Actions

Work Header

i didn't know i was lonely (until i saw your face)

Work Text:

On the surface, Eliot Waugh seems to be everything an omega should be.

He’s gorgeous, supple and sturdy, but with a delicate willowiness that makes him seem graceful rather than athletic. Possessing an easy self-confidence, he exudes the air of one born to be treasured, courted and desired. He’s passionate; that much is obvious to anyone who’s paying attention, a deep core of care running under his affectations of disinterest, evident in the precision of his casting and cooking and cocktails. Loyal, too, to the alpha who is his best friend, to anyone lucky enough to be called his friend, really. He’s intelligent, but he hides it—

“You’re intelligent,” Julia cuts through the middle of Quentin’s rambling, raising an eyebrow at him from her seat across from him at the library table. “Lots of omegas are intelligent.”

“But he doesn’t make a big deal about it,” Quentin huffs, frowning. “You know how bullshit it is when omegas downplay their intelligence in order to make alphas feel better.”

“I really don’t get the sense that Eliot Waugh is doing anything to make alphas feel better,” Julia replies, a note of amusement in her voice. “I think he just doesn’t go to class because he doesn’t want to.”

“But isn’t that as bad?” There’s a hysterical edge to Quentin’s voice, sending it high and cracking, and sending Julia’s eyebrows up towards her hairline. “After generations of omegas fighting for him to have the right to go sit in class next to alphas— and it’s magic, too, how could you not want to spend every moment absorbing as much of it as you can?”

“Well, I agree with you there,” Julia sighs, nudging her foot up against Quentin’s under the table, glancing up as another student walks past them to get at a bookshelf near by. It’s as good a reminder as any that Quentin probably should calm the fuck down. He breathes out slowly, trying to unclench the muscles in his back so he doesn’t give himself a tension headache. Again. The next inhale of breath drags in the familiarity of Julia’s steady beta scent, her amusement written all across it. “I thought he was your friend.”

“He is.” Quentin frowns, looking down at his books, spread out on the table. Eliot is his friend, at least as far as Quentin can tell. It kind of defies understanding, why someone like Eliot who is— well, third-year, ideal omega, all of that— would have time for Quentin, but. He seems to, if the way Eliot keeps trying to pull Quentin into his orbit speaks for anything. Two months into the school year, and Quentin’s already spent more time at the Physical Kids Cottage that he’s spent in his own dorm, it feels. “I guess? It’s not like I have a lot of experience being friends with other omegas.”

“Well, maybe this will be good for you,” Julia says, that mother-hen twist to her voice that has always, always irritated him, beta or no. Quentin doesn’t like people trying to tell him what’s good for him, even if he’s kind of... monumentally bad at telling it for himself.

“It’s just—”

It’s just that Quentin’s spent a lifetime pushing back on the idea of ideal omegas. Years and years of high school being quietly resentful, of saying he’s not like other omegas— years of college trying to unlearn the internalized sexism that made him think that. Years of being aggressive about his intelligence, because he was as capable as Julia and deserved every opportunity she got, and fuck his mom for thinking otherwise. Years and years of hating his body and hating the way that other people wanted it, felt themselves entitled to it— unwilling and unable to allow himself to be treated like something that could be won, even— even as he’d tried to unlearn the patterns of oppression that made him resent others who did want that.

“I think you’re jealous,” Julia says with the air of someone gleefully jabbing a stick into a sleeping bear.

Quentin, of course, knows better than to rise to it. “I’m not jealous,” he says flatly, shifting a little in his seat, fidgeting with the edge of his book.

And— no, when he stops to think about it, he doesn’t really think he is, not of— not of the attention Eliot gets, anyway. Of his ease with magic, sure, maybe, but Eliot’s been at Brakebills two years longer than Quentin. It’d be weird if he wasn’t better at magic than Quentin. Jealous of Eliot’s comfort in himself, well— possibly. He’s always been a little jealous of anyone who seems at ease in their own skin, in a way Quentin doesn’t think he’ll ever be.

But he’s not jealous of Eliot Waugh, ideal omega. That’s not something Quentin’s ever wanted to be.

So why can’t he stop thinking about it?

___

They are friends, though, and that only becomes more apparent once Quentin moves out of the first year dorms and into the Cottage. Against all odds, Quentin finds himself in Eliot’s orbit quite often, hanging out on the patio with him and Margo while they’re grilling, or avoiding attention at a party by sticking to the sidelines near the bar, where Eliot chats with him in between drink requests. He probably wouldn’t go to the parties at all, except the whole concept feels less intimidating when he knows he can hang out with Eliot, at least for a little bit. Safety in numbers, all of that— it’s different, being able to relax in the company of another omega rather than simply throwing himself out there for the attention of others. Attention is not something Quentin does well with, historically speaking. But sitting off to the side, chatting with Eliot, it feels almost like he’d found a place— a place he can really fit.

Then Brakebills South happened.

Honestly, Quentin wants to forget it ever did, wants to put the memories away where he’ll never have to see them or be confronted by them ever again. But it doesn’t work that way; he can’t just pretend it never happened, can’t shove it away, but he can’t— fucking sleep, either. So Quentin takes to haunting the Cottage in a daze, giving sleep a perfunctory attempt for an hour or two then dragging himself out of bed and down into the common areas to read or study or— stare absently at the wall, honestly, but no one has to know that but him.

One such night, Quentin’s curled up on the couch by the stairs so late that it’s almost early when the front door to the Cottage opens, Eliot spilling inside. His movements are just ever-so uncoordinated enough to betray how drunk he is, a red flush high on his cheeks, but a spark of recognition still flashes in his eyes when he looks up and notices Quentin watching him.

“Hey, Q,” Eliot mumbles, no slur to his voice but— when is there ever, with Eliot? “What are you doing here?”

“I live here,” Quentin points out, looking down at his book so he’s not watching Eliot unwind his scarf and shrug off his coat.

“Not on that couch, you don’t,” Eliot returns, walking over towards Quentin and sinking down to sit on the table in front of the couch, hands brace on the edges of it. “It’s late.”

“It is,” Quentin agrees, looking pointedly at Eliot then back at the door.

“What are you, my fucking chaperone?” Eliot bites back, annoyed, a steely edged scowl settling on his face.

“No, I just mean—” Quentin flushes, because okay, maybe he had been throwing shade at Eliot for being out until the wee hours of the morning, but that absolutely wasn’t right or good or just of him. It’s Eliot’s right to spend his time with whoever he wants, doing whatever he wants. “I’m an adult too, I guess, even if I’m a boring one.”

Eliot's face smoothes out, appeased. “You’re not boring.”

“I am,” Quentin says, dryly, shooting Eliot a wry smile. “I’ve made my peace with that, though, more or less. I just— you know, can’t sleep, so.” He gestures vaguely to the book in his lap, a battered and old copy of The Girl Who Told Time.

“What’s keeping you up?” It’s probably the mild curiosity that keeps Quentin from bristling too badly. He fucking hates being managed, hates feeling like his messy, uncontainable feelings are spilling out all over other people, even when he knows the danger inherent in pulling in and closing off as an alternative. Withdrawing is easy, running away is easy; it costs him nothing. Letting someone else see his mess, and face whatever fallout comes from it is so much harder. But Eliot’s here and he’s asking, and Quentin’s starting to feel like if he doesn’t talk about this, it might actually eat him alive.

“I just keep thinking about what Mayakovsky said—” he says all in a rush before he cuts himself off, a weird swirl of anger and humiliation in his chest. But when he glances up, Eliot's watching him, eyes dark and unreadable.

“Did he call you 'bitch boy'? Tell you that you're not going to be able to learn magic, so you might as well go find a knot and make yourself useful?” Quentin stares, wordless, and Eliot offers a mirthless smile. “Yeah, he’s a cock.”

“That seems unfair to cocks, somehow,” Quentin sighs, scrubbing a hand up through his hair. That jittery, shaky feeling is expanding in his chest, sending his leg bouncing, but Eliot seems content to sit in silence in the dark of the cottage while Quentin tries to get a handle on why he’s freaking the fuck out. “When I was at Columbia,” he starts, looking down at the familiar cover of the book in his lap because it's easier than looking at Eliot. “I worked with this group that was like— an omega advocacy group? But most of what I did with them was like, outreach? Around Title IX. Working with omegas on campus to like— make sure they’d know how to respond, or— or that there were resources, how to find the people who could help. I did that work for years. And then I— I couldn’t— I didn’t know how to respond, when it was— Fuck, I can’t believe I let him talk to me like that.”

“Can’t you?” Eliot says, a gentleness to his voice that puts Quentin’s guard up, but when he meets Eliot’s eyes, he sees sympathy, not pity. “After two weeks of being spelled silent and emotionally abused, being threatened with starvation or being left out in the snow to freeze, you’re surprised that you didn’t have it left in you to stand up to a posturing alpha in a position of power over you? Fuck, Q, who could? It’d be way more surprising if you had.”

“Why does he still teach here,” Quentin hisses, the frustration and powerlessness that’s been pushing behind his breastbone since he got back from Brakebills South roiling back to life.

Eliot’s silent for a minute, eyes gaze distant, face unreadable. “How many omegas are there in your year?”

“Oh, um. 10? I think? Me and Penny, and a couple of guys who lived across the hall from us— Alice, obviously, and some girls in other disciplines.”

Eliot nods, his eyes still distant. “There were only two in mine, by the time the trials were over. Me, and— a girl named Emily Greenstreet.” Eliot’s fingers tap on the table, then he blinks, and seems to come back to himself. “Just me, now. You could say that Brakebills is somewhat behind the curve, when it comes to things like Title IX. Last vestiges of old academia. I hear some of the other schools are better about it.”

Quentin, who has literally never thought about other magic schools, blinks at him. But— right, surely not every Magician in the world can go through Brakebills, with it’s cap of 40 students a year. “I’ve just never let anyone talk to me like that,” Quentin repeats, because that’s the root of it, isn’t it. The curl of shame in his gut. He may be awkward and unlikable, but he also knows he’s stubborn and fine, bitchy— He’s stumbled through a lot of things in his life, but he’s fought for a hell of a lot more.

“He probably meant it like a dare,” Eliot sighs, standing unsteadily and stretching. “What’s a little casual sexism if it unlocks your potential or what the fuck ever. Have you eaten anything?”

“I— What?”

“Food,” Eliot gestures towards the kitchen, then to Quentin himself. “I can make you something.”

Quentin scowls, looking away. “I don’t need to be taken care of,” he mutters, mulish, crossing his arms over his chest. This whole conversation had been a bad idea, now Eliot’s going to think he’s some delicate flower who needs to be handled.

“Fuck, I need to be taken care of,” Eliot laughs, an awful, bitter, twisted thing. Quentin looks up at him, startled, something— bright and hot stirring in his gut that feels nothing like jealousy at all. “Who doesn’t? Life’s fucking raw, and I’m drunk. Help me eat some carbs so I can go pass out in peace.”

