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Fillory, Year Two

“What if—what if we never—what if we never get out of here? Like what if we can’t find magic—and like—it’s—we can’t do it? And magic is gone? And—and—and—”

Quentin is pacing around the mosaic, and Eliot watches him from his spot on the daybed, checking out his shapely legs and the gentle curve of his ass, the taut lines of his back beneath his wrap shirt. Eliot always wants to unwrap Quentin, a gift just for him, better than all the gifts he’s ever gotten. All of them combined. He can’t be expected to think about the fucking puzzle when in fact Quentin is—just walking around looking like that. He turns, and his huge brown eyes fix on Eliot, and Eliot can tell he’s close to tears.

“Baby, come sit down. We’re gonna figure it out. Okay? This year, I know it. We’re getting close.”

Quentin presses the heels of his palms to his eyes and wipes away his tears. “Yeah?”

“Yeah,” Eliot lies. “We’ve got the plan to go through all the greatest works of art, alternating with nature scenes. And I think—those are fantastic plans. And we’re doing it. We’re making it happen, okay?” As far as plans go, he’s pretty fucking neutral on them. Eliot could give a shit about the plans. But they’re something. They’re here and doing the thing, and he can reassure Quentin enough so that he doesn’t have a panic attack. That’s Eliot’s job; that’s the thing he can contribute.

That job extends, at this point in time, to the role of maybe-boyfriend. And it’s—maybe it’s a shitty thing for Eliot, the knowledge that this isn’t what Quentin would choose in the real world, regardless of his self-professed enjoyment of dick. Eliot’s a consolation prize, but he’s good at it—this job of caretaking. He’s never had the impulse to take care of anyone apart from maybe Margo, never thought he’d be great at it, not in this extended capacity. But when Quentin looks at him like that, cracked open and vulnerable, it’s the only thing Eliot wants to do. Fuck everything else.

“Y-you think so? You think we’ll figure it out?”

He holds out his hand. “Yes, I do. Now come here. Let me take your mind off it.”

“El, we should really do another design.”

“Hm. No.” He shakes his head, beckons with his hand.

“We can’t just—take every afternoon off and fuck.”

Eliot doesn’t point out that that’s what they have been doing for the past three months, and Quentin usually has zero problem with it if it means getting his mouth on Eliot’s dick or riding him until he comes. But Quentin’s in a delicate mood, so he doesn’t say any of that. “I didn’t say we were going to fuck.”

Quentin raises an eyebrow and steps closer, close enough that Eliot can grab his hand and pull him down on the daybed in one quick motion. It’s spelled to be a little warmer, and he tucks them both in beneath the blanket, kicking off his shoes and nudging at Quentin’s until he takes them off.

“Oh yeah? So we’re on the bed for no reason?”

“There’s a reason. I didn’t say we weren’t going to fuck. But we’re going to talk first—”

“I don’t want to talk about the puzzle—”

“We’re absolutely not talking about the fucking puzzle. We’re lying here. And you’re going to tell me a story.”

“Mmm.” Quentin makes a small grumbling noise and sighs, but he doesn’t say no. Eliot knows they were about to be faced with a full Quentin Coldwater spiral, and, in a world without Xanax and very limited access to good alcohol, he’s found other ways to halt the rapid cycling of Quentin’s nervous system. One of them is fucking. Another is stories. Another is stories about fucking. Because why not?

“You never told me about the other times with James—”

“Oh my God, not this again. Listen, it was—there wasn’t anything like, exciting about it.”

Eliot doesn’t believe it for a second. In part because they had a multi-hour fuckfest after Quentin’s loving description of riding James’ cock on the weird plaid couch at his lake house. And in part because Eliot thinks about it more than what might be considered a normal amount. Thinks about uncertain, oblivious Quentin fucking James for the first time, driving into him, coming inside—Eliot thinks about it. Quite a lot.

He sort of hates James for the mere fact that he got to have Quentin like that. He hates that Quentin came to the realization he liked boys because of this dumb, goofy jock—jerking off to the image of his bare chest at fifteen, sixteen, his sexuality coming alive because of James—and not because of Eliot. If he’d gotten Quentin alone—all young and sweet at twenty-one, eager and pliant and out of his mind with lust—he never would have let him go back to pining in his room alone. James was a moron.

“I beg to differ, sweetheart. I find you swooning over boys fascinating. And I’m still upset I spent months lusting after you, thinking you were straight.”

“What about me screams ‘straight?’”

“Dunno,” Eliot says, undoing the tie at Quentin’s waist, pulling it open and slipping his hand beneath the fabric and fishing around until he finds the other tie, opening it. He lets out a deep breath, relieved that he can just touch Quentin now, touch him how he wants. He’ll take anything he can get. “Nothing now.”

“So you sure you wanna hear—”

“Yeah, you said three other times.”

“It was like. Some fooling around and—yeah three or four times like fully having sex. I dunno.” He scrunches up his adorable face. “Maybe it was more than that.”

Eliot has the vague impression Quentin is downplaying it, like there might be more to the story. He doesn’t know for sure but he’s willing to bet. “C’mon. Give me the highlight reel. Then I’ll make you feel good.” He nips at Quentin’s jaw. “I love making you feel good. Come on”

That’s as good as an admission, but Eliot really can’t be fucked to care right now. Quentin’s scattered-fast heartbeat is stilling beneath his hands.

“Okay, so—they were broken up for a while that time. And, yeah. So it was—there was a lot of tension. But Julia was around. So.”

“So,” Eliot replies.

~~***~~

Manhattan, August 2014

James and Julia don’t get back together right away—as it turns out.

The night Quentin and James get home from their stay at James’ lake house, James puts his bag away and then just appears in Quentin’s room, wearing his black boxer briefs and nothing else. “Okay if I crash in here, bro?”

Quentin is already tucked into bed, reading, and his whole body goes hot at the sight of James. There are hickeys fading along the line of his collarbone, and Quentin can see the outline of James’ cock pushing against the fabric of his underwear. “Um. Yeah… man.”

“It’s just lonely without anyone in my bedroom.”

Quentin gestures to the empty space beside him, his heart pounding wildly. “Uh. Go for it. There’s plenty of room.”

They both read for a while—Quentin on the last few pages of Red Rising and James is reading the latest Malcolm Gladwell, picking out a passage to read to Quentin every ten minutes. Which would be annoying—but it’s actually just cute coming from James. Quentin’s eyes glaze over when James tells Quentin that ten thousand hours will make anyone an expert in anything. That doesn’t sound right, but he’s imagining ten thousand hours of sucking James’ cock, which is like 400 some continuous days. But James is excited about all things Malcolm Gladwell, so Quentin nods like he’s paying attention. It’s weirdly domestic, lying in bed together, their feet touching beneath the covers.

The city has cooled down, and their AC is more or less working, so they both huddle under Quentin’s covers after he turns off the light. It’s not exactly surprising when he feels the bed dip down, the weight of James moving closer, his lips brushing against Quentin’s shoulder. “I’d just be getting myself off thinking about you if I weren’t in your bed.”

“Oh my God, James,” he says, clutching the covers up around his neck. He’s across the hall from James’ room with Julia, and his dick is getting very interested in the current proceedings, and it’s maybe turning him on more that they’re at home, in their apartment, where he thought about fucking James a thousand times. But. “Julia’s, uh. Coming home in the morning.”

“So? She’s not here now. And she was with some guy over the weekend.”

Ah. There it is. Well, whatever. Quentin can be—a good friend. Is this being a good friend? Or is he letting himself get taken advantage of? He kind of wants James to take advantage of him, like, repeatedly. And emotional fallout—he can make it through this without that, right? Quentin clears his throat. “So you wanna?”

James is already pulling the covers down, away from Quentin’s grasping hands, brushing his thumb against Quentin’s nipples in the dark, the yellow-orange light of passing cars illuminating James’ face. It happens in flashes—James’ mouth hot against his, Quentin’s boxers rucked down and James pressed between his knees, their cocks nested together as James rocks and rocks against him, grunting and nipping at Quentin’s earlobe.

“God, I’m so hard—after looking at your legs for fucking—two hours—getting back to the city. I can’t stop thinking about your face when I was—nnnh—” James clutches at Quentin’s hip, grunting and rutting, aimless and frantic. Every brush of James’ cock against his sends crackles of electricity to his core, expanding up and out, filling his veins.

James was thinking about his legs? He thinks, absently, as James fucks hard and slick with precome against his dick, his hip, whatever exposed skin he can find—like they’re fucking teenagers at overnight camp—which is a fairly erotic thought and Quentin moans, shameless, gripping Jame’s bicep and launching himself up to bite his shoulder.

“Oh—oh my fucking god—Q—” James’ abs tense up, and Quentin clutches desperately at them just to feel the muscles beneath his fingers. He’s coming hard and quick in spurts over Quentin’s belly and moving lower—not even hesitating before taking Quentin’s dick in his mouth. And it’s better this time, all molten-wet heat, and Quentin is coming in seconds down his throat, his pleasure cresting like a wave, a wave of light; he’s sobbing and bucking up into James’ mouth, fingers tangling in his hair, thighs trembling.

It’s a while before they disentangle themselves and clean up. After that, James gets right back into Quentin’s bed and wraps around him like a possessive starfish. Quentin sleeps better than he has in ages, waking up with his head pressed to James’ chest.

~~***~~

“He went from ‘I’m definitely straight’ to ‘I’ll be sleeping in your bed, bro’ in three days?”

“Five days,” Quentin says.

Eliot’s hand rests right at the ridge of Quentin’s pretty hip. His hands look so good on Quentin’s hips. He draws Quentin in, bodies pressed close, his lips pressed to Quentin’s neck. Eliot breathes him in: smoke and lavender, winter air and clean, salty sweat. “I don’t blame him. Look at you.”

“God—he could have had like—anyone. I mean. I was just…” Quentin trails off.

“You were what?” Eliot runs his fingers over Quentins ribs, watching, enchanted, as his body tenses and shivers. He responds so nicely beneath Eliot’s touch.

Quentin furrows his brow, a crease appearing on his forehead. His downturned lips form a soft pout. “I was convenient.”

Eliot laughs into Quentin’s hair, kissing him along his ear, down over his jaw, delighted. “You’re ridiculous.”

“What?” Quentin pokes his arm, and Eliot grabs his wrist, turning his hand and locking their fingers together.

“You are hardly convenient. You are—”

“Oh my God—stop it—”

“—extremely high maintenance. Not in the least bit easy. Unless it regards getting a dick in your mouth. If I’d known how easy that was—”

“Well, Jesus, I thought I made myself pretty obvious.”

“Hardly.” Eliot licks the spot behind his ear. It tastes like him, like fresh, sweet air and ozone, and wasn’t Quentin just telling him about boning his straight roommate? Yeah, he needs to do that some more. Eliot’s watched that porn, but he has no access here. So Quentin’s heavily fabricated erotica will have to do. “So you guys fucked again after that, yeah?”

~~***~~

Quentin wakes sometime after dawn, his arms and legs still tangled together with James’. It had all happened so fast and so fucking—filthy—last night. If this were any of the other guys he’s hooked up with, the dude would be long gone, and Quentin would be jerking off about it and getting a few more hours of sleep after coming down from the follow-up orgasm.

But this is not a normal day because nothing is normal anymore, and James is in his bed, and they’re both naked, and everything still smells like sex.

And there’s a container of lube on the bedside table. Lube. It occurs to Quentin that there might be something better than jerking off on the table this morning. Quentin runs his fingers over the length of James’ forearm, honey-gold hair soft beneath his fingertips.

James stirs and stretches. “Mmm.” The low timber of his voice rumbles against Quentin’s back. “I like the thought of waking up next to you.”

“Yeah—well—your girlfriend is coming home this morning—”

“She’s not my girlfriend,” James says. Quentin often says the wrong thing at exactly the wrong time, and that—that was the wrong thing.

“Um. I’m sorry.”

“S’fine.” He kisses Quentin’s neck, hand slipping around Quentin’s waist, thumb running along the jut of his hip bone. The simple touch sends a shock straight to his dick, and he’s growing hard, inches from James’ hand.

“Look, I’m just saying,” Quentin says, swallowing audibly. “Do you want to deal with the, uh, repercussions of her finding out you’re sleeping with me—like—like—” Quentin’s mouth goes dry. “—like that you have slept with me and are currently in bed with me. And—and—I mean, not like it’s a continuing thing.”

“Okay, Q. Calm down.” James isn’t getting up to leave, so he thinks he probably hasn’t fucked up entirely. “I don’t necessarily want to deal with the discussion Julia will have at both of us.”

“Yeah, uh. No.”

“I also don’t want to not do this.” He brushes his knuckles over Quentin’s nipple, kissing him and licking into his mouth as he gasps, arching up into James’ touch and making a pained, needy sound. “I want to do this a lot. It can continue right now, can’t it?”

