In fear of sounding hopelessly cliché and a bit too on the nose considering he’s recently been possessed by a monster who was rather fond of this activity, it feels like someone has ripped Eliot’s heart out of his chest.
How else can Eliot describe the painful ache left, not by Margo’s magic axes, but the loss of the man he loves?
He returns to the remains of the fire long after everyone’s gone. Margo had dragged him away as soon as they’d had a moment of silence, after they’d all sung that fucking song, like they were on Riverdale or some shit (and he knows he’ll never be able to listen to it again, not now, not after this).
But Eliot couldn’t sleep, because of course he couldn’t. The last time he’d had a peaceful night’s rest had been in another life, so why bother attempting to cure the insomnia now?
Instead, he sits on one of the logs and stares at what’s left of the memorial; everything is ash except a few, thin, smoldering pieces of wood, the melted remains of Q’s crown, and that stupid ceramic mug Alice had tossed into the flames.
There had been no body to bury.
And yet, everyone had been more than okay with giving their friend a heartfelt send off, a shit excuse for a funeral when they were actual, honest to fuck magicians, musical numbers be damned. They’d mourned and comforted one another and then, just like that, they were gone; they were already prepared to move on, as if they could do such a thing after a loss like this.
I have a kingdom/academy/ex-fascist library/group of not-so-organized hedge witches to run, they’d said. But not Eliot.
Did they really expect him to care about their problems and move on like he hadn’t just lost one of the most important things in the world to him?
How can you not care? I thought you loved him too! he had wanted to scream at Alice, at Margo, at Julia.
But the truth was, they couldn’t have loved Q, not the way Eliot had. How could they? He’d had 50 years on them, 50 years of Quentin fucking Coldwater waking up by his side, that his friends couldn’t even begin to comprehend. That wasn’t something you could get over just by singing around a goddamn campfire.
Eliot wants to scream, wants to cry, wants to shake his fist at a god he’s never been able to truly believe in, even when he’s wanted to.
He wants to blame someone, anyone for what happened to Q. He wants to blame Julia and Margo for not noticing him spiraling sooner. He wants to blame Alice for jumping back into a relationship neither of them were clearly ready for. He wants to blame motherfucking Fogg for being the most useless excuse of a school dean he’s ever met.
It’s not fair. It’s not fucking fair in any way and he’s so goddamn done with it.
They’ve been through hell and back, quite fucking literally half the time, and it really shouldn’t be too much to ask to catch a break every once in a while.
It’s like they’re characters on a garbage fire of a TV show that cared more about shock value than satisfactory storytelling. It’s like everything that’s happened to him, to Margo and Josh and Alice and Penny and Julia and Kady and Q, is just the work of some dumbass beings that thought of themselves as gods, throwing darts at the board of their lives just for their own entertainment, and Eliot’s sick of it.
As much as he loathes the Monster for taking over his body, trapping him in his mind and tormenting his friends, tormenting Quentin, Eliot can’t blame it for ripping out the hearts of gods; he’s in a god-destroying mood himself.
Eliot never believed in a god, though, not until they actually met a few. But meeting gods isn’t what you’d expect.
Instead, it proved to Eliot just how shitty and undeniably human gods can be. And these gods killed Q, they let him die because he was trying to fix the things they’d fucked up, and what? They’re just allowed to get away with it?
Eliot gets to his feet, even though it’s a struggle between the pain in his abdomen and the unsteadiness of his cane.
“Fuck you!” It echoes through the night, loud and clear and angry.
“Fuck you fuck you fuck you!" He screams it, a crescendo of expletives that, despite their ferocity, can never express the anguish churning within his chest.
Eliot lifts his cane by the middle, pointing it upward towards the sky on the off chance someone up there will hear him, someone will see him.
“I know you can hear me! Fuck you!” Eliot’s voice is raw by now and he can feel the tears building, a relentless pressure behind his eyes.
His heart hurts, a dead weight in his chest that leaves his whole body feeling unbearably numb. His heart hurts, his head hurts, his eyes hurt, everything fucking hurts.
“Fuck you for taking him away from us!” His legs finally give out and he collapses to his knees, his voice hoarse.
“For taking him away from me.”
It’s a whispered confession, something he hadn’t been brave enough to say aloud when it had really mattered, when Quentin had still been alive.
He’s sobbing now, unable to stop the flow of tears pouring out of him, down his cheeks and over his black silk shirt and onto the muddy ground.
“I’m sorry,” he says, broken, defeated, “I should have done more.”
But what could he have done? What could he have possibly done to stop a death that those pathetic excuses for gods hadn’t even batted an eyelash at? They didn’t care about people like him, life didn’t care about people like him.
“Fuck you,” Eliot says, one more time, through clenched teeth and a downpour of tears.
His fingers curl around the cane, the cane that reminds him of another life, a life he had gotten to live out with the man he loved, a life where they’d grown up together and grown old together.
Eliot presses his weight onto the cane and struggles to his feet. The sharp pain in his stomach is nothing compared to the gaping hole he feels in his chest.
“If you won’t do it yourself, then I will,” he says, no longer to the sky or to some invisible figure in front of him, but to himself.
“I’ll bring him back.”
It’s not a question, it’s a promise, and one that Eliot intends to keep.
“I fucking swear it, no matter what it takes, I’ll undo all this bullshit and I will bring Quentin back.”