Which is how Quentin ends up awkwardly supervising some pasta boiling, while next to him at the stove Eliot’s melting butter and sifting in flour and stirring in milk and grating cheese and generally performing all kinds of culinary miracles that turn normal pasta into mac and cheese. There’s an absent kind of contentment to Eliot’s scent, like going through the motions is somehow comforting to him.

Quentin watches Eliot cook, and thinks about— all the years he spent feeling resentful of the idea that he should know how to cook, just because he’s an omega. It’s such a stupid thing, every anti-sexism talking point will point out that everyone should know how to cook, that all human beings need to eat and therefore should know how to prepare their food. But watching Eliot move around the kitchen, graceful hands grating and mixing and stirring, Quentin can’t help but think how much of a difference there is between doing something because you have to, because it’s expected of you, and because you enjoy it.

They eat mac and cheese from the pot at 3am, sitting knees bumping together under the table near the kitchen, and Quentin feels— good, better, probably food had been a good idea, but also kind of floaty. He knows he keeps stealing glances at Eliot, but he can’t shake the feeling of bewildered awe, at Eliot’s kindness, his friendship, that he not only tolerates Quentin in his space but invites him into it. I need to be taken care of, Eliot had said, and that— that should piss him off, after years of fighting back on the idea that omegas need to be cared for, coddled, managed but—

“You deserve to be taken care of,” Quentin mutters, watching as Eliot looks up at him, eyes wide in surprise like he’d forgotten he’d even said it in the first place, and Quentin wilts a little under that look. “I mean— if that’s. If that’s what you want.”

“I don’t know if it is,” Eliot admits, after a moment, weirdly honest and vulnerable, like the cover of darkness and their carby snack has unlocked some hidden depth. Or like— Quentin’s leveled up in friendship some how. “Most of the time I pride myself on my self-sufficiency. And it may not jive with the Woke Omega playbook, but there is a level of self-sufficiency in being able to use other people’s interest to get what I want.”

“Yeah,” Quentin says, like he would even fucking know how to do that, if he wanted to.

Eliot smiles at him, clearly calling his bluff, but he nudges Quentin’s foot under the table with his own. “It’s sweet of you to say so, though.”

“Yeah, that’s me, sweet as pie,” Quentin snarks back, sarcastic, feeling— a prickly edge of embarrassment that almost hurts. Like he’s being mocked and isn’t sure why.

“You can be,” Eliot shoots back, a rich depth of amusement to his voice. “When you’re not being an ornery curmudgeon.”

“Are you 90?” Quentin asks, disbelieving, staring at Eliot until he laughs, smile lines wrinkling the corners of his eyes. “Eat your fucking mac’n’cheese, asshole.”

The hot-prickly feeling stays with him, though, even after they part ways for the night, Eliot squeezing companionably at Quentin’s shoulder before making his way towards the staircase up to the attic. Quentin lays in bed for a long time, unable to parse what he’s feeling, annoyed that he constantly feels so much. He can’t stop wondering who Eliot spent his night with, and why they couldn’t be bothered to make sure he was fed before they sent him back out into the cold.

___

Quentin still spends a good chunk of time at the library.

It’s partially to appease Julia, because she’s his oldest friend and smart as hell and prone to becoming really annoying if she thinks he’s making choices that aren’t in his own best interests. But it is also genuinely hard to get a lot of studying done at the Cottage, sometimes. Once you get past the, like, culture shock of wow, this is just like Harry Potter, it’s actually kind of irritating when you’re trying to study Aramaic and someone— cough Margo cough— has decided to test a new smoke-machine spell that fills the entire common space with chilly fog.

He’s never thought much about the fact that it leaves him walking back across campus alone in the dark, until one night a few weeks into the spring semester, when he’s pulled from his thoughts by the sound of voices coming from the shortcut he usually takes to cut towards the Cottage from campus proper, a long narrow alley between the lab building and the currently-empty first year dorms.

“Come on, pretty thing, you don’t really want to be alone right now, do you? Smelling like this?” The rumble of an unfamiliar alpha voice prickles along Quentin’s spine, stopping him cold in his tracks. Danger, screams every instinct he has, just take the fucking long way home tonight, but— he can smell it, as the wind shifts, blowing towards him down the long tunnel of the alley and carrying with it the yeast-sharp smell of impending heat. And he can’t just— he can’t just leave.

“I really think you should get the fuck away from me, right now.” And oh fuck, Quentin knows that voice, that’s Eliot’s voice.

Quentin’s feet are moving again before he’s made any kind of conscious decision, hand snapping through the tuts for a quick cantrip that sends a ball of light like a candle flame hovering up near his shoulder as he takes off into the alley. He can just see them, at the other end, Eliot’s tall frame slumped against a wall, staggered, and pacing near him, a blonde alpha Quentin’s never seen, hackles up and projecting an aura of aggressive possession.

“Hey!” Quentin calls out, even as Eliot and the alpha both turn to look towards the source of the light. “He said get away.”

Even jogging down the alleyway, Quentin can see the alpha sneer. “I don’t have time for you, honey, I’ve got a better offer for the taking.”

Then he turns back towards Eliot and Quentin skids to a stop, hands moving on instinct, reaching for a spell he’s seen performed only once: Kady’s fingers drawing together with a punch of magical energy when Mayakovsky had tried to pull Alice from her arms and shove her— terrified and shivering— towards the pile of the rest of the omegas he was trying to bully out into the snow. Quentin had watched Kady send him staggering, and if you’d asked him yesterday if he’d be able to replicate the spell, he’d have said no, he’d been too worn out, too terrified, too close to breaking point to be paying attention to anything as mundane as casting.

But he finds it now, reaching inside himself to that bright spot of light where magic leaks in and grabbing it, pulling it and twisting it until he can release it, short and sharp and brutal, at the alpha threatening his friend. And maybe Mayakovsky had been good enough to block most of the spell, but this alpha is not. It sends him flying, not just away from Eliot but out of the alley all together.

Jogging the rest of the way down the alley, Quentin stumbles to a stop a couple of feet from Eliot, trying to just— get a sense for the situation, what was going on. Did he need to go find, like— a professor? Would it even fucking matter of he did? But Eliot looks fine, or as fine as could be expected, a little shaken up and unsteady, and definitely, definitely going into heat, but— it seems like Quentin got there in time.

“You need to get out of here,” Eliot says, which is honestly not what Quentin had been expecting him to say. Which was, like— pretty much anything else but that? He sounds fucking exhausted, slumping back to rest his shoulders against the wall, rolling his head towards Quentin to give him a slow blink. He’s wearing layers, a blazer and a vest and a tie, and even staggered against the side of the building he seems— composed, collected, willful. “Those kinds of spells are forbidden on campus, you could get thrown out.”

“I can’t just— leave,” Quentin protests, frowning, taking a step closer to Eliot. “What if he comes back?”

“I promise I can take care of myself,” Eliot says, voice getting stronger even if he is still leaning into the wall. There’s sweat gathering at hair at his temples, in a visible sheen on his throat, the scent of heat wafting up off his skin— familiar and homey and strange, coming from another person, but Quentin knows that smell. Knows the tremble in Eliot’s big, graceful hands. God, every alpha on campus is going to be able to smell it in this alley in the morning.

“But you’re going into heat,” he protests, possibly the most obvious thing Quentin’s ever said in his life, but— he can’t believe he’s having to argue this point. Taking another purposeful step towards Eliot, he shakes his head, determined. “I can’t just leave you here.”

Q—”

“No, listen.” Quentin protests, stepping up until he can touch Eliot’s arm, finally, tentatively guide it up around his own shoulders. “I’ll help you, I can— do that spell again or—”

“I don’t want you getting kicked out for throwing battle magic around,” Eliot mumbles, but the objection doesn’t hold up under the shift of his weight onto Quentin’s shoulders. The smell of him is stronger, this close, like— sage and peeled apples and aged whiskey and— the yeasty scent of impending heat, smacking Quentin in the face like walking into a bakery. Mostly he smells like exhaustion, and the sour-tinge of adrenaline, but there’s something under it, something— kind.

“I don’t want you to get kicked out either,” Quentin says, stubborn, frowning up into Eliot’s face. His eyes are still clear, no glaze of heat-dissociation yet, so it must be a little ways off still. The sheet of sweat on his neck is— very visible from this angle, and Quentin finds himself kind of unable to look away from the stretch of Eliot’s throat where his scent gland sits, pheromones evaporating into the air off his flushed-hot skin.

“They can’t take magic away from me,” Eliot says, cryptically, taking a step, and then another, still sagging into Quentin’s side. Curiosity spikes, but— really, there are more pressing matters.

“Where are we supposed to go for this?” Quentin asks, looking around the mostly deserted campus. “I feel like they said something about it at the opening seminar, but I don’t really remember—”

“They said,” Eliot interrupts with a chuckle, “that your assigned student guide would show you the necessary facilities. However, I have it on good authority that your student guide was much more interested in getting you drunk, so— there’s den rooms under the infirmary in the medical building. Doors lock from the inside, only the head healer can bypass them.”

That sounds honestly kind of miserable, and Quentin is not looking forward to that, but— that’s something to deal with later. “Okay, medical building. I’ll get you there.”

“I— I need to get my stuff,” Eliot protests, weakly, turning his face in the direction of the cottage.

“El, you can’t go back to the cottage like this,” Quentin insists, a spike of panic shooting through his stomach at the idea. “Look— I’ll get your stuff and bring it over to you, okay? They’ll let me in, yeah?”

“Yeah,” Eliot says, eyes focusing on Quentin like he’s really seeing him for the first time. “Yeah, they’ll let you in. Q, I—”

He trails off, and Quentin raises an eyebrow at him, nudging him pointedly in the side to get him moving again. “You what?”

“Nothing. I’ve just never really had a friend like you. Another omega, I mean.” That doesn’t make sense at all, Eliot is constantly surrounded by other omega boys, but— whatever, Quentin doesn’t hate being appreciated or whatever.

Hauling Eliot more tightly up over his shoulder, Quentin sets his sights on the medical building, offering a pinched, “You and me both.”

A healing student meets them at the door to the medical building, clearly on some nighttime triage duty. She’s a beta, which is a bit of a relief, Quentin’s honestly not sure how he’d react to an alpha right now. But she’s very no-nonsense about the whole thing, seeming almost bored as she leads them— Eliot still slumped against Quentin’s shoulders— down a staircase and into a hallway containing several windowless side rooms, all very impersonal, bright white and smelling of chemical cleaner. Quentin hates them, on principle, but—

But Eliot detaches from Quentin’s side with a little squeeze to his shoulder and a small smile, stepping into the room with the ease of familiarity. And of course, Eliot’s had two years worth of heats on campus, of course he’s used to this. Quentin had missed his fall heat, probably due to all the changes and stress, and well— honestly, missing a heat isn’t all that unusual for Quentin anyway, but— he’ll probably be in here himself, soon, whenever the winter heat comes from him.

