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I think I'm gonna win this time

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Mike broke up with Eliot on a Tuesday afternoon.

He gave a very nice “it’s not you, it’s me,” speech and was out of the cottage quickly. Eliot had already started mixing himself a drink at that point. He first thought was: he kind of wished Mike had done it before Eliot had turned down the Encanto Oculto trip with Margo. 

Quentin was sympathetic, even though he probably wasn’t too sad to see it happen. He hadn’t been Mike’s biggest fan, after Mike had the audacity to call Taylor Swift “kind of basic.” Eliot had let Quentin go on awhile about it, because he was cute when he was mad. Later, Mike had said he would’ve appreciated Eliot being on his side, as a show of support, which had made Eliot roll his eyes. Mike needed to calm down; it was funny, and trivial. And Quentin was just so, so cute when he was riled up. Being in a relationship didn’t mean you stopped noticing when other people were being cute, right?

Eliot fired off a quick text to Margo in Ibiza, because she would kill him if he didn’t tell her, but he made it clear that she was, under no circumstance, to end her trip early. 

He thought for a second about joining her, but he honestly wasn’t really in the mood, and besides, knowing Todd was there too would just kill any sense of eroticism.

It’s a good thing he didn’t go, because just a few days later, Quentin also got dumped.

“I give them four months at the most,” Eliot had commented when the two of them had returned from Brakebills South with Quentin trailing after Alice like a lovesick puppy. Mike had given Eliot a Look, because apparently that wasn’t a “nice” thing to say about your friend’s relationship (it’s not like he said it to either of their faces) and also it wasn’t “normal” to “fixate” (the term seemed a bit strong, in Eliot’s opinion) on someone else’s relationship like that, or to call dibs on said friend (that had been a joke, mostly?).

Anyway, Mike is obviously already gone when Quentin and Alice break up ahead of schedule, and Eliot couldn’t say he was surprised that Alice ended it. Nothing in particular happened to initiate it, and it had been done with relatively little fuss, just her kindly but firmly telling Quentin that she thought they “worked best as friends.” Then she’d given him a very friendly kiss on the cheek and gone off to the library. That was how Quentin had described it, anyway, sounding more stunned than sad, when Eliot had found him sitting on his bed staring into space a little while later. 

It’s hard to feel like it’s too much of a tragedy, as they’d only been going out for about six weeks, give or take, not that Eliot has been counting, beyond an idle interest in the bet he’d placed with himself. Hardly a complete heartbreak situation. But Quentin just looked so dazed, like a lost little baby rabbit. Eliot had instantly felt his protective instincts kick into gear, which was nothing new where Quentin was concerned. 

“Welcome to the club, little Q,” Eliot had sighed, slinging an arm around his shoulder and leading him downstairs for a drink. He knew how it felt, after all. “I hereby call this session of the ‘It’s Not You It’s Me’ dumpees support group to order. We may as well be losers together. What are we thinking, wine or cocktails? Or, I have some beer left from when Mike was still hanging around here, so if you must…you’re welcome to it.”

Quentin chose wine, like he usually did, which Eliot found desperately endearing. He seemed to find comfort in a glass of red. They settled into their usual chairs by the fireplace. 

“I’m not even like, that sad about it, I guess,” Quentin had said a few hours and a few bottles later, his speech slightly slurred. “It was just like, so sudden? She just. Said she’d enjoyed our time together—which like, who even says that, enjoyed our time together— and like, she didn’t think we were right for each other. So. Poof. That’s it.”

Eliot nodded in sympathy and tried not to stare too much at the way Quentin licked his lips after taking a sip and at the line of his throat as he swallowed. Not the time. Bambi would probably say he was wasting his chance to get Q into bed for an easy rebound lay, but Bambi wasn’t here, she was in Ibiza, and that’s. Not how he wants it to happen. A few months ago, he’d have jumped at the chance, but now…

By the end of the night, Quentin was genuinely smiling, which Eliot was proud of, even though at least some of that must have been because he’d had a fairly impressive amount of the finest wine in the collection, which Eliot usually saved for special occasions. And okay, so special occasions now included making Quentin laugh when he was feeling down and drinking in his gorgeous smile and soft eyes and sweet, expressive face.

So, Eliot had considered Operation Cheer Up Quentin a success, and they’d all moved on. Alice was still a presence in their lives, as she did still live in the cottage and go to the same classes as Q, and they still got together to do homework. Sometimes, she’d even accept Eliot’s offer of a drink when he was making them and stick around to chat, a bit awkwardly, but pleasant enough.

“So you don’t hate me?” she’d joked wryly, the first time this had happened after the breakup, in that way where Eliot could tell she wasn’t completely joking.

“Hate you? Sweetie, why would I hate you? No one said your ill-advised dungeon master nerd hookup had to be a long-term thing. Probably best to get out now, honestly.”

Alice’s shoulders relaxed then, and she gave him a considering look. “You don’t have to do that.”

“Do what?” Eliot asked, suddenly feeling nervous himself. Her gaze was really like, piercing.

“Pretend you don’t like him as much as you do,” Alice said, smiling a little.

Eliot methodically took a sip of his cocktail and swallowed before answering. “Hm? I’m not sure what we’re talking about. Forgive me, I think I may have mixed these a little too strong and I’m losing the thread here.”

Alice mimicked him and sipped her drink deliberately. “Okay,” she says, giving him another one of those inscrutable smiles. “I’m just saying.”

Quentin was Quentin, which is to say, he was perfect, and Eliot enjoyed his company just as much as before. Eliot had a moment where he realized he couldn’t really make out a difference in the amount of time they spent together, now that they were both single again, versus when Alice and Mike had been in the picture. Being in a relationship really hadn’t...changed much for Eliot. Sure, there were times he was out with Mike, or staying in with Mike, or fucking Mike, but the rest of the time there was...Quentin, just like it had been pre-Mike, and just like it was now. 

