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struck from a great height

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“Okay, so... not overthinking—”

“Mm, that’s a promising start to this conversation—”

Eliot rests his head on his crossed forearms, ghost quiet as he watches the memory play out in front of him. It’s the final destination in a game he’s been playing with himself since he made it through his door and came out the other side. Kind of like the “find your worst fear” adventure he went on with Charlton but the opposite.

A “find the happiest memory you have before you die” kind of opposite.

He still has no idea what all is going on out there in the real world but there’s been some—hm—tremors, if you will. Flickers, and Eliot doesn’t exactly know the rules of this place but slow steady destabilization doesn’t exactly seem to bode well for him.

So.

If his candle is blowing out then this is where Eliot wants to be when it happens. Him and Quentin in their bed in Fillory of the past, the mosaic waiting outside for when morning comes. Maybe sixteen months in? Longer than a year but not yet two. Both of them still young, still new at this. Both of them bare, but not fucking.

Just...touching. Holding. Because it feels right.

He wants to be here, when Quentin says:

“I love you.”   

He watches then-Eliot’s brow furrow. Watches him cup Quentin’s face in his hands, soft. Stroke his thumb over the bow of his lips.  

“You…”

“Yeah.”

“Not overthinking?” Then-Eliot checks. Quentin laughs, small.

Nervous.

Honest.

“No. Just, uh, you know, feeling, I guess.”

“Oh, okay. Good. That’s...good.”

That moment hangs, and now-Eliot watches the minutiae of umyeahhahasorrynevermind build on Quentin’s face before, for once in his life, then-Eliot does not fuck up and continues:

“Yeah, you know what, that’s great, actually, because—funny coincidence Q—“

“You don’t have to—“

“I love you, too.”

It’s like, an actual sexual thrill to hear those words again. Taste the shape of them in his mouth. Watch—hnng— watch Quentin’s eyes go wide and then soft and yeah? And Eliot yeah, Q, baby how could I not? Followed by one of the best moments of physical contact in Eliot’s life: Quentin’s happy, snuggly, full body cling and it’s not even different than what they do every night anyway but now they love each other so it’s a high unlike any drug Eliot’s ever slipped under his tongue. Quentin, naked in his lap. kisses him, thumb stroking—oh, good spot—behind his ear and they share one of those secret laugh smiles that just broadcasts lovers only out to the world and—

And what comes next—Eliot will always consider it one of his best lines:

“Can I like, rail you tenderly now?”

Quentin blinks and then—

“Oh my god, Eliot we were having a moment—“

He’s beaming though, laughing, beautiful, pushing his messy hair back with a pink flush high on his cheeks—

“Really, though, can I? Because I feel like it would be a spectacular denouement—“

“Yeah. Jesus—yeah you definitely should.”

And—

And then—

Something crumples—

—twists sharp and pinches and Eliot’s nose is bleeding again but no—  

—Nonono not yet he just wanted to see one—

—one last time—

—except—

Except.   

The lights aren’t going out.  

They’re getting brighter.   

Flash. Torch flame. There’s someone screaming. Raging.

Flash. Julia Wicker’s eyes, goddess gold. The screams increase, higher pitch. A child not getting their way, times a thousand.

Flash. The bubbling blinding blue of Prometheus’ fountain. The screams...the screams are him. His voice. His real voice. Not him... it .   

Until—

Quiet.  

Except not.    

“El? Eliot?”

“We’ve got him! Penny, hit the lock—”

Flash. Bang.

Everything is so loud.

So sharp.

“El— Eliot— can you hear me? Shit, he’s—okay, he’s breathing—stay with me, okay? Just...just stay with us…”

Another flash. It’s...it’s so loud. The voices and the fabrics against his skin and his own thundering heartbeat and for a second he just has to—

Retreat.  

Just for a second.

Eliot exhales on the floor of Castle Blackspire—the real outside world—and faints.       

~

What does he remember, they all want to know when he gasps back to life. What do you remember?

Faces swim in front of him. A loud voice shoves people away—Give him space to breathe or I’ll rip out your entrails— until a pair of feminine hands cover his ears. Stroke his temples.  

El, Eliot, it’s gonna be okay. We have you.  

Margo. Thank god.  

