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bang bang, that awful sound

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The thing about telekinesis was that it was an easy gun to fire. You didn’t need school, just a couple of easy tuts to let you turn off the safety and pull the trigger.

That’s what made Eliot useful to Marina. She found him, fresh off the bus from Indiana and one days worth of cash away from trying to turn a trick, and somehow she knew what he was. Then she begged, borrowed, and stole what he needed to come into his power.

Eliot wasn’t a magician. He wasn’t even a hedge, really. He earned the stars tracking up his arm by doing Marina’s heavy lifting.

And then some.

“That will do for now, Waugh.”

Eliot dropped his crossed fingers, and the snitch Marina was interrogating dropped back into his chair, clawing at his throat as he drew in desperate wheezing breaths. Uninterested in the specifics of inter-coven espionage, Eliot focused on his cigarette, and wondered what he and Q would order for dinner tonight. Indian, maybe.

“Again.”

“No, no, please, I don’t know anyth—“

The pleading cut off as Eliot twisted his hand, replaced by pathetic choking. Marina’s smile was sharp as a knife. Around Eliot’s neck, his red emotion bottle pulsed dully.

Just another day at the office.

 


 

Quentin didn’t have any stars. No tattoos to speak of.

Eliot was grateful for this every day.

Q was like him, with a discipline that didn’t need spells, just a simple tut and the knowledge of what you are drawn from deep in your bones. Q was not like Eliot, however, in that he was a mender. Minor mendings only— “Anything that could fit in a breadbox,” Quentin said, all squinty smiles and nervous laughter over their first drink together in the dim corner of a hedge bar—but Quentin was nonetheless a healer. A repairer of broken things, Eliot chief among them.

“Babe?”

“I’m home,” Eliot called back, knowing his voice sounded too flat.

Quentin frowned at him as Eliot let himself into their dated Brooklyn one-bedroom. Enforcing for a hedge coven didn’t exactly pay dividends, but Eliot was valuable enough to earn rent for a safe place that Marina didn’t know the address of. Quentin left the artifact he was working on at the kitchen table to approach him, dressed in soft sweatpants. He brushed his thumb under Eliot’s eye, then curled his fingers around the pulsing red bottle that still hung around Eliot’s neck

“You’ve had this on too long,” Quentin chastised him without any real heat, “You know it only makes it worse, El.”

“I’m sorry.”

Eliot wasn’t sorry. But he would be shortly. That he could remember at least.

“You need a hand?”

Eliot’s sigh could have been relief, if he were capable of feeling anything.

“Please.”

Quentin nodded. “Let’s get comfortable on the couch.”

They settle on their second hand loveseat, Eliot peeled out of his coat and tie and Quentin in his lap with Eliot’s arms around his waist. He would be grateful for the warm weight of his lover in a moment. This was part of their routine, for the bad days when Eliot came home still numb.

Quentin took the little bottle in his hands, like it was precious. The gold chain still hung loose around Eliot’s neck. Marina’s collar.

“I wish you didn’t need this.” It was as close as Quentin ever got to questioning Eliot’s work. He understood, really. Eliot owed a debt. The manner in which he paid it took a toll. For both of their sakes Quentin never asked for more specifics than that, but he was close enough to the coven to know what Marina was. What Eliot must be.

Eliot touched Quentin’s chin, gentle as he could manage.

“I need to feel for you,” he said, “But I can’t feel...with her.” They weren’t the right words, not quite, but Quentin’s eyes tightened, and he nodded, so Eliot knew he got the message. Quentin sat up on his knees to press a kiss to Eliot’s brow, then settled in.

“Okay, deep breath—” Quentin worked the cork out of the bottle, setting the vapor free, and against all his better instincts Eliot inhaled.

Eliot’s vision hazed red, and all he could hear was the desperate, feeble choking of the hedge he’d tortured that afternoon. Again, Marina said, a hungry glint in her eye as Eliot cut off his air— fuck, fuck, he hadn’t felt a thing, not a goddamned second of remorse— Alright, that’s enough. He doesn’t have anything else to give. Marina said this with an air of real disappointment. Eliot heard his own voice, flat and disinterested. Should I kill him?

Should I—

“Eliot.”

—kill—      

“El, please, stay with me.”

him?

Eliot let out a sound like a wounded animal. He realized he was nearly hyperventilating, his arms tight around Quentin like he might be able to crawl inside him and hide from his shame if he just tried hard enough. Quentin’s weight, his strong arms, these were the only things keeping Eliot from shattering into pieces.

“Sorry, sorry sorry—”

“It’s okay, honey. It’s okay. I know it’s intense, you can let it out.”   

Christ, Quentin. Eliot was the weapon. He did the dirty work. Why did he have to bring it home to his boyfriend?

“Jesus fuck, Q, why do I keep putting this on you, I’m so fucking sorry—”

“Shhh, shh,” Quentin hushed him, pet his hair, held him so close, “I’m here.”

Quentin breathed with him, counting slow until Eliot could keep in time. Hot tears streaked his face and his hands fisted in the back of Quentin’s shirt, but he could breath. Quentin spoke to him then, soft and even, like Eliot had done for him so many times after his own panic attacks.

“You know how to do this,” Quentin murmured, cupping Eliot’s face in his warm hands, “Find something good. It doesn’t matter if it’s too much. Get through the mess, El, and find something good to feel. It’s all still there with the bullshit, I promise.”

Eliot tried. He dug deep, through the self-loathing and the fear and the horror until all that was left—all that he had to grasp onto with both hands was—

“I love you.” It came out ragged and desperate. “Q, I love you so much.”

Quentin smiled then. It was sad, as so many of Quentin’s smiles were, but it was beautiful nonetheless.

“There you are,” he sighed, sliding their brows together, “Baby, I love you too.”

“Why?” Eliot croaked. He was a mess. Worse, a monster. He-he hurt people—and all for—

“Because you take care of me,” Quentin replied, easy as anything. Eliot choked on a sob, drawing Quentin in until he could kiss him, open mouthed and needy. God, how did he have anything this good in his life? Quentin was so sweet to him, so gentle. Eliot couldn’t possibly deserve this tenderness but fuck if he wasn’t going to be selfish with it.

“Please don’t leave me.”

Quentin’s eyes are bright, his lips rosy and kiss slick.

“Never,” he promised, and it was truly pathetic how much those words soothed the beast lying in wait behind Eliot’s ribs. He nuzzled into Quentin’s jaw, breathing in his cheap aftershave and letting desperation settle into desire. Quentin’s method was tried and true, having dealt with Eliot’s emotion bottle hangovers for over a year now. Eliot focused on his positive emotions—namely, his love and affection for one nerdy Brakebills drop-out—and let them overwhelm him. Eliot kissed the pulse in Quentin’s throat and found a smile for him.    

“Let me take care of you now,” he murmured, slipping his hands under the soft soft cotton of Quentin’s shirt. His skin was so smooth. So warm. Eliot was so lucky. “Let me show you how much I love you.”

Quentin smiled then—sad again, but only a little—and his cheeks flushed. When Eliot rolled him onto his back he laughed, and when Eliot kissed his throat he moaned. Eliot unwrapped Quentin like the gift he was and worshipped him like he deserved, and he knew that tomorrow he’d be back at Marina’s side, cold and vicious and whatever else she needed him to be.

Because this—his Q, his baby, safe and sound at home, sweet and eager under him, curled around Eliot in their double bed every night—was worth it. There was no part of himself Eliot wouldn’t give to keep the life they shared, and no one he wouldn’t kill to protect it.

After all, Eliot was a weapon, first and foremost. Anyone who tried to threaten what he loved would see how quick he was to fire.