Quentin stood facing Everette and only one possibility occurred to him. It was his discipline, so it would be no effort at all. A minor mending. He also was aware that doing this would mean his death and the death of anyone else in this odd pocket world. If it was just Everette, that would be fine, but he had to get Alice and Penny, a Penny he hadn't even really gotten to know yet, out first… He only had one regret. Eliot. Eliot was free now and Quentin had wanted to try talking to him again. Confessing again. But El's safety was more important. Besides, the self-doubt in the back of his voice told him that Eliot might run again. He didn't really have much time to dwell on the fact before, when they were on the quest for the keys, and then the Monster took over Eliot's body, but he really didn't want to face his best friend running from him when they both knew, KNEW, that there was something there./p
He looked into Penny's penetrating eyes and he knew that 23 understood exactly what he was planning. "Take her. Do it. Now" he said calmly as his fingers performed the mending and the mirror with the Seam in it reconstructed itself. As Penny dragged Alice towards the door Quentin could see her crying to come back, heard her yelling his name. Quentin wasn't listening, it was Eliot that ran through Quentin's thoughts. From the moment they met Eliot was special to Quentin. His heart raced at hearing El voice, recognised his footsteps on the stairs, his body heat on the couch. It was only after they slept together the first time that he truly knew what it meant.
Quentin turned and flung the bottle containing the second of the Monster twins and it easily slipped through the mirror moments after the mending completed and the crack between worlds appeared. Sparks flew, and Quentin turned face his friends. He didn't move. He didn't know why he didn't move. He may be able to make it if he ran, so why wouldn't his feet move. Sparks started to envelop him, and he felt himself fly into the air, dissolving as he flew. I'm sorry, Eliot. He thought to himself. We had fifty years of peaches and plums. Fifty years of love in another life. I'm sorry we couldn't have it in this life too. Please just live, for me. He closed his eyes and opened his arms wide, accepting his suicidal role as sacrifice. He heard Alice's crying scream growing further away as Penny 23 pulled her towards the exit. Then it was over. He was gone.
Eliot awoke to a blinding headache and an excruciating pain in his side. The window curtains were drawn closed and the lights were out. He saw Margo sleeping, lying next to him with her head on his chest, arm carefully positioned so it wouldn't hit the wound she, herself, had made. It looked like she had fallen asleep while crying. Which was unusual for Margo, he could see a few dry mascara stains running down her cheeks. Eliot brushed her cheek gently with his finger and felt her jolt awake. "Eliot!" She cried, sitting up and flinging her arms around him, "We were so worried!" He smiled softly, and looked around in the darkness, looking for his other best friend. The one he was most desperate to see. The lights were off, but he could see everything clearly. He also realized he was feeling something he had not felt in quite some time.
"Magic" He said quietly. Margo smiled her fierce smile and nodded.
"It's back in full." She said "You had the pleasure of not being here to experience the annoyance of having the Library moderate the Magic, god, it was the WORST" she exclaimed. Eliot could barely contain a laugh. He patted her head
"Well, it's back now Bambi, and so am I," He said imperiously, then gave a big yawn and shut his eyes again. "Everything is back to normal." he sighed as he fell back asleep.
Margo watched him for a moment sadly before getting up. "No, not everything, I am so sorry" She kissed his forehead, turned, and left the Hospital room.
When Eliot next awoke he was all by himself in bed. Immediately he looked around for Quentin, but no one was in the room with him. He started to get frustrated. How could Q not come to check up on him? How could Q NOT come see how he was doing after being struck in the gut by Margo, and finally released from the prison of his mind. He thought his husband of 50 years would be the first person by his side, not that he didn't love Margo, but Q was special. No, that's not right, he would be by Eliot's side if he had a choice. Eliot was sure of it. Something must have happened, and Quentin was hurt or stuck somewhere. They needed to rescue him. A tear slid down Eliot's thin cheek and he wanted run to help his husband. Hang on Q, He thought I will save you, no matter where you are. Our story is just beginning, wait for me. I'm not running away anymore.