Another presence kneels at his side. Quieter. Another set of hands, not feminine at all. Just. Circling around his wrist. Fingers intertwined. A thumb on his pulse.  

Quentin.  

What do you remember?   

What does he remember? He remembers Castle Blackspire, remembers the seven keys, a god killing bullet, the bubbling, effervescent return of magic. He remembers a tiny blue bottle they didn’t have to force him to drink, because he didn’t deserve the memories Quentin begged pleaded foughtno no please, you can’t, not Teddy, just let me remember them I’ll do anything—to keep. He remembers the godawful loneliness of Nigel which blended painlessly into the almost pleasant numbness of the Monster.

It had been almost like going under anaesthesia. Counting back from ten and then—

Nothing.  

Until—

Peaches and plums, motherfucker.  

I’m alive in here.

“Q.”

There’s a soft, choked off sound. The grip on his wrist tightens and Eliot’s vision sharpens in time to watch—watch touch feel— Quentin press Eliot’s hand to his cheek.   

He looks so tired.

So beautiful.

“Q,” Eliot repeats, “You found me. You heard me.”

“I did.” Quentin inhales. Exhales. His breath feels like pins and needles all the way up Eliot’s arm. “I think so.”

With the world moving breakneck pace around them Quentin slowly slowly slowly strokes over Eliot’s pulse.  

Presses a kiss to his palm, a question in his eyes.  

Eliot gasps. Actually gasps out loud, because it’s not too late.

All he can do is nod, frantic. Yesyesyespleasepleaseplease. Shaking, overwhelmed, he reels Quentin in.

Clings.  

“I’m here,” Quentin promises, hoarse, “El, I’m here.”

Eliot laughs, his voice cracking, like it hadn’t been used properly while he was out in the cold.  

“I’m here too,” he says, “ Fuck, I’m in here and I’m alive .”

Chapter Text

They try to take him back to Brakebills, to go home, to rest, but he takes one step in the door of the cottage and he’s rushing right back out, vomiting on the lawn. He heaves, and overwhelming sense of terror holding him in rictus because nonono he’s back he’s trapped

He comes to with his head in Margo’s lap. Squeezing Quentin’s hand so hard it creaks when he lets go.

“I—I’m okay,” he stutters.

“El, the last thing you are is okay,” Margo says, smoothing his hair back from his clammy forehead, “Talk us through it, honey.”  

“In my mind,” is all he can manage to choke out, nausea welling up again, “This was where— not here, please. Anywhere but here.”

Margo and Quentin share a look over the top of his head.

“Okay. Okay, we can do that.”

“Penny? Can you—Marina’s, I think. Or—or Kady’s or whoever owns that place now—“

“Yeah, I’ve got you. Just hold onto him—”

Eliot closes his eyes and opens them in a different place. A place he’s never seen before.

A real place.

They put him on a sofa as the voices swell and then slowly peter off until it’s just Eliot. Just Margo. Just Quentin.

“I’m gonna find us some towels.” Quentin squeezes his hand before letting go, reluctance written all over his face. “Then I’ll help you get cleaned up, yeah?"

Eliot swallows past anxiety that stirs in him when Quentin disappears into the next room and turns to Margo.

“Where are we, exactly?”

Letting Eliot find his feet she walks him slow around the penthouse. Shows him every single ward. Every trap waiting for an invader. Shows him the pile of blankets where she’s making a bed in front of the door. Keeping watch for him.

“You’re safe here, El.” Margo buries her head against his chest and breathes, convincing herself as much as him. “You’re safe.”  

Eliot rests his chin on the top of Margo’s head for just a minute. Just so relieved to have her back.

“With you guarding the gates I can’t think of any place more secure.”

“God help anyone or anything that tries to cross me tonight,” she vows, voice lacking it’s usual vicious edge.

Quentin clears his throat from the door to a hallway. In his hands a fluffy white towel. A stack of clothes. He and Margo share a look and Eliot knows bald relief when he sees it because he’s feeling it too.

Margo pulls Eliot down to kiss him.

“Rest, baby,” she orders, “I’m trusting our lovesick Q to take care of you, but if you need me I’m here.”

Eliot cups Margo’s cheek. Touches her soft hair.

“Thanks, Bambi.”

