. Eliot paused long enough to tug his shirt off, needing Quentin's hands everywhere. He used the momentum of leaning back down to grind even harder into Quentin, loving the feeling of their bare chests dragging against each other.

“Eliot…” Quentin breathed out, wanting, needy. He leaned up, gasping against Eliot’s lips, begging to be kissed senseless. Eliot happily obliged, sliding one hand around his neck to cradle his head. He squeezed the back of his neck, loving how Quentin went limp at his touch, making that small sound that caught in the back of his throat. The wet heat of their tongues moving together, coupled with the glorious friction of moving against each other, had Eliot more worked up than he had any right to be. God, I haven’t been this affected by what’s basically dry humping since fucking high school. Judging by the feeling of Quentin’s dick against his thigh and the sounds he was making though, he wasn’t that far behind.

Every single one of Eliot’s senses was filled with the sensation of sex and Quentin and suddenly it was too much oh god and then he was cumming in his pajamas like a goddamn teenager. He had a split second to wonder if he should be embarrassed before, “El...fuck...I’m…”, and then Quentin was shuddering underneath him, riding out his own orgasm. Eliot collapsed onto Quentin’s chest, burying his face in his neck, utterly satisfied. They laid there for a minute, regaining their breath, Quentin running his fingers up and down Eliot’s back. He gave a long, contented sigh.

“Good morning.” he mumbled against Quentin’s skin. He could feel Q’s chest rumble as he laughed.

“Very good morning.” he smiled and pressed a gentle kiss to Eliot’s forehead. Eliot tilted his head to look up at him.

“I was gonna make that last longer? Sorry.” he felt that sense of embarrassment coming back. He was the type of person to pride himself on his ability to make sex a masterpiece, making it last for hours until the other person (or people) didn’t know which way was up. But sometimes it was a lot of pressure, thinking that was expected every time.

Quentin wrapped him in a tight hug, nudging his head with his nose. “Hey.” he said gently, pulling Eliot out of his downward spiral. “It was perfect. You’re perfect.” He ran his fingers through Eliot’s curls, tilting his head back so he could place a tender kiss on his lips. “You make me feel so good, you know that? Every single time.”

Eliot stretched up to steal another kiss. “I love you.” he said. Quentin’s smile made his heart skip a beat.

“I love you too.” Quentin chuckled as Eliot curled around him, practically lying on top of him. People never guessed but Eliot was actually really tactile, especially after sex. Before Quentin he’d only ever been this cuddly with Margo, but with Q there was an extra layer of emotions to it. Cuddling him was one of the best feelings in the world.

The stickiness in his pants, however, ment moving was required. With a groan he lifted himself off of Quentin, surveying his pajamas with a dissatisfied look. Quentin laughed at him, playfully pushing at his shoulder.

“Go take a shower and get ready.” he said. “I have an idea of where we can go today.”

•••

Quentin pulled into the parking lot and Eliot's entire face lit up as he realized where they were going. His eyes glazed over as he imagined rows upon rows of silk shirts, neatly pressed pocket squares, and perfectly tailored vests. He turned to Quentin who was smiling at him, eyes sparkling.

"I figured it was time to get you back in your own clothes." he said.

"Yes! Yes it definitely is." Eliot grinned and pulled Quentin in for a kiss. "Don't get me wrong I'm super grateful to Penny and Josh for lending me their very, very sad handouts, but I am dying to get back into my own clothes." Quentin kissed him again and dragged him out and into the store.

Eliot was in heaven.

He flew to the first rack he could find, running his fingers along the smooth fabrics. He was practically bouncing as he picked two shirts and turned, holding them up so Quentin could see.

“Which one, blue or grey?” he asked. Quentin smiled at him, a soft look on his face.

“Both.” he said. Eliot rolled his eyes, but he couldn’t stop the smile that spread across his face.

“You didn’t even look at them!” he protested. Quentin grinned and slid his arms around Eliot’s waist.

“Nope.” he admitted. “I was looking at you. You look happy.”

Eliot rested his forehead against Quentin’s, his hands still holding the shirts. “I’m very happy.” He meant it. He was always happy when he was around Quentin; add silk shirts on top of that and it was just perfect.

Quentin leaned up for a quick kiss. “Good.” he said. He took the shirts from Eliot, folding them carefully over his arm. “So we’re getting both of these. Keep looking!” he nudged Eliot with his hip, nodding towards the rest of the store.

Quentin trailed after him like a happy puppy. Eliot had been worried that he would get bored, but he seemed more than content to follow him through the store, holding all of Eliot’s findings and offering his opinion on colors and cuts. Eliot only lost him once, when he turned around to see Quentin still at the rack he had just left. He was entranced with one particular shirt, rubbing the sleeve between his finger and thumb gently. Eliot walked back to join him, resting a chin on his shoulder so he could look at the shirt too.

He knew immediately why Quentin was staring at it. It was blue-grey with a small pattern, a lighter grey fabric lining the inside. And it looked almost exactly like the shirt Eliot had worn every day for over a year before it had finally thinned beyond repair.

“This one looks good.” Quentin’s voice was quiet. “Do you think, maybe…” he trailed off. Eliot took the shirt and added it to the pile in his arms without a word. Quentin gave him a grateful smile, a mix of nostalgia and sadness and love. Eliot slid a hand around the back of his neck, pulling him in for a gentle kiss.

“I think I’m ready to try on now.” he said. Eliot took Quentin’s hand and dragged him towards the fitting room.

He deposited Quentin in an armchair outside the fitting rooms, taking his mountain of clothes into one of the rooms and shutting the door behind him. He hung up the clothes carefully, selecting Quentin’s shirt and a few other pieces to make it an ensemble. He quickly stripped and got dressed, enjoying the feeling of the soft fabric sliding against his skin. Add that to the list of things I missed.

He watched himself in the mirror as he added layer after layer, rebuilding his old appearance from the ground up. It felt like coming home. Somehow, though, it was less of a...necessity? When he had first started dressing like this, it was because he needed to. His clothes were a layer of armor between him and cold, harsh world. It protected him, guarded his frail and fragile heart from being hurt again.

But now his heart wasn’t fragile anymore. He had lived through fire and come out the other side. And yeah, his heart was still gentle and tender and scarred from being broken, but it was also strong and open and brave. He didn’t need his armor anymore.

He was still gonna wear his vests and eldredge knots of course, but he would wear them because they were him, because that’s who he was. He was a dandy and he was really fucking proud of it.

He straightened his vest, smoothing it out, and opened the door to show Quentin.

“What do you think?” he asked. “Extravagant enough?”

Quentin looked up from his phone and his eyes went wide. Eliot felt a surge of pride. He always knew he looked good, but there was something about seeing that knowledge reflected in Quentin’s eyes that made him feel so fucking good. Quentin gave him a slow once over that very clearly said he was already mentally undressing Eliot. Eliot chuckled and grabbed his hand, pulling him up into an embrace.

“Now now, Coldwater. I just got into these clothes, you’re not getting me out of them that easily.” he teased.

Quentin ran his hands up and down Eliot’s chest, lost in the sensation of silk against skin. “I’ve missed you in these.” he said. Eliot hummed happily.

“Is that so?” he asked. Quentin nodded.

“There’s a certain advantage of you wearing shirts with collars.” he said, looking up at him.

“And what’s that?” Eliot asked grinning, though he already knew where this was going. It was a move Quentin had used on him many times in another life, so he wasn’t surprised when he reached up and gripped the edges of Eliot’s collar, using the leverage to pull him down into a searing kiss.

Eliot wrapped his arms around the smaller man’s waist on instinct, getting lost in the warmth of Quentin’s mouth on his. He forgot where he was for a second, something that was so easy to do when Quentin was kissing him like that. Then a throat cleared behind them and they both jumped and broke apart. A sales associate was trying to get past them and they were completely blocking the pathway. Oops.

