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This Magic...

 

 

                      A little off the coast of Hanalei Bay, Hawaii

 

“Jesus fu- watch out!” A voice shouted over the loud thundering of the waves that were currently smashing into the side of the tiny fisherman boat without remorse, shaking the hull and thrashing everyone on board.  Just then, one of the fishermen plunged forwards and shoved into Eliot, pinning them both to the soggy floorboards as a massive figure vaulted above them and into the water. Not even a beat later, Eliot pushed the heavier man off of him and rushed to the railing, slick hands clutching the slippery metal as he peered overboard, an almost manic smile stretching over his features.  

“Atlas, come look at this, this one has marigold scales - marigold, Atlas!”  Eliot shouted elatedly, auburn eyes transfixed on the breathtaking, swirling colors that gracefully glided around the boat, shiny scales glistening as the rain pelted the ocean surface. Occasionally, a head adorned with various oceanic trinkets and golden jewelry would poke out and hiss or hum a sweet, short melody, which would turn into an affronted gurgling sound as it realized its magic was being obstructed by a ward.

A wet hand clapped around his neck as a warm body invaded his space, a mop of wet, silver hair sticking onto the side of his face. “Holy shit look at that jaw, the thing could fit your entire head inside its mouth,” Atlas yelled, his smile, while not quite as wide as Eliot’s, was just as roused. The twins clutched at each other in an attempt to stay grounded while the boat shifted underneath their feet as they excitedly pointed and bounced off ideas off of one another.  

These were actual, honest to god, as real as Atlas’ rainbow socks - mermaids

“You two!” A tall, sinewy looking man pulled Eliot from his brother by the scruff of his jacket, roughly jerking him into the mast, “What the fuck are you doin’- “He started, when Atlas sprung around and growled, “-Don’t you fucking touch my brother- “

“-My crew are tryin’ to keep those damn things at bay, while you morons are ogling the scaly wretches that’re tryin’ to tear apart my ship!” The Taiwanese looking man hollered, arms gesturing wildly all around him- as if even the storm its self was caused by them. 

Which, first of all, rude - and second of all, if somebody on this ship that didn’t have his face manhandled him again, he was going to start throwing hands.

Eliot glared at him as he squared his shoulders, staring straight into the man’s eyes, “Your crew is exactly the reason why they’re attacking us in the first place!” the redhead yelled, pointing an accusing finger at him, “They were going to pass us by if you haven’t had the ingenious idea to steer directly through their hunting party,” The young man huffed, making his way to Atlas’ side, where his brother looked like he was about ready to start throwing people overboard. And Eliot would help, he might even roast some of them - the mermaids would at least be more thankful than this lot. If it wasn’t for his soundproofing ward, they wouldn’t even be standing here to have this argument.

Eliot knew that he was right, the man (wasn’t his name something like ‘Kelly’?) knew that Eliot was right – hell, even Atlas agreed, but that didn’t seem to deter the man from getting up in his business, hand bawling up the hem of his polka dot shirt, “Listen ‘ere you fuckin’- “his words were cut short by a shriek as he was lifted off of the ground and levitated right over the railing, where the mermaids were harping in delight of the fresh meat. The bravest of them were jumping out of the water in an attempt to catch the struggling man above, only to quickly fall back bellow as he was lifted out of their reach.

Atlas sighed, index and middle finger pinched together as he held the thrashing man above the pit of hungry ocean-dwellers, “Adam, Adam…” He clicked his tongue, “I’m terribly sorry about all this… how about we start over?” He said, one hand on his hip as he shook his fingers lightly, bobbing Adam (Adam! That was his name) up and down.

Eliot snorted, leave it to Atlas to resort to unorthodox methods to resolve a conflict. You won’t catch him complaining though, the way Adam quickly dropped the tough guy act, flailing around like fish on land and screaming like a banshee as the creatures yipped and growled at him was too good to pass up.

“This is how it’s gonna’ go down, alright?” Atlas asked, not even giving the wheezing man a chance to respond as he dipped his fingers lower, “You’re going to tell your men to back off, and you’re going to let me and Eliot sort out your mess,” As he emphasized on your, Atlas dipped Adam even lower, putting him almost halfway down towards the surface of the water, “Then, you will drop us out on the agreed spot without any further complaints,”

“How does that sound?” He asked airily, the corner of his mouth quirking upwards, betraying the mirth he was trying to cover. As prickly as Atlas’ general persona was, there is no denying that his brother was just as mischievous as he himself was - It ran in the family.

Sweet fucking – y-yes, okay-okay,” Adam yelled, “Just pul-fucking Christ- pull me up damn it!” He wailed as one of the mermaids came close to chipping off a part of his shirt.

With a whisk of his twins’ fingers, the burly man bounced up and landed roughly on the wooden floor, “Glad we could work this small misunderstanding,” Atlas started, voice uncharacteristically light, “Oh, and,” he lowered himself to a crouch, face to face with Adam’s shaking frame, “Touch my brother one more time, and a few clawed fish will be the least of your worries,”  He clapped Adam on the shoulder once, twice, then stood up and twirled around to face Eliot, a small smirk painted on his lips.

Eliot laughed, his whole frame shaking with mirth. What the hell?

“I’m glad you’re amused brother, but we should really get to work, I’m just about sick of this boat,” Atlas smiled, but as soon as the smile appeared it was gone, replaced by the all too familiar scowl that generally never left his brother’s face. Ah well, so much for that then.

Well hey, look at it this way, at least he managed to see some actual mermaids! Having to fix some tuneless jackass’ mess wasn’t that bad of a tradeoff.

Plus, Atlas was having fun.

 

One month earlier… 

 

Motherwell, Scotland.

 

“Man, I’m beat,” Eliot whined as he flopped onto the queen-sized bed, aching muscles twitching against the soft comforter beneath him. Above him, Atlas rolled his eyes as he floated a huge unicorn plush toy that had a “slap me!” button right above its left ass cheek, onto the chair in the corner of the room.

What? Atlas dared him to win one of the rigged games at the local carnival and Eliot wasn’t a man who could turn down a challenge like that. And Atlas had seemed to like the stupid unicorn, judging by the harsh laughter he let out every time his eyes passed the damn thing. So, he wanted to make his twin smile, sure him.

“Well, you were the one who wanted to see the, and I quote, ‘Freaky-ass Scotland forest magic that people are always warning everyone about’,’” Atlas snorted, pushing at his sides with a low ‘move over’, before plopping down next to him, “At least now you have a few scrapes to remind you to not to rush into a faery circle without asking permission and then crushing one of their healing domes,” Atlas exclaimed as he lazily stretched about the bed, ‘accidentally’ elbowing Eliot in the ribs,

“Hey- ow,” the redhead laughed, pushing at his twin with little force.

Honestly, Eliot was incredibly proud with the progress he had made in concern with Atlas’ general dislike of touching. While before, he would have pulled from a hug or slapped his hand away when Eliot went to ruffle his hair, now he actually initiated the contact himself! A quick pat here or a shoulder bump there – things that, before now, were deemed as a ‘useless waste of time and a breach of personal space’.  And, y’know, he actually smiles more now.

 If Eliot doesn’t receive a damn badge of honor for that, somebody was going to get their underwear transmutated.

