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carefully laying down the tiles

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"Fifty years, who gets proof of concept like that?" Quentin chuckled, pushing away hair that had finally grown to its former length pre-Brian. "You could have confessed that a lot better." There was no sound returned, no clever quip, but Quentin knew he was listening. Even though words wouldn't escape his lips, Quentin knew exactly how he might respond.

"Y'know, I've actually been thinking about those fifty years. Trying to come up with something poetic to say in response. Yet it all ends up wrong up here," he taps the side of his head as he looks out the window, "and the words get jumbled. But it's worth trying again right?" 

Once more, there were no words to come out of the male lying on the perfectly made bed beside Quentin's little chair. Margo had set up only the finest for when all was said and done. It had taken months of careful preparation to fool the monster into believing his alliance with their group was solid and to protect Eliot's body from future damage. The monster had done its work with numerous bottles of tequila it stole from Ember-knows-where. Quentin was surprised they managed to keep the pills out of Eliot's system long enough to ignite the ritual, projecting the spirit of the monster into a new host. A host they could successfully trap in Castle Blackspire.

The feat had taken a lot of magical reserve that with the help of Alice, they were able to take magic back from the Library. None of it had been easy, even remembering it Q knew he was glossing over the traumatic details of it all. Yet they were alive, and so was Eliot.

One minor issue: Eliot's body was in shock, launching him into a coma. Several magical medical professionals explained that this was a defense mechanism his body produced to combat the trauma of the ordeal; giving his brain and body time to recoup. They just had to remain patient and hope he'd awaken on his own.

Currently they were on day fifteen of waiting. Margo insisted he be returned to Fillory, with Quentin demanding to remain by his side. She didn't fight it, understanding all too well how much time they had lost with someone they cared about deeply. They took turns with Fen to sit by him and talk, apparently that helped ground the patient. He didn't understand, barely grasping the strings of conceptualizing magic.

It was his turn now. He had a few hours before Margo would bust in, dressed in some glamorously extravagant outfit, eye focused tightly to Eliot. Quentin learned the hard way to not put up a fight and leave quietly. He had to remember the world wasn't just him and Eliot. Not in this life.

"I was thinking about the mosaic. All those memories, they're crystal clear, like I could jump right in and live it now. I can sometimes feel the roughness of the tiles in my hands, the ache in my back and knees." Quentin smiled softly, leaning forward so his elbows pressed on his knees, hands overlapping. "I started drawing the patterns, or at least the ones I can recall. There were so damn many I don't know how we ever thought we could get through all the combinations in one lifetime."

"I think about Teddy too. I still firmly stand by my opinion that he got his attitude from you. And his smart mouth." He snorted, thinking of their little squabbles that meant nothing in their peaceful world. He couldn't even think of one serious argument they had that maintained significance. "If you were awake right now, would you fight me on that? Probably not. You've always been proud of the extremely negative influence you can have on people. Especially in regards to their mouths." He tried to keep his tone sarcastic at that last bit before his face fell as he thought more seriously on what he had sat here to say. He knew he wanted it to be meaningful, if Eliot were truly listening. If not, it felt oddly cathartic.

He swallowed the thick lump forming in his throat. "Proof of concept. That afternoon, I could tell something was holding you back. Fuck Eliot, we spent fifty years together. A whole god damn lifetime, did you really think I couldn't tell when you were lying to me? It still...broke me. To hear you say that it wasn't us because I knew the truth. Everyday spent with our little cottage, our mosaic, our life, was completely us. Irrefutably. How could you turn on that?" Quentin felt the bubbling of emotions rise to the surface. Normally he kept a tight lid on it as best he could but shit, he needed to let it out. "Then I saw you that afternoon, through the monster. I saw your eyes and I knew. I knew because I've seen the same look in my own eyes when I look in the mirror. Apologetic, feeling undeserving of love and forgiveness. Unwanted. Sad. In case you haven't noticed, I'm the kicked puppy of the group. Kind of an expert in self-deprecation."

