A/N: Woohoo! Just over a month after the last update. I tried to finish it before the year ends, but you know, a slew of parties got in the way. I didn't plan on making this chapter very long, I just needed to… get things going, if that's the right phrasing. :)

And this is slightly random, but for some reason, one of my most asked questions is how tall Elliot is. Haha! And for some reason, a lot of you think he's a head shorter/a foot shorter than Quinn! No, he's not! I'm pretty sure I mentioned it in Chapter 3, that they're around the same height. :P

And on an even moooore random note, I saw Gaspard Ulliel at Paris Fashion Week. Check out my profile for the picture. ;)


QUINNTESSENTIAL

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO


The baby in Elliot's arms looked up at him with a guilty, almost sorry, look on its face as bits of Gerber Baby food trickled down his shirt and landed on the floor with a small squelch. But despite the bits of carrot and peas and many things Elliot didn't want to know trickling down his shirt, Elliot was frozen in his spot. His mind had been full of questions of 'What am I doing here? Is he even going to be here? What am I going to do if he won't be here? What am I going to do if he is?' but he hadn't expected he would need the answers so soon.

Quinn stood just a few feet away from him, his green eyes wide and matching the color of the leaves of the deep red geraniums he was holding. They stared at each other for what felt like ages, but couldn't have been more than a couple of seconds. Elliot's throat grew dry and he opened his mouth to say something –

"And what the hell happened to you?"

Suddenly, Elliot's view of Quinn was cut off as Rosh stepped in front of him, a vase of flowers in one arm while his other hand was set on his hip. He ran his eyes up and down Elliot, a look of pure disbelief on his face. He threw his free hand up in the air and gestured to Elliot. "I leave you alone for a minute – a minute, Elliot – and this happens!"

A warm blush enveloped Elliot's face. It was just like Rosh to not know who was standing beside them. He noticed the way Quinn's eyes turned to Rosh before turning back to him. Elliot cleared his throat. "Well, err, Valerie asked me to – "

"God, man, you're hopeless without me," Rosh muttered, rolling his eyes at him. "I'm surprise I don't see anything on fire."

Rosh turned around to Quinn and handed him the vase of geraniums. Quinn took it without saying anything and Rosh gave him an apologetic look. "Sorry about this, but I kinda have to help this guy out," he said, jerking a finger over his shoulder at Elliot's way. "He's sort of hopeless, you see."

Quinn's eyes flicked Elliot's way before turning back to Rosh. "Of course," he said slowly.

With that, Rosh turned around and grabbed Elliot by the collar – making sure not to touch the part with baby vomit – and dragged him to the nearest bathroom. Elliot glanced back to see Quinn watching the both of them, his eyebrows drawn together with an unreadable look on his face. But before Elliot could see anything else, Rosh pulled him into the bathroom.

"God, Elliot," Rosh said, heading to the sink and pulling some paper towels out of its box. "What the heck do you get yourself into?"

Silently, Elliot set the baby down by the sink. He couldn't believe his luck or rather, the sore lack of it. He quietly turned the faucet and wet the ends of some paper towels before dabbing them on the baby's cheeks and shirt, wiping off remains of its food. The baby looked up at him and Elliot could have sworn the look on his face read, 'How could you have frozen up at that moment?' but he was probably imagining it.

Rosh handed him the wet paper towels and Elliot took them, now wiping off the vomit on his neck and what he could wipe off on his shirt. Rosh shook his head. "I mean seriously, what if that Quinn guy had seen you? You're lucky he didn't. Wouldn't exactly be a great impression to make after not seeing each other for about a year."

Elliot looked up and looked at Rosh through the mirror. "He did see me."

Rosh looked up from the sink. His jaw fell. "Where was he?"

"The guy with you, holding the flower vase."

Rosh narrowed his eyebrows as he processed what Elliot was saying. His eyes widened and his eyebrows shot up. Rosh gaped at him. "That was the Quinn guy? That was him?"

"Yeah."

Rosh paused. "That guy's… gay?"Quietly, he leaned against the sink counter and ran a hand through his dark hair. "That's – "

"I know, kinda hard to believe – "

"AMAZING!" Rosh turned to Elliot with a wide, triumphant smile on his face as he punched a fist in the air. "Do you have any idea how great that is when gay guys start looking that handsome? It seriously cuts the competition for hopeless straights like us."

