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To Build A Nest

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Eliot had never been allowed things. He wasn’t like his brothers. He wasn’t allowed to have the things he wanted. Never. Not in the entirety of his childhood.

He was different compared to his brothers though. In far more ways than one.

He wasn’t someone who enjoyed farm work. He hated it with a passion. While they were out doing heavy lifting, plowing fields, killing chickens, and the like, Eliot preferred to be inside. He would rather be cooking in the kitchen (because he’d developed an unhealthy habit of eating his feelings and then not eating at all and either way having control over food helped make him feel in control), knitting, sewing, telling his mama which color went best with what. He didn’t like the work they did. At least, not for himself.

He didn’t look at girls the way they did. Most of his brothers, except for Ezra who had something called respect and decency, looked at girls like they were some sort of prize or food. Like they were to be won or to be eaten. It made Eliot’s skin crawl.

He didn’t like the same fabrics they did. That was one he and his father had gotten into arguments about. (“Don’t you appreciate what we do for you? We don’t have to give you clothes but we do!” Nevermind the fact that most of his clothes were hand me downs.) They tolerated and even liked the generic cotton tee-shirts from Walmart. Those same shirts had, several times, made Eliot cry because the texture was too rough.

He was practically ostrichsized when he mentioned wanting to be in a school play. They played sports like football and soccer. Eliot lied about being in a math club so he could stay after school to rehearse. Math club was boring enough that no one in his family would go but academic enough that at least he didn’t have to hear his father talk about how much of a pathetic queer one of his sons was turning out to be. . . If only he knew.

Then there was the big thing. It was the thing that made his father begin to call him slurs in the first place. It was the fact that he wasn’t. . . an alpha. Whoo. He wasn’t even a beta. Whoopie. No, no. He was an omega and he didn’t even know the first thing about what that meant. Fun.

The only things he knew about omegas were they went into heat every three or so months, they were all supposed to be women, they were all supposed to be baby makers and not a damn thing more.

At the first chance, he left. He took the money he got via the small jobs he was able to do (mowing Mr. Welton’s lawn, watching the Smith’s horrendous kids, cleaning Ms. Harvard’s house, or sewing Elizabeth Milford’s dress when she ripped it at school) and stealing from his father and mother when they weren’t looking and he bolted out.

The only person who knew was his brother Ezra and that simply because he caught Eliot stealing. He’d simply looked the other way and four months later, he told Eliot about a website for omegas looking to escape abusive situations. He gave Eliot the chance to leave before his parents could do what they wanted to do to him. They wanted to marry him off to a female alpha so they could get him off to the sides and out of the way. Ezra created a distraction that let Eliot leave in one piece with all the things he needed.

Ezra and Eliot weren’t the type of siblings who were friends. They fought more than they got along. However, Ezra seemed to be the singular simi-decent person in Eliot’s family and Eliot thanked him for that.

He’d managed to find a place in New York for runaway omegas. The person who seemed to be in charge was someone named Andhera. They were in their early thirties and shorter than him by more than a head. They smelled of petrichor and damp wood. They were also kind and allowed him to search for jobs using their computer.

Eliot finally managed to get a job at some craft store a month into living in the house. Two months into living there, Andhera was typing away at the computer that was theirs alone now until their head snapped up. They leaned forward, towards Eliot who sat on the couch and not in an armchair like they were.

“Your heat is coming soon,” they said like it was a weather update before they went back to typing.

Eliot sat mortified. No one had ever brought it up so casually. No one had ever treated it like a mere fact of life and gone on. No one had ever acted like it wasn’t something to be ashamed of hence his feeling of shame. He tried to go back to reading.

They spoke again, “I don’t mean to pry but I haven’t seen you with anything that could be considered nesting materials.”

Eliot’s eyes slowly ascended from his current page to them. He looked around. No one else was in the house which made sense seeing as Joe didn’t get off until six and Oscar had left earlier in the day for a date. He looked back at Andhera.

“Nesting?” he prompted.

The polite curiosity fell from their face. “Yeah, nesting,” they repeated. “Denning. Where did you say you were from again? You know what, it doesn't matter. Get up, we're going shopping and I’m telling you everything there is to know about what comes with being an omega.”

That was when Eliot learned about what the realities of being an omega were, not the pure fantasies his hometown had fed to him. Anyone could be an omega and omegas didn’t need alphas. Omegas weren’t bound to being maternal figures who cleaned the house while their alphas were away for their entire life. No, being an omega was just another thing. It was just another small part of being alive, like having a preference for grapes instead of olives.

Nesting or denning was something Eliot had been yearning to do his entire life. He hadn’t realized it until Andhera put what it was into words. It was creating a safe comfortable space filled with blankets, pillows, and the smells of loved ones. Eliot had simply never had an abundance of blankets, pillows, or loved ones to do it with. It was most common during heats, pregnancy or times with high emotions.

Eliot was able to choose an abundance of different blankets; some soft, some smooth, all were his. He also picked out several pillows. They didn’t differ as much as the blankets. The main differences came down to the color.

When they got back, Andhera helped him bring the things into his room. By then both Joe and Oscar were back, chatting on the couch. They perked up when they saw the things.

Joe’s face broke out into a huge smile, showing off her tooth gap. “Is that nesting material?” she asked with an ever present lisp.

Andhera turned to Eliot who had rocked back onto his heels. “Yes,” he said quietly.

“Can I help?” she asked before she started to back track. “Would that be over reaching? Should I not have asked? Is that breaking boundaries?”

Eliot caved in on himself. “Please. I don’t know what I’m doing.”

Joe squealed as she bounced off the couch and ran to him. She grabbed his hand and dragged him (which had to have been a sight seeing as she barely stood at five feet) to her room as she began to rattle on, “First things first. Basis. You said you don’t know what you’re doing so—“ she turned and took both of his hands into hers— “you can look at mine.”

She pushed open her bedroom door and it was about what Eliot expected from a woman who dyed her afro pastel purple. It was all light colors and softness. She had plants growing in the windowsill and soft rugs covering the floors.

She dragged him to her closet. “This is where I keep my non heat den. I have two. A lot of people don’t. It’s more of a whenever you feel like it kind of thing but because of my not so great childhood followed by my not so great relationships, I like to keep on ready at all times. I’d keep it on my bed but these beds aren’t really made for nesting and denning— same thing just a different word. For that you want a bed that’s more circular but maybe you can get the gist for this and I’m more than happy to help if you need it.”

The closet space just looked like pillows and blankets bundled up with the occasional stuffed animal or article of clothing at first glance but upon further examination, Eliot realized everything was out there with purpose. The pillows and plushies were placed in places to prevent heads bumping on walls. The clothing was mixed expertly into the blankets so they didn’t stand out and the blankets could still be felt while the scents on the clothes could be smelled.

He stumbled back a step when suddenly a light came from the ceiling but not one from a lightbulb. It was instead from some type of cloud like chandelier. It “rained” little jewels that glimmered from its soft glow.

“This one is one of my favorite spells,” Joe said as she wrapped her arm around his and leaned her head against him. “It’s a soft glow you can’t get with lightbulbs and watch—“ the lights flickered in a way that resembled what happened when lightning crackled within a cloud.

He glanced down at her. “Favorite spell?”

“Yeah, I can teach it to you if you want,” she told him.

That day he learned that he had found an omega safe space that could only be found by magicians and that magic could sometimes be beautiful also.

Joe helped him figure out how to make his bed into a suitable nest that she was left scowling at (“Because it could be so much better. I just can’t figure out how!”) and he was left feeling tingling looking at (“It’s perfect, Molls.”).

That night Oscar rapped his knuckles on the door. “May I come in?”

Eliot opened the door for him.

“I know you’re probably tired of hearing about omega shit. I completely understand but I have some things that could help you through your upcoming heat. If I order ‘em now they’ll be here right before it starts,” Oscar said after some pleasantries.

Eliot eyed Oscar, “What kind of things?”

Oscar raised an eyebrow. “You should know what being in heat means by now. That’s the one thing I’m sure they taught you about. They had to.” A pause. “Sex toys, genius.”

He sat down on the floor, so as to not disturb the freshly made nest. He removed his computer from where it was tucked under his arm and placed it on his lap. He patted the ground next to him.

“Trust me, unless you’re like Andhera, these are gonna be a life savior,” Oscar told him as Eliot slowly moved to sit beside him. “I remember heats before the loving embrace of a dildo.”