“First off, I didn’t even know there was a faery community in that clearing- “He began when Atlas scoffed, a small smile poking through his stoic exterior, “I didn’t!” Eliot laughed, reaching behind himself to clutch at a pillow, before throwing it at his twin with practiced accuracy.

The second the pillow slumped over Atlas’ face, the whole room went deathly still, the mood shifted and Eliot honest to god shivered, regretting his actions immediately. “Uh…” He began, when Atlas slowly pushed himself on his elbows, pillow sliding down his chest to reveal a deadpan expression, making it impossible to read his thoughts.

“Atlas, brother of mine, whom I love so dearly- “Eliot squeaked, slowly backing away into the corner of the room, hands thrown up in a soothing manner to try and defuse the situation – or to potentially protect himself. Atlas stood up, pillow softly tucked in his hand as he stared directly into his brother’s eyes, “I hope you understand what you just did,” He rumbled out, voice low and dangerous as he lifted the pillow into the air with a flick of his wrist, then another one…

Waitwaitwait I didn’t- “Eliot scrambled, trying to dash out of the way to escape his twin’s wrath, but it was useless. As soon as he made a step to run, the plush unicorn slammed into him, throwing him off his balance and making him fall flat on his ass. From then on, the abuse began.

Pillow after pillow slammed into him, over his head, into his ribs. Magic crackled all around the room as clumps of feathers floated around them when some of the pillows ripped from the force while laughter bounced around the motel room. He could have sworn that he heard one of the ugly, green vases that decorated the windowsills of their room shatter somewhere behind him, but he was a little preoccupied to care as he dashed into the bathroom, mind working overtime to come up with some sort of a plan. And then it hit him.

As Eliot began focusing his magic, he could hear the bathroom door open with a start, a pillow already halfway towards his face, when it suddenly stopped a lick away from his nose. Eliot smiled triumphantly as more pillows floated languidly towards him as if attracted to a magnet, and a confused ‘what the hell…?’ sounded from the bedroom. With a snicker, Eliot directed the pillows away from him and ran back into the room, his minions zipping behind him like rockets as he shot his twin a merciless smile, “I understand what I did, though it seems you underestimated me. Again!” Eliot laughed as he jabbed his hand forwards, every pillow rushing towards his brother’s chest simultaneously.

Atlas braced himself, but when the hit never came he peeked over his hands, only to let out a ‘Ghn!’ as his brother ran into him and rammed them both into the bed, red comforter tousling and shifting under their combined weight. They stared at each other for a second, before busting out in breathless laughter, their chests heaving as if they had just ran a marathon. As the twins settled down, Atlas reached towards Eliot’s head and pulled at his nose, prompting a muffled ‘Gh-hey!’  As he chuckled, “You used that roundup spell Beckett showed you, didn’t you?” He stated, already knowing the answer to that question, “Two can play dirty, oh brother of mine,” Eliot snorted and pushed his twin’s hand away, stretching his body against the ruined sheets of the bed, auburn eyes idly following the floating feathers that glided around the air in the aftermath of their battle,

“You know, you and Beckett should totally do a raincheck and see who knows spells that the other doesn’t, you ‘ll be surprised at his extensive knowledge for all-things-magical,” Eliot explained as he beckoned the TV remote with his hand. That earned him a snort as his twin shifted upwards to lean on the bedframe, arm thrown over his eyes, “If anything, that pompous prick can stand to learn something from me,” Eliot rolled his eyes fondly, half of his attention trained on finding something interesting on broadcast.

Some things never change.  But then again…

Eliot shifted his gaze away from the flat screen to his twin, observing how Atlas was scoffing at something one of the actors had said, murmuring at the TV about how ‘tuneless people can be so idiotic sometimes, I wonder how most of them manage to survive past their teens,’ prompting a quiet snort from Eliot.

 He wouldn’t change them for the word either, even if he could.

 “…Hey, Atlas,” Eliot bumped Atlas’ shoulder with his own, prompting his brother to shift his gaze from under his arm, chocolate eyes training on his face, “Hmm…?”

“I’m glad we managed to find each other,” Eliot whispered, a peaceful smile stretching his tired face and a soft glow shining through his skin.

Ohh, come on with this again! You know, the first few times he lit up like a glowstick in a rave were fun and all, but he was trying to have a heart to heart here, not blindsight everyone in this room - Being a sun-att is not as great as it’s played out to be…

Atlas’s eyes widened almost comically and for a second, Eliot worried if he had said something wrong, an apology already filling his lips, before Atlas’s eyes softened, a sheepish smile brightening his features, “Yeah…” His twin whispered back, head turning to stare at the motel’s roof,

“Me too.”

Nobody said anything for a long while, Eliot presuming that his twin was fast asleep, as he hadn’t moved in a while, until a “Hey,” brought him out of his daze, his curious gaze trained on Atlas’ face. Eliot hummed a response, far too tired to try and form coherent sentences, “Since you’re done crushing the homes of innocent forest residents- “His brother trailed off as Eliot thrusted his knee into his side, a ‘shut up you jackass,’ sounded from the pillow that Eliot had pushed his face in,

 “-I was wondering what was next on the magical agenda,” Atlas huffed a laugh as he pulled Eliot’s leg where he tried to jab him, all the while Eliot dragged his body sideways to reach under the bed, where he had stashed an actual, pen and paper list with places and things that he wanted to do with his brother, making up for lost time or just exploring the magical world together for the heck of it.

Eliot unfolded the crumpled list, ignoring the weird staining in the corners, (where had they even come from?) before lethargically scanning the contents, “Uhh…” He trailed off, bleary eyes having a hard time reading much of anything at the moment, “You know what, I’m feeling spontaneous,” He suddenly exclaimed, throwing the list somewhere behind him to be found at a later time, sending a smirk to his brother.

Atlas sighed, rubbing his hands into his eyes and grumbling under his breath.

If he had a problem, he just had to deal with it. This was Eliot’s rodeo and he wasn’t going to put up Atlas’ incessant need for sassing him at every hour of every day, no sir.

“Alright,” Atlas groaned after a few beats of silence, blasé gaze trained on his brother’s tired features, “Let’s hear what your genius idea is this time,” He sniped as he closed his eyes, silver hair spilling onto the pillow billow him as he shimmied his way into a more comfortable position. Rude

Eliot blew a breath, wholly unimpressed with Atlas’ attitude right now. He was too tired to deal with the petty levels of sass that his twin was so fond of using, thank you very much.

“How do you feel about…” He waited for a few beats to see if his brother would respond, but he only got a non-committed grunt as Atlas slid even lower on the bed, now completely laid down on the comforter, “Wow, thanks for being interested in your brother’s ambitions and hobbies, I don’t know what I would do without you,” Eliot sassed, laughing as Atlas used his own strategy against him as his twin jabbed a foot into his stomach,

“Oh, shut up you idiot,” Atlas grumbled with little heat, a private smile peeking from under his arm, “Fine, you great pest, how do I feel about what,” Atlas finally said, lifting himself on his elbows.

Eliot smiled triumphantly, waggling his eyebrows at his twin, “How do you feel about… mermaid hunting?” The redhead whispered dramatically, smile falling a little at the nerves that suddenly started to cloud his mind, becoming worse with each second of deafening silence,

“Uh, I mean- “Eliot began, only to be interrupted by Atlas’ expression. One that he had never seen on his twin’s face before.

