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but the things you do for love, are going to come back to you one by one

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Quentin’s original suite in Whitespire had been occupied by groups of traveling dignitaries so often and for so long that no one actually thought of it as his except for him, so when he comes awake under distantly familiar bedposts, cool air lifting gauzy curtains off the floor, speckles of fine glitter floating into the air alongside, and resettling over marbled floor, he is a little confused. Head heavy, cotton cackling with static between his ears, he tries to resettle into the soft pillows and comforts himself by tracing shapes in the ceiling. The last few months come back to him in bits and fragments as his mind comes back online and he has to remind himself to breathe every few minutes. He’s pretty sure more has happened in the past weeks than him alternating between sleeping fourteen hours a day and staring into the Silver Banks out of the spire windows for three days straight, but if so, it doesn’t seem to have made much of an effect on him. Little does.

Today seems like it is going to be one of those fourteen hours nap days, though he doesn’t much remember how he got to his room nor why one of the nicer suites in the castle was unoccupied when the music and chatter carried in on the wind would hint everyone else was having a pretty busy day.

 

Eventually the beams of sunlight change from a warm presence across the centre of his bed to a blinding light directly stabbing his retinas and so, in capitulation to the uncaring rotation of the earth he steels himself and manages to make it out from underneath the weight of his blankets. Someone has kindly changed him out of his usual jeans and t-shirt and into loose cotton pants and a tunic more suited for the heat of Fillorian summer days – presumably one of the pages? Upright and somewhat cognizant, he does a small survey of the room he’s not visited in years. The enchanted moonstone he had found one of his first days in Fillory was still there, except now instead of lying among a pile of other trinkets he collected, someone had kindly taken the time to set it into a delicate bronze frame and embed it into the oakwood which supported his mirror, but beside the crumbled bedsheets in the centre of the bed, there was no other sign of him, or anyone else, having ever lived here. The little sweets which sat in an engraved silver bowl were untouched, his shelves were empty but for two neatly folded washcloths and the well dusted night stand only homed an unlit candle and an unopened book of Fillorian fairy tales, a perfect picture of royal hospitality that was making him feel a little unbalanced.

In fact, now that he was thinking about it, was he actually awake? How do you tell? Poke a finger through your… eye? Ear? Palm? He couldn’t remember but unwilling to blind himself at the moment, he took a deep breath, centred himself and tried to push an index finger through his palm, keeping an eye out for the smallest …

… there was no other living thing in this room, he had no way to tell if anything had frozen because there was nothing to freeze… shit..

Sighing, he did another sweep of the room, squinting suspiciously, he attempted to find a fly suspended in mid-air or a bug mid-step but to no avail. He was starting to grow weary from the mental effort required to sustain himself along the vertical axis and so he motivates himself in the form of pinching a sweet, which seems… sufficiently real to him? He could just go back to bed really, either he is dreaming and he will wake up or he is awake and he can get in another nap before someone remembers to come make sure he’s still alive, as he’s nothing if not someone who’s easy to be friends with.

To his consternation, however, even a few bites of the sugary sweet may have been too much for his slightly malnourished form for he is now actually tempted by the distant harp/drum combo he had been hearing since he woke up. Perhaps if he finds some people, he can definitively settle the dreaming vs the simply disquieted question… and maybe get some more sweets because he has already eaten three of whatever those soft biscuit things are meant to be. Was he hungry?

Possibly.

Having decided, he allows himself a few dozen more minutes of lying above the warm covers of his bed, pillow covering his face to avoid the worst of the sun.

 


 

The hallways outside his suite are surprisingly empty, columns rise and meet in high arches to his right, while sparsely decorated ballrooms extend to his left and further into the castle. With no barrier between the garden and the castle, vines creep quietly up columns and into the corridor and sunshine warms the polished mosaic tiles. He can hear the sounds of a thriving ecosystem, chirping and buzzing, coming in alongside the scent of jasmines and lemon trees but can’t actually spot another living being. He has dragged a soft cotton bedsheet with him as a makeshift cape in his attempt to get out of his room but neither dust nor dirt gathers where the fabric meets the ground, which seems a little odd to him? Though perhaps not necessarily a point in the dreaming ‘column’. Maybe he is trapped in a mind spell again? If so, the caster is a lazy asshole, how hard is it to add, like, one other person to this scenario? He is starting to feel like he has really gone off the deep end here.