Eliot decided it wasn’t weird. It was normal to spend time with your friends, and healthy for couples to spend time apart. At least, that’s what Eliot had read in one of the magazines at the place he and Margo sometimes went for pedicures in the city. 

Speaking of Bambi, she came back from her trip with a giant floppy beach hat, an amazing glow, which she attributed partly to the sun and partly to the amazing sex, and lots of stories. She didn’t even give Eliot too much grief for bailing on the trip to spend time with his boyfriend and then getting dumped a few days into the trip.

“You know, I would’ve come home early if you asked me to,” she insisted, her eyes huge. They were sprawled out on her bed on their stomachs, facing each other. “I felt so guilty. Well. A little guilty.”

Eliot leaned over and kissed her forehead and assured her that he was fine, really. 

“I wouldn’t have dreamt of it. There was no need for you to ruin your first solo Ibiza excursion just to come back and sit with me while I ate macarons and binged-watched The Good Wife for a few days.”

“Not quite solo,” Margo reminded him. “Todd was there too, remember? And before you ask, no, I did not fuck him.”

Eliot made a face. “Ugh. Thank god. I was trying to drive the thought of Todd having sex with, like, anyone out of my mind. Anyway...Mike. I’m fine. It’s not like we were engaged or anything. And did I tell you I found out he’s a Republican? Horrifying.”

Margo had agreed it was horrifying and disqualified him from being more than just a casual fling anyway, and they’d moved back to discussing the highlights of her trip when Eliot realized he hadn’t told her about the other relationship casualty she’d missed while she was away.

As casually as he could manage, after what seemed like an appropriately chill amount of time, and a natural break in the conversation, he propped his head up on his arms and said, “Oh, so. Some more sad news from the homefront...Alice broke up with Q.”

Margo instantly got that knowing look on her face that Eliot loved and hated in equal measure. 

“Did she now? And you managed to wait until I’d been back uh, two whole hours before mentioning it? Impressive.”

Eliot shrugged. “Yeah, so. It was a real relationship bloodbath while you were away. You leaving town must be bad luck.”

Margo was still staring at him with her lips pursed, like she was trying not to laugh. “Oh, yeah. Such bad luck. You seem very broken up about the whole thing. Please tell me you comforted our boy appropriately.”

“I... took care of him,” Eliot said. 

“With your dick?” Margo replied, reaching out with her foot to gently prod his leg.

Eliot hesitated. “Well…”

Margo groaned and kicked him again, harder this time. “El, come on! How could you pass up an opportunity like that? Did I take all the IQ with me when I left, sexual or otherwise?”

“Oh, Bambi, I think you always have a monopoly on the IQ in this relationship,” Eliot sighed. “Anyway, no, I thought about it, but. I just. Couldn’t do that to him.”

Her face softened then, into something that looked sickeningly like sympathy. “Oh. You actually him, huh?” 

Eliot opened his mouth to argue, it was his gut reaction, but he found it stuck in his throat.

“Yeah,” he managed to say. “I guess so.”

Margo could’ve made fun of him, but she didn’t, or asked him to get more in depth about his feelings, but she wouldn’t, unless it was an emergency of some kind. She just stroked his hair and after awhile suggested he make her dinner, because she was hungry and cooking soothed him, and that had been that.


Or, that had been that until, one night a few weeks later when technically there was a party at the Physical Kids cottage, but Eliot had mostly foregone his hosting duties and holed up with Q and Margo and ignored everyone else. Secretly, those were his favorite nights, not that he’d admit it. As the night went on the laughter and conversation buzzing around them petered out and Margo, and Q were the last three standing.

Well, not standing, exactly. More like, sprawled across the floor in front of the couch because Margo had plopped down on the ground after returning with another bottle of wine and announced that the room was spinning less from down there, so Q and Eliot had followed suit. 

They aren’t talking about much of anything at all, when Quentin blurts out, as though he’d been waiting forever to say it, “So like, Alice said we weren’t emotionally or sexually compatible? Do you guys think that’s true?”

Okay. He hadn’t...mentioned this before, in those exact words. It was clear from his furrowed eyebrows, like he was thinking about it very hard, that the comment had stuck with him, though. 

There’s a pause, and then Margo shrugs and says, “Well, uh. I don’t really know from first hand experience, Q, but I’d say it...sounds right, yeah. I wouldn’t say I was...shocked that you guys didn’t work out, no offense.”

It’s a downright diplomatic answer, even though she’s drunk off her ass, and Quentin doesn’t seem offended, just nods thoughtfully. “El? What do you think?” 

Eliot sputters and almost has to spit his wine back into the glass, which would have been so unbelievably disgusting, so he’s glad he managed to save it at the last second.

“Uh, hah. I don’t really think I should...comment on this one,” he says weakly.

Quentin frowns and says, “I asked her to peg me and she said no. I guess if we were sexually compatible she would’ve wanted to, right? Eliot? Are you okay? Wow, you’re coughing like, a lot.”

Eliot is, in fact, coughing a lot. Quentin reaches over and pats his back a few times. Margo just rolls her eyes and mutters something under her breath.

“I’m fine,” he manages to choke out. Quentin continues rubbing his back, in what Eliot’s sure is meant to be a soothing manner.

As soon as it’s clear Eliot is not about to die, Margo, because she’s terrible sometimes and likes to make him suffer, says with a glint in her eye, “So, Q, what were you saying before? Alice wouldn’t peg you, huh? Bummer.”

Dammit, Bambi. Was she trying to kill him?

Eliot hopes that Q would get embarrassed and not answer, which is what would happen normally, but the combination of the wine and the late hour have apparently removed Quentin’s inhibitions and he nods and sighs.

“She didn’t say no, really, but I could tell she wasn’t really into it, and that sort of…well, you know, killed the uh, mood.”

Margo makes a sympathetic cooing noise and reaches out to tuck a strand of Quentin’s hair behind his ear. She’s such a softie sometimes, for certain people.