Quentin’s face turned bright red and he buried his face in the center of Eliot’s chest. Good god, this man is literally perfect. Eliot grinned at the associate and shifted themselves so they were out of the way. “Sorry.” he apologized. The girl just grinned back, not seeming to mind them being cute in the fitting rooms. “Carry on.” she teased as she disappeared around the corner.

Quentin gave a squeak at her statement, shaking his head where it was still buried in Eliot’s chest, his forehead swishing across the fabric. Eliot couldn’t help but laugh at this wonderful, ridiculous man. He tangled his fingers in Quentin’s hair, tilting his head back so he could lean down and pepper his cheeks with kisses.

“I’m gonna go try on the rest of those clothes.” he said, laughing.

Quentin nodded, his face still flushed. “Mmhmm. Yeah. That’s...uh, that’s a good idea.”

Eliot laughed and gave him one last kiss before heading back into the fitting room.

•••

He ended up wearing that first outfit out of the store. Quentin’s reaction had been too good, and now he got to enjoy Quentin giving him looks as they drove the next leg of the journey. Sometimes the look was soft-gentle-loving and sometimes the look was pure sex. Eliot wasn’t sure which one made him happier.

They decided to go for dinner at a retro diner that was across the street from the motel they had chosen for the night. It was a little cliche but Quentin looked excited, so of course they were going. Eliot would never admit it, but he secretly loved doing those cheesy cliche things, especially when it was with Quentin. It was like he got to experience them through Quentin’s eyes, got to feel that pure enthusiastic way he loved things.

Like right now, when they walked in and Quentin’s jaw dropped at the sight of red cushion booths and neon signs. His eyes were bright and wide with childlike wonder, and it looked so damn good on him. Eliot sent another thank you into the universe that he got to spend his days with someone as good and true as Quentin.

Quentin noticed Eliot’s gaze on him and blushed. “What?” he asked.

Eliot had never been the type of person to talk about his emotions. But he had spent the last few months faced with the reality of never being able to tell Quentin exactly how he felt about him. And honestly? It had scared him shitless. So ever since he had gotten back, he had this compulsive urge to confess every feeling to Q. He just desperately needed Quentin to know.

Eliot reached out so he was gently cradling Quentins head, pulling him in until it was just the two of them in their own little world again. “Do you have any idea how fucking grateful I am for you?” he whispered. Quentin’s eyebrows shot up in surprise and his mouth fell open. That fucking adorable mouth of his, Eliot thought. He leaned in so their foreheads were touching. “I can’t believe I get to spend two lifetimes with you.”

Quentin gave a strangled squeak and practically fell into Eliot’s arms. “El…” he choked out. “You can’t just say shit like that to me in public!”

Eliot wrapped him up in his arms tightly. “Too much?” he asked. As much as he needed to tell Quentin how he felt, he needed to respect and honor his boundaries more. For the first time they were actually talking about everything that was happening between them, and Eliot wanted to know where the lines were so he didn’t fuck it up.

Quentin shook his head against Eliot’s neck. “No, not too much. Maybe a little overwhelming, but in the best way.” He pulled away so he could look at Eliot and his face was flushed and flustered and happy. “I guess...it’s just it’s...I don’t know, it’s hard to believe, sometimes, that you want me? My brain just keeps doubting itself. So it’s nice to hear it out loud.”

Eliot pressed a gentle kiss to his forehead. “Well then I’ll keep saying it.” Quentin grinned and turned to pull him towards the corner booth. Eliot slid onto the bench and pulled Quentin in beside him. They probably looked ridiculously cheesy sitting on the same side of the table. He decided he didn’t care. Quentin was warm and pressed up against his side, just the way he should be. Eliot raised his arm and rested it across the back of the seat so he could sit even closer to Quentin.

Quentin just smiled at him, never seeming to mind when Eliot was tactile like that. Even before they were together he had never protested when Eliot would thrust himself into his space and drag him off to god knows where. Then in the Mosaic, Eliot had discovered that Quentin could be just as touchy as him, playing with Eliot’s hair just because he could or climbing into his lap after a long day and demanding to be kissed. There was nothing that Eliot loved more. Just like Quentin needed to hear the words to know they were real, Eliot needed to feel the touches to know he was loved.

They sat for what felt like forever, chatting about the road trip and the things they’d done in the past few days. It felt so normal. Stealing fries from each others plates. Laughing about stupid inside jokes. Sharing each other’s space, not sure where one of them ended and the other began. He could tell Quentin was getting tired when he fell quiet, content to just lean against Eliot and drink his milkshake.

Eliot finished his own milkshake, absentmindedly playing with Quentin’s hair. He snorted out a laugh when Quentin drank his milkshake too fast and choked on it. “Easy there, Coldwater.” he teased.

Quentin looked at the milkshake like it had betrayed him and clicked his tongue. “It’s too cold.” he complained. “Made my tongue numb.”

This man. Eliot smiled at him, so very fondly. “Awwww, poor baby.” he said, not sure if he was teasing him or comforting him.

Quentin turned to him with happy eyes, a smile on his face. “I like that.” he said softly, looking like Eliot had just given him the greatest gift.

“You like what?” Eliot asked. Quentin was leaning in now, and his gaze had fallen to Eliot’s mouth. “Baby?” he said, raising his hand to trace his fingers along Quentin’s jaw.

“Aha.” Quentin nodded slowly.

Eliot’s heartbeat jumped and he closed the distance between them, suddenly needing to feel Quentin’s lips on his more than he needed to breathe. His hand found that familiar spot at the back of Quentin’s neck, and he felt him sigh, opening up for him. He licked into his mouth and Quentin tasted like vanilla and cream. Cold tongues against warm lips, mouths numb and tingling. He pulled away to take in the sight of Quentin, mouth slack and eyes fluttering open to look up at him, pupils blown. holy fuck I need to get him home and undressed right the fuck now.

He swallowed hard. “Time to go?” he asked, voice low and rough and betraying. Quentin could only nod, still looking at Eliot like he was the only thing in the world.

Eliot couldn’t get him home fast enough.

•••

This time he was gonna make it last.

They had made it through the motel room door before Quentin had launched himself into Eliot’s arms, hanging off his neck as he attacked his mouth. Eliot ran his hands up and down the smaller mans sides, finally settling them on the curve of his hips where they fit so perfectly. He loved their size difference, loved how big his hands felt against Quentin’s body, how easy it was to arrange him exactly where he wanted him.

He pulled Quentin’s hips flush against him, making him gasp. Eliot took advantage, sucking on Quentin’s bottom lip gently, melting at the small choked off sound he made in his throat. He started walking him backwards towards the bed, steadying him when he inevitably stumbled. Quentin’s hands were tugging at his shirt, trying to get it untucked, looking for skin. Eliot laughed against his lips, letting go long enough to undo the buttons of his vest and slip it off. Quentin had succeeded in his mission and now was running his fingers across the small of Eliot’s back.

Eliot was surprised when Quentin gripped his weight and spun them around, pushing Eliot so he was now sitting on the bed and climbing into his lap. okay yes that’s a thing that needs to keep happening. Nervous-Stumbling-Stuttering Quentin was adorable, but Manhandling-Confident-I’m Gonna Do Whatever the Fuck I Want With You Quentin was fucking hot.

He watched as Quentin stripped off his shirt, looking at Eliot with eyes that were dark with desire. His hands ran up Quentin’s thighs, reaching around to grab his ass. He hissed when Quentin ground down into him, leaning back onto one arm to get a better angle. Quentin tangled his fingers in Eliot’s curls, pulling not-so-gently to tilt Eliot’s head back so he could kiss him. The sting on his scalp sent waves of desire coursing through him and he locked one arm around Quentin’s waist so he could flip them over on the bed.

There was nothing in this world that was more beautiful than Quentin lying underneath him, lips swollen and red, eyes filled with lust, gasping for breath. Eliot was overcome with just how much he loved this man. He needed him to know. He had to know.

