Quentin didn't feel the wards drop, only became aware Eliot had returned when he felt a soft kiss on the top of his head. He closed his book, tossed it – carefully – onto the coffee table, and tilted his head back to get an upside-down kiss from his boyfriend.
“Ugh, we have rules about PDA,” Julia said from the other couch. “Take it to your bedroom, guys.”
Eliot kissed Quentin for a while longer, enough to more than make the point that Julia wasn't the boss of him, then he pulled away.
“If we leave, Q will get to see all the new spells first,” Eliot pointed out, climbing over the back of the couch and weighing down Quentin's lap with his long, long legs. “You'd definitely regret that, Jules. Bambi gave me some great ones this time. That horomancy elective she's taking has some fascinating implications for an amateur meta-comp specialist.”
Eliot tossed a hefty binder onto the table and grinned when Julia snatched it up and started flipping through the pages.
“You're the best,” Julia said, in a sing-song, eyes lighting up as she ran a finger down the detailed diagrams and notes. “I'm really looking forward to meeting your Bambi one day. So comprehensive. Exquisite penmanship, too.”
'One day' probably wouldn't come until after Eliot's friend graduated from Brakebills. It was risky enough for her to be feeding spells to an expelled student – if anyone found out she was essentially teaching an entire hedge safe house, Quentin wasn't sure what might happen to her.
“Speaking of PDA, where are your better two-thirds?” Eliot asked. “Bambi was able to sweet-talk Sunderland into spilling more info on how travellers work.”
“Supply run,” Julia answered, still focused on the binder. Penny was always the best choice on a run, since he could blip them out of trouble if things went sideways. Kady had volunteered to join him this time so that Julia and Quentin could get the chance to chill as friends.
They'd caught up on some of the shows that their housemates declared 'too nerdy' for their tastes, and then settled in to read different books in the same room. Eliot said that didn't count as a 'social activity' which just proved that even Eliot could be wrong sometimes.
“Oooh, yes, we've got notes from Glasses, too,” Julia said, with great delight. “Tell your Bambi to never break up with her – she's got such an amazing handle on contradictions and sympathies in circumstances.”
“I will pass on the request,” Eliot said, faux-solemnly. “No dumping the hottie with great tits who makes her gush like a fire hose when she comes. It'll be a trial for her, I'm sure, but she'll probably manage.”
“Ugh, fuck, Q, rein in your boyfriend's mouth,” Julia said, wrinkling her nose. “I mean, you do realize he's probably told Bambi all about your kinky sex games, right?”
“We don't have-”
“Try that on someone who didn't walk in on you,” Julia said, darkly. “You were suspended from the ceiling. There were clamps in places I didn't realize people ever put clamps.”
Quentin rolled his eyes. “I refuse to believe Kady's never tied you up.” And Julia blushed and said nothing, so that was a point for him.
He rested his hands on Eliot's legs and let himself stare a bit. Eliot had on a new vest (embroidered and golden) and a new tie (blue but with swirls that matched the vest) and he looked amazing. Eliot always ended up with new clothes after a day out with Bambi, and he looked so perfectly put together that Quentin was struck with the sudden desire to muss him up. He tugged the tie loose, crumpling the fabric – silk? – between his fingers. Eliot smiled at him, lazy and self-satisfied, and Quentin honestly didn't care how much of their sex life Eliot was sharing with Bambi. If it made him that happy to spend time with her, that was all that mattered. Even the magic didn't matter as much as Eliot's smile.
Anyway, they owed her a lot. She was the only reason their safe house even existed, after all. She'd broken the rules after Eliot had been expelled, had sought him out and brought back his memory.
One day, when she wasn't tied to Brakebills anymore and it was safe for them to meet her and know her real name... Quentin was really looking forward to thanking her. Having the safe house, having Eliot... he was pretty sure it had saved his life.
So, yeah, all things considered, Quentin didn't care if she knew all his dirty sex secrets. She'd earned them.
“Q, there's a cooperative in here that you've got to do with me,” Julia said. There a pause, then a heavy sigh. “Jesus, Coldwater, do I have to pull out our safe-house agreement to remind you about the rule regarding PDA in the goddamn common room. Taking off Eliot's clothes qualifies as P-D-fucking-A, asshole.”
Quentin was about to protest his innocence when he realized his hand was halfway down Eliot's shirt.
“Some people would pay good money for a show like this,” Eliot said, unrepentant.
Quentin, meanwhile, sheepishly pulled his hand away and put it primly back into his lap. “What- uh- what were you saying about a cooperative spell?”
“It's a reversal spell – kind of like casting 'dispel magic',” Julia said, firmly ignoring Eliot. “But incredibly strong. Anyway, it's- well, the best way to describe it is 'anti-sex magic'.”
“Anti-sex magic?” Quentin asked, dubiously.
“Yeah, it's friendship-based and, apparently, a lot stronger if there's no sexual energy between the casters.”
Even now, two years after his crush on Julia had whimpered in its final death throes, that was a difficult sentence to hear.
“Well,” Eliot said, very deliberately, before Quentin could trip all over his own words awkwardly. “It'll have to wait. I need to steal my boyfriend away and explore some extremely sexual energy with him.”
Eliot stood up, held a hand out to Quentin.
“Or, you could carry me,” Quentin suggested, not moving. He wondered if Eliot remembered their first meeting as vividly as Quentin did, the way he'd asked if Q and Julia were a 'matched set' and Julia had laughed and said Quentin was 'like a brother' to her and Eliot's face had been- sympathetic in a way that didn't feel condescending at all. He suspected that Eliot did remember.
“Spoiled,” Eliot said, approvingly. He reached down and scooped Quentin into his arms, and Quentin felt the soft familiar tingle of Eliot's telekinesis taking part of his weight. “You're going to make me do all the work, aren't you?”
Quentin threw an arm around Eliot's neck and pressed himself against Eliot's chest. Nodded.
“You are literally a few feet from your bedroom and its silencing wards,” Julia said but from the corner of his eye, he could see her starting to look through the book again. “Oh, and, hey, Eliot? Bring him back in two hours so he can do this spell with me.”
“I make no promises,” Eliot said lightly, and carried Quentin away.