Eliot found himself blushing and Oscar laughed at his redness. It wasn’t that Eliot was a blushing virgin. Despite the small population and homophobia, Eliot was far from one. He’d say he had about the average amount of experience for someone his age. However, talking about it was taboo in a way that made him feel like he was still going to get in trouble and his father was going to go grab a belt.

Oscar opened a new tab and clicked on his favorite links. “Did I ever tell you what I do?” he asked.

“No.”

“I’m a sex worker,” Oscar said, almost offhandedly. “I record sex tapes and pornos with mostly betas and other omegas. Working my way back to alphas currently. Just trust me on this, okay? This is gonna seem like a lot for a starting pack but it’ll all be worth it and you’re going to come to me thanking me profusely, I promise.”

Eliot did end up with a nice “little” starting pack which included two separate regular dildos, three dildos with knots, four separate butt plugs, and a small thing of synthetic alpha scent. It was for “variety.” Oscar was right though. Fuck him. Literally. That became a thing.

The first time he spent his heat with someone was three months later. Oscar introduced him then to the world of strap on knots, double ended dildos, and vibrators.

When he ended up going to Brakebills, he wasn’t really surprised. They were no longer all living together, though they did all stay in touch. They got together and made him a sending away package. It was sweet. He didn’t cry when he was alone and if he did? Well, no one saw him so it didn’t count.

There was something from each of them. Andhera gave him a canopy that smelled like the rains they did. Joe gifted him a decently sized gray stuffed cat that was purely fluff with no hard spaces or oddly textured stitches that made the nose of eyes. It smelled like sugared strawberries. Oscar placed a golden silk of his that Eliot had gotten into the habit of stealing into the box. The robe was too big on Eliot (Oscar wasn’t taller than Eliot, he was shorter actually, but he was thicker than Eliot’s thin frame by a significant amount) but when he wore it he was surrounded by the scent of oranges and spearmint. The final thing in the bag was a soft, purple blanket that had the combined scents of the three of them. A small little note let him know that each item had been spelled so the scent stayed on them permanently.

He was wrapped up in Oscar’s robe when Margo grabbed his hand and began pulling him to her room with a simple, “I need you.”

Margo was the one friend Eliot had managed to make in his time at Brakebills that lasted longer than one night at the least and a week at the maximum. She was a fellow omega with a loud, snarky personality he adored. They’d bonded fast, faster than he’d ever bounded with anyone else. In the span of four and a half months, she already knew him as well as Andhera, Joe, and Oscar.

She forced him down into her little half den. It was a small space locked away in the corner of her room, opposite of her closet with barely enough room for Eliot to sit comfortably. It was stuffed with pillows and blankets but no scents from anyone except herself.

She laid on top of him and he instinctively wrapped his arms around her small frame. She curled into his touch. She buried her nose into the silk before she bolted up and glared at him like he’d slapped her.

She tugged on it. “Off.”

Eliot sighed and undid the loose belt of the robe and slid it off his shoulders. He laid it on the opposite side of her to keep it close.

She slowly settled back against him. Margo buried her head in his shoulder and breathed him in.

“I hate pre heat,” she said. Then she groaned, “Fuck. I hate fucking heat.”

He began to pet her hair. “You and me both.”

“Why does it have to be so often? Like we’re not goddamn rabbits. We’re not sex machines!”

“Well, I wouldn’t say that, Bambi. I did read that before evolution decided to give us the hand we now have, we did have the ability to have kids all year round. The one positive is that the only time we have a real chance at getting pregnant now is during heat,” Eliot told her.

She tilted her head up. “How do you know so much about these things?”

Because for most of his life he was fed lies and he wanted the truth, he wanted clarity, he wanted to know the actual fucking facts instead of the myths.

“Because I do,” he settled on saying instead. “Now, do you want to watch some episodes of Buffy?”

“Have you finished reading Game of Thrones?” she asked.

He hasn’t even started. He didn’t want to start. Those books seemed so long. He didn’t have forever. He simply had one life.

“No.”

“Buffy it is but we skip to the musical.”

 

It was a surprise when Quentin presented as an alpha. Everyone, himself included, had thought he was a beta. It was a late presentation.

He remembered his mother being so happy. It was the first time in years that he’d seen her happy about something he’d done. Only he hadn’t done anything. It was a luck of the draw, he supposed.

He didn’t feel lucky though. He felt like he shouldn’t be this thing. He should get to be like Julia who had gotten lucky. She’d gotten lucky in the fact that she got to be fucking invisible. She was a beta. Betas were overlooked. Underappreciated as hell but overlooked.

That was his thing. He was good at doing that but nooooo. No, he didn’t get to be invisible for this. He had to be front and center. He had to be the strong and mighty alpha male. Fuck!

The joy of his mother didn’t last. He had been under the brief illusion in that first week that maybe it would but it’d gone away as quickly as it came when she began to lose her patience. He wasn’t what she wanted him to be. He never would be.

He’d never be what anyone wanted him to be. He wouldn’t be what his mother wanted him to be. He wouldn’t be what his first girlfriend wanted him to be. He wouldn’t be what his first boyfriend wanted him to be. He wouldn’t be what society wanted him to be.

The only people he didn’t seem to constantly disappoint were Julia and his father. That was it. Even then he disappointed them frequently.

He wasn’t stable, ever. His brain broke all the time. He was hospitalized when he was sixteen for the first time. He stayed there for over an entire month his first time. Why? That was a funny little thing, wasn’t it? It was because they were trying to fix him and make him the perfect little alpha. He never went back to that specific facility.

They had stared at him there. They studied him like he was some great puzzle to be solved. His sincerest apologies for not being tall and broad and aggressive and loud. It just wasn’t who he was. It wasn’t who he wanted to be.

When Julia started dating James, another alpha, Quentin let him. The worst he gave him was an attempt at a shovel talk that ended with James clasping his shoulder while laughing.

James was fine. Quentin liked James just fine. He didn’t feel the need to kick James out, not that Quentin thought that he could. He was depressed, not delusional. However, when James came along Quentin felt like he was pushed away. He was pushed off to the side.

He didn’t say anything because he didn’t feel like he could. He didn’t feel like he could get through the first half of an admission without his voice quivering so he just didn’t say anything at all because he wasn’t the alpha people wanted him to be.

Things got better though, when Quentin figured out that magic was real and that he had it. Maybe in part it was because that alpha he was supposed to be was no longer around all the time. He was under no impression that it was the only reason but it kind of helped.

There were still alphas at Brakebills. Penny and Kady were the only ones he knew somewhat decently. Penny was his roommate and Kady was his girlfriend and Kady was also Julia’s something. They were decent enough.

Micha Mayakovsky was everything but a decent alpha. Quentin wasn’t sure there was an alpha he’d met who he hated more. He was a perverted, twisted man way too obsessed with his students’ sex lives to be anywhere near healthy.

Quentin was sure that Alice Quinn was an amazing, brilliant person but she was just not what he wanted. He wasn’t what she wanted. They both agreed. They were compatible. Even if they were, when Mayakovsky forced them outside naked in the fucking snow to make them have sex it would have been done. It would have been done.

Quentin sighed and sank further into the chair that he was sitting in after he finished recounting his time at Brakebills south for Eliot. Eliot grimaced at the tale.

“Okay, yeah, this calls for getting drunk properly,” Eliot told him before he poured more than what would be considered proper etiquette into his glass.

Quentin liked Eliot. He liked Eliot and Margo. The two had adopted him into their duo now turned trio. He didn’t know why but he’d learned not to question it. He simply enjoyed it.

It seemed a bit strange to him though. They were both omegas. Why would they willingly invite an alpha into their group to hang around constantly? Granted Quentin had known since the moment he’d presented that he wasn’t the normal standard for an alpha so maybe that had something to do with it.

“Mayakovsky is a complete asshat. He tried to set me up with a woman,” Eliot said with a frown. “A woman? With me? That’s laughable.”

Later in the day, closer to nightfall really, Eliot asked, so casually, “Would you like to sleep in my room tonight? Just sleep, no sex, I promise. I can still smell the distress on you and the only reason I’m not with Bambi in Ibiza is because I’m currently in pre heat. We could both probably use a cuddle buddy tonight.”

Quentin felt his face flush. Eliot was asking him to come into his space freely. This had to be some kind of dream. It couldn’t be real, not when he’d had a crush on Eliot since the moment they met.

How could he not? Eliot was handsome and confident and funny and snarky and absolutely amazing.

“You don’t have to say yes. It’s just an offer.” And generous.

“Um. Yeah. That sounds. . . That sounds good. Yeah. Okay,” Quentin managed to fumble out.