“You’re so beautiful, baby.” he breathed out, leaning down to place gentle kisses all over his chest and stomach. Quentin bucked his hips, trying to find some sort of friction, and whined when Eliot sat back on his knees to slowly unbutton his shirt and slide it off. He leaned back down, pressing their bodies together in one long line, dragging against one another to create that friction they both so desperately needed. Quentin let out a keening sound, like it was everything and not enough all at once.

Eliot kissed that spot beneath Quentin’s ear that always drove him nuts, hearing him cry out when he dragged his teeth across his earlobe. He could feel Quentin’s hands between them, frantically trying to undo Eliot’s pants. too many clothes. Eliot separated their bodies long enough to quickly remove the rest of their clothes and then they were both naked and moving together and everything was perfect. Quentin had thrown one leg around Eliot, pinning him there, like he couldn’t possibly be close enough to satisfy.

“El…” Quentin’s voice was breathy and dazed. “I need you. Need you in me.” Eliot’s heart thrilled at the words. He needs me. He loves me.

“I know, baby.” he whispered, kissing the side of Quentin’s mouth. “I’m right here.” He quickly traced the familiar spell against Quentin’s skin, making the other man gasp as it slicked him up. Eliot shifted so he could reach between them and slide one finger inside. Quentin let out a loud wail and gripped at Eliot’s back, fingernails digging in as he buried his face in Eliot’s neck. Eliot paused.

“Are you okay? Too much?” he quickly checked in, wanting needing Quentin to be okay and happy and satisfied. Quentin gasped against his skin and ground back on his fingers, desperate for movement.

“It’s perfect, it’s so good babe, please just fucking move, I need...I need more.” Quentin begged. Eliot used his other arm to gather Quentin to his chest, needing to hold him as he worked him open. He slid his fingers in and out slowly, noting every movement that made Quentin cry out, every spot that drove him wild.

Quentin reached between them to wrap his fingers around Eliot’s cock, stroking it agonizingly slowly. It was torture, just enough pressure to feel good but slow enough that it drove him crazy. He growled low in his throat and shifted again so he was in between Quentin’s legs, lined up with his hole but pausing.

“Yes?” he asked, needing confirmation before going any farther.

Quentin looked up at him, looking like a complete wreck, like he was gonna fall apart if he didn’t get Eliot’s dick inside him in the next three seconds. “Yes, yes, please, El...” he begged.

That was all Eliot needed and he was sliding in, slowly, inch by inch. It was everything. He forgot to breathe. Quentin tighthotwet around him, wanting him, begging for him, responding to every touch and movement like it was bringing him back to life. And then he was all the way in and Quentin was clinging to him, biting his shoulder and whimpering in that way that said he was overwhelmed-in-the-best-possible-way. He gave a first stroke, in and out, and everything shorted out in his brain. Nothing else existed. There was just Quentin. There was just this.

He wanted to go slowly, he really did, but it had been a really long time and Quentin was pleading desperate in that way that made his brain stop working and animal instincts take over. "faster, babe, please...please" Quentin wanted. He couldn't say no.

He thrusted into Q, hard, fast, endless. He fell to his forearms so he could kiss him, hot and messy, whispering love against his lips. "fuck, baby you feel so good"

He reached between them so he could take Quentin's cock in his hand. He matched the rhythm of their hips, twisting his hand in the way he remembered Quentin loved. Quentin let out a strangled sob, placing open mouthed kisses to whatever part of Eliot he could reach.

"I love you so much." Eliot mumbled against his temple and then Q was cumming, crying out and gasping and aching up against Eliot's body. Another thrust and Eliot came too, vision going white before he collapsed on top of Quentin.

Eliot slowly came back to himself, Quentin's fingers moving through his hair helping to ground him. He moved enough to slide out and then immediately went back to cuddling Quentin, who looked absolutely perfect. Eyes closed, catching his breath, hair stuck to his face damp with sweat, Quentin looked well-fucked and completely satisfied. Eliot felt a surge of pride. I made him look like that. Quentin opened his eyes and found Eliot staring at him, enamored. He giggled. It was Eliot's favorite sound.

"Holy shit." he said. His eyes softened as he looked at Eliot. "I missed you." he whispered. His fingers curled around Eliot's wrist, as if to make sure he wasn't going to disappear.

Eliot kissed him, gentle and reassuring. "I missed you too." He wrapped Quentin up in his arms, holding him close to his heart. "I'm never letting you go again."

•••

Chapter Text

Quentin was beautifully, wonderfully, achingly sore.

He woke up curled around Eliot's legs, head pressed against his thigh, the taller man sitting up in bed against the headboard. He could hear the faint murmur of the television as he slipped in and out of consciousness. Eliot's hand was absentmindedly running his fingers through Quentin's hair, scratching at his scalp gently.

Life was perfect.

He opened his eyes, slowly focusing on whatever show Eliot was watching on the TV. It wasn't one he recognized. It looked like it was a kids show, with two girls and chipper dialogue and burritos, for some reason? He chuckled as one of the girls enthusiastically told her friend, "You're the guaca to my mole!"

"Hey, you're awake." Eliot said, hand stilling in his hair.

Quentin nudged his hand with his head so he'd resume the petting. "Mm hmm. What are you watching?"

"It's called Mystery Burrito Friends and its life changing." Eliot said.

Quentin turned to look at him, eyebrows raised. "You're ridiculous."

Eliot grinned. "And you're the guaca to my mole."

Quentin rolled his eyes and dragged himself up, maneuvering until he was straddling Eliot's lap, cradling his face with his hands. "Eliot. My darling. That was entirely too cheesy."

Eliot smirked at him, hands sliding up his thighs to rest on his hips. "I know." he teased, and pulled him in for a kiss.

holy motherfucking shit

Was he ever gonna get used to having this? This slow, tender drag of lips against each other; breathing each other in, tasting each other, melting under each others touch. He whimpered into the kiss, a needy sound in the back of his throat.

Eliot chuckled and gently pushed him away. "Uh-uh, nope. If you start doing that, then we're never gonna leave this bed, and this road trip does have a destination. It'd be nice if we could get there eventually."

Quentin pouted, sticking out his bottom lip and tracing his fingers sadly across Eliot's chest. Yes, he realized he was acting like a child. He didn't care. He was sleepy and he wanted to kiss his boyfriend.

His boyfriend, who was currently looking at him like he was the most precious thing in the universe. Okay, that's a good reaction. The way Eliot was looking at him, it made his heart flutter and his stomach fill with warmth and satisfaction. "Baby." Eliot whispered. "You can't look at me like that, it's not fair."

As long as I'm going for it, might as well go all out, Quentin thought. He ducked his head, looking up at Eliot through his lashes. "Like what?" he asked.

Eliot's eyes went dark and he let out a low breath that almost sounded like a growl. He slid his hand behind Quentin's neck, pulling him in for a desperate, heated kiss. Okay, that's a Very Good Reaction.

Quentin opened up for Eliot, going pliant under his fingertips, moaning into his mouth. He loved when Eliot would grab his neck like that, loved how it made his entire brain go blank until all he could focus on was how good it felt to be pulled around and kissed so thoroughly.

He waited until he could feel Eliot starting to chub against his thigh and then pulled away, sliding off his lap and standing up in one uncharacteristically smooth motion.

"What the fuck?" Eliot said in disbelief.

Quentin started walking towards the bathroom before turning to look at him over his shoulder. The stunned look on Eliot's face was priceless. "Come on, El. This trip a destination, remember?"
He grinned as Eliot called after him, turned on and exasperated and so incredibly fond.

"You're fucking cruel, Coldwater!"

•••

They'd been driving for so many days and so many hours, Quentin couldn't remember what it was like to not spend the whole day driving. There was a comfortable familiarity about it now. The car had become home. He had memorized the curve of the seats, knew the best way to curl up on the passenger side for a nap, could recognize the way Eliot world give a long sigh when he was ready to switch. After everything that had happened, this steady endless monotony was a relief. He loved it.