His ruminating ended when the door opened and closed again, and Alice wandered in, head bowed, hair covering her face. He studied her as she stood there at, staring at the foot of his bed where she happened to be standing. Her arms were crossed tightly over her chest, and she was wearing all black. She stood there for a few moments then raised her eyes to meet his. They were red and puffy and there was something in them he couldn't quite place. "Eliot…" she started; her voice was soft and full of pain, a hollow pain that he realized was what he couldn't place in the look she was giving him. Then she looked back down at the foot of his bed. He waited patiently. Clearly, she had something important she needed to tell him, something she needed to get off her chest, so he sat up in bed, and waited. She took a deep breath, and started again, meeting his eyes once more. "Eliot…" Once more she seemed to lose her nerve, she avoided his gaze and just said shallowly "I'm glad you are feeling better."
At that moment Margo stormed into the room, "Goddamnit woman!" she yelled so loudly nurses in the hall turned and shushed her. One hand on her hip and the other resting on the open door she drawled, "Yeah, yeah, whatever," then she flung the door closed with a slam. She turned back to Eliot who wore a smirk and Alice who had jumped at the initial yell but now stood as motionless as before. "You said you would tell him, so tell him already, or I will" She started towards Alice who, despite being taller than Margo, cowered at the older Magician's glare. "It's got to come from one of the two of us, and he has to know today" She finished.
Before anyone could say anything else, Eliot spoke up with the thing that had been obsessing him all morning. "Where's Quentin?" He asked, directing the question at Alice, He saw Margo give her a look that clearly said See, I told you
"Where is Quentin?" He asked again. "What happened to him? Why isn't he here with me? Is he hurt? Is he trapped somewhere? Do we need to rescue him?" faintly he heard the door open again quietly next to him without noticing as he continued his barrage of questions directed at Alice and Margo. "What happened with the Monster? Did it possess him? Is he alright? Did you manage to get rid of it ok? Why won't anyone tell me what's going on and WHERE THE PEACHES AND PLUMS IS MY HU- QUENTIN!" He was shouting before he could stop himself, his stomach hurt, but his heart hurt more. He knew deep down that something was deeply wrong. Margo was wearing all black. MARGO
Alice sat on the bed next to him and glanced at the doorway. It was only then that he realized that the others had come when the door had opened before and were standing there, watching the exchange. Tears were streaming from Alice's eyes as she put a hand on his. "I wanted to be the one to tell you, because we both loved him" she was staring down at her lap as she paused to let him register what she was saying. "loved". Past tense. No, that couldn't be right.
"Everette followed us into the pocket universe." She began, and I stared at her, not knowing who this Everette person was. Alice looked around as Margo poked her then backtracked. "Everette is the head of the Library, or he was. He used the siphon to hoard magic, even from the rest of the Library. He wanted to become a God. He was going to use one of the Monsters to help with that." She explained quickly looking at him, then got back to her story and staring at her lap again, one warm hand still resting on his. "Everette confronted us as Q was about to throw the second Monster into the Seam in the mirror." She glanced at Penny 23, who was standing with one arm around a crying Julia.
"He threw something into the mirror to crack it" The traveler filled in when the pause went on for long enough. "it wouldn't work as a doorway to the Seam anymore"
"Quentin knew that casting in a mirror world had fatal consequences" Alice said, squeezing my hand tears running down her cheeks. Eliot knew exactly what had happened without Alice continuing. It was so Quentin. He cast a mending anyway so that dickwad from the stupid Library wouldn't get the Monster. He saved everyone. And judging by everyone's reactions…
"He told me to take Alice and go, we were closer to the door" Penny 23 continued
"He must have done the mending behind his back, so no one would see, but as soon as the mirror finished mending the pocket world started to get torn apart" Alice said quickly "He managed to throw the bottle containing the second Monster into the Seam before Everette got to it." She fell silent after that
"He saved everyone" Margo put in quietly
Eliot needed his suspicions confirmed, he grabbed the hand that was resting on his "So, where is he?" He asked staring at the only other one who could possibly have loved the missing man half as much as he did, half pleading.
Alice finally looked into his eyes, tears flowing freely. "He didn't make it out"
He had died. Quentin had died. for him. for them. Eliot had finally gotten the courage to respond to his feelings and the man he loved wasn't there anymore.