Eliot smiled. Quentin went to his room to get changed into nightwear while Eliot went to his room to do the same. Then Quentin followed the same path Eliot had taken. He knocked on the door and waited until Eliot told him he could before he went in.

Immediately he was hit with the smell of Eliot. The mixing fragrances of peaches and vanilla was so strong he almost stumbled backwards. He hasn’t noticed it before but it was clear now, Eliot was definitely in pre heat. Granted, Quentin hadn’t really been with someone in pre heat. His only long term relationships lasted two months before they realized he was not the type of alpha they wanted.

Suddenly he was hit with that. Should he even be here? He was an alpha. Eliot was an omega. Eliot was an omega going into heat. That could trigger a sympathy rut. Quentin had never experienced one of those. He didn’t know how to control himself if it came.

He didn’t have time to think as Eliot gently grabbed his hand and guided him to a. . . nest. A den? Was there a difference? Quentin didn’t really know.

Eliot pulled back the canopy surrounding his bed that smelled like rain for some reason. With it out of the way, a mostly circular bed (it’s only corner was pressed against the wall) that was covered in blankets and pillows with clothes expertly woven into it.

He had to pause as he admired it.

Quentin wasn’t allowed to nest as an alpha. It wasn’t against the law but it was heavily stigmatized and Quentin knew fully that he went against a lot of typical alpha behaviors but that one just felt like a step too far. He also didn’t know how.

He did have weighted blankets. Weighted blankets were as close to it as he could get.

He’d yearned for the ability to nest or den or wherever it was called. He just didn’t know how and when he had gotten the courage to Google it, the advice hadn’t been all that helpful. It was simply, get blankets, pillows, and scented things and then follow instincts. He wasn’t sure how that was supposed to help omegas or even betas who needed help nesting but it was the only advice he’d been able to find.

“Come on, Q,” Eliot said in a gentle and coaxing voice. “It’s not gonna bite you.”

Quentin slowly, carefully crawled into the nest. He did his best to not knock anything over or mess anything up. Since he wasn’t kicked out, he supposed he did an okay job at doing just that.

Most everything smelled like Eliot in this small space with a few acceptions. The golden robe he was wearing had a scent of oranges and spearmint. There was a sugary strawberry smell. Then there was the scent which lingered in the curtains.

Those smells fell short in comparison to the smell of Margo. Coconut and lime was tucked away in every corner.

Eliot waited for Quentin to settle before he asked, “Can I lay beside you?”

When Quentin nodded (ever so slightly hesitated), Eliot wasted no time in doing just that. However, beside meant on apparently as Eliot wrapped his arm around Quentin’s waist and tangled their legs together. He placed his head carefully on Quentin’s shoulder so close to his neck that all he had to do was tilt his head up and he’d be scenting him.

“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Quentin asked. “I just— I haven’t been near an omega nearing heat and I just don’t know what might happen.”

He could feel Eliot’s lips stretch out into a smile. “You’ll be fine as long as you’re not in here the day I go into heat and I’ve still got two more days before that happens.”

“Oh. Okay.”

He slowly wrapped his arm around Eliot. Eliot melted against him and gave a pleased sound.

“Speaking of,” Quentin didn’t want to pry but he felt like he couldn’t not ask, “do you— are you gonna be okay?”

“Are you asking if I need help?” he questioned, voice light and teasing. “I appreciate the concern but I’ve got plans. I’m going to a friend. We lived together for a while, about four years, our heats synced because that’s something they do for some reason.”

“Wait, if heats sync then how is Margo in Ibiza?” Quentin asked.

“Despite it all, Margo and I have only known each other for a year,” Eliot told him, which felt like a shock because of how close they were. “Oscar and I, our heats didn’t sync up until three years of living together.”

“So—“ Quentin moved carefully so he could look at Eliot while Eliot still held him without forcing Eliot to scent him, even accidentally— “are you two—“

Eliot laughed. It was big and loud and full of humor. “No. God no. We’re just friends and since our heats sync up, it’s just easier to go to each other than find someone else we can trust for that or go through agony of going through it alone.”

And, yeah, okay. That made sense.

“So, um, who is Oscar?” Quentin asked. He hadn’t heard Eliot speak on an Oscar before.

“Oscar Perez,” Eliot said, slowly drawing out the name. “We met when I was eighteen. We lived in the same housing duplex. It was over the summer. He had just finished his first year at Brakebills.”

“But— okay.”

“It was a listing on some websites. I didn’t know that only magicians could see it when I moved in. I figured out because another person who lived there, Joe, she just casually showed me a spell but that wasn’t when I figured out that magic was a thing. I already knew by then so it wasn’t really a big deal,” Eliot explained.

“How did you figure out magic was real?” Immediately Eliot’s smell went from ripe, freshly picked peaches to molded ones. “You don’t have to tell me.”

Eliot shook his head as he forced his scent to go neutral. “No, no,” he said as he smoothed out the wrinkles in Quentin’s shirt, “it’s okay. I was, um, fourteen. I’d just presented like a week before.

“There was this kid in my class. He was this— He beat me up and it was my second day back after presenting. I knew it was going to get worse. It already had. But I was walking down the street— eating a candy bar because by then I already ate my feelings at a professional level— and I saw him crossing over.” Eliot gave a small, rueful laugh, “And there was this bus coming. I barely thought the thought. Bam.”

Eliot’s fingers clenched and unclenched around the fabric of Quentin’s shirt before he went back to soothing out the wrinkles. Quentin began dragging his hand down Eliot’s spine.

“I knew immediately what I’d done, that it was me. My nose literally started bleeding. Logan Kinear died instantly and I ruined my favorite button down.” Eliot sucked in a breath, “And that is the story of how I discovered I was telekinetic.”

“El, I—“

“It’s in the past. Can’t do anything about it now,” Eliot said quickly, brushing him off. “If you reach behind you on your right, there is a vape hidden between a pillow and Margo’s pajama top. Can you get it?”

Quentin reached for it and handed it to Eliot. Immediately he took a long inhale from it. He held it in for a moment before he exhaled. The calm in Eliot’s scent seemed just a bit more genuine after that.

“Anyway, since I was eighteen, I’ve been spending my heats with Oscar so I appreciate the offer but I am good,” Eliot said.

There was a slight bit of tension in the air now. Quentin thought long and hard about how to make it go away. He didn’t want to see or smell Eliot in distress.

“Did I ever tell you about my,” he paused. He didn’t want to do this but it might help Eliot so he continued, “first rut? It started while I was at school.”

“No,” Eliot said, drawing out the word with amusing now coating his voice. “It didn’t.”

“It did. It did. I was in my second to last class. I was supposed to ride the bus home so my dad was not readily available. I was fifteen or sixteen. You know, most people present when they’re between eleven and thirteen so we just assumed I was a beta. That was wrong,” Quentin explained.

“Evidentially.”

“I’d kind of been feeling off all day but I didn’t think anything of it. You know, I’ve got depression. We all know. My therapist had suggested that I stop taking my meds because of some side effects and they weren’t helping. It’d been about two weeks after I’d stopped taking them and mood swings were to be expected,” Quentin told him. “I just thought it was that. I’d been taking those meds since I was fourteen and they kind of messed with my scent so no one really thought anything of it either until it happened. I was mortified—“

“That’s understandable.”

“I used up all my sick days and all my parent excuses so I didn’t have to go to school for the next two weeks,” Quentin continued. “That was combined with the four days I got off due to being in a rut. It was Monday though. Thank god. Still, when I got back people were cruel. The only person who didn’t treat me differently was Jules because you know, she knew.”

“That’s— oh god, that had to be awful,” Eliot said.

“It was.”

“I feel bad for laughing.”

“You should.”

“You know, I had a similar experience. Not near as public but similar,” Eliot said before he launched into a story of his own from when he and Oscar lived together. “I don’t know if you’re one of those weirdos who looks their friends’ friends for background checks but if you do, do me a favor and look up Oscar’s work name, Glitz Lovell.”

“That’s an odd name.”

“Oh, trust me, it’ll make sense.”

And Quentin wasn’t one of those people who looked up the name of his friends’ friends but how could he not this singular time?

“Is that—“

He cut himself off in favor of clicking on the link. “Oh, it is.”

On the screen of his (thankfully) muted computer was a man. He had wavy black hair with lightly tanned skin. He was completely nude as he moved up and down on a dildo. One hand ran through his hair. The other was used to keep himself steady. His stomach had rolls and he had visible stretch marks and he was the second most beautiful person Quentin had ever seen. He slammed his computer shut.

