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The Explanation of Eliot

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[A continuation from “On Covert Operations,” chapter three of The Explanation of Eliot.]

It’s been seventeen days since he’s seen Q. They’ve been apart for longer, much longer, but not any time recently, and his skin itches with wanting him. Their last meeting had been fraught and over too quickly, a tense meeting, the passing of information, a kiss bruising in its intensity but brief, far too brief to satiate the growing pit of want deep in El’s body.

During the day, he is someone else. He has a part to play, a mission to complete, and for his own sanity if nothing else, he doesn’t think about Q at all. Or anyone else in his family. They don’t exist for him, beyond the baseline knowledge that he has a home somewhere out there waiting for him when this is over. But he has to be Elijah Ladock in order to succeed, and Elijah Ladock doesn’t know Q, has never met him, would never have a reason to suspect the existence of such a person.

At night, when he’s alone in the small room he’s renting, he allows himself the luxury of remembering what he is without. There’s the existential dread and the yawning chasm of loneliness, of course, but there’s also the more immediate, more tangible, yet no less powerful longing of his flesh. Ordinarily, he does not sleep alone. He sleeps with Q curled into him, flopped on top of him, spooned into the space between his arms or, at the very least, there, close enough to reach out and touch through the sea of darkness.

He sleeps sometimes with Penny, too, his warm weight a nearly authoritative presence in the bed, the brand of a hand tossed all the way across Q’s body in the middle, resting with familiarity and fellowship on the dip of El’s knee. He sleeps with Margaret, her body heating up like fire in the night, the sharp angles and soft curves of her flailing out and stealing the blankets every time.

To be alone is to yearn for them all terribly, but he knows it will be worse if he indulges in depth, in thinking of what he wishes he could have. But tonight. Tonight. He’s hard, aching low in his gut; he hasn’t laid a hand on himself, or had anyone else to do it for him, in weeks, and he… he wants Q’s mouth, wants his fingers, the wickedness of his tongue. Wants it all bad enough that there in the dark he succumbs, palming a hand down between his legs, under the covers, gripping himself tight and trying not to groan aloud at the relief of the pressure.

He wants to make sound, but he shouldn’t. Elijah Ladock put privacy wards around his room, but Elijah is not a particularly skilled magician, and the wards he put up are weak enough to be disrupted, so his new friends, still wary of his growing place among their group of conspirators, can spy on him if they so choose.

They have so chosen. El knows this very well, having detected the tampering the second he approached his door this evening. He spares a moment to be amused as he tightens his grip on himself, pumping slow and languorous, imagining one of the men he’s met over the past couple of months, listening in at the door through magic, hearing the muffled grunts and rustling sheets of a man bringing himself pleasure. He even dares to imagine maybe the man listening is the young lad who can’t stop staring at him during meeting, who’s clearly salivating over Elijah already. El pictures him unable to resist bringing his palm down to press the crease of his trousers, listening to El’s hand, slicked with magic, speed over himself again and again. God, Q would take delight in the game, if he were here, he’d climb under the covers, he’d let El fuck into his mouth, he’d moan around him, he’d put on a show for an invisible audience, let the straight-laced men of London wonder at the shame and lust coursing through them at the sound of men, of two men together, bringing each other off—

El groans a little louder, unintentionally, imagining the wet heat of Q’s mouth around him, strokes himself faster, wishes for the brand of Q’s hands braced against his hips, can hardly stand the absence of him. If Q were here, El would flip him over, work him open on his tongue, on his fingers, slip inside him and drive forward, burying himself inside, hard, hard, the slap of their skin together the best music in the world. Maybe Margaret would join them, Q would bury his face between her legs even as El jostles him with every thrust, the cries she makes when she knows the pleasure of Q’s perfect tongue—god, he wants them, he needs them, sweat is pooling in El’s collarbone, his skin is buzzing everywhere in desperation, strung taut along every muscle. He is a man made only of wanting, of carnal, intensifying, need

He comes with a brief shout, bites down on his own fist as he writhes through orgasm, drops his shaking hand away from his oversensitive flesh and lies there, debauched and yet also indignant at the thought of how delectable he must look, flushed and frazzled and laid out against the sheets, with nobody here to even appreciate it. He has long ago tired of being alone, and when necessity dictates a return to solitude, however short, every bit of him rebels against the fact of it.

His physical longing is not sated, even now. Just as he’d known would happen, the sharpness of his want for Q and for the others is all the greater now that he’s allowed himself the paltry echo of the pleasure they can bring him.

Just a little longer. He’s close to answers, close to earning the trust of his enemies. And then he can go home to the place his heart resides.