He also loved how they had the freedom to just stop and enjoy something if they stumbled across it. Like a huge State Fair, complete with Ferris Wheel and festival games and cheap fried food. It hadn't taken much sweet talking to get Eliot to pull over and agree to spend the afternoon wandering through the fairgrounds. He rolled his eyes at him with that fond smile that was coming to his face more freely these days, and Quentin was reminded again how lucky he was.

He immediately dragged Eliot towards the hot dog cart, wanting a corn dog that reminded him of Coney Island. "That looks absolutely revolting" Eliot said, hugging Quentin from behind.

Quentin leaned back into him, loving the feeling of Eliot's arms around him. "Yup." he agreed. "But it tastes delicious." He held it up next to his head, close to Eliot's mouth. "Try some!"

Eliot leaned away from the offending food, face twisting in disgust. "Eww, no."

Quentin chuckled and brought it back down to finish it. "Come on, I wanna try the rides!"

It turned out Eliot was a bit of a scaredy cat when it came to thrill rides, and it was definitely the cutest thing Quentin had ever seen. Eliot would never admit to being nervous, insisting on going on whatever rides Quentin wanted. But as soon as they were strapped into their seats, his jaw would clench and he would clutch Quentin's hand in a death grip. He would squeeze the life out of it during the entire ride, eyes wide as Quentin whooped and hollered next to him. Then the ride would slow to a stop and he would relax, a huge smile spreading across his face as he would give a relieved laugh.

Just when I thought this man couldn't get any more adorable, Quentin thought. He leaned up to press a kiss to Eliot's cheek, overcome with love. "You're cute." he said, grinning.

Maybe it was the rush of adrenaline from the ride, but Eliot blushed. "I'm glad my terror is attractive to you." he teased.

Quentin gave him a hand, pulling him off the ride and into a hug. "Everything about you is attractive to me." he smiled.

Eliot rolled his eyes and draped an arm over the smaller man's shoulders. "Come on, let's go win you a teddy bear."

It took Eliot four tries at the ring toss game, cursing under his breath as his brow furrowed in concentration, before he finally won the small blue teddy bear. He took it from the vendor triumphantly and presented it to Quentin with a flourish and a bow. "A gift for you, my darling!" he declared.

Quentin grinned and graciously accepted the stuffed animal. It was one of those super cheap ones that would fall apart in a week, but right now he thought it was the most perfect gift he had ever received. "Why thank you, my dear!" he replied, equally dramatic.

Eliot decided it was time to leave, but Quentin convinced him to go on one last ride, leading him towards the ferris wheel. They climbed into the bucket and snuggled up to each other as it lurched forward into its slow circle. Quentin tucked himself under Eliot's arms and tangled their fingers together, feeling content and safe and loved.

He looked out from their vantage point at the wide expanse of fairgrounds around them. Eliot's voice interrupted his thoughts. "Did you ever think we would get this?"

Quentin turned to look up at him. "Get what?" he asked.

Eliot nodded at the fair. "This. Us, being a couple, here on earth. Doing normal couple-y things." he clarified.

Quentin leaned into him. It was hard to remember all the different places they had been at with each other, not-together and Mosaic-together and then the Monster. The desire to have Eliot and be close to him had been a constant through them all. "I hoped we would." he admitted.

Eliot tightened his grip on Quentin's hand. "Me too," he whispered. He pressed a kiss to Quentin's temple. "I'm really fucking glad I get to have this with you."

Quentin gazed into his eyes, seeing all the love and desire in them that he never thought he would be lucky enough to receive. There was still so much they had to talk about and work through, but he was so glad they'd gotten this far. That he got to hold his love's hand and kiss him in the sunlight.

Speaking of which…

Quentin leaned up and pressed his lips to Eliot's. It still made his heart race and his stomach flip flop, the fact that he got to kiss Eliot fucking Waugh. The taller man's lips were soft against his own, moving gentle and slow. Eliot always kissed him like he was this precious and tender thing, cradling his face almost reverently. As someone who tended to think of himself as broken, being treasured like that was the best feeling in the world.

Eliot tilted Quentin's head and deepened the kiss, hands steady and warm on his neck. He tasted like cotton candy and home. Quentin melted into him, making happy noises against his lips, quickly becoming overwhelmed by everything Eliot.

And then the ferris wheel started it's descent, lurching forward, almost knocking them off of the seat. Eliot grabbed at Quentin with a panicked look in his eyes and Quentin started laughing at the face he was making. Eliot shoved at him playfully. "Fuck off," he laughed.

Quentin wrapped his arms around Eliot's neck, pulling him in for another kiss, swallowing his laughter like the sweetest candy.

•••

They had made it to the motel for the night, picking up a bottle of wine along the way. Now they were sprawled out on the floor, music playing softly from Quentin's phone, just enjoying the wine and each other's company.

Quentin had been plotting for a few minutes now. He knew that he and Eliot had a lot that they needed to talk about, but he also knew talking wasn't Eliot's strong suit. But he thought he had the perfect plan.

"I wanna play a game," Quentin said, sitting cross legged in the middle of the floor.

Eliot lifted his head from where he had leaned it back onto the edge of the bed. "What do you wanna play?" he asked.

"Truth or Dare," he said.

Eliot laughed, surprised. "Okay, but we're playing the Eliot Waugh version," he said. Quentin's brow furrowed, he had never heard Eliot talk about having his own version of the game.

"What's the Eliot Waugh version?" he asked.

"You'll find out," Eliot said, grinning. He wiggled his eyebrows at Quentin suggestively.

Quentin started giggling, something he only did when he was starting to get tipsy. "Okay, fine. We can play your version," he said.

Eliot sat up and scooched closer so they were sitting knee to knee, now fully invested in the game. "You go first," he said. "Truth or Dare?"

"Dare," he said. Might as well find out now.

Eliot gave a smile that could only be described as evil and thought for a moment. "I dare you to…tip over the vending machine at the end of the hall," he said.

Quentin's eyes went wide. Apparently the Eliot Waugh version is full on destruction of property. "I am not gonna tip over the vending machine," he protested. "That's gonna break it!"

Eliot's grin got even bigger. "Then you have to strip," he said, triumphantly.

Quentin's jaw dropped as the dots connected and he understood exactly what Eliot's version was. A smile slowly spread across his face. Alright then, if that's how he wanted to play. He reached down and peeled off one sock, waving it around playfully before throwing it across the room.

"Your turn, Waugh," he said. "Truth or Dare."

"Truth," he said, taking another drink of wine.

Quentin thought for a second. There were so many questions he wanted answered, but he also didn't want to scare Eliot away or push too hard.

"Could you see what it was doing, while it was you?" he asked quietly. He could see the expression change on Eliot's face as he realized how much Quentin wanted to talk about this. Needed to talk about this. Eliot swallowed hard, pushing past the instinct to close up.

"No," he said. "I was in this place, Charleston called it The Happy Place, it's kind of like a safe space in your brain. Mine looked like the physical kids cottage." He took another drink of wine, a longer one. "Your turn."

Quentin took the wine from him. "Truth," he said. It only seemed fair. If Eliot was gonna be brave, then he should too. He watched as Eliot thought of his question, trying to read the expression on his face.

"Did I kill anyone?"

All of the breath was knocked out of him. Eliot looked up at him with eyes that held such pain and agony, it made Quentin want to cry. He let out a noise that was halfway between a shout and a whimper and reached out, needing to touch Eliot and comfort him. Eliot pulled him towards him until he was sitting next to him, legs thrown over his lap, and ducked his face into his chest.

"You did not kill anyone, do you hear me?" Quentin asked. He cradled Eliot's face and made him look him in the eyes. "You are not in any way responsible for what that monster did, okay? That wasn't you." Eliot nodded.

"I know, that. I do. It's just...sometimes I guess I need to hear someone else tell me?" he said. He leaned his forehead against Quentin's, closing his eyes. Quentin just sat there and held him.