“There’s a box in my closet,” Eliot says, giving Quentin a wan little smile, and Quentin blinks up at him, up into his exhausted face, still composed even as the scent of heat rolls off him. “Everything should be in there, just grab what you can, I don’t even care right now.”

“Okay,” Quentin says, looking curiously around him as Eliot moves away. There’s a little alcove set in the back of the room with a sink and a toilet, and some shelves along the wall with bottles of juice and shelf-stable foods, but beyond that the only thing in the space is a mat set on the hard wood of the floor. Even through his shoes he can tell that the floor is spelled to be warm, so that’s— something, at least—

“We should let him get settled,” the healer says, not unkindly, and Quentin blinks, shaken out of his frozen stare, eyes fixed on the mat.

“I’ve got to— he needs some stuff, I’m going to get it. Can I come back in?” Quentin asks the healer as she guides him back out of the den room.

“You can come back to drop stuff off, you just can’t stay,” she says, like she’s reciting something she’s been made to memorize. “In order to stay with an omega in heat you have to have their written consent before the heat starts.”

“Right,” he says, because that’s— good, it’s a good policy, probably. At least the bare minimum the school can do to protect its omega population, and more than they might get in the world at large.

Quentin books it across campus in an adrenaline-fueled haze, hands twitching at his sides half-ready to cast, throw a spell at the first sign of a hostile alpha lurking in the darkness. But whoever the blonde alpha is, he seems to have slunk back off to wherever he came from, and Quentin’s sprinting up the stairs in the cottage before he’s really even registered getting in the door. His panic carries him through the beaded curtain and up the second flight of stairs to Eliot’s room, only to bounce, headlong, off a shimmering set of wards shielding the door.

Fuck. Eliot hadn’t said anything about wards.

Thinking fast, Quentin turns on his heel and speeds back down the stairs towards Margo’s room. It’s late, but there’s a light on under the door, and he can get his hand on the wood without tripping another set of wards, so he knocks, loudly, calling “Margo!” for good measure.

She does not look pleased when the door swings open, and Quentin would maybe care about that if he weren’t running on blind adrenaline. “Someone better literally be on fire,” she says, voice flat and dangerous, still in the process of tying a robe around her waist.

“Eliot’s in heat,” Quentin pants, out of breath. Fuck, he needs to do more cardio.

“Fuck, like— already, right now?” Margo asks, head twisting down the all as if she can x-ray vision see through the walls to his room. Quentin really hopes she can’t do that.

“I got him to the infirmary,” Quentin says, with a wave, and then— oh, hey, maybe he should— “Um, if you’re going to like— help him, you could find him there.”

Margo raises her eyebrows at him, clearly skeptical, and Quentin feels like he’s missing something. “Did he ask for me? Actually ask for me, specifically?”

“Well— no,” Quentin admits, and okay, maybe it’s a dick move to assume that just because Margo’s an alpha and Eliot spends like half of his life in her lap, that he’d want her for this, but also— come on. It’s not that much of a leap.

“Yeah. That’s not Eliot,” Margo says, softer and— a little wistful, maybe, before her mask of annoyance slips back into place.

“Okay, but like— can you get me into his room? Because I’m supposed to bring him stuff, but the wards are up.”

“That shit, I can help with,” she agrees, leaving her own door open a crack as she heads towards the stairs to the attic, Quentin following her in tow. She moves through the wards easily, reaching into the spell with a series of precise fluid movements, until the lines of it shudder and change shape. “There, you’ll be able to get in and out for the next couple hours. They’ll forget you pretty soon, though, so if he wants you to be able to come and go he’s going to have to add you himself.”

“Thanks. He probably doesn’t,” Quentin says, absently, reaching through the wards to catch the doorknob, turn it in his hand. “I was just— in the right place to help, that’s all.”

“Uh huh,” Margo says, amusement in her voice, when he glances over at her, there’s something assessing in her face. “You’re alright, Coldwater.”

“Um,” Quentin says, startled, bristling. Which is ridiculous, but she’s an alpha, and—“I don’t actually need your approval, fuck you very much?”

Margo laughs, smiling at him with all her teeth. “Yeah, that’s why I like you. Get whatever you need and get back to El before he starts humping a chair or whatever.” Then she turns, heading back down the stairs before Quentin has a chance to respond to that.

He’s never been in Eliot’s room before, but he’d have guessed it’d be— neat, modern, clean lines and everything in its place. And it is neat and clean, but somehow Quentin’s totally unprepared to see what is, unmistakably, a nest dominating the room.

Quentin— doesn’t nest. Not really. It’s always seemed like one of those frivolous things, trappings of another era where omegas needed to escape oppressive mates by hiding themselves away. Plus, he moved so frequently, dorm rooms to his dad’s house to dorm room to Julia’s place to dorm room to another dorm room... it never seemed to be worth the time. But now, a sharp pulse of longing stabs hard behind his ribs, looking at Eliot’s nest. It's wide and deep, stacked up on three sides with cushions and pillows and blankets and fabric all in warm tones of brown and green and maroon, woven together to create an inviting space that looks— soft and safe. There’s hangings too, pulled off to the side and caught on a hook in the wall, magical twinkle lights all wrapped up in the material at turn on as he steps into the room, motion activated.

Never has Quentin wanted to curl up and read somewhere so much in his life. Fuck, why hasn’t he made a nest? Why has he spent the past 12 years telling himself this isn’t something he’s allowed to want, much less have? But even the thought of trying to make one feels— exhausting, so much effort for such an ultimately useless thing, when he’s got a perfectly serviceable bed to sleep in. It’s not even like he could justify it for a heat. This wonderful nest, and Eliot’s still sitting in the clinical, impersonal basement of the medical building, waiting—

Fuck! Waiting for Quentin to stop standing in the doorway like an idiot and find him the things he needs.

Stumbling into the room, Quentin trips his way over to the closet, which is— apparently spelled, because when Q pulls the door open, he finds himself staring into a full walk-in closet. Box in my closet, Eliot had said, not box the small department store I stuffed into my room. Quentin had been expecting something like the shoebox he kept his own small collection of heat aids in, but that was— probably foolish, given, well. Eliot.

The familiar smell of apple and sage and whiskey is abundant in the space as Quentin steps in, the warm Eliot-y smell permeating the rows of shirts and vests and jackets and trouser hung all along one side, with a row of shoes set underneath. On the other side there’s just shelves, containing ties in rolls like Quentin’s seen in window displays, cufflinks and pins and a few watches, an assortment of rings all carefully laid out. This feels like what Quentin had been expecting, order and structure and everything in its place, at odds with the kind of haphazard homeyness of the nest. Eliot could probably walk into this room blindfolded and walk out knowing exactly what he was wearing, based on touch and location alone.

And— there, at the base of the wall opposite the door, there’s a box, not a beat up cardboard box but, instead, a storage container made of some kind of stiff, gray-speckled fabric, lidded but— tasteful. Not an afterthought, a shameful secret stuffed away, but something Eliot had put thought into, and left easily at hand. Swallowing, Quentin steps further into the walk-in, crouching down to hover his fingers over the lid like it might bite him if he doesn’t approach with care. Which is just— stupid, honestly. It’s a box of heat-aids, and Quentin’s an adult. He can handle this. Annoyed with himself, Quentin flips open the lid.

It’s— okay. It’s a little more than heat aids. It’s what you might call a collection, honestly— fake cocks in various sizes, shapes, materials and colors, and— plugs, sure, but Quentin has one of those, just— a little less exciting, maybe, and definitely not any made of glass; that just seems cold. But there are also other things— a pair of shiny silver clips on opposite ends of a long chain, a long slightly bent wand of smooth metal that runs almost the whole length of the box with an abstract bulbous head on both ends, a carefully wound skein of pale purple rope, and— Quentin’s stomach jumps— a sleeve of silicon the shape of a knot sitting on a pile of leather straps that can only be a harness, for— Eliot’s fucking strap-on knot. Jesus.

Face burning, Quentin tears his eyes away from that because that’s not what he’s here for. He just— needs to help Eliot through the next couple days, and then hope that he can still look him in the eye without thinking of the contents of this box ever again. Dear lord.

Still— probably good for him to have options, right?

Pulling his messenger bag off his shoulder, Quentin tuts his way through a charm to expand the inside temporarily, and then looks objectively back at the toys. Okay, there’s a long sort of bronze colored plug of compressible silicon with a bulbous flare like a knot at the base that looks like it’d feel fucking amazing, so he grabs that. There’s also, okay, a realistic colored dildo that’s just— mouthwateringly big and also as a hand pump to inflate a knot at the base, so— that too. Then, feeling a little embarrassed for going right for the biggest toys, he grabs one of the smaller ones as well, mottled purple and teal with a wicked curve at the end. Finally, he catches sight of a familiar roll-on applicator of alpha-scent, an artificial pheromone mimicker that Quentin’s always found to be kind of hit or miss, himself. But it’s in the box, so he grabs it, and sticks it into this bag along with the rest.

Letting the lid fall closed, he pushes to his feet, face still burning hot. At least the walk back through the chilly night air should get rid of the fucking blush. He’s almost all the way out of the room before a flash of inspiration strikes and he doubles back to the nest, grabbing a couple of the loose throw blankets off the top and stuffing them haphazardly into the bag. This close to the nest, the scent of apple-sage-whiskey is ever present, and— he can’t stop thinking of that impersonal, clinical room, with its chemically-clean smell and thin cushions. That can’t be what Eliot wants, when he has all of this the rest of the time. Quentin’s expansion charm does have limits, but he manages to get a couple pillows in too, before the bag simply refuses to take anymore, and— well. That’ll have to do.

The same healer from earlier greets him at the door when he makes it back to the medical building, waving him in with a bored expression on her face. She doesn’t bother to take Quentin down to the heat rooms herself, this time, and honestly he’s glad of that. Weirdly, beta or no, he doesn’t want her seeing Eliot again, a strangely protective urge. Eliot, who holds himself to such exacting standards of presentation, deserves to be allowed to fall apart in privacy.

The door they’d deposited Eliot behind earlier is the only one in the hall that’s closed, and Quentin makes his way towards it, reaching up to knock as he calls out, “Hey, it’s me. I’ve got your stuff.”

“Hey, Q,” Eliot’s voice comes back, then there’s a shuffling sound and some pretty solid sounding thunks of locks being slid out of place, before the door swings open. Eliot’s more unmade then he had been when Quentin left: blazer, tie and vest all abandoned, barefooted on the magic-warmed hardwood. His shirt is open several buttons down at the collar, sleeves rolled up, and Quentin can see the flushed skin at his wrists, on his throat and down his chest where he’s— heating up, fuck.

“I didn’t think to get you clothes,” Quentin blurts out, horrified at his own oversight. Three different blankets, and he didn’t think to get some comfortable clothes, what’s wrong with him? “God, I’m so sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Eliot laughs, ducking his head, which is— an oldly shy gesture, coming from him. There’s a resigned amusement in his heat-bright eyes when he looks back up, shrugging, “I mean, how much time would I really spend wearing them, if we’re being honest?”