Fortunately, the music is getting louder as he walks on, so wherever he is does have some set of consistent internal rules, whatever meagre comfort that may be. In fact, he can almost make out some vocals now, some ballad about someone being taken by the river? Or alternatively someone is in love with the river? It was unclear, but either way, Quentin could relate to the urge to contemplate the crushing weight of fresh water as it pulls you under, could probably relate more than what is technically healthy.

He walks for almost another half hour before the paradoxically empty yet noisy castle gives way to some actual human beings, at which point he is so on edge that his knees almost give out from under him in relief when a waiter carrying an assortment of canapes run into him while rounding a corner.

“Your highness, my apologies, I didn-,” the man’s voice catches as he rises out of his hasty bow, eyeing Quentin oddly before he smiles and bows again, “I’m sorry, I didn’t know you were coming today, I will ask the staff to prepare a seat for you at the table.”

“Yeah, uhm, thanks?” Quentin replies, “wha- what’s today? Exactly?”

“The King’s engagement?” the man says, giving Quentin yet another once-over, “your highness, shall I fetch someone to assist you? Perhaps we can get you some shoes!”

Quentin shuffled awkwardly, very aware of the fact that he is barefoot and wearing a duvet cape now that there are other humans to observe him, “Huh, no, no I am, I am fine, where is this ceremony?”

“Well the welcoming tea party is in the Sunken Garden right now, the ceremony isn’t until the evening in the throne room?” the waiter replied, placing his tray on the floor, and reaching out towards Quentin, “but maybe we-,”

“Nope, no, all good, thanks!” Quentin hastily extracting himself from the situation, and turning towards the Sunken Garden. He attempts to fix his duvet/barefoot situation to something that didn’t scream crazy as much as it gently suggested it instead especially since whatever was happening has now decided to happen judgmentally, but he only passes a couple more servants who eye him (suspiciously?) before bowing and parting to make way for him, before giving up. Whatever, Quentin is pretty sure the servants of Whitespire have seen stranger things than men walking around in their pyjamas, this was his possibly-dream, possibly-depressive-spiral anyway.

 

When the wide stone steps leading down to the garden finally come into view, the music has slowed down and Quentin, with his bird’s eye view can see a few Fillorians who have paired off and are swaying gently to the tempo. There must be some hundred people in the garden, which would explain why everywhere else had been to empty so far, but not why there was some many people dancing in one of the lesser gardens of the castle. Does he know anything about this King’s engagement? He feels like he does, he also maybe feels like this whole thing would be a lot less confusing had he eaten something other than mystery sweets today.

Gingerly, he makes his way down the steps, trying to keep from catching anyone’s attention, when a flurry of fabrics out of the corner of his eye makes him look up to see Margo, fierce and impeccably dressed, leading Fen in a complicated box-step variant in the centre of the garden. Fen is laughing, head thrown back, blush high on her cheeks, when Margo dips her, they rest their foreheads together for a second and Quentin can see the unshed tears gathered in Margo’s eyes glittering in the sun and his heart lurches against his ribs so painfully he has to close his eyes and breathe through it. Maybe he should go back to his room.

“Q?”

Startled, Quentin turns to see Eliot approaching him slowly, like a deer who might bolt at any second. He has gained a little weight back since… everything and it is embarrassingly comforting to see him dressed with his usual sense of drama, a smile dances across his lips but fails to reach his eyes. He sets his drink down on passing waiters tray and moves to bodily block Quentin’s view of the garden, hands coming to rest on his shoulders, instantly grounding despite everything.

“Heeey, I thought you were only coming to the ceremony in the evening? I know entertaining ambassadors isn’t really your style,” he says, tone light as though Quentin doesn’t know him better than he knows himself and can’t hear the strain underneath, “bold fashion choice, by the way, the woke up at 4am to reheat burritos look.”

“Margo and Fen are getting married,” he says, feeling a little dazed, eyes still tracking what he can see of the kings’ movement as they dance.

“Yeah, I am not sure why anyone thought they could keep Bambi out of Fillory for any real length of time.”

“Right… yeah,” Quentin replies, trying for a quiet laugh. He finally manages to take his eyes of the mesmerising twists of silk in the center of the garden and turning instead to to meet Eliot’s gaze… and immediately breaks, the concern he can read in his eyes too intense for him to handle right now, when he still isn’t sure what’s real.

"When you get back what the gods took from you, maybe, could I have Eliot back?”

“…you should know that your friend Eliot is dead, I felt the moment his soul died...”

“I think I am dreaming,” he manages to mumble, throat tight.

