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Proof of Concept

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It had been a month.

A month since Quentin officially got rid of the monster.  A month since Eliot finally was Eliot again. A month since Q had spoken a single word to Eliot.  

How could he?  Hed somehow felt responsible for this entire mess.  He was so ready to sacrifice himself to stay in the castle with the monster.  He was the reason Eliot was hurt. It was him who Eliot was trying to protect, at least that’s what his subconscious had hoped.  Yet, less hoped, more dreaded.  

If Eliot nearly died protecting him, it would prove to him how useless he is.  How dependant he is. It would prove that Eliot cared for him.

A part of him longed for that.  Longed for someone to care for him.  That part of him ached for someone to care for him.

It ached for Eliot.

Which is why he had to stay away.  He couldn’t let himself get too comfortable.  He couldn’t slip up again. Be rejected again.  Q couldn’t hurt Eliot like that again.  El was right about one thing that day, it’s not him.  He didn’t feel those things for Q. But god was he so wrong about Quentin. 

It was him.  It was too much of him.  Too much of him saw those beautiful hazel eyes every time he closed his own.  Too much of him yearned for the sound of his name spilling off of Eliot's tongue.  Sweet like sugar and yet retaining that edge that hooked him in from the beginning.  He could still taste him from the first time they slept together. Somehow, through everything, Q’s mind retained every single little detail.  

But the part of his brain that doubted himself remained the loudest.  It was the part of his brain that told him there was absolutely no way Eliot would ever settle for him. 

‘Not when we have a choice..’ 

God those words stung.  Of course, Eliot wouldn’t choose him.  He could have anyone, why in the world would he choose Quentin.   The ‘high-strung super nerd’, the fool, the nothing-mancer.  The man who was so broken that he couldn’t even fathom the idea that he was wanted.  Needed. How could that be good for Eliot?  

Quentin grabbed the light gray hoodie that he hadn’t worn in so long and put it on over his loose t-shirt.  The way it enveloped him but was still baggy enough to suffocate in comforted him. He had been wearing nothing but loose-fitting clothes as of late, almost purely because he hardly left the cottage.  It was where he retreated to when everything got too much. When he just wanted a sense of normality he had when he first started attending Brakebills. When he first found out that magic existed. When he first saw Eliot.

Q wrapped his arms around himself a exhaled a shaky breath.  He had to at least get something in his stomach before he took his meds.  Another habit he had fallen into as of late. He had found an old bottle tucked into the bottom drawer that he hid just in case the occasion arose that he needed to start taking them again.

Walking downstairs to the bar, he was glad to see that the cottage was empty.  Margo, Fen, Josh and,, him,, were off in Fillory trying to now sort everything out.  Kady was still crashing in Marina’s old condo. Penny 23 and Julia had gotten an apartment and were trying to work everything out between them.  Alice was nowhere to be seen, and Q didn’t know whether he was grateful for the space or starved of any affectionate touch. Everyone was off doing their own thing, but Quentin was stuck in his own little bubble.

On occasion, Julia would come to check up on him.  Make sure he’s eating, getting enough sleep, staying hydrated.  She knew how much Q needed the break, and she was willing to give him the space to breathe.

He stumbled down the last step and regained his footing, practically dragging his feet behind him.  He ducks underneath the bar to find the cabinets, hoping that there were at least some crackers or something in there to satiate his hunger so that he didn’t have to go run to the store to restock food.  When nothing is found, he sat back and sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. 

“Hey there Coldwater,” a voice said from above him.  A sickly sweet voice that dripped like honey. It sent a shiver of panic through Quentin, his eyes hesitating to drift upward for the fear that they would lock onto the thing that they craved so desperately.

When he didn’t bring his gaze up, the voice repeated itself.

“Hello, earth to Q?” No answer. “Coldwater, you’re scaring me.” At this point, the voice grew worried, soft, barely louder than a whisper.

Quentin stood up quickly, too quickly.  He almost fell over right there and then.

“When did you get back?  Is Margo with you? Josh?” he asked, still no eye contact, gaze trained to the floor.

“Well hi to you too,” Eliot scoffed, he was confused.  Sure, he didn’t expect a huge reaction to him coming back, but at least some reaction would’ve been nice. “And it’s a no on the Josh question, but Margo is with me, why?”

“Uh n- no reason, uhm,, just making small talk. How long are you guys staying?”

Eliot could feel the awkward tension practically like a slap to the face.  He saw Q’s eyes dart everywhere but to him. Not a single glance. Q’s hands gripped the bar in front of him, his knuckles turning white from the force.

“We aren’t sure yet.  Fen seems to be doing an okay job handling things,” he said, putting his hands in his pockets. “We might be here a week, a few weeks, a few days, months-” Eliot trailed on, trying desperately to get a reaction out of him. So far, Quentin only responded in a couple of short hums of approval.

“Quentin-”

“I’m sorry I need to go back upstairs and take a shower.” Q cut him off, leaving Eliot with his mouth hanging open as he watched him practically sprint up the stairs.  

