Hello All. I was in the middle of writing chapter 6 for my new story and found myself at a crossroads. Do I take the story down plot point A or plot point B? I really liked both, so I made an AU with option B. I then decided to paste various earlier parts of the story in and post it.

It's not as fleshed out as my other story ideas, so it may seem choppy. But I had to post all the same.


NOT ANOTHER TIMELINE: SOULMATES VERSION


Eliot Waugh had finally woken from more than six months of possession by a monster capable of killing gods with very little effort. The monster had possessed his body, had frightened and killed gods, killed innocents with Eliot's hands, and hurt his friends in multiple ways all while keeping Eliot a prisoner in his own mind. But the world he woke up to was so dark and depressing that he wished he could go back to being possessed. He didn't understand how people could be so hopeful, so cheerful. The world was bleak, gray, dark, never-ending darkness. Didn't they understand? Quentin Coldwater was dead and the world would never recover from his loss. Eliot would never recover from the loss.

Quentin had loved Eliot and had wasted no time in suggesting that they try to be together in this life when they had the fifty years of the mosaic suddenly added to their memories. Quentin had put his heart out there, ready to give it to Eliot.

"We work. We know it 'cause we lived it. Fifty years, who gets that kind of proof of concept?

"That's not you, and that's definitely not me. Not when we have a choice," Eliot had said, crushing Q's precious heart. And by the time Eliot realized what a colossal mistake he had made, it was too late, and Quentin was dead.

It didn't matter what anyone said, Eliot knew that rejection had a great deal to do with why Quentin chose to become the Monster's new jailer. A decision that resulted in Eliot shooting said monster. An action that had released the monster into the world, however inadvertently. A monster that had tortured Quentin for six months, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Their friends didn't step up, didn't tell him to take care of himself, didn't ask what they could do to help, didn't notice Quentin was dying slowly under the weight of it all. When it was finally over Quentin was dead. It was a Domino effect, one thing leads to another which leads to yet another. Ergo, Eliot breaking Quentin's heart equals Quentin dead. Simple.

Worse yet, Eliot had none of his onetime friends to lean on through his grief. He had never talked about the mosaic with anyone, never even told Margo anything about it. As far as she knew she had stopped that timeline from existing altogether. As if it had never happened at all, but it had. Eliot had also known that Quentin hadn't spoken a word to anyone about it either. They all seemed to think Alice was the grieving widow. He couldn't even mourn his once-husband in peace as his friends didn't want to leave him alone. They wanted to "help him" deal with "post-possession trauma". As if that pain could possibly compare to the loss of Quentin.

So, after spending more than two months on physical recovery from Margo's deposession axing and internal tears for his loss, Eliot had decided not to accept this reality. This existence that did not have Quentin in it anymore. Quentin would never have settled for a world that didn't include one of his friends without trying to fix it, and Eliot would not settle for one without him without trying to undo it. The only question was, "how to change it?"

Eliot's mind turned to Horomancy- time magic. It was the only remotely reliable method. Go back to some time before Quentin went to the Mirror World and do something to change events that led to his death. But horomancy was no easy magic, this would require help.

If Jane Chatwin could rewrite time that much to stop the beast, what was one more to save Quentin? So Eliot searched the forest in Fillory to find Jane's little hidey-hole that existed outside of time, or something like that. Quentin had explained the principle to him at one point, but frankly time travel bullshit hurt his head so he had ignored the explanation. All that mattered anyway was that he could find the girl who could help him rewrite time here.

He found the cottage and was welcomed inside by Jane Chatwin, a.k.a. the watcherwoman. The cottage had been hidden behind strong magic wards in the forest. She led him inside and to her little dining area where they now sat across from one another. She asked him how Quenitn was doing.

"Quentin's gone. He died saving me," Eliot told her. Wasn't that just the worst part. Quentin had died saving Eliot (who had broken his heart) from possession. Eliot didn't deserve his sacrifice.

"Oh, I'm so sorry. Thirty-nine times I saw him killed by the beast, and still I never get used to hearing that he died. How are you and your friends holding up?" Jane asked. She understood how much Quentin had been the heart of their group and that his death must be hitting their group hard.