In a bathroom made entirely of steel and glass—seriously where are they—Quentin gets him out of his—not his, who let him be seen in a graphic tee for fuck’s sake—clothes and into the shower. It’s as hot as he can stand it and Eliot is still shivering, shaking, clinging to Quentin even though the water is soaking into his white shirt, wetting the flecks of red blood down to pink smudges. Quentin holds him steady. Helps him wash the blood—whose blood? Shh, El. Not yours, and not mine. Nothing else matters—out of his hair.

The touching feels so good it almost hurts.

After, in a warm clean white bedroom, Quentin has clothes for him. The sweatpants are too short. Comically short. Quentin’s maybe, but the shirt is—

“Where did you get this?” Eliot asks, fingering the buttons of his second favorite Oxford. The material—expensive, an investment, Eliot always told himself—is wrinkled. Creased. Worn in like someone had—

Quentin slides the shirt over his shoulders, leaving it open. Touches the collar.

“I took it from your room. Weeks ago,” Quentin admits, like it’s some kind of crime that he’s been sleeping with Eliot’s shirt under his pillow, “I—I needed—“

“Q.”

Eliot walks him back, his steps still a little uneven, a little shaking, but wanting, until Quentin has his back against the door.

Until Eliot has Quentin.

“El.”

Quentin breathes and his ribs fill Eliot’s hands. Pressure against his palms.  

“Shh, shhh. Not overthinking, okay?”

Eliot watches. Watches Quentin remember. Watches his adam’s apple bob in his throat. Watches Quentin nod, a barely there, fingertip touch skimming up and down Eliot’s chest.

“Ok, not overthinking, here’s what I need right now.”

“Yeah.” Quentin’s eyes light up. A quest. A mission. Eliot almost laughs. But.

This is serious.

“I need to kiss you,” Eliot continues, hands on Quentin’s face, sliding up into his hair—so nice so soft so short why— “Probably fuck you, at least twice. Really hard the first time and then really slow and soft the second time until we’re both crying fucking anime tears.”

Eliot.” Quentin looks, wow, almost drunk, and he stutters a little when he says: “Yeah, we’ll—we can do that, baby—“

“The tears might c—come first,” Eliot admits, throat slowly closing at the sound of that hushed, tender baby, “Because, you know, I’m mercurial like that.”

Quentin pets over his jaw, the pads of his fingers catching on Eliot’s stubble and It.

Feels.

So.

Good.

“It’s—El—it’s okay, I’m gonna cry too.”

“You promise?” His voice is a croak. Not sexy.

“I—Jesus, I thought you were dead, Eliot. Yeah, I’m gonna fucking cry. Come here—“

Eliot’s vision blurs with it as the first sob shudders through him. Gravity rocks him forward, until he can press his jaw to Quentin’s temple, both of them leaning against the door, against each other. Eliot is—he’s so warm, held in. Feeling so full in his own body that it’s spilling out in saltwater down his cheeks.   

“I’m really glad to not be dead.”

Quentin breathes in, ragged.

Laughs.

It’s wet.

Christ, so am I.”  

Quentin, he—he pushes his hand up and down Eliot’s back. Broad strokes, over his shirt.

Soft.

Firm.

Steady.      

It’s pulling the breath out of him.

Eliot parts his lips against Quentin’s temple. Rubs his cheek into his hair. Lets the tension vibrate through his palms as he drags them slowslowslow down Quentin’s chest.

“So, um.”  

Eliot opens his eyes and the space between them is very small. Impossibly small.

Nonexistent.   

“Crying. Catharsis. Both good. I was—“ Eliot strokes his open mouth over the curve of Quentin’s jaw, almost panting. “—I was dead serious about the fucking though. Please. Can we—?”

“Yeah, yeah.” Quentin fists two hands in the back of Eliot’s shirt. “I want to, you have no idea—”

“I really think I do.”

Eliot catches Quentin by the mouth and it’s like a warm, wet, firework goes off in his brainstem. It’s nothing like kissing a memory. Q moves with him, opens against him, takes from him and gives back even better because Quentin knows because Eliot knows because they know exactly how to touch each other. And maybe they’re a little out of practice but you don’t lose fifty years of muscle memory in six months.  