“Yeah.” Quentin breathes out, eyes glued to the long pale column of Eliot’s neck. He smells— just— weirdly good, that yeasty scent intensifying, drowning out the sweeter scents Quentin usually associates with him.

“Do you mind coming in?” Eliot prompts, gently, stepping back from the door in a sweeping gesture. “Having the door open feels weird right now.”

“Oh, god, yeah, of course.” Quentin scrambles into the room, letting Eliot close and latch it behind him. Anxiety that Quentin hadn’t even noticed in his scent starts to ease as soon as the door is shut, and Quentin just feels— weirdly honored, to be let into Eliot’s space. He feels trusted. He’s never had another omega around when he’s in heat, but— maybe this is normal, just how it is, when you’ve got another omega you’re close with.

The little heat room isn’t as bad, upon second viewing. It is a little clinical, but everything’s cream and wood tones, and the lighting is actually pretty warm without the fluorescents from the hallway spilling in. The mats on the floor are thin and impersonal, but, well—

“I brought, um,” Quentin starts, then jumps a little as Eliot’s palm settles onto his shoulder, squeezing a little and guiding him into the room, silent permission: it’s okay, you can be here. Then Eliot’s moving past him towards the cushion, folding all six miles of himself down onto it with more grace than Quentin could ever manage even when he’s not in heat. Following after him, Quentin kneels down next to the mat, pulling his bag up over his head so he can start routing around in it. Pulling the pillow out, he offers it out to Eliot with a sheepish smile. “Seemed like you might want some stuff that smells right.”

“Very thoughtful,” Eliot agrees, taking the pillow and tucking it under one arm. His scent takes on a pleased edge, warm and rich, and Quentin looks away before he does something humiliating like start blushing again.

“Margo had to let me into your room, so— she knows what’s going on, I hope that’s okay,” Quentin tells his bag, routing out a blanket, soft brown microfleece almost the exact same rich chocolate color as Eliot’s hair. “I wasn’t sure if you’d want her to come— but she just let me through wards.”

“You know I’m gay, right?” Eliot asks, amused, as Quentin pauses in the middle of stuffing another pillow into his hands. “Like— across both sex and gender.” He’s smiling a little when Quentin meets his eyes. “Free ride to omega boys only.”

“Of course I know that,” Quentin lies baldly, feeling his face flush despite himself, because, well— he probably would have known that, if he wasn’t a huge fucking idiot. That did explain, like, pretty much everything. Reaching into the bag, he pulls out another blanket, and— fuck, if he blushes any harder he’s going to actually fucking die— the giant realistic dildo. Naturally. “I thought, um,” Quentin mutters, gesturing to the inflatable knot at the base of the silicone cock, which gives a humiliating wobble in his hand, “that’s what I’d want, for heat.”

“You have good taste,” Eliot says, dry, eyes flicking from the fake dick Quentin is clutching by the shaft, dear god, down to his clothes, that little smile twisting itself bigger on his mouth. “For some things, at least.”

“Oh, fuck all the way off,” Quentin informs him, throwing the fake cock at him so it bounces off his chest. It makes Eliot laugh, a loud, rich sound which seems to fill up the tiny room. Sighing, Quentin digs into the back for the last couple things, the plug and the smaller dildo with the knob at the end. He hesitates for a moment over the last item, but well— it was in Eliot’s box to begin with, and it did have pretty much only one use. So he fishes out the little roll-on stick of alpha pheromones, holding it up in a kind of question. “I assumed you’d want— but since you’re— I mean, do you still want this, even though...”

“My body wants an alpha as much as yours does, Q,” Eliot says lightly, reaching out to take the applicator stick from Quentin’s hand. “Even if my brain and my heart both want something else.”

“Oh.” Quentin doesn’t know what else to say.

“Thank you,” Eliot says, a weird earnestness to his voice even as he’s still playing with the little tube of pheromones in his hands, twisting it between his long fingers, “For everything you’ve done tonight, for... looking out for me. You didn’t have to, and I appreciate it.”

“Are you going to be okay?” Quentin asks, curling his arms around his chest, feeling— weirdly young. It’s not like heat is a new experience for either of them, so why does leaving Eliot alone with this feel so wrong?

“I’m always okay,” Eliot sighs, and maybe the smile he musters up doesn’t quite reach his eyes, but— well. Who’s Quentin to argue with that?

____

“What did you mean?” Quentin asks, days later, tucked away in the privacy of Eliot’s bedroom. They’re sitting on opposite ends of the nest, but even so, Eliot’s legs are so long that his toes wriggle under Quentin’s thigh every few minutes. He is— shockingly— absorbed in reading, holding a bookmark horizontally across the page to track his place as he works through a chapter on— Quentin doesn’t actually know. Something for PA III.

Eliot looks up at him, blinking from behind his concentrated squint. “Huh?”

“The other day, before— everything. You said they couldn’t take magic away from you. What did you mean?”

Eliot’s mouth twists down, his eyes flicking away, and Quentin braces for— dismissal, deflection, to be brushed off, but instead Eliot folds the book closed on his finger, placing his other hand on the cover. “When I was growing up, there was this other boy who... he beat me up. It only got worse after we presented, because—” Eliot cuts himself off with a humorless laugh, his eyes cold, “Well, he was an alpha, and I was just an omega.”

“Oh,” Quentin breathes out, heart sinking. Sudden fear that he knows where this story is going drops into the pit of Quentin’s stomach, the same ice-cube chill he felt the first time he walked into one of Julia’s parties after presenting and people looked at him.

“Everyone said ‘Oh, he just wants to court you and doesn’t know how to express it,’ like that somehow made it better.” The words are bitter, but somehow Eliot’s voice is entirely devoid of expression, even his scent seems carefully blank. “Anyway, one day I’m walking down the road eating a candy bar, because by that time I was already eating my feelings at a professional level, and I see him. Walking down the street towards me. Only there was this bus, coming the other way. I barely had the thought.” Quentin blinks, feeling off-footed, because no, this isn’t the story he thought it was at all. “I knew right away it was me, my—” another rueful chuckle, “my nose literally started bleeding. Logan Kinnear died instantly, and I ruined my favorite button down. And that’s the story of how I learned I was telekinetic. So that’s why they can't take magic away from me. They can’t strip away my memories of it, or they’d have to take half my life.”

“Oh,” Quentin breathes again, a multitude of feelings pushing up the base of his throat as he watches Eliot nod, face still carefully blank as he looks down at the book in his hands. But in the end, the one that wins out is... sympathy. “I’m sorry, El, that’s terrible.”

“Yeah,” Eliot laughs, hollow. “There was a lot of carnage, it was pretty grizzly.”

“No, I mean— I’m sorry that’s how magic was for you, for a long time.”

Eliot looks up at him, an expression close to a sneer on his face. “That’s what magic is, Quentin.”

“It doesn’t have to be,” Quentin says, earnest, pushing a loose strand of hair out of his face impatiently. “It can be better, if we— if we make it better.”

The expression on Eliot’s face morphs into something kinder, something— sadder. “You need to be careful with that big bleeding heart of yours. That’s how those omega’s rights groups got you.”

“They got me because I want to have rights,” Quentin grumbles, finally tearing his eyes away from Eliot’s face to look down at his calculations. “I want us all to have rights. I want you to have rights, to— be able to love whoever you want.” Saying it makes Quentin feel hot under his collar, head spinning, even thinking about Eliot and another omega boy— the scent of it—

“I assure you, I was planning on doing that anyway,” Eliot says, lightness back in his voice as he flips open his book. “Regardless of if society says I have rights or not.”

Grinning, Quentin sinks down further into the nest, wiggling his toes against the blankets. He still can’t quite believe he’s here, that he’s welcome here, but— something changed after Eliot’s heat, like some wall between them, keeping Quentin forever at arm’s length had suddenly disappeared. Now, Eliot’s wards recognize him, and— Quentin gets invited into his nest. Gets to see him studying, watching his lips move as he reads to himself, bookmark tracking along the text in his lap. Toes wriggling, wriggling, wriggling, Quentin squashes down further into the nest, looking up at the glow of the twinkle lights, suffused by the hangings.

Eliot’s hair looks incredibly soft, rich brown in the light, shiny and silky, curls coming loose from their stranglehold at the end of a long day. There’s a tension to Eliot when he’s reading, a clench in the back of his neck and his shoulders, a furrow of concentration to his brow. Idly, Quentin thinks about— sliding his hand up into Eliot’s hair, sifting the silky strands of those curls between his fingers, encouraging ease until Eliot relaxes. He might even lean into Quentin, the way he had when Quentin had been helping him stay upright. And god, it would be so easy to slide his hand down, until his wrist dragged along the long pale column of Eliot’s throat, smearing scent together across both of them.

Flushing, Quentin looks away, looks— back to the edge of the nest, feeling— embarrassed and— confused. Reaching out, he pets his fingers across the brown microfleece throw he’d brought to the den room, weeks ago, that still held just— the faintest yeasty smell. But mostly the whole nest just smells like Eliot, and an infused scent of comfort. It’s hard to hold onto the embarrassment, even, for very long.

“I like this,” he says thoughtfully, curling up a little more, feeling— insanely comfortable. “Your nest.”

“You can have one yourself, you know,” Eliot points out, absently, glancing up to give him a fondly exasperated smile. “It’s not even a weird thing, lots of omegas have nests.” Quentin hums skeptically, because the payoff still doesn’t seem worth the effort, in that regard. He doubts he could even make anything as good as Eliot has in the first place. Then Eliot’s stocking-clad foot nudges against Quentin’s thigh, a warmly affectionate gesture that sends tingles up Quentin’s leg, as he says, “Lucky for you I don’t mind sharing occasionally.”

“That is lucky for me,” Quentin agrees, smug, and then laughs when Eliot throws a pillow at him.

___

No matter how welcoming and inviting Eliot is, though, getting used to spending too much time in his room is probably a mistake. And not just because Quentin’s still half-waiting for the day Eliot and Margo get bored of him, though that’s definitely still something that haunts him a little, but like— whatever, Quentin’s lived this long without glamorous self-professed mega-bitches in his life, he can absolutely learn to live without them again. He doesn’t want to, but— he could survive it.

There’s also the whole issue of how being tucked up into Eliot’s nest makes Quentin feel like someone’s lit a fire under his skin, in a way that’s entirely different from heat, but— not all that different from attraction. Not really different at all, from the way Quentin had felt, as a teenager, splashing around with Julia in her parent’s pool, when she’s come close enough for the skin of her stomach in her bikini top to brush against his arm, fucking electric— or how it felt, with James or Maggie or Aaron looked at him, the way they smelled, the sharp musk of alpha that made Quentin want to roll over and show his neck and his belly, made him want to give— Eliot did make Quentin want to give, sure, but he also— made him want to take, too.

All of it was just— confusing, and exciting, and a problem, when Quentin really needed to be guarding himself against getting too dependent on something he could lose.