He stood there baffled, dumbfounded, for almost a good 5 minutes before the door to the physical kids cottage opened and in walked Margo, who breathed out a sigh of relief when she was finally indoors.

“Home sweet downgrade, right El? Eliot?” Margo joked with him until she got a good look at his face.  Until she saw the tears welling up in his eyes.

“Bambi,,” Eliot barely choked out before he felt like collapsing into her arms.

 

- . - . - . - . - . -

 

Quentin couldn’t breathe.  He had to get out, he had to leave.  He couldn’t handle this. 

He grabbed his phone, bag, and wallet.  If he was lucky, he could manage to sneak out the back entrance.

Q started walking down the steps, but only got about 3 in before he stopped.  They were just standing there. Margo had her hand on Eliot's shoulder and her other holding his arm.  He couldn’t go this way. He turned back around and carefully walked back up the stairs, trying extra hard not to make a single noise.  He made it to the top stair before there was a loud, long creak.  

“Quentin? Hello?” Margo called up.  Q cursed his clumsiness, and darted back to his room, swaying a bit.  

He closed and locked the door.  There was no use trying any exit on the 1st floor, he couldn’t handle interaction right now.  He would either have to wait it out or face his problems; And Q much preferred the former.

He grabbed a shirt and tucked it under the door to muffle any sounds further, and then ran to the bathroom to turn on the shower.  In all honesty, Q really could’ve used a shower right about then, but he was too tired and emotionally drained to even fathom the idea.  He sat on the floor of the bathroom and hugged his knees, feeling the familiar burning sting greet his eyes. He just had to deal with this a little bit longer, and then they’ll leave and he won’t have to think about it.  He could go back to his now daily routine of sleep, wake up, take his meds, go back to sleep until around 5 to 6 pm, and then stay up until the early hours of the morning just thinking.  

Think about everything.  Think about how alone he felt, think about how much he just wanted to fall back into old habits, thinking about Eliot.  Remembering the mosaic. Little flashes of memories popping up here and there. Little touches. The way Eliot played with his hair and often helped him to pull it back into a bun.  Every night they spent together. Arielle, Teddy, the chair. The chair where his lover, his soulmate, took his last breath without Q even noticing. How could he not have noticed. How could he.  How could he have been so stupid.

The tears fell freely now, his sobs muffled by the sound of the shower.

 

- . - . - . - . - . -

 

Margo rubbed little circles into Eliot's shoulder, comforting him as best she knew how.

“He didn’t even look at me.. He looked scared..” Eliot’s breath hitched as he tried explaining his situation.  For the last month he meticulously planned out exactly what he was going to say to Quentin once he got back to Earth.  It was the whole reason he was here. Margo acted as a support net for him,hence why she was here accompanying him. If Eliot thought he could do this alone, he would have.  He wanted it to be an intimate moment between himself and the man he loved, nothing else, nobody else. No worries, no problems. He needed to apologize. Needed to show Q how much he loved him, because God did he.  

And now, Quentin won’t even look in his general direction.

Eliot didn’t want to cry over this.  He didn’t want to be so affected by this.  He couldn’t believe this man could make him so weak, so vulnerable.  

“Oh El, I’m sure he didn’t mean it like that,” Margo said somberly.  She didn’t know what was happening with Q, she had expected him to be ecstatic, overjoyed.  She knew how much Eliot mean to Q, she had known when he was so adamant to save him when the monster possessed his body.  She had known when he made it clear that no harm was to come to the monster until they knew a way to get it out of Eliot. He loved him, whether that be platonically, like two old friends who would do anything for each other, or romantically.  Either or, there was something there. 

“You don’t know that.  You didn’t see his face, he..” Eliot gulped, swallowing back a sob. “He looked so uncomfortable, so..” he tried to find the right words, but nothing could describe the expression that was on Quentins face.  What if he still saw Eliot as it.  What if when Q look at him, all he could see was the monster.  The thought made Eliot sick. To imagine the man he loved holding so much resentment, so much fear, towards him was almost unbearable.  He needed to make it right, show him just how much he cared, show him how far he was willing to go to win him back.

He would go back and do it all again for that man.

“Well where the hell is he now?  He couldn’t have gone too far, not in the time I’ve been here.”

“He’s upstairs, he said he needed a shower.” He put mock emphasis on those last words.  Knowing Q, it was an excuse to escape again. That’s when the two of them heard a long creak coming from the top of the steps.  Margo yelled out to Q, but it was met with the sound of fast footsteps running back towards the end of the hallway.

“Yeah.. shower ..” Margo rolled her eyes and started to walk towards the stairs.

“Where are you going?” Eliot asked in a rush, grabbing at her wrist, not wanting the comfort to end.  Right now, all he wanted was someone to hold him, touch him, anything.  

That’s wrong, you don’t want just anything , he thought to himself, trying to refrain from thinking his next thought. You want Q.

“I’m going to have a quick word with our favorite little nerd,” she replied, continuing to walk up the steps towards his room.