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Project Seduce Quentin Coldwater and So Lift His Spirits

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The thing is, Eliot knows exactly what he’s doing. It’s not necessarily the best, nor moral, thing for him to be doing, but he knows what it is and he’s (not) entirely unashamed. He’d even made this exact offer right before Quentin was wiped, and Quentin said it’d be amazing. So, clearly had Quentin not been wiped, Eliot would still be entirely in the right. Even if Quentin’s answer had been lacking the enthusiasm Eliot would have liked.

So what if Margo thinks he’s being presumptuous and lacking a general moral compass? What the fuck does she know anyways? She’s off in Ibiza with Todd; talk about lacking a moral compass. Ibiza’s going to eat the poor kid and spit him back out without any mercy or morality.

Morality. Eliot scoffs, pulling his flask out of his jacket pocket and spilling a fair amount of this weeks alcohol into his coffee. Who the fuck needs morality? He’s happy with general debauchery and a mild case of alcoholism. Who wouldn’t be? Just a week ago, Margo had been on the same boat as him, planning to float off into an actual universe of nothing but sex, drugs, and alcohol. But then she found out he’s been kind of, maybe, definitely, stalking Quentin, and practically kicked him off of the Ibiza trip.

She’s going to regret that decision when she comes back and finds all her clothes are cursed to make her look fat.

And, honestly, he’s not stalking Quentin Coldwater, because he’s talking to him, and getting coffee with him - even if Quentin is perpetually late - and just generally making sure he’s okay. Mostly because he’s working his way up to the promised seduction, which Quentin, in all his nerdy fanboy ridiculousness, seems completely oblivious to.

Okay so that’s not entirely true, because, not that Margo the Traitor needs to know, he does genuinely want to make sure Quentin’s okay. Though, he does really, desperately, want to get laid.

It’s really just a double edged sword that nobody needs to understand.

The coffeeshop door slams open, and the man of the hour stares at it in a wide eyed horror as everyone else in the cafe looks up at him, mildly annoyed. Eliot forces down a laugh, and waves at him, “Quentin!” He calls, and those wide eyes flit across the room until they land on him, and a small relieved smile accompanies them as Quentin ducks his head and makes his way across the room. As he drops his messenger bag on the floor next to the table and takes a seat, Eliot admonishes, “You really know how to make an entrance, don’t you?”

Quentin’s cheeks flush, though they’re already red from the brisk winter air brewing outside, “Shut up,” He mutters, as he rests his hands on top of the table and shakes the snow out of his hair. “It wasn’t me, it was the wind.”

Eliot nods, “Mhm, right.” Grinning as Quentin narrows his eyes at him, “Totally the wind.”

“It was!”

“I didn’t say it wasn’t.”

Quentin sighs, shaking his head, though there’s a little smile quirking at the corners of his lips that makes Eliot’s stomach do a little flip - one that he refuses to acknowledge as anything other than the temporary warming spell waring off - and starts taking off his gloves. “You weren’t waiting long, were you? I had to go see my dad, and there was a ton of traffic on the way back.”

He’s been waiting a little over an hour, actually, but he’s not about to acknowledge that. “Not at all. I just got here. How is your dad, anyways? Still have brain cancer?” He flinches as Quentin’s hands still for a moment. He really needs to work on the whole actual empathy thing. Though, if he’s being honest, he’s gotten a lot better in the past few months.

And no, mental Margo nagging him from wherever she is in Ibiza, it’s not because of these little outings with Quentin. So. There.

Quentin’s eyes fall to the three coffee cups on the table, one by one before he looks back up at Eliot’s face. “Just got here, huh?” He asks, a small grin worming it’s way across his face, that makes his eyes crunch up adorably, not that Eliot’s taking much notice. “And he’s . . . he’s refusing to take his medicine?” His eyebrows furrow as he shucks out of his jacket and drapes it over his chair, “He’s just waiting to die, I guess.”

Eliot’s smile falls, and he reaches forward, placing a hand over Quentin’s. “It’ll be okay,” He murmurs, squeezing his hand, “And if you need anything, I’m just a phone call away.”

Genuinely. He’d actually purchased a fucking phone just so they could keep in contact. Of course, he has to head to the tech available areas on campus before he can actually use it, but with a little spelling, and a heavy does of his telekinesis, he now gets alerts when somebodies calling or texting and he can rush across campus so he can reply accordingly and efficiently. Because if there is one thing Eliot is - it’s efficient.

It’s actually the reason Margo found out about this whole mission of his. Honestly, it’s not like he puts a large amount of effort into the whole thing. Just a few hours in the labs working up a spell, about a week testing it and perfecting it, and an almost constant use of his telekinesis. Hardly any work at all.

If there’s one thing Margo is - it’s Queen of Overreacting.

“I know,” Quentin smiles softly at him, though his eyes flicker down to their hands like he’s confused, and Eliot almost pulls his hand away, but then Quentin’s turning his upwards so he can hold his hand, and holy shit this is the most progress Eliot’s made on Project Seduce Quentin Coldwater and So Lift His Spirits, in six months. Quentin’s hand squeezes his, and Eliot is so, totally, completely fine. “Thank you, Eliot. I don’t know what I’d do without you right now, to be completely honest.” He frowns, “Is that weird to say to someone you barely know?”

“We’ve been over this, -,”

“Yes, I know, you bond quickly because time is an illusion or whatever, but -,”

“It’s not weird. I mean, you are weird, but that’s not a weird thing to say.”

Quentin laughs, loud and full, and Eliot smiles as well, as Quentin goes on completely oblivious to everyone around them turning around to see who’s laughing so boisterously. “You’re a dick.”

Eliot grins, “I know. That’s why you like me.” Quentin’s cheeks go pink again and Eliot has to fight the urge to lean across the table and - nothing. Nothing at all, mental Margo. Eliot is just doing his yearly community service. That’s all. He absolutely does not have feelings for Quentin. Nor does he want to lean across the table and kiss him until he’s pink everywhere. Not even a little bit.

“I mean,” Quentin shrugs, pulling his hand out of Eliot’s, and turning in his chair like he’s going to get up. Eliot frowns. “You’re not so bad, overall? So, that, uhm. That could have something to do with it?”