Quentin gulps down another mouthful of wine and continues, “She kept pushing me to take charge and then said I was doing it, okay, sorry? I tried, but. What if sometimes I want to told what to do, you know? What if I want my hair pulled? And what if I want to get, you know what I mean?”

Eliot is...going to die, probably. It’s going to happen, here on the floor of the Physical Kids cottage, with a glass of wine in his hand. Oh well, if he has to go out, at least he’s with his two favorite people, even if they’re to blame for his untimely demise.

Margo is having the time of her life. “Aww, Q, you look so sad! El, look at him, doesn’t he look sad? Who knew, our little first year, begging for a pegging. Never knew you had it in you. Or, well, wanted to have it in you.”

Eliot groans and Quentin frowns at her and waves his wine glass in her general direction. “Um, I wouldn’t call it begging—that's just…And I mean, actually? It’s a male erogenous zone, and it’s very normal and unfairly stigmatized? Me and Julia took a class at, anyway, it’s not weird.”

He’s so earnest and sounds kind of upset and Eliot finds it in himself to say, his voice light, “Bambi, stop riling him up. Straight guys are allowed to enjoy a little ass play.”

“Um,” Quentin says, his frown deepening. “Well, yes, but—”

Margo reaches over and ruffles his hair. “Okay, okay, don’t get so worked up, little baby. You’re right, I’m sorry. Anyway, good for you, asking for what you want. Even if Alice wasn’t the one, someone else will come along who wants to give you everything you need and it’ll be worth the wait.”

Quentin blinks at her. “Wow, that was actually kind of sweet.”

She groans and slams her wine glass on the floor. “Oh fuck, was it? I guess your natural corniness just brings something out in me, Q. Okay, well, don’t tell anyone. I have a reputation to maintain.”

Quentin kind of looks like he might cry, he’s so moved. “Thanks, Margo. I uh. Care about you, too.”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever, Coldwater,” Margo mutters as she takes another sip of wine, but Eliot can see her smiling.

Eliot beams at them and almost forgets about how they nearly killed him a minute ago.

“And on that touching note,” Margo announces, with a movement like she’s thinking about getting up, “I will leave you boys to it. I was gonna ask Q some more questions about how he likes to have his hair pulled, but I decided he’s had enough...for now.”

Somehow, she manages to make this sound menacing, even while struggling to get to her feet. 

“Uh, wow,” Quentin says, and Eliot fumbles with his glass. Most likely just because he’s drunk, and not like a classy wine drunk, but properly trashed. Certainly not for any other reason.

Margo finally manages to drag herself into a standing position and stares down at them with her hands on her hips. 

“El, make sure the baby gets to bed okay,” she says, and throws him a wink that is not subtle at all, like anyone paying attention would definitely notice. Thankfully, Quentin is not paying attention, apparently entranced by the wine sloshing in his glass as he swirls it around in front of his face.

Eliot gives her a significant look and makes a shooing motion. “Alright, goodnight, remember to hydrate, and try not to wake me up with your yelling because you got stuck in the shower curtain again, okay?”

“That was,” Margo says, with a glare that turns into a yawn. It is pretty adorable, but Eliot won’t ever tell her that. “Literally one time our first year.”

“And it is a moment I will cherish forever.” Eliot tries to stifle his own yawn. He does have to get Quentin settled into bed—for sleeping, that’s all, Bambi—before he falls asleep. 

With that, Margo takes her leave and Eliot finds himself at a loss for conversation, but weirdly it feels...fine? He’s not afraid Quentin will get bored and want to go to bed early, he’s not afraid of seeming stupid or uninteresting, he’s not afraid that Quentin will realize that he’s actually a huge fraud and decide he’s too good to be his friend, and there are other people, better, kinder, smarter, people, like Quentin himself, that he could chose to spend time with instead.

Well. Eliot is a little bit worried about that, all the time. But mostly, it just feels nice. Just sitting here with Quentin with the fire crackling, sipping wine, and not saying much at all. Quentin himself, normally so tightly wound, is comfortable and loose, his smile easy and warm, and Eliot feels a strange rush of pride. 

Eliot’s only felt this, this bone-deep comfort, with Margo before, and that had undoubtedly been aided by their partnership in the first year trials. He just met Quentin a few months ago. It should be unsettling how fast this is happening. I bond fast, he’d told Quentin, but that wasn’t normally true. 

He watches Quentin, who is sitting cross-legged and using magic to spin one of the empty wine bottles on the floor, with great concentration.

It spins and spins, with a hollow clattering sound that seems louder than it is in the silence of the cottage. 

When it stops, the nose of the bottle is pointing at Eliot, and Quentin smiles over at him, his eyes bright.

“Uh oh,” he laughs, a little bit breathy. “Guess you know what that means.” going to pretend he has no idea what that means and what Quentin could possibly be referring to.

“Let’s get you to bed, Q,” he says in response, and Quentin frowns.

“What if I’m not tired,” he says, contrary even as he’s rubbing his eyes, and god, he is such a brat sometimes. Eliot can’t even pretend he doesn’t love it. 

“Well I am, and I can’t just leave you here,” he counters. “You heard Bambi, she said I have to make sure you get to bed. Do you wanna make her mad?”

The face Quentin makes is part pout, part considering. Finally, he says, “No,” and lets Eliot pull him to his feet.

Getting up the stairs takes some doing, and when they’ve almost reached the top, Quentin stumbles and Eliot reaches for him, and somehow Quentin ends up cradled against his chest, Eliot’s arms around his waist.

“Hey,” Quentin says, smiling up at him. 

“Hey,” Eliot says, feeling stupid and tender.

Quentin sighs and presses his face to Eliot’s chest.

“You’re nice,” he mumbles, rubbing his cheek against the soft material of Eliot’s shirt. 

Eliot lets out a small laugh. “Not really.”

“Uh huh,” Quentin nods, his eyes closed. “I like you.”

Eliot feels his pulse jump in his throat. “Thanks. I. Like you, too.”