Julia looked up at him from her place on his bed. “Are you okay? What did you find?” she asked.

He’d told Julia that he was going to look up this person. In fact, he’d debated with himself for a while in front of her if he should. She knew what he was doing.

His mouth opened and closed several times and he swallowed down nothing. “His friend makes. . . adult videos.”

Slowly a smile stretched across Julia’s face as her eyes widened then she belted out a laugh. “Oh my god, and you figured this out the hard way. Let me see.”

“No, Jules—“

“Let me see,” she said before she managed to pry the computer out of Quentin’s fingers. She opened and her mouth hung open slightly. “Oh, damn. He’s hot. Let me just—“ she grabbed a blank sheet of paper and wrote down his porn name.

“No, Julia. Privacy.”

“This is public information,” Julia said with not a hint of embarrassment.

“What’s public information?” Margo asked from the doorway, a fresh tan coating her skin.

“What Eliot’s friend does for work,” Julia said.

A smug, amused smile slid its way into Margo’s face. “He told you about Oscar,” Margo said. “Oh, he baited you into looking this up, didn’t he? Which one are you looking at?”

Margo ran up behind Julia before Quentin got the chance to shut the computer. “Oh, that was a good day,” she said. “I was the one who got to pick which dildo he used using by my dad’s credit card to bid high enough. That one’s his favorite. It has a knot that swells when you lock down on it. He bought me one. It’s amazing.”

“Okay, I—“ Quentin wanted to leave because his pants were getting uncomfortably tight and he was getting embarrassingly flushed but they were in his room.

 

Eliot came back five days later looking exhausted but pleased. It was a good look on him. It was clear he was tired from heat. He was clearly suffering the consequences of near nonstop sex for those five days.

He was walking slower. He sat down more carefully. His lip was busted for some reason. His speech was the same as it always was but carried a little note that gave way to how he was tired.

He had a habit of sighing and giving small little happy noises when he found a comfortable position to rest in. Those little noises haunted Quentin. They played on repeat in his mind.

It wasn’t necessarily in a sexual way, though that had definitely occurred. It was mostly in the daydream sense of “I wish I could be the cause of those sounds.” He wished he could be the cause of the happy little sigh Eliot made when he settled into the couch cushions or the content groan he made when he rolled his neck back and it actually popped.

It didn’t help that he could feel his rut coming closer and closer. Margo’s heat was also coming, not synced with Eliot’s but very close to being so. That led to an interesting conversation.

“When are you due?” Margo asked.

He turned to her, almost unsure she was talking to him. “What?”

“Your rut,” she explained like it was the most obvious thing in the world when she had just grabbed this topic out of thin air. “When is it due?”

“Like two weeks.”

“My heat is due in a week and a half. You think if you spent it with me it’d be true heat or just a sympathy one?” she asked.

“It’d be a true heat if he was with you within an hour of you going into heat,” Eliot told her. “If you want to be one the safe side, I’d recommend denning together for the week before but it’s so close, I don’t think you’d need to.”

Margo cocked her head towards Eliot and blew him a kiss, “What would I do without you?”

Eliot mocked catching the kiss then blew her one of his own. She puckered her lips in response. Then she turned back to Quentin.

“So you wanna do this thing together or not?” she asked.

That was how Quentin ended up in Margo’s nest every night for the week leading up to her heat.

“I’ve never spent a heat or rut with someone before,” Quentin admitted quietly in the night. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.”

Margo held onto him tighter. They’d started out laying facing away from each other but she curled around him at a point he didn’t care about enough to remember. Her hand rubbed at his abdomen.

“We’re gonna be so high on hormones that all we’re gonna think about is having sex with each other, Q. Can’t really mess that up,” she told him.

When it came, even though Quentin was expecting it, it felt like it came out of nowhere. One moment he was fine and then he caught a whiff of Margo’s strong scent, more lime now than coconut when it was normally evenly balanced, and as soon that happened his mind glazed over.

He didn’t like the feeling of going into a rut. He’s sure he liked it no more than Margo liked going into heat. It felt like he had no choice. He was still in control. He still thought his thoughts but he had no choice. He had to have sex or he would (get pregnant, not really, and) die.

It blurred the lines of consent that made his stomach twist. However, he and Margo had both consented beforehand so it was fine. They were just friends helping each other out. It didn’t have to mean anything. Margo made that clear. She just saw this as a solid between friends so he was willing himself to do that too.

Margo had pounced on him before he got the chance. She had gone into heat before he’d gone into a rut though so it made sense.

She rolled over on the bed in the middle of her forcing him to watch Game of Thrones and cupped his face between her hands and pulled him into a kiss. He let her lead. She rolled onto her back and dragged him so he hovered above her.

“I need it, Q,” she said, with only the slightest bit of composure still left within her being.

He gave it to her. For five days Quentin and Margo could do little other than have sex. There were small breaks where one of them could get up and open the door long enough to swipe what Eliot had left outside for the two of them.

Despite being knotted inside Margo, he found his nose constantly gravitating to the things in her nest which smelled like Eliot. At one point she called him out on it.

They’re rolled over on their sides. Her leg was hitched over his hip so she didn’t have to feel the tug of him inside her and simply him inside her. They were waiting for the knot to deflate which could take anywhere between ten minutes and a goddamn hour.

“You really like him, don’t you?” she asked.

Quentin blinked several times. “Margo, we just had sex. We’ve had sex for the past two days. I’m tired and I don’t have the brain capacity for random conversation. What are you talking about?”

She smiled. Her eyes held a smugness the rest of her didn’t really have in this moment. Still, despite being completely nude without hair styling or makeup, she still looked every bit as confident as she always did.

“Eliot, stupid,” she said simply. “Every time we’ve waited out a knot you’ve stuck your nose into something that’s his.”

He glanced down at the soft, silky fabric that was underneath his face that he’d been inhaling deeply and it was too big to be Margo’s. It also didn’t smell like Margo. No coconut or lime came from it. It was purely peaches and vanilla, purely Eliot.

“Do we really have to have this conversation right now?” he asked as he felt blood rushing to his cheeks now that it wasn’t rushing to his dick.

“Yes, when else am I going to so successfully corner you?” He glared at her and she laughed. “I’m serious though. I need to know your intentions with El before I let you anywhere near him romantically.”

He closed his eyes and sighed, “Was this all just a ploy?”

“Maybe,” Margo said, drawing out the vowels in a playful manner. Her voice regained its serious tone, “But really. I need to know.”

“I like Eliot,” he admitted with his eyes still closed because he didn’t think he could have this conversation normally while looking at Margo, much less with his dick still inside her. “I like him a lot. It would be nice to be something more but if friends is all he wants to be then that’s all we’re gonna be.”

Margo placed her hand on his arm. “Okay,” she said softly. “You’re a good person, Q.”

He opened his eyes. He was a little confused as to what led that to be what she said but when he looked at her all he saw was honestly. “Thanks.”

She smiled at him before she moved forward just a bit and pulled him into a kiss. This one was different compared to their other kisses. It wasn’t sex fueled with a primal need neither really wanted to have. Instead it was emotion fueled with words they couldn’t really say nor could they really decipher.

When they emerged from Margo’s room, having had more sex in the span of five days than Quentin had had in his entire life, things had changed between them. It wasn’t in an awkward way that Quentin had feared though. It was more so like they understood each other now, like they’d really, truly connected emotionally not just physically. He felt like he knew Margo, the real Margo not simply the persona, even better than he had before.

He wasn’t sure if the same could be said for Margo. Quentin was an open book compared to Margo. He didn’t really hide things. He didn’t have a good poker face outside of poker so he really couldn’t hide things well, much less from his friends.

“There are my two favorite people,” Eliot said when he saw them emerge after thorough showers. “You have fun?”

“Mmm-hmm.”

Margo fell into Eliot’s open arms and stood on her tippy toes so she could press her lips to his. He wrapped his arms around her and swayed back and forth while she buried her nose in his chest.

“Did you get out the ropes?” Eliot asked. Quentin flushed. “It’s okay. You can tell me. I won’t judge.”

Margo moved her head and tilted it in Quentin’s direction. She gave him a once over that left him squirming.

“He’d need the ribbons, not the ropes. He’s too delicate,” she said.

Eliot’s face split into a huge grin that Quentin caught right before he hid his head in his hands. “You’re right. He’s merely a delicate flower. We can’t risk breaking his beautiful petals.”