“Where are you going?” Eliot sits up straight, pulling his hands into his lap.

Quentin looks down at him as he stands up, and motions with a thumb at the coffee counter. “To go get some coffee. I’m freezing.”

Eliot casts a quick spell, catching the barista stopping what she’s doing behind them so she can make Quentin’s usual. “Oh, I already ordered it for you,” He says, “Your usual.”

“What?”

He shrugs, grinning, “I saw you through the window, and asked for your usual. It’s not a big deal.”

Even if it is a lie.

Quentin slowly lowers himself back into his chair and stares at Eliot blankly for a few confusing moments before shaking his head, and looking down at the table top.

“What?” Eliot finds himself asking.

Quentin makes a noise and looks back up at him. “Why are -,” He pauses, licks his lips, which doesn’t distract Eliot at all, and tries, “I don’t - this is. I have good friends.” He looks confused at his own statement as he shakes his head, waving a hand in front of him, “Julia is great, for one.”

Fuck Julia. Fucking Hedge Bitch choosing magic over her own friend who has blatantly been suffering over the past few months. Quentin deserves better. Not that Eliot is any better. After all, he’s just trying to fulfill his promise to seduce him. Quentin’s just oblivious to any and all sexual, or romantic - for that matter, advances.

Quentin seems stumped for a moment, like he can’t think of anyone past Julia to consider a friend, but then he barrels on. “But you - you’re, really, you know,” He moves his head and shoulders in a way that makes Eliot think of a turtle trying to crawl back into it’s shell, but is too lazy to actually go through with it - which is an annoyingly cute motion, “You’re in - you’re way too nice to me,” He rolls his eyes, “And I’m not sure why?” He looks up at Eliot, biting down on his lower lip.

“Why wouldn’t I be?”

He’s not sure what else to say. He’s pretty sure ‘I’ve come to fulfill a promise I made to you in a life you’ve forgotten about. What’s the promise? Nothing much, just to seduce you,’ isn’t exactly an appropriate response. Especially if he wants to keep from getting expelled from Brakebills for revealing magic.

He also see’s a familiar look forming at the edge of Quentin’s face, one that says he thinks he’s broken, and couldn’t understand anyone caring about him, and look, Eliot’s not the greatest person, but even he has the overwhelming urge to punch every single person who ever made Quentin think he’s not worthwhile.

“I mean. I’m -,”

“Kind and courteous? A hilarious smart ass?”

Quentin shakes his head. “Fairly broken.”

Eliot’s hand flies across the table and grabs Quentin’s again, squeezing his fingers around his palm, “Listen to me,” He murmurs, pausing as the barista sets Quentin’s coffee on the table with a smile, “You aren’t broken. You’re missing some pieces. But so is everybody else,” He shrugs, leaning back, though keeping a firm grasp on Quentin’s hand, “Let’s not be so dramatic, Quentin.”

“I’m not being dramatic. I’m being serious.”

“Hm,” Eliot murmurs, “I didn’t take you for a Harry Potter fan.”

Quentin stares at him for a long moment, before sighing, and slumping into his own chair, “You know what I meant.”

“I did,” He nods, running his thumb over Quentin’s knuckles, “But I’m choosing to ignore it, because you’re wrong.”

“You don’t even know me.”

Eliot laughs, “We’ve been getting coffee together twice a week for nearly six months, Quentin. I think it’s safe to say we know each other fairly well at this point.”

Then Quentin does something so unlike him, and rips his hand away from Eliot’s, forcefully and angrily and leans forward, until his hair is just inches from dipping into his coffee. “But why?” And he looks genuinely confused and furious all at once.

He’s almost pouting.

And Eliot wants to kiss him. Which is, obviously, all part of his grand scheme.

“Why do we know each other? I just told you.”

Quentin huffs, glaring at him, though Eliot can’t possibly be expected to take it too seriously, and then he’s crossing his arms across his chest, watching him from over the table. “Why do we get coffee twice a week? Why did you approach me six months ago like it was nothing, and then sit there all smug, and. Just - ” He waves a hand around, motioning at all of Eliot, “So - you. Why is this - how - when did having a lunch with a hot guy twice a week become my life?” And Eliot should probably focus on how frustrated and confused Quentin sounds, but he’s a bit busy preening over being called a hot guy.

Eliot forces the smile that wants to bloom down, and just tilts his head at Quentin, “You think I’m hot?”

Which is enough to make Quentin stop nearly hyperventilating, “How do you always miss the point?!” He exclaims, eyes going wide as a couple a few tables away stop talking to turn and look at them. He huffs a big breath, leaning in closer to the table. “You know what I meant, Eliot.”

Look, Quentin’s frustrated, maybe a little angry, definitely confused, but Eliot can’t help but enjoy him like this. Back at Brakebills, the last time he saw him before he was wiped, he’d been beaten down and frightened. Worried about what his life would be after Brakebills - after magic. He was afraid he’d go back to the life of depression, and doing things he didn’t want to because he thought it was what he had to. But he hadn’t, and he’s still depressed - by God, if Eliot could get rid of that, he would - but he’s so much stronger than the man that Eliot met on the Brakebills lawn, that first day.

Magical Quentin didn’t give himself enough credit for what he was capable of. He’s awkward, but he’s strong and more demanding of the world now, and it’s, as bluntly as Eliot can possibly put it, hot as hell. Encouraging, too. This is that man that broke down after making a mistake, but at the same time, he’s somebody else entirely.

Eliot licks his lips, leans forward as well. “Is it so hard to believe I saw an entirely too attractive, geeky guy sitting by himself and wanted to join him?”

“Yes,” He takes a moment to look partially offended, “And I’m not a geek. If anything, I’m a nerd.”

Eliot laughs. “Okay, Quentin. You’re a nerd. Do you feel better now?”

Quentin deflates a bit. “No, not really.”

“What’s the problem, here?”

“I just,” He pauses, and looks up at the ceiling, eyes ticking back and forth over the tiles and lights, as if he’s trying to find the words to articulate what he’s feeling. “I’m confused.” He turns his gaze back on Eliot, then. “You’re insanely attractive - but you know that. And, you’re kind, and you care - why do you care?”

Why does he care?