"Everyone else seems to be adjusting just fine," Eliot said with bitterness. No one besides him had offered any thoughts on how to save Quentin. They had their little fireside memorial and then were ready to move on. Even Julia, his childhood best friend. Even Alice, Quentin's supposed girlfriend. Eliot wasn't going to just move on. How little they know him if they thought he could move on.

"But not you?" Jane inquired.

"A world without Quentin is not a world I want to live in," Eliot said firmly.

"You've come to see if I can change time for you," Jane said with certainty in her voice.

"Can you?" He asked her.

"The watch I've used before has already fulfilled its purpose and it's not a simple thing to reactivate. Even so, it would reset the entire timeloop, back to the very start, before you all came to Fillory and confronted the beast. Once there, in the next timeline you would not remember this timeline at all."

"There must be a way to send my memories into the next loop," Eliot said desperately. "Please, I need to fix this. I need Q." he confessed.

"Forty timelines later and you two are still as close as you were the first time. I remember in that first timeline Quentin was mourning the loss of his best friend- you. He was so lost that I suspected there was more there than friendship and I was a bit surprised that he came to Fillory at all. But I guess he hoped to either die or be saved by the land he had loved so much. And he did come to Fillory, and he died. My first change was to save that friend- save you, and see if he would still come to Fillory. He did, and then he died, so many times.

"Quentin died- every single timeline before this, Eliot. The beast killed him in every past timeline. Are you certain you want to risk watching him die again if I reset the timeloop?" Jane asked.

"For the chance to tell him- yes, I'll take that risk. Can you send me back?" Eliot asked hope impossibly rising in him.

"It is possible. There is a ritual I can do to send your memories through the timeloop. You do realize this will be like undoing all that you have done over the past three years, all the evils you have defeated, all the personal growth you and your friends have done?"

"I know. I realize this may cost more than most would think it is worth. But I have to try. Even if we all die attempting to defeat the beast- again- at least I can have one more year with him. I would do it for just one day, I really would." Eliot didn't care what it cost, he had to see Quentin again.

"You must also know that the beast is a powerful magician. As such, he will remember this past timeline- as he has remembered all the ones that came before. I cannot change that, you understand?"

"Fuck. Of course he'll remember. But maybe if I remember too, it might go better this time. I have to try, for Q. You know he'd do it for me."

"He would. And it might go better, it might go worse. I honestly do not know. However, I cannot help you in the next timeline. I am unable to leave this area without destabilizing the timelines altogether. You will be on your own."

"I've been on my own before. Besides, Q will be there, and he'll help. I have to do this."

"Very well, then. Since you are so sure, I will help you. I suggest you think carefully about what you will tell your friends when you return to 2015. Every change you make will alter all that follows. Change too much too soon and your future knowledge will become completely and utterly useless, understand?"

"Right. So while I know the beast will come for us one way or another, he may come a different way than I remember?" Eliot asked.

"Yes. He almost certainly will attack at different times in different ways- as I said he will be aware of his past mistakes that led to his defeat."

"Okay, right. Well, will he know that I am aware of this timeline?" Eliot asked.

"No, for him it will be like all the other timelines, except he was defeated in this timeline. That will make him even more dangerous. You must be careful around him, Eliot. He is masterfully intelligent, give him too many clues and he may very well learn of your future knowledge.

"If the ritual is successful Eliot 41 will wake up remembering everything you do right up until we perform this ritual, and to him it will feel like he is Eliot 40."

Jane searched Eliot's eyes looking to see if his resolve would be strong enough. "In the new timeline Quentin will not know your history. Can you bear to look into his eyes and see no recognition?" she asked.

"Time is an illusion. I bond fast." Eliot repeated what he once told Quentin.

She smiled at him in return. "That you boys do. Very well, I will perform the spell tonight at Midnight, it will give us the best chance for success."


SOMETIME LATER IN TIMELINE 41

Eliot woke up the day he met Quentin with all the memories of timeline 40. He knew he would soon meet Quentin and have a fresh start with him. He had decided to start by keeping to the script. If he was a bit more friendly and obvious in his flirting, what could that hurt?

Within a few days he and Quentin were already heading headfirst down the path that had led to them becoming lovers. The intimate friendship that was just on the edge of blossoming love was there in no time at all.

Then something changed that would alter everything. Quentin asked for his help in finding a spell to keep his roommate Penny out of his head. Eliot agreed, not knowing the far-reaching consequences of this decision.