“I was going to eat but now I’m too mortified,” Quentin muttered.

He went to exit the kitchen but his wrist was caught by Eliot. Eliot rubbed his thumb over the gland there, seemingly subconsciously, scenting him in the process. The simple motion made Quentin melt which caused him to stumble because he was already walking on jelly legs. Eliot reeled him close and tucked him under his free arm.

“Don’t think you’re going anywhere,” he said. “I timed my cooking damn near perfectly so I’d be almost done when you two got finished and now you’re going to sit down and appreciate it.”

Quentin risked a glance up at Eliot. It was a mistake when Eliot looked at him with a playfully hard gaze and a raised eyebrow that was really hot. He looked down and ended up seeing Margo’s knowing smile. He closed his eyes.

Eliot led him to a chair and nudged him to sit down. Quentin let him. Eliot appeared mere moments later with a plate he sat in front of Margo then Quentin and then one for himself.

“I didn’t know your favorite recovery meal but I knew Margo’s so huevos rancheros it is,” Eliot said. “Tell me next time and I’ll make it.”

Quentin shook his head. “No, this is perfect. Thank you.”

Margo raised an eyebrow. “You’re gonna turn down Eliot’s cooking?” she asked, sounding almost offended on Eliot's behalf.

“No, it’s not— I just don’t want you to go through the trouble,” Quentin said in a quick attempt to fix his mistake.

Eliot reached over and grabbed Quentin’s wrist. His fingers were delicately gripping that scent gland again. “But I want to,” Eliot told him.

After their late breakfast or early lunch (depending on which way one wanted to look at it), Quentin found himself cornered by Julia. She had a wide smile on her face.

“So, how was your first time with someone?” she asked.

He rolled his eyes and brushed past her to continue his way to the library (just because he’d missed classes didn’t mean he had no work to do). “You make it sound like I’m a virgin,” he told her.

“You know what I meant,” she said. When he stayed silent, she groaned, “Come on, Q! I told you about my first time with someone while in heat. Give me the details!”

“I remember specifically asking you not to tell me those details, Jules,” he said.

She latched into his arm. “You’re not fun,” she said with an over exaggerated pout. “We’re still going to your dad’s over break, right?”

“As far as I’m aware,” he told her.

 

It was a day before he was going to leave for his father’s and he’d just gotten back to the cottage after class. Eliot knocked into him seemingly on accident, spilling. . . water all over his shirt.

“Oh, no,” Eliot said, completely monotoned. “I guess you have to change now.”

Quentin narrowed his eyes as he looked at Eliot. Eliot smiled, innocent as can be and fluttered his eyelids between opened and closed with his hands clasped in front of him.

He looked down at Quentin’s water stained shirt. “Can I have it?” he asked.

“What?”

“Your shirt. You need to go change. Can I have the shirt you’re wearing?” he asked.

“Why would you— oh.”

Nesting, denning, whatever! Eliot wanted something with Quentin’s scent to add to his den. Quentin felt himself flush as the realization came to him.

“Um, yeah, sure,” he told Eliot. “You could have just asked. You didn’t have to spill water on me.”

Eliot smiled, almost preened. “Well, then I wouldn’t be able to do this.”

Quentin didn’t get to question what Eliot meant because his hands were already gripping the bottom of his henley. He pulled it up and over Quentin’s head with an ease and grace Quentin could have never managed. His blush went down to splot his chest.

He heard Margo wolf whistle despite the fact that she’d already seen him like this and in less. “Looking good, Q!” she yelled.

He went to wrap his arms around himself but stopped when Eliot placed a gentle hand on his upper arm. Eliot took a moment to give Quentin a long, appreciative once over before he met Quentin’s eyes. He gave a playful wink before he spun around and trotted up the stairs like a dog with a bone.

Quentin could do nothing but stare after him until he disappeared from view. As soon as Eliot was gone from his line of sight, Quentin was distinctly aware that he was in the middle of the cottage shirtless.

He wrapped his arms around himself and did a brief look around. For the most part, it was empty save for Margo and a couple students who had gone back to doing whatever it was they’d been doing. Margo’s eyes weren’t the only ones still on him though. When he met her eyes she raised a singular, perfectly done eyebrow. When he met Todd’s eyes, he blushed and scurried the other way. Quentin followed his lead mere moments after.

He finished packing and left with Julia to go to his father’s. He did his best to not think about his article of clothing that Eliot now possessed. He did his best to not think about what that meant.

He greeted his father with a hug and so began his stay.

Despite it being winter break, Quentin hadn’t come to visit his father for Christmas. They didn’t really celebrate the holiday. It was simply spent enjoying the day off and spending time with each other. It wasn’t special. It was just them.

Most days were spent watching reruns of movies while half paying attention to them. All movies they’d seen a dozen times before and could easily fall into watching mid scene. They were watching 9 to 5 when Ted managed to pry some information about Quentin’s friends out of him, not that it was hard.

“I’m pretty sure that’s illegal, son,” Ted said as Quentin finished his non magical version of his experiences with Mayakovsky. “Did you report it?”

“Yeah.” No. “I did. His contract ends soon so they’re looking for someone to take his place before he retires.” That was pulled right out of his ass. “Besides, after everything was okay. Alice and I don’t talk outside of class anyway and when we got back Eliot was there to help do damage control.”

“This Eliot,” his father said as he leaned close with his hands folded, “you talk about him a lot. You two close?”

Quentin nodded, “Yeah, we’re friends.” He paused. “Good friends.”

“So, what did he do for damage control?“

Shit. Quentin had momentarily forgotten that what Eliot had done was a very intimate sign of trust and comfort and based on that look of knowledge carefully disguised as interest, his father already had an idea. Fuck. There was no avoiding it now.

He chose his words carefully. “He was having a shitty day anyway and Margo wasn’t there so he just decided to kill two birds with one stone and I spent the night in his room.”

Ted’s eyebrows rose up high. “Is that so?”

“Don’t,” he said sternly. “We didn’t do anything and even if we did I wouldn’t tell my father. We just slept. El is a touchy person. It’s how he shows he cares.”

“If you say so. You do know him better than me, Curly Q.”

“What does Q know better than you?” Julia asked as she closed the door behind her, having spent the day out and about.

“Nothing, Jules.”

“His friend Eliot.”

Julia’s face broke out in a grin at Eliot’s name.

“No, Jules. We’re just friends,” Quentin reminded her for what must have been the hundredth time, though all the other times were spoken as reasons to not act on his feelings.

Julia rolled her eyes. “Yeah. Uh-huh. ‘Just friends’ don’t ‘accidentally’ spill water on their friend’s shirts so they can literally tug off said shirt and steal it for their den, Q.”

“Okay, that’s n—“ He couldn’t even say that wasn’t what happened because that was exactly what happened.

He spared a glance at Ted. He had a smaller, more subtle expression of shock which spoke to how surprised he was to hear that.

“How do you know that?” he settled on saying.

“I have eyes in places,” Julia said. “It was a rather public spectacle. People talk.”

“Exactly. It was a public spectacle. He likes the attention,” Quentin said and even to his ears it was a weak excuse.

“I’ve been telling him to make a move since school began,” Julia said as she walked closer to where Quentin and Ted were sitting. “He’s under the impression that it’ll ruin their friendship but just friends don’t make their friends their favorite drink every time they’re behind a bar—“

“Eliot makes you drinks,” Quentin cut in.

“Yeah, but only when I ask. He does that for you in auto pilot,” Julia refuted. “They also don’t invite you into their dens. They don’t cook your favorite meals. They don’t spend hours helping you with homework when they barely do their own. They don’t fucking scent you all the time.”

“He doesn’t do that,” Quentin said.

Julia turned from listing off reasons to Ted to focusing her attention onto Quentin. “He is constantly petting your hair or grabbing your wrist or up by your shoulder near your neck or your actual fucking neck. Q, in the couple months you two have known each other, I'm pretty sure he’s scented you more than I have, especially since you and Margo,“ she cut herself off and looked at Ted before she chose her words carefully, the meaning clear as day because of her pause, “helped each other out.”

“We’re all just friends, Jules,” Quentin repeated for what had to be the thousandth time. “We’re friends and I’m not gonna fuck that up because of a crush that’ll go away eventually.”

“I don’t know,” Ted cut in. “If what Julia says is right and, no offense, Curly Q, but I’m gonna take her word over yours right now, then it sounds like he might be willing to try a relationship with you, whatever that looks like. At the very least, it seems like he cares about you enough for it to not cause a rift between you.”

