The flawed moon
acts on the truth, and makes
an autumn of tentative
There’s a certain terror to the Monster disappearing to satisfy its curiosity about something. Quentin knows what it does when left to its own devices, and he knows that when it appears again it could be with a body - or in another body. Or worse, although he can’t actually picture what worse would be.
Despite this, it’s a deep relief to have a moment to himself, away from the Monster’s constant threats and surveillance. Or at least it’s a relief for all of ten minutes, and then his dim guest bedroom in the penthouse feels entirely too quiet and empty, incapable of distracting him from his thoughts. For once, he can follow those simple impulses to stay or leave as he likes, so he goes.
Julia’s out in the living room, curled up on one corner of the couch, reading something. Research, he thinks guiltily, but then she looks up at him, book falling to the side, and he sees that the cover reads Oblique Prayers - poetry, he guesses, and the guilt deepens.
“What’s up, Q?”
“Oh, you know. Same old, same old,” he shrugs, sitting down in one of the chairs.
She laughs a little at that, a soft noise, and it makes him feel lighter for a moment.
Then he remembers the thought that had driven him out here in the first place, and the lightness twists and sears his throat.
“I was wondering,” he says, and has to pause for a moment to sort out the words piling up in his head. He pulls his legs up so he can press the side of his face against his knees as he says, “It's, uh. It’s pretty selfish, isn’t it. All of this.”
He barely risks a glance at Julia before going on, arms wrapped around his legs, left hand gripping his right wrist. “Because I’ve been thinking. I did this before, with Alice, and it - I mean, she didn’t even want to come back, while I was doing it. And Eliot - he doesn’t - didn’t - fuck. I just -“
And then he’s almost jumping out of his skin at the feeling of a hand on his arm, and digging his nails into his wrist to keep from moving, and all of this as he slowly realizes that it’s Julia’s hand, small and slim-fingered, and the wheel of panic spinning in his head careens to a halt.
“Hey,” she says, patting his arm once and then retreating, “hey.”
“Sorry,” he mumbles, and he gives himself a moment to bury his face in his knees and feel overwhelmingly stupid, and small, and self-contained in his stupidity. Then he lifts his head up and puts his feet back on the floor, and gives Julia as much of a smile as he can summon. The expression she returns mirrors his.
“My dad was so upset when he and Mom got divorced,” he says. “For a long time afterwards, too.”
“Yeah, sleepovers at your house were a bummer for a while there,” Julia says wryly, and he snorts.
“Right,” he says. “But he - he got over it, didn’t he? Eventually. He didn’t do anything crazy.”
“That you know of,” Julia says, looking thoughtful. “I get what you’re saying, but it’s not really the same thing, is it?”
“No,” Quentin says, “no, I know it isn’t. I guess I’m just wondering - I mean, I love you, Jules. I know this is shitty. I’m putting all of us in danger, and Eliot might not,” he stops, then pushes on, feeling very cold, “Eliot might be dead. But I can’t let him go.”
The apartment is silent around the words, and Julia doesn’t respond for a long, long moment, until:
“It might be selfish,” she says. “We’ve all been selfish. I don’t know, Q. You love him. There are worse reasons, you know.”
“Yeah,” Quentin says, and he thinks he does know.
“I don’t think you’re doing it for yourself,” she says, and that, he feels much less sure about.
He doesn’t have anything else he can bear to drag out for scrutiny, and she lets him stay quiet, goes back to her book. He dozes off in the chair, exhaustedly catnapping, and they wait for the Monster to come back.