There’s a loaded question he can’t actually answer.

He chews on his lip for a moment, watching Quentin, who seems to be trying to make himself smaller and smaller by each passing second. There’s a brief moment Eliot worries that he’ll tap into his magic and wham! Turn himself into a small animal or insect in front of everyone in the cafe. But he just keeps curling in on himself, watching Eliot with those big, worried eyes. “Have you ever,” Eliot starts, pursing his lips, “Seen someone and felt yourself kind of pulled towards them? It’s kind of intrinsic? You see them and you know that you’re supposed to talk to them, get to know them?”

He’d felt that way, when Quentin came tumbling through the trees and slowly, so fucking slowly, made his way across the Brakebills lawn towards him. Yeah, he’d been assigned to get him to the test, but wanting to get to know him afterwards? He can’t exactly deny that he’d wanted to do that.

Mostly because Margo would shoot him dead for lying.

Quentin looks down at the table for just a moment, fingers reaching out and twisting the cup with his coffee around, until the logo is facing him, and the handle of the cup is pointed at the window. “Maybe.”

Eliot’s eyebrows shoot up. “Maybe? With who? Should I be jealous?” And maybe he feels a little jealous. Or maybe he messed up the temporary warming spell and it’s gradually getting hotter. Since Eliot isn’t the jealous type, it must be the spell.

Lithe fingers run over the top of the coffee cup, as Quentin’s thumb nail scratches at the logo. “No,” He murmurs, looking up at Eliot through his eyelashes. “I - uh,” he swallows, looks back down at the cup, “I saw you. Before? You introduced yourself.”

“Did you?”

“Yeah,” He swallows again, looking back up at Eliot. “A few times. That’s why I was so surprised when you asked to sit with me.”

Eliot grins. “Is that so?” He’s both impressed and surprised. He had tried to use a spell that made him - not invisible, but harder to notice. So he could stalk - ahem, check on - Quentin without seeming like a complete creep. So it is strange that Quentin, devoid of any knowledge of magic, had been able to see him. But also fairly impressive, because it means the magic is stronger in him than even Brakebills realized.

A little pang of pride shoots down Eliot’s spine, but he passes it off as a cold shiver. Because, obviously the spell is fluctuating between extreme heat and extreme cold. Not so strange - it’s never personally happened to him, but he doesn’t doubt it’s happened to other, less experienced Magicians. He’d been distracted this morning, he could have easily flubbed a part of the spell.

“I - Yeah.” Quentin shrugs, looking slightly guilty, his fingers continuing their assault on the poor coffee mug, “You were always in the corner,” He nods to the back of the cafe, where Eliot had definitely spent many a morning over his vodka coffee watching him, “And, I don’t know. It kind of felt like I knew you. And then you sat with me, and I didn’t know a single fucking thing,” He chuckles, more to himself, and looks back up, “You look all intense and scary and hot, but you’re -,” He stopped.

“I’m what?”

“Kind and, intense and - and hot.”

Eliot laughs, the sound roaring out of him in a shocking exhale. “Thanks, Q.” He reaches forward and stops Quentin’s thumb from actually somehow peeling off the logo, and wraps his fingers around Quentin’s, which are warm from the resonating heat of the coffee. “And, I care because you make me care.”

Something inside him pulls at his arm, attempts to wiggle free, but he glares down at his hand, and holds tight. Quentin needs someone to care, and Eliot can be, has been for months, that person, damn it. He can still keep his promise.

“I make you care?”

Eliot nods. “Besides the whole kicked puppy thing - no, it’s not bad, stop trying to pull your fucking hand away,” He squeezes his fingers tighter around Quentin’s, “Because you’re, I don’t know. Easy to care about, I guess.”

And maybe it’s the truth.

“I have clinical depression, a best friend off who knows where drugged up on only god knows what -,” Well, Eliot had a pretty good idea of what she’s drugged up on, and it’s not even remotely close to actual narcotics, “And a dad with brain cancer. How the fuck does that make me easy to care about?”

Eliot’s brow furrows. “You think because your life is fucked up people shouldn’t find it easy to care about you?”

“I’m saying it should be pretty near impossible to give a fuck.” He shrugs, looking down at their hands. “I know if I had the choice to not care about any of this, I’d walk away in a heart beat.”

“Your dad really got to you today, didn’t he?” Eliot murmurs. “That’s what this is, isn’t it?”

“No!” Then, “Maybe? . . . Yes? Yes.”

Sighing, Eliot, pulls away and reaches for his jacket. Quentin’s eyes go wide, and just as Eliot see’s the flash of hurt, it’s gone, but Eliot’s frantically leaning down, “No, no,” He says, pointing at Quentin, “I’m not - no. That’s not what’s happening, jesus. Stop being a sad sack and put your jacket on.”

“I - I,” He looks between Eliot’s pointing finger and the full cup of coffee on the table. “But I haven’t had my coffee.”

“And you’re too distracted to drink it. So, come on. We’re going to go do something exciting to get your mind off your shitty life.” He expects Quentin to be offended, but instead his chairs being pushed back, and Eliot almost gets smacked in the face as Quentin pulls on the jacket.

“Promise?” Quentin asks as he leans down and picks up his gloves, barely bothering to break eye contact with Eliot.

Eliot tilts his head. “Now that is not the response I would’ve predicted.”

Quentin at least has the decency to look a little embarrassed before saying, “I’ve wanted to see you outside of the cafe for a while, anyways.” Which makes them both laugh as Eliot rolls his eyes, and heads towards the entrance, grabbing Quentin’s hand as he does so.

What? His hands are warm and soft, and Eliot has a fucked up temp spell messing with his temperatures, and Quentin’s hands are right there for the taking. It’s not like he wants to hold his hands for anything other than safety purposes.

Even if they really are ridiculously soft.

Chapter Text

“Eliot. That’s an ice cream shop.”

Eliot grins, looking over his shoulder at Quentin, who’s eyeing the shop with adamant distaste. “Yes, and we’re going inside. Come along,” He pulls at Quentin’s hand, but is pulled back when Quentin doesn’t budge. “What?”

“It’s snowing. And your idea of something exciting is eating ice cream?”