“Thank you! Have I told you how much I love you, Ted?” Julia asked.

Quentin sank further in his seat.

At the beginning, he’d been excited to see his dad. Near the end he was ready to leave because Julia ended up conspiring with Ted on ways of courtship. Quentin hated them both deeply.

When he got back, Eliot and Margo were curled up on the couch together, talking about who knows what. Quentin felt himself instantly relax when he saw the duo. Eliot’s head perked up.

“Quentin! You’re back,” he said with a radiant smile.

Quentin held up his small bag he’d packed to take with him. “I’m back,” he echoed.

Margo said something Quentin could exactly make out but whatever it was, Eliot reacted to it by swatting at her. He stood from the couch, abandoning whatever it was he was working on, and walked towards Quentin.

He pulled Quentin in for a hug. Quentin wrapped his arms around his middle and buried his nose in Eliot’s vest. He took a moment to just breathe.

“How was your dad?” Eliot asked.

“Good. Fine. It was—“ Quentin groaned. “He and Julia hate me.”

Eliot’s hold on him got tighter. “What makes you think that?”

“They spent most of their time together conspiring against me, El. They wanted me to talk about my feelings,” he said.

Eliot mocked a shudder. “Awful. Truly terrifying.”

“Exactly. Thank you, El,” Quentin said as Eliot released him from his hold. “What did you and Margo do?”

“Oh, nothing really. We just went to a couple pubs, drank until we forgot our names, danced with strangers who were barely attractive enough to deserve it,” Eliot listed off.

Margo came up to Eliot from behind. “We did more than that,” she said, “but he was too busy mopping because his favorite boy wasn’t around to enjoy it.”

Eliot looked down at where she’d tucked herself under his arm, “I was not.”

“Yeah, you were,” she said simply. Then she grabbed both their hands and dragged them up the stairs, pausing only to allow Quentin to put his bag in his room. “Come on, Coldwater,” she said with impatience. “We have to catch up. Let’s go!”

Then she continued dragging them into Eliot’s room. She went straight to Eliot’s stash of alcohol, pulling Eliot with her as she let go of Quentin’s hand. Quentin was left twisting his hands, not sure what he should do while Margo bullied Eliot into making drinks.

As soon as Eliot handed Margo her drink, she went for his nest.

“Spill it and you’re cleaning it, Margo,” Eliot said as he made his way towards Quentin.

“You know I won’t,” she said as she settled into the nest. She patted beside her. “Come on, you two. Hurry, hurry.”

Quentin looked between the nest and Eliot. Eliot tilted his head towards it. “Come on,” he said. “I’m gonna hold onto this until you get settled though.”

Hesitantly, Quentin moved to sit beside Margo. She smiled and leaned into him.

“Yes, infect this omega space with your alpha pheromones,” she said with a playful grin.

Quentin eyed her as he reached to take the glasses from Eliot as he came in. Eliot also cuddled up next to Quentin, with one on either side.

Eliot took his drink from Quentin. “Thank you, kindly,” he said before he placed a small kiss to Quentin’s temple covered by his hair. Immediately Quentin’s face turned red. Eliot didn’t seem to notice and if he did he didn’t mention it. “So, what happened while you were gone? I want all the details.”

“There isn’t much to tell,” Quentin said honestly.

“Indulge us.”

So he did, conveniently leaving out any details of Julia grilling Ted for what different courting costumes looked like. Margo had her arm around Quentin’s shoulders while Eliot’s head rested on the opposite side of Quentin’s and his hands ran through his hair. This was. . . nice, really nice.

 

“So are you gonna tell me about the owner of this new scent you insisted on bringing into our heat den?” Oscar asked the day their heats finally came to a close. “It was an alpha scent. I could tell that much.”

Eliot buried himself in his (Oscar’s) robe, smiling as he thought about Quentin’s reaction to him asking. He had been far less dramatic about getting his scent this time.

Instead, they’d been doing their respective studying (because Eliot did have to pass his classes, after all) and Eliot just asked.

“Can I have some of your clothes or a pillow?”

Quentin looked up from his homework. “Um, yeah, sure. For your nest, right?”

Eliot smiled, almost embarrassed not that he’d admit it. He was Eliot Waugh, he didn’t get embarrassed. “Not exactly. It’s for when I go to Oscar in a couple weeks. We make a den together beforehand. I already have stuff for Margo but I don’t have anything for you. You’ll get it back but I wanted to use it for that.”

Quentin flushed a beautiful pink that stained his cheeks and splotched down his neck. “Oh, uh, yeah, sure. Do you want it now or wait?”

“No, I don’t need it now,” Eliot said and a silence fell between them once more.

A couple weeks later, a mere day before Eliot came to Oscar’s place, he knocked on Quentin’s door and asked if he could have those things now. He left with a pillow and a zip up jacket and a very flustered Quentin.

“He’s a friend and I did tell you that I was bringing an alpha scent this time so don’t act so surprised,” Eliot said to Oscar.

He swallowed his mouthful. “Just friends don’t get to be in the den, especially alpha friends. I allowed it this time without too much questioning beforehand, now I want answers.”

“His name is Quentin,” Eliot said. “He’s a new student. It’s his first year. I was his welcome comity. We hit it off. We’ve been friends ever since.”

“Short and sweet,” Oscar said. “That’s not normal for you though, especially with alphas.”

Eliot rolled his eyes. “Yeah, my family was filled with grade A assholes and a lot of the men were alphas. It makes me wary, I’ll admit it, but Quentin is different.”

“How so?”

“He’s nice and sweet. He’s clumsy. God, he’s clumsy. A high strung super nerd. He’s not like most, most alphas anyway,” Eliot told him.

“Sounds like you might have feelings,” Oscar said with the smallest tilt of his voice.

“Oh, god, not you too,” Eliot said. “Margo’s been up my ass about this all year.”

“Well, if Margo’s been on you then my point is just further confirmed,” Oscar said.

“I hate you both,” Eliot said as he slid further into his seat and pulled the pillow that smelled like Quentin which had been in his lap up to his chest.

Eliot didn’t really hate them. They both knew that. They had to since Eliot was around and tolerated them so much, even when it led to him being in very uncomfortable positions.

An example being with his long legs being crammed into Margo’s half den. Last year there’d been enough room for him to find a position to sit comfortably. Now there was not.

There was no longer just Margo’s scent. There was also his own. Even then, he’d found a position. Now she’d stuffed stolen clothes from Quentin (because she couldn’t just ask, though Eliot was fairly sure Quentin knew where his clothes had gone) behind pillows and draped them over them like cases. Several pieces were tangled with the blankets that separated them from the floor. It would be fine if there was just a foot more in the enclosure.

Eliot didn’t mind the new scents in her den. He really enjoyed the fact that so much of Quentin’s honey and plum smell was put in such a small space, but with more things there was less room for them.

She was laying on him, settled in his lap with her tablet in her hand. An episode of Gossip Girl played on the screen. Her arm not propped on her knees reached up to wrap around Eliot’s shoulders with her hands in his hair. He pulled her closer.

“I love you,” he whispered into her hair.

She turned to him. She had a hint of bemusement in her eyes but she didn’t question his words. Instead she pressed a kiss to his lips and then restored her head against his jaw.

He didn’t need her to voice her emotions. He knew it was something she was uncomfortable with. Unlike him, she didn’t need to say the words otherwise she’d implode. Instead she showed it through actions, most of the time.

“I’m not the only one who loves you,” Margo said. Her fingernails scratched his scalp in a way that had him sighing pleasantly. She knew what she was doing. She knew she was working him boneless. “You should tell him.”

“Bambi,” he said, voice hard and a warning as he still leaned into her touch.

“I’m telling you, it’d do both of you good,” she said. “I’m getting tired of the ‘will they won’t they’ shit.”

“And I’m telling you, I’m not going to destroy a perfectly good friendship over feelings.”

“You don’t.”

“How do you know that?”

“I just do.” Margo turned her head so she could look at him and vice versa. “You gotta trust me on this one, El.”

 

Quentin was in a depressive episode. He had seen it coming but every time he didn’t know what to do to make it better. Even reading his books didn’t help him. He just felt awful, useless. He couldn’t even sleep.

That’s why at five in the morning, he was in the kitchens. He wasn’t an amazing cook but he could be decent. Especially when it was something he’d been making since he was twelve or he at the least had a recipe to go by.

He found himself cutting up peaches and placing them in the freezer. He then got out pancake mix and bacon as well as eggs. It was hard to mess those things up.