Like ever.

He looked like a kid at a carnival, eyes star-struck at every attraction and stomach grumbling at every stand filled with sweets he passed. It was… So adorable.

And somehow, Atlas and adorable in once sentence sounded way too uncanny.

“You know, for once that sounds like fun,” He began, a playful quirk of his lips letting Eliot know that he was being teased, “I’m in,” Atlas stated, pulling his arms behind his back and leaning against the headboard.

Eliot waited for a few beats, his smile almost impossibly wide, before copying his brother’s posture, “Admit it, you just wanna see mermaids because of Disney, you can’t fool me,” Eliot hummed a laugh as Atlas’ face gained a few shades of pink, grumbling ‘Why are you such a nerd’, but never outright denying the statement.

Yeah, they were going to be just fine.

 

Currently…

Hanalei Bay, Hawaii

 

“Ahh, finally!” Eliot sighed contently, stretching out the kinks in his back and digging the heels of his bare feet into the lukewarm sand that went on for miles all around him. The evening sun beating down on his pale skin, warming his chilled bones and caressing his shivering skin.  Thank god they were on solid ground, why and how anyone could stand being stranded in the ocean for a prolonged period of time, he couldn’t even begin to speculate.

 He has to give Zeph more credit.

“Thank everything that is attuned, now we can scratch off that stupid wish off of the damn list,” Atlas groaned, rubbing his eyes as he sat down on the sand next to him. Eliot shot Atlas an unimpressed look from his spot, “If I remember correctly, you were the one who got really excited to go on a mermaid hunt,” Eliot said as he trained his eyes on the smooth rolling of the waves against the sand.

“Well yes, but quite frankly I didn’t think I would be forced to fend for my life in a life or death situation while having to chase off the very creatures I came to see, getting drenched to the bone in a magically induced storm, meanwhile having to save the life of some tuneless idiot - whose sole actions were the reason for the whole mess!” Atlas complained, emphasizing the wet part as he took off his cardigan, squeezing out the water down onto the sand.

“That’s what an adventure entails A! You’re just used to the comforts of modern life, sipping hot cocoa while the rain pours outside of your apartment window-” Eliot began, ignoring Atlas’s small snort of denial, “- Real adventure is getting crushed beneath a heavy-ass ripped dude while trying to lower the mast of a boat, getting your hands dirty to dig out a lost relic, being thrown into heated magic battles with manticores- that sort of thing,” Eliot explained, crossing his legs to try and block out the shine that was beating on his eyes.

 “Oh, I see… Is that why you declared you were sick of every magical thing wanting to kill you, and that you wanted to find something that wasn’t dangerous to explore for once?”  Atlas began snidely, making Eliot flush with embarrassment as he recounted his earlier outburst.

“That was a momentary lap of weakness, I assure you I’m just as hardhearted an adventurer as they come!” Eliot tried, the statement sounding weak as hell even to his own ears. And judging by the snort of disbelief from his side, Atlas didn’t believe him either.

Maybe he should revisit his bucket list, just in case…

 

While Eliot was lounging around the beach, he chatted with Atlas as his brother stared down a map, pulling some spell or other to find out where they would be staying, when his phone demanded his attention with a soft ‘beep!’ The redhead fished out his phone from his back pocket, screen flashing in indication for a new message. After unlocking his phone, a myriad of messages from this morning clogged his phone.

Jeez, and they say Eliot was overbearing…

 

___Sunday, July 16, 2019 8:23 p.m___

 

 NEW MESSAGE FROM: ZEPHYR HERDANDEZ (Human_Toster) –

 

 

Human_Toster
  (8:24a.m)

gm you basic bish, hows ocean life trting you..?

 

Human_Toster
  (8:31a.m)

R U DROWNING??!?? GETIN EATEN BY A KRAKEN?????!

 

Human_Toster
  (8:32a.m)

Dnt worry, super zeph will save you!!!

aftr i get some fuel in me

_______________________________

NEW MESSAGE FROM: SHREYA MISTRY (Qeen_Bee) –

 

Queen_bee
  (10:12a.m)

Good morning Eliot!

 

Queen_bee
  (10:13a.m)

Do you even have reception out there? I would assume not, but it doesn’t hurt to check

I bought the cutest outfit yesterday Eli, it reminded me of you so you absolutely must try it on, I already bought it, after all, ~

 

Queen_bee
  (10:16a.m)

Call me when you can?

_______________________________

NEW MESSAGE FROM: GRIFFIN LANGLEY (Griff_Griff)

 

 

Griff_Griff
 (12:32p.m)

What’s shakin bakin <33

 

Griff-Griff<3
 (12:46p.m)

Uh-oh, is your brother hogging all of your attention again? Leave some for meee :(

 

Griff-Griff<3
 (12:58p.m)

Shoot gotta go, but call me asap when you land, ok? ily <3

_______________________________

NEW MESSAGE FROM: BECKETT HARRINGTON (Malfoy) –

 

 

 

Malfoy
 (3:00p.m)

 

Good afternoon.

 

Malfoy
 (3:01p.m)

I would presume that you have no service, what with being stranded on a boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with a band of savages, so Instead of wasting more of my time texting you, call me when you arrive at your destination.

(3:02p.m)

I would like to see how you are doing.

 

 

 

 

“Something wrong?” Atlas’ voice suddenly sounded right next to his ear, scaring him out of his damn skin, “Jesus H, Atlas!”  Eliot wheezed, clutching his phone next to his chest, half-heartedly glaring at his brother.

“Oh please, can it with the dramatics,” Atlas rolled his eyes (yeah, because he was the one to talk…) and raised a perfectly sculpted silver eyebrow at Eliot’s phone, “What did your boyfriend send you a nude or something? - actually, wait, I don’t want to know.” He immediately backtracked once he realized his mistake, making Eliot laugh. Who was being the dramatic one now?

This whole situation was so surreal… At the start of the year, he was miserable and alone, already coming to terms with the idea that he wouldn’t belong anywhere and that he wouldn’t live that exciting a life. And then, he discovered he had magic, he met his twin, he fell in love and got stalked and almost killed by some fucking lunatic with a god complex - all at the same damn time! And the kicker was that the strangest, most amazing things of them all, was the fact that Atlas wanted to come with him on his crazy quest to experience more of the magic world.  Once the year at Penderghast ended and they had so much free time on their hands, Eliot declared his plans in front of his whole group of friends, and then Atlas had just asked him ‘You have a spot for one more?’ And that was that.

And Eliot couldn’t really blame him either, if he had spent his entire childhood cowering in fear of some colossal threat, spending most of his time either training or studying about some spell or another, he would have jumped at the first opportunity to experience something new… Or maybe, Atlas just wanted to spend some time with his twin – who knew what went on in that brilliant, stubborn head of his.

Atlas shook his head at him, amusement dancing behind his chocolate eyes, “C’mon twerp, I found where we’re staying,” His twin prompted with a light kick to his shins, “Hey, who’s the twerp here? I’m older by like, 3 minutes!” Eliot whined, pulling himself up and dusting off his shorts from the sand.