Eliot finally opened his eyes and looked up, keeping one arm firmly around Quentin's waist so he wouldn't move. "Okay. I choose Dare." he said. Quentin shifted slightly so he was sitting more comfortably and took another drink of wine.

"I dare you to...shave your head," he said, running his fingers through the other man's beautiful curls. Eliot gave a dramatic gasp and pressed one hand to his chest, scandalized.

"How dare you even suggest such a thing," he said. He somehow managed to undo his tie with one hand and yanked it off in a way that Quentin couldn't deny was really fucking hot. Quentin was conveniently already in his lap, so he leaned forward and kissed him once, short but filthy. He pulled away and grinned.

"Dare," he said, enjoying the look on Eliot's face.

"I dare you to get a tramp stamp," he said, already reaching over to pull off Quentin's other sock. Quentin's mouth dropped open, giving him an incredulous look.

"Excuse me, sir, I believe you're supposed to wait for my answer? Maybe I want a tramp stamp." he said.

Eliot shook his head. "No you don't," he chuckled. Quentin tried not to let it show on his face how turned on he was by Eliot undressing him. Judging by the look the other man was giving him, he wasn't doing a good job.

"I believe it's your turn," he finally said.

"Dare." Eliot had started running his hands up and down Quentin's legs and it was very, very distracting.

"Run for president," he said. Eliot barked out a laugh.

"As tempting as that is," he teased, and reached for the buttons of his vest. Quentin was feeling bold from the wine so he swatted his hand away, reaching for them himself. He undid each button slowly and deliberately, avoiding looking at Eliot's face until he was done. When he did finally look up, he couldn't breathe.

Eliot's eyes had gone dark and they were filled with pure lust. Quentin still couldn't believe that Eliot Waugh was looking at him like that. It baffled his mind that someone as ethereally gorgeous as Eliot was turned on by nerdy, awkward Quentin. But he couldn't deny the evidence.

He slid his hands under the fabric of the vest, pushing it up so it slipped off of Eliot's shoulders. As much as he wanted to get lost in Eliot's eyes and let him kiss him senseless, the goal of the evening was still to get them to talk about things.

"Truth," he whispered. He could see Eliot swallow, reigning his desire back in for now.

"Why did you ask to give us a shot?" he said, voice thick with want.

Quentin looked up surprised, meeting Eliot's eyes. He tended to forget that underneath all his dramatics and bravado, Eliot was a deeply insecure person. Quentin felt so strongly about him, loved him so deeply, he assumed that Eliot just knew. And maybe he did. But sometimes you need to hear it out loud.

"Because I love you," he said simply. He reached up to rest his hands on Eliot's chest, playing with the collar of his shirt. "Because I remembered being with you. Falling in love with you. Raising a kid with you. Growing old with you. I remembered spending a lifetime with you, and I decided one lifetime just wasn't enough. I wanted to do it again."

Eliot's eyes lit up with so much raw love it was overwhelming. He surged forward to kiss Quentin like he had no choice but to kiss him. Like he would physically combust if he didn't kiss Quentin Coldwater right the fuck now.

This was Quentin's favorite type of kiss. Where he could practically taste how happy Eliot was, when Eliot gave up on being In Control and The Best and he just fucking kissed him. It wasn't sex or desire. It was pure love.

Quentin couldn't help the laughter that bubbled up from inside him, escaping out against Eliot's lips. He was so incandescently happy, he couldn't contain it. It must've been contagious because soon Eliot was laughing too. He tried to keep kissing him but it was all wide smiles and teeth clacking. Quentin wouldn't change it for the world.

"Dare," Eliot said when he finally stopped laughing.

Quentin grinned, already leaning forward to unbutton Eliot's shirt. "Stand on your head and sing Mambo #5."

Eliot just smiled and ran his fingers through Quentin's hair, letting the smaller man undress him. "A little bit of Coldwater in my life," he sang.

Quentin snorted, pulling Eliot's shirt all the way off and leaning forward to kiss along his collarbone. "And that's enough wine for you," he teased. "Dare."

Eliot leaned forward to kiss under Quentin's jaw as his long fingers undid the button of his jeans. Quentin's breath hitched in his throat. "Break a window," Eliot said. Quentin could tell he was losing focus because his dares were getting less imaginative.

He shimmied out of his jeans and moved so he was straddling the taller man's lap, wearing nothing but his t-shirt and boxers. Eliot leaned forward, wrapping his arms around Quentin's waist and starting to suck a mark on to his neck.

Quentin hissed in pleasure, but pushed Eliot back by his shoulders. "Wait, you have one turn left," he said, trying not to get distracted by the feeling of Eliot's bare skin underneath his hands. "I want a truth." Eliot looked up at him, and maybe it was the wine or the game or just love, but he looked so open and willing to answer Quentin anything. "How did you break free to talk to us? When we were at that park?"

He was worried the question would make Eliot close up again, but he just smiled. His fingers traced the strip of skin above Quentin's boxers, a gentle tease. "I had to face my most repressed memory," he said. "The thing I regret most."

"And what was that?" Quentin asked.

"Not giving us a shot," he said. So simple. Just like that. Like it wasn't the most insane thing Quentin had ever heard. The biggest regret of Eliot Waugh's life was saying no to Quentin Coldwater. Eliot gave him a small smile, filled with adoration and apologies. "Peaches and plums, motherfucker."

It was more than Quentin could wrap his head around. Eliot loves me. Eliot wants me. Over and over, the most blessed repeat in his head. He leaned forward, pressing their foreheads together and tangling his fingers in Eliot's curls. "Dare," he whispered.

Eliot's eyes darkened and his grip tightened on Quentin's hips. "Kiss me," he said.

Their mouths crashed into each other, fueled by everything that had been building up all day. Eliot's skin felt like fire under his hands as he held the taller man's neck, kissing him deeply. Their tongues slid against each other with the bitter taste of wine, as they moaned into each others mouths, swallowing each others sounds.

Eliot clutched at his back, fingernails digging into the skin above his hips. He pushed Quentin's t-shirt up, trying to get it off of him but not wanting to separate long enough to fully remove it. He ran a thumb across one nipple and Quentin gasped, tightening his grip on Eliot's neck.

"Fuck, El," he murmured. His kisses turned slow and filthy as the fire simmered from an urgent need to a low overwhelming desire. He reached back and pulled his shirt off, giving Eliot better access to his chest. Eliot took full advantage, leaning forward and sucking one nipple into his mouth. Quentin gave a long moan, arching back, pressing his chest up and forward into Eliot's face. The other man's hands settled on the small of his back, large and firm, anchoring him in place.

He loved how big Eliot's hands were. He loved his long fingers, the feeling of them spread out against his skin, holding him, taking care of him. They made him feel small, in a way that no other partner had ever made him feel, and he loved it. He whimpered under Eliot's touch as he switched to the other nipple, biting and licking and sucking.

"El, I need you in me," Quentin moaned. Eliot let out a growl, pulling him in even closer so he could bite at his neck.

"Do you need it, baby?" he whispered against his skin. "Need me inside you? Filling you up?"

Quentin whimpered, grinding down on Eliot's growing bulge. "Please, El," he begged.

Eliot nudged Quentins hips, helping him raise himself so Eliot could shimmy out of his pants and boxer-briefs until he was naked. Eliot pressed kisses to Quentin's stomach as the smaller man untangled himself from his own underwear.

Quentin lowered himself back down and let out a breathy groan at the sweet feeling of friction as their cocks could finally rub together. He gripped Eliot's shoulders as he rocked his hips forward, thrusting against Eliot, making their sensitive skin drag against each other. Eliot's head fell back against the bed as his fingers dug into Quentin's hips, guiding him into firmer thrusts.

Quentin leaned forward, attaching his mouth to Eliot's long neck. Everything about Eliot was long and it did things to him. He licked a long stripe up his neck, tasting the bitter chemical of his cologne. He nuzzled under his ear, finding that perfect spot where his jaw ended and sucked a mark onto the tender flesh there. Eliot hissed and twisted under him, bucking his hips.

