Better

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Quentin had nothing new to share.

In the almost two years that had passed since he graduated from Brakebills, he'd done nothing good enough to brag about. All the issues and insecurities and things about himself he wished he could change were still a part of him. Well, he was better. He always reminded himself that he was better than he was but not good enough to brag.

He'd gotten for himself a quiet, stable existence working at an insurance company which was dull work but kept him entertained long enough to not go insane from the isolation and mundanity of the rest of his life. He still had Julia. A phone call away but never near enough he felt, Julia had settled into a comfortable life in upper Manhattan in an apartment often vacant as she spent her days at Brakebills teaching wide-eyed, hotheaded young Magicians like she and Quentin used to be. She was single and busy and important and she liked it that way.

Quentin lived alone.

In a house.

It was a big house which was his first mistake.

Fully furnished, procured with magic – except the utilities' bills which Quentin paid for himself because he felt guilty and also hated how much money he earned but didn't get to spend – the house was beautiful. But it always made Quentin a bit sad.

He'd come home and set his keys on the table by the door and the noise would rattle through the house, echoing off the walls. He would kick his shoes off and they'd clatter to the floor with two loud thumps, the sound echoing off the walls. He would cough, sneeze, clear his throat, and it would echo off the walls, a reminder that no one else lived here. He was all alone.

It's not like he hadn't tried. He'd dated here and there. There was Maggie. There was Jonathan. There were one-night stands.

There was Amelia.

She was nice, pretty, was and loved to be a librarian – the non-Magic, non-asshole-y kind. She went to Columbia, she liked fantasy and loved when Quentin talked over movies, explaining his favorite parts and the lore behind them. She mooned over him, she called him in the middle of the day to say she was thinking about him, she comforted and coddled who he was as a person, she gave Quentin every affirmation he'd yearned for over the years.


Then there was Eric who quite literally fell into Quentin's lap. Quentin was on the train home from work, so tired that it was one of the days where he was ecstatic he had no one waiting for him at home. He didn't want to be bothered with another human after the day of paper cuts and quotes and bullshit filings he'd had to sort through at the office. Then the train lurched, knocking several people off balance and sending Eric face first into Quentin's lap.

Quentin was crotchety, waved away the man's apology, allowed his brain to ignore the tell-tale signs of flirting and put his earbuds back in. But Eric, as Quentin would learn over the next three months of their relationship, was determined and ridiculously straightforward, and so he did not leave Quentin alone until he agreed to a dinner date. Eric did this, of course, with complete charm and respect and an annoying amount of charisma and by the time Quentin agreed, he was in a nicer mood and excited to see Eric again.

And he never stopped being excited to see him.

Quentin was happy.

He would come home to Eric waiting with food. He would come home to Eric presenting a new book he thought Quentin might like. He would come home to Eric upset, in a dark mood Quentin knew well, and Quentin would comfort him, care for him like he felt no one else could. Quentin came home and felt useful, felt needed, felt irreplaceable, felt loved. Quentin came home to someone.

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