It’s a perfectly normal party at the Cottage. The usual crowd is here along with a few older students Quentin doesn’t recognize, all packed into the living room enjoying the freely flowing alcohol. The music is pretty loud by the dancefloor, but fortunately the room is charmed so that the edges and couches are quieter for conversations. Eliot always thinks of everything.
Quentin’s eyes wander over to the bar to look at the host himself, mixing drinks for the select few who Eliot deems worthy of something better than the mediocre punch bowl. Which, by the way, he purposefully mixes to be mediocre, just so everyone knows what they’re missing. It’s ridiculous, but what does Quentin know? Not much, apparently. Quentin could be having an Eliot Waugh original right now himself, he’s pretty sure, but he’s trying to make a point, goddammit. Although the exact point he’s been trying to make became kind of muddled several glasses of punch ago. But he’s pretty sure it was a good one, whatever it was.
Eliot’s busy talking to some guy named Roger. Well, ok, Quentin doesn’t actually know his name. He’s one of those older students Quentin’s only seen maybe once or twice before. Probably a third year. But he certainly looks like a Roger. Blue sweater, sophisticated glasses. He’s probably a tool. Quentin takes another swig of the punch.
He’s managed to avoid Eliot all night, which really shouldn’t have been as easy as it was. Not once did Eliot come up to him and drag him into some conversation. Not a single time did he yank the punch from his hand and force him to drink something more sophisticated. He’s been too busy flirting with the Rogers and Steves and Fredricks of the world. Whatever. It’s fine. So what if Quentin and Eliot had sex a few days ago and haven’t talked about it since? So what if the morning after, Quentin woke up to an empty spot next to him in bed and came downstairs to Eliot making eggs for Margo, acting like nothing out of the ordinary had happened? It’s fine.
Quentin doesn’t need Eliot pulling him into conversations, anyway. He’s perfectly capable of finding his own Roger. He scans the room and sees another guy who’s leaning against the wall, also not currently talking to anyone. Quentin makes his way over.
His name is Jeremy. He’s a third year herbalist, which is a discipline Quentin doesn’t actually know much about. He won’t have to learn any herbalism beyond the basics until next semester. It’s actually refreshing to listen to Jeremy get so excited when he talks about plants. Most people at these parties never want to talk about magic. At least, not any of the nitty gritty details. But Quentin loves that kind of shit.
They must be talking for at least ten minutes before Quentin feels a hand on his shoulder dragging him away.
“Quentin. You look incredibly bored. Come with me, Margo’s waiting on the couch and is getting increasingly cranky the longer she’s without her two human pillows.”
“I was kind of in the middle of something, actually.”
“Right.” Eliot lets out an odd, loud laugh and runs a hand through his hair. “What, are you that interested in the… the difference in magical properties between enchanted broccoli and cauliflower?”
“Is that even a thing?”
“I’ve talked to that guy on three separate occasions,” Eliot says, taking a quick but large gulp from his drink. “I’ve never heard him talk about anything besides plants. Bulbs vs. seeds. Soil salinity requirements. The subtle differences between twelve different shrub varieties that all look identical. Kill me now.”
“Ok, well, we were talking about herbalism, but it’s actually kind of cool. He says they have a plant that can –“
“Well you kind of seem to care.” Eliot shoots him an unimpressed look. “Well, not about plants but… what is it with you and this guy?”
“Nothing.” Eliot glares behind them at Jeremy. “Fine, carry on. Just find more interesting people to talk to.” Eliot swivels and walks away in one fluid motion, and before Quentin knows it he’s all the way across the room. He looks back at Jeremy, who gives him a friendly smile. Quentin wonders if he and Eliot have some kind of history. The thought makes him sick to his stomach. Or maybe that’s the five glasses of punch he’s had. He decides to talk to someone else.
He only gets about five minutes into a conversation with an illusionist named Vivian when Eliot makes a repeat appearance.
“So sorry, I just need him for a few minutes,” Eliot says as he tugs on Quentin’s wrist.
“Ok… what do you need me for exactly?”
“Nothing. I said find more interesting people to talk to.”
“Ok, so who do you deem interesting enough then?” Quentin pulls his wrist out of Eliot’s grip. “I’m serious, Eliot. Who at this party are you allowing me to talk to?”