He turned on the stove. He got out a single pan. He could already hear Eliot’s gasp of horror but he couldn’t find it in himself to really care. The thought almost brought a smile to his lips.

He buttered the pan and cracked the eggs. When they were done, he put them on a plate but it seemed like too much for just him, especially now when his appetite was as low as it was, so he put it on two. When he made the pancakes a similar problem arose so he did the same thing. He committed purposefully to two plates when he made the bacon because he might as well make two full plates.

When he was done with that, he took the peaches out of the freezer. Out of the refrigerator he got out milk and yogurt. He searched the cabinets for honey, vanilla, and cinnamon. He measured everything out then put it in the blender.

He hadn’t known why but he’d been craving a peach smoothie for the past couple days. He could only pass it off as depression cravings until a tired Eliot came down the stairs and his nose was hit with vanilla and peaches.

He felt like he was gonna be sick now. He braced himself on the counter and closed his eyes. Taking deep breaths didn’t really help. It both calmed him and made him spiral more.

Fuck.

Eliot entered the kitchen. He stretched while he yawned. His robe’s tie, a pink one this time, loosened and showed off his torso. Quentin had to look away as the urge to tangle his hands in Eliot’s chest hair while buying his face in the crook of his neck hit him so hard he stumbled backwards.

“You’re up early,” Eliot said as he began practiced motions to make himself a cup of coffee.

“More like up late,” Quentin corrected. “Couldn’t sleep.”

Eliot turned to look at him with slightly furrowed eyebrows and the beginning of a pout. “I have some Ambien if you need some,” he said.

“I, uh, thanks.”

“Of course, anything for you, Q,” Eliot said before he went to the fridge for creamer. “You cooked,” he stated with something resembling suspicion coming into his voice.

“Again, couldn’t sleep,” Quentin said with the sound of Eliot’s spoon mixing his coffee, occasionally hitting the sides of his cup accompanying his voice.

“For two?l

“Accident.”

Eliot hummed. Then he took a sip of his coffee and his eyes rolled back as he melted. He quickly regained his composure.

“Mind if I take the second plate?” he asked.

“No, go ahead.”

Quentin tried not to make it obvious he was trying to gauge Eliot’s reactions. Eliot was the cook of the cottage and he was good at it. He had a weird possessiveness over the kitchen. He was normally peeking his head in if someone tried to make something more complex than a sandwich. Quentin had found himself surprised when Eliot didn’t do just that as soon as Quentin came into the kitchen.

“Good,” Eliot said. “I have notes but it’s good.”

“You’re gonna tell me you have notes and then just not list them?” Quentin asked.

Eliot smiled down at his plate. “I was baiting you,” he said in a hushed voice. “You made your pancake batter too thin so they’re not fluffy, they’re flat. You didn’t use enough butter for the pancakes but you used too much for the eggs. You cooked your eggs too long and your bacon not long enough but it is good, Quentin. Not perfect but good.”

“That’s the best I was, honestly,” Quentin said with a small, self deprecating huff of a laugh.

Eliot reached out and lightly shoved his shoulder. “Not all of us can be me.”

“One of you is more than enough.”

“Oooh, kitten’s got claws,” Eliot said. “But as usual, you’re probably right.”

Eliot’s eyes lingered on Quentin as his smile stayed on his face. Quentin felt the need to grab Eliot’s wrist so he could rub his thumb along the scent gland there. He settled on picking up his abandoned smoothie instead. This time he didn’t feel like he was going to throw up when the peach flavor hit his tongue. He couldn’t place what was different this time.

The next time he went to the city with Julia, he found a tumbler. Eliot had said in passing he needed a new one. Quentin didn’t think anything when he bought it. After that it was purposefully making dinner (something easy, it had been turkey wraps) for a tired Eliot. Then he found himself spending more time in Eliot’s den with him and reading books aloud.

It’d been when he was shopping for more clothes (knowing they were going to be stolen by Margo or “borrowed” by Eliot to never be returned and with that specifically in mind) that he questioned himself.

“What am I doing?”

Julia looked at him from where she was fingering a sweater. “Shopping,” she said.

“No, I—“ he stopped, paused, hesitated. He went on, “I got Eliot a tumbler and I made him dinner and I’m constantly in his den reading to him and now I’m shopping for clothes, picking out textures I know he likes because I want him to take them. What am I doing?”

Julia smiled that small, humorous smile of hers that she tried and always failed to hold back. “You’re courting him, dummy.”

He felt his brain short circuit. “What?”

“You’re courting him. You know, it’s when you—“

“I know what courting is,” he said, cutting her off. “But don’t you— I don’t know— have to be aware that you’re courting someone to court someone?”

She continued to smile that smile while she reached out to tuck some of his hair behind his ear. “No,” she said, her hand now resting on his shoulder. She only let him blink befuddled for a moment before she turned to the racks of clothes, “So clothes Eliot would want to steal?”

And taking his clothes is what Eliot did. Quentin looked up at him as Eliot focused on the fabric between his fingers.

“I should probably give at least some of your clothes back if I’m going to keep taking them,” Eliot said.

Quentin shook his head. “No, keep ‘em. I just,” his voice trailed off as he lost his nerve. He looked down at his hands as he began to wring them. “Can I maybe get something in return?”

He could feel Eliot’s eyes on him now. “Of course, anything.”

“Anything?”

“Anything.”

He looked up at Eliot again. He felt a blush work its way to his face slowly. He rocked back and forth on his feet. He would almost lean up enough but then he’d lose his nerve and back away. He did this several times but Eliot was patient.

“So, what is it you want, Coldwater?” Eliot asked.

And maybe it was his imagination, maybe Quentin was seeing things but he could almost swear that he saw Eliot’s eyes flicker down to his lips. That is what gave him the courage to finally commit to what his heart wanted but his mind was afraid of.

He steadied himself by placing a hand on Eliot’s chest as he leaned up. He pressed their lips together. It was short and chaste. It was merely a second of contact but it felt like so much longer

He settled back down on flat feet and gave Eliot a small, almost shy smile. It was definitely an embarrassed one.

Eliot returned Quentin’s smile with one of his own. His was more pleased, more certain.

He took a step forward. He wrapped his hand around Quentin’s neck, just skirting the scent glands there, and leaned down as he pulled Quentin up. Their lips met for much longer this time. Quentin had time to cherish the feel of Eliot’s soft lips against his almost chapped ones and the warmth his body provided while still being cooler than his own.

“So do you want to— I don’t know— go get a drink sometime?” Quentin asked, dazed.

Eliot laughed as his forehead came to rest against Quentin’s. His voice came out far more grounded and steady than Quentin’s but just as breathless, “I’d love that.”

They did go for a drink. Eliot annoyed Margo asking her for opinions on his outfit. He settled on a golden colored satin shirt with black slacks. He debated for several minutes whether or not he should pair it with a vest. Margo decided for him.

She walked over to him holding a deep plum colored vest. He put it on. She unbuttoned his shirt just enough that some of his chest hair peeked through which perfectly coincided with the beginning of the vest so unbuttoning it further would be in vain. She grabbed several rings and slid them on his fingers. Then she helped him apply eyeliner, not that he needed her help. Still, the act was appreciated.

“So, where are you taking him?” Margo asked as she blended out his eye makeup.

“The Nightingale.”

Margo’s movements halted. She was silent for a moment. She continued on, “That’s a big step, El. It took you five months to take me there.”

“And I’ve known Quentin for nearing a year,” Eliot said. “I do have people aside from you in my life, Bambi, loathe as I am to admit it. I think they should meet him.”

“They’ll be fools if they don’t like him.”

“But I feel like they will.”

The Nightingale was small with an almost natural antique feel to it. All the tables were all made of unpolished wood. The seats were all light pinks, blues, and browns. The lights were dim as wide windows provided natural sun to light most of the area inside.

A woman, short with a round face, dark brown skin, mint green braids which formed a bun at the top of her head, and a scent that smelled so familiar but Quentin couldn’t place it, came up to the table. Her gaze lingered on Eliot as smiled wide revealing a small gap between her front teeth. Then she eyed Quentin.

“I’m Joana, I’ll be your server today,” she said with a small lisp coating her words. “What can I get you started with?”

Her eyes stayed on Eliot and Quentin the entire time they were there. When Quentin got up to go to the bathroom, she ran over to the table.

“Who is that?” she asked.

“Quentin.”

Her eyes widened and her mouth fell open just a bit. “The Quentin? The one that you won’t shut up about every time I see you? That’s him?”