“What?”

“I think- thought I was dreaming, I – I didn’t just wander around the castle like this for, for fun.”

“Right, of course. Do you-,” El pauses, and clears his throat, Quentin watches him as he tries to find the ‘right’ thing to say. He stops and starts a few times before he finally sighs and looks away from him in defeat. Quentin wants to ask him, beg him, to tell him what Eliot wants Quentin to be so that Eliot never has that tightness in this jaw again, that Quentin can read so plainly now.

“I’ll, I’ll go change, for the ceremony,” Quentin says, drawing the bed sheets tighter around him, and nodding awkwardly at Eliot, hoping some display of self-possession on his part will cheer most-probably-real-Eliot up a little, as he turns to walk away.

“I’ll send the servants to your room with a change of clothes!” El calls after him, “maybe you should check in with-,” but Quentin has already rounded the corner and loses the last of his words, drowned out by chatter and music.

 


 

Quentin, miraculously, manages to not only make it to the throne room but even arrive early. He is so early, in fact, that there is no one in the throne room but the servants and cooks preparing for the party. He has managed to dress himself, after dismissing the servant-spies Eliot sends after him,  to some half-remembered dress code that he hopes was the right one, because the embroidered tunic over his shirt is not light and giving the day (days?) he has been having he is reluctant to pile ‘my clothes are suffocating me’ on top of everything else he is trying to keep under control.

Deciding that leaving and coming back was too risky a move for him, he takes a turn around the room instead, specifically in the direction of a very interesting looking tower of amuse bouche that one of the chefs has just abandoned.

He really needs to something about the whole not eating actual meals thing.

He’d already moved on to his second mini sandwich, feeling more solid than he has all day, when one of the flower arches catches his eye. Gardenias, the colour of moonlight,  tangle around arches and columns throughout the throne room, the memory of watching Eliot bring them to life with careful spellwork a few days ago, crystal clear in his mind all of a sudden. What else he had done that day, he couldn’t say to save his life, but in his mind’s eye he can see Eliot reaching up to encourage deep green foliage and delicate buds to follow the arch of his spell in perfect detail, can recall Eliot picking off petals and sending them towards hm, cross-legged on the floor, in a viscous flowery mini-blizzard, chatting the entire time about what pain in the ass Margo was when she was in love.

That had to be at least a few points in the not-dreaming column, right?

The arch growing from the foot of the table where he had planted himself, however, was no longer the perfect flora he could see in his memory, the leaves near the bottom had begun to yellow, the flowers too close to the light had bloomed too fast and their petals curled brown and wilting at the edges.

“Shit, okay, it’s okay, I can fix this,” he muttered under his breath, dropping down to his knees to get a better look at the damage. He aligns his fingers to the configuration he recalls, and pulls his focus towards the wilting greenery. His magic has been all over the place, he thinks, and is surprised at the certainty of the thought, but pushes it down before more memories of the past weeks surface. It takes him several tries just to bring the leaves back to their dark glossy green colour, panic threatening to overtake him every time he fumbles but eventually he is satisfied enough to move higher up the arch, looking to save the too delicate blooms. The first casting manages to bring back half the pale buds to their prime, their delicate fragrance filling his senses. The second time he tries the spell he pushes it too far and the flowers shrink back to tight buds, dotted like pearls in the dark foliage. On his fourth try, one more than it took him to bring back the yellowing leaves, Quentin thinks the flowers are almost perfect… almost. He settles into the same configuration once more, he could fix this, he will-

“Coldwater!”

Quentin, jumping out of his skin, turns around to once more see Eliot standing in from of him, he’s changed into his usual regal outfit, and is starting at Quentin like he was wandering around the castle in his pyjamas… again. “What?” he asks, paranoid that maybe he hallucinated the whole getting dressed thing and is just standing around in his boxers right now.

“I called you name like ten times, what - What are you doing?”

“F- fixing the flowers,” he says, uselessly pointing over his head at the flowers he was trying to rescue from the banal side effects of the passage of time aaaand… There was way more people in this room than when he got here, in fact the throne room is buzzing with royal guests and influential ambassadors, though he could not see Fen or Margo in the crowd. The servants have finished their set up and have instead switched to conveying colourful alcoholic drinks around the room. A band has set up in the corner in the room and is playing some airy melody. How has he missed this? How long has he been mending flowers?

“Oookay - We should get to our seats, Q, the ceremony is about to start,” Eliot says, probably wisely side-stepping the whole mending issue.