Eliot’s shirt gets even more wrinkled when it hits the ground, Quentin’s joining it in a damp heap a few seconds later. Then it’s hands on skin, nails skimming down his back, mouths, mouths everywhere and Eliot is so, so hard. He gasps out of kiss to just rest for a second against Quentin’s brow but even that—even his breath against Eliot’s lips is making him ache.

He pushes into Quentin, against him, feels—oh god— how much he wants him too.     

“It feels—“ Eliot shivers. “—I think, in there, I might have been more cut off than I realized. Because. It feels really really good to be touched.”

Quentin’s eyes are dark. His mouth is wet.

“By you,” Eliot feels the need to add, “Specifically.”

“Then let me touch you.”

Eliot bites his lip. Begs.

Please.”

The sheets are cold against Eliot’s back as Quentin lays him out, climbing on top of him with a singular focus. Eliot is back to shaking a little, pinned under Quentin’s gaze and—oh yeah—his entire lithe, gorgeous body as he settles in his lap.  Q is hard—Eliot can feel the heaviness of it against him through their clothes and he has to swallow past a dry mouth to rasp out—

“On that topic of all touching—” Eliot has to breathe, he’s—Quentin’s weight on him, holding him down—he’s going to—  “—oh, all touching feeling really good, I think—Q, baby, I think I’m gonna come. Like, right now.”           

“Good.” Quentin is fully in quest mode. Luminous with it. “Come. Then, I’ll make you come again. Then—then, I don’t know, but it’s going to feel good."

Quentin leans down, laying out a single, soft kiss at the base of Eliot’s throat.

“It’s only going to feel good from here on out,” he promises, brown eyes king serious.  

Then Quentin—he takes Eliot’s wrists and presses—presses him into the bed and rocks his hips forward and Eliot—

Eliot comes.   

 

Just like that.  

Chapter Text

“Oh my god. You weren’t kidding.”

Eliot’s chest is still heaving, just a little. His thoughts feel syrupy slow, the last echoes of pleasure ripping out to his extremities.

“I never joke about orgasms, Q. You would know that.”

Quentin lets go of Eliot’s wrists—a shame—and cradles his jaw in his hands instead.  

“We can stop,” he offers, “If you’re tired.”  

Eliot considers that. Lets his head rest for just a minute in the warmfirmgood pressure of Quentin’s hands. Kisses his palms. And then, summoning absolutely every drop of the not insignificant adoration he feels for the man in his lap, he says:  

“Quentin. Baby. I think the fuck not.”

And then, fingering the waist of Quentin’s unbuttoned jeans, cupping his open palm where Quentin is hard and waiting and needing him—

“Will you please take these off?”

Getting actually naked is a slightly gross pleasure, considering Eliot just came in his—Quentin’s—pants a minute ago. Quentin carefully shimmies out his jeans—a danger to any dick less than flaccid—then peels off Eliot’s now sticky sweatpants with a barbaric sort of pride. One set of boxers hits the floor and finally, finally, they’re skin to skin. Quentin rolls his hips—sweet, gorgeous Q—so they’re pressed together, hard against soft, only Eliot isn’t going to be soft for long because Quentin needs him and Eliot—

—Eliot needs too.

“You still want—”

“Yeah, yeah,” Quentin sighs, resting the weight of his palms on Eliot’s chest. Good. Heavy. There.

“Can you—”

Eliot laughs, fingers already moving with the shape of the spell in his palm.

“Like I could forget. I practically invented—”

Except.

Except he has forgotten. Eliot half traces the mark on his palm, but the incantation just... doesn’t come. The magic doesn’t move through his fingers. Where he’s accustomed to an easy, lapping shore of power behind his breastbone there’s just...wet sand.

Even that choice of metaphor leaves Eliot with a weird sense of depression to come.

They both just...stare. For a minute.             

“Okay,” Eliot decides, “we’re going to deal with that little failure to perform tomorrow.”

“El—“

Tomorrow.”

I—yeah, okay. Do you want me to—”

“No, I want to do it. Just help me?”

“Sure.”

Quentin takes Eliot’s hand, traces the symbol on his palm with his thumb and speaks the Ancient Greek low and quick. He he folds his palm over Eliot’s fingers and when he pulls away they’re slick and wet.  