Eliot pauses, licking his lips as he turns to face him. “Yes, and no,” He starts, because Quentin really is clueless. “I was thinking this could be an all day excursion. Starting with ice cream.”

“Why?”

“You won’t understand until you’ve had a double scoop of ice cream, while sitting on a bench in the snow. It’s kind of . . .” He smirks, knowing full well Margo would full on slap him if she heard him say what he’s about to say, “Magical.” She wouldn’t be entirely in the wrong, because the two of them know actual magic, and this kind of thing isn’t even remotely similar, despite magic being used to create it.

But it is the closest Eliot can get Quentin without using the real thing.

“I meant why - I mean, that’s good to know, I guess - but I meant why do you want to spend the whole day with me when I’m a fucking depressing mess?”

“Hmm,” Eliot murmurs, taking a step closer until they’re barely a foot apart, “Maybe I just want to spend the day with a hot nerd.” He shrugs, “Or maybe I want to make you feel a little less depressed.”

“Or you want to kill me by freezing me to death.”

Eliot rolls his eyes, squeezing Quentin’s hand. “Trust,” he says, as he turns back to the ice cream shop, “The last thing I want is for the world to be deprived of Quentin Coldwater. A tragic life to lead, that’d be.” He smiles over his shoulder, tugging at Quentins hand. “Come on. I promise it’ll be worth it.”

This time, when he pulls him forward, there’s no resistance, and they go into the ice cream shop with relative ease. Well, until the bell over the door chimes angrily and Quentin nearly jumps out of his shoes, squeezing Eliot’s hand so tight he’s fairly certain he loses circulation for a few seconds. But it’s fine, because Quentin’s free hand grazes Eliot’s shoulder as he says, “Oh my god, I’m so sorry,” in a rushed whisper right below his ear.

His breath is warm and smells like mint. It’s not unpleasant.

The ice cream shop is small, run by a couple of Brakebills alumni. Behind the scenes, where Quentin and, because he’s with Quentin, Eliot aren’t permitted, there’s a room the size of a factory, compressed down to fit in the small shop on a random New York backstreet. Eliot’s been in the back before, had been invited after a particularly raunchy party at the physical kids cottage with one of the owners. In the thralls of summer, the shop is filled with young magicians, waiting their turn to get their own unique, specially made flavor.

Eliot has three.

And little does Quentin know, he has one as well.

What? It’s not like Eliot was going to take him on one of the most unwittingly magical experiences he legally can without making sure he gets to feel the full experience. All it took was a little spell, a teensy bit of Quentin’s essence - luckily left behind on one of the books he’d returned to the Brakebills library (Eliot had to hunt the new owner of the book down, but it wasn’t too much work) - and the ingredients that create Quentin’s scent. Which was also remarkably easy, because the smell of old books, oak, and surprisingly, lilac, aren’t exactly hard to come across.

Today, because there’s a blizzard on it’s way, or it’s already here, Eliot isn’t sure and he doesn’t really care, the shop is relatively empty. There’s a werewolf sitting in the corner, minding her own business, and a couple with a steaming cup of hot chocolate by the counter, but other than that, it’s your typical, winter wasteland of ice cream shops.

And it’s just the way Eliot likes it.

He pulls Quentin up to the counter, smiles at the owner. “Jamie,” He says, “So nice to see you again.” He’s not Eliot’s favorite owner, though they’d had their fair share of one night stands.

Jamie smirks, and Eliot feels Quentin shy away a step from the counter, but he’s quick to pull him back in, and flush against his side. “Eliot. Are you here to discover your next flavor? Because, as unique as you are, I don’t think there are many more. Most people only get one, as it is.”

Eliot laughs, “No, not this time,” He nods at Quentin, “This is the friend I told you about. Do you -,”

“Ah, Quentin,” Jamie says, raking his eyes over Quentin’s short form, which sends an unsettling spike down Eliot’s spine. “I’ve got just the flavor for you.” It’s probably just the cold that has Eliot shivering uncomfortably as they make eye contact.

Quentin’s eyebrows furrow, “But I - I haven’t -,”

“Eliot’s told us all about you.”

His head whips towards Eliot, tilting to the side like the adorable puppy that he is. “You talk about me?” He asks, quiet and unsure.

Eliot shrugs nonchalantly, “It’s not a big deal. I’m here all time, you tend to talk about the people you have coffee with, especially if they’re cute.” He smiles and leans down, “All good things, I promise.” It’s not entirely the truth, because he had come in a few times completely blasted on a few different drugs he can’t remember the name of, and told them everything about Quentin - which is why they offered to make a flavor for him, though it’s usually reserved for actual magic users. But, if Eliot’s being honest, Jamie’s willingness to make the flavor probably had something to do with him assuming Eliot’s dating Quentin.

Which is preposterous.

But he’s not about to tell him that’s not the case, when this is definitely going to help Quentin let go of his worries for a while. Just long enough for Eliot to completely woo his pants off him.

Because that’s his entire plan. To seduce Quentin. That’s all it is. One hundred precent.

“Okay . . .” Quentin murmurs, looking through the glass at all the natural, non-magical flavors. “I don’t know what to get.”

Eliot laughs as Jamie rounds the corner, coming to the front from the back with a small container sealed with wards that would put off anyone that didn’t create the flavor, or who the flavor was made for. Essence magic is incredibly tricky, and if any ol’ magician got their hands on it, they’d have the power to curse whoever’s essence they had. Hence, the wards. “I wouldn’t worry about that,” Jamie says, as he sets the container on the counter top, twists his hands in an intricate cast that has Quentin looking up at Eliot to silently ask if he’s crazy, and pops the lid off. “All I’d worry about is what kind of cone you want?” He wrinkles his nose, which is way hotter when Eliot’s drunk.

“I - a waffle cone?”

“Excellent choice!” Jamie looks up at Eliot, “And, as a surprise just for you, Eliot,” He smiles, and Eliot wishes he’d had more alcohol in his coffee earlier, “We whipped up a special flavor just for you.”

“I thought you said -,”

Jamie shrugs, waving a hand as he materializes another container from behind his back. “It’s different. What kind of cone?”

He eyes the container warily. “Waffle.”

“Birds of a feather,” Jamie murmurs as he pulls out two fresh waffle cones and starts scooping the ice cream into them.