Getting used to falling asleep in Eliot’s nest is an even worse idea, he reminds himself sternly, sitting on the edge of his own bed, practically vibrating with anxiety, but— well, silencing spells can only do so much when the second year alpha you share a wall with is practicing acoustimancy by warping the pitch of, all things, Yellow Submarine, repeatedly for hours at increasingly loud volume. And it’s not like he’d been going to Eliot with the intention of falling asleep there, even if— even if the last couple times, he has.

Even if it’s maybe the best sleep he’s gotten in like, months. Maybe years. Maybe ever.

He shouldn’t bother Eliot, except he’s pretty sure he’s home tonight, and in his room, and probably alone, and— And Justin the acousticmancer is really fucking annoying. Weird guilt turning in his stomach, Quentin gathers up his PA textbook and notes and stuffs them into his satchel, slinging it over his shoulder as he slips out of his room. He’s about halfway down the hallway towards the attic when Margo’s door opens.

“Don’t worry, I’ll kill him for you,” she hisses, her eyes fixed on Justin’s door with burning intent and— okay, two alphas arguing in the hallway is definitely not something Quentin feels capable of handling tonight.

“I don’t need you to do things for me,” he calls after her, a performative half-hearted protest because she’s not paying attention to him anyway. It’s enough to appease his pride, at least, before he continues on up the stairway to Eliot’s room.

Quentin can feel the shiver of the wards letting him through as he reaches up to knock on the door. “Hey, it’s Quentin,” he calls out, though there’s really only two people who’d be able to knock anyway.

The door swings open moments later, revealing Eliot, dressed as comfortably as he ever seems to get, stripped down to his shirtsleeves, a concerned frown on his face. “Hey, Q. Everything okay?”

“Can I— um,” Quentin starts, scuffing his feet awkwardly against each other, looking down. He hadn’t thought to put on socks before leaving his room, so his bare feet are getting chilly on the hardwood, poking out from under his sweats. Eliot’s— wearing socks, a textured pattern of dark blue and maroon with a block of maroon at the toe. So weirdly vulnerable, standing in his socks at the edge of his den. “Look, I just— I have a big exam tomorrow— it’s just— my room’s next to Justin’s and he’s doing that thing again, and actually there’s a non-zero chance Margo may have just committed homicide, and this is a moot point, but can I just— I guess I was hoping that I could—”

He doesn’t even have to finish the rambling thought, though, before Eliot’s wordlessly moving back, holding the door open for Quentin to step into the room. It’s warm and inviting, lit with scentless candles and shaded lamps casting everything in a golden hue. The blankets of Eliot’s nest are all rumpled, an obvious disruption in the heart of the fabric. Quentin can— picture it, can’t he, Eliot curled up in the comfortable center of it, relaxed, winding down, probably— yes, there, a mostly empty wine glass set on the low shelf which made up one edge of the nest, placed easily within reach.

“I was just sketching,” Eliot says, voice soft and low over the quiet click of the door shutting, completing the circuit for the silencing spells Eliot keeps active in his den. Quentin’s eyes drift automatically to the sketchbook set aside at the edge of the nest, a thin stitch-bound moleskine with a pencil tucked into the spine. “Is it going to bother you if I keep the lights on?”

“It’s your den,” Quentin says, before he can think about it, because, well— It’s technically Eliot’s dorm room, but it feels like a den, doesn’t it? But Eliot’s smiling, when Quentin looks sheepishly over at him. “I mean— thanks, for asking, but I should probably study a bit more anyway.”

“Of course.” There’s a hint of amusement in Eliot’s voice, but his hand falls warm and heavy on the back of Quentin’s neck, giving a gentle squeeze and then sliding back, down to rub a little between Quentin’s shoulder blades. Eliot guides him forward and Quentin goes, pretending that he’s not trying to move on legs that have gone suddenly a little wobbly.

And maybe he’s not really fooling either of them with what he came here for, but he does actually intend to study. So he finishes out his PA textbook and notes, and settles down in the familiar comfort of Eliot’s nest, surrounded by the smell of apples and sage. Still, he can’t help but watch from behind his books as Eliot climbs back until into the nest with him, settling in with his long limbs folding gracefully as he reaches for his sketchbook.

“What are you drawing?” Quentin asks, curious, despite his honest intention not to bother Eliot anymore than he already has.

Eliot, for his part, doesn’t seem bothered. “A lot of things,” he says mildly, flipping through the last couple pages. “Just sketching, really. See?” Then he turns the page around so Quentin can see— a stretch of pathway Quentin recognizes as being near the Telekinesis and Psychokinesis building, recognizable by its oddly warped sidewalk tiles. There’s also a series of disembodied hands, held in different tut positions, a kind of fluid motion to them even as they are held in stasis on the page.

“Wow,” Quentin breathes out, looking at the pencil work on the page. “You’re really good.”

“Thanks,” Eliot says, an honest smile pushing onto his face, and— Quentin might have mistaken confidence for conceit once upon a time, but he knows Eliot better now. Eliot takes pride in the things he’s worked for, and this— this is clearly a lot of work. “Discovering anti-smudge charms changed my life— and saved a lot of my shirtsleeves.” He motions with his dominant left hand, pencil twirling between his slender fingers. Quentin swallows, thinking—

In that way he hasn’t been able to stop thinking, lately, about Eliot’s long, slender, dexterous hands. The way he moves them, precise and controlled. His wide palms, the way his hands are— big, the way all of him is big, the way Quentin has to look up at him, his broad shoulders and trim waist and flared hips in those vests cut exactly to emphasize—

“Q?”

“Sorry,” Quentin blinks, cheeks burning, looking back down at his text book. “I’m just— tired, you know?”

After a beat, “Right,” Eliot agrees, a light tinge of amusement curling into his scent and Quentin— really doesn’t want to be laughed at, right now. But whatever he’s thinking, Eliot keeps it to himself. Instead, he just flips to a new, clean page in his book, leaving Quentin to turn back to his notes.

He doesn’t mean to fall asleep, except for how he totally kind of does. He’s aware, dimly, that his eyes are drifting closed, and that Margo’s probably shut Justin up by now so he should probably go back to his own room. In the same way, he’s also aware of Eliot slipping quietly out of the nest, padding around the room somewhere, and— his books sliding from his hands, of shifts in the weight distribution in the nest, of the soft rustle of fabric as the hangings draw closed. He’s vaguely aware of warmth, settling down nearby, but by then he’s pretty much given up on being aware of anything at all.

Quentin wakes up in the dark. In the first few groggy seconds after waking, all his awareness focuses on the feelings of warm and safe, and a hot pleasant ache between his legs. Wriggling a little, Quentin snuggles into the warmth, soft blankets and supporting cushions and the warmth of another body against his, an arm curled around his stomach.

Alertness crashes into Quentin with a jolt, and suddenly he is very much awake, and very, very much aware of his surroundings. It’s early, early enough that whatever sunlight might be pushing the edges of the world hasn’t managed to filter in through the hangings surrounding the nest yet. He and Eliot had drifted towards each other in their sleep, apparently, leaving Quentin on his back with his face tipped towards the bare skin of Eliot’s neck, Eliot’s arm and leg tucked up over Quentin’s body. It’s— warm, actually too warm, maybe, to be tucked so close together in the heat-sink of a nest. At least while fully dressed, Quentin’s helpful brain supplies, and— yeah, that’s the other thing, isn’t it.

He’s at least partially hard, down between his legs where Eliot’s thigh is resting tucked against the tender inside of Quentin’s own. Not high enough to provide any friction, really, but— god, and Eliot’s hard too, isn’t he, the searing hot line of his cock pressed against Quentin’s hip. Quentin drags in an opened mouthed breath on instinct, nose practically touching the bare vulnerable skin of Eliot’s tender throat, and he can taste— sweetness like crisp fruit and herbs and yeasty omega smell, all of it undercut by the sharpness of Eliot’s arousal, slow and simmering under all his familiar scents. It’s different than scenting an alpha, without the hook in his hind-brain pulling him inexorably in one direction. But it’s also— it’s not, it’s not that different, because it still makes excitement clench in Quentin’s stomach, doesn’t it? It still makes him want to squirm and yield and offer and take and—

God, what would Eliot’s cock look like? The thought burns through Quentin like napalm, scorching, unrecoverable, because— Quentin’s never seen another omega’s cock, not in real life. Omegas in porn were all small and smooth and shaved and pretty, which doesn’t— he can feel the scratch of Eliot’s chest hair against the sleeve of his t-shirt, so probably. Probably he’s more like Quentin, in that way, than those idealized omegas. But it’s also— fuck, it feels bigger, doesn’t it, than Quentin’s. And that’s just— such a wildly, confusingly hot thought that also floods Quentin’s mouth with saliva, because god— without a knot, Quentin could take him right to the root— And he’d get wet, too, which, maybe Quentin could taste—

Eliot hums a little, shifting, and Quentin freezes, going stock still, heart slamming in his chest and blood rushing in his ears. And— fuck, if Quentin can smell arousal on Eliot, he can only imagine what Eliot might be smelling on him.

But Eliot just sighs out a soft, “G’morning,” lazy and relaxed, drawing his limbs casually back to himself to stretch, long arms reaching up over his head. Hardly daring to move, Quentin— heart in his throat— looks over at Eliot, settling back down next to him with the long spiral of a curl falling across his forehead. Lazily, Eliot waves his fingers in a tut, and the magical twinkle-lights on the outside of the hangings turn on, bathing the nest in warm, soft, diffused light.

“Hey,” Quentin says, belatedly, small bubbles of excitement fizzing in his stomach when Eliot smiles at him. It makes the corners of his eyes crinkle, just a little bit. Quentin thinks, suddenly, confusingly, that he’s never seen Eliot smile before. Which is just— categorically untrue, of course he’s seen Eliot smile before, laughing with Margo or entertaining at the Cottage. Maybe it’s more that he’s never seen this smile before, full of a— quiet affection, almost. “Sorry if I— like, woke you up or whatever.”

“Seems like I woke you up,” Eliot points out, an edge of laughter to his voice. Then, more serious, “Are you freaking out?”

“No,” Quentin says, then— “Well, no more than, like, normal? I’m, like, breathing, so I’m probably freaking out a little, but—” Eliot’s laughter, warm and soft and nice, cuts through, and Quentin just— wants to listen to him laugh more. “I’ve woken up worse ways.”

“Mm, yeah?” Eliot hums, stretching a little again. It leaves his knee pressed into Quentin’s side, hand tucked under his cheek to prop his head up a bit. Feeling nervous, excited, something, Quentin twists around until he’s also on his side, facing Eliot in the dim light of the nest. Eliot’s still watching him, a kind of open fascination on his face when he asks, “Have you ever been with another omega before?”