“Oh,” Quentin yawns with his cheek pressed to Eliot’s chest, like he’s going to fall asleep right here, on the stairs, while Eliot holds him up. “That’s good.”

Eliot would allow it, if he let himself, so instead he drags them along to Quentin’s room, where he helps Quentin out of his shoes, pulls back the covers of his bed and gently pushes Quentin down onto it, where he flops with a little giggle.

Eliot is carefully tucking the blankets around him, when Quentin sighs, suddenly sounding wistful. “Sometimes I just...miss sucking dick, y'know? God, you don’t know because you haven’t had to miss it...I mean, uh, sorry. I forgot. About, you know. Mike.”

Quentin makes an odd face when he says that last part. Must be the Taylor Swift thing; he’s still not over it. happening. Did Eliot fall asleep already? Is this some elaborate fever dream? Eliot shakes his head to clear it, but Quentin is still there, and he keeps talking.

"Ugh, no one probably would even want me to suck their dick though even though like, I'm really good at it. Not to brag but, I am. I have been told by. Reliable sources.”

What the fuck. What. Eliot manages to remove his hands from where they’d frozen on the blankets and rubs absently at his knees. 

“Uh, Q—” he weakly tries to interject, because Quentin is going to regret saying this in the morning.

But Q either ignores him or doesn’t hear him, because he says, quite loudly, “So, hah. Take that, Alice, I’m good at sex stuff.”

“Q,” Eliot tries again, and at that, Quentin sighs and rubs at his face. 

“I know, it’s not her fault. We’re just not right for each other. You’re right, you’re so smart.” Quentin reaches out and grabs his hand. “Thanks, El.”

“Uh,” Eliot says, and somehow now their fingers are laced together and they’re just like, holding hands, while Eliot sits on the edge of the bed. “You’re welcome?”

Quentin’s eyes are closed, but after a moment, he opens them, and stares at Eliot like he’s considering something. 

"Eliot,” he says, very clearly, like he’s making an effort to enunciate every letter. “Would you let me blow you, if I like, theoretically, wanted to do that?"

Eliot is. Well, he’s drunk. They’re both drunk. Quentin in particular is extremely drunk. What the hell is he supposed to say? It’s essentially the plot of a very specific fantasy he’s been working out in his brain ever since he looked across the Sea and saw Quentin Coldwater walking towards him.

Quentin seems to take his silence as rejection and tries to yank his hand away. However, Eliot’s own hand seems to have other ideas, as it does not relinquish its hold. 

“Sorry, not to be a creep,” Quentin says in a rush. “Am I weirding you out? Ugh I am, aren’t I, just ignore me.”

And that is the last thing Eliot wants, to make Quentin feel bad or unwanted. Fuck, he’s messing this up.

“You’re not weirding me out,” he says, in what he hopes is a reassuring voice. He gives Quentin’s hand a squeeze for good measure. “It’s just, you know, you're pretty drunk, and you'll probably regret this later.”

Quentin tries to sit up, but gives up halfway through the attempt. 

“I will not! I won't! I promise,” he insists, eyes wide and pleading.

Oh, Q. 

“Okay, ask me another time then,” Eliot says, gentle, knowing there’s a good chance Quentin won’t remember any of this conversation in the morning and Eliot will never mention it. 

Quentin glares up at him, like he knows what Eliot is trying to do.

“Fine. I will. Just you wait.”

His fervor is dampened with a yawn, and his eyes drift shut. 

“Okay, Q,” Eliot says, amused and painfully fond.

“I will,” Quentin mumbles and Eliot can’t resist leaning down to give him a quick kiss on the forehead.

“Uh huh. Go to sleep, Q.”

Quentin mumbles something else inaudible and Eliot shakes his head, smiling a little, as he gently releases Quentin’s hand, gets up and turns off the light.

He is absolutely not telling Margo about any of this, Eliot decides as he heads to his room. 


Eliot sleeps poorly, like he often does when he’s had too much wine. He tosses and turns, and manages to doze off right as the sun is coming up. He doesn’t normally remember his dreams, but he has an embarrassed feeling that this one involved the memory of sitting on the floor with Quentin as he spun the empty wine bottle. Only in the dream, when it stopped spinning and Quentin looked at him with that open, hungry look on his face, Eliot hadn’t stopped him and he’d leaned in and.

Well, he’d woken up hard and that was embarrassing, not because he’d never woken up with an inconvenient boner before, nothing to be ashamed of in and of itself, but to get so worked up about something so vanilla...just Quentin’s soft lips—Eliot assumes, they look like they’d be very soft, and yes, he’s thought about it, so what—and his tongue and his stupid hands.

Quentin...had literally offered to suck his dick last night, and this is what he thought about instead, this is what got him so hard he was aching, and having to physically stop himself from just humping the mattress and getting off like some sad lonely fourteen-year-old who had just seen his first porn—more specifically, like the sad lonely fourteen-year-old he’d actually been. 

He doesn’t, though. Thinking about either of those things, would just feel...weird, somehow, like he’s violating Quentin’s privacy. So instead, Eliot lies there and drifts between sleep and consciousness and tries to ignore his dick, which becomes easier and easier as his hangover headache makes its inevitable appearance.

Eventually, he finds it within himself to move, and makes it to the shower and by the time he’s dressed, it’s almost like there’s nothing out of the ordinary. Except, oh yeah. Quentin had offered to suck his dick last night.

The door to Quentin’s room is closed and Eliot passes it carefully, not quite sure why. It’s not like he thinks Quentin is standing behind the door, waiting for him to walk by. Quentin is, he’s sure, passed out, and he’ll wake up in several hours with a pounding head and dry mouth and absolutely no memory of what happened at the very end of the night. And things will just go on as they have been. Which is fine, it’s all perfectly fine.

It’s better, even. God help him, Eliot would rather keep Quentin as a friend than have everything blow up in his face. And it’s better for Eliot, too. Quentin had only mentioned that he sucks dick when he was drunk off his ass, so it’s not unreasonable to assume that’s the only time he engages in said activity. The last thing Eliot needs is another “relationship” with a guy who is all-too eager to blow him when he’s had a few drinks and exactly no other times. Been there, done that, over that.