“That’s more like it.” Eliot sighs, rubbing his fingertips together. “How do you want this, Q?”

What Quentin wants is for Eliot to work him open. Slow. He wants Eliot sitting up against the headboard, so they can kiss. He wants— oh —he wants Eliot hard again, working him with slick fingers until he can settle over his lap and get Eliot’s hands on his hips to guide him down until everything is slickhottight—oh god—

“Look at you,” Eliot murmurs, hushed. Overwhelmed. Watching—feeling— Quentin breathe through taking him in, “Q, look at you. You’re so—so good.”  

“It’s—” Quentin rocks in place, just a little, and Eliot shudders. “—fuck, I needed this.”

Quentin is wide eyed, pulling Eliot in by the hair to kiss him, slick and gasping and open mouthed, until they’re basically just sharing air. Quentin—slowslowslow—rises, then falls, the softest, hungriest noise pushing its way out of his chest.

“I don’t think I even realized,” he confesses against Eliot’s lips, “How much I was missing it.”

Through the absolutely mind boggling pleasure of Quentin holding him—holding him down, holding him up, holding him inside— Eliot finds the wherewithal to roll Quentin onto his back, tipping him until he’s flush against the white sheets and Eliot can cover him with his body.

Until Eliot can push back deep inside where Quentin has been missing him.

Eliot rests up on his elbows. Dips down to kiss the sweet hot surprised sound from Quentin’s mouth.

“I promised it hard the first time, didn’t I?”

Quentin nods, breath shaky. His thighs tense involuntarily around Eliot’s waist.

“You did.”

He pets over Eliot’s lips with his fingertips. Tips his head back, baring his throat. Closes his eyes, like an offering.

Giving giving giving.

Wanting wanting wanting.

Please.

Eliot’s second orgasm comes slower than the first. Harder. He has to work for it, in the best possible sense. Good work, with a purpose. Like mastering the spell that kept his ties in perfect color order no matter how many times he threw them onto the floor of the closet at the end of the day. Like re-thatching a roof to keep his family warm through the winter.

Like fucking Quentin as hard as he can, as tenderly as he can, until there are tears running down into Quentin’s hair and his back is bowed off the mattress and he is curling up up up to sob into Eliot’s chest as he spills white over Eliot’s fingers.

Like he said. Good work. Eliot strokes Quentin through it, fucks him through it, until Quentin lets out a hurt, oversensitive noise just in time for Eliot to tip over the edge. He comes, holding Quentin tight against him, face buried in his soft hair.  

“Good?” He asks, when he gets his breath back and a warm tingling post-orgasm lethargy is bleeding into his limbs. Quentin laughs, quiet under his breath, nuzzling into the sweat damp sticky gross hair on Eliot’s chest.

Really good.”

Strings cut, they slump onto the mattress in a pleasure drunk heap, sharing an intimate, oversensitive shiver as Eliot slips free from Quentin’s warm well-fucked body.

Eliot tucks his long limbs around Quentin and rests, just for a minute. Lingers, on all the little things he’d missed. Hadn’t allowed himself to miss.

It hurts, almost, to think on the time before he was possessed. Before he was Nigel whoever. Before Castle Blackspire. Eliot has a hard time summoning those memories, when he was walking and talking and trying to be a king as though the Mosaic hadn’t happened. As though he didn’t have a second life, a brighter, warmer, gentler life rattling around in his brain asking Where’s Quentin? Where’s our family? Where’s Tedd—

Eliot shakes himself out of it before the memory can take him too deep.

“El, are you okay?”

Eliot breathes out slow and kisses Quentin’s shoulder where it happens to lay under his mouth.

“Probably not, you know?” Eliot replies, being honest, “But I’m really glad to be here.”

Quentin doesn’t say anything, but he starts petting Eliot’s too long hair, running his fingers through the damp curls until Eliot is basically one long deep sigh curled around him.

Forget being a king. How had he even been standing upright, knowing Quentin had offered this, wanted it, the whole time?

Thinking on those times Eliot brushes against the shaky unpleasant feeling of a near miss. Like getting pulled out of the way of a speeding truck you didn’t even see coming. It leaves him feeling too loose in his body. Too close to the happy—not happy sad sad lonely lonely—place.