Elliot gave his flat mate a blank look. "Well, it's nice to see you've found a silver lining."

Rosh chuckled. He didn't say anything for a while before he pressed his lips together and furrowed his eyebrows, like he was trying to piece something together. He looked up at Elliot. "And he liked you?"

"Err… yeah?"

Rosh paused before he crossed his arms over his chest. He tilted his head to the side. "Are you sure it wasn't just… you know, pity or anything?"

Elliot looked up from his shirt. "What?"

"I mean, it's an honest question. Because… you know, you're a weaker being and all that?"

"Weaker being?"

"Yeah, you know," Rosh began, waving his hand as he went on. "Kinda like on Discovery Channel, when the cheetahs hesitate in killing the gazelle and play around with the gazelle for a while before killing it because they feel bad for it."

Besides the fact Rosh had mentioned Discovery Channel and it reminded Elliot that he needed to catch up on Mythbusters, he couldn't believe what Rosh was trying to imply. And that he was using Discovery Channel analogies to get his point across.

"So I'm the gazelle?"

Rosh raised his hands in the air in defense. "There's nothing wrong with being a gazelle, Elliot. After all, they're needed to cut the grass in the Masai Mara and stuff," he said, shrugging. "I'm just saying… on a scale of one to ten, that Quinn guy's easily a nine and a half – heck, maybe ten and a half. And you're…" Rosh paused as he stepped back and gave Elliot a quick once over. "I'd give you a solid six and three quarters. Sure, with your new haircut, I'll raise it to a seven."

Elliot flushed as he scratched the back of his head. He had gotten a new haircut months ago to give himself a more 'proper, professional' look. Also, he had gotten tired of his fringe getting in the way of his eyes. Now his hair was cropped at the sides and at the top, just a bit longer than a crew cut, but he felt he looked much cleaner. Also, the girls in their office seemed to like it, so he guessed it wasn't such a bad decision.

Dropping his hand from his hair, Elliot frowned at Rosh. "You do know you're supposed to be playing the part of a supportive friend, right?"

"Yeah, I know – "

"Well you're doing a horrible job." Elliot rolled his eyes as Rosh laughed. "You never should have tagged along."

Rosh laughed even more and clapped a hand over Elliot's shoulder. "I'm just saying, think about it for a bit, because if it's not true… you're probably just gonna embarrass yourself when you do… whatever it is you're gonna do. But if it is…" Rosh set his other hand on Elliot's other shoulder and positioned himself in front of Elliot. "Exactly what the heck did you do to make a guy like that be interested in you?"

Elliot gave his flat mate a dull look. "You have no idea how many times I've asked myself that same question."

Rosh nodded and stepped back. He glanced at the innocent looking baby before turning back to Elliot. "Alright, you stay here and I'll grab a shirt from the room. I don't want you carrying that baby around anymore in case it decides it wants to be some vomit spewing fountain again."

After washing his hands one last time, Rosh slipped out of the bathroom and left Elliot and the baby alone to head for their room. After making sure they were alone, Elliot glanced down at the baby before picking him up. He stared into the baby's dark eyes and whispered, "I'm not a gazelle, am I?"

Sure enough, the baby nodded. Yes, you are.

Elliot shook his head and looked away from the baby. "No, I just imagined that," he told himself.


After changing into a new shirt and wrapping one of the hand towels from their bathroom around the baby so it wouldn't be wearing its spoiled shirt, Elliot and Rosh proceeded back to the ballroom, bickering the entire way.

"I can't believe you forgot my tuxedo blazer at the apartment," Elliot muttered, shaking his head and glancing down at the baby. He tucked the baby's arms underneath the towel in case he was getting cold and pressed the baby closer to his chest to make him warm.

"Hey, at least it's just the suit jacket," Rosh said back, rolling his eyes. "I forgot my pants. At least you can go around without a jacket – how the heck am I supposed to go around without pants?"

Alright, so maybe Rosh was in the worse position. Elliot nodded. "Okay, so what does that mean? We're gonna have to go out and rent a tuxedo – and split it?"