The pathetic part is that he’s pretty sure if he liked Q even just a little bit less, he might be fine with that arrangement. But hey, this way he can chalk it up to self respect. Personal growth, right? 
Margo’s downstairs already, looking annoyingly perfect, glowing like she’d spent last night doing a face mask and drinking tea before going to bed at 8pm. 

She’s sipping a cup of coffee and idly paging through a magazine while sitting on the kitchen counter. They’re past the point where Eliot bothers to complain about that. He keeps it spotless and thoroughly cleans after each use, anyway.

“Thank fuck you’re awake,” she sighs. “I’m hungry.”

Normally, she’d burst into his room and wake him up and demand breakfast if she was hungry before he was awake. Eliot would say he found it obnoxious, but actually, it was hilarious and charming, like most everything Margo did. Something’s up, but Eliot isn’t about to give her the satisfaction of asking about it right out.

“Yes ma’am,” he sighs back, put upon, but he also kisses her forehead as he passes by on his way to the fridge. So the effect is pretty much ruined, but that’s okay.

“Eggs or pancakes?” he asks. She rolls her eyes.

“It’s cute that you’re acting like you don’t know I’m going to say both. And I want bacon, too. Don’t try to hold out on me, bitch.”

Eliot, already reaching for all the ingredients needed for everything, smiles indulgently. “You’re a nightmare.”

“You’d be lost without me,” Margo replies through a yawn, already back to flipping through her magazine.

That is certainly more true than Eliot is comfortable examining at the moment, so instead he gets to work on food prep. 

“Soooo,” Margo says after a few minutes where she’s very deliberately not saying anything, and ah, there it is. “Couldn’t help but notice you were up a little later than usual today. Did you and the little nerd have a good time last night after I strategically left you alone?”

“I put him to bed as you so emphatically instructed, Bambi.”

She glares at him in a way that reminds him of Quentin, actually. They’re both so good at it. Just completely withering, but also, adorable.

“So I’m assuming I shouldn’t bother asking if you put yourself into bed with him, or even just like, put in an RSVP to tenderly bang him when you weren’t quite so wasted.”

She already knows the answer, so Eliot just says, “Scrambled or over easy?” and starts rummaging around in the pots and pans even though it’s not time to start the eggs yet. 

“I’ll scramble your dick,” Margo mumbles into her coffee cup. 

“Sorry, what was that?” Eliot calls over his shoulder.

Margo gives him a cheesy smile and flutters her eyelashes. Eliot has to bite back a laugh; she’s ridiculous. “Scrambled, please, sugar plum. Just wondering if you need me to step in here? Like sexual training wheels for you and our boy.”

This certainly isn’t new territory for them, and it’s not like he hasn’t thought about it. Maybe that’s how Quentin would prefer it. Eliot’s not sure if that’s how he would prefer it though, which is new territory for him.

Before he can figure out how to articulate that to Margo, or if he even wants to, she says, “I mean, you heard him last night, technically all the things he’s into, that’s right in my wheelhouse. I don’t know, though. There’s just something about him…”

She stops and shrugs and Eliot pretends like he isn’t hanging on her every word as he whisks the pancake batter. There’s just something about him. Yeah, Eliot thinks, miserably, pathetically. That’s the problem, isn’t it?

“I just get the sense that he’s uh, how should I put this,” Margo continues, looking contemplative and also slightly amused, “Like I’d do everything he wanted and then he’d still bitch at me that I wasn’t doing it right, because what he really wants is—”

The revelation of what she thinks Quentin really wants is interrupted by Quentin himself, who bursts into the room looking frazzled and incredibly cute, which is, in truth, his default state. He has Julia hot on his heels, looking determined and incredibly intimidating, which is her default state, at least in Eliot’s experience. The intimidating part, anyway. Even when she’s been gentle and kind, which is often, particularly towards Quentin, the sheer power of her gentleness and kindness is overwhelming, like she’s just somehow better at it than mere mortals like the rest of them. 

Eliot likes Julia, he really does, but he can’t help but feel a little lacking in comparison, and more than a little jealous of her, even now. He isn’t a five-year-old and he understands that this isn’t how it works. But from the first moment he saw her, watched her argue with Q on the street outside Marina’s place, in that way that you can only argue with someone you love deeply, Eliot had clearly, meanly thought he’s my friend now.

So, yes. Very normal and well-adjusted thoughts to be having about your friend’s lifelong best friend, who turned out to be a perfectly lovely person, once they got past the whole incident where Quentin almost died as a result of Julia’s absolutely batshit revenge plot. 

“Jules, would you just stop trying to micromanage my life for once,” Quentin is saying, sounding exasperated, and distracted to the point that he apparently doesn’t notice the kitchen isn’t empty.

Julia scoffs. “Maybe if you actually listened to me sometimes, I wouldn’t need to—oh. Hi, Eliot. Margo.”

Quentin’s eyes go wide and he startles as he turns his gaze towards them. He gives a nervous little wave of his hand. Julia’s eyes sparkle with obvious amusement and she draws her lips together in an obvious attempt not to laugh. 

“Sorry, didn’t mean to barge in on your breakfast,” she says, and nudges Quentin with her elbow. “Q and I were just—”

“Going,” Quentin interrupts. “We were leaving. Right, Jules?”

Julia gives him a look and she nudges him again. He nudges her right back and they stare each other down.

Eliot recognizes the silent conversation between two best friends, having had many similar moments with Margo.

As if on cue, he and Margo turn towards each other. Her eyebrows are raised and she tilts her head to the side like, what are these nerds up to now. He shrugs in response.

“Okay, I guess I’m going,” Julia finally says, after Quentin grimaces and nods. 