QUELIOT FOREVER

Eliot was waiting for Quentin to arrive so that Eliot could help him place a mental ward on his mind so that Penny 41 would not be so bothered and annoyed by Quentin's internal monologue. The spell had some risk of thoughts leaking and he had warned Quentin of this. But Quentin said that he trusted Eliot and felt connected to him.

Eliot checked to make sure everything was ready to perform the psychic ward on Quentin. He had the Zeta crystal, the Gretta candles, the book, and the herbs. It was probably the sixth time he had gone over everything. He was nervous. What the hell, Eliot Waugh did not get nervous.

Who was he kidding, of course he was nervous, this was about Quentin. Quentin wasn't just anyone, he was important. He couldn't fuck this up. He couldn't. Performing this ward on Quentin was a definite risk. Opening both of them up to such a mental connection could very easily have unforeseen consequences.

The thing was he kept thinking back to his Quentin's first year and all the grief Penny had given him. Quentin had many internal voices that were very good at tearing all his self confidence down. With Penny's psychic abilities he could hear that too, somewhat, and yet it always made him angry with Quentin, like it was his fault he had depression. Eliot couldn't stand by and allow it to happen again. Not if he could do something about it.

Was this really necessary? No, probably not. Penny had actually come to care about Quentin in his own assholeish way. Yet, Eliot still wanted to help. Whatever the consequences, he would deal with them.

Finally he went downstairs to wait for Quentin to arrive. The downstairs of the cottage was pretty empty of people tonight. This early in the night most were probably hanging out in the common areas of campus. Margo was out on the patio practicing her meditation or her fighting magic. Eliot made himself comfortable on the couch, just waiting for Quentin.

A few minutes later there came a tentative knock at the front door. Eliot was swift to answer it. He didn't care if it might look to someone else that he was needy. He loved Q and damn anyone who thought less of him for it. As expected, Quentin waited nervously on the other side of the door. Eliot gave him a welcoming smile and ushered him inside.

"Hey, Q. Come on in. Now do you want anything to eat or drink before we go upstairs?" Eliot asked, ever the good host. It was one of the few skills he had still retained from his Brakebills persona when he became High King of Fillory.

"No, thanks," Quentin said.

"Okay then. Follow me. I've already set up in my room."

"Right, going in your room, no big deal," Quentin said clearly nervous that it was, in fact, a big deal.

"Hey, it's just me. I'm here in whatever way you need me right now, okay? Right now, we are just going to cast a mental ward on your mind."

"Right, which might leak some of my innermost personal thoughts to you. No reason to feel exposed," Quentin said sarcastically.

"You don't have to hide from me, Q. I'm not so scary," Eliot said, entering his room and shutting the door behind Quentin. Quentin stood a bit uncertainly just inside the door. Eliot moved to sit on his bed while he tried to calm Quentin down.

Quentin scoffed at him. "Of course you're not scary to yourself."

"Q, you said we're connected, right. You feel this connection of something deep between us?"

"Yes."

"Then trust that it will still be there. I know we just met and you barely know me, and this bit of magic is a bit intimate for that. But I really care about you, and I want you to be able to trust that.

"But if you're not ready to try something so intimate with me, that's okay, Q. I'm not trying to push you. It's your choice."

Quentin just stared at him for a long moment as he studied Eliot and thought over his options. Finally he sighed and sat down on the bed facing Eliot. "I said I trust you, El, and I do. I just don't want you to be spooked by my broken brain. It tends to scare off people who only have to deal with it externally. You'll be getting the internal view, I don't want to lose you. As- As- As a friend- I mean."

"Maybe we should talk a bit about that first, would that help?" Eliot suggested.

"I don't know how to talk about it. My thoughts barely make sense to me, trying to explain them to anyone else is nearly impossible."

"Remember, Q, magic comes from pain. Everyone here has some sort of tragic past, everyone. Whether it's parents who were crappy, or parents who died tragically. Clinical depression or emotional repression. I had a friend who got magic after her best friend died. She was so pissed that her magic came at the cost of her friend's life."

"Are you trying to tell me it gets better?" Eliot smiled at the familiar words. The circumstances of this conversation might be different but the context was similar.

"God, no. It doesn't get better. What I am telling you is that you are not alone here, Q."