“What—what exactly did you have in mind?” Julia’s not due home for a while, he thinks, anyway. He can still feel the ghost of James’ mouth on his dick and just thinking about that soft, slick heat has him fizzing all over, like he’s a flute of champagne, bubbles inside the glass floating up and disappearing. His cock is straining now, very much insistent that something needs to be done about its current state.

“I wanna fuck you again. Right here, in your bed. That’s what I thought about, you know. When I was thinking about you.” Beneath the covers, James’ hand finds his cock, gripping him, warmth climbing through thighs, snaking through his body and adding to the luminous coil of need at the core of him.

Quentin makes an embarrassingly high-pitched whine, bucking up into James’ hand. It’s a stupid idea to continue this—there’s nothing in it for them, like, at all. A few moments of pleasure, really, and then James’ll just go back to his wholesome lacrosse-friendly het relationship, and if it goes further, if it progresses, Quentin knows he’s going to lose himself and end up spending a month in bed, unable to tell either of his best friends a fucking word because he’s been fucking one of them behind the other’s back and—

“Lube,” Quentin says, shoving it in the general vicinity of James’ hand. “Come on.”

James’ hand is shaking when he squirts a line of Sliquid—one of Quentin’s many brands of lube—maybe he really is a ho—over his fingers. James, sitting back on his haunches, looks a little lost. Like he’s not able to connect the wanna fuck part of him with the exceptionally cocky jock. Like somehow, something doesn’t compute. “I’m—I haven’t—you’ve just ridden me so—how do you want to do this?”

Quentin grins, swallows a laugh. You’d think James would be fine putting his dick in something given his twenty-one-ish years of supposed heterosexuality, but it’s not translating at this exact moment. His eyes dart from side to side, and now he’s looking somewhere above Quentin’s head, nervous. And it’s cute, somehow. So cute that Quentin has to bite down on a smile and—

“Hey, we did this twice at the lake house. And I wanna—” He tugs on James’ wrist, pulling him down, between his legs. “—do it again. I wanna make you feel good. Just get me open and—I’ll love it. Fuck me like this. I wanna see your face when you—when you get inside me.”

“God—you’re unreal.”

Quentin huffs. “I’m plenty real. I’m—” Quentin forgets what he’s going to say before James covers his mouth with a kiss, his slicked hand going to Quentin’s cock and stroking him—better this time than the last few—heat swirling thick in the pit of his stomach, down the line of his thighs. His fingers slip lower, cupping his balls, trailing over his perineum and pressing against the taut rim of his hole.

“Uh—you could spread your legs,” James murmurs, almost tentative, like it just occurred to him that he can say things, like he doesn’t know how Quentin’s going to react. Like Quentin doesn’t love having a dick inside him and he might bolt out of the room and hide behind the couch, naked with his lubed up balls.

Quentin bites his lower lip and tries not to laugh into James shoulder, spreading his legs and—his laughter vanishes as James presses in with one slicked up finger, sinking in to his second knuckle and holy shit, it feels better than any one finger has the right to. James’ cock is hard and blood hot against his hip, and he’s panting, groaning into Quentin’s ear like he’s the one with his legs spread. Quentin’s thighs are burning when James slips a second finger inside, and he’s bearing down, his cock jumping with each little brush over his prostate.

“Fuck—so good. You’re doing so good,” Quentin murmurs, cupping James’ face in his hand and giving himself over to opening up for him, relaxing around him, shivering and gasping as James—kind of clumsily—twists and stretches his fingers, mimicking Quentin’s technique—and probably what he’s watched in porn. Quentin loves the thought of James ‘investigating’ gay porn while Julia was at class, to slake his ‘curiosity,’ jerking off to it and thinking about Quentin because that’s what ‘guys do sometimes.’

“You like opening up for me,” James says, pushing Quentin’s knee up and pressing a third finger inside, grunting as he fucks into him with those strong fingers. “Just for me. I like that. Just for me.” James is steady and gentle and patient, unlike a few of the other guys who’d gotten this far with Quentin. It feels languorous and lazy. He hasn’t had the opportunity to wake up to morning sex many times in his life. It’s decadent, like French toast brunch sandwiches or coffee with too much cream.

“I’m ready,” Quentin says, “so ready. I want you to—split me open—I love how you fill me up.”

James sighs and nestles between Quentin’s legs, hands on his hips, his cock rutting against the slick channel of his ass. “You feel so good here.” James’ cock hitches against his hole; he can feel himself tensing and relaxing against it, a steady current of arousal thrumming through him.

“You can fuck my thighs any time,” Quentin says, feeling high. “I did it before, and I like it—but now you should—” Quentin squirms down against him, and he feels the head of James’ cock, thick and blunt, against the tight furl of his hole.

“I want you any way you’ll have me.” James’ expression is stricken, emotion heavy on his features—and that’s normal. He’s slipping inside, and Quentin is stretching around him, and it’s normal that he’s staring into Quentin’s eyes with something like reverence. It’s normal that he’s gasping and making sounds like all the air’s been sucked from his lungs, and it’s normal that he’s cupping Quentin’s face and his whole body is shuddering, tensed muscles pressed against Quentin’s cock. It’s because he wants Quentin—at least for now. At least like this. So it’s—really, it’s just a natural reaction. That’s what Quentin is seeing. And he can’t convince himself of anything else. He won’t.

And it’s, you know, sex. This is how people have sex, but it’s never been quite like this with anyone else.

When James is fully seated inside Quentin, he kisses him gentle and tender, gasping into his mouth, carding his fingers through Quentin’s hair. “Jesus, that’s tight. Fuck, Q, you feel so good.”

Wrapping his legs around James’ hips, heels digging into the back of his thighs, he draws him in deeper, grinding up against his cock, relishing the heady rush of opening around his thick cock. He realizes he’s digging his nails into James’ shoulders, and neither of them are really moving. They’re just kissing, just barely rocking against each other. Quentin swears he could come just like this, his cock trapped between their bodies, James barely brushing against it as they breathe, heavy and hot, with James’ dick angled heavy against his prostate. It’s more than he can stand, and he’s going insane with it, his cock dripping precome onto his abdomen, his ass clinging to James’ dick and sending wild pulses of energy through his nerves.

“Fuck me,” Quentin murmurs, his cheeks burning. “I want it hard. Come on.”

“Don’t wanna hurt you.” It’s cute, how concerned he is. Like Quentin might break from a good dicking. At this point he might break from James refusing to fuck him.

“Come on—come on, I need it,” Quentin says, canting his hips up to take James’ dick as far as he can inside him, and James’ body tense and shivers all over. “So you should just—actually—fuck me—I know how strong you are, and I wanna—I wanna feel it all day tomorrow. Hold me down and, fuck me.”

~~***~~

“Um, Q?” Eliot’s halfway to all-the-way hard, and Quentin is half naked already, curled into Eliot’s side. He’s distractingly cute. And he’s a liar. Really, Eliot can’t entertain the possibility that this Quentin existed at Brakebills his first year and hadn’t given Eliot the same treatment that fucking James had gotten. Lacrosse captain, econ-major James. Eliot is not at all a little bit jealous that it wasn’t him, and that plays no part in his meta-analysis of Quentin’s storytelling choices.

“Yeah?” Quentin gives Eliot an impatient little frown.

“Don’t get me wrong. I’m enjoying your story—”

“If you,” Quentin starts, a slight edge to his voice, “insinuate that this did not happen one more time, I am locking myself in the cottage and jerking off without you. And I won’t make dinner.”

“Okay, fine. Continue.”

“Really—this happened, Eliot. I wish you’d stop—”

“Look, I’m just stunned at the depth of this story. It started with two guys kissing at the lake—”

“Yeah, it absolutely did.”

“—and it’s gotten wildly out of hand. Really quickly. He was fucking you in your apartment where he lived with his girlfriend?”

“Yeah. But they weren’t together for like—two months. I told you.”

“And you claim it was like three times—this is already twice. In a day.”

“Look. You wanted to know the story. This is the story. I left out some—details. Last time. Or—or—well, I just—all the stuff after the lake house was weird. And I didn’t want to get into it, okay? But if you want me to tell you—”

“I do,” Eliot says, feeling a surge of protectiveness at the anxiety in Quentin’s tone. Eliot wouldn’t have made things weird. Okay, actually, Eliot was great at fucking things up, but. He wouldn’t have. Not with Quentin. Not if he was right there, in his bed, begging to be—

~~***~~

“... filled,” Quentin says. “I want it so fucking much—I wanna feel your big cock—”

James makes a sound like he’s been punched in the stomach, and he kisses Quentin, filthy and wet, groaning into his mouth. He starts with halting, experimental thrusts, barely moving his hips. But it’s hitting Quentin just right, and his mouth is hot against Quentin’s neck.

“Oh God that’s—that’s good,” Quentin says, something like relief flooding through him, the top of his head and the ridges of his cheekbones tingling as James’ hips stutter, his arms shaking as he fucks Quentin, like he’s overcome, staggered by it. Which is typical, you know, for sex things. That’s typically how people react with like new sex things and new-sex-buddy-energy.

“Is that—is it good? You like it?”

“Y-yeah, mmmn—you can—” He catches James’ wrist and tugs his hand to the headboard. “—get leverage if you hold on here.” James’ mouth is a perfect O, and Quentin surges up to kiss his soft, pink lips.

James grips the top of the bed frame and thrusts, once, hard, and the bed shakes. “Like that?”

“Fuck, that’s good—yeah, like that—oh, holy fuck—”

Quentin remembers going to James’ lacrosse games as early as his sophomore year in high school, watching his thick, muscled thighs as he ran. Quentin, being Quentin, didn’t just focus on James’ body; he also watched and tried to see what James was watching. That didn’t make Quentin actually like lacrosse. Lacrosse was the worst. But it made him understand James just a smidge better. James frequently stood back, analyzing, doing whatever sports math that jocks do and figuring out when to go all in.

Quentin doesn’t even really know the rules of lacrosse—just that there were balls and sticks with nets, and it’s a sport that, in general, that attracts rich white kids like James. He figures now, as the bed rattles against the wall, as he cries out, the muscles of James’ perfect ass working beneath his heels, that James has passed the point of strategic planning with regards to fucking Quentin and has gone all in.

It’s a continuous loop of pleasure—Quentin gasping and whispering encouragement (“—Yeah—oh fuck, harder—”) and James groaning filthily as he fucks into him, the bed creaking and banging against the wall (“—fuck, Q—you’re—so—”), the wet slapping sounds of sex, grunting and gasping, filling his senses as he feels like he’s splitting open and fuck, he’s so close and he hasn’t even touched himself, doesn’t want to because—he’d have to take attention away from James driving into him, the scrape of teeth against his shoulder, the bruising thrust of strong hips against his ass. Whatever James was going to say is swallowed and lost as he buries himself inside Quentin, making a low, keening sound, his entire body shaking and tensing—like it just hit him, out of the blue, entirely unexpected.

“Fuck, Q—I’m—I’m coming—” Quentin swears he can feel the pulsing of James’ cock inside as he bucks into Quentin. “Oh, holy shit—” His fingers are tangled in Quentin’s hair, clutching and pulling, and he’s sucking at Quentin’s neck hard enough that the skin throbs. James is shivering all over, hips thrusting reflexively, as he comes back to himself.

Quentin’s body is tingling like he’s shot his load—but he hasn’t—and he wonders absently, petting at James’ back, if that’s just what happens when the dick is that good.

“I’m sorry, Q,” James slurs. “I’m gonna take care of you, gonna make you come—” James makes a small, choked off noise when he pulls out, his hand going for Quentin’s aching dick.

“It’s fine—I can finish myself—you don’t have to—”

“Yeah I know you can. I’ve watched you. It’s hot.” James grips him, squeezing once before he settles into a rhythm that has Quentin gasping and arching off the bed, threads of pleasure working up through his thighs, tightening in his belly. “But I’m gonna make you come.”

James keeps working his hand on Quentin’s cock, maddeningly just a bit too slow, so he’s right on edge for long minutes. When his whole body goes rigid and he clutches at his sheets, toes curling, James eases off and kisses Quentin wildly, teasing him with tongue and lips, pressing his tongue inside. Quentin’s breath hitches, his cock frenetic, hot and thrumming, his ass still pulsing and wet from James coming inside him, and he thinks he could come just like this—with James kissing him, his thumb stroking along his cheekbone—he could rock his hips and focus on the sound and scent and feel of him and come, hot and desperate, all over his belly, covering himself, filthy.