"Fuck, baby, that's so good," he praised. Quentin grinned, face still pressed into the curve of neck. He trailed kisses down the long stretch, nipping and sucking as he went, leaving a constellation of bruises. He reached between them, wrapping one hand around both of their cocks and giving one slow tug.

"Mother fuck" Eliot swore, his head jerking up off the bed to look between them, taking it all in. Quentin's hand barely fit around the both of them, but it was enough. Quentin stroked them slowly, reveling in the feeling of throbbing veins under satiny skin. "Jesus fucking christ, you're so good baby. Just like that, you're doing so well," Eliot babbled as he became overwhelmed by sensation.

Quentin decided this was what he loved most about sex with Eliot. When he could see the effect he had on this magnificent man. Eliot was not shy about just how much experience he had, and yet here he was, reduced to a flushed babbling mess because of Quentin. It always went right to Quentin's head. Well, both of his heads. It made him want to do everything he could to take care of Eliot, to make him feel so so good.

He pressed small gentle kisses into Eliot's hairline. "I love you so much," he whispered, words muffled by hair and the sounds of Eliot breathing heavy. He wasn't sure Eliot had heard him until he stilled underneath him and slid a hand up between them and rested it on Quentin's throat. He applied just enough pressure to guide Quentin's face until it was right in front of him and he could look into his eyes.

"I love you," he whispered, reverent, ardent. "More than anything."

Quentin didn't know if it was the look in Eliot's eyes, the whispered words of love, or the fact that Eliot's hand was on his throat, but everything inside him melted into a puddle of feelings. He leaned forward and pressed his mouth to Eliot's, kissing him gently and slowly and lovingly; and something that sounded threateningly like a sob escaped his lips, but it was okay because Eliot was right there, taking everything he gave him and giving it all back tenfold.

He felt Eliot's other hand tracing the spell on his lower back that would open him up slick, and gasped as he felt it work. Then Eliot slid two fingers in right away, and he collapsed against his chest, crying out. He could feel Eliot pause, about to check in. "It's good, I'm good," he said, rocking his hips back, fucking himself on Eliot's fingers. Eliot nuzzled the side of his face, kissing along his jawline.

"Fucking hell, look at you," he cooed. Quentin blushed at the praise, making a small sound that stuck in his throat. "You look so beautiful, riding my fingers like that."

Quentin moaned, overwhelmed by sensation between rocking back onto Eliot's fingers and forward into his hand that was still wrapped around their dicks. Everything was too much, it felt like his brain had shorted out and all that was left was the feeling of skin and heat and movement.

Eliot pulled his fingers out and Quentin whined at the loss, but then Eliot was helping him lift his hips so he could line up underneath him. "You ready, baby?" he asked. Quentin didn't answer, opting for action instead. He slowly lowered himself down onto Eliot's cock, exhaling long and low.

Between multiple timelines he'd done this countless times by now, and yet every time it knocked the breath out of him. The stretch and burn of it, the slight pain that quickly melted away into that glorious feeling of being completely and perfectly filled. It was like a drug, that feeling, and Quentin was happily addicted to it. Nothing else could compare.

He paused a moment to adjust before he began to move. He lifted himself slowly and sank back down, groaning, head thrown back. Eliot was gripping his hips so tightly, fingertips digging in, he knew there would be bruises tomorrow and the thought of seeing himself marked up in the morning thrilled him, made him move faster.

Eliot had lost all sense of control, his eyes blown wide, curls a wild mess sticking up every which way. "Christ, you feel so good," he breathed. "You always take me so well, baby."

Quentin leaned against his forehead, mouths on top of each other, kissing but not quite, sharing each others breaths. "Eliot…" he whined. His dick was red and leaking, bouncing with each of his movements, and he desperately needed to be touched.

"I'm right here, baby," Eliot said. "I'm gonna take care of you, make you feel so good." He finally, blessedly, reached down and wrapped his long fingers around Quentin's cock. The smaller man gave a shout at the sudden pressure, his hips stuttering in their movement. "Keep going," Eliot urged. "Don't slow down."

Quentin put all of his energy into riding Eliot, clutching desperately to his shoulders. Eliot shifted his feet flat so he could get some leverage and was able to fuck up into Quentin, thrusting in time with the strokes of his hand. Quentin cried out, it was all too much and it felt so good.

"El, please…please," he begged. A part of him was embarrassed that he couldn't be as eloquent or as talkative as Eliot was in bed, that all he could ever do was beg and plead. It was hard to remember to feel like that, though, when Eliot was looking at him like he was giving him the greatest gift in the world.

"I've got you," he said softly. "I want you to cum for me."

That was all it took. Quentin came with a wail, shuddering against Eliot, cum striping both of their chests. He wrapped his arms around Eliot's neck, clinging to him as he thrust into him once, twice, and then he was cumming as well, giving a strangled cry. Eliot collapsed under him, all melted bones and gasping breaths. Quentin stayed where he was, arms wrapped around Eliot with his dick still inside him, playing gently with the soft hairs at the base of his neck.

They both sat there, melted into each other, as their breathing slowed. Eliot pressed soft, tender kisses to Quentin's neck and shoulder, dragging his lips gently across his skin. Quentin's eyelids were getting heavy, he just wanted to fall asleep like this but knew he would regret that in the morning. Eliot nudged his cheek with his nose.

"You still alive?" he teased. Quentin grinned.

"Barely," he chuckled. "I don't think I can move."

Eliot laughed, jostling Quentin. "As much as I'm loving the koala bear cuddles, I do need to pull out before it starts to hurt."

Quentin groaned in protest, but moved far enough that Eliot could slide out with a hiss. He immediately shifted back to cuddling, not wanting to be any farther away from his lover than necessary. He watched Eliot do a tut out of the corner of his eye, humming in appreciation as it cleaned them both up.

Eliot wrapped his arms around Quentin tightly, holding him to his chest. "Do you have any idea how precious you are to me?" he asked.

A warmth spread through Quentin, touching every part of his soul until there wasn't a single part that wasn't filled with love and want and Eliot. Emotion bubbled up inside him until it felt like he was going to drown in it. As far as deaths go, this must be the best way to go: drowning in Eliot Waugh's love.

"I think I'm starting to get an idea," he whispered.

•••

Chapter Text

Eliot could have sworn there was something in the air.

When they stopped for lunch, Quentin looked at him and he could tell he felt it too. They were almost there. Logically, Eliot knew they were still a couple hundred miles from any sort of beach, but if he focused he was almost certain he could smell the saltwater.

“I can’t believe we’re almost there,” Quentin said, absentmindedly picking at his food as he looked up the remaining distance on his phone. “Just four more hours!”

Eliot had finished eating a while ago and was enjoying just watching Quentin. He had pulled one leg up under himself and was sitting in a position that could not possibly be comfortable. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him sit properly. Quentin finally looked up from his phone and realized that Eliot was watching him. He blushed, that beautiful red spreading across his cheeks and down his neck.

Eliot had realized a long time ago that Quentin blushing was A Thing for him. Objectively, he had always loved how Q would flush when he got flustered, how he would tinge pink on the apples of his cheeks and the tips of his ears. Then Eliot had realized he could be the cause of the flush. Whether it was with a tease, an innuendo, or an unexpected kiss to neck or shoulder, he could make Quentin gasp as the heat blossomed under his skin.

It had quickly become his favorite past time at the Mosaic. He would recline at a distance as Quentin took his turn laying the tiles, and made a point to see how red he could make the smaller man. “You know if you angled yourself just a little bit to the right, I’d have the perfect view,” he’d say, unashamedly appreciating Quentin’s ass as he worked. Q would roll his eyes but he couldn’t stop himself from turning red. Eliot would trace it with his eyes as it disappeared into his shirt, and he knew now that it went all the way down and that was a dangerous thought. “Shut up, Waugh,” Quentin would mutter, and Eliot would grin and reply, “Make me, Coldwater.”