That got him a light slap on the back of the head as Atlas jokingly glowered, “You might have been born 3 minutes before me, but that gave me the advantage of having more time to develop my amazing charm and intelligence - things that you’re clearly lacking, big brother,” Atlas dragged with such sarcasm that if you tried, you could slice it with a butter knife,

“Wow, rude,” Eliot scoffed, a permanent smile plastered on his face as he and his twin jabbed and teased each other all the way towards the seaside villa they had rented out for their vacation.

 

Yeah, there was nothing better than this.

 

“Woah-hoho! Look at this place, I could fit my entire dorm room in here if I wanted to,” Eliot exclaimed, wide eyes taking in the inside of the villa. White oak wood made the entirety of the villa, expensive-looking leather furniture plastered around the living room, all corners and windows were covered in exotic looking plants (Were some of them… glowing?), and the bar was stocked with all kinds of alcohol – cheap and expensive looking alike. He walked around for a bit, scoping out the different rooms and furnishings, bare feet patting about the creaky floor. While the villa was big, it only had 3 rooms in total, plus a veranda. The bathroom wasn’t anything too special, though it did have a jacuzzi. One that will be thoroughly used during their stay here, if he had anything to say about it. Eliot peeked his head inside of the bedroom, fleetingly stunned at the sheer size of the bed.

“Jesus…you could fit like, 5 people in there…” Eliot murmured to himself, shaking his head in disbelief. He wished his bed back at his dorm was this big, then he could host the most epic sleepovers anyone had ever seen.

He slowly made his way across the room, eyes scanning the intricate scratching that covered most of the floorboards and walls. Some looked like illustrations of the nine elements, while others looked like wild beasts the likes of which Eliot had never seen before – there was even something akin to a story being drawn in one of the corners! Though, some of it was covered up by a vine that slithered upwards to wrap around a detailed wooden figure of an Owl. Eliot lightly traced some of the carvings with his finger, following the story of (what he presumed) was a faery, who got lost at sea, washing up on this very island almost at the brink of death. Then being found by some weird looking figure with a mask of a bird and being led into a village in the trees… though the rest was cracked as various flowers poked their heads through the fissures in the wall, then wrapping up and following the vine.

Eliot stood there for a few more moments, completely engrossed in the tales the wall told him, before hearing Atlas shout something akin to ‘Where the hell did we place the cleansing amulet?’, bringing him out of his trance, “Huh, this is super weird… wonder if this was just a design choice?”

Well, whatever, he had a whole island to explore, some old carving in a way-too-expensive villa wasn’t the main attraction at the moment… though, Atlas and he should definitely take a more detailed look into them later.

“Man, this place is cool,” Eliot sighed as he made his way out from the bedroom, unceremoniously flopping down onto the couch, the smooth material of the leather caressing his abused, sunburnt skin. As he sluggishly sank into the softness of the sofa, his nose got a whiff of a smell so palpable, it felt as if he could taste it. It smelled like the lilac that raced up his window at his dorm in Penderghast, the soft smell making its way throughout his room every morning, tenderly bringing him out from his slumber. It also smelt like – “Hey, this place smells…” Atlas cut Eliot’s train of thought short as he worded the exact thing that was running through Eliot’s mind,

Familiar…” Both of them said at once, eyes locked into each other as their eyes communicated their thoughts, ‘It reminds me of something’ ’Eliot’s eyes uttered, while Atlas drew his eyebrows in a determined pinch, ‘Yeah…home’. Both of them said nothing for a few beats before Atlas sighed and shook his head, “I’ll be back in a moment,” He quickly announced, already halfway across the room as he barged into their bedroom, the door shutting behind him with a force.

What…was all that about?

Eliot stared after his brother in mild confusion, worry edging into the ridges of his mind as different theories rushed through his thoughts, but being quickly disregarded the second he focused on them. This was Atlas he was worrying over, one of the most capable and skilled people he knew! If there was something Eliot had to worry about, Atlas would let him know.

With that in mind, Eliot willed to calm himself enough to relax into the soft leather, the same smell that induced this weird situation lulling him softly to sleep.

And he would have fallen asleep if it wasn’t for Atlas dropping his suitcase onto his stomach abruptly.

“Why are you like this,” Eliot bemoaned, throwing an arm over his eyes as he flicked the suitcase down on the floor next to the couch, “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Atlas chuckled as he too sat down on the couch, kicking his feet onto the coffee table and drawing out his own phone. The redhead snuck a glance at his twin, the weird mood he had been in gone, as if it simply…never happened. Not that Eliot was going to bring it up, at least not right now - they came here to relax and explore, not to get into their fucked up past.

Eliot lifted his arm just a bit, so he could look at his twin more comfortably, “Are you going to text Beckett?” He asked snidely, waggling his visible eyebrow at his brother. To the untrained eye, it looked as if Atlas was just shifting because he wasn’t comfortable. But Eliot knew better, the small fidgeting was a glaring indicator to his brother’s embarrassment.

“Oh, you so are- “He began when Atlas shoved one of the decorative pillows over his face, “Fuck off,” His twin murmured, a small flush blotching over his cheeks and neck. Eliot smiled, still wagging his eyebrows, but after a second dropped it, having remembered that he had the whole of Pend Palls knocking on his proverbial door.

 

 

 

___Sunday, July 16, 2019 9:12 p.m___

 

CONTACT: ZEPHYR HERDANDEZ (Human_Toster) –

 

 

Floating_Barnacle
  (9:12p.m)

I almost got drowned sure

but it was by mermaids dude, MERMAIDS

 

Human_toster
  (9:15p.m)

oh sick dude!!
i rmmbr when I saw my 1st mermaid! It was magical

 

Floating_Barnacle
  (9:16p.m)

It sure was! Atlas won’t be caught dead saying this, but he was pretty wow’ed too
  (9:18p.m)
can I call you tomorrow though, im beat…

 

Human_toster
  (9:19p.m)

Hell ye buddy catch some zzz

 

 

Floating_Barnacle
  (9:19p.m)

Thx man, luv u

 

 

Human_toster
  (9:20p.m)

Awwwww u2

____________________

CONTACT: SHREYA MISTRY (Qeen_Bee) –

 

Eli
  (9:25p.m)

Hey babe

 

Queen_Bee
  (9:27p.m)

Eliot! There you are, is Hawaii all that you wished it was and more?

 

Eli
  (9:28p.m)

Jurys still out ;p

Hows stuff?

 

Queen_Bee
  (9:30p.m)

Oh, the usual you know, the life of a Mistry is never quite lax I’m afraid.

But I don’t want to blow up your head with my dealings, so don’t worry too much.

How is Atlas?

 

 

Eli
  (9:30p.m)

That great grump is currently flirting with our one-stop shop for needles know-it-all trivia and info

I think its cute as shit

(9:31p.m)

My baby bro is finally growing up ;d

 

 

Queen_Bee
  (9:30p.m)

Language!

Ahh, I should usher Beckett proper, I think he knows about Atlas’ little crush, but won’t say anything in fear of ‘scaring him off’.

Ha! As if such a thing could happen.

 

 

Eliot chuckled at the image, big bad Atlas being scared off by somebody’s feelings! And Beckett’s no less. He would much rather fling himself at the threat head-on than run away from it – or from Beckett for that matter, “I don’t know about you, but I could sleep for months,” Atlas yawned beside him, momentarily drawing him from his phone screen, ‘” Yeah?” Eliot prompted, though he himself feeling like he could hibernate for a few years, at least. Atlas hummed an affirmative as he stretched, phone still in hand. Eliot sighed, quickly wishing Shreya good night as he trailed behind his brother, tucking his phone into his back pocket.