“Uhm, yeah, of course, seats, I know that.”

“Right.”

 

When Margo and Fen walk in, arm in arm, the crowd is settled in a semi-circle around the cherry wood podium erected in the center of the room, watching them like hawks. Tick stands behind the podium ramrod straight, a quill in hand and two long and much embellished parchments spread out in front of him. From his corner of the room, El seated beside him, Quentin watches them approach the center dais, a dull ache worming its way into his chest. He can see the tears on Fen’s cheeks when they turn to face each other and the way Margo’s hands tighten around hers, the minuscule nod Fen gives her in response.

“Good people of Fillory,” Tick starts, “On this most auspicious day we shall all bear witness-”

“Poor Tick, his life is about to get very difficult again,” Eliot whispers.

Quentin tries to laugh but the sound dies in his too tight throat, gaze fixed at the center of the room where Fen, taking the quill from Tick, bends to sign her name. Margo, terrifying, protective, sharp as heartache, Margo was visibly vibrating with effort to keep still watching her bride-to-be promise to keep and cherish her as long they both shall live, smiling so wide her jaw must hurt and Q was starting to feel like he’s staring at the sun.

“Do you think they will be happy,” he whispers back to El.

Eliot turns to him, gaze calculating, “I will make sure of it,” he says.

“Oh,” Quentin, ever eloquent, replies, breaking away from Eliot’s too intense gaze yet again.

“You know, I was going to wait until –,” Eliot starts, but his voice falters, gaze drifting over the crowd, lingering over the centre dais where Margo and Fen stand, hands clasped tight, he takes a breath, posture stiffening, “well, anyway. I was going to wait but maybe you should know now- when… when I was trapped, in my body, I didn’t just… abandon you or anyone, it was a fight to break out, to get through to you, I could see you – not all the time – but enough times, I could see the pressure you were under and how no one else saw how close to the edge you were and I fought to come back to-,” he pauses, swallowing, “I’m sorry I couldn’t do more, when you were the one that saved me.”

“El…” Quentin says, fairly certain that Eliot feels bad for him just because he spent twenty minutes obsessively mending a flower arch and publicly wore a duvet cape all in the same day.

“You saved me, Q,” he says, brooking no argument, turning to face him but not meeting his eye. “The door, to the outside world, it’s always buried in the host’s worst memory, where they are least willing to go, while the monster dangles hollow Todd-free parties in front of them to distract them. It was you in my memory.”

“Oh,” Quentin replies, trying hard not to stand up and bolt because he is pretty sure he doesn’t want to hear how he ruined his friend’s life even if he has is suspicions.

“No, not – not like that – when, when we got back to this timeline, I thought you would leave, I was sure you would but you didn’t. You did something brave and honest in the most Q-like fashion and I... shut you down, in the most me-like fashion,” he smiles bitterly, “after everything, that was the one thing I couldn’t live with myself for doing, hurting you when I was the one scared shitless. That was the one memory I had buried deeper than anything else.” He swallows, gaze lifting, but the buzzing in Quentin’s ears drowns out the last of his words.

In increasingly shorter increments the world becomes too much for him, he can feel every single point where the fabric of his dress-shirt meets his sweat drenched skin, the smell of the pale gardenia blooms has grown sickly sweet and is making him dizzy, he does not remember how to breathe and he worries that if he stands up now he is going to pass out and Margo will kill him for interrupting her engagement party and yet despite all that he can read the words Eliot mouths at him perfectly, he knows the shape of them so well, knows them even when they are a whisper tucked against the column of his throat.

“I love you, Q.”

The smile across his lips is small and hesitant, but his gaze intense, so very pained and so very open.

Quentin runs away. Quietly and carefully, but away nonetheless, he doesn’t interrupt the ceremony, doesn’t even turn any heads as he slips out, doesn’t start running until he out of the throne room and then he doesn’t stop.

 


 

When Eliot catches up with him, Quentin is all the way across the castle, ankle deep in the mud of the southern garden plains, his back to him. He is mid-spell, desperately trying to keep an old pine tree upright that has been struck deep in a diagonal slash across its trunk. What happened to it, Eliot does not know, but he can guess.

