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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.

Chapter Text

Quentin stood slowly, his legs shaking beneath him.  As he stared in the mirror, he could barely see his own reflection from the puffiness of his eyes.  Weeks worth of tears were threatening to spill over, and honestly, Quentin was about to let them.  

He had internalized all of his feelings, bottled up as much as he could in the hopes that there would come a moment where it was appropriate to let it all out.  To Q, now seemed like it was as appropriate a time as it was gonna get. His hands gripped the porcelain sink until his knuckles went white, refraining himself from putting them in his hand and grabbing onto that instead.

The pools in his eyes were about to spill over, until he heard a loud banging on his bedroom door, and his name being yelled out.  He scrambled to close and lock the bathroom door just in time for his bedroom doors lock to come undone. This was probably one of the only times Quentin wished magic stayed gone.  He sat back against the wall of the bathroom, holding his head in his hands, trying to shut it all out.

“Y- yeah!  I’ll be out in a- a second!” he shouted, his voice cracking on multiple syllables.  He bit his tongue to stop himself from crying out, unable to stop himself from sobbing.  Now that he was letting it all out, it was gonna take more than a few deep breaths for him to calm down.

“I know you aren’t fucking showering in there, Coldwater!  Let me in!” Margo yelled, turning the doorknob every which way hoping that it might help in some way.  “I’m giving you 10 seconds to unlock this door before shit gets bad, Quentin!”

He froze, hoping, praying that maybe she’d go away, forget about him and go back down to Eliot.  10.

Needless to say, he did not want to be on Margos bad side.  9.

But there was an overwhelming part of him that kept him glued to the floor.  8.

Q heard a string of muffled expletives from the other side of the door, followed by a series of tuts that he could only faintly make out.  They didn’t even get to 7 before the door was very nearly thrown off its hinges by the force, leaving Margo to stare down at him. When he returned her glare, sharp like needles, he saw it soften.  

“Oh, Q,,” Margo breathed out upon seeing his eyes bloodshot and red, and his face wet and contorted in pain.  She dropped to her knees and reached out a hand to touch his shoulder and watched as he flinched away from her.  Quentin hugged his knees close to his body and let more silent tears slip past his eyes. Margo had a look on her face that was somewhere in limbo between confused and remorseful, her eyes scanning him trying to look for any answers and her hands quivering slightly, itching to comfort him.

After everything that’s gone on, ie., the monster, Fillory, the threesome , her and Q became close.  As much as she was angry at him for causing Eliot such stress, she cared for him, too.  To see him in such a state was worrying, to say the least.

“Q honey, what's going on?” She placed a hand on his knee and watched him crumple into her arms.  He needed this physical comfort, and Margo was here to provide. She rubbed small circles into his back as he quietly sobbed, leaning into her shoulder.

“I c-,, I can't,, Margo,,” At this point, Q was having trouble getting a simple sentence out, hyperventilating and feeling his throat close up with anxiety. “I can't,, how can he even look at me?”

“Q, what do you mean?”  She pushed him back enough to see his face, cupping his cheeks with her hands.

“Its my fault, its- its-” he breathed in and out rapidly, struggling to breathe in deeply, the tightening in his throat worsened, so he brought a hand up to rub his throat, hoping to relax. “Everything is shit because of me, and I c-can’t deal with,” sharp inhale, “it.”

He could feel his heartbeat quicken and his head start pounding.  Okay, calm the fuck down, you’re having a panic attack right now , he told himself in his head, just try breathing.  You’re overreacting.

“It’s my fault that Eliot got hurt, I’m the idiot that was going to sacrifice himself and stay in the damn castle.  It’s my fault that that damn thing got into his body, walked around in his skin, touched me with his hands .  It’s my fault, I’m so fucking useless , so fucking dependant, so fucking stupid. So,,” he could barely get the last part of his rambling out before he wasn’t even crying anymore, just breathing shallow, quick breaths, his whole body shaking and convulsing everytime his breath hitched.

“You’re not making any sense, Q.  Nothing’s your fault, what would make you think that?” she asked, and when she was met with no response, she cursed quietly to herself, standing up slowly.  She looked down at Q staring up at her with such wide eyes, full of panic and sadness. It struck a chord in her heart that almost had her kneel back down, but she knew this isn’t what he needed right now.

Margo stood up and walked out of the bathroom, out of the bedroom, and down the steps to where Eliot was sat with a bottle of something that was ⅓ of the way gone.

“Jesus El, I didn’t think you would stoop this low..” Margo motioned towards the bottle, stepping closer to rest a hand on his shoulder.

“Come to give me the bad news, Bambi?  I’m a bit busy drinking my feelings right now..” he croaked out, bringing the bottle up to his lips again.  He took another swig of whatever was in that bottle, which tasted disgusting, and put it down.

“You need to come upstairs with me, now.” she said, grabbing him by the arm and pulling him up from the bar.

“Thanks for the offer, but I’m not really in the mood for a pity fuck-” Eliot barely got the last syllable out before Margo dragged him down to her line of sight.

“Now is really not the time, Eliot.  There’s a man upstairs in his bathroom huddled on the floor, unconsolable .  I don’t know what kind of shit is going on between you two, so how about we skip the jokes and focus on our boy right now.”

That seemed to strike a nerve with Eliot, who immediately rushed up the stairs, tripping once or twice along the way.  He practically sprinted down to Quentin's room and threw the partially closed door open. Across the room, he could see the bathroom door open, and Q, his Q , hugging his knees on the tiled floor.  Eliot's heart broke.