Quentin looks up at him, gently squeezing his hand. “What’s so special about their flavors?” He asks. “You have three made just for you?”

“Four, apparently,” He smiles down at him, “You’ll see. Don’t start eating it until I tell you to.”

“Why not?”

Jamie holds the cones out for them, one in each hand, and Quentin releases Eliot’s hand, letting the cold invade in on the only warm part of Eliot’s body, to reach up and grab his light purple and green and yellow cone. “It’s pretty,” He whispers.

“Eliot likes to take his ice cream to a specific area to eat it,” Jamie says as Eliot reaches up for his own cone, which also has the faint purple mixed in with it, and, he brings it up to his face, the faint aroma of lilac. His eyes flash across the counter to Jamie who just grins back at him. “I wouldn’t worry though,” He adds, as he slowly turns his attention back on Quentin, “It won’t melt.” Eliot follows his gaze, and takes note of the faint reds mixed in with Quentin’s ice cream.

Jesus Christ, he looks up towards the ceiling, Jamie fucking merged their essences.

He knows it’s possible, couples do it for their weddings or parties or whatever romantic bullshit they’re shoving down each others throats all the time. But he’s never really had the desire, or the need, to do it himself. Or anyone he actually wanted to experience in whole. Part of him wants to knock the ice cream out of Quentin’s hand, but the other part of him, the part of him that is stupid and that Margo rightfully kicked off the Ibiza trip, wants to experience this.

Because it’s not like Eliot’s ever going to fall in love, or have somebody fall in love with him. So, why not have this experience with Quentin?

It’ll make seducing him all the easier, anyways.

Quentin moves the cone to his left hand and reaches down for Eliot’s hand again, grabbing it and wrapping his fingers around it. Eliot looks down, wide eyed, forcing himself not to smile as he looks back up and reaches into his pocket to pull out his wallet. “Don’t worry about it, first is free,” Jamie says, waving him off. “You’d better head out, you don’t want it to melt, anyways.”

Okay, so maybe Jamie isn’t so bad when Eliot’s sober, after all.

Eliot nods at him, “Thanks,” He murmurs, as he turns towards the door, pulling Quentin, who’s busy staring at the ice cream, mesmerized, along behind him. They walk down the street in silence for a few moments, hand in hand, while snow falls quietly around them. It’s almost romantic. He looks down at Quentin, who is still staring at the cone, and realizes maybe it’s just him who thinks it. “We’re almost there,” He says. “Hold off for just a little but longer.”

Quentin looks up at him, and his hair is all disheveled, and coated in snow, so Eliot reaches up with their entangled hands and wipes some of it away. Quentin watches with a small smile before looking back down at his feet as they walk. “Where are we going?”

“There’s this bench in this private park,” It’s actually a magical park that regular people can’t see, but as long as Quentin is holding his hand, they’ll be able to get in with relative ease, and without him freaking out if Eliot suddenly vanishes. “I like to eat my ice cream there.”

“In the snow.”

Eliot chuckles with a nod, “Yes, Quentin. In the snow. You’ll understand when we get there.”

“I’m not sure I believe you, but I trust you, so,” He waves at the ground in front of them, “Lead the way.”

“You trust me?”

“Yes,” And when he looks up at Eliot, it’s fucking blazing behind his eyes.

Eliot takes a deep breath, forces out a laugh, because Quentin’s survival instincts are on par with a cat that likes to break into dog pounds with cages that have shoddy locks. Which is to say, god awful. “I’m not sure I’ve earned that,” He says as they cross the threshold of the park, “But thank you.”

Quentin opens his mouth like he wants to respond, but his eyes go wide as he turns to take in the park. It’s definitely a winter wonderland, to say the least. The trees are bare of anything but snow and squirrels, and the grass is hidden beneath piles and piles of soft, fresh snow. The sun casts down on them, providing a little warmth that isn’t found on the New York streets this time of year - just enough to let the shivers from the ice fade, and a dull comfort build and flush over their bodies. Birds fly overhead, chirping freely as they crash through the snow in one of the trees. He looks back at Eliot, “What -,”

“It’s my favorite park,” Eliot murmurs, moving forward and pulling him towards the center of the park, where there’s a frozen lake with a small bridge built over top it. Beneath the clear ice of the lake, they can see orange fish swimming around as if the ice weren’t even there. He hears Quentin’s breath rush out of him with a soft gasp as the hand his ice cream cone is in, points at the fish. “Come on,” Eliot laughs, pulling him past the pond. “We can look after we eat our ice cream.”

“How have I never been here?”

“It’s a private park. Not many people know about it.”

And it’s true. Margo had stolen the coordinates for it from one of the professors offices, after she’d overheard them talking about it. She and Eliot have made a fair amount of use of the park, though they’ve only ever seen other people here once or twice. It’s kind of become their Place.

And now it’s Quentin’s, too.

But it’s not a big deal.

“It’s beautiful.”

Eliot smiles as they stop in front of a bench just a little ways off from the pond. “I know,” He says, sitting down and nearly yanking Quentin down with him in the process. They need to be sitting for this part. “You can eat it now.” He nods at the ice cream, “Careful not to eat too fast.”

Quentin looks at him through his eyelashes, and Eliot would be a liar if he didn’t admit that he looks spectacularly pretty in the parks light. It’s different than in New York. They’re still there, of course, but there’s no pollution, the air is pure and clear, like snow which is why it’s winter year round, here, and no man made things work. It’s a world of complete purity. And somehow, it illuminates Quentin more than the New York streetlights do.

Then it could just be that Quentin is a very pretty man, and snow makes everyone prettier.

Eliot lets his attention shift to his own ice cream cone as he leans down and licks into it. He knows Quentin’s done the same, because the soft gasp, and billowing warm air that explodes around them is enough to make it painfully obvious. Usually, the cones don’t have too much of an effect on the person eating them. It’s your own personal flavor, designed specifically for you. It’s meant to be so delicious that each bite is a bit of heaven on the tongue. Though, if anybody else were to try it, it’d taste bland, and at the most, like vanilla. They add essence to individualize the experience, and to bring magic to food that is already magical on it’s own.

