//Hello, and welcome back! For some reason you're interested in my strange little series, and seeing a THIRD book are probably expecting a continuation after Vox Arcana. Sorry, no. The short of a long story is that I was reading other stories one night on Archive of Our Own, and someone was writing a nifty story on Elliott's backstory. I got a kick out of it, and the next day drove 10 hours home from a business trip. I had planned to mentally block out more of Vox Arcana at that time, but instead found myself inspired by the other story, and thought about how I'd not done much character development and interaction between some people early on in R&S 1. Thus I ended up drafting a good six or seven chapters for a new story, this one told from Elliott's side. So yeah, it's not so much a "new" story as it is a retelling of the first book with more details. If this bores you, I don't mind! This is mostly to get it the hell out of my head and let myself feel better about not doing enough in the beginning of book 1 'cause I lacked the confidence to really expand on it. If you're new to all of this mess, go here for book 1: The Music Within (I know it didn't have a subtitle before, but that was BEFORE I made sequels), and book 2: Vox Arcana. Like it? Hate it? Let me know. At this point I've already navigated the rapids of insanity and am swimming about happily in a tranquil pool on the other side. Join me, the water's nice! Also, go on over to AO3 and have a read of the story that inspired this madness. It's quite good, and the least I can do is send them a bit of love: Write or Wrong.// Pacing restlessly back and forth, Elliott was lost in his thoughts, until a familiar and friendly voice brought him around again. "If you don't stop that you'll wear a rut in the floor." He paused and half-turned to address the person in the doorway. His brother, Charles, was leaning against the frame, wearing a slightly teasing smile. Elliott returned it, sighing and rubbing the back of his neck. "Then it would match my mood and mental state. Good afternoon, Charles, it's been some time. It seems that being a new parent has made exorbitant demands on your time and energy." The other man chuckled at his reply, running fingers through short, auburn-colored hair that was a vibrant contrast to Elliott's strawberry-blonde, looking very tired. "That it has. We have very nearly forgotten what uninterrupted sleep is like. But then, we knew what we were getting into, and mother has been such a wonderful source of support. She offered to watch the baby for the day, so that Jeanette could get a day to herself for a bit. When I told her of mother's offer she cried with relief for a bit. She immediately felt quite bad about it, but I do not blame her at all. For as trying as it all has been on me, it is nothing next to what she's been through, and she more than deserves a bit of time to herself." Elliott moved over to offer his brother a hug of support, which was warmly received. Despite the initial difference in appearances (their hair, and Elliott's deep blue eyes to Charles's deep green ones), there was an obvious similarity in their faces, as well as the way they carried themselves. It never ceased to perplex Charles that though he was older, Elliott was a few inches taller, and he frequently lamented this when growing up, as well as his self-perceived lack of talent compared to his younger brother. Strangely, Elliott never lorded any of this over him, and instead felt that he didn't have talent at all, that he had to work so very hard to make headway at anything. Further, he always felt uncertain in any task he'd attempt, as while Charles pretty much had his future laid out for him in taking over the family business, Elliott was free to choose his own path. This had created friction between them for a while, until they talked about it and found that they envied each other for the things that they themselves didn't like. They had begun to work together a bit more at that point, Elliott learning more about the business from Charles, and Charles trying his hand at whatever artistic medium Elliott was attempting at the time. This gave them greater confidence in their "assigned" endeavors, and having a peer of sorts helped them gain perspective. That support never waned, and Charles saw that Elliott was bothered by something. "What's on your mind? You've never been good at hiding your troubles, and something clearly weighs heavily on your mind." Sighing again, Elliott sat down heavily on the bench at his piano. "What am I doing with my life? I've got my college degree but I've yet to do anything with it. I have employment of a sort but it is hardly enough to live off of. I still desire to develop that novel but only the drive and no ideas. I am quite fortunate that our parents were amenable to my moving back in after college, but I feel so useless for it, as though I am unable to make it on my own." He chuckled darkly at himself, shaking his head. "I am fooling no one, I really am unable to make it on my own." Crossing his arms across his chest and staring off at a nondescript point on the ceiling, Charles considered this. "I do not think that that is true. You are quite capable, as I recall you being quite self-driven during your time at university, and you did have a place of your own. It was modest, but you were able to work and study, balancing both with each