"Yeah, you take the jacket, I'll take the pants."

Elliot snorted. "God, what the heck do we get ourselves into – "

As soon as they opened the ballroom's large doors, they both froze in their places and the words disappeared in their throats. All eyes in the room turned to them. The rehearsal lunch had already begun and Valerie had just stood up to say her thanks when Rosh and Elliot entered. Everyone was dressed in smart casual, the women in nice dresses and heels while the men wore dress shirts and blazers.

Meanwhile, Rosh was wearing his favorite 'I'm with Stupid' underneath his Adidas jacket and Elliot was carrying a baby wrapped in a hand towel.

"Oh, God," Elliot breathed. He gave himself a mental bitch slap.

Rosh swallowed. "I'm just about to piss myself."

Luckily, before Rosh could do just that, they were both tackled to one corner of the ballroom, behind some tall plants and flowers, by what looked like the wedding planner and ushered to their table… which ended up being the kids table Elliot had sat at earlier. "Oh, God," Elliot muttered, one hand over his face as he took his seat, replaying the scene in his mind. "Holy sh – "

Fortunately, he reminded himself just in time that he was sitting with a bunch of children, so he swallowed his expletive with a big gulp of water. When he realized Rosh was missing, he looked around and rolled his eyes when he saw Rosh was already making his way through the buffet table, pouring some soup into two bowls and taking two slices of focaccia. When Rosh made his way back, he set the bowl in front of Elliot.

Elliot looked up at him. "Well, you've moved on from that little mishap pretty quickly."

Rosh shrugged and broke his focaccia in half before dipping a part of it into his minestrone. "I've learned that in life, when you end up making a fool of yourself in front of about a hundred people," Rosh gave him a sideways glance as he picked up his spoon. "It's best to eat and move on."

As he took in his flat mate's words, Elliot's eyes scanned the ballroom for. "I didn't know you could say such wise words," he mumbled.

"Mhmm…" Rosh tapped Elliot's soup bowl with his spoon. "Hey, the minestrone's great, have some before it gets cold."

"Oh, oh, right, sorry." Elliot picked up his spoon and was reaching for the bread Rosh had gotten him when he realized the baby had snatched it and was nibbling on its end. Frowning, Elliot gave the baby a flat look. "Thanks a lot."

Rosh laughed. "Well, that's perfect. That Quinn guy is over there by the bread and salads. You can get some bread and talk to him while you're at it."

Elliot's eyes shot up to the salad section, and sure enough, there was Quinn. He had changed from his more casual outfit earlier into a pair of jeans and a pale blue dress shirt with its long sleeves folded up to his elbows. He held a plate in one hand as he dropped some lettuce and tomatoes and olives into it. Obviously one thing hadn't changed – he was still a much healthier eater than Elliot would ever be.

Taking a deep breath, his eyes focused on the salad section like a basketball player focused on the metal hoop, Elliot got up from his seat and handed the baby to Rosh. "Alright, I'm off… to get some bread."

Rosh pumped a fist in the air, and with his other hand, took the baby's hand to do the same thing. "You can do it!"

Taking another deep breath, Elliot made his way to the salad section. He tried to maintain a calm exterior, but inside, he was freaking out, a bunch of questions and possible situations and What ifs? swam in his mind. In fact, he was panicking inside so much, he completely forgot about getting a plate for his salad and ended up just standing in front of Quinn and staring at him like a complete idiot.

Clenching his fists at his sides. "Um… Quinn," Elliot began.

Quinn kept his head down as he reached for the cucumbers, yet it seemed he was perfectly aware of Elliot's existence since he said, "I don't want to talk to you, Elliot."

Elliot lowered his eyes as he felt a pang in his chest. Oh, God, he was so nervous. He cleared his throat. "Um… no, I just wanted…"

"Elliot."

He looked up and saw that Quinn was looking at him now. "Elliot – stop," he said, his fist clenching at his side. "I don't know why you're here, but whatever reason you have – I don't care."