But James is kissing down the line of his neck, nosing into his armpit and biting at his ribs, kissing over his belly and inching closer to Quentin’s dick. When James licks at the base of Quentin’s cock and traces his tongue along the underside of his dick, Quentin bucks his hips, the head of his cock slipping between James’ lips. Quentin’s brain is sparking, bright and loud, and he doesn’t register it right away—the door to their apartment opening. The sounds of heels clicking on the hardwoods, bags being put down.

“Oh my God,” Quentin whispers. “James, we have to—”

James looks up at Quentin, his lips wrapped around Quentin’s cock. He pulls off and grabs Quentin’s hip, a small grin on his face. “She won’t know,” he says, low. “Don’t you want me to make you come?”

Quentin’s heart pounds in his ears, his cock jerking hard. He very much wants James’ mouth on his dick; he also very much wants Julia not to know about any part of this. Even if they’re decidedly not together, not even speaking, it’s fucking weird, isn’t it?

James traces a finger down Quentin’s cock, like he’s going back over the line he licked before. And then, lower, tracing a circle around the rim of his hole.

“We can’t—I want to, but we can’t.” There’s a wild edge to his whisper. His cock is flushed and almost angry looking, a bead of precome at his tip. His balls are full and drawn up tight to his body, and he physically needs to come, to shoot his load down the tight heat of James’ throat.

“We can just,” James says, barely audible, “be really quiet.”

And that’s not how Quentin works—Quentin is not quiet. But he gives the slightest nod, and James smiles and sucks down his cock, his cheeks hollowing immediately, zero to sixty actual suction, his tongue and throat working. Quentin clutches at the covers, draws one knee up and plants his foot, focusing focusing focusing on not crying out. He clutches at James’ hair, pulling it, and James actually groans against his dick, sending vibrations to his core. Quentin gasps, legs shaking, a tiny sound slipping out of his mouth.

He can so do this—he’s close, and it’s not going to take long now. He’s silent, body held tense and tight, as James takes him to the root, breathing hard when he pulls back. But, God, after only a few times doing that, he’s fucking phenomenal at it. Some kind of dick-sucking savant.

Quentin’s actually proud of himself for not filling James’ mouth up with come as soon as he launched himself at Quentin’s dick. And he’s quiet, being so quiet—and then James is teasing at his hole again, and Quentin chokes on a half-moan, panting hard and squeezing his eyes shut. Why does anything have a right to feel this good?

“Q? You here?” Julia’s voice pierces through the cloud of his brain, and Quentin startles, fucking up into James mouth, which really only spurs him on. He’s sliding two fingers inside Quentin, taking him down to the back of his throat, swallowing against the head of his cock. He can’t help the little uh-uh-uh sounds he’s making as James fucks his fingers into his aching, needy hole that—honestly—James could fuck all day, and it would never be enough.

“Quentin—I’m home. You in your room? Is James here?”

James presses one-two times against his prostate and Quentin, unable to stop himself, shouts.

“Q—” There’s a knock at the door, and Quentin knows it’s Jules, and his dick is in her ex-boyfriend’s mouth, his thighs trembling as he pulls off of Quentin’s wet dick and slips a third finger inside his ass. “You okay in there?”

“I’m—I’m—ah! I’m busy!” James keeps going, relentless now that he’s found that sensitive bundle of nerves. He’s grinning at Quentin, a mischievous smirk that seems wholly unlike him. James is circling his fingers, not quite hitting it right each time but confident in a way that Quentin hasn’t seen him in bed before and goddamn, that’s good. His ass is already hot and pulsing from being thoroughly fucked, and James is playing him like an instrument as Julia stands just outside. Quentin pants and bites down on another desperate moan as James pets and pets at him inside, dipping down and licking Quentin’s balls, getting them wet and dripping as he finger-fucks Quentin into oblivion.

“Oh—okay. I’ll be working on my LSAT stuff,” Julia yells through the door. “You sure you’re okay?”

“I’m f-fine,” Quentin says, his legs quivering. His eyes go wide as James spreads Quentin’s open, one thumb digging into his ass cheek, and kisses around his rim, licking up his own come.

“You sure?”

“I—I’m sure,” Quentin says shakily, loud and clear enough that Julia is appeased for now. James’ mouth curls into a grin, and he crooks his fingers, pressing in deep and driving the pent-up, tightening pressure higher and higher as Quentin shakes, arousal and hunger whirling and tightening into a too-bright spiral, hanging on edge. Heels clack over the hardwoods, and they hear the door to the room across the hall close.

“You’re so close,” James whispers, and he works in another—Jesus, four fingers—Quentin’s hole stretching around him, his thighs burning and tingling, his cock jumping as James hits him just so again. “I didn’t believe you when you said you could but you’re gonna come. I can see it.”

James is definitely talking too fucking loud, and Julia’s like ten feet away in her room—and she could hear—she could hear. A noise starts low in Quentin’s chest, a low, breathy keening, as his cheeks grow hot and his nipples go hard and pebbled and his balls draw up so tight it hurts.

“Oh, fuck,” he says at full fucking volume. Quentin’s orgasm bursts through him, his cock jerking and spurting all over his abdomen, and he’s biting the inside of his cheek hard enough to draw blood so he won’t cry out again.

“Goddamn,” James says. Which is really, Quentin thinks, a valid reaction.

It should be gross, and it is—like, objectively. He’s covered in come. But James gently wipes him down with a clean towel and crawls back into bed beside Quentin. “I’m going back to sleep,” he says. “Don’t tell Julia I’m in here.”

“Uh. Yeah. Believe me. I won’t.”

When Quentin creeps out of the room some time later, James is still asleep, and Quentin thinks Julia is still in her room. When he turns the corner to the kitchen, it takes a second to process—Julia is standing right in his path to the fridge.

“You have someone in there, Q?”

“Um. What makes you say that?” Quentin looks longingly at the refrigerator, which Julia is standing in front of.

“You’ve got a hickey. Oh, and the blatant sex noises.”

Quentin blinks, eyes growing wide. Does she know? She can’t know, can she? “Uh—oh.”

He lifts his hand to the tender spot just above his collarbone where James sucked, his cock hot and hard against Quentin. And Julia’s—holy fuck—had, like, an analogous experience with James, and maybe he gives hickeys in a, like, particular place. And that might mean that Julia sees it and she knows. She knows that James fucked him and made Quentin come on his fingers. That James marked Quentin up with his hot mouth and bit his tender nipples and—

“Is she nice?”

“Oh. Oh. Um.” Quentin shrugs, letting out a breath he didn’t know he was hanging onto, his heart rate going down, down, down to a non-medical-emergency state. “He’s um.” Fuck. “Fine.”

It’s best not to commit to anything particular when it comes to Julia. Shit.

“A boy. Well, he’s very lucky. You’re a total catch.” Before she gives him free passage to the refrigerator, she leans in close to his ear—and Quentin is very aware he smells like sweat and sex—Jesus Christ. “I don’t know where he is, but James will be totally jealous.”

Quentin opens his mouth and then clamps it shut. When it comes to Julia, less is more. And in this situation, regardless of that incredibly out-of-nowhere comment, as close to zero as possible is the name of the game. Quentin gives her a weird little salute and scoots by to the refrigerator; he pulls out two bottles of water and books it back to his room without saying another word.

~~***~~

“So business-jock James read pop-econ-psychology in bed with you and fucked you tenderly the next morning?” Eliot puts on a smile, even though there’s a strange bit of ticking jealousy simmering low in his gut.

“Yeah. I liked it,” Quentin says, pulling Eliot’s hand to his waist and huddling in closer, trailing his lips over Eliot’s neck. His lips, hot and soft, teeth against his skin—Eliot shivers, jolts running down the network of his nerves, his heart jumping in the way that it does when he’s with Quentin, curled up like this.

“And this continued to happen?”

“For a while, I guess. Julia was, like, out of town a bunch.” Quentin shrugs like it’s really no big deal that he was fucking his roommate regularly. If it were Eliot, it might be actually no big deal. But this is Quentin.

“And you didn’t have feelings for him?”

Quentin, who normally doesn’t stop wriggling, even in his sleep, grows still. He raises one shoulder, very slowly, in a shrug. “No, not really.”

“Hm.” Eliot lets that not really sit where it is and takes the opportunity to kiss Quentin, tongue pressed to the pouty frown that’s appeared on Quentin’s face.

Really, it’s a shame Quentin doesn’t actually know what he looks like—how boyish and open his face is, the strong line of his jaw, the sweep of his hair. Q looks in the mirror and sees a potato with eyes attached to a body made of popsicle sticks and rubber cement, not the actual lovely makeup of his many exquisite parts. His brain whirs and turns and reinterprets the images to something that is at worst, hideous; at best, simply plain.

The reality, as it always is with Quentin, is skewed by the meaner parts of his brain.

~~***~~

It’s happening more than it should be. It’s a continuing thing, and it’s actually the best sex of Quentin’s life. James has ostensibly moved his room into their “guest bedroom,” which is technically a walk-in closet or a would-be laundry room that they stuffed a futon into. There isn’t room for much of anything else. James, to be fair, is usually sleeping there. But often enough—three times last week—he’s sneaking into Quentin’s room and slipping beneath the covers. Last night, they’d just jerked off side by side, watching each other—with the fucking lights on—and Quentin came so hard his brain went completely blank. There’s something nostalgic about it, just jerking off with a friend. Not that Quentin had ever done anything like that—but he’d majorly fantasized about it. It was a peak James fantasy, if he was being totally honest.

He should stop. They should stop.

But James is still running daily. He’s lifting weights and staying up late with Quentin watching movies, and in the morning, he’s gotten into the habit of making juice for both of them. He’s hot—and cute and considerate. He’s maybe a little bit of an exhibitionist and possibly using Quentin to get back at Julia in some way. And also possibly the best sex Quentin’s ever had.

So he’s not stopping, probably, until James does.

This morning, he’s using some new premium juice maker that requires him to feed fruit into a tube, and he has to use some kind of crank to help extract the nutrients or whatever the fuck. He’s feeding it slices of mango and orange, followed by handfuls of spinach and kale, and finally, a knobby-looking sweet potato.

“This recipe is my favorite so far.” He turns the crank, his bicep jumping as he does.

Quentin’s a bad friend, really, because he’s only really listening so he can watch James and jerk off about it later. “Yeah? You’re adding like—wheatgrass in at the end?

“Yeah, helps build extra muscle,” James says absently. Quentin doesn’t think that could possibly be right, but he hums in agreement anyway, watching James’ back as it moves.

His trapezius—or whatever that lower shoulder muscle is—flexes beneath his too-tight shirt. Seriously, the guy needs some new shirts. James usually figures that Quentin is just one of the guys, so it’s no-shirt-season whenever they’re alone—even if Quentin is one of the guys James has been inside.

And they should stop all the sex stuff. They should. But James is juicing wheatgrass, and he’s looking at Quentin, sly, over his shoulder. “Julia’s out for the day.”

“Oh yeah?” Quentin’s stomach flips. This is something they keep to Quentin’s room.

“I was just thinking,” James says, “about your mouth.” James is still juicing his stupid grass, the hum of the machine whirring on the counter.

“What were you thinking about?” Quentin swallows, his throat clicking audibly.

“Coming in your mouth. I’d like to see you on your—on your knees.” He’s red over his ears and down his neck, his nipples hard. He’s halfheartedly picking at a piece of celery—which has no place in any juice—and glancing over at Quentin.

And yeah, Quentin’s dick is getting hard about it. His body is acting of its own accord entirely, and he’s standing up, jerkily walking to the kitchen and is now standing in front of James, blushing like an idiot. “When’s Julia supposed to be back?”

“After lunch, I think.” James is breathing heavy, and he puts down the fucking stalk of celery he was molesting. He smells like ginger and pineapple and mango and raw kale, salty sweat from his run and Dove body soap. And Quentin’s pushing up to kiss him. James makes a startled sound, but he’s kissing Quentin back, his mouth hot and wet, their lips fitting together.

When Quentin pulls away, he’s panting and half-hard already. “Then, we have a little while.”

Quentin’s always gotten off on giving head, but James is special even in that regard. His cock is long and thick, and it stretches his lips, hits the back of his throat with ease. And James is so, like, boyishly enthusiastic about Quentin sucking his dick, his legs trembling, and his abdomen crunching up when Quentin swallows him down.

“Yeah—we can go to your room—or mine—” James' breath hitches as Quentin runs his fingers over the line of his cock. It’s stiffening up nicely beneath his fingers.

“I don’t think we have to go anywhere.” Quentin’s pulse throbs in his ears, his chest tight, something in his core flipping and shaking. This isn’t him, to do things like this or say things that he wants. But James is singular in a way, different from anyone he’s been with. They grew up together; there was a point in his life where he told James everything. That type of knowing makes it okay. It’s also—James is blown away by anything Quentin does.

“You sure?” His voice is husky and low, like he’s overwhelmed with it, this thing that Quentin is offering him.