He was drawn out of his reverie when Quentin kicked him under the table. “What are you thinking about?” Quentin asked. Eliot gave him a playful smile.

“You,” he said. “How positively delicious you look when you blush and all the many varied things it makes me want to do to you.” And there it is, Eliot thought with glee. Quentin ducked his head as his face grew hot. Eliot could tell he was trying not to grin and he wasn’t at all succeeding. He’s gonna tell me to shut up in three, two, one…

“Shut up,” Quentin said. Eliot beamed. I know this man. He nudged his foot under the table.

“You know if you really want me to shut up, I can think of a few other ways my mouth can be occupied,” he teased. Quentin’s eyes went wide as he gave him the be quiet look.

“Eliot,” he hissed. “We are in public!” He looked around the restaurant furtively, trying to see if anyone was close enough to overhear. Eliot grinned and wiggled his eyebrows at him. There was nothing he loved more than getting his little nerd all worked up, in more ways than one.

“So?” he asked. “Maybe they wanna watch.” Quentin started laughing, shaking his head at his ridiculous boyfriend. He gave him look full of fondness and ‘what am I gonna do with you?’. He fell quiet as a contemplative look crossed his face. Eliot nodded at him.

“What was that?” he asked. “What did you just think?” Quentin reached across the table to take his hand, rubbing his thumb across the back of his hand soothingly.

“Nothing,” he said. “You just, you sound like you again.” He gave that helpless shrug he would give when he wasn’t quite sure how to explain himself. “It’s been a while since I’ve heard you joke like that.”

Eliot brought his hand up to his mouth for a kiss, letting his lips linger against the delicate skin of his knuckles. “Well in that case, I will continue to be wildly inappropriate,” he said. Quentin’s laugh rang out through the restaurant, drawing looks from the other patrons. Quentin turned bright red and Eliot started giggling, which in turn made Quentin start giggling, and then people were really looking at them.

Neither of them found it in themselves to care.

•••

This last leg of the trip was determined to kill them. There was something about being so close, knowing that the end was in sight, that made the minutes drag by. Eliot could feel himself getting impatient, and Quentin had reached maximum levels of restless. His leg had been bouncing non-stop for the last hour, and frankly it was starting to get annoying. Eliot reached over from the driver’s seat and placed a firm hand on his knee.

“Baby,” he said, putting that High King Authority into his voice. “You need to calm down.” He glanced over to make sure Quentin knew he wasn’t mad at him and...oh. Quentin had immediately stilled, looking at him, eyes blown. Not the reaction I was intending for, but hot damn. Quentin looked away and swallowed hard. He took Eliot’s hand in both of his, holding it in his lap. That’s okay, I don’t need that hand to drive, Eliot thought.

He tried to keep his focus on the road as Quentin started playing with his hand, tracing his fingers up and down Eliot’s. The gentle rake of fingernails on his skin was maddening, just enough pressure to drive him wild. He was definitely not slowly getting hard, because he was driving, and that would be dangerous. He cleared his throat and tried to keep his cool.

Quentin shifted in his seat and Eliot tried not to wonder if he was getting hard to. He stared out the windshield, refusing to look at Q, because he was being a responsible adult and he was gonna stop fantasizing about pulling over right now and taking Quentin on the side of the road.

Then Quentin, this beautiful man, raised Eliot's hand to his mouth and kissed it. His lips were soft and warm, pressing against his palm. They parted ever so gently and he felt his breath tickling his skin. Quentin kissed his way up Eliot's palm, each kiss lighting a fire beneath his skin, until he reached his wrist. He kissed Eliot right over his pulse point, but this kiss was firm and wet and holy shit is that his tongue??

He risked a glance over at Q and the sight nearly made him run the car off the road. Quentin was blushing and looking up at him from hooded eyes, his mouth hovering above his wrist as he held it in almost worshipful attention. His now uncovered lap showed just how much he was enjoying this.

Eliot's breath caught in his throat as he forgot how to think for a second, lost in the look in Quentin's eyes. "Pull over," Quentin whispered.

Eliot was pretty sure he set a new land speed record for 'fastest car to pull off the highway'. He sent up a silent thank you that they were on a quiet highway and there was no one driving past them, when Quentin practically launched himself over the divide to kiss him.

The sparks that had ignited at the kisses on his hand exploded into all consuming flames, until all his brain could process was desire. His hands wrapped around the back of Quentin's neck, fingers tangling in his hair, needing to keep him as close as possible as he devoured his kisses.

It was immediate and complete filth, a kind of insatiable hunger. He could taste Quentin, licking into him with such intensity he was basically fucking him with his tongue. Quentin whimpered into his mouth, taking everything and begging for more, his hands flitting all over Eliot’s chest and arms in small helpless motions.

The arm rest was awkwardly digging between them and Eliot went into action, knowing from experience exactly how he wanted them both positioned. He let go of Quentin and pulled away, making the smaller man whine and chase after him with his lips. He placed one firm hand on Quentin’s chest, holding him in place, giving him The Look that he’s learned makes Quentin melt into putty in his hands; the ‘I’m in Charge Now, Relinquish Control’ Look that always puts Q in the most beautiful space. Right on cue, Quentin gave a breathy gasp, leaning into Eliot’s hand to ground himself as he watched him with wide eyes gone dark.

“Good boy,” Eliot purred, leaning in to give him a quick but dirty kiss. “Stay there.” Quentin nodded quickly, unable to speak. Eliot reached under his own seat and pulled the release to slide it all the way back and then made it recline all the way until he had as much room as possible. He grabbed his phone from where it was plugged into the aux cord and changed the playlist from Happy Hits of the 80’s to his personal favorite (and carefully curated) playlist that had a much different mood.

Now that he had everything the way he wanted he finally looked over at Quentin, who was waiting not-so-patiently for permission to move. He felt an intense wave of emotion that this incredible man would allow himself to be like this with Eliot, that he trusted Eliot that much. He gently cradled Quentins face, thumbs rubbing against his temples.

“Alright, baby, come here,” he whispered. Quentin scrambled to climb into his lap, eager with want. Eliot helped steady him as he straddled his thighs, cramped a bit in the small space but neither of them minded. Quentin leaned forward, covering Eliot with his body as he resumed kissing him. Eliot gripped the smaller man’s waist, loving the weight of his compact little body on top of him, and as always his smaller size was Doing Things to him.

Quentin started unbuttoning Eliot’s shirt, making room for his mouth as he kissed his way down his neck. Eliot dug his fingers into Quentin’s hips, squirming underneath him. He arched up as much as he could in the tight space, grinding against Quentin and making him gasp. The gravelly voice of the singer carried through the car:

        we’ve been trying to ease our filthy souls

        we’ve been listening to my radio

Quentin shifted on top of him and slid backwards, landing on the floorboards between Eliot’s knees, tucked in front of the steering wheel.

“Are you okay?” Eliot asked breathless, craning his neck up to check. Quentin was grinning at him from his new spot, unbuckling Eliot’s belt and rearranging fabric far enough so he could wrap a hand around his cock, freeing it from his pants. Eliot inhaled sharply at the touch of skin on skin and watched as Quentin swallowed it to the hilt in one go.

“Jesus fucking tits!” He could feel Quentin trying to chuckle from where his mouth was currently wrapped around his cock. He reached down to bury his hands in Quentin’s hair and groaned as he pulled off with an obscene popping noise.

“Can you maybe not talk about tits while I’m trying to suck your dick?” he teased, stroking Eliot as he talked. If he has enough brain capacity to make jokes, then I’m not doing a good enough job, he thought. He wove his fingers through the strands of Quentin’s hair and tugged hard. Quentin’s mouth fell open in a gasp and his hand stuttered in it’s movement. Eliot propped himself up on one elbow and gave him The Look.