 

After a few minutes of stumbling around the room and arguing about who would take the bigger closet, the twins settled down, snugly squeezed next to each other on the king-sized bed. After spending the better part of a year sleeping apart from each other while they were in Penderghast, once they were forced to share a small bed while on one of their adventures, they couldn’t go back. Feeling each other’s heartbeat, feeling each other’s warmth, being in each other’s presence keeping the nightmares away… there’s no way either of them is sleeping somewhere else.

While relaxing and slowly falling into bliss, Atlas shifted himself a little, disturbing the redhead from his sleep. Eliot didn’t say anything at first, but as Atlas continued his incessant scuffling about the bed, the redhead huffed, both confused and annoyed at his twin’s antics.

“What’s up, A?” Eliot quietly murmured, already pushing his face into the side of his pillow, “I-” Atlas began but cut himself off, “-god this is stupid…” He sighed, sitting up and pulling his knees to his chest. The action was so not-Atlas that it actually freaked Eliot out.

He quickly followed his brother’s lead and sat up beside him, throwing an arm around his tense shoulders, sleep momentarily forgotten “C’mon, talk to me Atlas, whatever it is, I promise we’ll work it out,” Eliot prompted softly, worried eyes burning into his twin’s side. A few minutes passed in silence, and just when Eliot was about to give it up, Atlas began quietly speaking, “Just…how do I even say this?” He sighed, an annoyed expression scrunching up his otherwise delicate face, “I’m not good at this whole ‘feelings’ thing, but…” Atlas inhaled a big breath and began spilling his soul,

“I’m just so fucking proud of you. When I first learned that you weren’t even aware that magic was real, I thought that you were going to slow me down, that I’d have to pull both of our weights to defeat Raife, because the Sunborns failed to prepare you… and when I saw you and thought ‘I can’t lose you now, but I don’t know how we’re gonna survive this’ but then… there you were,” He laughed quietly as if being surprised all over again,

 “You proved me wrong in every way possible…You overcame every obstacle, you became stronger, never letting anything put you down for long – you even saved my ass a couple of times!… I know I’m not a good brother, as good as you deserve, but- “

Atlas was on the brink of tears, but that was okay, because so was Eliot. And once he heard what Atlas thought of himself, he couldn’t stay quiet, “No Atlas, you don’t get to say all that and- and flunk out at the last moment,” He chastised his brother, taking his brother’s shaking hands into his own, rubbing soothing circles onto his knuckles,

“You’re the best brother I could have ever asked for,” He began, voice cracking with emotions so deep, he surprised even himself by it, “You were there for me when I needed you most, you sacrificed so much, just so we could survive. You taught me the things I needed to know while keeping a level head, always one step ahead and always knowing what to say… You’re here for me, even now,”

 Eliot chuckled tearily,” You don’t get to leave when you feel like it anymore A, you have me, and you have the Pend Pals, there’s no way we’re letting you go now.” He smiled as a few tears escaped his eyes to roll down his plump cheeks, the pale skin giving way to red streaks.

“And plus… you have the bracelet and that’s like, a lock with no key so you’re stuck with us either way,” Eliot chuckled, pulling at his twin’s bracelet to underline his meaning. “God…” Atlas croaked, pushing a hand through his eyes, brushing away his own tears, “That was the corniest thing you could have said,” Eliot laughed at that and punched his brother’s arm, sniffing and wiping away his tears.

“Doesn’t mean it’s not true,” He whispered, smiling as he looked at the night sky through the veranda door, ‘…No, it doesn’t” Atlas smiled, laying back down onto the bed, and after a few beats said, “This was mortifying and disgustingly gross, let’s not do this whole ‘soul talk’ thing ever again,” he grunted as he turned away from him.

Eliot snorted, amused by his brother’s sudden shift in mood,

” Yeah, okay,”

 

 

Eliot opened his eyes, not seeing anything besides the bleariness of his eyes when the flashing of his phone screen caught his attention. He sighed, cursing the universe for waking him up from a peaceful sleep until he saw who the message was from.

 

 

 

 

___Monday, July 17, 2019 2: 24a.m___

 

NEW MESSAGE FROM: GRIFFIN LANGLEY (Griff_Griff)

 

 

 

Griff-Griff<3
 (2: 15a.m)

Hey baby boy, you asleep?

 sorry if i woke you, this time difference is damn hard to keep track of

 

The_Bae<33
  (2: 24a.m)

Yeah I was but dont wrry to much

I dont mind it when its you ;*

 

 

Griff-Griff<3
 (2: 27a.m)

Ohh so it’s like that is it ;p

I miss you so damn much

(2: 28a.m)

Can you talk??

 

Eliot bit his lip, looking over his twin, only to see him fast asleep, normally stoic face lax and restful. He nodded to himself a few times, and then quietly snuck out of the villa, taking extra care in not waking his brother, before trotting out a-ways away from the villa, plopping down onto the sand.

 

NOW DIALING: Griff_Griff<3

 

 

After a few short clicks, the line went silent, indicating that Griffin had picked up the phone, but Eliot couldn’t bring himself to say anything, a wide array of emotions clogging up his throat and his heart hammering against his ribcage.

God, why was he like this?

Hey there,” A soft voice crackled from the other line, pulling back his attention and making the pounding of his heart that much worse, “Hi,” Eliot barely managed to whisper, a small embarrassed smile adorning his lips.

A short, sweet laugh sounded from Griffin’s side, sending goosebumps up and down his spine, “Man, this feels familiar,” he heard Griffin shuffling around from his side of the phone, that particular sound doing nothing to cool the heat that was pooling inside of him, so Eliot made an attempt to shift his attention to the conversation in hand before his mind went completely to the gutter.

“Yeah, it does…” He bit his lip, remembering how they acted when they first met, both of them like blushing maidens and unsure what to do with each other, “How’s the volunteer work treating you?” He asked in earnest, even if half of his intentions were to keep his mind off of the heated feeling in his lower half, he still wanted to see how Griffin was doing,

Honestly? Too good to be true,” He began in an amused tone, “It’s exactly what I wanted to do – I even got to work with specialists on the field to intercept a huge earthquake in the making,” He excitedly explained as more shifting could be heard from wherever he was.

Eliot stifled a groan, he should get himself together! Griffin had no idea what was happening and here was Eliot, popping a boner just from the sound of his lover’s voice, “See? This is why you should listen to me more often, I’ve always been a great judge of character!” Eliot laughed, remembering the time when Griffin had shown him the waterfall, both of them acting like fools as the waterfall flung them up and down, when they crashed into each other on accident and then fell gracelessly into the water – and where the first blooms of attraction between the two had been planted,

Yeah…” He heard Griffin sigh, some sort of creaking sound emanating from the speaker, “But enough about me, how goes the life of the twin adventurers?” He asked, amused and teasing, “Ugh, don’t even get me started,” Eliot said, endlessly thankful to whatever being was watching over him for the distraction because his libido could not handle Griffin’s voice for prolonged periods of time at the moment.