"What about you? What pain gave you magic?" asked Quentin, wanting to shift the focus off him, however temporarily.

"It's a long story, Q," he said, not sure if he wanted to get into his entire history just yet.

"I want to hear it," Quentin said emphatically.

Because it was Quentin asking, Eliot began telling him the story. "I grew up in small town full of homophobic xenophobic people. Not the best place for a different gay boy to be. I was an easy target for this- this bully. One day I'm walking down the street eating a candy bar- by that time I was already eating my problems on a professional level. When I saw him crossing over, coming over to give me a beating.

"There was this bus coming. I barely thought the thought. I knew instantly what I had done, that it was me. My nose started bleeding. Logan Kinear died instantly and I ruined my favorite button-down. That is how I learned at the age of fourteen that I was telekinetic."

"God. That's awful."

"So you see, you aren't the only one in the room with dark thoughts. You won't scare me."

Quentin sat quietly for a moment, deep in thought. When he began speaking Eliot knew how vulnerable he was feeling. "I told you I suffer from depression, or at least I implied it. My brain- it's not a nice place to be. Before I got here I was in the hospital- a psychiatric hospital. Sometimes I feel like life is never gonna be anything but pointless and empty so- so why go on."

Eliot was pleased that Quentin had shared this with him. Before he could comment Quentin continued. "I just wanted you to know that before you so willingly expose yourself to my leaking thoughts."

"I've been there, Q. I've had times where I was trying to drown my sorrows in booze, sex, drugs. And if it killed me, even better. So your head is not gonna scare me off. You ready to try this?"

"Yeah, I think so."

"Then let's get started." He placed the last crystal on top of Quentin's head. The other six were scattered around the ritual circle spaced in whatever type of pattern the book called it. Eliot didn't care about the specifics, only that he followed the instructions. He then took his spot outside the circle and performed the tuts the spell needed.

After he completed the last tut, Eliot felt a calm wave of magic pulse between him and Quentin. He felt the outer shell of Quentin's mind come down to allow Eliot entrance. As it did he saw flashes of memory. A young boy sitting alone on the playground when a young girl comes over to introduce herself. The two young kids lay drawing a map of Fillory underneath a table. A teenage Quentin swallowing a bottle of pills, more than twenty pills. Quentin using magic to make a castle out of playing cards in what was likely his entrance exam.

More memories flew through his mind. Eliot being crowned High King Eliot the Spectacular by Quentin. Quentin crying over Alice going Niffin, Eliot trying to hold him back and comfort him at the same time. Quentin kissing him on their one year anniversary at the mosaic. The day Teddy was born. Eliot and Quentin's wedding. Teddy's son learning magic card tricks from granddad Quentin while Grandpa El watched. Eliot rejecting Quenin in the throne room. Waking up to learn that Quentin had died. Performing the Merken Ziet Ritual.

Finally the memories stopped. It had felt like forever, but Eliot knew that barely a few seconds had passed in real time. Memory-time or mental time goes much faster than real-time. Eliot finished the next tuts which put up a mirror wall around Quentin's mind. This would keep psychics from readily picking up Quentin's random thoughts. With a final Popper 21 he was done.

Eliot took a breath. "Quentin. It's finished. How do you feel?"

It took Quentin a minute to respond. "El, what's going on?" he asked in a small voice.

"What do you mean, Q?" Quentin stood up and got right in Eliot's face, entering his personal space like he had a right to. Which he did, but Quentin didn't know that yet, so what was going on?

"Eliot, is that you?" Q asked.

"What do you mean, of course it's me! Who else could possibly pull me off as well as I?"

Quentin threw himself onto Eliot, hugging him tight and clinging to him like he never wanted to let him go. Eliot instinctively wrapped his arms around Quentin, unable to deny Q anything he needed or wanted. Quentin just nuzzled his nose into Eliot's neck. Eliot could feel tears hitting him. What the fuck was going on?

After a moment Eliot could make out sounds from Quentin. "It's you. It's you. It's really you. Missed you so much. Don't do that again. Please don't leave me."

"It's okay, Q. I'm here. I'm here. Whatever you need," Eliot responded.

"So sorry. I'm so sorry. I didn't mean it."

"What, Q? What are you sorry for? You have nothing to be sorry about."

"I died."