“Pretty fucking sure.” Quentin tugs at the waistband of James’ shorts and slips his hand inside, gripping his cock, letting out a huff of air as it jerks beneath his hand. “I want you—I want you to be—rough. Pull my hair. And—just, yeah. Be a little rough.”

“You’re into that?”

“Yeah I—like I wouldn’t be asking if I wasn’t into it.” Before Quentin loses his nerve, he sinks to his knees and rucks down James’ athletic shorts and boxer briefs, and his cock springs free. Quentin looks up at James, and he gives Quentin a quick nod that signifies—Quentin thinks, anyway—that he’s into this, too. Or close enough to into it that his dick is getting pretty hard, close to Quentin’s lips.

Flushed and exposed in the early morning light, his muscled legs and an ass that belongs in statue form in, like, the Louvre, he looks like a god. A prince consort. And Quentin wants him, just simply wants, so much.

Taking James’ cock in his hand, he presses kisses along the line of it, up from the base toward the tip, licking and kissing over the head, pushing his tongue against the slit and tasting the barest hint of salt. James grunts and thrusts forward, pushing between his lips—a thrill rolls down the column of Quentin’s spine. It’s heady and divine—the faintly alkaline taste of his precome, the stretch as he pushes further inside, petal-soft skin against Quentin’s tongue, the push against his palate. His scent, sharp and masculine.

James’ fingers tangle in his hair, the first real pull sending prickles along Quentin’s neck and the ridges of his shoulders. His eyes flutter shut, and he moans shamelessly, pushing forward and taking that nice, big dick to the back of his throat.

“Oh, fuck. You do like that, don’t you?”

The sound Quentin makes in answer is broken and muffled with the cock stuffed in his mouth, but he definitely gets his point across because James pulls again—harder.

“I’ve done it before but—” James starts, grunting as he flexes forward and pushes his cock to the back of Quentin’s throat again, apparently losing his train of thought.

Quentin opens for him. If nothing else comes of this—Quentin needs to remind himself that nothing will—James has been excellent training for suppressing his gag reflex. He swallows against the head of James’ dick, looking up at him, watching what he can see of James’ face. His lips are parted, his cheeks red. He looks like the sun, like Apollo, wholly out of place in a tiny kitchenette in Morningside Heights, next to a few semi-wilted stalks of celery and a pile of wheatgrass.

“My shirt is—blocking my view a little,” James murmurs, and he pulls it off over his head, revealing the stretch of his unfairly toned abdomen, the thatch of downy hair beneath his navel that leads to the line of his cock. Shirt abandoned, he buries his hands in Quentin’s hair and rocks into his mouth, achingly slow. “Can’t—can’t have that. I wanna see this—fuck—oh fuck—you feel so good. Your mouth is so hot and soft and—”

James’ breathing is heavy and hard, his voice lost in it. He grunts, pulling Quentin’s hair hard and making him moan against the head of James’ dick as it hits the back of his throat. He’s determined to take more of it, opening for him and pushing forward so it’s—fuck—so fucking close to all the way in. Quentin brings his hand to the base, and there’s still a couple fingers worth of room right at the root. His lips brush against his fingers on the next thrust.

“No—no hands—just your mouth,” James says, panting and petting at Quentin’s hair, tugging his head back sharply so James is looking in his eyes. A corner of his mouth quirks into a smile. “Your mouth is—so pretty. You’re so—oh my God—good at that.”

Quentin stills, swirling his tongue over James’ head, his eyes fluttering closed when he tastes a drop of sharp, salty come mixing with his spit. James’ is just watching him, stroking his hair now, like he’s precious, the light touch sending shivers, goose flesh, over his skin, a spike of bright-hot pleasure that shoots through his cock. God his cock is fucking hard and he needs—

Quentin pulls off, panting, inches away from James’ spit-slicked cock. He feels greedy, an aching hunger, whenever he’s faced with James’ body. He wants to sit on that cock and ride him, to eat him out until he’s sobbing, shove his cock into the perfect snug space of his ass and bounce against it until he fills it up with the evidence of his world-shattering fucking want.

“I need to—fuck I feel like I’m so close—” Quentin mumbles, his throat raw. He’s unbuttoning his jeans and whipping out his dick. Around anyone else he’s been with, he’s not wanted to share himself like this. He’s a turn-off-the-lights kind of guy. But here he is, kneeling on the cold tile and letting out a keening sound when he gets a hand on his aching dick. He’s already jerking off when he remembers he’s supposed to be sucking his dick.

“Couldn’t wait, huh?” James’ voice is gentle, and his hand comes down to cup Quentin’s cheek. “You get so turned on from sucking my cock. So cute. You want me to come on your face or—”

Quentin’s brain blanks out for a moment, and he has no idea what James says after that. But he manages to say, “I wanna—I wanna come while you’re, um, fucking my face. Can you do it—rougher?” His cheeks are throbbing with his blush.

James is nodding, looking absolutely wrecked, and his cock jumps—an almost imperceptible motion. But Quentin sees it, can feel the excitement coming off him in waves.

“Yeah, yeah—fuck, that sounds good.” He takes his cock in hand and presses it to the seam of Quentin’s lips, crushing his hand in Quentin’s hair, gripping hard, close to his scalp. “You ready? You just gotta like—punch me if I hurt you.”

“You won’t.” Quentin looks up, takes in James’ hard, pink nipples and the rosey length of his dick.

“Okay. I can do that,” he says, tentative.

“Just yeah—use me to—finish,” Quentin murmurs, pressing a kiss to the head of James’ dick. James just shudders, pushing Quentin’s mouth open with his cock and thrusting forward all at once.

Quentin relaxes into it, his hand stroking over his cock, ripples of arousal coursing through his body. It’s painful a little, his knees against the hard floor, his feet falling asleep beneath him. But he doesn’t think he’s ever been more turned on when James brings his other hand to Quentin’s hair and grips him hard, slamming his dick to the back of his throat. Quentin’s whole body goes lax, almost like the only things holding him up are James’ hands and the cock spearing his mouth open, driving into the back of his throat.

“You’re so fucking good at this, Q. Your mouth—I can’t stop jerking off thinking about your mouth. I’ve never—I’ve never—” James crams his cock as far in as he can with each thrust. And fuck—Quentin practicing on his lovely, new, pristine glass dildo has paid off. Because he just relaxes around that fat cock, taking it and opening further so that his nose just about touches the musky thatch of hair at the base of James’ dick.

He smells so good, and his cock is so thick, and he knows how to use it, does what Quentin wants from him every time. Quentin sighs happily, eyes fluttering closed as sparks of bliss gather inside of him, his nipples hard, cock stiff and pulsing in his hand. His balls are drawing up tight as he strokes himself, the need for release rolling through him, humid and thick like thunder in a heavy sky holding back rain. An almost pained groan escapes the back of his throat, and he’s bucking, coming hard and shooting stripes over his hand, the floor, dripping over his unzipped jeans.

James cries out, thrusting in harder, barely leaving Quentin the room to breathe. Aftershocks roll through his body, and his cock, ever intrepid, jerks a final time. His thighs and abdomen are still jumping, shocks of bliss winding through him, as James cradles his head and fucks into the yielding wetness of his throat. Quentin’s mind is pleasantly floaty, his thoughts distant, and Quentin sinks into the sensation of being used, lightheaded and buzzing with it.

James is grunting and maybe calling out Quentin’s name as he bucks hard against his face and comes in a rush, the exquisite heat of his come spurting down Quentin’s throat, James savagely pulling his hair, trembling and snapping his hips reflexively like he needs to get in deeper.

“Fuck, Q. Oh my God. Holy shit.” James bucks one more time, hard, into Quentin’s throat. When he pulls back, he’s panting, his muscles still quivering from pent-up tension and release. He collapses on the floor next to Quentin and kisses him gently—a sweet, small brush of lips against his that seems out of place among the mess they’ve made of the kitchen. James leans in and brushes Quentin’s hair aside, pressing his lips to the crook of Quentin’s neck, traveling from shoulder to the spot behind his ear, nipping and licking at the skin.

Quentin’s dick twitches as James’ hand roams over his neck, lifting his shirt. “James,” he says, voice low.

“Hm?” He’s nosing at Quentin’s neckline, and this seems—it’s intimate. There have been plenty of self-preservation alarm bells going off in Quentin’s head whenever James sneaks into his room, but this alarm—suddenly seems very pressing.

“We should clean up. And I need to sign up for fall classes.” Quentin grabs a towel from the kitchen counter throws it on the kitchen floor over everything, panicking—he’s panicking, isn’t he?

“Not til tomorrow,” James murmurs, soothing his hand over Quentin’s hair, apparently in a post-orgasmic stupor.

“I need to—” James is nibbling at him, and Quentin’s chest feels tight. This is—it’s a dead end street, and he’s hurling himself toward the uncharted territory beyond, and it’s not going to be good. Quentin knows. Quentin knows. “Listen—hey. I need to do some stuff. And probably shower. Okay?”

“Oh. Okay.”

“That was incredible,” Quentin rasps, grabbing a kitchen towel and hastily wiping up after himself. “I just gotta—you know.”

James is pouting, looking at Quentin with those gorgeous eyes, and yep, Quentin’s gotta get the fuck out of here before he pushes James down on the tile and messily rubs their dicks together until they cover the kitchen in further evidence of their liaison. “Okay—I get it,” James says.

And Quentin is not really sure what he gets. He tries to figure it out when he takes an actual cold shower, which is something he’s never done in his life, something he never felt the need for.

When Quentin is done, James is in his room, and there’s a cup of juice still waiting for him on the counter. It tastes like fucking celery when Quentin tries it.

~~***~~

“So, that was—”

“Yeah, not ideal,” Quentin says, drawing closer into Eliot like it might save him from the memory of a too intense, wildly under-negotiated sexual encounter.

Eliot does the only thing he can do and takes Quentin’s hand, pressing a kiss to the center of his palm, brushing his lips over Quentin’s fingertips, pressing the back of his hand to his cheek. Eliot’s not going to mention the fact that he’s insanely turned on—there’s evidence to that effect that he’s certain Quentin notices. That’s okay, for now—arousal thrums through his hips, down his thighs, bubbling and swirling like a hot spring. Waiting.

“Hey, Q,” Eliot says, snaking a hand around his waist and pressing a kiss to Quentin’s forehead. He’s got his face pressed into Eliot’s chest, like he’s hiding. Eliot can almost touch the weight of his need, and God, Eliot doesn’t know why that does it for him.

He’s always wanted to hold and be held, to show his affection that way, but he’s bolted when anyone, save Margo, came too close, wanted something from Eliot beyond the physical. He doesn’t count Mike because, well—he wasn’t real. But Quentin is, huddled into him, continuing a story that taps at his vulnerable places.

“Hm?”

“You okay?”

“Yeah, just thinking. You know—I think about it fondly. All of it with James. He never did anything wrong, you know. Never made me feel unwanted. I mean, not intentionally.”

“I don’t know why anyone would,” Eliot says. He’s unclear on his exact intentions with Quentin. But he can say things like this, and the world around him doesn’t seem like it’s shattering, not like it has when he’s thought these things before.

“There was just one more time, after that. So it was like—on and off for a while. And yeah, I guess more than just three or four times. I just remember it sometimes, and I’d rather it was just—” Quentin trails off.

Eliot nods like he understands, but he’s never had a difficult time shrugging off boys. He doesn’t know if he could shrug this one off in quite the same way, but they’re stuck together—so the point is moot. “Like it was just easy?”

Quentin nods, forehead brushing almost imperceptibly against Eliot’s chest. There’s a long sigh and a cat-like stretch that makes Quentin snuggle in and tuck a knee between Eliot’s legs. Eliot’s always been a smidge touch-starved after a distinct lack of hugs in his childhood. That's part of why they work so well, he thinks. Quentin needs to be touched, and Eliot is the same. It was only a matter of time before they extended it to the natural next step.

“Yeah,” Quentin says, even though Eliot hasn’t said anything else. He doesn’t expect anything more. “I think I—maybe—I think I could have been the one who made it weird. I’m always doing that.”

You just met the wrong people, Eliot thinks. But he doesn’t say anything else. “No, baby,” he says. “I don’t think that’s what happened. I think he didn’t know what he was doing.”

“Maybe,” Quentin says. It hurts something inside of Eliot, and it’s worse, somehow, that he believes Quentin now, and that he knows it wasn’t exactly what Quentin said at first. It was something more, something maybe bittersweet. “The last time was like a week after that. We’d mostly been avoiding each other and—”

~~***~~

It’s well after midnight when Quentin turns off the light on his bedside table. The lube is just sitting there next to the lamp, taunting him, and he thinks about jerking off. But he’s not in a good jerking off headspace.