“I’ve never been so happy,” Eliot sighed, his frayed nerves relaxing at the thought of his twin, “We’ve been experiencing all that the magical world has to offer, getting our asses handed to us by garden gnomes-“As Eliot was listing off, Griffin coughed a laugh, followed by a ‘you what?’, but Eliot ignored him as he continued, “-and, we got to see actual mermaids! Do you have any idea just how big those fuckers are?”

Eliot exclaimed, completely forgetting himself and falling into a rant, “And Atlas is actually being nice and talking about his feelings! Can you believe that?” Eliot laughed, recounting the first time they had a heart to heart, Atlas had been shaking and, in his panic had punched a hole through the wall because he was annoyed at himself for choking up. How far they have come indeed.

That… you’re serious?” Griffin asked, bewilderment deathly apparent in his voice, “Cross my heart and hope not to die because my boyfriend is too much of a catch to let go,” Eliot said before his brain caught up with his mouth, teasing Griffin out of sheer force of habit.

Oh, is that so? Griffin teased, voice dropping a few octaves and sparking the embers into flames that ran through his body with full force, “Well I’ll be damned, seems like nobody can resist your charms - even your hard-ass of a brother,” Griffin chuckled, the speaker crackling against his ear, the heavy sound of his movements pushing against the speaker’s limit.

God, this man was going to kill him, “Well, you couldn’t…” Eliot hissed quietly, noticing that he had split his lip from the forceful biting he had been doing all this time. He licked his lips, gently caressing the small scratch he had made, and shifted against the sand, legs squeezing together.

“…What are you doing right now?” Griffin huffed suddenly, voice heavy with something that Eliot chose very pointedly to ignore, since it would make this situation go from 0 to 100 way too fast, “I’m getting sand in places I didn’t even know I had while entertaining this conversation, because my brother is sleeping and he has better things to do than listen to our thinly-veiled phone sex, “Eliot tried to laugh, only for the sound to come out more like a yelp than an actual laugh. He could hear the other side go deathly still, the only sound coming from the phone was the stagnant buzzing of the link, and for a moment Eliot worried that something had happened, when he heard a sound so quiet, he had to strain his ears to hear it.

Griffin had growled. Like actually growled

“That was so hot, “Tumbled out of Eliot before he could even realize what he had said, and slapped a hand against his mouth in horror, the scratch throbbing against the sudden pressure, “Uh, wait no that wasn’t-“He began, but was interrupted when Griffin suddenly spoke directly into the speaker, the rough sound of his laughter sending sparks through his body,

 “Thinly-veiled, huh? Because from where I’m standing, you’re driving me insane, “Griffin started, “You know damn well that I can tell when you’re biting your lips…

Well, he didn’t, but that was a bit of new information that he was going to save for later when he was feeling particularly cruel. And not to mention, Griffin wasn’t the only one who could tell when the other was turned on, it took two to tango, after all.

“Can you blame me? I haven’t seen you in months!” Eliot breathed, buried longing on clear display in his voice, “A guy can get a little high-strung when his boyfriend is continents apart and risking his life, when instead he could be here-“The groan that came from his lovers mouth hummed through his ears, effectively shutting him up and turning him on impossibly more.

Jesus, you’ll be the death of me, “Griffin shot, voice sounding rough and gravelly as if he hadn’t had any water for a few days, “Are you as turned on as I am? Was all that scurrying around because you can’t sit in one place? “He asked, various sounds coming from his side as if the room Griffin found himself in was shaking, but Eliot was too hyper-focused on the question he had been asked to really distinguish which sound was what. Or to pay attention to anything in general.

“… Yes, “Eliot murmured, his hand sliding down his torso slowly, making its way toward the heat between his legs, “Oh, we can’t have that… “Griffin fussed, the sound going straight to his groin, “Do you want to take care of that? I can wait” he teased, the sound of a zipper sharp and quick, spooked Eliot enough to find his voice, letting out a tiny groan of desperation.

“Griffin… “He wasn’t sure what exactly he had been asking for, but damn it, he was way too turned on for this shit, “Do you need something? “ Griffin asked nonchalantly, delight lacing his fiery voice.

How the hell was he coherent enough to tease him? That wasn’t even remotely fair.

“C’mon, please,” Eliot whimpered, hand cupping his heat, but not going farther, “please what? I don’t know what you’re asking me for kitten, “Griffin blew, apparently endlessly amused by Eliot’s predicament. Stupid, sexy asshole…

“Please… I want to get off, “The redhead uttered quickly, his whole face felt as if it was on fire and his hands were shaking something fierce, “Well…how can I refuse that?” Griffin laughed quietly, the sounds of shifting fabric only further letting Eliot know about Griffin’s activities, “The things I would do if I was there… “He trailed off, voice low and dangerous, “I would pin you down on the sand, one hand holding you down and the other gliding down your body groping and touching every patch of skin I can find, “

Griffin’s words had set off Eliot’s vivid imagination. If he really tried, he could feel Griffin’s toned abs dragging across his back, his frame melding perfectly with Griffin’s, as if he was born to be there. His calloused but soft hands dragging down, down and teasing him until he begged for relief. His hot mouth gliding up and down his throat, below his ear, his jaw, leaving scorching, wet trails and bright bruises in its wake. His lips murmuring some downright filthy things, spurring Eliot on even more.

As his fantasies overtook him, Eliot slid his own hand down his torso, brushing past his nipples and scratching down his side. Eliot was gasping quietly, his hips writing form the lack of attention, “Griffin, please… “He shook lightly, the need to touch himself almost too much to bear,

Griffin groaned quietly, swearing under his breath as the sound of sliding skin could barely be heard from the static crackling and Eliot’s own, heavy pants, “I want you to touch yourself, but do it slowly, “Griffin ordered breathlessly, “if I hear you do otherwise, I won’t let you finish at all tonight, do you understand?

 Eliot whimpered then, the heat of Griffin’s voice was doing things to him and he couldn’t help himself. The redhead shoved his hand down the hem of his shorts, pushing them down to make it easier for himself, when the cold night air hit his throbbing member, pulling a quiet hiss from him at the feeling.

“Uh huh, “ Eliot whined, just barely managing to answer as he wrapped a slicked hand around his cock, the feeling of reprieve like a cold summer breeze, “Good boy, “ Griffin rumbled, his own breaths heavy against the phone, “Tell me what you’re thinking kitten, “ He panted out with effort, voice slightly farther away than before. Eliot could have sworn that he heard slight tremors resounding inside of the room Griffin had been in…

“Hhn… you, a-about how good you feel inside of me, “ Eliot moaned as the memory of Griffin holding him against a tree, the rough bark digging into the tense muscles of his back as Griffin fucked him without reprieve, dragging in and out and sending jolts of electricity through him with every pull of Griffin’s strong hips,  “F-fuck… “ he groaned, “I need you so ba-aghn,” Eliot choked as he plunged a finger inside of himself, curling it in a way that stroked him just right, fresh tears sliding down his cheeks, “… Jesus, Eliot, “ A moan crackled through the phone, urging him on as he pushed his hips forward, his cock slipping in and out of his clenched hand, “You’re doing so good Eli, you’re so good for me, “ Griffin cooed in his ear, the sound so rich it literally felt as if he was there, “Are you fingering yourself, baby? “ He blew a hot breath, “Y-yeah… please, “ Eliot didn’t even know what he was asking for, he just knew that he needed to get off or he would cry. Or pass out. Either one of those.