other. I think what you lack is not skill or motivation, but inspiration." "And therein lies the problem. I've no idea how to go about attaining that inspiration. Were it as simple as requesting a muse I'd have done so already. If you have any suggestions I am glad for them." Clapping him on the shoulder, Charles gestured to the door. "Let us have a coffee and discuss it, then. Perhaps a quorum will yield results." Downstairs in the kitchen, their parents, Elizabeth and Phillip, were seated at the kitchen table, going over business forms, statements of payment, and other such matters that go into running a business. Looking up, Elizabeth favored them with a fond smile, which was often perfectly mirrored in her sons. "I see that you have pried him from his habitat, well done, Charles. Good afternoon, Elliott, you've been up for some time today but have yet to have made your presence." He returned only half of her smile, still feeling rather downcast. "We were discussing the nature of my ennui and irritation. At least with myself," he remarked, preparing coffee for himself and his brother, as their parents already had theirs, "and he suggests a change of scenery, not self. I do not find this idea unpleasant, yet I am unable to fathom the method in which to enact it." Putting down the paper he was examining and removing spectacles from in front of the same deep green eyes that his eldest son had, Phillip tapped the bow of them against his lip as he thought about this statement. "You've always been fond of staying home. Even when at university I do not recall you leaving your apartment for anything other than class or work. Charles has a valid point, and I think it's an idea worth pursuing. As for where to go, perhaps something completely out of your comfort zone, something strange and unfamiliar. I do not wish to visit unpleasantries upon you, but it is often through adversity that one finds strength." Tucking auburn hair behind her ear, Elizabeth considered this as well. "Likewise I do not want to give the impression of kicking you out, but they both argue a strong position. And while you are reticent about travel, I do recall you being fond of the ocean. We went a few times when you were both young, and you were enamored with the location. Oh, where was it, now, it's been quite some time." The four of them thought about this for a minute, until Charles grinned and snapped his fingers. "Ah, yes! I remember, that little town off of the Gem Sea, not that far from here. Oh, what was its name... Gull Town? No, Pelican Town. A lovely, vibrant little community." Elliott presented his brother with a cup of coffee and sat to sip his own as he thought about this. "That's... Yes, you are correct, I remember as well. It's been a very long time now that I think of it, but those memories are pleasant. It would certainly be a change, from a large city to a small town. Although... No, that is my own prejudices and conceptions coloring my opinion. There's no reason to believe that they would be hostile to visitors, particularly since I recall such delightful events in my past." "You know, I do have a bit of time to myself," offered Charles, "perhaps the two of us could go and make a small trip of it. I'd love to go revisit the place, and I'm certain that you'd be far more comfortable having a friend along. Although, damn, I hate to leave Jeanette right now." "She can stay with us," Elizabeth stated, resting her chin on folded hands and elbows on the table, her dark blue eyes crinkling at the corners with endearment for her children, "I think that you need a bit of time to yourself as well, and with Phillip and I to help Jeanette will be more than cared for." The relief on Charles's face was obvious, and he immediately flushed and apologized for his eagerness in taking her up on the offer. Laughing brightly, she waved a hand at him. "Do not fear offense, I was a new mother once myself, and I was also grateful for any help and time that I could get. Jeanette is no different, and I am delighted to see you both continue to assist each other so readily. I will send her a message, you two can go ahead and make plans." Pulling out a smartphone from her pocket, she sent off a text message, just in case the other woman was asleep or busy. Charles and Elliott retrieved their own phones to pull up maps, figuring out their journey. "We seem to be about two hours out," Elliott observed, tapping and rotating the map, "so it is close enough to be approachable but not so far that I will be isolated. It is a bit late in the day for an excursion, so if we prepare today we can leave early tomorrow and have the entire day to explore and investigate. Though I should also consider other locations in case this one doesn't pan out." "I was thinking the same thing. I'll have to run home to assemble a bag. You should, too. Not a lot, just an overnight suitcase, just in case. This could just be a one-day trip, or we could be out for a while." "Do you really think that we'll be gone that long?" "Not necessarily, but if it does come down to that I'd rather have such items on-hand rather than wish I had them when I need them." "Fair enough. Well then," he sighed for the third time that day, holding his cup with both hands as he looked at the data his phone displayed, "it looks like tomorrow I'll be searching for a new home. And strangely, I find myself excited about the prospect."