But when they blend essences, it’s different. Because that bit of heaven is mixed in with another persons heaven. It is magical, in a way. Because the feeling that floats through you is the same feeling the person you’re mixing with. So when Eliot swallows his first lick, and feels this sense of wonder, and beauty envelope him, he, too, gasps in and exhales every bit of negativity he has in him. The park develops a purple tint around the edges of Eliot’s vision, and he turns to look at Quentin, who’s somehow already staring at him with wide, shocked eyes. Eliot smells lilac all around them.

“It smells like rain,” Quentin whispers, even as he eats some more of the ice cream. “How does it smell like rain?”

“You’re imagining things,” Eliot whispers, squeezing his hand as he leans back on the bench, letting his head fall back to look up at the cloudy sky. “Relax and eat your ice cream.”

They sit there for a few minutes, quietly eating. Quentin also leans back against the bench, which never gets uncomfortable - thanks to a spell Margo cast on it a year ago, and stares up at the sky with him. At some point they both finish, but neither of them move. Even as the snow falls faster, lightly coating their faces, and changes color around them. It doesn’t actually change color, it’s the ice cream. Quentin’s essence. He imagines the snow is turning red for Quentin, so he turns his head, and nearly smacks his nose on Quentin’s jaw, because he’s already watching him, smiling softly. Eliot smiles, too, moving his hand around until their fingers lace through one another’s. There’s an ease he doesn’t feel too often at the back of his mind, moving forwards as it rushes in and all around them.

He reaches up and brushes some snow out of Quentin’s purple hair. “Well?” He asks.

Quentin closes his eyes and inhales deeply. “It’s the middle of winter, but it smells like the first rain of the year,” He whispers, slowly opening his eyes again, “And a bit like cigarettes and . . . and,” He pauses, licking his lips as he looks into Eliot’s eyes, “Like your cologne?”

“I am sitting right next to you,” Eliot murmurs, “So that’d made sense.”

Quentin pushes his shoulder against Eliot’s with a glare that holds no heat, and lets his eyes look above them. “It - the snow is green,” He says, “Foresty.”

Green? Eliot’s essence should be red.

“Green? You sure you’re not imagining that?”

Quentin nods. “It’s calming. Not too obvious, it’s like - like, light?” His eyes dart back to Eliot, “You can’t see it, but you can. It’s just - there. Far away but it’s almost like you can touch it.” His eyelids flutter closed, “It’s soft.” His lips curl upwards, and he shuffles closer to Eliot, “I don’t feel anything but I feel everything,” His eyes open, and Eliot’s senses are invaded by soft brown. Even the purple in the snow is shifting, turning gold all around him. “But it’s good.”

“Magical,” Eliot says without meaning to.

Quentin nods again, just once, before turning his head up towards the sky again. “Is - did you drug me?” He asks after a moment, but he doesn’t sound accusative or angry. “I mean, it’s okay if you did. Because this - I’ve never felt so - so . . .” He trails off, eyebrows furrowing.

Eliot squeezes his hand. “Peaceful?” He offers.

“Yeah, peaceful.” He turns his head back towards Eliot. “Did you drug me?”

Eliot laughs softly, pulling him even closer, “No, Q,” He says inhaling as he closes his eyes, “I didn’t drug you. It’s just eating ice cream in the snow. It’s -,”

“Magical.”

He doesn’t respond for a few long moments, until he opens his eyes and finds Quentin still carefully watching him, like he’s something he can’t quite figure out. “Yeah.” He breathes, because the gold is swarming in and around Quentin, illuminating him, dancing across his skin like his aura has come to life.

Fuck, there’s no wonder this shit is used for weddings.

Essence ice cream is never this intense. Never this life altering. Or world shattering. Not by itself, at least. God, Eliot can’t recall a moment in his life where he’s felt more at ease than here, on this bench with this man. He doesn’t want it to end, but it’s bound to, because it’s not a long lasting magic. It can’t be. If it were, it’d be endlessly addicting. And Eliot would do everything in his power to keep from losing the golden glow of essence mixing.

He doesn’t realize they’ve been staring at each other for a while until Quentin’s face is moving closer towards his. Eliot clears his throat, sitting up abruptly and moving away from him. He falls forward, eyes widening as he snaps his hand away from Eliot’s like he’s been burned. “Ready to see the rest of the park?” Eliot asks, breathless. He doesn’t know what’s come over him, he could have easily leaned in and they’d be kissing right now, and they’d fall into the snow, and Eliot would be fulfilling his promise right this very moment.

But instead, he’s standing up and holding his hand out for Quentin to take it again.

Quentin stares at his hand for a long moment before swallowing and wrapping his fingers around it. “You sure you didn’t drug me?” He asks as Eliot pulls him to his feet.

“Pretty sure,” Eliot replies with an easy laugh that is entirely too forced.

Chapter Text

“There you are!” A voice calls out, angry and not too far off. Eliot feels a cold shock spread down his spine, because he knows the voice, he hates the voice, and he genuinely feels a strong desire to battle magic it into the void of never ending misery. It’s not a real thing, but if it were, Penny Adiyodi would be hurling at light speed towards it right this very minute. Eliot would kick him so hard they’d both fly back into the past, just so Eliot could kick him back into the future and make it a never ending loop of fucking blasting him.

He hates Penny, if it weren’t already obvious. There’s no particular reason. Even if he is the reason Quentin got expelled. That has absolutely nothing to do with his hatred for him. Not at all.

“Yo - what the fuck are you doing in the city?” Penny asks, trudging through the snow, scowl ever present on his face. Eliot sneers at him, takes a second to wonder if he’s ever worn a shirt that covered the entirety of his chest or arms.

Jesus, he’s one hairy man. In some social circles, Eliot’s fairly certain, he could be considered a bear. A little ironic, considering Eliot can barely stand him.

Eliot crosses his arms over his chest, making a face, “Why does it matter?” He asks, “My life doesn’t revolve around Brakebills.”

Penny scoffs, and Eliot really, really wants to hit him, “First of all,” Penny starts, raising an eyebrow in disbelief, “I think we both know that’s bullshit.” He raises a hand as Eliot opens his mouth to spout off an endless spew of obscenities, “Spare me,” He drawls, “We have to get back to the school. There’s been an attack. Everyone in Ibiza’s been rushed back.”

