Delicious, but high-may, that’s what Eliot had thought about one Quentin Coldwater when he’d met him and taken in all his fidgety, uncertain glory. And witnessing his subsequent tumbles and fumbles with the Quinn girl had only cemented it. Even as a friend, Eliot had to dole out a fair amount of reassurance, advice and fortifying cocktails, and he was starting to get into the habit of it enough that Margo had stood in his bedroom, hands on hips, and reminded him he’s not your boy, El.
Eliot thought of himself as a free spirit, though he’d never say anything so trite out loud. The only person whose beck and call he answered to was Bambi’s. So he did see her point about getting too comfortable being Quentin Coldwater’s security blanket. It was a time suck, it didn’t say anything interesting about him and frankly it was unsexy. He’d noticed the last one when he’d been chatting up a very nice young man (Nature kid but nobody’s perfect) when a tipsy Quentin walked right into their moment to ask Eliot to fix him another drink. There was beat in which Dan? Dylan? looked at him expectantly, and certainly he should send Q away, but he found he couldn’t do it. Instead he’d wrapped his fingers around Quentin’s empty glass and watched the interest wane in David’s? eyes. Eliot Waugh, Devon? might has well have said aloud, pussy whipped by a straight boy.
“Why are you making trouble for me, hmm?” Eliot asked Q gently, over by the bar. “Where’s that girlfriend of yours gotten to?”
Quentin ignored the first question entirely and seemed pretty unapologetic about sabotaging Eliot's chances. “Not my girlfriend,” said Quentin, thankfully more vitriolic than maudlin. The frown that creased his forehead made him look like a belligerent puppy. Eliot shook the drink to distract himself from that news and that face. He poured it out into Q’s glass and handed it over.
“Thanks El,” said Quentin, leaning into his side and effectively trapping him against the bar, “You’re the best.” He got a tiny Quentin smile over the rim of his glass before Q sampled his drink.
“This is so good,” said Quentin, decidedly more chipper than just a moment ago. “How do you always know what to make me?”
Because I am too invested! Eliot wanted to hiss, possibly while shaking some sense into the boy. Instead he wrapped an arm around Q’s waist and felt him settle heavier against him. “Oh,” said Eliot, feeling a little manic, “you just seemed like a man who needed some rum.”
“Mmm,” said Q happily, while drinking. “You put sugar in this?”
Eliot sighed and stroked Quentin’s hair a bit.
It was the first time the gossip grapevine failed them. No one told Eliot and Margo that Quentin was going on a date because everyone assumed Eliot and Margo knew everything there is to know about Quentin.
“This is just embarrassing,” said Eliot, not sure if he’s more surprised that Quentin’s bi or that the grapevine failed them.
“At least we found out,” said Margo.
“We found out from Quentin,” Eliot reminded her, “after everyone else and even he was offhand about it because he took for granted that we already knew.”
“Ugh,” said Margo, “you ever think we put too much effort into seeming omniscient?”
“Maybe. I do like it though.”
“Me too,” she said, pulling a little face. “Anyway, what do we know about this Henry fellow? Do we like him more than Alice, at least?”
They got to meet this Henry fellow pretty soon because Quentin brought him round to the Physical kids’ cottage. They were clearly making a beeline for Quentin’s bedroom so there wasn’t much Eliot could do but form a quick first impression as Quentin ushered him in.
Henry was a Psychic kid, Asian, taller than Q but shorter than Eliot. He still had a conservative haircut that screamed first year, but he was neatly dressed in dark jeans and a button down, and he didn’t smell offensive. Cute enough, thought Eliot. That was all he got from Q’s flustered introduction and his own observations. He was just about to introduce himself when Q did it for him by saying, “And this Eliot, he takes care of me.”
The blood rushed through Eliot’s ears so loudly that he didn’t hear how Quentin introduced Margo or what, if any, pleasantries followed. To the best of his knowledge and memory, no one had ever described Eliot that way. He was struck by the force of how much he’d liked it. He drifted over to the bar and barely registered Q and his new beau heading to off to canoodle. Who knew Eliot still had things to learn about himself? Fascinating.