Elliot winced. With that, Quinn walked past him, leaving behind. When he realized he was sort of blocking the way for other people, Elliot quickly stepped to the side and grabbed the nearest plate before piling food onto it. When he returned to his seat, it was like a dark rain cloud loomed over him and followed him wherever he went. He didn't say anything as he sat down and quickly stuffed his mouth with food.

When Rosh opened his mouth, Elliot held out a fork which had a slice of beef on it. "Don't ask," Elliot muttered. "Let's get through the wedding and leave."

Rosh rolled his eyes. "Jesus, did you really think things would work out that easily?"

Elliot looked up from his plate of food, a bit of pasta stuck on his chin. He figured he looked rather pathetic at that moment.

Rosh clapped a hand over Elliot's shoulder. "Elliot, when I asked a girl out in college and she rejected me the first time – did I give up after one try? No!"

"… What did you end up doing for her to finally say yes – "

"It doesn't matter." Rosh waved the issue away as he sat up, making Elliot even more suspicious at the lengths of what Rosh had to do to get the girl to say yes. He punched Elliot on the shoulder. "What I'm trying to say is you've gotta try again and again and again."

Elliot looked up and spotted Quinn at a table at the other end of the ballroom. One of Valerie's relatives was talking to him, and Elliot didn't know if he was just imagining it like he had imagined the baby's facial expressions earlier, but Quinn looked distracted, like he wasn't really into the conversation or the salad in front of him. Elliot bit his lip. Okay, he'd give it another shot.


By the end of the afternoon, Elliot managed to find out from Valerie what room Quinn was staying at. He had needed to do a lot of groveling and bribing and whining and convincing to get her to give out Quinn's room number, but in the end, she finally did. Elliot guessed it was mostly because she didn't want him bothering her anymore, especially when she still had many other wedding related matters to attend to.

As Elliot stood in front of Quinn's door, he recited that familiar quote in his head. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. He ran a hand through his hair, took a deep breath, and knocked on the door.

When it opened to show Quinn standing on the other side in only a pair of dark jeans, Elliot cleared his throat and his eyes immediately shot to the floor. Elliot remembered one night, back when they shared a flat, when a gay neighbor of theirs knocked on their door in the middle of the night asking to use their phone, and their neighbor had been left speechless and flustered at the sight of Quinn in just his boxers. The man even had a hard time remembering the number he was supposed to dial. Elliot never had that same flustered, speechless reaction when he saw Quinn and his perfect body walking around with barely any clothes on. Mostly he just felt quite conscious about his own body that lacked any sort of lean, defined muscle that didn't include his stomach when digesting food.

So Elliot kept his eyes down, because he didn't want to feel bad about himself and he didn't want to feel guilty about the three slices of key lime pie he had a while ago. "I… I want to talk to you," he managed to get out.

"Elliot, what are you doing?"

That got Elliot to look up. Quinn was holding onto the doorknob with his weight rested on one side, watching Elliot with drawn eyebrows and a frustrated expression on his face, like he was staring at a calculus problem he had been trying to solve for hours. Elliot swallowed. "W-what?"

"I'm asking you," Quinn said, his voice hard and tired and irritated, his eyes not leaving Elliot's face. "What are you doing? Have you even planned out what you're going to say – what you want to happen – or are you just running on pure, gut instinct and hoping that things turn out the way you want them?"

Elliot's eyes widened. "I… I'm pretty much going with how I feel, right now," he admitted, lowering his eyes once more.

Quinn closed his eyes and looked away. He shook his head. "See, I knew it. You're still like this, you don't even know what you want to say, what you're trying to do," he said slowly, his grip tightening around the doorknob. He looked back at Elliot. "Why are you doing this when you haven't even got a clear idea of what you want to happen?"

Elliot didn't know what to say. It was all going so wrong, so… not what he wanted to happen. Elliot swallowed and clenched his fists at his sides. Even after all this time, Quinn had managed to read him so easily. "I'm… wow, I'm sorry, I just…" It felt like he was just stringing words together, hoping they would form coherent sentences. "I'm sorry, I don't… I wanted…"

"What?" Quinn asked. "You want me to be the one to do something again? You want me to kiss you? Tell you that I'm so happy to see you again and that I've missed you?"