She tears her eyes away from Quentin’s and smiling over at Eliot and Margo, a mischievous look in her eye and sunny little grin on her face. Honestly, Eliot gets why Quentin was in love with her for so long. She’s a trip. “I have a meeting with Dean Fogg to get to anyway.”

“Brunch rendezvous with Henry, huh? How’d you swing that?” Eliot asks, only a little jealous. She wasn’t even a Brakebills student, and here she was, teacher’s pet. 

“Hey, don’t burn the pancakes, asshole.” Margo swats at Eliot’s ass with her magazine to bring him back to task, harder than is absolutely necessary, of course. 

Eliot gives her a mocking salute and she flips him off.

Julia observes this with a smile and Quentin leans against the counter and rolls his eyes at them. He’s such a brat.

“Well, uh, Henry invited me to campus to discuss the possibility of late enrollment. He said that they may have been too hasty in rejecting me.”

Margo lets out a whistle. “Damn, never thought I’d see the day someone in charge at this fucked up institution admitted to making a mistake. Fogg’s an old softie at heart, I guess.”

“Yeah, I told him I’d hear him out, at least,” Julia says.

“I hope you’re at least going to tell him you need to take the weekend to think about it. Make him sweat a little.”

“Oh believe me, I fully intend on it,” Julia laughs, and Margo raises her coffee mug in respect. 

“Weren’t you leaving?” Quentin says, snottily, and shit, Eliot isn’t even embarrassed anymore at how endearing he finds it.

Julia, having spent most of her life dealing with Quentin’s status as a sweet-faced brat, doesn’t seem particularly overwhelmed by how cute he is, but it also doesn’t bother her, routine as it is. She just gives him a fondly amused look and shakes her head.

“Yes, I’m leaving, as agreed. And weren’t you going to do something, too?” she says, gently prodding.

Eliot finishes plating Margo’s breakfast and hands it to her. She digs in immediately, but keeps her eyes locked on the scene unfolding before her. Eliot isn’t paying much attention at all. Can’t let the bacon grease sit around in the pan, after all.

Eliot is, of course, full of shit, so he doesn’t miss it when Quentin gives Julia a pleading look. He apparently doesn’t find the sympathy he was looking for, and lets out a defeated sigh. 

“Yeah, I—yes. I’m going to,” he grumbles. “I will. After you leave.”

Julia smiles, like she’s proud, and leans in to press a kiss to Quentin’s temple. She murmurs something in his ear and he nods.  

“Okay, I’m out,” Julia straightens up and nods at Eliot, who is unloading the extra bacon onto a dish. “Hey, not to dine and dash, but is there any chance I could get some of that bacon for the road?” 

Eliot, not really sure what to make of the whole interaction, wordlessly holds out the plate in one hand and a napkin in the other. Julia eagerly snatches up a few pieces, and when she takes a bite she makes an approving mumble and gives a thumbs up.

“Thanks. I guess Q isn’t exaggerating when he goes on and on about what an amazing cook you are,” she grins. “All I hear is Eliot’s so good at this, Eliot’s so good at that, Eliot is basically single-handedly saving me from starving to death—”

Quentin, wide-eyed, sputters out a protest as Margo tries to stop herself from bursting out laughing while she currently has a mouthful of pancakes. 

Eliot...tries to think of a rational reason his heart is suddenly beating so fast. It doesn’t mean anything. He is a good cook, he knows it’s just an objective fact, and Q just never eats enough unless Eliot reminds him. That’s what friends are for.

“I don’t...You’re completely overrepresenting how many times I’ve…” Quentin starts to complain. Julia ruffles his hair and ignores it. 

“Bye Q. Later, guys,” she says, raising her napkin-wrapped bacon in Eliot and Margo’s direction and flashing the peace sign. She’s odd, but in a curious way that Eliot can’t help but admire.

And then she’s gone, bouncing out of the room and leaving an awkward silence in her wake. 

Well, it’s awkward to Eliot, and awkward to Q, based on his nervous fidgeting. Margo, on the other hand, is still delicately shoveling food in her mouth and looks like she doesn’t have a care in the world.

“You know, I thought she was a heinous bitch, with good reason, because she was absolutely being a heinous bitch, but she’s growing on me,” Margo says between bites. “I could get used to having her around.”

Quentin frowns and mumbles, “She’s the worst.”

He seems genuinely agitated, and pinches the bridge of his nose like he does when he has a headache, and Eliot instinctively feels the need to do something about it.

“Hey Q, do you want some breakfast?” he asks, probably more gently than necessary. “You know how you get when you have a hangover and you don’t eat anything.”

Quentin glances up at him and his face clears and he smiles, a small, soft thing that Eliot feels, warm in his chest. 

“Thanks, El. I um...I can’t eat right now, though. Maybe...later?” he says.

Something about the way he says later feels full of cryptic significance, but then again, Eliot is still a little under the weather himself, and he’s predisposed to thinking too much about every little thing Quentin says or does.

“Yeah, Q. Of course. Whenever you want. Just tell me what you want, and I’ll make it happen.” 

Quentin’s eyes widen and fuck, that was just way more than Eliot intended to say. 

“Within reason, of course, because there are some ingredients I don’t have…” he rushes to add, right as Quentin says, “Actually El, there’s something I want to…”

They both stop and laugh and for a moment it seems like they’re at a standstill. Eliot senses Margo shaking her head at them in annoyance.

Then, because Quentin doesn’t take the easy way out of everything like Eliot does, he takes a deep breath and says, “Can we talk? I mean, like, in private?”

“Oh,” Eliot says, annoyingly breathless. “Sure. Now?”

“Yeah, unless,” Quentin swallows and tucks his hair behind his ear. “You’re um, busy?”

Margo drops her fork onto her plate with a loud clatter. “He’s obviously not busy, Coldwater, he’s standing right in front of you doing nothing, except acting like a brainless idiot.” 

She has a point. Margo often does. It’s something that Eliot either loves or hates, depending on the moment.

“Thank you, Bambi,” Eliot says through gritted teeth. “Now would you mind giving us some privacy?”

