I’ve got knuckle burn from typing all these lines into your chest
And as the belt from your buckle is tightening I make shipwrecks out of my dress
And the door below it splinters
And the creature creeps inside
And we fall into each other
The scratching grows so loud
Because that unwanted animal
Wants nothing more than to get out
And I scream
That Unwanted Animal - the amazing devil
“Your friend. He’s dead.”
It echoes inside Quentin’s head, and the thing, the thing wearing Eliot’s face stares at him, swimming in front of his eyes.
Your friend. He’s dead.
The word friend is an interesting one, Quentin muses, half-hysterical, completely unresponsive as El-- The Monster stares at him. Friend, noun, “one attached to another by affection or esteem,” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Quentin thinks of the tall, lean boy who greeted him at Brakebills, who took him under his wing. He thinks of glittering cocktails, of Eliot always having a bottle of his favorite red stashed in his room where no one else could drink it.
Another definition of friend. “A favored companion.” Moments flash--Eliot dragging him around campus, Eliot’s big hand cupping his face, emotion-fueled adrenaline, Margo behind him. Eliot with a startled, drunk look on his face, sitting on the mosaic tiles a year in. Three years in, the warmth of Eliot’s body against him, Eliot, Eliot, Eliot.
He laughs, a grim, low sound, and he can see the Monster twisting Eliot’s face into something like confusion, that strange child-like tilt to his head. Friend doesn’t touch what Eliot is to him. What he wanted them to be.
Who gets proof of concept like that?
He flinches and closes his eyes.
“Are you going to break more things?” the Monster asks, head tilted again, bird-like, and Quentin abruptly wants to grab his shoulders, shake him, yell, get out of him, get out.
But Eliot is. Eliot is dead. He’ll never get to ask again, he’ll never get…
Quentin lets out a sharp sob, an animal noise of pain and he reaches, reaches, fingers touching worn clothing and he sobs into Eliot’s chest, that familiar chest holding an unfamiliar creature and the Monster grips his elbows.
“Is this a new game?” he asks and Quentin jerks his head up, leans up, up and presses his mouth to Eliot’s, furious, raw.
Because it’s Eliot’s mouth, Eliot’s body, familiar and unfamiliar, and Quentin can taste salt, can feel Eliot’s mouth soft on his own before he breaks away, breathing hard, eyes blurred with tears.
The Monster lifts a hand to his mouth. “This body enjoyed that,” he says, sounding curious. “Is this a new game as well?”
Quentin licks his lips and he, god, he hates himself but he’s nodding before he can help it. “You play this game with me,” he says quietly. “I’ll help you with whatever you want.”
The Monster looks pleased. “This body. Your friend. This is what you did with each other?”
Quentin closes his eyes. “Not in this timeline.”
There’s a hand on his cheek and Quentin’s eyes fly open at the sudden feeling. The Monster doesn’t look at him like Eliot did. None of the warmth in his eyes, or the spark of mischief, or the deep fondness. The Monster looks curious, though, and he seems to like Quentin best, seems to want him to be his playmate over all of the others. Quentin wonders, idly, if that’s an Eliot thing. If Eliot’s feelings have influenced the Monster, somehow.
The Monster smiles, slow. “I like this game,” he says, and he kisses Quentin this time. Quentin makes a soft, strangled noise and surges against him hard, hard enough like he can crawl into Eliot’s body, like he can fill the hollows of his bones and scratch the Monster out of Eliot just from the sheer force of his kiss.
It’s Eliot’s body that he’s kissing, Eliot’s familiar unfamiliar body, long and lean and warm still, and if he keeps his eyes closed, if he shoves his hands under his shirt, presses him against the wall, he can almost pretend it is him, can almost pretend that the Master doesn’t kiss him wrong, that he doesn’t know Quentin likes when Eliot bites at his lower lip, likes when Eliot laughs against his mouth, likes when Eliot drags his tongue along his teeth.
It’s a blur, his mouth wet, tasting of salt, and he lets himself cry because it obscures his vision, lets him see Eliot and pretend there isn’t something in him, isn’t something that took over his body and made it his own. Eliot’s skin under his hands is hot, boiling, wrong, wrong because Quentin was always the furnace and Eliot ran cool and he used to complain about that in the summer, shoving Quentin away on the bed “so I don’t sweat to death, my God, Q,” and Quentin would laugh, press him down in the mattress and kiss him until he stopped complaining.
The Monster leaves scratches down his thighs, along his hips, leaves marks on his body with Eliot’s hands, Eliot’s nails and Quentin gasps, sobs, kisses the Monster so he can’t talk, so he can’t say something wrong, something un-Eliot and alien, something that will make him remember, and the Monster laughs, low and rough and cold, because to him this is a game.
“This body knows yours,” he says, a mean thrill of delight and Quentin shivers.
“Shut up,” Quentin rasps and bites at his mouth, savage and hard, and he claws at him, at Eliot, at the wrong, wrong thing in Eliot as he breaks apart against him, as the Master sighs in Eliot’s voice, the same way Eliot used to, body spent and damp with sweat.
After, he pants on the ground, throat thick, eyes dry and red and swollen. The Master moves Eliot’s body, props himself on his side to look down at him.
“A fun game,” he says, patting Quentin’s cheek. “Let’s get food.”
And Quentin closes his eyes for a hot, burning moment, a wave of something, something unnameable, threatening to overwhelm him for a precarious moment. He lets out a slow, shaky breath, opens his eyes, and carefully begins to dress, mind blank and numb.
Later, later, watching the Monster in Eliot’s body, watching Alice with the blood, watching the Monster again, watching--
“Q,” Eliot’s mouth says and Quentin goes cold. “It’s me.”
“Who gets proof of concept like that? I'm in here, Q."