Are you close?” Griffin panted, the slick sounds that carried over the line were egging Eliot on as he imagined Griffin sitting somewhere in his room, strong legs spread as he glided his hand up and down his thick length, his toned chest twitching with effort. Eliot hummed a moan In response, “Come on baby, come for me, you’re doing so good,” Griffin whispered fervently, his voice accompanied by a crash somewhere off into the distance that went unnoticed by Eliot as he moaned and writhed on the ground below him, hips thrusting into his fist with such force it was bordering on being painful while his other hand pumped in and out of him, driving his sensitive nerves on fire.

“Griffin!” Eliot shouted, blacking out for a split second as his whole body convulsed, the feeling of finally being thrown over the edge momentarily overwhelming his senses, every pore in his body shivering with delight. As he came down from his high, he wheezed a tired breath, a floaty, satisfied feeling washing over him.

As he tried to steady his breathing, Eliot mildly registered the feeling of cold sweat trailing down his neck, soaking up his white t-shirt, but he couldn’t be particularly bothered at the moment. He blinked blearily towards the sky, noticing the breathtaking night sky that had lightened up with constellations and stars, eliminating the ocean water and transforming it into a gorgeous mirror that copied the image above perfectly.

You okay?”  Griffin’s voice brought him out of his post-orgasmic bliss, forcing him to shift his attention on the situation at hand, “Never better,” He murmured, a tired smile stretching out his drowsy features, “That was…” Griffin trailed off, a smile apparent in his voice.

“Mind-numbingly sexy? One of the best orgasms I’ve ever had? Yeah, you got a point there,” Eliot sniggered, wiping his hand into his already ruined shirt, before pulling himself up with a groan, muscles protesting the abrupt movement and huffed a cumbersome breath as he tried to balance himself onto his shaking feet. He heard a tired laugh shake through his phone, the sound closely followed by a string of quiet curses as Griffin shifted around his room.

“What, don’t tell me-“Eliot barked with laughter as Griffin interrupted him, “-Don’t say a word, Sunborn,” He rumbled with little heat, before sighing in defeat, apparently giving up whatever venture he had been undertaking a moment ago, “You know how bad I am at controlling these things when you’re being so damn alluring all the time,” Griffin stated, voice filled with fondness and no small amount of sheer sexual attraction.

“Psh, flatterer…” Eliot muttered, a grin shaping into place despite the rising heat in his cheeks, slowly making his way towards the soothing waves that twisted themselves onto the sandy beach, leaving small pools of foam in their wake, before coming right back down and sweeping it away, “…I love you,”

Yeah, me too, more than you know,” Griffin responded, “I really want to be there with you to provide some quality aftercare, but considering the circumstances I’d settle for knowing you took a shower and had a full night’s sleep,” Griffin explained as a yawn interrupted his train of thought, betraying just how exhausted he was.

Not that Eliot was in better shape, mind you.

“I would be inclined to agree, but only if you do the same, you have to be up bright and early to face inevitable peril at the hands of mother nature, acting selflessly as you plunge into danger to save countless lives-“ Eliot began to dramatically spin a tale as Griffin interrupted him with a laugh, “Alright, alright! I get it, I’ll make sure to get my beauty sleep” He chortled, “Make sure to let Atlas know I said hi, that grouch needs to socialize more,”

“Oh, believe me, that creature is still being tamed, but I’m making progress!” Eliot began, voice full of mirth, “He and Beckett have been getting real snug lately so that officially expands his social circle from one to a whole 2!”  He crackled, thankful that his twin wasn’t around to hear him, “Honestly, both of them need to get their heads straight, if a little matchmaking is all it takes, then count me in,” Griffin laughed with him, voice overlaid with humor.

 

They continued to talk for a while longer after that, neither of them really wanting to let the other go, mostly talking about nothing in particular and soaking in each other’s company the best they could.  But before long, Eliot’s eyes refused to stay open as exhaustion seeped into his bones, reluctantly forcing him to say goodbye, the line falling silent for the first time since they began talking. Eliot stood for a few moments longer, letting the chilling ocean breeze cool his heated skin before unhurriedly shuffling towards the villa.

The second he crossed the threshold into the veranda, Eliot could tell something was seriously wrong. He felt a chill run through him as a particular brand of dread trickled down his spine, throwing him into a nasty flashback from his near-death experience just a few months prior. He shook off the feeling of nausea as he rushed inside, fearing the worst as the young man heard Atlas shouting from inside their shared bedroom. Eliot rushed in, a spell already half-formed on his lips, frantic eyes scanning for the foreboding danger that had seemingly dropped down from nowhere when he noticed that everything had been as he left it not even an hour prior.

The horrible feeling of dread was replaced by muddled confusion, the adrenaline slowly working its way out of his system – If nothing was here, then why…?

The second Eliot realized what was happening, Atlas let out another shrill scream, his body thrashing around the bed as if the sheets themselves were trying to tear at his skin. Eliot jumped into action, rushing to his brother’s side to wake him from his nightmare, but having little luck. Goddamnit, this was one of those

Ever since that fateful night, both of the twins had been having absolutely grotesque nightmares almost every night, the only time of reprieve spent huddle together, shivering against each other and trying to calm their frayed nerves. After a while, Atlas had found a spell – a binding sort that brought their twin connection to the next level entirely. The short and long of it was that they had basically ‘entwined’ their souls, allowing them to feel one another’s emotions, share each other’s dreams – even send small thoughts or have short conversations through their link, that sort of thing.

And…share the other’s dreams.

For the first few days after the spell had been cast, they spend whole nights fighting each other’s fears and nightmares, restlessly repeating the cycle over and over again… until finally, it stuck. The twins were forced into a very familiar memory, both of them tied on a table, the eclipse shining into their eyes as they desperately clutched at each other’s hands, Raife’s cracked laughter echoing all around them, when Eliot had felt a burst of hot magic run through his veins, setting him on fire from the inside out – not really painful, but overwhelming.

After that… no nightmares.

Neither of them knew exactly what had happened, only that the nightmares ever only returned when one of them got triggered by something during the day. After a while, the panic attacks dropped to a stagnant one per month, and the nightmares were all but a distant memory – or so Eliot thought.

Judging by Atlas’ frantic breaths and thrashing, he was stuck inside one of those exact horrors they had experienced before, only this time, he was alone. Eliot momentarily panicked, quietly scolding himself. How could have he been so reckless as to leave his brother when something had been obviously wrong earlier today! Grinding his teeth, the redhead clasped a hand over his brother’s shivering one and closed his eyes, shifting all of his attention on their soul link, carefully caressing the sensitive connection and willing his twin to come out from under the nightmare.

After a few moments, Eliot felt the bed shift, closely followed by wheezing breaths as his brother propped himself upwards, cold sweat dripping down his face as his wide, brown eyes tried to adjust to the darkness of the room – familiar terror dancing behind his sluggish gaze, “Atlas?” Eliot prompted softly, sitting on the side of the bed, Atlas’ hand still clutched between his own shaking ones.