“Oh, absofuckinglutely not,” Margo replies. “I’m still eating and you so generously made enough for seconds, which I intend to take full advantage of. You two geniuses can go find somewhere else to have your little emotionally constipated chat. Sound copacetic?”

“Yes, Margo,” Quentin says obediently, voice small.

She nods approvingly. “Good boy.”


They end up going to Quentin’s room.

Last night you were in here and he—Eliot’s brain supplies unhelpfully when the door closes behind him.

Quentin drops onto the bed and then gestures to the spot next to him.

“Um, do you want to sit, or,” he asks, tucking himself into a little ball, so his his legs are up under his chin.

“Uh, sure,” Eliot says, and gingerly settles next to Quentin. What is going on?

Quentin smiles at him, but Eliot can tell he’s nervous. 

“So...what’s going on, Q?” he asks. “You’re acting like you’re a dad about to tell his kid the beloved family dog went to live on a farm upstate. Like, very dire stuff.” 

Quentin lets out a surprised laugh and rubs his hands over his knees. “No, it’s um. I’m just…embarrassed.”

Eliot frowns. Quentin should never feel embarrassed about anything.

“About?” he asks, as gentle as he can manage, and Quentin swallows thickly.

“About um...last night. And what, what I said to you.”

Quentin said a lot of things to him last night, but Eliot knows, instantly, that he’s referring to one thing in particular, that Quentin seems to remember after all.

“You don’t need to be embarrassed, Q,” he insists, but Quentin just shakes his head, determined as always.

“No, I really do. And um...I owe you an apology.”

Eliot can’t believe what he’s hearing. He opens his mouth to protest, but can’t quite force any sound out of his throat. If anyone should be apologizing…

“So...I’m sorry I got too drunk and propositioned you and wouldn’t take no for an answer,” Quentin continues, determined as always when he’s on a roll, and Eliot just stares, absolutely stunned. “I really appreciate your friendship and I don’t want you to think I’m just like one of those other first year guys just like, waiting around to uh, sleep with you, or something. I hope you’ll accept my apology. I really am sorry.”

Quentin ends his big pronouncement with a shrug and a wave of his hand that seems to say so that’s it. He looks miserable, staring at Eliot with those pleading, gorgeous eyes, like Eliot accepting his apology is the only thing in the world he cares about. 

“I don’t...really think you need to be apologizing to me at all, Q, but um, of course I accept? It’s fine, I promise.”

The relieved smile that gets out of Quentin makes Eliot feel warm all over, even as he tries to ignore the disappointment that sinks into the pit of his stomach. He didn’t mean it. Of course he didn’t. You knew this is how it would be.

“You’ve been…a really good friend to me, and it would take a lot more than this to change my mind about that. Shit, drinking a little too much, saying things you don’t mean...we’ve all been there, you know?” 

Quentin tilts his head to the side and his brow furrows in apparent confusion.

“Well, um. Yeah, that’s true, we have all been there, but that’s. Not exactly what happened last night.”

What the fuck, Eliot thinks. “Sorry?” he says out loud.

Quentin’s giving him this funny little smile. “El, um. I don’t know how to say this, but, fuck it. Julia will kill me if I don’t tell you, so. That’s not why I’m embarrassed. I’m embarrassed because um...I did mean it. And that’s really not how I wanted it to go, when I asked you...I finally had a shot and I fucked it up.”

He shrugs again, and laughs, ducking his head so his face is covered by a curtain of his hair. 

Eliot just stares at him.

“You...wanted to…” he tries to say, but isn’t sure how to finish the sentence. He had prepared himself for every scenario, every way this could possibly go, and yet...this wasn’t one of them.

Quentin looks up and reaches out, placing one hand on Eliot’s arm. Eliot thinks this is supposed to be comforting, but it just makes Eliot feel like he’s been electrocuted, all over. “Yeah, but El, I’m not going to like, be weird about this, I promise. You made it clear that you’re not interested, and like I said, I really appreciate your friendship, and I respect you and your boundaries—”

“Yeah, don’t.”

“What?” Quentin says, his mouth quirking up a little on one side. 

Eliot turns on the bed so he’s facing Quentin, and places his own hand over Quentin’s where it’s still resting on his bicep.

“I mean,” Eliot says, pitching his voice low, “In this particular instance, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t respect my boundaries. At all. In fact, just assume there are no boundaries where this topic is concerned.” 

Quentin’s eyes widen, and fuck, they’re so pretty, he’s so pretty. He shifts so that they’re facing each other on the bed, looking right at each other, finally.

“Um, so...when you said to ask another time…” he breathes out, and Eliot rubs his thumb along Quentin’s knuckles and relishes the way Quentin’s hand reflexively grips his arm.

“Well, I said that thinking you were just drunk and didn’t mean it and wouldn’t remember that you even asked in the first place,” Eliot murmurs, moving Quentin’s hand from his arm so he can bring it to his lips.

“But, um, as we’ve e-established,” Quentin gratifyingly stutters a little when Eliot presses his mouth to his palm, and then the sensitive skin at his inner wrist, “I did mean it and I do remember it, so.”

“So,” Eliot agrees, and kisses the tips of each of Quentin’s fingers, just because. “Go ahead and ask.”

Quentin huffs out a laugh as Eliot moves his other hand to rest, warm and solid, on Q’s thigh.

“Okay. Um, do you wanna like, go out with me?” Quentin asks, gazing up at him, shy but happy.

Eliot hums in consideration. “Now, I could be wrong, as I was also very drunk, but I don’t think that’s quite what you said. I think it was more like, Eliot, would you be hypothetically interested in me blowing you—” 

“Oh my god,” Quentin laughs and groans at the same time. “Would you just shut up and kiss me?”

Before Eliot even has a chance to react to that, Q is raising himself up on his knees, wrapping his arms around Eliot’s neck, and shutting Eliot up with a kiss on his own.