Eliot squeezes his eyes shut tight.

He’s not there he’s not there he’s—

Quentin scritching his fingers just a little against his hairline.  Eliot exhales.

He’s not there. He’s here, with Quentin. In the real world.

And he can prove it.

“Q, do you think you could go again?” he asks, leisurely scooting down the bed.

“Um, wow, I don’t know—”

“Because I think I need to suck your dick, and, maybe, while I’m doing that, have you squeeze your thighs around my head just a little.”

“—never mind, the answer’s yes. Please do that.”

“And you’ll squeeze?” Eliot asks, plaintive, kissing over Quentin’s messy sweaty sticky beautiful lower belly.  

“I—jesus fuck—I’ll, I’ll do my best—oh god, Eliot.”   

Eliot lets Quentin take his slow, sweet time getting hard again. He licks, sucks when Quentin can take it and when he can’t Eliot just holds him in his mouth, warm and wet. Patient. He’s got nowhere to be that isn’t savoring the subtle exercise of letting Quentin harden against his tongue. Letting him slowly fill him up, until Quentin’s sharp, bitten off toomuch sounds round out to husky warm moremoremore and Eliot can pull him in deep. Start the slow push towards another sharp edged precipice.  

Quentin is still easy and wet inside and so Eliot hooks his fingers in just so and swallows around the cock tucked into the back of his throat and that gets results. Quentin spasms around him, holding tight and even though he’s pretty well wrung out Eliot thinks he could orgasm again just from that.

“El, El, Jesus—I can’t—just like that, baby please—“

Eliot drinks in Quentin’s sweet, broken pleading like music. Like three hundred dollar vodka. Like the first cigarette after two weeks of cold turkey. He gives gives gives with his hands and his mouth because that’s what Quentin deserves and because that’s what Eliot wants and as of about a half a day ago Eliot Waugh has left behind the business of denying himself the things he actually wants and replacing them with meaningless sensation.

Eliot pulls off to run his tingling lips over the delicate skin of Quentin’s inner thighs and there’s a sensation with some fucking meaning.

“Sweetheart,” He says, pulling out an old, old favorite from their late forties. Their sexual Renaissance, Quentin had called it, what with an empty nest and only so many combinations left on the puzzle board. When they were younger Quentin never liked it. Sweetheart. He always thought Eliot was making fun of him. But older—oh yes—older Quentin knew what it had meant for Eliot to rearrange his sharp edges and let him in where he could be soft and saccharine. He knew, and he treasured it, which means Quentin knows, and Eliot flicks his gaze up to watch him treasure it.

“Sweetheart,” he repeats, low and warm, “I’m going to make you come now. And you...just give it to me, alright? Whatever feels good, that’s what I want from you.”

Quentin nods, eyes shining wet. A flush high on his cheeks.

“Okay.”

Satisfied, Eliot takes Quentin back into his mouth and makes good on his word. When Quentin comes it’s with his fingers wound tight in silky white sheets, his voice breaking over Eliot’s name and his gorgeous solid thighs holding Eliot in place. Holding him in his body. Holding him in the moment, taking Quentin in and tasting him and swallowing him down and loving him—

“Ok, last thing, I promise.”

They’re cleaned up, as much as either of them could give a fuck to bother with. Tucked back in this weirdly luxurious bed. Quentin takes a break from being an amazing little spoon to roll over and clasp Eliot’s face in his hands, exasperated.

“It doesn’t have to be the last thing. I’m not—“

“I need,” Eliot says, then breathing deep, “To tell you that I love you.”

Quentin stares.

And stares.

And finally—

“...Oh, okay. Good. That’s...good.”

That’s...not the exactly the response Eliot was hoping for.

Not at all.

The umyeahhahasorrynevermind builds up behind his breastbone for a second before his actual brain catches up to the conversation and the memory clicks into place just in time for Quentin to continue, in what is not a good impression of Eliot’s voice—

“Yeah, you know what, that’s great , actually, because—funny coincidence El—“

Eliot is laughing, effer-fucking-vescent with how ridiculous his life has become-- 

“Coldwater, I swear to god I am going to smother you in your sleep—“

--And how unbelievably lucky he is because-- 

“—I love you, too.”