“Q,” he says, soft, trying not to startle him as he joins in with Quentin’s erratic spell, and watches as his shoulders draw tighter together, but Q doesn’t turn around. Eliot shouldn’t have pushed him like this, he knew how hard a time he had been having, but he decided to be selfish anyway? He truly cannot keep himself from fucking people over. Unfortunately, he does not have the time to deal with his self-indulgent, self-loathing right now and with a deep breath, he forces himself to focus on Q instead pushing as much of his magic as he can into the spell, his body still at odds with his mind, his fingers not as dexterous as they were despite the time he has had to practice being himself again. They successfully knit the struggling evergreen back together in the end, however, and he can see Quentin relax, ever so minutely without the pressure of maintaining the spell, but as he still makes no move to acknowledge Eliot, Eliot, carefully, walks towards him.

“I know it was a while ago,” he starts, fighting to maintain his composure, because he will not add his own messy feelings on top of Quentin’s already wildly out of control shit-pile, “I don’t expect you to still feel the same way, and I know I hurt you, Q, I understand. I have just been watching you, those past few weeks, and I… I just wanted you to know that you’re loved, that I-,” his voice dies in his throat as he finally reaches Quentin. Standing next to him, Eliot can see the angry red blotches that have spread across his face, can see how he is barely breathing, his hands still frozen in a mending spell, “I know you’ve been… alone, in all of this and-,”

“You have no idea,” Q interrupts, trembling.

“You’re right Q, I know, I’m sorry,” he tries to reply, tries not to hear the fury in Quentin’s voice.

“No, you don’t, you don’t know, you have no idea!” Quentin screams, turning to face him at last, “I was the one who had to- I had to watch him! With your face and your hands!” he freezes, a short sob escaping him, “... for months”, he adds deflated.

“Q.” Eliot says, and he is pretty sure that is longest string of words he has heard from Quentin in weeks.

“I was so scared that he’d- that you were really gone this time, that I would never see you again, and it would be my fault, you can’t, you can’t do that to me, to Margo, to anyone, do you know what I would have given to talk to you just one more time while that... that monster wandered around with your… body? I can’t do it, El.” At this point, Quentin’s thoughts are rapidly losing coherency and Eliot barely has the time to move before he gives up, falling, rather than settling down, into the mud and pulling his knees towards him. Sobs wreck through his smaller frame, his face buried in his hands as his fingers pull at the roots of brown locks. Eliot hated the way his face crumbled when he cried, more viscerally than he could remember ever feeling anything else.

“Q! Okay. Okay, that’s fair, entirely understandable, honestly” Eliot says, quickly following him into the mud, trying to thread his fingers, through Quentin’s own, to keep him from pulling his hair out, “just breathe, Q, it’s going to be okay, I promise, I got you.”

They sit in the corner of his bedroom, neither of them willing to let Quentin out of their sight, terrified to even blink, lest his sleeping form disappear from under the heavy blankets.  Julia entertains herself with intricate healing spells, trying to mend the deep axe-wound between his shoulder blades now that her own has disappeared without even a scar to show for it.

“How did you two survive,” he says, “before magic,” he adds, with head tilt, in answer to the confused look on Julia’s face.

“Oh,” she says, visibly surprised, clearly she hasn’t thought of her muggle life in while, God knows he tries not to. She pauses her spellwork, hands falling into her lap. When she looks over at Q, a small smile spreads across her lips. Nostalgia is bitch, Eliot thinks. “Badly,” she finally replies.

“Well, yeah,”

She laughs, barely more than quiet exhale, but still, “you already know how obsessed he is with Fillory, high school was… that but with slight of hand tricks on top, we read those books to each other so often, I think we knew them better than even the Chatwins.”

“I forget sometimes that you’re a super nerd too,”

“Thanks,” she says but the smile on her face quickly falls away, “the first time he tried to- the first time he tried, I had to beg his parents to let me visit him, I brought ‘The World in the Walls’ with me, the hospital was so cold and grey and I don’t think I managed to get two words out of him, but he let me read five whole chapters to him before falling asleep. I don’t think we knew then, I don’t think either of understood what happened.”

“How the hell did you not see this coming, Julia,” he says, suddenly feeling like he was swallowing bile, bitter beyond words, regretting the words coming out of his mouth as he said them.

The flash of hut across Julia’s face quickly buries itself in stony fury, she stares at him for a few seconds before, quietly, getting up and moving to lay down on the bed next to Q.

He lets Q come down in his own time, gently tracing nonsensical runes between his shoulder blades, cycling in his mind's eyes through the ways in which the Monster, with his hands, so wrongly familiar would touch Q and picking the furthest comfort from that which he can.

