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When Are You Gonna Come Down?

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Open mic night. It had become a tradition with Eliot. Open mic night was where they could lose themselves and forget the world around them. After growing up surrounded by magic, Eliot had taught her how to find comfort in the mundane. But, unlike their previous mic nights Alice, now, was alone. Eliot was in Fillory. He’d been in Fillory for quite some time now deciding that his life rested with Margo and trying to rule the crazy planet. It had been months since they tried to bring Quentin back.

“When are you gonna come down?
When are you going to land?
I should have stayed on the farm
I should have listened to my old man…"

Mindlessly, Alice had cast the piano playing spell. Usually Eliot would just play the piano, because he knew how, but now it was her turn to hide in the spotlight. There were a lot of people in attendance. The café manager would usually let them play as many songs as they wanted, because of the crowds they drew. Specifically the crowds Eliot drew. Alice didn't want to take on more than she could handle. Tonight was her first night out alone and she was doing all she could to keep her own shyness at bay. She had chosen a private favorite of hers, a cover of an Elton John song. Every time she heard it or tried to perform it, she was always left raw and open. She couldn't hide with a smile or a joke or a callback to the audience. Nope. She would just be left naked to the world. The piano accompaniment wasn’t too difficult so the spell didn't take much focus and her fingers would follow the keys without anyone noticing.

Outwardly the song described Eliot. Growing up on a farm and moving to the big city. Trying to avoid being used by those older and finding his own way. Right now, Alice was mourning the loss of her friend. Eliot had kept his promise to stay until the baby was born. Alice just figured that when Eliot saw Quentin's eyes he would stay. Instead the reminder pushed him further away.

Sure, Alice was Queen of Fillory and could take her rightful place, but she didn’t want to. She didn’t ask for that title or her reign. She didn’t ask for Eliot to crown her. She didn’t ask for them to become so close. Quentin was the glue between them and then when they lost him the two found they just couldn’t let go of each other. Or so Alice had thought. She had fought against becoming close to Eliot at school, now she was fighting the emptiness he left in her heart.

Maybe this song was talking about her.

“What do you think you'll do then?
I bet that'll shoot down your plane
It'll take you a couple of vodka and tonics
To set you on your feet again…"

The spell didn’t work.

The spell didn’t work.

The spell didn’t work.

The words became a mantra in her head.

Alice worked closely with the library. She worked her way up the ranks, even if they were willing to let her lead from the beginning. She read every book she could find. She sent messages down to Penny-40 hoping, at first, that she could trick him into telling her what she wanted to know. Hoping beyond anything that the train ride Quentin took wasn’t final.

Penny, saw right through her antics. Unbeknownst to Alice, many of the librarians tried the same thing. It hurt to rebuff her requests. He knew she was trying to manipulate him. The last thing he wanted to do was upset her but indulging her would have just prolonged her grieving. Even though he should be insulted he understood her motivations. What made him give in, however, was a one word message. Please? That’s all it said. Alice didn't camouflage the fact that she knew the reason Penny had helped her was because he wanted to prove her wrong.

"Going back to my plow..."

Alice had to call in the whole gang. Each one of them were in different stages of grief. Kady had fully coped and Josh was right behind her. Even Eliot, who had been with her through it all, seemed to be pulling away from this mission. One thing was unanimous, they loved Quentin and they loved Alice and if this would help her find closure they were one hundred percent there for her.

"Beyond the yellow brick..."

The unity key. It was the link. If Quentin was still connected to them then it should be the apparatus to catapult him back. The spell took each one of them on a separate journey. Julia's started with childhood, Josh relived forgotten inside jokes, Eliot went back to the Fillory of his private timeline, and Margo got to feel the touch of Quentin's hand again. It was her best kept secret. Her and Q sitting next to each other holding hands when it all got to be just a little too much.

For Alice, she went back to their first year. The study groups, next to the mirror, and cottage parties. She saw them at Brakebills South in the freezing cold. Felt the electricity of their first coupling. She saw the absolute devastation he wore after he cheated on her. Their declarations of love, from the unspoken in Fillory to the last in the kitchen of the loft. Throughout her journey a blue thread shimmered between them. Connecting them. Alice followed the thread, ran for what seemed like miles, to a black wall where it disappeared into. Alice pounded, kicked, and screamed at it. All of it in silence. The spell absorbing all of her pain and anguish.

This was her good-bye. She could throw as many mugs into as many fires as she wanted. But if she was honest with herself, she had never let go. She was upset at Eliot for letting go. He moved on. Alice’s entire life was spent with her head and heart at war with each other. Tonight felt like that final battle. Alice’s mind and heart screaming at each other to let go or hold on.

Alice's soprano hushed the crowd; the barista had dimmed the lights to ease the busyness of the house, but not enough for her to get lost. She could still see each face. Eliot had trained her voice well enough for her to move between light soprano and a heavy chest voice. It was that heaviness that kept the tears threatening to fall at bay.

“Oh I've finally decided my future lies…”

The tears welling in her eyes began making the crowd a blur. The final notes were approaching, if she could only keep her vocal chords loose until the end.

Alice exhaled softly, one tear falling on the plastic keys of Eliot’s keyboard. Gathering the last of her wits about her she took one of her last breaths.

“I've finally decided my future lies…”

It was that same focus that reminded her that the shop was busy tonight. So many acts had come before her and were going to follow her. The crowded ambiance allowed her to filter out the jingling bells from the door opening.

“Oh I've finally decided my future lies…”

Expelling the war from within her Alice looked out to the crowd, all of them waiting on baited breath to see how she would finish. What choice would she make? If only she knew.

"road…”

Alice looked out to the crowd as she began her last stanza. She hadn’t heard the jingling of the bells or the shifting of the audience in the middle of the performance. No, she hadn’t noticed any of that. She held on to her last note until her voice gave out. The crowd erupted but she heard none of it. Her world stayed silent around her. Alice’s eyes fixated on the soft brown eyes she had dreamed of too many times. Her breathing heavy from the vocal exhaustion but the sobs threatened to break through. This couldn’t be real. He couldn’t be real. Then there was the quirk of his mouth and a little wave.

The spell worked.