Heat burns across Quentin’s face, embarrassed, god, he’s so fucking embarrassed by the thought, but it’s also— god. Eliot’s so relaxed, still hard, so open to having Quentin in his— in his den. “No,” Quentin answers, hating the way his voice cracks. Eliot nods like it’s what he expected and— the truth is that Quentin hadn’t even thought about it, before Eliot, but he doesn’t like that Eliot just assumes that about him. Even if it’s true. “But I mean— I haven’t been with, you know, many, um. Just— like— I dunno, my first girlfriend was a beta, and we only hooked up like once? And then I had— in college, there were a couple alphas who’d— for heats.”

He can’t fucking— look, at Eliot, humiliated, hating how— fucking fridgid he must seem. Repressed little omega, so loud in his opposition to sexism because he can’t fucking— get it in— “Hey,” Eliot says, gentle, and Quentin nearly jumps when Eliot’s fingertips brush out against the skin of Quentin’s cheek, ever so gently catching a strand of hair and tucking it back. “It’s okay if it’s not your thing.”

And that’s— nice, maybe, but it’s also totally meaningless, because the brush of Eliot’s fingers against his skin was enough to make his dick jerk in his pants, and there’s no way Eliot can’t smell it on him. Quentin could answer him, could say I don’t know what my thing is, anymore, or could say I can’t stop thinking about the way you smell, or I feel safer in your nest than I think I’ve ever felt in my life but instead he just—

Rolls over, and kisses Eliot, right on his soft, sleep-sour mouth. Because it’s not like he’s supposed to wait for someone else to make the first move just because of their sex, is it? Not when he knows what he wants.

And what he wants is this, licking his tongue out against Eliot’s top lip, feeling Eliot's surprise ripple through him even as it suffuses into his scent. It’s soft, and mostly chaste, and when he pulls away, Eliot’s looking at him with disbelief written across his face. Self-consciousness starts to tug at Quentin immediately, but Eliot doesn’t let it build much ground, leaning in before Quentin can work himself up again and catching him for another, deeper kiss and it’s—

Oh, it’s—

It’s just good, it’s a good fucking kiss, Eliot’s hand coming up to cradle the back of Quentin’s neck, holding him, guiding him. There’s a kind of gentle assertiveness to him that makes Quentin want to yield, as much as he always does with anyone else he’s kissed, but it’s more like Eliot’s just— guiding Quentin thorough to finding a place they both want to be. It makes him feel— hungry, the way Eliot’s just kissing him, and kissing him, and kissing him, fucking— dragging his tongue into Quentin’s mouth and then coaxing, ever so gently, Quentin to give back in return. He feels hungry, starving for that yeasty, sweet fruit smell, familiar and good, dizzy on the scent of Eliot’s arousal. When he reaches out, his hands find skin, warm soft skin of Eliot’s rib cage, because Eliot had slept shirtless, he’d— god, his scent.

Without quite thinking about it, Quentin levers himself up, pushing gently at Eliot’s side until he rolls over onto his back. Quentin follows, mouth breaking away from Eliot’s with a slick smacking sound which is just— it sends a pulse of anticipation jolting down to Quentin’s groin, where his cock is thickening, and that hot needy slickness is gathering between his cheeks. Eliot blinks up at him, mouth red and hair a mess and Quentin just— god, he wants— to set his hands against Eliot’s neck and drag down, drag scent all the way down to his chest hair, Eliot’s scent and the sweat collecting at the glands on Quentin’s wrist, mixing their scents together as his fingers tangle in the coarse hair. Mouth watering, he leans down to drag in breath, nose tucked in against the skin and hair against Eliot’s sternum, dragging in Eliot’s scent, and his own, and the smell of— slickness and need—

Eliot swears out a soft “Fuck,” hands coming up to gather up Quentin’s hair where it’s slid loose from the tie, then he keens, his voice— shocky, wrecked, so unlike any version of Eliot Quentin’s ever met. Even going into heat, he’d been a solid column of composure, unflappable, strong. That vulnerable omega sound is enough to break Quentin out of the haze of his hunger just a bit, to become aware of how he’s just— straddling Eliot, pinning him down in this place that’s supposed to be sacred.

“Sorry,” Quentin gasps, staggering back until he’s sitting up on his knees, looking down at Eliot’s heaving chest, but at least not caging him in anymore. “I’m in your nest, I shouldn’t—”

“Do you have any idea how hot that is,” Eliot— almost growls, not an alpha rumble, but something like it, enough to make excitement clench in Quentin’s stomach. He crunches up, the muscles in his stomach flexing, and he’s— so fucking tall that they’re eye to eye, even with Quentin kneeling in his lap. “It’s so fucking hot, Q, I want to fucking den down with you, god.” Then he cuts himself off, licking a stripe up the side of Quentin’s neck. It sends a sparkle of pleasure pinging to Quentin’s nipples and his hard cock and his wet, needy hole as Eliot’s tongue passes over his scent gland.

Denning down, fuck, that’s— “I like your nest,” Quentin breathes out, reaching up to sift his fingers through Eliot’s wild tangle of curls, tipping his head back so Eliot can mouth at the gland at his throat. Eliot lets out a happy little trilling sound, something so innocuous but it makes Quentin feel— hot, all over his body, sweat prickling at the back of his neck and the base of his spine. “Being in here feels— good.”

“Baby, I’ll make you feel so good,” Eliot murmurs, moving up from Quentin’s neck to kiss him again, and— fuck, fuck, fuck, his whole nose and mouth are smeared with Quentin’s scent, Quentin wants— he wants to rub his own face against Eliot’s neck, or just— stick it in his armpit, or— between his legs— until they’re both just drenched in each other. One of Eliot’s hands settles at the base of Quentin’s spine, pushing at the hem of Quentin’s t-shirt until it’s out of the way and he’s just touching skin, and— Quentin shudders, keening a little himself, feeling himself clench as Eliot’s wide palm rub just over the top of his ass.

El—”

“You’re so gorgeous,” Eliot murmurs, “How’d I get so lucky to get such a beautiful omega in my den, hmm?”

“I’m not—” Quentin starts to protest, uncomfortable, self-loathing crashing over him like a wave of cold water, and it must hit his scent, because Eliot pauses for a moment. Which— of course, of course he’s gone and fucking ruined it before it can even get good—

But then Eliot’s hand resumes it’s path stroking up and down his spine. “I think you’re beautiful,” Eliot says, generous, like he’s allowing space for someone to hold a contesting opinion but wants to make his own position clear. “All those nights we spent here, Q, after my heat. You’d leave and my nest would smell like you—” Quentin whimpers, giving in to the involuntary urge to ride down on the line of Eliot’s dick pushing up against him. “I wanted to roll around in it, wanted to get my fingers all up in myself, all because of your fucking scent.”

It’s— it’s so hot, the mental image of Eliot sprawled out in this little private corner of the world he made for himself but let Quentin into, long legs spread while his fingers sink inside. And Quentin— Quentin knows how that feels, doesn’t he, putting fingers inside yourself when you’re so turned on slick is running down your hand. He’ll never know what it feels like to blow a knot, or for a beta girl to come from his mouth on her clit, but he knows exactly— how it feels, what Eliot’s describing, and that’s so— that feeling of shared knowledge, is so fucking intimate it staggers him.

“Eliot—” he gasps, and then kisses him, both hands holding him, in his hair and on his neck, just— kissing, hungry, needy, because Eliot feels so fucking good. Breaking away, words tumble out of him, messy and pleading. “Can we be naked? I want to— I want— Eliot, your skin. You smell so good.”

Fuck, yes, let’s do that.” Eliot’s hands, already under Quentin’s shirt to begin with, beginning to push it upwards, dragging up Quentin’s back, exposing his flushed skin to the air. He shivers, a little, and Eliot makes the softest little sound response, a sweet little trill, a— happy omega sound. It makes Quentin want to— to push closer to him, and trill right back.

He can’t, of course, because Eliot’s got to get the shirt up off his head, and pushing closer would only make that more complicated. Usually Quentin fucking hates being shirtless, too aware of his skinny hips and the way his ribs move when he breathes, feeling fucking— nothing like the solidity of Eliot, the little dip at his waist that says ‘I’m strong, I’ll give you healthy pups’. But it’s hard to be too self-conscious, being looked at the way Eliot’s looking at him, mouth open and eyes wide. He’s still fucking straddling Eliot, in his lap in sweats that are probably going to— fucking soak through with how turned on his is.

“Q,” Eliot breathes out, almost reverent, his hands falling down to the skin of Quentin’s stomach. The touch makes him jump, at little, muscles contracting involuntarily, half-ticklish and half simply overrun with sensation. But Eliot flattens his palms immediately, a firm solid touch, dragging up the front of Quentin’s body until his fingertips brush against Quentin’s nipples, drawn to tight little points.

Ah,” Quentin cries, then, “oh, fuck,” as Eliot’s fingers move with purpose, rubbing the achy points of his nipples, a hot-bright sensation that feels like it’s wired directly into his dick and his desperate, clenching hole.

“Sensitive?” Eliot asks, grinning, all teeth, god he’s so fucking hot.

“Aren’t you?” Quentin gasps, chest arching out towards Eliot’s hands as his thumbs rub sweet maddening circles against Quentin’s nipples.

“Hmm, I dunno,” Eliot murmurs back, teasing, pushing his face up to rub his nose against Quentin’s in an affectionate little nuzzle, speaking against his mouth, “Why don’t you find out?”

And fuck getting naked, honestly, Eliot’s already shirtless, all Quentin has to do is push him to lie back again and he’s all laid out, long torso exposed, belly heaving and hard cock straining up through the thin material of his sleep pants. Quentin’s fucking mouth is watering just looking at him, beautiful and sprawled out in the tangle of blankets— fuck, is this what he looks like during heat? But no, that’d be— better, maybe. Quentin’s useless brain calls up the way a pink flush had sat high on Eliot’s cheeks, his glazed over eyes.

“Like what you see?” Eliot asks, softly, and it should sound— ridiculous, like a ‘come hither’ sultry suggestive line, but mostly Eliot sounds curious. Head tilted to the side, he’s watching Quentin watch him like Quentin’s reactions are fascinating.

Quentin’s not sure he’s ever been looked at like this before, like someone’s really seeing him.

“Yeah,” Quentin breathes out, painfully honest, licking his lips against his own ridiculous longing, and then— leaning forward, to put his mouth on Eliot.

The thin skin at his throat tastes salty, right up until Quentin’s mouthing over his scent gland, and then the scent is too strong for Quentin to taste anything at all. Quentin licks out, feeling slickness of sweat over the gland and Eliot moans, arching a little, head tipping back to let Quentin at his neck. And of course, of course he’s sensitive here, all those open-collared shirts framing his beautiful neck, practically an invitation—

Is that sexist? Quentin thinks, then promptly— I don’t care, because it’s just fucking hot, Eliot’s neck on display. Following the line of his throat down, Quentin puts his mouth on Eliot’s collarbones, kissing the prominent ridge and then down further still, until he’s feeling the coarseness of hair under his lips, breathing in the mixture of their scents he’s smeared there earlier.

“We smell good together,” he mutters, thoughtless, but Eliot laughs, half a moan, hands coming to gather Quentin’s loose hair, play with it.