He slides further in the mud so his own drawn up knees framed Q’s, insistently he pulls Q’s hands out of his hair and drops them, covered with own in his lap, before extracting one hand to sweep messy brown strands out of Q’s face.

“I’m sorry, it’s okay,” he says like a mantra, soft and heartfelt, repeating it over the sound of Q’s sobs, whispering it over and over trying desperately not to follow Q down into panicked tears too.

“Hey, hey - remember the first night after Ted left, remember how empty the cottage was, how you couldn’t sleep?” He knows is starting to ramble, but Q perks up so he goes on, “We spent hours working on the mosaic by moonlight instead, and caught a horrible cold? I think you spent that entire week under seven blankets reading Fillorian ‘Good Night Moon’ like the dramatic clingy dad you are,” he says and he hears Q’s breath hiccup in an approximation of a laugh, resting his forehead against the crown of his head, intraocular pressure pounding into his skull, he says, “remember when you found the note Ted had left us hidden in the bookshelves ‘Don’t get too used to the quiet, I told you I would be back for winter. P.S. I hid Dad’s favourite rolling pin, you will have finish clearing out my room to find it. P.P.S I love you.’ - you know I still don’t know how between the two of us we manage to raise an actually emotionally intelligent child - darling, Q, look at me, it’s me, I promise.”

“Your pants are ruined,” Quentin says, voice raw, and just sounds… so small.

“We have bigger problems than my pants, Bambi is going to kill us both for skipping out on her engagement party,” Eliot with a pained smile, that turns real when Quentin laughs, tucking his forehead against his chest.

“It’s really you.”

“In all my resplendent glory,” Eliot replies, hoping to keep this upward trajectory they are moving in. Gently, he tugs at Quentin’s hands, clasped securely in his own, getting him to look up, “told you, I-,” but he doesn’t get to finish his thought before Quentin is pulling him down for a searing kiss, Eliot can taste salty sweet on his tongue and when Q bites down on his lip hard enough to draw, copper too, but Q doesn’t let up.

Touch-starved, he pulls Q up, covered in mud still and shaking with nervous energy and resettels him onto his lap, letting Q kiss him breathless, fingers threading through his curls, clinging on to him like a man drowning, weight grounding him into the earth.

He needs to slow them down, they have to talk, the have to talk a lot, they were both… God they fit so well together. Helpless, Eliot runs his hands over his sides trying to settle his shivering, Quentin sighs hot against his mouth, nuzzling against his jaw, his throat, every where he could reach and Eliot could barely hear the words he was saying over the rushing of blood in his ears but he knew them anyway, “I love you, I love, I love you,” over and over punctuated with kisses and hiccuping breath. Eliot hadn’t realized how much he had missed him until that moment.

“Q, Jesus, Q-,” he can’t seem to keep a hold of his train of thought, the warmth of Q’s soft form against him flooding him with such intense deja vu, he can hardly breathe. Instead, he gives in, following muscle memory as he moves to give Quentin the leverage he needs to grind down, his own hips snapping up to meet him. Awed, he reaches up to kiss that delicate frown the forms on Q’s face as he chases his release, his own pleasure pooling like hot coal low in his belly.

 


 

They catch their breath cuddled impossibly close together, still halfway in mud as the sun disappears and reappears behind passing clouds. They are both suddenly exhausted to the bone, unwilling to move when Elliot speaks.

“You know I’ve been thinking we should take a little Earth vacation,” he keeps his tone deliberately light, unwilling to break the brittle quiet that has settled over them but knowing he needed to speak those words before what he has managed to pull together of his courage falls apart. “I think we’ve earned a little R&R, possibly a lot of R&R, also Prague is excellent this time of year. We could catch up with everyone at Brakebills and maybe, maybe we could both get... some help.” he adds, carefully neutral. Quentin looks up from where he is resting on Elliots chest, he is not angry, that Elliot can tell, but Elliot know he is on thin ice. Time for the hard sell, he thinks, hoping this doesn’t backfire on him, hoping Q will let him help them both before they push themselves beyond what even they can handle. “I think, I think I want to stop drinking,” he says, “so…”

The surprise on Q’s face is barley masked, he opens his mouth to speak but nothing comes out. Frowning, he tilts his head in the signal Elliot knows to mean ‘I’m trying to read your mind’ so he smiles in what he hopes a reassuring mannering, and lets Q work through his doubts.

He has a few more false starts, before seemingly convinced, he tucks his head back against Elliot’s shoulder, “Okay.”