Eli sighed and turned away from the window, towards the rest of the apartment, to give himself a little tour of the place. By now Quincy and Ruben had disappeared from sight and all the company that he had left was little Milo, who was contentedly napping in his arms. Occasionally his whiskers would twitch and he would let out a tiny mew, but otherwise the apartment was silent and still.
There were a lot of plants.
Elijah expected that to some degree but wasn't prepared for how much greenery greeted his eyes! Without realizing why, he laughed and although it still felt rusty, the muscles stiff from long disuse, it felt good. So like Quincy to be able to grow things to insane sizes! It was almost, but not quite, like magic.
He touched the broad leaves of a tomato plant and immediately the distinct, savory fragrance drifted up to greet him. There were strings of plump, green cherry tomatoes just underneath the leaves--not ready to eat yet, but Elijah would bet that once they turned ruby-red, they would be delicious. A long tray near the window had perky strawberry plants, with pretty-looking pink and white blossoms, and there were assorted herbs growing beside them, too.
Trailing his fingertips against the spiky leaves of a rosemary plant, Elijah sighed wistfully. He was reminded of all the times that he and Quincy used to cook together, before the Moribund. They did it for fun, occasionally for date nights, and even if neither of them were exactly professionals, it was enjoyable nonetheless. Just to be able to spend time together...
Little Milo wiggled in his arms and brought him out of his reverie. Elijah imagined that he must be hungry, so he spent a bit of time searching out the cans of tuna and mashing it down so that Milo could eat more easily. Crouched in the kitchen, watching Milo snapping up morsels from a plate, Elijah smiled to himself. It was miraculous how something as mundane as watching a kitten eating tuna could lift one's spirits. (Or maybe he was still thinking about the fact Quincy dreamed about him...)
When Milo was full, Elijah scooped him up and carried him into the bedroom, where he placed the small kitten onto Ruben's bed. (He could tell it was Ruben's because there were faded cat posters up on the walls, something that made Elijah smile again.) The other bed was Quincy's. Elijah hovered over it uncertainly; something kept him from sinking down onto the mattress. Glancing down at his ripped jeans and dirty t-shirt, he chewed at the inside of his cheek for some time, just staring, thinking.
Maybe... a quick shower? He didn't have a change of clothes but one of Ruben's t-shirts looked big enough to fit him, so a touch guiltily he extracted it from the pile and carried it into the bathroom with him. They wouldn't mind. Right? They were both happy to see him, earlier, and... and he didn't even know why he felt so awkward all of a sudden, being here without them. It didn't feel right, somehow. He felt a touch like an outsider, probably because it had been so long since he last saw either of them. They were all different. Ruben had sprouted like a weed--he was taller than Elijah now!
And Quincy... Well, Quincy was as gentle, as caring and warm and compassionate as ever.
Elijah showered quickly, using as little shampoo and soap as possible, not wanting to take advantage of their kindness by wasting anything. He felt almost completely human afterwards and hurried back into the bedroom after running a towel through his hair, just to make sure Milo hadn't gotten himself into trouble. Luckily the kitten had fallen asleep again, curled up on Ruben's pillow. (Leave it to a cat to find the most comfortable place to rest!)
Before climbing into Quincy's bed, Elijah went through his jeans pockets and pulled out a tiny baggie. There was one pale yellow pill inside, which he placed under his tongue. Not Chrono, just... something to help him rest better. Something that depressed the nightmares, the visions, the sounds that only he could hear inside his skull. Sighing, he laid his head onto the pillow and then turned his face into it. It smelled like Quincy.
Inexplicably, tears welled up in his eyes. He remembered this: this smell, this feeling from long, long ago, sneaking into Quincy's room and hiding under the covers with him, whispering and laughing and filled with the joys of a new, first love. Elijah had always held on to those memories to help him through this hellish landscape. Whenever he thought back to those days, he felt lighter and less burdened by the horrors of his new reality. Only he never thought he could have it back. The scent, the warmth enveloping his heart, even the knowledge that Quincy and Ruben were alive and well overwhelmed him.
Elijah didn't bawl out loud but it was a while before he got himself under control. Wiping the tears away with the heel of his palm, he was surprised to see Milo clambering up to cuddle with him. "Little cutie," he whispered against the curve of Milo's tiny head, kissing it fondly. Gradually he felt the drugs taking hold of him; it calmed the turbulent emotions that had crashed over him. Pulling Milo closer to his chest, Elijah closed his eyes but kept his face in the pillow. It smelled like Quincy...