“You can talk to whoever the fuck you want,” Eliot says, staring him down.
“Yeah, well it certainly doesn’t seem like it. So maybe.. maybe just leave me alone.” They’re right by the punch bowl, so Quentin pointedly refills his cup and huffs away.
He finds himself in a conversation with someone named Alan. Apparently there were more people at this party he didn’t know than he realized. Quentin isn’t particularly paying attention to the conversation, but he’s sure it must be more interesting than whatever Roger was talking to Eliot about. Alan’s standing kind of uncomfortably close to Quentin, but whatever. There’s not really space for him to step back.
“You want to come outside with me for a smoke?” Alan asks, resting his hand gently on Quentin’s shoulder.
“Uh, sure I – “
“I’m sorry, he’s busy. Run along.”
Quentin turns to glare at Eliot. “Where the fuck did you even come from?”
“I heard a friend in trouble, so I came to –“
“What do you mean in trouble? You think Alan’s asking me to go outside with him so he can drag me into the woods and murder me? Because you did tell me to talk to more interesting people, and that sounds pretty fucking interesting to me.” Ok, so Quentin might be a bit drunk.
“That guy just wants to fuck you.”
“Ok. So? What’s the problem?”
Eliot stares at him. “Fine. I guess there’s no problem. I just thought my friend who’s had more than a few drinks might appreciate someone looking out for him. That’s all.”
“Right. Because you’re always one to police drunken hookups.”
“And what the fuck is that supposed to mean?” Eliot snaps.
“It means, your input is noted. Thanks. But I’m a big boy, I can take care of myself. If I want to fuck Alan, then I’ll fucking fuck Alan.”
“Yeah, well I’m sure you’ll have a fantastic fucking time fucking Alan.”
“Yeah, I’m sure I will.”
“And maybe I’ll just go find someone to fuck myself,” Eliot says, taking a step closer.
“Yeah, you do that. You’ve had half the party drooling over you all night, so I’m sure you’ll have no issues there.” Quentin steps closer and raises his chin, refusing to back down.
“Fine!” Quentin starts to turn away, but Eliot grabs his shoulder and pulls him roughly against his chest. Before he realizes what’s happening, Eliot’s lips are moving on top of his in a deep, filthy kiss. It feels like entire minutes pass. Eliot’s tongue warm against his, sparks flying in his chest, his stomach performing aerobics he didn’t know it was capable of. Eliot’s hand is gripping his hair tightly, keeping his head in place while his other hand presses against his back so their bodies stay flush against each other.
“Stay with me,” Eliot whispers when he finally pulls away.
“Just, come upstairs with me? Please? I can’t… I just…” Eliot’s running his hands through his hair, his eyes darting around everywhere except to look at Quentin. They’re still standing fairly close to each other, but now there’s some breathing room between them.
“What do you want from me, Eliot?”
“I just fucking told you what I want from you,” Eliot hisses.
“That’s not what I mean. You want me to what, go upstairs with you so we can fuck? And then what? You sneak out again before morning? Wash, rinse, repeat?”
“Quentin, don’t be like that.”
“Like what, Eliot? I don’t… I don’t do hookups, ok? If that’s what you want, that’s fine, to each their own. But that’s not what I want. So… so you can find someone else.” Quentin turns to leave, but Eliot’s hand finds his wrist and grips tightly.
“I don’t want anyone else.”
Quentin whips his head around. “What did you say?”
“I don’t want… I want… I just want you, Q. I’m sorry. I won’t… I got scared, and I left, and I’m sorry, ok?”
Quentin’s unconsciously moved closer to Eliot, their chests nearly resting against each other.
“What do you want from me, Eliot?” Quentin says again. But this time he whispers it gently, his lips close enough to Eliot’s to feel his breath ghosting over them.
“I want… I want everything.” Eliot leans the rest of the way down to kiss him again, only it’s different than before. There’s intensity, sure, but it’s more the steady, warm glow of a newly lit flame, not the huge but inevitably short-lived spark of a firework. It’s gentle, it’s sure, it’s safe. And it still leaves Quentin gasping for breath afterwards.
“Ok, well in that case,” Quentin says against his lips, “I guess I’ll do my best to give that to you.”