The only person he wants to imagine fucking is James—and things with James are fucking weird because Quentin is fucking weird. He made, like, friendly sex into—overly intense heartfelt yet also rough sex, and James probably knows Quentin has—feelings. He’d rather not have feelings. Of any kind. Feelings are a fucking nightmare, and feelings make him duck out of the room like a fucking tool whenever James opens his stupid, beautiful mouth.

James keeps trying to talk to him (You know, Q, about the other morning—and Listen, I feel like we really have— and Look—you’re one of my best friends and I—), and Quentin keeps slipping out of the room when the juicer starts whirring. One time, Quentin ends up rolling out into the hallway in front of their apartment and sitting there barefoot while James looks for him inside.

Quentin’s therapist would tell him he’s catastrophizing, that James probably isn’t going to say anything world-shattering that crushes Quentin’s heart or ends their near-decade of friendship. But Quentin hasn’t told his therapist about James. She has no idea that he’s been fucking—getting fucked by—his roommate, often while their other roommate who is also James’ ex—is sleeping across the hall. Julia has to know, doesn’t she?

And she said that thing about James being jealous—and yeah. That lives in his brain rent free now.

It’d be ideal if Quentin didn’t have, like, actual emotions regarding James. Or if he didn’t keep wondering if James had the same feelings because—James doesn’t, couldn’t, feel that way about him. James is still in love with Julia. Quentin is a coping mechanism in the midst of a messy breakup. And Quentin respects himself enough to—well, honestly, he doesn’t have much respect for himself when it comes to James’ dick. It’s like he laser focuses on just that and his brain shuts down and he just wants and wants and wants.

He has to face the proverbial music, confess he made everything really weird when he demanded that James fuck his face. He should tell James he won’t keep asking for this. Pathetic as Quentin is, he can control himself if they’re, like, officially not fucking anymore. If he’s not seeing James’ dick on a regular basis, he can put it out of his head. He can move on and—

There’s a soft knock at the door.

“Q? You asleep?”

He stills, staring up at the ceiling. There’s a crack right above him, and he imagines the ceiling exploding, crashing down and burying him in rubble. He should just talk to James like a normal human.

In the world of his ‘shoulds,’ all the shoulds his therapist told him are weighing him down, this one is the shouldiest.

And now. The proper course of action—he should keep fucking quiet and talk to James during the day. Preferably at least ten feet away from him.

He knocks again. “Come on, man.” The whisper has a harried, desperate quality. “We really need to talk. I know you’re awake.”

Quentin bites down on his lips, pressing them between his teeth. He’s not going to say anything. He absolutely should not, and he will not.

There’s a heavy sigh on the other side of the door. “Look, I just wanna see you. Talk to you. Let me in.”

Quentin scrubs at his face and presses his fingers to his eyes until he sees stars. His stomach flips over, a sickly cold-hot swirl winding through his gut. He should stop, keep quiet—

“You’re not a fucking vampire,” Quentin says, “you can open the door and come in.”

The door knob turns, and James walks in, shirtless, of fucking course, his abs all defined in the play of shadows cast by the streetlight that falls through his window. Desire, traitorous and unwelcome, sparks to life in the cradle of his hips. He knows what that body feels like—the thick slide of James’ cock inside him, the scrape of his stubble against his thighs, the velvet touch of James’ tongue against the head of his cock, the way he bites his lip when he comes. That knowledge pulses through him, beating in time with his heart. He hopes James can’t see him staring in the dark.

“Can I sit down?” James’ eyes dart to the corner of Quentin’s bed.

“Be my guest,” Quentin says. He wants to press his face into his pillow, but he’s a grown-ass man, and he can face a—a—lover. A lover? A fuck buddy. Best friend with deepthroating benefits. (And of course James can take Quentin’s dick all the way to the back of his throat with ease. He’s just average, not big. Like James.)

~~***~~

Eliot clears his throat.

“What?”

“Nothing,” Eliot says. He’s really not going to sink to this particular low. It would be impossible to explain that he’s not insecure; he’s just curious.

“It’s not nothing,” Quentin snarks, a cheeky little grin appearing on his face.

Eliot kisses his dimple. “It definitely is.”

“Look,” Quentin says, starting to laugh. “You’re not the only person in the world with a big dick—”

“That’s not what I was going to—”

“You didn’t invent big dicks, Eliot.”

“Oh my God. I wasn’t going to—”

“You have nothing to worry about. James isn’t in Fillory. So you’ve got the biggest cock of anyone in Fillory that I’ve fucked.”

Eliot scoffs. “I wasn’t going to ask about your sports-econ boyfriend’s dick.”

“It’s not as big. as yours. Like at least—half an inch shorter. Okay? At least.”

Eliot presses his lips to the scratch of Quentin’s stubble and smiles. There’s an aching, falling feeling that hums to life beneath his ribs, shocks of arousal and tenderness dancing inside him.

Eliot’s done plenty of thinking about fucking Quentin. It was chief among his fantasies when he was stranded with Fen in Fillory—but in more of a casual way. Like, oh I’ll think about my friend who I like a normal amount while I get off. He’d never imagined just lying in bed together—yeah, they’re naked and intermittently feeling each other up, and they’re definitely going to fuck. But he didn’t know it would feel like this. To hold him. To be held.

“You don’t have to finish, Q,” he says softly, “if you’d rather not.”

“No,” Quentin says absently, smoothing down the hair of Eliot’s arm. “I will. It’s—I was a dumb kid. So was James. I mean, it wasn’t that long ago. But it’s a different world, you know? I feel, like, unrelated to that person.”

Eliot nods. “Yeah, I know.”

In a way, a lot of time has passed. In another way, he thinks as he twirls Quentin’s hair through his fingers, it doesn’t seem like much time at all.

~~***~~

“It’s—there’s just been a lot going on,” James starts.

Quentin is suddenly hyper-aware that he’s only wearing boxers, which is sort of the way things spiral out of control whenever he’s around James. One second he’s in his boxers, and then there are no boxers, and James’ dick is in his mouth, and it just keeps escalating.

Quentin waits for James to continue, but James is sitting on the edge of Quentin’s bed, quiet, face turned toward him in the dark. Quentin has a hard time reading people’s expressions on, like, a good day. Combined with the fact that Quentin doesn’t have many good days, it’s dark, and he can’t even tell which way James’ eyes are pointing. He swallows, his throat sticking halfway through and making a weird clicking sound. It doesn’t seem like James is actually going to say anything else, so Quentin lifts up on his elbows and lets out a sigh. “Look, I’m—”

“Q, I really—” James says at the same time, licking his lips. Sweat blossoms over Quentin’s forehead. “I’m—I’ve been thinking—”

“I’m sorry I made things weird,” Quentin blurts out. “I’m—um, always doing that. I made it weird. I didn’t mean to. Make it weird.”

“You—you didn’t.” James shifts on the bed, inching closer to Quentin. Quentin can’t help but roll toward James’ bulk, drawn to him like a—a—binary star system, where one of the stars is big and bright and the other one is a shrimpy little star that orbits the other one. “School starts back soon.”

“Yeah, um. Weird that we’re graduating after this year.”

“Senior year,” James says inanely.

“Yep. It’s—” Quentin gestures absently, like he might somehow swipe something from the air that might inspire him to say something halfway intelligent. Predictably, nothing comes.

“I mean,” James says, squirming a bit closer on the bed, ever closer to Quentin. Variations of are we going to fuck are playing on repeat in his head, and he doesn’t hear what James is saying—he’s saying something, but Quentin’s brain isn’t picking it up because James’ hand is trailing along his forearm.

“—and it’s so fucking cute.” James’ voice snaps back into focus, and Quentin realizes their fingers are threaded together, and his stomach is flipping-flipping-flipping as James pulls the covers away, exposing his belly and his soon-to-be-not-soft cock.

“James, we probably shouldn’t keep—”

“We do need to talk but. I think you’ve been thinking too much. Sounds like. Maybe I have, too. When I see you like this, I can’t help myself,” James murmurs. “I don’t think you should do that anymore—tonight. Unless you—you can tell me if I should go.”

“Um, no—”

“You don’t want me to go?”

“No—” Quentin knows there’s another part of that thought, but it doesn’t actually come out of his mouth because James is sliding beneath the covers, tangling their legs together, and James’ lips are against his, wet and inviting, and he’s slipping his fingers beneath Quentin’s waistband, tugging his boxers down until they’re around Quentin’s knees. And his hand is between Quentin’s legs, feeling him absently—his balls and stiffening cock, a finger pressing in and swiping light against his hole.

He moans into James’ mouth and sinks into the slide of their tongues, the hot, achy way his body reacts when James impatiently pulls at his own boxers and shoves them off, burying them somewhere in Quentin’s sheets, all while trying to maintain mouth-to-mouth contact with Quentin.

James parts Quentin’s legs again, and Quentin has a moment of knowing that he likes being handled like this, and James likes doing the handling, and they should have both been leaning into this all along, but he’s pretty sure that—unfortunately—time is out for that. He doesn’t know why he knows that, but he does. This is it. James and Julia have been chatting more and more, and he and James should be talking. But for now—

Quentin pulls away, breathless. “Let me—uh. Get on my stomach and—” He pushes out a long breath, his body thrumming, his cock full and hot and he wants to be covered, to be— “—hold me down—by my hands, push—push me down.”

“Oh fuck, Q.” James lets out a ragged noise and grabs Quentin’s wrists, pushing him down against the bed and looming over him. He always wanted a guy—a big guy—to loom, press against his whole back, squeeze his hands together until they hurt—and his brain is singing right now, tingles fizzing up the column of his spine as James presses his lips to Quentin’s neck and kisses him there, strangely tender, nosing his hair aside. Yeah, this beats talking by a mile.

“Fuck me—you should fuck me,” Quentin chokes out, and the words make something light and floaty happen in his brain. He’s going to want James and keep wanting him, and it’s going to end because it necessarily always was going to end, but he has this tonight.

James pants heavily, his bare cock slotting into the cleft of Quentin’s ass. “Yeah, that’s what you want?”

“It’s—yeah. That’s what I want.” Quentin pushes his wrists up, tries to shift beneath James and finds that he can’t. And that’s—God, that’s good. A high whine escapes his throat, and something inside him turns to liquid, his muscles releasing the tension they’ve held all day—seeing James, waiting for James, thinking about him. This isn’t—God knows it’s not good—or it’s right on the verge of not being good, maybe. But he’s just hopped on this train and has no real intention of hopping off right now. “Lube is—”

“Got it,” James says, shifting on the bed and keeping one hand over Quentin’s wrists. Quentin’s boxers are still tangled around his knees, and he’s panting, face down in the pillow, his eyes screwed shut.

James presses his lips to Quentin’s shoulders and works his way down Quentin’s back, kissing the knobs of his spine. Yeah, they can’t continue on like this—but—right now—he can have this. He can hear James fumbling with the lube, can feel him shifting back to sit on his haunches, breathing heavy as he coats his fingers and pushes them against Quentin’s entrance.

Quentin lets out a low, broken sound as James pets him with his fingertips, pressing in and teasing at his rim. He squirms when that first finger slides in, bearing down against it and sinking into the tingle traveling up his spine, the sensation of opening and taking, listening to James’ heavy sighs. Quentin’s breath hitches when he pushes another inside—careful, always so careful—he lets himself go, dropping into the sensation of fullness.

When James slides inside him, everything in his mind whites out for a moment. It’s almost too much, every time, but he likes that first rush—the stretch, the feeling of his body taking, James giving him what he wants. And that’s what he does—holding his wrists tight enough to bruise and fucking him, grunting with each thrust until he speeds up and—Quentin is thrusting into the mattress pressure enough the tip him closer and closer as James digs his fingers into Quentin’s wrists and—

~~***~~

“You didn’t get to fuck him again?”

Quentin frowns at him, a little crease between his brows. “Well, if that wasn’t fucking, Eliot, I don’t know what is.”

“You know what I mean.”

“Yeah, I mean—I know what you mean. No—I mean, I—” Quentin huffs. “No. I didn’t. We didn’t. God—stop looking at me like that.”

“Like what?”

“Like it’s—funny. Or cute or something.”

“It is funny, and you are cute.” Eliot pushes a stray lock of Quentin’s hair—really, the length it is right now, this is peak hair, in Eliot’s opinion. “And you deserved to top him again.” Eliot puts his nose behind Quentin’s ear and drags his hand lazily down Quentin’s chest. “He would have loved it.”

Quentin makes a vague sound that might signify disbelief. “I mean. I guess? I don’t know. I look back and I think—he didn’t really want me. I was a—a distraction and.” Quentin’s chewing at his lip so hard his words sound muffled when he speaks. “He was just paying me attention because I was there. And I was just accepting it because I was, you know… pathetic in that particular way.”