Eliot moves his hands to grip at Quentin’s hips and god, the sound Quentin makes, hot and encouraging, into Eliot’s open mouth. Eliot grips tighter, just to hear it again. 

Quentin, to no great surprise, is a dedicated and thorough kisser, and so, so into it. He barely lets Eliot up for air before he’s chasing after his mouth for more. 

“So good, Q,” Eliot murmurs against his lips, and he slides his hands to Quentin’s ass and squeezes, just a little, like he’s wanted to since literally the first time he’d laid eyes on it. He’s not sure whether it’s the praise or the ass grabbing, or a little of both that makes Quentin gasp wildly and then drop from his knees to settle completely in Eliot’s lap, but either way, fucking noted

God, Eliot loves kissing him and how much Quentin loves to be kissed, he loves the sturdy weight of him in his lap, he loves his perfect little ass…

Which, speaking of, Eliot’s hands start to drift upwards, back to Quentin’s hips, and Quentin makes an annoyed noise and pulls away just enough to grumble, “No, put them back.”

Eliot ducks his head and muffles his helpless laughter into Quentin’s lovely neck. 

“What?” Quentin asks, sounding slightly put out and amused at the same time, “What’s so funny? Come back up here and kiss me.”

Eliot places a kiss at the hollow of his throat as an apology. 

“Nothing, just. You’re so cute. Grab my ass, get up here and kiss me. Bossy.”

Quentin frowns, his kiss swollen lips turning down in a little pout. “So what? I like your hands and I like kissing you.”

God, he’s so cute. Eliot wants to give him everything he wants.

“Yeah, I’m getting that,” Eliot grins, and he grips Quentin’s ass in both hands, and kisses him, just like he asked. 


Later, when their clothes are finally off (they’d just kissed for a long, long, time) and Eliot is in the process of giving Quentin everything he wants, he thinks he knows what Margo was talking about, earlier. 

Because yeah, Quentin loves it when Eliot tugs his hair and bites and sucks at his neck, hard enough to leave bruises that are absolutely going to be visible tomorrow. 

“Everyone’s going to know,” Eliot says, tilting Q’s head back with a pull on his hair, so Q can look up at him, eyes wide and blown dark. “Do you like that, Q?” 

“Yes,” Quentin whispers, breathing fast and completely pliant in Eliot’s grip.

He loves it when Eliot puts his hand on his neck to guide him towards his cock, putting him exactly where he’s wanted. He loves it when Eliot thrusts into his mouth, and when Eliot tugs on his hair some more as he finishes.

And he loves when Eliot opens him up with slick fingers, and makes Quentin beg for each one, and then again when he’s aching and desperate to come.

So, yeah, Quentin loves all of that. But what really gets him, what really drives him crazy, is when Eliot soothes the bruises on his neck with gentle kisses and tells him how gorgeous he looks, how Eliot wants everyone to know that he took care of Quentin and made him feel good.

He groans and groans around Eliot’s cock in his mouth when Eliot strokes his cheek and gasps out, “Oh my god, Q, so good, you’re so—fuck, baby, you’re so good.”

And when Eliot is fucking him with his fingers, giving and giving as much as he can, as hard as he can, because that’s what Quentin wants, keeps begging for, more, and harder, and please, El, I can’t

What makes him gasp and arch his back and thrust his hips down onto Eliot’s hand is Eliot murmuring, “That’s it, Q. Just like that. I’m gonna make you feel so good, honey,” and then, “You did so well, you’re perfect, now be a good boy and come for me, let me see you—”

Eliot gave that to him, all of it, and he hadn’t even had to try, not really.

Quentin is lying in his arms, sweet and worn out, blankets tucked securely around both of them, and Eliot had given him everything he wanted. Margo had been right. Because yeah, Quentin liked all of those things he mentioned last night, but what he really needed was to feel wanted, and taken care of, and to know the person taking care of him really wanted to be doing it.

I can give him what he needs, Eliot thinks with a rush of pride. He knows now, and he’s not going to give it up.

Quentin giggles softly, his face pressed against Eliot’s chest.

Eliot smiles down at him and runs his hand down his back, slow, just to feel him shiver. 

“What’s going on down there?”

Quentin tilts his head to look up at him, his eyes bright. 

“I was just wondering if um, you think we’re sexually compatible?”

God, he’s such a nerd. He’s so cute. Eliot is going to overdose on his cuteness before all of this is over.

“Hm,” Eliot says, stroking a hand through Quentin’s soft, soft hair. How is it so soft? Does he do a hair mask? Doesn’t seem like a very Q thing to do, but then again, he’s proving to be full of surprises. Something to discuss, but later. “I think there’s a very good chance, but we should probably do some more experimenting, just to be sure.”

Quentin laughs like Eliot just said something really funny, and turns his head to nuzzle at Eliot’s hand, his eyes blissfully closed.

“I will also say,” Eliot says weakly, mesmerized and overwhelmed by the sheer force of Quentin’s affection, “that the reliable sources who said you were, quote, really good at sucking dick, unquote, are entirely correct.” 

Quentin’s eyes fly open and he lets out a peal of shocked laughter, his cheeks flushed a delectable pink. “Oh my god. I can’t believe I said that. Oh, fuck, I’m so embarrassed.”

He ducks his head and presses his face to Eliot’s chest, groaning softly.

“Aw, baby,” Eliot coos, pressing a kiss to the top of his head. “Don’t be embarrassed. It was cute. And I just said, you put your money where your mouth is. Or, well I guess, put your mouth where your—” 

Quentin doesn’t look up, but kicks at his shin under the covers. Hard.

“Okay, that’s fair,” Eliot concedes, feeling endlessly magnanimous. “Hey, you wanna stop hiding and let me see that perfect face of yours?”

Quentin just shakes his head and groans some more, so Eliot lets him be dramatic, just breathes in the scent of Quentin’s hair, and wraps his arms around him, tight on instinct, and smiles when he hears Quentin let out a sigh, muffled but pleased.

Yeah. He can do this.