Holy shit. That sounded like- but it couldn't be. Hope bubbled in Eliot's chest. Eliot pulled back from Q just far enough to look him in the eyes, keeping him in his arms. He saw, he saw recognition in those eyes. Not the kind he had seen before, that spoke of new acquaintances. No. This look spoke of love, and long life together.

"Q?"

"It's me, El."

"Peaches," he said, needing to be sure.

"Peaches and Plums, El." Quentin replied, no hint of confusion in his voice. He knew what those words meant. Which meant- this was his Quentin. Somehow.

"Oh, Q!" Eliot pulled him tight against him again, kissing him this time. There was no hesitation in Q's response, he kissed him back just as passionately. Eliot had no idea what had happened with the spell. What had changed. But there was no doubt in his mind that this was his Q. With fifty years of living and loving behind him.

When they finally pulled back a few minutes or years later, they couldn't tell which, Q spoke up. "Where are we, El?"

"Timeline 41."

"What?"

"After I woke up, alone-" here he hit Q on the back of his head, Gibbs' style. " I went to Jane Chatwin, and asked her to alter time. Her only option was to reset the loop, but she was able to send my memories through to Eliot 41. I woke up the day before you came to Brakebills with all my memories of timeline 40."

"So how did I get here?"

"I don't really know. I was helping Q 41 set some mental wards, to keep Penny of his- or your- back."

"Which mental ward?"

"Kagami Kyōsei"

"That's a mirror ward. It's a specialized ward. It shouldn't have affected anything like this."

"Q?"

"Yeah?"

"I don't care what brought you here. You're here. By some miracle you are here. My Q."

"Yeah, El. I'm here."

"I love you. I'm so sorry I made you think I didn't. I love you so much. How dare you die before I could tell you?"

"I knew, El. Fifty years together you think I didn't know you were running?"

"Don't hide it. I know some part of you doubted."

"I wouldn't be me if I didn't."

"So let me apologize. I'm sorry I lied. I choose you. I want you to choose me. I love you."

"I love you, Eliot. Even when you run. I love you. Let me choose you."

"You can, you can choose me."

"Good."

The two men spent the night wrapped in each other's arms. Neither slept at all, both afraid that if they did they would wake up to find it had just been a dream. They talked of what they had been through. Quentin told him about his months with the monster possessing Eliot. Eliot told him that he could remember the things the monster did as if he had been in the driver's seat. They also talked about Quenitn's death. Quentin admitted he didn't know if he had killed himself or not. Eliot made him promise to get help.

They planned what changes Eliot had already started and what further changes they would make. Quentin thought Fogg was an idiot for not stopping Alice from trying to use a seance to contact her brother again. Eliot took comfort in the fact that he had help. Quentin would help him plan this out and motivate the others. Quentin would be able to make them believe that they came from the future in a way no one else could. His belief in magic and Fillory was unparalleled and quite infectious. They could do this.

When morning came neither made any move to get up or go to class. Instead they spent the day in bed, getting reacquainted with each other's bodies. They made slow passionate love. They had rough wild sex. They fucked each other so hard they would be sore for weeks. It was glorious.

They still had problems to solve. They had to find a way to defeat the beast again and keep Ember from screwing up all magic. But those problems they could tackle together. They would convince the rest of their friends of the truth and plan a course of action together. Whether they succeeded or not this time didn't matter much, as long as they were together they would deal with it.


THE EXPLANATION

Days later, everyone had been convinced of the truth that Eliot and Quentin came from the future- or at least their memories did. Alice and Julia decided to research the spell Eliot had done to see what had brought Quentin from the future. Eliot didn't care, as long as he stayed. Eventually they found the answer.

"A similar thing happened to a couple of magicians who were in a time loop back in 1962. The one went back to the beginning of the loop and did this mental spell on his lover. The thing was, they were more than lovers." Alice told them.

"They were soulmates. Mental spells mixed with horomancy can pull one soulmate to the other one. Their consciousness or memories whatever you want to call it. Actual soulmates are so rare and horomancy is so new that it's the only recorded instance of something like this happening."

"You hear that, El? We are soulmates. Honest to god soulmates."

"Peaches and Plums, Q. Soulmates."

"No more running."

"Not with double the proof of concept."

"Peaches and Plums, Eliot."

Peaches and Plums Bitches!

FINITE