Eliot cried himself to sleep that night
Three weeks after being discharged from the hospital, Eliot had started drinking copiously again. He had also started shutting himself up in his room and the only person he would talk to besides Margo, was Alice. And occasionally Julia.
Not that they were particularly good friends, or liked each other, but they had something in common that made the days barely bearable if the other was around. They all had loved Quentin, Julia's love was purely platonic, but it was still love. Eliot still hadn't told the other two women about the Mosaic yet. He wanted to keep the peaches and plums to himself a little bit longer. He knew that Alice thought herself superior in that regard, as the "girlfriend", while Julia held onto the childhood friend "I knew him best/longest" mask of sorrow. Sometimes he wanted to yell in frustration and rub it in their faces that he had 50 years on them (25 on Julia). But no, he had turned Quentin down just as it was about to get real in this timeline. He didn't deserve the title of 'husband' anymore, he thought morosely.
When his thoughts turned down this path, he found the strongest thing in the liquor cabinet and downed it. First week out of the hospital he woke up, still drunk, in bed, without a clue as to how he got there 5 out of the 7 nights of the week. He knew Margo enlisted Penny to help get him to bed and she wasn't at all pleased at his state, but she had other things on her mind in Fillory at the moment, and he knew that she hoped that he would just work his way through this tragedy like he did Mike's. Which was a roaring success, let's be honest here. But this was worse than it was with Mike. Sure, he liked Mike, he could have even loved him, if given the chance. But the thing that really fucked him up about Mike's death was that who he had grown to love was actually the Beast in disguise. And that it was him, Eliot, who had killed him. This was different for so many more reasons. He had loved Quentin so completely that he didn't understand how he was still going without the other man around. Ok, he wasn't really functioning. Not really. Sure, he didn't kill Quentin, but sometimes it felt like he did, he also gave up the one chance in this timeline to actually be with him before the Monster took him over. Both of these things just made the idea of losing his soulmate nearly impossible to bear. And the bottom of the bottle just that much more appealing to drown his sorrows in. Julia told him while he was still in the hospital that Quentin was the reason he had survived as long as he did with the beast in him, and came out as (relatively) unharmed, as he did. Julia said that Quentin had reprimanded the Monster in him when he was going overboard on drink and drugs, and also how Q had put his foot down on every plan that meant Eliot wouldn't survive the outcome. Julia had just sat next to him rubbing his back while Eliot cried after hearing this. El knew that Julia loved Quentin just as much as he and Alice did, which was far more than the others, but loved him in a completely platonic way. Since they grew up together she was almost like a sister to him, and Q had turned to her when things got tough. Until Eliot came around, that is. El soon took that spot in the clinically depressed man's life, even though the older man never really understood why. Eliot was just as screwed up as Q, he was just far better at hiding it, for the most part.
Breakbills, Fillory, the Mosaic, the Cottage, the Neitherlands, the Mosaic, Library, the Ship, the Mosaic… The Mosaic. There were endless days that he lie on his bed, stared at the ceiling of his room, with a bottle in hand just remembering those days alone. Sometimes he regret pushing him into Arielle's arms, especially after she had died, but it had been wonderful raising their son. And he had been able to be a dad. With Quentin. They had even grown old together. Quentin never told him what happened to him after Eliot died. He gathered that Quentin had found the key, but he also knew that they had needed to wait for Margo to retrieve it. How much longer did you live in Fillory after I died Q? He thought. How did you live out the rest of your life? Were you as sad as I am now? "Proof of concept is right" he said out loud and took a long pull from the vodka bottle he was holding. "To all the Peaches and Plums" he raised the bottle and toasted the sky. The mattress sank next to where his head was, and a familiar hand with long elegant nails stroked his hair, a thumb brushing away a tear from his eye.