“We sure do, baby.”

Baby. No one’s ever called him baby before. If you’d asked him last week, if that was even a thing he’d like, he’d have said— fuck no, I’m not a child. But, dear lord, he does, he does like it, likes the way it makes him feel: small, and held, and protected. Things he’s never let himself want, before. Feeling suddenly out of his depth, Quentin rubs his face against Eliot’s chest, trying to catch his breath, following instinct over to rosey pink nipple to— suck on it, gently, working his lips and tongue as above him, Eliot gives another delighted laugh.

“Fuck, that’s nice,” Eliot groans, and Quentin moans in response, sucking harder. Eliot must be sensitive here, like— like Quentin is, he thinks, dizzy, licking out at the pebbled bud of Eliot’s nipple until Eliot’s fingers go tight in his hair, pulling him firmly off and— oh fuck— guiding him over to the other side. “There, just like that,” Eliot murmurs, soft, as Quentin licks out, sloppy and wet, across his other nipple. “Fuck, your mouth, Q.”

Feeling fucking wild, Quentin pulls away from Eliot’s hands, moving further down his ridiculously long body. Kissing across the trembling plane of his belly, Quentin moves inexorably downwards, pulled along by the siren call of Eliot’s scent, so fucking— rich, fucking drenched with need, god, if he’s even half as wet as Quentin is—

“Can I?” Quentin gasps, tugging happlessly at the leg of Eliot’s sleep pants, but Eliot’s already nodding, reaching down for the waistband that’s making a really valiant effort of containing his dick. It gives up the fight almost immediately, the head popping free, dusky pink and wet looking, and the flood of saliva in Q’s mouth almost takes him by surprise, how much he wants it.

God. Eliot’s wriggling his pants off, and literally the most Quentin can do is stay out of his way, staring at that— beautiful cock. It’s long, longer than Quentin’s by a good handful of inches, long for an omega in general, but slender and pretty, uniform all the way down to the root. Entranced, Quentin reaches out for him the moment he’s done moving, running the tips of his fingers along the shaft from the head to base.

“I’ve never—” he starts, then glances up at Eliot’s face ruefully, watching Eliot watching him with a kind of cracked-open rawness to him. “I’ve never seen another cock without a knot before, in real life.”

“Pretty, aren’t they?” Eliot asks, soft, reaching out to touch Quentin’s hand, curl Quentin’s fingers around his shaft, guiding— and it’s not like Quentin’s never touched a dick before, but it’s— exciting, really, to have Eliot showing him how he likes to be touched. It makes that feeling of wildness flare to life again, his hand caught between the thickness of Eliot’s dick and Eliot’s broad palm, moving with the help slickness Quentin can smell— “I always thought so. Feel how tight it is?”

“Yeah,” Quentin agrees, sliding his hand around the base, squeezing. No loose skin waiting for a knot to blow, but he doesn’t miss it like he’d’ve thought he would, now when the proof of Eliot’s pleasure is so immediately at hand.

“Bet yours is pretty,” Eliot sighs, hips arching a little as he moves their hands over his cock. “Felt so nice. Made me all wet. Want to feel that too, baby?”

Yes,” Quentin hisses, can’t even find it in him to be irritated when Eliot laughs at him. Or maybe not at him, just— from the joyful ridiculousness of this, of sex.

But he lets Quentin’s hand go, pulling one of his knees up, about as clear an offer as he can make, and Quentin can see— slickness shining on his skin, the richness of his scent hitting the air. Carefully, Quentin moves his fingers back, slipping through the wetness gathered between Eliot’s cheeks. He can feel the flutter of Eliot’s muscles under his fingertips, loose and welcoming, beckoning him in. It would be so easy to sink one inside.

“I want—” Quentin whines, head spinning. God, he wants too much, he wants everything, he wants all of it, he wants Eliot to come in his mouth and on his tongue, he wants Eliot’s mouth and his fingers, god, his whole fucking fist— he wants that fake fucking knot in Eliot’s toy box, he wants to see that harness, dark brown on Eliot’s pale skin holding the knot in place, he wants Eliot stretched out on those heat toys, he wants his own dick in Eliot’s hole like he’s never wanted it anywhere before. He wants so much it’s overwhelming, making him lightheaded.

He doesn’t realize he’s listing sideways until Eliot’s hands reach out to steady him, a noise of concern falling from his lips. “Hey, baby, hey,” Eliot coos, soft, hand gripping hard at the back of Quentin’s neck, grounding pressure, pulling him inexorably upwards. “Relax, Q, you look like you’re going to pass out. Having a pretty boy pass out on your dick sounds a lot better than it actually is, trust me.”

Quentin laughs, weakly, gratefully, dropping his head down against the warm skin of Eliot’s shoulder, breathing in deeply. Scent washes over him, arousal and concern, all Eliot. “Do I have to do it all this time?” he asks, ashamed at how weak he sounds, how needy.

“You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do,” Eliot says, fervently, completely misunderstanding the question, but it’s not like Quentin can blame him, he can barely understand it himself.

“No, I mean—” Quentin stops, breathing deep, trying to steady himself, but that scent. “I want to do so much, El, do I have to get it all in this time, or can we— have a next time?”

For a handful of seconds, it seems like Eliot’s stopped breathing. Then he exhales, precise and controlled, an edge sneaking into his scent that Quentin can’t parse. “If that’s what you want,” Eliot says, oddly hesitant.

Quentin pulls back to frown at him. “Do you want that?”

Weirdly, that makes Eliot laugh— a real, happy laugh, rippling through him as he reaches up to smooth his thumb across the crease between Quentin’s eyebrows. “Yeah, baby,” he says, and he sounds fond, he looks fond, it makes Quentin want to— fucking wriggle and stick his ass in the air. “Of course I do.”

“Okay,” Quentin breathes out, feeling— lost, for a moment, the thread of his intention slipping through his fingers. All he can do is look into those guarded hazel eyes, and hope desperately not to fuck it up.

Mercifully, Eliot squeezes the back of his neck, a purposeful and leading touch, and kisses him, gentle and sure. “C’mon,” Eliot says, full of care, “let’s finish getting you undressed, okay?”

And yes, okay. Quentin can do that. It means he has to climb off Eliot in order to avoid kneeing him anywhere particularly sensitive, but Eliot lets him go and then follows after him, pressing a series of thoroughly distracting kisses to Quentin’s shoulders and neck.

“What do you want most right now?” Eliot asks, lips brushing against Quentin’s skin and drawing shivers to the surface. Maybe he can tell Quentin’s overwhelmed with options, or maybe he’s just curious, but the question gives Quentin something to focus on as he shimmies out of his sleep pants, other than the embarrassment of being naked with someone for the first time. Turns out that’s with him no matter who he’s fucking.

“Um—” An intelligent start to the response, to be sure, but Eliot chooses that moment to nibble very gently at the hinge of Quentin’s jaw, and it pushes all conscious thought from his mind, leaving only that base hunger and Eliot’s fucking scent. “Honestly, I just want to get my mouth on you.”

Eliot’s breath leaves him in a punched out little grunt, and then he’s murmuring, “Fuck, yes, let’s do that,” and tugging Quentin back down into the heart of the nest.

Quentin ends up on his back, which seems wrong for a handful of seconds, until Eliot throws a leg over to straddle his chest, beautiful long slender fingers curling around the shaft of his own dick. Which— Jesus, that works. Oh god, does that work.

“This okay?” Eliot asks, a tremble in his voice betraying his own excitement, no matter how composed he seems on the surface.

“So okay,” Quentin promises, and Eliot grins, tugging his cock a little like he just can’t help it. Quentin’s own cock aches in response, begging for touch, but he— doesn’t. Reaches up, instead, to carefully curl both hands around the outsides of Eliot’s thighs, fingers against the silky skin inside. Face burning, embarrassed and so fucking turned on, he opens his jaw in invitation, laying his tongue out flat.

Jesus, Q,” Eliot groans, reaching forward to brace one hand against the wall, while the other guides his cock carefully into Quentin’s mouth.

The sensation is familiar, though Quentin’s not an expert at sucking cock by any means. But, well— almost ten years of heats, even if he’d spent most of them alone, he’s never been a monk by any means. He’s had an alpha in his mouth before, thicker than Eliot’s, but— the slenderness is nice, in a way, less of a strain and more of a welcoming embrace. And it’s long, fuck. Eliot pushes gently, carefully, until the head of his cock bumps at the back of Quentin’s soft palate, and he’s still got like half his dick to go. It’s, fuck, insanely hot, Quentin thinks, hands squeezing on Eliot’s thighs while he rubs his tongue up against the vein on the underside. Thinks, Yeah, give it to me, as Eliot cautiously draws back and pushes forward again, testing the resistance.

Breathe out through your nose, Quentin thinks, some ridiculous article he’d read in fucking Cosmo, probably, with Julia. Back when they where preteens hovering on the edge of puberty and everything came with it, before sex became a biological mandate for Quentin in a way it never would, for her. Breathing out through your nose did fuck-all when an alpha was trying to cram a half-blown knot past your teeth, but it does actually help now, as the smooth uniform shaft of Eliot’s dick slides further into is mouth, pushing the head back, just, to the opening of his throat. Deep enough that Eliot doesn’t have to hold his own dick anymore, releasing his left hand from around the base to reach out and tangle in Quentin’s hair.

And it’s— it’s not like he doesn’t know he’s kind of a slut for having his hair pulled, but Eliot’s fingers twist into the strands and Quentin’s eyes literally roll back into his head. “So good,” Eliot murmurs, gentle, and Quentin has no idea what he means, if he means Quentin’s being goodfuck!— or that it feels good. But he’s still playing with Quentin’s hair, sifting his fingers gently through the strands then gathering them up to tug sharply, and that’s the only thing Quentin can think about besides the feeling of Eliot’s dick working into his throat.

It’s wet. God, it’s so wet, messy and slick, and it takes Quentin way longer than it maybe should have to realize that so much of that wetness is Eliot’s own slickness, pulled by gravity down the shaft of his cock, smearing all over Quentin’s face. Which is— it’s so fucking hot that it makes Quentin keen around his mouthful, another pulse of pleasure so sharp shooting through him that it makes his own dick twitch where it’s laying heavy against his belly. God, he’s going to be covered in it, and his mouth isn’t even on Eliot’s hole, not— not yet.

Fixated on the idea, he lets go of Eliot’s thigh with his right hand, sliding his palm up Eliot’s leg and back over the swell of his ass, flexing noticeably under Quentin’s hand on every gentle rocking thrust of his cock against Quentin’s tongue. Enraptured, Quentin squeezes a little, earning him a laugh, Eliot’s voice bright and lovely.

“Yeah, do it,” Eliot groans, as Quentin pets the tips of two fingers gently around his slick, loose hole. God, it’s so wet, does Quentin get this wet? He thinks he might be now, feeling it sliding between his own cheeks every time he moves— god, he feels fucking empty, except— he’s not, because Eliot’s carefully feeding his whole dick into Quentin’s throat, again and again and again. Soaking them both with how good it feels.