Eliot sighs and holds him. Here in this world, this is one thing he can do for Quentin. “For what it’s worth, it sounds like he liked you a lot. He was just... stupid.”

“I don’t think—I don’t think he did.” Quentin’s mouth is drawn into a frown.

“Mmm, I have plenty of experience with boys, Q. You’ll have to take my word for it.” Eliot kisses his forehead, then presses his lips to the lovely little slope of Quentin’s nose. “You’re so pretty, and you have no idea. And you’re a genius at sucking cock.”

Quentin goes bright red at that. “I just—God, Eliot. You’re so embarrassing.”

“I’d like to think you’re not embarrassed anymore with me.” Eliot kisses him sweet and slow, long enough that Quentin is pliant and no longer twitching out of his skin with anxiety over loving to suck dick as much as he does. Which is a whole fuck of a lot, in Eliot’s experience. Granted, he’ll need to keep doing research on that topic.

“Mm, El,” he says when he pulls away to bury his face against Quentin’s neck. “I’m—you’re different, you know, so I’m—you know, you like when I ask for things I want. And we’re friends.”

“You were friends with James,” Eliot says, feeling protective, not of Quentin, maybe. Something else.

“Yeah. I was,” Quentin says softly. He crowds into Eliot’s space and kisses him filthy and deep, slipping his tongue between Eliot’s lips. It’s hot and sweet, and Quentin is wiggling in close and opening Eliot’s wrap shirt, running his hands up over his shoulders until Eliot is gasping into Quentin’s mouth.

“That was very friendly,” Eliot murmurs.

“I’m having very friendly feelings,” Quentin says in a shy little voice. Like he’s making an attempt at being smooth. It’s close enough that Eliot is utterly charmed.

“I thought you were finishing your story,” Eliot says.

“Oh yeah,” Quentin murmurs. “I was, wasn’t I?” It seems he’s recently become aware of Eliot’s dick, and he’s methodically feeling it up through his linen breeches. Honestly, Eliot’s glad for once that Fillorian undergarments are uncomfortable—and he doesn’t bother with them—so he’s bare beneath his trousers, and the texture of the fabric is hitting his cock head just right, Quentin’s thumb rubbing circles just over his tip.

“You were. Tell me.”

“You know how the story ends.” Quentin’s hand stills, still gripping him, warm and firm.

“No. I don’t.” Eliot wiggles against Quentin’s hand, insistent. A low erotic thrum pulses through his hips and thighs up to his nipples. Quentin’s hands are strong and deft in a way that Quentin himself doesn’t believe and—God, Eliot loves those hands.

“You can guess.” Quentin moves his hand into a twist that unfastens the clasp on Eliot’s trousers, moving his index finger in a precise dip that loosens his canvas belt. He’s slowly working his hand beneath the waistband, running his fingers along the hot, taut skin of Eliot’s belly, very studiously avoiding his cock.

“You want me to guess?”

“Mm, sure. It’s better than telling it.” Quentin kisses his neck, flicking out his tongue. It’s insane to think there was a time Eliot wouldn’t have guessed Quentin was good in bed, a time when he kept insisting to himself that Quentin was straight, that he wouldn’t want Eliot. How he’d seethed in his jealousy over Alice, after Mike.

Eliot knows this is what it is; short-lived, probably. Everything with Eliot is necessarily short-lived. He doesn’t exactly have ‘long-term partner’ written all over him. But he can give Quentin everything as long as Q wants him. Quentin moves his mouth along Eliot’s collarbone, grips the length of his cock.

“He was fucking you—face down?”

“Yeah.”

“It was good? He made you feel—ah—” Quentin presses his thumb along the underside of Eliot’s cock. “—good?”

“He did,” Quentin says softly. “The last part is more... difficult for me to talk about.” His lips are soft and warm against Eliot’s neck. “Lemme—maybe if you get something right, I’ll keep going.” He blows a little puff of air from his nose, something like the beginning of a laugh. “If you’re wrong, I’ll stop.”

Eliot’s cock jerks against Quentin’s hand, and Quentin sighs happily. “Yeah. Yeah—that’s. I like that game. Full marks for—” Quentin licks at the hollow of Eliot’s neck, and Eliot lets out a choked off sound. ‘—originality.”

“Good. Better than saying—it was fucked up—and I was sad.” Quentin mumbles against Eliot’s hot skin, and something tight and almost possessive happens in his chest. He pulls Quentin closer and runs his hand over Quentin’s densely muscled back. Eliot’s never going to let him go, not if he can help it.

“Did he get you up on all fours?”

Quentin’s hand is still, just gripping his dick.

“He kept you on your stomach, holding you down?”

Quentin pushes Eliot’s trousers down and takes his bare cock in hand, stroking once-twice-three times and swiping a bead of precome away from his tip. Quentin pulls away and brings his thumb to his lips, licking away the droplet while he watches Eliot watching him.

“You like being held down, baby?” Eliot asks breathlessly.

Quentin lets out a whine. “Fuck yeah. I like it best when you do it.” He moves his hand back down to Eliot’s cock and strokes him another time, just once. Then he kisses Eliot, his lips so hot, so soft.

“You were grinding your cock into the mattress?”

Quentin starts stroking Eliot again, pauses and lets his strong, graceful fingers drift over Eliot’s hipbone.

“You asked him to fuck you harder? That’s what you always—”

Quentin squeezes his cock, works his strong hand over the base. There’s a pause, and he hears Quentin reciting the charm that gathers water from the air and turns it to slick—not as good as the oil based lube Eliot makes by hand—but it’s warm and wet when Quentin grips his cock again, and those deft fingers glide from root to tip.

“That’s a yes, hm?” Eliot pushes into Quentin’s hand, which is slick and tight and moving steadily over Eliot’s dick. His pants are bunched down around his hips, and Quentin’s mouthing at his neck, sucking a mark against his hot skin. Eliot is, as he somehow always is beneath Quentin’s hands, frayed at the edges, his conscious thought unraveling until he’s left with only vague impressions, cycling one after the other: Quentin’s thumb pressed beneath the head of his cock, the stretch and pull of skin against skin, the settled warmth of home and comfort mixed with the immediacy of his need to have and take and possess, arousal filling him, low and liquid, as he forgets—

“You were supposed to keep asking me questions,” Quentin says, laughing as he mercilessly batters Eliot’s senses with his all the soft and hard lines of him, the little gasps and moans of wonder as he watches Eliot’s cock like it’s something cherished, like it belongs solely to him. His hunger for Quentin, ever-present, builds in moments like this, ceaseless and rushing in a way that Eliot has known with no one else; a cloudburst of longing gathering, centered on the beat of Quentin’s heart close to his, the rhythm of his hand, the heat of his breath against Eliot’s cheek.

“Yeah, I was gonna—mm—” Eliot presses a heated kiss to Quentin’s lips, slipping his tongue inside the lovely line of his mouth. His mind is flying, better than the best high, and it’s Quentin, just Quentin, his hands and his lips and the tender warmth of him. “He was fucking you—”

Quentin snickers. “What, did you lose your train of thought?”

“Mm—yeah,” Eliot says, crowding in closer to Quentin and thrusting up into his hand. It’s so tight and hot and good, so much a culmination, a perfect storm, of all the things he’s wanted, all wrapped into this compact package. “I was gonna. He was fucking you—and—hnn—”

“You’re useless,” Quentin says. “I’ll just tell you.”

“That’s no fun,” Eliot says, but he can really only concentrate on Quentin’s hand on his dick and the tension spiraling in his core.

“I’ll make it worth your while.”

“That’s my line, baby.” Eliot’s gathered enough of his brain cells back into one place to form an idea, one that—yeah—makes sense. “But I guess my brain doesn’t function—” Eliot pants—Quentin is still stroking him, rubbing his thumb over the head, a simple fucking old-fashioned hand job unwinding the knots in all his hidden places. “—when you’re on my dick.”

“I’m like, barely on your dick,” Quentin says, placing a kiss at the corner of Eliot’s mouth and laughing against his cheek.

“But I’m having a true—ah—” Quentin swipes his thumb over the head of his cock, pressing down just a little against Eliot’s tip, swiping away a drop of precome and bringing it to his lips. “—meltdown over it. Your fingers, baby, God—those pretty lips—” He’s looking at that pretty mouth right now and stretching down to kiss it, sweet and salt against his tongue.

“Tell me how you wanna get off,” he says, the full weight of those big brown eyes on Eliot, all openness and trust and naked wanting. Eliot’s always covered all of those things, buried beneath manufactured layers, hidden from harm.

Eliot smirks because he’s holding onto his last thread of thought well enough to poke back at Quentin and he knows—he does know what he wants. It’s just that it’ll be best if—if it’s after everything else.

“Just keep going—like that but—slower. Keep me there, baby. Tell me the rest—and keep me just like this, right like this. Then I’ll show you what I want.”

He kisses Quentin, warm and soft and slow, aching with tenderness for him and his past, all the people who failed him and left him behind, all that they’ve survived here and endured before. He’s loved Quentin for a while now, maybe since they discovered Fillory was real, and he’s wanted him a lot longer than that. It’s better than he thought it would be, having Quentin like this, all his jagged, fucked up pieces of his past smoothed away when he’s in Eliot’s arms.

He’d say it—it’s just that he doesn’t have great luck in this department and he wants to be less a patch of trouble for Quentin and more an exploration that Quentin remembers only happily. Uncomplicated—that’s the kind of thing Eliot’s best at, giving this, giving it freely and giving it well, letting it wash away when the time has come.

“I’m intrigued. I like what you want,” Quentin says simply, like it’s all exactly that simple.

“Finish my story for me, then.”

“Fine,” Quentin says, pushing out a laugh. “It was—well, it was hot—but it always was with—”

~~***~~

James, who is apparently Quentin’s vehicle for personal wish fulfillment, has him pinned to the bed, his knees tucked between Quentin’s. Quentin’s boxers pull at his knees, the waistband digging into his legs and making everything closer and tighter. He fucks steadily into Quentin, panting and grunting, his big, thick hand pressed against Quentin’s wrists, heavy and forceful. As Quentin thrusts against the mattress, seeking friction, arousal simmering and jumping in his hips, his thighs burning—he knows he’ll feel it tomorrow, that maybe he’ll see the bruises.

He knows he wants this, interminably, the hardened layers of his inadequacies breaking open in his brain and spilling out as his body melts beneath James’ hands and hips and cock. In some way, maybe he’ll always want James, in particular, but he’s not sure. He just knows through the depth of his own wanting that there’s something here, something brutal and primal that he’ll always desire. The threads of his arousal twist and tangle until they’re monolithic, filling him entirely, the whole of his body pulled taut as James opens him again and again on his dick. He thrusts hard against the mattress, the pressure of being pushed down by James’ bulk sending him closer and closer to an edge.

A thought crystallizes in Quentin’s mind. James has been shoving him close to an edge for weeks now. It’s just that neither of them quite know what that edge is.

God but it’s intoxicating, rocking beneath the weight of his body like this, tension twisting up and building, his dick so hard it aches. James is big—his body is big, and his hands holding Quentin down are big, and his dick is big and it’s hitting him just right, right where he wants it. The wet-hot-stiff stretch in his body, his body trapped, at James’ mercy.

“Oh—oh my God—” Quentin hears himself say the words, but he doesn’t process the actual act of speaking them. Instead, he knows he’s writhing against the sheets, balls drawn up tight, cock sliding against the sheets, frenetic.

“You like that,” James says, and it’s not a question so much as a statement of fact, delivered with some amount of wonder.

The strange assurance in his voice is what sends him over the edge, his body seizing, his cock leaking at first, the first crest of his orgasm rising slowly, like his body is savoring the pleasure as it rolls through him. On the following wave, his body tenses, pleasure flooding his senses as his cock spurts, pulsing and trapped between his body and the bed, James still driving into him and groaning with each thrust, on and on.

He knows it’s coming, that he’s going to lose control and—

“I’m gonna—oh, holy fuck—” James lets out a long, low groan, speeding up so that the noises—if Julia’s here, she knows—of skin slapping against skin are unmistakable, all of Quentin’s sounds drawn up from somewhere long buried, pouring out with no restraint as James drives into him and pushes his oversensitive cock down hard. James’ hips stutter against his ass, and Quentin knows he’s coming because he’s squeezing Quentin’s wrists, his body jerking as he groans, long and low. “God—oh my God. God, Q.”

Quentin pants, slowly coming back to himself in small bits. James rolls off of him and pulls him into a weirdly tender kiss, and Quentin is just so confused. They lie there together for a while, James’ arm around Quentin. They’re both filthy, and it’s pretty fucking late at night. Or early in the morning. Whichever. And the ‘conversation’ that James ostensibly meant for them to have before he decided to—whatever—blow off some steam—inside of Quentin—absolutely didn’t happen, and Quentin isn’t terribly sure he wants to know the contents of James’ thoughts after being so thoroughly railed. But it’s possible he really needs to. If he’s going to survive it. Get out intact.