He was across the room in 3 strides, kneeling down in front of him with his hands on either side of his face.  When he saw his eyes, how sickly, how sad he looked, Eliot couldn’t help but tear up. There was no resentment in Q’s eyes.  It was a mix of emotions that to any normal person would be hard to decipher, but to Eliot, he knew exactly what Q was thinking.  It was hard not to after spending a lifetime getting lost in them.

His eyes said ‘I’m sorry’ , they said ‘please hold me’, they said ‘I’m scared’.

Eliot spent a few moments looking into those eyes, taking them in, relishing the fact that he was close enough to see the flecks of green and gold in them, before he reached out his hands and grasped Q’s own.  When those dark russet eyes turned away from him again, Eliot freed one hand and cupped his face, turning it to face him.

“Q, please, tell me what’s going on..” he pleaded, bringing the hand that was holding Quentins up to his face, pressing it into his cheek.

Q broke at the small sign of affection, the little symbol of comfort.  Not 10 seconds later, he was back to letting the silent tears fall.

“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I never meant to hurt you, I didn’t want to wrap you up in all of this,,” he babbled, slurring over some words and then going to quickly on the rest.  He was a mess, and Eliot's slender fingers cradling his cheek, slowly slipping to the back of his neck, it was hard to focus on any coherent sentences. All Q could do was keep rambling.

“I hurt you, it’s my fault you got hurt, it’s my fault you had to fucking save me like the useless idiot I am.  I don’t even know why I’m here, how am I useful in any way, when all I do is mess up and get everyone wrapped up into my own problems? I- I can’t even say what I want to say in a way that makes sense!  God, Eliot I’m so fucking sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m-”

Q didn’t get to finish what he was saying, interrupted by Eliot pulling him into his chest and squeezing him so tight it would probably hurt if it wasn’t exactly what he needed.  He breathed in the familiar smell of Eliot and let out a short sob, wrapping his fingers in the material of his shirt.

“Quentin.”

There it was.  That sound, the way it rolled off his tongue.  It was heaven.

“I don’t know who- I don’t know what made you think those things, but please god, please Q, know that none of it is true.  Please,,” he could hear him beg, the desperation in his voice causing it to heighten. He drug those slender fingers through Quentins hair, kissing his temple and breathing in their shared air.  “Quentin, I don’t think you know how absolutely fucking special you are, how needed ,, how loved ,,”

The last word caused a shiver to travel up his spine and into his neck, which Eliot was tentatively running his fingers along.  He heard a small shaky breath in his ear, before Eliot continued.

“Please never think that you shouldn’t be here, that things would be better off if you were gone.  I know. I know how hard that might be sometimes, but please, please, please, know how needed you are.  You’re not alone here. All of us love you Q. Julia loves you, Margo loves you, Kady, Alice, I’m sure Penny has some semblance of a heart in there somewhere,” Eliot chuckled softly, earning the smallest chuff from the man he was currently cradling into his chest. “I love you.”

Quentin pulled back enough to look Eliot in the eyes, getting lost in the hazel.

“What,,?” he asked, breathlessly.

“I said,” Eliot traced his hands back to grab Q’s face and slowly press a kiss to his cheek. “ I love you , Quentin Coldwater.” He rubbed his thumbs over the only slightly overgrown stubble on Q’s face, barely registering what he just did before Quentin brought his face up and crushed their lips together.

Pulling away, Eliot’s face was the softest it’d ever looked, so completely overtaken by love and the feeling of the moment, eyebrows raised, mouth open, expecting.  Q pulled back first, looking at the man in front of him to try and gauge his reaction. So when Eliot gently placed his hand onto the back of his neck and pulled him in, he was ready for it.

It was gentle, just the simple touching of lips, domestic and warm.  It felt familiar, it was familiar, they’d probably done this thousands of times, if not tens of thousands, over the course of their fifty years.  This time, Eliot pulled back first, resting his forehead on Quentins.

“The only one missing here is you.  You need to learn to love yourself, Q.  And if you want, I’ll be here every step of the way to remind you until you do.”

Quentin could hardly process what he was hearing.  This was,, a love confession,, from Eliot .  His Eliot.  His love .  Tears threatened to spill over yet again, but this time, they were from the immense amount of joy he was feeling.  He would have continued to bask in the moment if he hadn’t heard a cough and someone finally turn off the shower.

“As much as I would love to stay for the show, I think you two need some alone time.”  Margo said, her hand resting on Quentins shoulder as she kissed both of them on the forehead and walked out, only stopping for a second to say, “And Eliot was right, Q, we love you.” 

Once she was gone and out of the room, Eliot started to stand, pulling Q up with him.  Quentin clung to him, afraid that if he let go he might lose him yet again. The whole feeling of this day was surreal and exhausting, and it was only 10 am.  He was starting to regain feeling in his face, and his throat luckily stopped being so tight, but his muscles felt weak and tired. Eliot was just barely able to walk him over to his bed before he flopped down on Eliot, wrapping his arms around his waist and pulling him closer, not wanting there to be any space between them now that he had the chance.  Now that he had him. 

A few moments later, and they had managed to get themselves into a position where Q could comfortable lay his head on top of Eliots chest, and Eliot could play with his hair as much as he pleased.  Of course they were going to have to talk eventually, This kind of thing couldn’t just be swept under the rug. Did Quentin have some problems that he needed to sort out? Yes. But Eliot would be there with him.  Right now Q just wanted to enjoy this feeling. He wanted to enjoy the smell of Eliots shirt, enjoy the warmth he radiated, enjoy listening to his heart beat in his chest, knowing that somewhere in there, even if just a sliver, it was beating for him.