Elliot shook his head. "No, I just – "

"Well, fuck that, Elliot. It's been about a year and my life hasn't ended because of what happened – or rather, what didn't happen – between us."

Just then, like fate had decided to emphasize that point even more, there was some noise from inside the room, a bathroom door being closed, and from over Quinn's shoulder, Elliot caught a peak of a man's lean, bare upper body. "Ah, shit, Quinn!" the man called out as he moved around the room, putting on a shirt and zipping up his jeans as he looked around for something. "Have you seen my belt? Shit, I think I forgot it back home."

Quinn rolled his eyes and tilted his head back just a bit. "It's probably somewhere on your bed," he answered, a flicker of familiar annoyance in his voice. Elliot remembered that tone since Quinn had often used it when talking to him. "Have you even tried looking there?"

When Quinn turned back to Elliot, Elliot couldn't look him in the eye. "I'm… I'm sorry, Quinn," Elliot stammered, feeling every bit of a fool. "I know… you're tired of hearing that from me, since… well, I'm pretty sure those were the last words I said to you about a year ago, but... yeah, I am."

Quinn turned his face away. "Elliot… I'm not… fuck, I'm not going to listen to you when…" He shook his head. "When you don't even know what the fuck it is you want. So just… just go away."

Elliot nodded. Quinn was so right. Even after all this time, Elliot didn't know what he wanted and it wasn't fair for him to ask Quinn to listen to him when… he didn't know what he wanted to say. Oh, God, everything pretty much blew up on him. When it was starting to get awkward with the both of them just looking at each other without saying anything, Elliot cleared his throat and stepped back to walk away. He turned around. "Well, uh, enjoy the wedding – "

"Is that it?"

Elliot turned around to see Quinn had taken one step out of the door. Quickly, Quinn turned his eyes away, his cheeks reddening. "Never mind – "

"Oh, how's Chuck?"

Quinn looked up and stared at Elliot for a couple of seconds. He looked away. "He's fine, he's living with me. He's with a friend while I'm here."

"Oh, that's great, that's great," Elliot said, nodding slowly. He ran a hand through his hair and was just about to apologize when he caught himself. He managed to force a smile on his face and gave out a small wave before turning back to head for the elevator. By the time the elevator door closed, Elliot suddenly remembered the second part of that quote he had just been telling himself before he had knocked on Quinn's door.

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.

Obviously, the first part failed. Perhaps it was time to listen to the second half of that quote.


A/N: Ahhh, now we see the old, mean side of Quinn that I missed writing and exactly how hopeless Elliot is at relationships. It was about time Quinn called him out on things, yes? What will happen? Is this the end? You know, if you think about it, it could end here… but you all know it won't, haha! And it's funny, since I had a hard time writing this chapter, but when I saw that quote, everything just flew out. Funny how inspiration works. :P

EDIT: I don't like making my author notes too long, but based on recent feedback, I feel I needed to add this. My aim for this chapter and the last scene is that I wanted it to be all about Elliot getting a slap to the face and realizing that if he wants any sort of relationship to work out, he's got to figure out what he wants from it and commit to it. Like in real life, no? If two people want to be in a relationship, they have to meet each other halfway. It can't just be the guy going after the girl all the time or vice versa. Let's be honest, in the past, it was only Quinn who worked on their relationship (although he was far from perfect in that department - and that will be brought up in the future!) and Elliot, well... he didn't really do anything, right? I wanted to show with that chapter that Quinn is tired/has quit being the only one who puts any effort into making anything between them work and it's now Elliot's turn to do that. Some people picked up on this but I did get sad that some thought the chapter was frustrating or that 'nothing happened', when in fact, I think this is one of the most important chapters of the story. But oh well, nothing I can do there. At least I feel I accomplished what I wanted in the chapter. :)

D'accord? :)

Anyway, here's a letter I used in another story, and I quite liked it so I'm using it again. :P

To the milk bottle,

While I do love milk, I have to wonder, if it weren't perfect for our Oreos, why are we drinking it?
After all, I am not a baby cow.

Your calcium deficient, slightly philosophical friend.
Your name.

And oh, a late Fröhliche Weihnachten und einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr / Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année / Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you! Please leave a note? Start the new year right! :D