What?”

What the hell kind of attack could make Dean Fogg cancel Ibiza and bring back a truck load of horny, drugged up party goers? He has to know what a shit storm of a plan that is. Especially if Eliot thinks back to his first trip to Ibiza, and how somebody accidentally conjured up a ravenous Tiger that started stalking everyone, and ate one or two comatose drunkards. Ibiza parties aren’t normal parties. Calling one off - let alone all of them - is fucking suicidal.

“The beast,” Penny says, waving a hand at his side, “So, you coming or no - oh, no fucking way.” A big grin spreads across his face as he raises an eyebrow at Eliot. “This is why you’re in the city? Fuck, that - that’s fucking rich.” Eliot frowns, turning around, and nearly slapping himself in the face, because somehow he’d forgotten Quentin. Penny’s laughing as Quentin approaches, a hot dog in each hand, and a small smile on his face directed at the snow he’s kicking with each step. “You’re really that obsessed with this loser?”

Eliot jaw slams shut as he turns back around, points a finger at Penny, “Don’t,” He says, warning, “I have years of practice on you. Do not fucking test me.” His voice is low, and he sees something flash behind Penny’s eyes that could almost be mistaken for hesitation, but then he’s rolling them and taking a step back, throwing his hands in the air. Eliot’s upper lip twitches as he glares him down.

“Whatever, man,” Penny mutters, “Just say goodbye to the dweeb, I’m your only ride onto campus. They’re shutting down the alumni keys until the threat is assessed or whatever.”

A warm presence appears at Eliot’s shoulder, and he looks over to find Quentin staring at Penny with furrowed brows. “Do I know you?”

Penny eyes Quentin distastefully before flicking his eyes back over to Eliot. “I’m not waiting more than five minutes. So, do whatever the fuck it is you do with him.”

He could at least have the decency to look a bit remorseful, Eliot thinks as he flicks his cigarette off into the snow, considering he’s the sole fucking reason Quentin not only got expelled, but also wiped. They both know damn well Penny had hidden the Emersons Alloy Repellent Crystal away, just so he could make sure Quentin couldn’t find a way to retain his memories. Of course they only knew that because Eliot may have gone looking for it the night Quentin came to him, panicking about going back to his old life and who he used to be. He may have concocted a plan to slip the crystal into Quentin’s jacket pocket with an accidental pass by, but because he never found the damn thing - despite being in the secret compartment the day before - he never got the chance to.

It was the first, and only, time Penny thought faster than him.

Quentin tilts his head upwards, a scowl slowly appearing on his face. “I know I don’t know you, but I don’t think I like you.”

A small bubble of pride blooms in Eliot’s stomach as he turns his attention back on Penny and smirks. “I totally get it,” He says, bumping his shoulder against Quentins, “I can’t stand him either.”

Penny’s eyes narrow. “Three minutes, asshole.” He growls before turning around and stomping off to sulk or whatever the hell it is he does when nobodies around. Eliot has a small, petulant belief that he jerks off to the thought of dead babies.

What? He said it was petulant.

Eliot sighs, turning his attention on Quentin. “So,” He says, making a face. They’re only halfway through what was supposed to be an entire day, and he’s cutting it short, and knowing Quentin’s current mind space, he’s going to see it as literally anything other than what it is. “Apparently there’s been an emergency, and I’m expected to head back to my school.”

Quentin nods. “Okay.”

“Not because I want to -,”

“Okay,” Quentin repeats, reaching out with one hand and touching Eliot’s forearm, “I get it. Emergencies.” He shrugs in a what-can-you-do manner.

Except, beneath that totally understanding look, Eliot can see that he doesn’t understand at all. He can see the flash of hurt in his eyes, as they flicker over Eliot’s shoulder to where Penny had been standing. Eliot eyes him for a moment, before taking a step closer to him, and leaning down. “I just want to make it clear,” he says, soft and slow as Quentin looks up at him through his eyelashes, “That as soon as everything’s done with this,” He waves a hand flippantly, “situation, I’m going to call you, and we’re going to finish this day off. Even if its not until tomorrow.”

Or next week. Eliot doesn’t know how long until he’ll be let out, if everything is really as serious as Penny’s making it seem.

Quentin nods, and Eliot gently grabs both of his elbows as he leans in and presses a kiss to his cheek. “I’m serious,” he adds, whispering the words into his ear, “If I call you and you don’t answer because you’re moping, I will be forced to go on a full on stalking mission. I’ll make missing person posters if I have to.”

“Okay,” Quentin says, chuckling as he pulls away, but there’s a small smile on his lips, that doesn’t quite reach his eyes. “But I think your boyfriend’s tired of waiting,” He adds, nodding behind him. “He’s scowling.”

Eliot blinks. Did he just? Did he just call Penny his -, “Whoa, no,” He starts, but Penny’s storming towards them, and grabbing him by the shoulder.

“Let’s go.”

“Wait one fucking second.” Eliot hisses at him, turning back to Quentin, “I think you’ve jumped to an insane - and wrong, so very wrong - conclusion, here, Q.”

“It’s fine,” Quentin murmurs, taking a step back and pulling his arms out of Eliot’s hands.

“No - no it -,”

“Eliot,” Penny says, again, “We need to leave now. I’m not getting locked out because of whatever the fuck this is.”

Eliot whips back around, glaring at him. “Mind your own god damn business, and wait one fucking second or I swear to god,” He stops, clenching his jaw as he points a finger at him, before turning back around, to find Quentin is already walking away. “Fuck, fuck -,” But before he can rush after him, Penny’s clapping a hand over his shoulder, and they’re back in the physical kids cottage. “Fuck!” He exclaims as he finds himself face to face with Margo instead of Quentin's retreating back. He turns around, casting a spell through the air, but before he can finish it and send a fire ball sailing through the air at Penny’s head, Margo grabs his arms and pulls him around to face her.

“We don’t have time for you to kill Penny,” She says, arching a perfect brow. “He probably deserves it,” She nods her head with the words, “But not today. Kay?”