“Yes.”

“Oh, my god, El!” she said as she hit him lightly with hands which had baby blue painted fingernails. “You can’t just spring that on me. I’m supposed to give him a shovel talk. I don’t have one prepared.”

“And that is exactly why I didn’t tell you,” Eliot said. “Don’t scare him off.”

Joe put her hands on her hips. “I wasn’t going to scare him off. I was just going to give him. . . motivation to stay around longer.”

Eliot rolled his eyes.

“What? Those are two very conflicting things,” Joe said.

“They’re really not.”

Quentin came out of the bathroom. Joe didn’t run back to her post. Instead she turned to him and met his eyes challengingly causing him to slow down and look between the two.

“What’s going on?” Quentin asked, his hands half raised in surrender and as a sign of peace.

Joe pointed her pen at him. “You’re Quentin Coldwater,” she said accusingly.

Quentin looked back at Eliot who was looking at Joe with amused disapproval. “Yes,” he said slowly.

“Hurt El and Margo won’t be the only person you need to worry about,” Joe said with a step forward. “I swear to god, hurt him and I will cut your dick off with a spoon.”

Quentin’s eyes widened and Eliot’s narrowed. “Is that an Uncle reference?” he asked her.

Joe waved Eliot off. “I didn’t have time to prepare for this.”

As they left (Quentin’s dick still intact and far from any spoons), Quentin couldn’t help but ask, “Who was that?”

“Joana or Joe Bassett,” Eliot told him.

Quentin’s eyes widened for the second time in the past hour as he put the name from Eliot’s stories to a face. Then his brows furrowed and his lips formed a small pout.

“You made her sound smaller,” he said.

Eliot laughed.

On Eliot’s birthday, Quentin found himself hearing two more shovel talks, one more aggressive than the other, from Oscar Perez and Andhera Najah. Andhera’s had been more of a soft threat than Oscar’s. Regardless, Quentin didn’t think he’d have the ability to meet Oscar’s eyes. How did one go about looking into the eyes of a man who they first saw via online adult videos? Quentin would like to know.

 

They’d been dating for a few weeks and Quentin cherished every moment of it. However, he hadn’t assumed what Eliot had. He had been under the impression that he’d go through his rut alone.

His and Margo’s schedules hadn’t lined up again. It was likely due to the unpredictability Quentin’s ruts could have due to his depression, anxiety, and the medicine he was once again taking. He’d missed his last rut. This time he and Margo were a month apart. He and Eliot were a month and a half.

The subject was brought up when they were laying in Eliot’s den studying. Eliot had his book resting on his thighs as one hand gripped his pencil. Quentin had leaned into Eliot’s shoulder with Eliot’s arm wrapped around his own shoulders and his free hand playing in his hair. Eliot leaned his head against Quentin’s.

After an inhale he asked, “Your rut is coming up soon. Do you want to be in here or in your bedroom?”

Quentin tensed up. He hadn't even realized his rut was coming. Too many symptoms overlapped with symptoms of his mental illnesses and he missed ruts too often to think of it as a first cause. The only reason he’d known he was going to have a rut that timed with Margo’s heat was because knowing when Eliot had been in heat plus all the days after seemed to trigger Quentin’s rut.

“I didn’t know my rut was coming,” Quentin said honestly.

“It’s still a couple days off,” Eliot said. “I just noticed the waxy notes and over ripeness of your scent start to spike. It’s subtle. I probably wouldn’t notice if I wasn’t around you so much.”

“Oh,” was all Quentin said.

Because what was he supposed to say? “I thought I’d be spending my rut alone with toys.” “I thought I’d be in my room because no way in hell am I using the Brakebills supplied heat and rut rooms. They’re too clinical and just thinking about them gives me hospital flashbacks.” “I didn’t think you would want to spend my rut with me despite being my boyfriend.” None of those sounded right.

Eliot’s nails scraped his scalp. “Q, talk to me,” he said.

Quentin must have been silent longer than he thought for Eliot to say that with a hint of worry seeping into his tone and smell.

“Sorry, I just, um,” he floundered for what to say, “I didn’t— I kind of thought I’d be alone.”

Eliot’s fingers in his hair immediately came to an abrupt halt. “Oh. . . Sorry, you don’t have to spend it with me. I didn’t mean to assume but my question still stands. As atrocious as your room decor is, I wouldn’t mind a couple days hauled up in there.”

Quentin moved his hand to gently push down on Eliot’s wrist, scenting him in the process. Eliot’s hand began to work through his hair again.

“No, it’s not that. I just— I’d really like to spend it with you,” Quentin said. “I just don’t think I realized that having a boyfriend meant I didn’t have to spend it alone until now.”

Eliot relaxed beneath him. “Oh, well, my offer still stands.”

Four days later, they were in Eliot’s nest with excuses from class. Eliot had been reacting to the signs of Quentin’s rut with a sympathy heat.

Unlike with Margo, he was eased into this rut. Maybe it was because it came naturally but unlike with others, Quentin didn’t feel itchy and like he had to crawl out of his skin.

When it started, he was already kissing Eliot. He would lean to press his lips to Eliot’s and Eliot would pull back with a heated gaze. He made Quentin work for it. He made him chase after his lips and he rewarded Quentin when he caught them.

The rut hit him while they were kissing. Clothes were too much now. He unbuttoned Eliot’s shirt only halfway with fumbling movements before Eliot pulled back to finish the rest. Quentin used this opportunity to pull off his shirt and get stuck because of course he did. Eliot helped him get it off and then he was kicking off his pants and pulling down Quentin’s.

Eliot hovered over Quentin. He grabbed his hands and pinned them above his head into the mattress. He surged upward to kiss Quentin as he did so. Slowly he started to grind against Quentin causing him to whimper into Eliot’s mouth. With each movement of Eliot’s hips, Quentin felt precome being smeared against his skin and his dick getting the most teasing touches from Eliot’s own.

He squeezed Quentin’s wrist as he pulled away from the kiss, dragging Quentin’s lower lip between his teeth until it was released.

“Stay,” he said in a voice so commanding that it could challenge any alpha Quentin had heard before and win easily.

Eliot sat up. He straddled Quentin’s legs as he reached behind him. His eyes fluttered closed and his mouth opened ever so slightly with the smallest of sighs as he fingered himself. He did this for several minutes and Quentin watched with fascination, cataloging every expression and every noise.

He wanted to move. He wanted to sit up and kiss Eliot. He wanted to replace Eliot’s fingers with his own. He wanted to wrap his fingers around his dick to relieve himself of just the slightest bit of pressure. He didn’t though. He didn’t move for any reason that wasn’t breathing or blinking because Eliot told him not to.

With anyone else, with any other omega Quentin might have found himself spiraling because really? What kind of alpha was he if he let himself be commanded? That was not supposed to be what he did. It wasn’t proper. However, it was Eliot and he couldn’t find himself to care about anything but what Eliot was doing and what he wanted and he’d told Quentin to stay put so stay put he shall.

His hands glistened with slickness when he finally moved them into Quentin’s view. He wanted so badly to grab Eliot’s hand and drag it to his mouth. He wanted so badly to lick Eliot clean. He wanted so badly to taste him.

Eliot wrapped his hand around Quentin’s dick and smeared the slick over it. Quentin pushed up into Eliot’s touch. Eliot used his other hand to hold him down. He couldn’t hold in a small whimper.

Eliot shushed him. Hand still on his dick, Eliot leaned in to kiss him. Quentin savored the feel of his lips.

His hand left Quentin for a mere moment as he moved to a more comfortable position. Then he was guiding Quentin inside. His eyes rolled back as he was coaxed into the tightness of Eliot. Eliot moved up, hands coming to steady on Quentin’s stomach, and then down. He made small noises of his own that accompanied Quentin’s in the air.

It didn’t take long for Quentin’s knot to swell. The first wave was always the quickest but it was also the most intense.

This wasn’t like his toys or even Margo. His toys were cold and hard. Margo had been like fire, scalding hot and flexible. Eliot was like a warm embrace.

He found himself spilling inside Eliot mere seconds later. Though the knot did not deflate. It was to be expected however.

Eliot leaned down again. He kissed Quentin another time and reached up for his wrists. He scented Quentin as he rolled them onto their sides.

“You didn’t—“

Eliot cut him off, “If I expend all my energy now, I’m not going to be able to keep up later. Besides, I don’t need to.” He kissed Quentin again. Then he nuzzled into his neck, spreading his scent there, “This is more than enough, Q.”