He opened a Malbec and sniffed the cork on autopilot, marinating in the buzzing feeling that seemed to dull everything but this new kernel of an idea.
“El,” said Margo threateningly, “Why are your eyes all middle distance-y?”
“I’ll tell you, he said, “don’t judge me too harshly.”
“Fuck that,” said Margo, “you’ll get what you deserve and you’ll like it.”
He cut a soft smile at her and poured them both some wine. “My dearest Bambi,” he said, raising his glass in a toast, “never change.”
They clinked and sipped.
“Alright,” said Margo, “lay it on me.”
Here’s the thing: Eliot Waugh was not the kind of person one availed themselves of. He never had been and he liked it that way. Quentin Coldwater was not the kind of person to ask for things. Perhaps he had been once but he’d definitely gotten his fingers burned, and young too. So it shouldn’t work, this thing between them; where Quentin found it in him to ask for help or company or a diversion and Eliot found it in him to say yes.
And it wasn’t that Eliot was simply more inclined than the others to indulge Quentin sometimes. He literally had never said no. The very thought of it was astounding but there it was. Eliot couldn’t? wouldn’t? say no to Quentin.
And while Quentin was never anything less than completely grateful, he was starting to expect Eliot’s capitulation. And god help him, for the first time ever, Eliot wanted to be taken for granted.
“I went grocery shopping, El will you make that thing I like?”
“I’m freaking out about my term paper, can I read it to you?”
“Can we watch Buffy?”
“Do you think he gets off on favors?” Mused Eliot.
“I think he gets off on your attention, El. You look through most people. And you and I don’t usually let people hang around us for longer than it takes to get off. It’s gotta be flattering for a kid like that. The favors are secondary.”
Eliot decided to accept that because it wasn’t like Margo to be wrong about a man. He didn’t ask her why he found it so intoxicating to be the only one who Quentin asked for things. He was maybe a little afraid of the answer.
“Well, maybe he’ll dial it back now that he’s seeing someone.”
“Suuure,” said Margo, gesturing expansively, “And I’m Joan of fucking Arc.”
It was closer to dawn than to midnight when Quentin slipped into his room with a whispered “El, you up?” and found Eliot on the receiving end of a pretty good blowjob.
“Oh god!” He said, far too loud for the hour. He shut his eyes tight, but then couldn’t find the door handle because they were closed. Even in the dim light of his bedside lamp, Eliot could see how bright he was blushing. He waved the guy off his dick and flipped the covers over himself. Blowjob guy found his pants so Eliot said “You can open your eyes, Q, we’re both decent.”
“I’m so sorry, I’ll just-” and with his eyes now open he turned and could easily find the door handle.
Eliot tsked sharply.
“Now now, what does daddy’s favourite cockblock want, hmm?”
“Oh god,” said Q again, looking like he wished the ground would swallow him up. Blowjob guy brushed passed him on his way out the door, which opened and closed without Quentin moving. “Sorry,” he said a bit helplessly at blowjob guy’s back, a gesture so futile and so Quentin that Eliot had to smother a laugh.
He patted the bed next to him and Quentin just came. Clambered over Eliot to get to the free bit of mattress on the other side, still warm from blowjob guy. Q made himself comfortable, his head resting easily in the depression on the pillow, his only nod to decorum that he didn’t worm his way under the covers where Eliot was still naked, hard, and ignoring it. Watching him take up space like that was more obscene than the blowjob, somehow. Eliot watched him wonderingly and hoped it didn’t all show on his face.
“Can’t sleep?” He asked instead.
“My anxiety’s up. Weird dreams and I keep grinding my teeth.” He popped his jaw like it was sore and Eliot looked at Quentin’s open mouth and briefly detoured into all the ways he’d like to make his jaw sore before reining himself back in.
“Take your meds?”
“Yeah, I did. It’s just randomly bad. Gets like that sometimes. I didn’t want to wake Henry and you’re usually the last one up so...” Quentin gave a little shrug like it was all perfectly explanatory that he should leave his boyfriend sleeping in their bed to come and disrupt Eliot’s sex life.