"Then I also saw fire. A fire that showed me how alive you were. Desperate to be set free. Peaches and plums, motherfucker. That was your call to action, wasn't it? A bold declaration of how you wanted to fight? Either that, or I'm misconstruing the limited window you seemed to have on freedom for poetry. Oh well." 

He paused, rubbing his hands together. They were smooth, Fillory baths infused with a variety of oils that made blemishes a thing of the past. If he focused enough on the cottage though, and their quest he could feel the chalky roughness of his hands from labor. "Here's my bit of poetry for you. Will probably suck and take way too much time but I don't give a fuck. I'm selfish Eliot, selfish in wanting more than fifty years. So here goes."

"The mosaic. It was more than a quest, and more than a representation of a life we'd lived together. Life is made up of all these little components of memories that can be happy, sad, confusing and sometimes exhilarating. Sometimes they're a strange combination of emotions. They're unique, like the tiles we lay down or the patterns we created. The mosaic was a representation of how we grew together, how our love grew and extended to Arielle and Teddy. How we never forgot Julia, Margo or even Penny. The pain of not seeing them again. The rush when we kissed for the first time, truly. The mosaic was love in its purest form. The physical evidence of proof of concept."

"That's why I wanted to write them down again. I wanted to see each image and recall a memory and write it down. Immortalize our story so that if you wake up and keep pushing me away, I can shove it in your face and say: Fuck Eliot, just look. Listen and look for once in your fucking life." Quentin was wiping away so many tears now, and he wondered if Fillory had heard of Kleenex yet, or they were still using those awful reusable cloths. "I fought too hard for you. I almost died at the hands of a monster who had your eyes, your voice, hell even your smell because I wasn't willing to give up when everyone else was. I couldn't risk breaking a single tile of ours, because breaking one meant ruining it all and I hate letting go. That's why I never stopped reading about Fillory, even as a grown ass man."

"So yeah, proof of concept. Peaches and plums, motherfucker. I love you. So it would be great if you could wake the hell up so we can just kiss and live happily ever after. Y'know, not be a difficult asshole and make all this pining shit more heart wrenching. Because after all this, everything we've been through, can you at least admit we both deserve some happiness?"

He forced his eyes to look at Eliot's sleeping form. His face was peaceful, hair trimmed just the way he liked it. Maids had dutifully maintained bathing him, dressing him in comfortable, Eliot styled clothing. His crown sat on the pillow beside him untouched, Fillory ready for their ruler when he decided to stop playing Sleeping Beauty. He watched his chest rise and fall with every breath calmly. Not a movement made, not a hair out of place. It was almost too perfect that Quentin had to avert his gaze. No, Eliot was graceful but never perfect.

In fact, there was a graceful messiness to him that Quentin adored. Like the way his hair fell when he woke up in the mornings, looking down at Quentin. The effortless appearance of his unbuttoned shirts, exposing the skin of his chest in just the right way. His lanky limbs draped across whatever surface in a way that would normally be unbecoming of a high king. Eliot was not one to lay down peacefully, especially not in the company of another. Sometimes there was a gentle ease but never calmness.

Quentin ran a hand over his face, sighing deeply. "I just really wish you would wake up Eliot. I miss you."

It was silent, as he had grown used to it being so. There were faint animal noises to be heard outside, common to Fillory. He was getting used to them chirping around the longer he stayed. He wasn't sure at what point all this sitting and talking would become useless and he'd return. Never? Another fifty years?

Maybe...if that's what it took.

He was about ready to leave when a noise broke the silence. It was muffled almost, like someone was holding back a laugh. Quentin's heart quickened as he sharply turned towards Eliot. For a moment, he thought his senses were betraying him, as he looked the same as before. Yet the longer he looked, he noticed the corners of Eliot's mouth quirking upwards into his signature grin.

Another moment later and he lazily opened his eyes, head heavy as he turned to Quentin. His voice was hoarse as he spoke, but it was Eliot. Quentin found himself crying again, because fuck, this was exactly out of a lame fairy tale.

"Life is like laying down tiles huh? And you said I was bad at confessions."