So, first thing’s first.

“Is Julia here?” Quentin’s voice sounds a little small.

“Uh, no. She went out with some friends before you came in here.”

“Does she know? Because she—” Quentin stops, faltering on the idea that Julia thought somehow, at some time, that James might have liked Quentin. There’s evidence to that effect, like, all over Quentin’s bed now, but he’s pretty sure it’s like, primarily carnal, or whatever.

“No. She doesn’t know.” James laughs. “Like she’d just let that slide.”

“Yeah,” Quentin agrees. “She wouldn’t.”

“Listen—Julia and I have been talking more—”

“I know,” Quentin says, his stomach twisted up and strange. “I mean, I’m under no—like, illusion—that you don’t want to get back together with Jules. And that’s fine. I’m like, very well prepared for that eventuality.”

“Q,” James says. He pauses, opening his mouth again after a few long seconds, then closing it, turning to stare up at the ceiling.

“It’s fine. I think it’s best that we don’t do this anymore, though. If that’s happening. I’m not a shining example of mental health or like, good decision making—and—and I know that I’m sort of an extraneous casualty of—of the dissolution of your relationship.”

“That’s not what’s happening here,” James says, sounding very certain, even though, in Quentin’s opinion, that is very much exactly what is happening.

“Yeah but,” Quentin starts. God, like, sexuality has always been pretty simple for him, but this feels like not the most comfortable development. “I’m not gonna sit around and be your secret. It might sound unbelievable, but that’s not really the coolest spot to be in.” Quentin’s heart is beating hard, blood buzzing in his veins, heat pooling at his temples.

“Yeah, no. I get that. Okay? I do.” James sighs. “It’s been really fucking good.”

“Yeah. It’s definitely—yeah. It’s been good.”

Quentin feels sort of wrenched up inside, like there’s a tangle of weird knots in his core, but he feels simultaneously kind of mature. Maybe. He definitely did just let James fuck him right before—whatever this is. A break up. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a good memory.

James is quiet for a while, gazing up at the ceiling and its dark gray shadows, the yellow flashes of car lights casting eerie shapes along the wall.

“I should get cleaned up. And change my sheets.”

“Yeah, I guess,” James says. “We did make a mess.”

“Yeah,” Quentin says, rolling off the bed and pulling a mostly clean towel around his waist.

Later, when he steps out of the shower, he finds James sitting out on the couch in the living area.

“For what it’s worth,” Quentin says, before heading back to his room, “I hope it works out great with Julia.”

James nods at him.

Of course, Quentin doesn’t actually believe the words when he says them. That would be, like, emotional maturity overload. He hopes they fucking break up forever. And he kind of likes the idea of Julia making him cry. But. He’ll just keep the thought to himself and find some other way to spend his time, he guesses. The world seems a bit gray, laid out before him, graduate school and beyond. He tries not to dwell on it, even though dwelling is one of his finest talents.

He falls asleep on the bare mattress because he’s enough of a disaster that he didn’t have clean sheets on hand. Predictably, he can’t manage to adult with full success on any given day.

~~***~~

“So it was bittersweet, hm?”

“Yeah, I guess. Kinda,” Quentin says. He’s sort of wrapped up in Eliot now, not quite jerking him off anymore but moving his fingers enough that it feels good—so good—shivers running up his spine, every cell alive and awake to the touch of his strong hands. He thinks, maybe, Quentin may have ruined him for anyone else. He’s been thinking that a lot recently, and it’s more than a little disconcerting, tipping the shelves neatly stacked up in Eliot’s mind and letting their contents spill out, rolling across the polished floor and filling it with complications and clutter.

“He liked you,” Eliot says.

Quentin puffs out an incensed breath and rolls his eyes. “Yeah, I mean. It was more of like a—a, uh, short term interest.”

“Mm.” Eliot doesn’t believe it even if Quentin has himself convinced that he’s some hideous monster—or not that, maybe just an inconvenient pile of laundry that sits around needily, calling out for attention. That’s kind of the way he talks about himself, and he knows all too well that that’s not the kind of thing that you go around just fixing overnight. The wounds of those images run deep and thorough in the hallways of the mind, every surface imbued with their reflections.

Q is possibly an unreliable narrator in any circumstance—simultaneously embarrassed by and bitchily indignant about his own existence—but any storyteller has that impulse, to downplay and exaggerate, unintentionally weaving the real truth in the spaces between each line. God, Eliot is a fool for this man.

“I’m really, really sure he didn’t,” Quentin says, doubling down.

“His loss.” Eliot lets his fingers travel over the ridge of Quentin’s hipbone, slipping his hand down the back of Quentin’s pants, pulling the tie of his trousers open with the other. He cups Quentin’s half-hard cock, only halfway unhappy that the story didn’t fully distract Quentin out of his bad brain place. He knows exactly what he wants; he’s decided. And that’ll put a good cap on the day.

“So you say,” Quentin says, looking down at Eliot’s hand and sighing, hot and breathy, against Eliot’s cheek.

“I really like you,” Eliot adds because he really, really does, and he doesn’t have any reason not to say it, out here, away from the responsibilities and distractions of their life back on Earth. This version of Fillory is their world, perhaps, more than Eliot’s lonely life as High King or Quentin’s questing. Not his or Quentin’s world individually, but their world together. A small, sensitive thought that Eliot plans on keeping to himself.

Quentin’s blind enough not to see that he holds Eliot’s heart so easily in his hands despite all evidence to the contrary. He thinks he might have had it wrong with James, not asking for what he wanted. He hopes Quentin can do that with him, if he ever wants Eliot for more than this.

He gives Eliot that wide-eyed look, all the pieces of himself laid out so simply, like wanting Eliot is such an easy thing, like he’s simply pleased that he registers anywhere on Eliot’s radar. “Then I’m lucky, I guess.”

“You’re certainly about to be,” Eliot says. He kisses the tip of Quentin’s nose, practically melting into his body as he slips the soft trousers over his narrow hips, exposing his cock, flushed pink and growing beneath Eliot’s gaze. Eliot’s dick is already wet with lube, and he fits his hand over it, jerking himself a few times while he looks at Quentin, laid bare before him.

“I’m cold,” Quentin says, a pout tugging at the corners of his lips. It’s one of the few shows that Quentin puts on for Eliot. Quentin’s not typically terribly good at putting on any kind of show, but he’s definitely able to play Eliot with the bow of his lips and his broken open sincerity when he wants something specific from Eliot.

“I’ll make you warm,” Eliot says, tugging his shirt off the rest of the way.

Quentin bites his lip, smiling a little. “So this is how it feels.”

“How what feels?”

Quentin lifts up on his elbows, watching Eliot with blatant hunger as he shoves his pants off and tosses them to the foot of the bed. God, he’s checking Eliot out, gaze following the lines of Eliot’s body down to his cock and the ungroomed thatch of hair there that Eliot kept so neat back in the world they came from, but here—there’s no point. And Quentin likes it. The thought that Quentin likes him, returns the way Eliot’s felt for so long, gives him a heady rush.

“Being one of your boys. This is how it feels.” A pink flush rises in Quentin’s cheeks, utterly charming.

A tender rush hits Eliot. The idea that ‘being one of Eliot’s boys’ ever crossed Quentin’s mind is thrilling. “Mmm,” Eliot says.

Quentin intentionally rolls his eyes up to look at the trees and crosses his arms over his chest. He blows out a puff of air and glances back at Eliot. “You’re looking at me again.”

“You’re good to look at, baby. Especially when you say things like that.” He reaches over and cups Quentin’s stubbly cheek, brushing his thumb over the ridge of strong, square jaw, petting at Quentin’s lips. Even though he’s giving Eliot a bit of petulance, he lets Eliot dip his thumb between those soft rosy lips, pressing in against the warm, velvety slide of his tongue. Quentin’s eyes flutter shut, and he licks over the pad of Eliot’s thumb. Eliot’s dumbstruck, heat and excitement twisting up inside his stomach, his cock aching hard.

Quentin’s mouth stays open when Eliot pulls his thumb away. “Are we going to—” He looks at Eliot’s dick expectantly.

“Yes, sweetheart. I’d love it if you fuck me.” Eliot runs his fingers over Quentin’s cock, teasing the head with his thumb.

“I’m—we only—we haven’t done that. Yet. The two of us.” Quentin’s cock twitches beneath his fingers, and Eliot gives it a fond little squeeze.

“Would you wanna be inside me, baby?” Eliot crowds in on Quentin and kisses him sweet and slow, dipping his tongue between his lips, tasting mint from the garden, raspberries from lunch. He always tastes sweet, and he feels so good beneath his hands and hips that Eliot wants to slide inside his mouth or his ass or into the silky-hot space between his thighs—and that’s what Quentin wants, too. Most of the time.

“Sounds nice,” Quentin says. “Yeah, yeah. Of course.” His fingers trace over Eliot’s shoulder, down along the muscles in his arm. Quentin opens his mouth like he’s going to qualify his answer with several different explanations, but stops, pulling Eliot down and kissing him hard, throwing a leg around Eliot’s hips so that they fit together, intertwined. It’s hot and sweet, rocking between his legs, Quentin’s cock pressed against his, the slip of the two of them together, a fine layer of sweat between them. Eliot could come like this, he thinks, just rutting forward, cock pressed to the plane of Quentin’s belly.

Eliot presses his nose to Quentin’s earlobe, nuzzling into him, taking in campfire smoke and sweat and all the essential Quentin-ness of his smell. “What’re you thinking about?”

“Nothing.”

“Not true. I know you. You need to tell me.” He brushes a piece of Quentin’s hair behind his ear, and it spills soft over the red pillow behind his head.

“Do you want to—I mean. I just want what you want.”

“That’s my line, sweetheart.” Eliot kisses him, eyes fluttering closed as he sinks into the depth of Quentin, dipping his tongue between those soft lips, kissing away the edges of his pout. When he pulls back to look at Quentin, his cheeks are flushed rosy pink, his cock hard against Eliot’s hip. He’s the kind of boy Eliot had dreamed of kissing when he dared to dream—soft-lipped and silky-haired, lean and strong and firm in all the right places. “And I wouldn’t suggest it if I wasn’t interested. Tell me you know that.”

Quentin nods, eyes big and soft and so sincere. “Yeah. I know.”

Eliot kisses along the line of Quentin’s jaw, kisses the tip of his chin, the soft bow of his lower lip, down the line of his neck, along his collarbone, presses his nose to the hollow of his neck, petting over his arms and chest and ribs and down to the firm, furred muscles of his legs, snuggling into him until Quentin is giggling and squirming beneath him. “I have an idea.”

“I like your ideas.” Quentin brings his hand to Eliot’s cock, stroking him absently, pressing his thumb to the base of the head and sending shocks into Eliot’s core.

“You finger me open—”

Quentin’s eyebrows raise, and he gives Eliot a dimpled little smile. “Tell me more.”

“And I’ll ride you.”

“Yeah, okay.” Quentin bites his lip and raises his hand to Eliot’s curls, pressing his fingertips to Eliot’s scalp, sending trills of warmth down the column of his spine.

“Good plan?”

“Mmm, mhmm,” Quentin agrees, regarding Eliot with open hunger, hand still working over Eliot’s cock. Eliot’s been with plenty of boys who wanted him; he’s seen all manner of desire. But Quentin approaches sex—and intimacy, tenderness—with a mix of bare vulnerability and shamelessness that he wouldn’t have expected from the boy he met two years ago.

Need answers within Eliot, stirring low in his belly, pulsing along the length of his cock, sparking in the cradle of his hips. He sits back on Quentin’s thighs, shivery in the imperfect weave of the climate spell over the daybed. “Good.”

There’s a lot that Eliot would like to say, give Quentin a kind of warning, maybe. Like—it hasn’t worked out for the other men I’ve wanted, and I didn’t want them a tenth as much as I want you. Like—it’s hard for me to be like this with anyone, and it scares me that it’s easy with you. Like—I know I’ll do something to fuck this up, and I don’t know what life looks like after that. Like—I might be in love with you, and I might have been for a long time now, and I didn’t know if that was a way I could feel. Like—I don’t know what life looks like apart from you, and I’m sorry, ahead of time, because maybe that’s too much to put on anyone.