Atlas lifted his gaze from the edge of the mattress to Eliot’s face, frightened eyes softening the second they landed on his brother’s worried features, “Why are you staring at me, you weirdo…” He croaked out, throat dry and sore from the screaming he had been doing not even a minute before, “I have the sudden urge to down a whole bottle of scotch, you in?” Atlas huffed as he pealed his hand out of Eliot’s and stretched at the side of the bed, going into a full-bodied shake as he tried to shrug off the chills from his skin.

Eliot frowned at his twin, brows pinching in concern. Atlas has always been like this, shrugging off his fears and moving ever forwards, trying to hold up this… mask of unyielding confidence and bravery – and frankly, it was sucking him dry. His brother rarely shared his feelings and when he did, he never confided his fears in Eliot as Eliot did with him, which resulted in the exact situation they currently found themselves in.

His brother was petrified and instead of doing the responsible thing and getting all of those pent-up feelings out, he would drown them in liquor and proceed to never mention the situation ever again. Because that was just how Atlas operated, it seemed. The only thing Eliot could do was just do his best to support him however he could, while ever-so-gently bringing him out from this ostensibly unshakable wall he had built around himself.

Eliot’s musing was cut short by a sharp snap of his twin’s fingers mere inches from his face, startling him, “Earth to Eliot?’ Atlas raised an eyebrow at him, “You have that annoying pinched expression, like when you’re silently brooding and judging somebody’s life decisions…so stop it.” Atlas glared at him, arms crossed around his chest in a defensive stance.

Eliot blinked a few times, a little disturbed at the rapid change of mood. With a sigh, he heaved himself from the bed, previously forgotten exhaustion draping over him like a wool blanket over a cold winter morning, “…Sorry,” He murmured, pushing a hand through his curly red locks, “Listen, the night sky is clear as a bell right now, do you want to…go and lay on the beach with me to stargaze and get drunk?” Eliot tried, lifting a hopeful gaze towards his twin’s face. Atlas stared at him for a few beats, before conclusively snorting, arms dropping at his sides,

“…Sounds like a plan” Atlas shot his twin a meaningful look as he beckoned Eliot to follow when he made his way behind the sleek bar that sat directly in front of the island, “I’m feeling the strong stuff tonight – you can never go wrong with a bottle of whiskey,” Atlas trailed off, crouched behind the bar to reach at the very back of the shelf, pushing bottles apart to reach for the nicely preserved bottle of Jack Daniels that sloshed around from the vibrations of the other bottles.

After the twins had retrieved the whiskey and some fruits from the fruit basket that sat appealingly in the middle of the island, daring them to pass it by without indulging in its fruity goodness, before making their way down to the beach where Eliot had been lounging around not too long ago. They lodged themselves against each other, bottles planted into the sand to stay grounded.

A few moments were spent in silence, the occasional sloshing of the liquor against its casing when one of them took a sip from the bottle and the gentle crashing of the waves the only sounds as they enjoyed the clear night sky, stars dancing on display against the endless blackness that surrounded them, “Listen, Atlas-“ Eliot began when his brother took a big swing from the bottle, throat bobbing as the liquid went down seamlessly, “Yeah let me cut you off, I know you’re about to go on a whole tirade about how I ‘shouldn’t bottle my feelings up’, but sometimes, the best way to deal with things is to deal with them alone,” Atlas  explained, waving his arm around while never shifting his gaze from the night sky.

Eliot frowned, “No, let me cut you off- “He lifted himself from his spot, sand falling from his t-shirt in the process, “-You don’t get to say that about this Atlas, not anymore. I already told you, we’re a unit now, you can’t just ignore your problems when you know damn well, I understand exactly what you’re going through – because I’m going through it too!” Eliot almost shouted, heart hammering against his ribcage, “…I just want you to be able to rely on me, let me carry the weight for once,” He trailed off, refusing to lift his gaze from a seashell that had been halfway buried into the sand.

A weird sort of quiet fell onto the beach, neither of them saying anything for what seemed like an eternity, before Eliot felt a hand slip into his own, “I can’t – I don’t…augh!” Atlas growled quietly, face and neck painted with red streaks, mouth drawn up in an agitated frown. Eliot breathed a laugh, the weird setting from before completely forgotten when he scooted closer to his brother, clutching his hand tighter. Eliot closed his eyes, focusing his magic into opening the link wider, tenderly beckoning his brother with a drag along the spine of the connection, as if to say ‘It’s okay, show me’.

He felt Atlas stiffen beside him for a beat, before hearing a soft sigh of relief from his side, the feeling of the link dampening with his twin’s magic not a moment after.  Various images and feelings that weren’t his own flooded every reach of his mind, throwing him from one memory to the next, experiences flashing before his eyes like the roll of a tape. Eliot saw it then – the fear that had been plaguing his brother’s soul throughout his entire life…

The fear of failure – of weakness, the feeling of being helpless to help those he loved…

Eliot felt tears prickle his eyes as he strained all of his magic to reach his brother’s tattered heart, to wash over the needless guilt and self-hatred with his unyielding love and admiration for Atlas – to let him know he didn’t have to be alone anymore.

He felt Atlas take a shuddering breath beside him, before feeling the uncontainable relief and joy that trembled through their link, a golden light filling every corner of his being, followed by a promise that they both swore to one another at that moment.

I won’t leave you.

 

Some unknown amount of time later…

 

“No, I’m serious! He really said that,” Eliot shook with barely contained giggles while Atlas howled beside him at the story Eliot had been spinning, before taking a swing from their second bottle with a grin – or was it their forth?

“I’m convinced that half of that damned school doesn’t know why they’re even there – Why would you ask after a wood-att for anything even remotely connected to containing a fire?” Atlas waved his hands animatedly above him as if the very thought affronted him so much that he couldn’t help but react that way,

“That, Atlas, is a very good observation,” Eliot chuckled, already half asleep as his alcohol-muddle brain decided that right here, head propped against Atlas’s toned but comfortable chest was the best place for a nap, “You know….I think you should give Beckett a chance,” Eliot began suddenly, the thought floating out of nowhere – that, and his sleep-deprived, drunken brain had no filter for anything so he mostly spewed whatever was coherent enough to make sense to him, “He’s sucha’ hardass but I promise you, you won’t meet a guy who can put you in the dirt one second and become a stuttering mess the next like he can – it’s actually pretty charming,” Eliot went on, never registering the blush that slowly climbed up his brother’s face,

“Uh huh… how about you spare us both the embarrassment and keep your nose out of my private affairs,” Atlas murmured into the rim of the bottle, eyes trained on something Eliot clearly couldn’t see –

Heh, ‘clearly’.

“But as my civil duty dictates, I have to be involved in everything you do!” Eliot grumbled, “I’m your twin, we’re like, stitched together,” Ugh, why did he have to word it like that, “Great, thanks for the visual- “Atlas began when a huge yawn wracked his body, letting them know that it was probably time to call it quits.

“I think… we should stop now,” Eliot hiccupped once, then snuggled his face into the crook of Atlas’ famed black jacket that he never seemed to take off, the strong smell of alcohol covered in a thin waft of his cologne hitting him like a punch to the gut, his body shutting down, murmuring something that sounded closely to ‘night’. He thought he felt an arm come around his shoulder to rest at his collarbone and a voice whispering something to him, but he was out before he could even comprehend what he was being told, the smell of the ocean and the heat of his brother against him the last thing he felt before plunging into a deep, dreamless sleep.