Eliot’s hole clenches against his fingers, and above him, Eliot lets out a needy little keen, an echo of Quentin’s— hot little omega sex noises, unmistakable, and Quentin’s— he’s fucking watched porn, he’s heard people approximate those sounds, or maybe even make them, on the rare occasion you find something real. But somehow he’s never realize how fucking hot it is, not just because some powerful alpha is making an omega feel a way Quentin wants to feel, but the reality of that sound itself. Quentin likes it. He likes being responsible for it.

The whole world, just blown open wide, revelatory, as he slides two fingers all the way inside Eliot’s body.

It makes Eliot’s rhythm falter, his hand gripping tight tight tight in Quentin’s hair, and by the time he starts rocking again he’s moving back on Quentin’s fingers as much as he is forward into his mouth. From this angle, Quentint can’t really see his face, just the long flexing line of his body, which— okay, yes— but. He wishes, in that moment, that he could see. He wants to know what this kind of pleasure looks like on Eliot’s face, how he looks when he’s feeling something Quentin knows so intimately.

“God, Q, your hands,” Eliot groans out, and he sounds wrecked, like that composure he’s been clinging to is completely gone. “I’ve been watching you practice tuts for months pretending I’m not about to cream myself thinking about your thick fucking fingers, Jesus, fuck me, please.”

He can’t, not really, not at this angle, but he can work his fingers in until he finds the right angle, until the pressure of his fingertips over the barely-discernible swell of Eliot’s prostate makes him cry out, nearly pitching forward with it. The ragged movement pulls his cock all the way out of Quentin's mouth, smearing wetly along the mess on his cheek, and— “No, no, no, please, I need it,” Quentin whines, angling his head as much as he can to chase it, trapped as he is under Eliot’s body weight.

“It’s okay, you’re okay, you can have it,” Eliot gasps, letting go of Quentin’s hair to get a hold of his own cock again, feeding it back into the pried open aching cavern of Quentin’s mouth. “God, you can have whatever you need.”

Quentin can only moan, letting his eyes flutter shut, focus split between the cock in his mouth and motion of his fingers working deep inside. It’s so good, it’s so good it barely registers that he’s taken all of Eliot’s dick until his nose is brushing against the thatch of neatly trimmed hair at Eliot’s groin. But he’s— he’s got Eliot’s whole dick in him, and that’s just— helpless, he rubs his tongue against the tight skin at the base of Eliot’s cock, feeling it twitch in response, rubbing up and up with his fingers until Eliot’s—

Fuck, Q, fuck!”

— swearing, loudly, riding back on Quentin’s fingers so hard that he pulls almost all the way out, the spurting head spilling across Quentin’s tongue and lips and the edge of his cheek as he comes. But it’s the lock that’s the most intriguing, the clench of Eliot’s muscles down hard on his fingers, the ripple of them inside. Quentin has felt that before, his fingers buried in himself when he comes. God, he didn’t know how hot this would be; how did he not know?

“Jesus,” Eliot breathes out, slumping back onto his heels. Finally, Quentin can actually see him, his flushed face and wild curls, chest having as he tries to catch his breath. “Oh god, just leave your fingers in—”

“Yeah,” Quentin breathes out, voice cracking on the word, so he clears his throat. “Yeah, I know.”

Eliot looks down at him, a slow grin spreading across his face. “Are you sure you’ve never done this before?”

“Well, I mean, I’ve jerked off before.” Quentin scowls up at him, but it’s really hard to keep up much indignation in the face of Eliot’s delight.

“Made a mess of you, didn’t we?” Eliot muses, reaching out to catch a streak of his own come on his fingertips. Keeping eye contact, Quentin opens his mouth deliberately, invitingly, feeling the gratifying response of a clench where his fingers are tucked up inside, letting Eliot ride out the final waves of his orgasm. “You’re unreal,” Eliot says, and feeds Quentin his come. Quentin whines, arching a little at the pulse of arousal that shoots through him, sucking the salty-bitterness off Eliot’s fingers until all he can taste is skin.

Quentin’s own need is making itself extremely obvious by the time Eliot’s done with his fingers, but lucky for him Eliot’s doesn’t seem interested in making him wait much longer. They’re kissing, messy and wet with all the slick on Quentin’s face, by the time Eliot’s slumping down against him. Their bodies are sticky with sweat, gathered everywhere their skin touches, and it’s all Quentin can smell, the clean, pure, unadulterated truth of them.

“What do you need, hm?” Eliot asks, fucking— radiant, is what he is, sweat bringing his hair to ringlets across his forehead, morning light beginning to push through the hangings around the nest, making him glow. “You want my mouth too?”

Which— that sounds delicious, but not what he really wants. “You fingers,” he admits, while Eliot’s thumb strokes maddeningly at the scent gland on his throat. “I feel so fucking empty, El.” He wishes it was an act, how wobbly his voice sounds, but it’s really not. Not after what feels like hours of overwhelming, new experiences, even if it probably hasn’t been that long.

“I can do that,” Eliot agrees, and then shifts them, more coordinated than Quentin, even post-orgasm, until they’re curled together on their sides, one of Quentin’s legs tucked up over Eliot’s hip so he can reach down and—

Ah!”

— tuck his fingers right inside.

“There,” Eliot sighs, working two fingers inside, hitting deep where Quentin feels fucking achy. “Not empty anymore.”

“Yeah, and I’m gonn— ngh! Oh fuck!” Quentin gasps, clutching at Eliot as pleasure blooms deep in his pelvis, sweet and bright. Held like he is, it’s so easy to tuck his face in against the stretch of Eliot’s long neck where it’s dark and smells like— Eliot, after sex, apples and sage and yeast and satisfied omega. “I’m gonna come in about 30 seconds, god.”

“Yeah? All worked up,” Eliot teases, free hand petting at Quentin’s skin. “God, you’re sweet.”

“I’m not,” Quentin grouches, because he doesn’t want to be sweet, he’s never wanted to be sweet, except— Maybe, here, just for Eliot... maybe he can be, and that could be okay. “God, can I have another?”

“Mhm,” Eliot hums, and then he’s pulling his fingers out to work in a third, a deeply satisfying stretch that sends Quentin melting. “Fuck, I want to make you feel so full, Q.” And he could, he could put his whole fucking dick in, and his fingers too, and Quentin could take it and love it, and then— he could give it all right back.

Orgasm hits him like a wave breaking, crashing and releasing as he clamps down hard on Eliot’s fingers, dick spurting against Eliot’s hip practically an afterthought. It’s maybe one of the best orgasms he’s ever had outside of a heat, it just keeps coming, shivery little aftershocks that leave him mouthing wetly against Eliot’s neck, wrung out.

He could probably fall asleep like this, sticky and covered in two people’s slick and sweat and come, still full inside of Eliot’s fingers. That actually sounds really nice, to his groggy, orgasm-stupid hindbrain— yeah, just leave me here, stuffed full and smelling like him. But—

“Come on,” Eliot nudges him after a moment, “Falling asleep slathered in come always sounds way better than it turns out to be.”

“Ngh,” Quentin offers back, and even he’s not sure if it's an agreement or protest. But he goes along with it when Eliot peels them apart long enough to perform a cleaning charm which feels unpleasantly like having the rough side of a sponge scrubbed over his entire body. It does a pretty thorough job on the mess, though, and doesn’t actually seem to take away the scent, so Quentin sinks back down to cuddle in against Eliot’s chest, appeased.

He should probably go back to sleep, he doesn’t have class until the afternoon, but now that he’s moved around, Quentin’s brain is coming back on to full force. Even laying naked against Eliot’s body, with Eliot’s fingers trailing contentedly up and down his spine, he sort of can’t believe that just happened. Or how much he liked it. How much he wants to do it again.

“Did you mean what you said?” Quentin asks, trailing his fingers over a whorl in Eliot’s chest hair, dark and scratchy and delicious.

“I said a lot of things, Q,” Eliot says, voice a little sleepy, like he’s also considering just going back to sleep, or part way there already.

Quentin rolls his eyes, pushing up until he can settle with his chin on his fist between Eliot’s pecs, looking at him. “I mean— do you want to do it again?”

“I mean, I’ll probably need a nap first,” Eliot says, lightly, then swears when Quentin pinches his ribs, wriggling away from Quentin’s hands. But he’s awake and clear-eyed when he meets Quentin’s gaze, if a little guarded. “I do want to do it again. Of course I do, but— god, it can’t have escaped your notice that I’m kind of fucked up.”

There’s a hysterical edge to his voice, a wild look flickering across his face as Quentin watches him. “So?”

“So—” Eliot swallows, reaching up to drag his hands down his face. “So you deserve better than that.”

“That—” Quentin says, flattly, “— is bullshit. I’ve spent my whole life telling everyone who’s tries to tell me what I deserve to fuck off. Why do you think I’m going to let you get away with that?”

“No, I just mean— you deserve to be courted—

“Maybe I don’t want to be courted,” Quentin says, mulishly, even though that’s— not quite true, is it? Just another one of those things he’s told himself he doesn’t want because he never thought he’d have it. “Maybe I want to court you instead.”

Of course, he’s already starting to panic a little before the words are even out of his mouth. What the fuck does Quentin know about courting an omega, besides fucking— regency romance novels? Should he write Eliot letters? Do they need a chaperone? Quentin certainly feels capable of swooning at the sight of Eliot’s bare wrist, but— no, that’s the omega role again.

“I suppose,” Eliot says, a lightness to his voice which isn’t fooling Quentin, not this time, “we could court each other. If we wanted to, you know. Be all proper about it.”

“Yeah?” Quentin asks, pushing up Eliot’s body until he’s hovering over him, hair hanging down like a curtain. Eliot reaches up for it automatically, tucking it behind his ear with gentle fingers. “You gonna cook for me?”

“I already cook for you,” Eliot points out dryly, and Quentin grins.

“Gonna let me share your nest?”

“I already do that too.”

“Funny, that,” Quentin murmurs, feeling— a little giddy. “Gonna let me give you gifts?”

“Oooh, there’s going to be gifts?”

“Mhm,” Quentin hums in agreement, then laughs when Eliot leavers up, rolling them over until he’s on top, looking down at Quentin, all wild curls in the suffused light of the nest.

“Are you going to let me take care of you next time you have a bad day?” Eliot asks, gently, Quentin knows he doesn’t just mean— wrong side of the bed kind of day.

Breathing out, Quentin looks up into Eliot’s earnest face. “I’ll try.”

“Good,” Eliot murmurs, leaning down for a soft kiss. It’s different, less heated, but— sweet. Makes Quentin melt against the bed, slow and languid. “Maybe that’s courting, for us.”

“Sounds nice,” Quentin sighs, reaching up to slide his palms around Eliot’s waist, over the small of his back.

Another soft, lazy kiss, slow and sticky sweet, like apple pie filling. “Yeah. Yeah, it does.”