Instead, he kisses Quentin again, soft and slow, and tuts out a little cleaning spell that fizzes inside him, watching Quentin as he watches Eliot’s hands. Eliot flicks his wrist and feels his magic catch on the worn metal tin he keeps under the pillow out here. (Their first year here, Eliot hadn’t had much of a need for lube beyond the slippery, water-based stuff he could create from the humidity in the air. There’d been—self-gratification, frequent, as watching Quentin bend over the tiles was a legitimate form of torture—and the occasional rendezvous in the village, which had all been met with drawn out, silent pouting from Quentin. But since that first week with Quentin in his bed and the first time he took Eliot’s cock, shaking and shuddering as Eliot drenched his cock in the watery substance again and again, the desire for good sex had proven to be the mother of invention, and Eliot made of several plant based oil, plant starch and something a little like aloe—and man had invented lube.)

He puts the tin in Quentin’s hand. “Get me ready, baby.”

Quentin opens the tin, his cheeks red like they haven’t been talking about fucking for an hour and a half. “I will. Just tell me if anything hurts—”

“It won’t, baby. You’re so good to me.”

The oil melts over Quentin’s fingers, and they do some rearranging so Eliot’s face is pressed to Quentin’s neck, and Quentin’s hands are on his ass, fingertips teasing over his hole, circling it and pressing in just a little. Eliot lets out a sigh when Quentin sinks the first finger inside, bearing down and rocking a so his cock brushes against Quentin’s stomach. Quentin is making sweet sounds as he fucks into Eliot with his finger, like he’s surprised, maybe awed.

“Gonna put another one in,” he murmurs, pressing his lips to Eliot’s cheek.

“Give it to me, sweetheart,” he says, which gets a laugh out of Quentin, followed by a fluttery moan as he pushes in with two fingers, filling Eliot just a bit more, making his thighs light up with faint glowing burn, tender and bright and delicious. He knows how to do this, how to relax and—yeah, it’s been a while and yeah—Quentin—compared to Eliot—isn’t as much to take, but he wants, he wants everything— “More, come on, baby.”

“Now you’re just being greedy,” Quentin says, scraping his teeth over Eliot’s collarbone, a small shock of pleasure unfolding along the column of his spine. He gives Eliot what he wants, slipping a third inside and groaning when Eliot pushes back against his hand, riding his fingers and letting himself flutter open, wet and slick, his cock full and bobbing with each small movement, heavy with want, pushing against Quentin’s belly, against his own hard length, until they’re sliding together and Quentin is panting into his mouth, sucking at his lips and tongue. “You feel so hot inside—so fucking good—El.”

“Yeah, baby?”

Quentin’s other hand rests on his waist, and he moves his thumb in a small arc, a tender little movement that carries weight to it, the heft of Quentin’s desire. “I just like you so fucking much. You’re so hot—God, it’s stupid, I’m stupid over you.”

Heat unfolding in his body, the shape of his desire taking form, focused and folded into the space of his hips, he smiles, his cheeks hot and aching, his whole chest aching at Quentin’s naked want, the ease with which he owns it. “Me too,” Eliot says, his voice a small, hushed thing. The drag of Quentin’s fingers inside is delicious, so full and deep, each glance against his prostate pushing a warm, glittering rush through him. He’s almost breathless with it, the words and the slow, curling movements of Quentin’s fingers, the grip of his hands. “I—I’m ready, sweetheart. You wanna sit up or—”

“I’ll stay like this, so I can see all of you.” And it’s just like that—Quentin’s eyes looking unbearably into his while he coats his cock and Eliot positions himself so it’s right there, the blunt head of it against his entrance, pushing in until he feels their flesh connect with a shift and sliding into place, fleshed joined to flesh. He sinks down, slow and savoring, as he tucks his feet beneath Quentin’s calves, his own dick jerking as Quentin puts his hands, slippery with oil, to Eliot’s waist. He shivers beneath Eliot, his nipples pebbled and tight, a rosy blush blossoming over his chest and neck and ears. A punched out groan falls from his lips, his hands gripping, everything between them slick and sliding.

“How’s that, baby?”

“So good. It’s—it’s tight. Oh my God, El.” Quentin closes his eyes and digs his fingers into Eliot’s skin hard enough to hurt—but it’s good; God, it’s good—as he slips further down, pulls back up and sinks down, until he’s seated, the whole of Quentin’s cock inside him, thick and hot and stretching, holding him open.

Quentin is basically non-functional, panting and whining and squirming as Eliot leans back and snaps his hips, watching Quentin’s face as his mouth goes slack, a low, broken sound falling from his mouth. Eliot shivers, full and achy in the way he likes, stretched around Quentin, each little movement intensifying the burn in his thighs and gathering the wisps of pleasure creating a storm, heavy with pressure and electric potential.

Quentin’s eyes fall open, focused on Eliot, Eliot alone, like he’s the only person in the world. Maybe that’s how it is here in Fillory; maybe he is the only person in the world, the only one available. And that’s fine because—Quentin needs him and wants him, and Eliot gets this, the soft heat of his mouth and the bare lust in his gaze, the weight and push of his body, gathered around him, held deep inside of him, giving and taking and sating that razor’s edge of wanting Eliot has hidden since the moment he first saw Quentin—bleary-eyed and confused and tucking his hair behind his ear, hands twitching, and staring at Eliot like he’d seen something out of a dream—

—In the early days after he arrived in New York, Eliot had a lot of different sex with a lot of people. He’d learned what he liked—fucking pretty boys, making the decisions when there were decisions to be made, saying goodnight and heading back to his own bed. He made exceptions here and there—staying the night, seeing a guy more than a few times—he’d thought Mike was—but Mike wasn’t, and he hadn’t been the answer to getting over Quentin because that first year he was always drawn to him, pulled into his gravity—when it was all over and Mike was gone, he’d ended up taking Q in his arms, and he’d ended up in Fillory as king after that, missing Quentin on and on—but here, now—on this quest, there’s something more unfolding between them—

Eliot’s had a lot of sex, but it’s never been like this. Not in the tangled up orgies on the white sand beaches in Ibiza, not with the falling apart ancient book of sex magic spells he found tucked away in the Cottage, all of which he’d explored with his first year boys—and a couple of cute hedge witches that one time—not on Earth or in Whitespire—and a thought, hazy around the edges but clear and bright at its center, forms as he bends to kiss Quentin—his cock brushing against the downy-soft hair just below Quentins navel as Eliot takes him deep on every downstroke, grinding into him, life and light sparking together inside him, soft bliss born of comfort and need, holding and being held—and the thought is slippery as the sparks fly together inside him, but he holds onto it as pleasure unwinds, inevitable, taking residence in the bottoms of his feet and the tips of his fingers and the roots of his hair—he repeats it to himself, inside—that no matter the time or place, no matter what they are to one another or where they are in any number of the infinite worlds in the multiverse, there’s no getting beyond what Q means to him, that there is nothing that will be more to him than this, now, here beneath Quentin’s hands, above the strong, firm reality of his body and the pink-flushed softness of his well-kissed lips.

Eliot loves him—the past and present of him, and all the things he is and all the people he’s loved—and he knows—he knows one day, they will leave this place, they’ll go home. It will all be different in a different place and time, and the future and the reality of their lives may well drive a wedge between them or replace the wedge that was already there. For now, he may as well just—

“You feel so good, El—it’s so fucking good,” Quentin says, his cheeks burning red, one hand traveling to push against Eliot’s abdomen, one still on his waist as Eliot rides him faster now, close enough to almost come without—

He wraps his hand around his cock, fingers brushing against Quentin’s hand and Eliot really doesn’t know why but that’s really working for him, the fact of Quentin’s need, the grace and strength of his fingers. Quentin is biting his lip and making low, hungry sounds with every rock and slide of Eliot’s body; his eyes are locked in on Eliot’s cock, watching him stroke and twist his hand over his dick while he’s full and rolling his hips and savoring the pleasure-filled ache, the thick, heavy feeling in his cock as he draws closer, the flood rising as he moves faster and bites down on a groan as he falls forward and kisses Quentin, sucking at his lips and breathing into his mouth until they feel more like one being than two, swept away in the rush of pleasure.

“So close,” Eliot murmurs, biting at Quentin’s earlobe and—Q makes a sultry, breathy sound and plants his feet, grabbing Eliot’s thighs and fucking up into him, pistoning his hips, cock driving into Eliot, wet and slick and hot and so good. Hand wrapped tight around his cock, his body seizes up, slow and patient like each nerve ending is waiting to unwind—and does all at once when he spills over his hand and Quentin’s belly. Q’s breath comes hard against his mouth, teeth scraping over his lip, strangled groans pushed up from his chest as Eliot’s body pulses and clamps down against him and he clutches at Eliot’s thigh, nails digging into his flesh, thrusting up and up and up as he comes, body tensing and hips stuttering inside as he meets his own answering wave of pleasure, licking into Eliot’s mouth, slick hands petting over his waist as they come down together.

They’re quiet for a while, held close together and coming down, breath pouring out against each other’s skin, still and content as heartbeats slow and minds recenter themselves. Eliot repositions himself, pulls Quentin with him so they’re facing one another, side by side. He does the cleaning spell he’s used for years, smiling as he always does when Quentin focuses on his hands like he’s trying to memorize—not the spell, he knows the spell—Eliot’s movements, the little details of his hands.

He thinks, sometimes, that it’s a pity he can’t see into Quentin’s mind to know what he feels. Eliot’s not sure he’d want to, not sure he’d want the disappointment of knowing that Q’s affection doesn’t run at the same depth or the terror at knowing that it does.

“Good?”

“Yeah you could—you could say that.” Quentin runs a hand through his hair and gives Eliot that devastating smile, dimples appearing before his teeth, the apples of his cheeks rosy and his eyebrows lifting like they’re sharing a joke.

“Too bad James didn’t know what he had.”

Quentin bites his bottom lip and rolls his eyes, an expression that ought to be illegal given its effect on Eliot’s psychological wellbeing. The world has been tilting on its axis since he met Quentin, and it’s turned itself fully upside down here in this Fillory of the past. “Yeah I don’t think—I don’t think anything ever would have happened with that. It was like a—it just was what it was. I was surprised he had an interest in the first place.”

“He’d been thinking about it for years, baby. Trust me.”

“Yeah, no—”

Eliot puts a finger to Quentin’s lips, tracing over its bow before diving in for another kiss. Quentin melts into him, always ready to be kissed. “Julia didn’t know or she would have said something.”

Quentin opens his mouth to protest, but he stops short. He shrugs.

“But what she did know was that he was attracted to you. I can’t blame him for that, pretty boy.”

Quentin is blushing and shaking his head.

“And he was stupid and got overwhelmed and didn’t know how to process the level of his burgeoning gay. So he went to safety instead of pursuing the boy he definitely had a thing for. Because he was a dumb jock—”

“James isn’t dumb,” Quentin protests, which is very cute because Eliot was definitely trying to get a rise out of him.

“Oh? If he wasn’t dumb, he would have held onto you.”

“Hm. I’ll take your word for it.”

“You should. My word is gold, sweetheart.”

“And you—you—” Quentin clears his throat, and his eyes dart to the side. “You—nevermind.”

“Mm, what?”

“What about you?”

“What about me, what?” Eliot’s pulse ticks up; he can feel it in the back of his throat. When Quentin fixes Eliot in his gaze like this, he can’t exactly look away, but he wishes he could, sometimes. He didn’t ask for this, didn’t sign up for it. It just is, in the same way that Fillory is where they live, alone on a hill in a gay cottagecore fantasy where they do art every morning and make love on a daybed in the forest. Really, it’s not Eliot’s fault he got stuck with the boy who’s been the boy of his dreams since he knew how to think about boys. His whole life has taken him for a fucked up ride, and he really never thought he’d be able to give anything to anyone, especially not to someone who gives and gives like Quentin does.

At least this part of the ride is good. Maybe the best part so far. He just doesn’t know if he has what it takes because he’s thought for a long time that maybe that part of himself is just depleted or missing or broken beyond repair—

“You’re just implying that you’d hold onto me. I mean, if you’re smart. And not dumb. Like James.”

“He suffered from a terrible lack of imagination, Q. Maybe that’s the better way to say it.” He buries his hand in Quentin’s hair and—it’s getting long, and Eliot likes it like this, wishes it could always be like this. “I definitely don’t bear that same malady. Though I certainly have many others.”

“You mean—”

“I mean—I’ll always be here, Q. In whatever way you want me.”

“Mm.” Quentin smiles and cups Eliot’s face, pressing a kiss to his chin—which Eliot has never really liked even though it’s objectively an attractive chin. He’d just been teased too many times, but it’s nice, nice when Quentin likes it. It makes Eliot see it a little differently. Like a lot of things, he’s beginning to realize. “I want you in all the ways.”

Quentin burrows into him, hand pressed warm against his back. It’s a lot—this is a lot for Eliot—but—he’s been here a year, and they’re not going anywhere anytime soon, and he can accept it, maybe. Just this once. For a while, as long as the position is open, he’ll take it.