“No, not -,”

“Eliot,” Alice interrupts, “Whatever the problem is, we have bigger problems. All of us. Including you, so maybe, just,” She waved a hand as he turned to look at her with narrowed eyes. “Let it go for now.”

Penny laughs, “He’s just pissed because I interrupted his date with Coldwater.”

Alice’s eyes go wide, and Margo purses her lips.

“I was not on a date,” Eliot retorts, glaring, “Margo, tell them.”

She blinks, slow and precise before throwing her hands up and flopping down on the couch, crossing one leg over the other. “It’s a game,” She says, folding her hands overtop her knees. “Eliot’s just trying to seduce him.”

“Quentin’s straight,” Alice says.

“Yeah, maybe in planet bizarro,” Penny mutters, leaning against the wall by the door.

Penny’s right about something, for once. A small part of Eliot wants to jump off the top of the building for agreeing with him - even on something as small as this.

Eliot takes a deep breath, straightens out his vest and sits down on the couch next to Margo. He looks at each of them, individually, before turning his gaze on Alice. “Well?” He asks, leaning forward and picking up the pack of cigarettes sitting on the table. “What’s the big emergency?” Cool, calm and poised, that’s all he has to be.

And then he can get back to what’s important - fulfilling his promise. And removing any trace of any one person - including Quentin - thinking he would ever, could ever, be dating Penny. The thought makes him want to vomit. Because, yes, Eliot maybe be a morally ambiguous dick eighty percent of the time, but he doesn’t go out of his way to punish others for his mistakes.

He leaves any and all punishments for himself, thank you very much.

“It’s actually a good thing,” Margo starts, “That you’ve been keeping an eye on our dear Quentin.”

Penny scoffs.

Eliot eyes her for a moment, pulling out a cigarette and flicking the cigarette box shut, setting it back on the table as he sits back up. “Why?” He asks, careful, as he lights a cigarette with a snap of his fingers. “Just last week you were saying something else entirely, if I recall correctly.”

She rolls her eyes. “You’re seriously still upset about that?”

“Is Todd still alive?”

“Yes.”

He takes a long drag of the cigarette, letting the smoke softly billow around them before answering. “Then, yes.”

“Would you just tell him what you told us and get this shit over with?”

Margo’s eyes snap over to Penny, glaring at him. “Nobody asked you to speak,” She says, soft, though there’s a bite to the words that’s almost palpable, “So don’t, kay?” She smiles at him, all teeth, before turning her attention back on Eliot. “Does Quentin remember anything?”

“We’ve been over this,” Eliot murmurs, “He doesn’t remember anything.”

“Pity.”

Alice clears her throat. “The beast,” She says, pausing to swallow, “He took over the mind and body of an alumni. He came here with the express interest of killing Quentin,” She shrugs, twisting her hands around in her lap, and looking down at them with a furrowed brow, “Then he found out Quentin’s no longer a student here, and killed six people in the library before,” She pauses again, “Before somebody was able to banish him.”

Eliot wills his heart to stop racing. “What does that have to do with Ibiza? And me, for that matter?”

“Dean Fogg was afraid that the beast would hunt down current students in an effort to find Quentin. Because, somehow, he knows that Quentin, uhm, has friends here.”

Margo smirks, slow, “Eliot, you’re the reason Ibiza got cancelled,” She murmurs, resting her elbow on the back of the couch, “You really hate Todd, don’t you?”

“Can we not make jokes about this?” Alice asks, shrill. “This is kind of important.”

“Hey, I’m totally fine with the beast killing Quentin. Then, maybe he’ll stay the fuck out of my head,” Penny grins.

Margo leans forward, so she can look across Eliot at Penny, “Didn’t we just discuss you not speaking?”

“I speak when I want, I don’t need some prissy little -,”

“You don’t want to finish that sentence.” Margo interrupts, sneering, “Because I promise, it will be your last. And do you know why?”

“Why?”

“Because I’ll find a way to feed you to the beast myself.”

Alice jumps up, Eliot watches her as she paces back and forth before turning towards them and pointing, “Would you people stop fighting just once so we can figure out a way to work through this?”

He rolls his eyes, leaning his head back on the back of the couch as he brings his cigarette back to his lips. “Quentin doesn’t even know magic exists,” He says after a few moments, “The beast can’t track him.” No magical signature, no magic to trace. And since Quentin is so completely oblivious to everything outside of his family and the hedge bitch, he’s not about to go on remembering what they wiped.

Besides, Eliot’s worked really hard to make this a slow, deliberate seduction, and he’s not about to turn around now so these assholes can fuck it all up. Quentin doesn’t need any of them getting involved in his life. They’ll just end up getting him killed, and then where will Eliot be?

“But he can track you.” Alice says.

Oh.

Well that does put a bit of a dent in Project Seduce Quentin Coldwater. But Eliot’s no quitter. He looks up at her, taking a drag from the cigarette as he appraises her. She was the reason Quentin was gone. Her and Penny and Kady - wherever the fuck she was. But she hadn’t faced any consequences for her stupid little summoning spell. “Tell you what,” Eliot says, standing up, “When I care about whether or not the beast is going to kill me, I’ll let you know. Until then, I have more important things to do.”

Margo grabs his hand and yanks at it, until he’s falling back on the couch ungracefully. “No. This is the most important thing right now, and none of us are leaving this cottage until we figure out a way to keep the beast from tracking us. Because we’re around each other so much, that if he tracks you, he’ll track us, and then we’re all dead.” She narrows her eyes, “Your little pet project? It’s on hold. Indefinitely.”

“Margo -,”

“I know a spell that can lock us inside,” Alice says, sitting back down. Eliot turns his glare on her, “If anybodies unwilling to go forward with protecting all of us. I can make sure nobody leaves. Forced compliance is just as good as willing help.”

Penny laughs.

“This is ridiculous.” Eliot says. They can’t fucking force him to stay in the Cottage. They know damn well they can’t beat the beast, so this is all futile. They know it as well as he does.

Margo watches him for a moment before her eyes tick across the room and she nods at Alice. “Do it.”

What?

Margo smiles apologetically at Eliot, “Sorry, babe. But we can’t have you running off to Quentin right now.”

“That’s not -,”

“For fucks sake,” Penny mutters, “You’re not going anywhere. Get the fuck over it.”