"Eliot" He hadn't heard the door open "How can I help?" Margo asked, her voice soft and caring. The kind of voice she only used for him, when he was going through deep shit. "What proof of concept? Do you want peaches and plums? Talk to me baby"
"My husband is dead, and he died for me, after I rejected him" he said, crying and laughing at the same time, not meeting her gaze, "What's there to get? There is no way to help." He sat up, took another pull from the vodka bottle, finishing it, and tossed it towards the trash can. "Go help Alice if you want to help someone playing a grieving widow" he said standing up and walking towards the door of his room, grabbing the door handle to steady himself momentarily so he didn't fall over when all the blood rushed to his head. "I am way too far gone" He took step out the door of the room when Margo, quick on her feet, caught him by the elbow and pulled him back.
"You are not telling me something," she said seriously, her single eye studied him as if examining his very soul. She must have removed her Fairy Eye to watch someone or something while she was taking care of him. The eye patch she was wearing today was black with a black lace flourish to add texture. It was beautiful, and matched blazer. She patted a spot on the bed next to where she was sitting. "Come talk to me" She said again. He tried to be his usual aloof self, but her eye tore straight though him. He sighed and obeyed. He could never refuse Margo. She smiled and pulled him with her, so they were lying on the pillows.
He hugged her close, his thin cheek tousling her hair and started to speak, "Do you remember when you stopped Q and I from entering the Clock after you retrieved the key from Jane Chatwin's body?"
She nodded "Q sent me a letter that looked ancient and I received it on my wedding day to that murderer who killed his brother, so he could wed me. So gross." He put a finger to her lips
"Hush Bambi, my turn, my story." He said. Eliot took a deep breath and started again. "When you received that letter and restarted our timeline, we never lived that time at the cottage by the mosaic, but once we went to Fillory, and read the letter ourselves, we remembered it all." He started to cry silently, he was glad Margo was resting on his chest like always, so she couldn't see. He tried to keep his breathing normal, but that was a little harder. "We were married. For fifty years. There were three of us. Arielle died a few years after we had a son, we raised him, and he left when he was old enough. We were happy. For so many years, it was just Q and me, in that little cottage, and we were so god damn happy." He was crying harder now. Margo sat up and stared at him, her eye looking more concerned than before.
"God, I'm so sorry El," she said her hand stroking his hollow cheek "I didn't know"
He shook his head, "That's not the worst part," he said "When we were sitting there, in the throne room, reminiscing, he asked if I wanted to make a go of it in this timeline. And I ran, I ran away so fucking fast." He said laughing as tears ran down his cheeks
"'Proof of concept'?" She asked. He nodded. She sighed "El, Q knew that you run, we both do. Anyone who really knows you, knows that you run when things get real. He knew you, he knew you loved him. And he was completely in love with you, we all could see that. Even Alice."
He shook his head, "Penny said that he just stood there and let the pocket universe take him" he said "He basically committed suicide. Why would he do that if he loved me? and he knew I loved him? Wouldn't he know that his death would break my heart?"
"I don't know what to tell you" Margo said, "No one really knew what was in Q's head, but we all know that he had been struggling for a really long time. Maybe the Monster just took all he had, emotionally, mentally, physically, psychologically. Maybe after his final decision to cast in the pocket world to keep the Library Douche from becoming an all-powerful god, the pocket world wouldn't let him come back, since he was the caster. Or maybe he was just done. we will never know. All we do know is that the Monsters are gone, for good, you and Julia are safe, and magic is back, and it is all thanks to Quentin."
Eliot smiled wryly, "you know, that doesn't exactly make me feel that much better, he is still not here"
"I know," Margo said, smiling softly, "but if you keep it up, his sacrifice will be for nothing. Q wouldn't want that, you know he wouldn't." She stared at him until he met her eye "He died for us, for everyone, for magic. Of course, it sucks, and of course I miss him too, but we honor him by keeping ourselves and magic alive. Keeping Fillory the safe and beautiful place he loved for so long. Don't sit here and wallow. Come with me and fight for Fillory. For Quentin. Because he would want you to. And don't, fucking do NOT, die." She finished. Margo always had a way with words. He felt emboldened by them, by her. She was right. Quentin would be so pissed at him if he just sat here while Fillory was in trouble. Wait, he was missing something…
He sat up straight, for the first time in a month - as himself that is, cast his legs over the side of the bed and crossed them elegantly like the High King he once was. "Margo, what's going on with Fillory? Tell me everything."