“Shut up and suck me,” he growled. Quentin gave him that beautifully overwhelmed look he would get when Eliot would boss him around. He made a choked off sound in his throat, his mouth practically falling onto Eliot’s dick in eagerness.

Eliot fell back with a groan as Quentin sucked him down again. Quentin had a very specific way of sucking dick, all sloppy and eager and moaning around it like it was his favorite thing in the world. They hadn't talked about what all they remembered from the Mosaic, but Eliot remembered a very eventful summer when Quentin had been determined to master the art of cock sucking. Judging by the mind blowing way he was using his tongue, Quentin remembered that summer as well.


        cause the temperature is rising

        I know your lips could keep me warm

Eliot looked down, watching as his cock slid in and out of Quentin's perfect mouth, his lips stretched taut around the size of him. It was a sight he would never get tired of.

"That's it, baby, just like that," he praised. He rolled his hips slightly, unable to keep himself from pressing farther into the wet heat of his mouth. Quentin pulled off, gasping for breath and looked up at Eliot, wanting.

"You can fuck my mouth, if you want," he said, voice rasping from having Eliot's dick in his throat. He said it so eagerly and with so much desire, like it wasn't only something he would allow, it was something he desperately wanted. I can't believe I get to have this, he thought. This man who wants everything I could ever give him, who wants me.

He ran a finger across Quentin's bottom lip, slick with saliva and precum. "You have no idea what you do to me, baby," he said. He took one of Quentin's hands and brought it up to rest on his chest, tapping the back of it. "You tap out if you need to, okay?"

Quentin nodded, mouth already falling open, impatient. Eliot buried both hands in Quentin's hair, guiding his face as he slid all the way in. He gave a hesitant roll of his hips, holding Q's head still as he slid further down his throat.

"Fuuuuck," he moaned. He started moving in earnest, fucking into the slickhotperfect feeling of the smaller mans mouth. Quentin made small gagging noises at every thrust, and as beautiful as that sound was, Eliot paused.

"Tap out if its too much," he reminded. Quentin simply looked up at him through his eyelashes and sucked hard, hollowing his cheeks around Eliot's cock.

"Goddamn fucking hell," he cursed. He tightened his fingers in Quentin's hair and then he was moving, setting a steady pace as he thrust up into him. He found that perfect spot, where he was just deep enough without choking Q completely. Quentin gripped his hip tightly with his free hand, urging him to keep going. Eliot's breath came out in rough gasps, hips stuttering as he got closer to the edge.

"You're doing so good, baby, stay just like that," he said. He thrust a few more times, feeling it build in the pit of his stomach. "I'm gonna cum," he warned. Quentin groaned around him, telling him it was okay. That was all it took to push him over the edge and he cried out, thrusting as far in as he could and holding Quentin's head there, feeling him swallow around him again and again as he emptied himself into his throat.

He gasped for breath as he slowly slid in and out, milking the last bit of his orgasm. Quentin pressed back against Eliot's hands, tapping on his chest. Eliot immediately pulled out, tugging on Quentin's arms and pulling him back into his lap.

"Come here, baby, you did so good," he praised, kissing all over Quentin's face. His mouth was all red and swollen from being used, eyes watering slightly, and he was the most beautiful thing Eliot had ever seen. "You were perfect, taking me so deep like that," he said. Quentin whined, nuzzling into the side of his face, overwhelmed and drinking up the praise. "And swallowing every single drop, I'm so proud of you."

Eliot reached down to palm the front of Quentin's jeans where he was leaking through. Quentin cried out at finally getting friction. Eliot could feel how achingly hard he was. "Look at you, baby," he crooned. "Getting all worked up over having my cock in your mouth." Quentin gave a sob, burying his face in Eliot's neck.

Eliot petted his hair with one hand as he unbuttoned Quentin’s pants. "Do you want me to touch you?" he asked. Q nodded frantically against him.

"Please," he begged, voice like gravel. Eliot freed Quentin’s dick from his pants, wrapping one hand around it as the other arm slid around the smaller man's shoulders, grounding him.

"I've got you, baby," he whispered. "Gonna make you feel so good." He began stroking him, pressing kisses to his head and shoulders as he trembled beneath his touch. It didn’t take long to get him there, not with Eliot jerking him off just the way he loved and whispering soft praises in his ear. He came with a shout, desperately clutching to whatever part of Eliot he could reach.

Eliot held him through the shocks, brushing his hair out of his face so he could kiss his temple. He quickly did the spell to clean them both up, wrapping his arms around Quentin and glancing around them to make sure they didn’t have any unwanted observers. The highway was still as empty as when they started. Quentin mumbled something into his chest, the sound of it muffled by fabric.

“What was that?” Eliot chuckled, nudging his head with his nose. Quentin turned his face enough to be able to speak.

“I love you,” he said, a soft smile on his lips. He had that blissed out, well-fucked look, and he gave a long happy sigh. “That was really good.” Eliot pressed a smile into his hair.

“You were really good,” he said. Quentin grinned, tilting his head to look up at him.

“I was really good, wasn’t I?” he asked, looking smug and satisfied and so fucking beautiful. Eliot pulled him against his chest in a tight embrace. He felt like he was going to burst from love, the sheer amount of emotion he felt towards this man was going to be the death of him.

“You are so good, baby, you’re good and true and the best man I have ever met in my entire life,” he whispered fervently. “I love you so much.”

Quentin hummed and nuzzled further into Eliot’s neck, kissing the skin there lazily. “I love you too,” he sighed. “So so much.”

They lay like that for longer than they probably should have, wrapped up in their own little cocoon of warm and safe and happy. It wasn’t til the second car came whizzing past that Eliot finally muttered something about moving before someone “either calls the cops or tries to join.”

•••

Quentin insisted on rolling the windows down when they reached the city. Eliot protested on account of his hair, but he was promptly ignored. Quentin hung his head out the window, enjoying the sun on his face and the air that smelled of summer and the sea.

“So this is where your dad grew up?” Eliot asked.

“This is it,” Quentin said. He took in the buildings and the people, drinking it all up with wide eyes. Eliot watched him watch everything.

“Is it what you thought it would be?” he asked. Quentin pulled his head back in the car, considering his answer.

“Yes?” he said hesitantly, his brow furrowed in concentration. “I don’t know how to explain it, it feels...right. Like somehow my soul or my blood or something, it remembers this? Like I’m tied to it, through my dad.”

Eliot smiled at him. He wasn’t quite sure he understood, but Quentin seemed happy which meant he was happy. They wound their way through the city, weaving through the vibrant colors and happy sounds, finally cresting a hill. Quentin gasped, leaning forward.

“There it is,” he whispered.

The ocean.

Eliot was not one to be moved by nature of all things, and yet here it was happening twice in one week. He had been trapped for too long to not be moved by wide open expanses, a physical proof that there was so much out there, that he was here, that he had a chance to see it still.

He drove down the hill, parking at the bottom where they could just sit and stare at the endless blue. The sunlight glistened on the water as the waves crested, crashing onto the sand. The sound of the tide filled his soul, beating out that timeless rhythm; in and out, here then not, always, forever.

He felt a tear run down his cheek. He touched his face in surprise, unsure when he had started crying. It was a gentle cry, tears falling one by one, emotions welling up inside that simply had to be let out. He looked over and found Quentin was crying too, wiping at his cheeks with a sleeve covered hand.

Suddenly, he knew three things for certain:

        one: this world had been here far longer than any human or magician. and it would be here long after they were all gone.


        two: he, Eliot Waugh, was in love with Quentin Coldwater, and would be 'til his dying day, in this lifetime and every one that came after.


        three: he, Eliot Waugh, was going to be okay.


He reached out for Quentin’s hand. No matter what else happened to them, they were here in this moment together. Everything else they could figure out. Quentin met his gaze, eyes shining, and smiled. There would be words later, several long nights spent on the beach, talking through their feelings and kissing away the tears when talking got hard. But for now this was enough.

So they sat, held hands, and cried.

•••