“Okay, well, put your tongue between your teeth. It should stop you grinding,” said Eliot, shifting to click off the lamp and then laying back down. He didn’t check to see if Quentin had listened to him; Quentin was the most biddable person in the world as long as it was Eliot telling him what to do. “I’ll tell you about the time this idiot savant baker got the whole campus off its face on magical lsd.”
Q couldn’t talk with his tongue between his teeth so he smiled instead. In the dark, Eliot could just make it out. He dragged the story out until Quentin was breathing deeply, on his side facing Eliot, his hand curled in a loose fist by his mouth. He was still asleep in Eliot’s bed when Henry left for class the next morning.
A couple weeks after that, Quentin and Henry broke up. Quentin, for once, seemed what other people might call “a normal amount of sad” about it. Unlike after some of his spats with Alice, he seemed more steady and less inclined to self loathing.
“That’s healthier, right?” Eliot asked Margo, making eye contact in the bathroom mirror as they smoothed charcoal mask onto their faces.
Margo rolled her eyes.
“Stop talking about it like that. You sound like his dad. When you have feelings I get feelings and I am way too young to be anyone’s mother.”
“Aw, Bambi, you do care.”
“Look, he’s cute and he’s very into you, but for a second consider how dumb he is because he still doesn’t seem to know that.”
“He really should have some inkling by now.”
Thanks to blowjob guy running his mouth, half the campus calls him daddy’s favourite cockblock to his face, Eliot. He’s either in deep denial or deep stupidity.”
“Let’s go with denial. Q doesn’t have the muscles to offset being that dumb.”
“You just want your boy to be smart.”
“He’s not my boy, Bambi. You told me that.”
“And when I did I didn’t think you’d be this passive about it. Fucking do something Waugh. This is the worst spectator sport ever.”
They took their be-robed, masked selves over to the bed and lay down.
“What do you think I should do?”
“Just stride up to him all sexy and tell him the score. Quentin, baby, deep down you just wanna suck my cock and be my boy. Say yes so Margo and I can do something about your wardrobe pronto.”
“Wow, that is a terrible me. I sound like a mob boss.”
“But to the point,” said Margo.
“Very goal oriented,” Eliot praised, trying to imagine Quentin’s deer-in-headlights reaction if Eliot ever said that to him. Best to give it skip.
It came to a head because Eliot was frustrated. He’s not proud of it. It was a moment he wanted to have a plan for but instead there was just a normal, quiet night. They were hanging out in Eliot’s room, a cool breeze came through the open windows with the occasional sounds of students talking on footpaths to the library. Eliot was sat with his back against the headboard, cardigan on but tie discarded, his legs stretched out and crossed at the ankle. Quentin was also barefoot, sitting cross legged at the end of the bed in jeans and a thin t-shirt.
Eliot watched as a cold gust of air prickled Quentin’s arms to gooseflesh. He shivered. How long, Eliot wondered, how long before-
“Cold, El,” said Quentin, rubbing his arms. Eliot thrilled at how immediate it had been. Had Q even processed the thought to complain, the impulse to make Eliot fix it? Some dark part of him hoped not. Q was looking at him so Eliot considered his options.
“You can get something warm from my closet,” Eliot offered, and watched the minute downturn of Quentin’s mouth. “Or I can warm you up myself. But if you choose option two, I’m going to kiss you.” Then he sat back and watched Quentin process that.
“Um,” said Quentin, a few seconds later, “I don’t want something from the closet?”
“I want you too, Q,” said Eliot, able to read between the lines and willing to say what Quentin could not. Q made to move towards him but suddenly stopped.
“Is this a one-time thing or...?”
“It’s an all the time thing,” said Eliot, thinking about the near constant temptation that was Quentin.
“Yeah?” And there was the smile he chased every day. Suddenly brave, Quentin scrambled until he was sitting in Eliot’s lap, arms wound around his neck.
“Hey,” Q said, up close and beautiful. Eliot’s stomach flipped at the proximity, the intent in his eyes. “I heard you’d give me a kiss?”
I’ll give you everything, thought Eliot, but started with a kiss.